Festival of St. Greenbelt 2011

And so it came to pass... another year of the very wonderful Greenbelt Festival has lifted the spirits, given succour and encouragement despite being a little more cold and damp than the last few August Bank holidays. However, there is much to celebrate about this year's edition.

Even from the way the site was laid out, alterations to various locations and the schedule it was clear the Greenbelt team have made many changes that are, overall, for the better. It did seem there were less traders there and also organisations exhibiting in the G-Source marquee, of course that may be because of ongoing financial restraints in these tricky times economically. Regardless, the feeling of greater space and more elbow room was comforting, exemplified by the area in front of the Jesus Arms fellowship station... and there is a new winner for the best on-site food! The Southern Indian Vegetarian cuisine stall just to the right of the Jesus Arms, absolutely amazing and a great story of how they created the business via Twitter.

The Talks

Despite always reminding myself to not try and take in too many talks the rest of the time I failed yet again! The talks were particularly good this year, thank Greenbelt you can catch up on the ones you miss because of schedule clashes, so much going on with 50 venues, will just mention some highlights:

Brian McLaren's talk on Christian Identity in a Multi-faith Context on Monday was the best talk for me over the weekend. I would vaguely categorise it as Analytical and Practical Theology rather than Theoretical Theology. Also I managed to get a ticket for the filming of his Greenbelt TV slot which succinctly summarised his concerns for the future. I have to say I find his talks easier to assimilate than some of his books but will give his latest another try once I can get through my current reading matter!

As someone who had immensely enjoyed reading Sisters of Sinai it was another joy to sit through author Janet Soskice's outline of the book from both a content perspective and her brilliantly engaging presentation.

I always like to go to a seminar that seems as though it will be opposed to my faith journey. My choice was Pádraig Ó Tuama's talk 'Our Lady of Greenbelt' which included an exploration of Roman Catholic Marian dogma. Having had a strict Exclusive Brethren upbringing and subsequently been immersed in Protestantism this seemed a scarily suitable selection! I have never, ever prayed 'Hail Mary' before, yet during the shared Liturgy at the end of his amazing talk I was readily able, albeit a tad wet-eyed, to join in the prayers with genuine conviction.

The Music

Even as a musician myself, I have focused on the talks more than the music offerings. However, this year one of the most noticeable changes was the substantial improvement to the choice of musical acts, particularly those chosen for mainstage appearances. This was evidently more acute after many of the artistes featured at Greenbelt 2010.

Friday night started cold and damp, then a rollicking mainstage set from a very much on form Show of Hands had everyone smiling again. This was followed by home favourite Martyn Joseph and Billy Bragg closed the bill with his passionate 'one man Clash' performance. Somewhere and somehow in all that I managed to nip over and check out a couple of minutes of Adrian Plass' irreverent take on church attitudes and behaviour over in the Big Top... note to self, add that talk to my download list!

Saturday was topped and tailed with rain showers and my musical attention was drawn to the Performance Café, both as listener and player for the Rob Halligan set... The 7pm time slot meant I missed Willie Williams' Big Top presentation along with most of the mainstage, only catching a bit of the enigmatic 'Get Cape Wear Cape Fly' set.

Sunday was overcast and cool, great music from Duke Special who chose to end his set with a moving version of Joy Division's classic anthem 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. Then after the start of Idelwild's set it was time to leg it back to the Performance Café for what turned out to be my out and out favourite band of the weekend.

Hope and Social are absolutely brilliant! To me they represent everything that is Greenbelt in a musical package. Joy, exuberance, fun, great songs, thoughtful lyrics, great band rapport, great singing and some wonderful 'moments'. There was no-one there that would not have been won over with such an engaging and charismatic performance.

Hope and Social also played the mainstage on Monday (pictured at the top of the post), but at 2:45pm, and with a schedule clash with in vogue comedian Mark Thomas elsewhere, the audience only grew from a relative handful after the set was past the half way mark. On mainstage the band had a full line up including a brass section and were in top form. Another cracking 'moment' ensued when singer launched into a gentle version of 'Don't Cry for Me Greenbelt Festival' narrating a woeful tale of the band's pre-festival stomach disasters due to a 'paltry' (their word!) Kentucky Fried Chicken encounter... one word: priceless!

So it was onwards through the rest of Monday's strong mainstage bill featuring folk fave Kate Rusby, Canadian Ron Sexsmith then The Unthanks. Whilst on a usual warm, balmy August night it would have been delightful to listen whilst languishing on the grass recovering from all the cerebral stimulus of the festival, in the relative cool it was only really Kate who connected with the Greenbelt congregation. This was in stark contrast to the final mainstage act, the legendary Gospel singer, Mavis Staples. Monday nights at Greenbelt must always represent a programming challenge to try and persuade as many as possible not to delay their departure. Well, if you left early you missed an amazing treat!

Everything about it was excellent... I loved the stripped back band, just drums, bass and guitar. The musicians were top notch, playing with fantastic groove and feel, great to watch up close, too. As I said, everything was splendid... lots of light and shade, for example, they started with an a capella piece and worked up to some serious rhythm and blues (old style!).

About half way through the set something clicked. Performers and audience engaged more, the band started smiled broadly, everyone then had an even better time, especially Mavis, who readily took us there...

So well done Greenbelt, the music, and particularly the mainstage line-up, is a visible flagship which represents the artistic side and, often, the faith component, too. One of the differences betwixt this and the previous year is that some of the GB10 artistes, whilst often protesting about injustice, were simply anarchic rather than challenging. It's a subtle, yet important, difference.

The Confession

On the Sunday morning everything halts for the service of Holy Communion. It is incredibly tough to curate a service that will be loved by everyone and encompass both some orthodox and new elements. Reading through the service sheet now it is clear the content of the service was excellent. I have to confess I am a Still Small Voice person rather than an Earth(quake), Wind and Fire person when it comes to music in services of worship. Rev Vince Anderson was excellent technically, you couldn't fault the quality of the music but... it was SO loud! Everyone who experienced the delight of the unaccompanied singing at the start of Brian McLaren's seminar on Christian Identity will know what I mean. However, it is a joy to share the Eucharist with that once a year congregation.

A Conclusion

There is one conclusion I would like to make. I am uncomfortable with the notion that Greenbelt is a church in itself... that implies an institution. I notice there were some events appearing which contradict much of the teaching we hear in the seminars. In fact, one such event I found deeply disturbing, representing a legacy of all that is bad about church, colonialism, Victorianism and empire. Of course, it is us as human beings that make up the church, not the practices, denominations or personal preferences. Long may Greenbelt continue to be a celebration, a feast, a coming together of people to experience the divine in a human way...

(and I haven't even mentioned the wonderful Methodist Church Art collection, half the bands I saw, the discussion panels I managed to get into, the drama, the brilliant conversations with friends old and new...!)
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One of my all time fave sites is Metafilter.  My fave poster on that site is Y2Karl because of posts like this:

William Brown - Mississippi Blues

William Brown was a man who recorded a handful of blues on Sadie Beck's Plantation on July 16, 1942 for Alan Lomax. Once thought to be the same man as the Willie Brown who played with Son House and Charley Patton--and was immortalized in Robert Johnson's Crossroad Blues--the consensus now is that William Brown was a different man, about whom we know next to nothing. Certainly, the handful of recordings we have that feature him supports this. The Willie Brown who recorded Future Blues and M & O Blues was an archetypal Delta bluesman, with both songs being stripped down versions of Charley Patton's Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues, among others, and Pony Blues, respectively. The William Brown who recorded Mississippi Blues, Ragged and Dirty and Make Me a Pallet on the Floor plays and sings nothing like that Willie Brown. That we know nothing about him and never heard any more of his music is one of the many tragedies of recorded blues.

Mississippi Blues was tabbed early on by Stefan Grossman, resulting with it being the Stairway to Heaven of Mississippi blues, according to John Miller at Weenie Campbell, and, by a variety of sources, it is a song regarded as one Delta blues everyone must learn.

But, although, recorded in the Delta, it is in fact the least Delta blues of all Delta blues, being based on a
piano instrumental, Hard Times by Charlie Spand or , possibly, Sunrise Serenade by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, depending upon who you read. Weenie Campbell's forum leans toward Spand, for what it is worth.

And, as for his
Ragged and Dirty, that seems to be based upon Sleepy John Estes Broken Hearted, Ragged and Dirty, Too. Which is a masterpiece in itself.

Whoever, he was, and which song inspired him,
Mississippi Blues is a wonder, far more sophisticated and jazzy than anything else Lomax recorded. So, who was William Brown and where did he learn to play like that ? We will likely never know. But, at any rate, almost all of his recorded output can be found at The Roots Music Listening Room Listener's Request page, along with one Worried Life Blues by David Edwards--that is, the late David "Honeyboy" Edwards.

(By the way, because of Willie Blackwell and William Brown's
Four O'Clock Blues, I came to be a grower of Four O'Clock Flowers.)

Tabs for
Mississipi Blues can be found at Olav Torvund's Guitar Site and SteveMcWilliams tab section at Acoustic Finger Style. Guitar

On CD, it can be found on the Library of Congress lp
Negro Blues and Hollers, reissued by Rounder Records as well as on Document Records' Mississippi Blues & Gospel 1934-1942. Both of which seem to have gone out of print for the time being, alas. So, get thee to a used record store for those. Both are well worth having.
posted by y2karl



 inspired by my pal Boogie-
Johnny Jenkins: Via Wiki::
"In the 1960s Jenkins was the leader of the Pinetoppers, who employed a young Otis Redding as singer. As Jenkins did not possess a driver's license of his own, the young Redding also served as his personal driver. During a recording session in 1962 organized by the band's manager Phil Walden, Jenkins left forty minutes of studio time unused. Redding used this time to record a ballad entitled "These Arms of Mine" on which Jenkins played guitar. In 1964 Jenkins released an instrumental single called "Spunky." (Volt V-122)
With Phil Walden concentrating on Redding's flourishing career, Jenkins was sidelined and it was not until after Redding's death in 1967 that Walden again concentrated on Jenkins's career. In 1970 Jenkins released the album Ton-Ton Macoute!. The opening track, a cover of Dr. John's "I Walk on Gilded Splinters", has been sampled by numerous musicians, including Beck and Oasis. Several tracks on Ton-Ton Macoute! feature Duane Allman on guitar and Dobro.
With Walden again becoming involved in other projects, Jenkins became disillusioned with the music industry and did nothing of note until 1996. By then Walden had persuaded him to make a comeback, and he released the album Blessed Blues recorded with Chuck Leavell. Two further albums followed; Handle With Care and All in Good Time.
Jenkins died from a stroke in the same town he was born: Macon, Georgia. He was 67."


inspired by my pal Blaine Schultz:



Silk Flowers disband & Shea Stadium live set

Impose have announced that Silk Flowers have disbanded. The trio leave in their wake a slew a recordings in the past few years, including the most recent posthumous release of Days of Arrest on Captured Tracks. Now in the apparent afterglow live jewels, such as this full-set from their record release party for their final full-length LTD. Form back in February at Shea Stadium. The night, curated by none other than Last Nights, also saw Mazing Vids, Soft Circle, & Images hit the stage for what was a pretty spectacular time of music & good vibes.

THOMAS BURT - National Down Home Music Festival - Atlanta

Thanks to DJ Hillfunk and Mr. George Mitchell:

TiNARiWEN - WOMAD 2004 - Video of full show


PEG LEG SAM documentary Born For Hard Luck

THX to OLD GRAY MULE for hippin' me to this:

Born For Hard Luck from Kimosabbe on Vimeo.

Remove the causes, not remedy the effects...

The sixth entry in my father's WW2 journal, extraordinarily salient at this moment in national and international affairs. Previous posts from the journal:

Entry 6 - January 13th

Are we thus merely to attempt to subjugate our passions, or allow them to be mass controlled, mass produced and swayed by mass hysteria as our public opinion today is swayed by the machinations of the propagandist? Is sadness and sorrow to be removed entirely from the ken of men? Sadness and sorrow have given us many great inspirations and temporary genius. Is this new renaissance to be just another step forward in the advance of the machine age, where our emotions are laid down for us, on tap, to be utilised, as and when, our leaders think fit?

No, God forbid! It is our part to lay our hands on the root of this cancer, this rot which is our social disease. It is our part to remove the causes, not remedy the effects. We must aim at the creation of a world of universal contentment. We must allow all men equality of opportunity. We must study our fellows not as a herd of cattle, or of sheep, but individually so that we collectively form a race, a species to whom life has, at least, revealed some purpose Our creative, our spiritual minds must be instructed that our contentment, our happiness is dependent wholly and solely on the happiness of others and it is our individual task to further the happiness of others so that posterity, in time, will realise the full value of that gigantic creative effort which we shall have undertaken.

Then how can this be brought into effect? To whom can we look to for leadership? What practical basis have for putting our ideals, our theories to the test?

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Sore Eros "Just Fuzz" & Shea Stadium live set

Sore Eros - Live @ Shea Stadium by LiveatSheaStadium

Hey, back in July Last Nights organized a show with Sore Eros, Psychic Reality, Octo Octa, & Jonas Reinhardt DJing at Brooklyn's Shea Stadium. The night was a lot of fun & what's even better is that Shea has provided a stream of Sore Eros set that night for everyone who couldn't make it or want to groove on their psych-pop tunes. It's kinda like being there, I think... If not no matter it's a good listen!

Also be sure to check Sore Eros new LP "Just Fuzz" out now on Blackburn Recordings.


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AMERiCANA WOMEN documentary trailer

Here's some terrific women making some very fine music.
Go HERE for more information on the MusicBox Film Project.

THE COTTON EXCHANGE - Vinyl Only Subscription-based Blues Label

So evidently my pal Jay Martin has been holding out on me:

Welcome to THE COTTON EXCHANGE—your centralized forum for the finest in vinyl-only blues re-issues and curated historic recordings. The Cotton Exchange is a subscription service that offers its subscribers 2 LPs quarterly (8 LPs a year) of the finest in the blues tradition, along with exclusive original liner notes and other ephemera.
From classic bluesmen like Bukka White and Blind Willie McTell, to the modern greats such as Otha Turner, the Cotton Exchange will produce high-grade, 180-gram blues releases—many of which feature unreleased recordings, music that has never been on vinyl before, or has been out of print for years and is not available in its original form anywhere else.
Welcome to a quarterly blues picnic with all the fixins. The Cotton Exchange is your gateway to home delivered blues celebration.
Subscribe and get 8 LPs a year (2 per quarter) for $100, including shipping!
(U.S. addresses only)


Junior Kimbrough:
Fred McDowell:
Junior Kimbrough Fred McDowell

Additionally, each quarterly package comes with exclusive liner notes by notable journalists, musicians, collectors and enthusiasts, as well as added surprises to compliment your blues experience. The first installment features liner notes from artist Tim Delaughter (The Polyphonic Spree, Preteen Zenith), musicologist Jay Martin, and Grammy-nominated producer David Katznelson.
And for a limited time, the first 50 subscribers will get a FREE BONUS album! Choose either THE ROOTS OF HIP HOP, or WOLF’S AT THE DOOR.

HASiL ADKiNS - Early Morning Blues from the forthcoming documentary My Blue Star: The Life and Hunchin' Times of Hasil Adkins

Download the audio of ths video below courtesy of the film's director Ron Thomas Smith :: mp3

World War Two aircrew training day one...

This is the first entry in my father's journal from the 2nd World War, pictured top left above in one of the Wellington bombers he flew in. An earlier post, Wellington Bomber raid October 1941, narrates all the action pretty much in real time.

Entry 1 - January 7th HARWELL

I hope to be able, in these ensuing pages, to record a few of my impressions during the forthcoming year. Today has not been very productive in so much as we have done nothing.

My literary effort has been overcome by writing a foreword for Johnny's book, which has been bashfully completed. I should like to feel, that, if this book is to be read by any one other than myself (for whom it is primarily intended) they should tolerate it owing to the writer's complete lack of genius and to the environment in which it was conceived.

Harwell is an operational training unit where air crews are polished up for operations and many of us feel that, at the moment, we bear the mark of an early demise. If this is the case I hope that this book will be a close link between me and my closest friends and my parents.

Tonight I am feeling, as usual, fed up and we have expressed our feelings in no undisguised manner by turning our bunk into a beer garden. I have often wished to get to the bottom of the repression the RAF typically describes as 'browned' or 'cheesed'. I think it consists of many subsidiary feelings. Perhaps it is combined with a sense of homesickness and, above all, a sense of the futility of our present position.

Today, tuning the 1082 receiver I listened to a choir of German voices rendering a past song. I am no musician but to me it seemed inordinately beautiful and there swept over me a feeling which is practically impossible to describe. I was suffused by thought that all that was beautiful and worthwhile in this world was being overcome by brute force and not only that but I was subscribing my own effort to overcome them.

I feel in complete harmony with that group of German people, unknown to me, in a new spiritual sphere and the sense of futility is overwhelming. Am I still essentially the pacifist that harangued and argued in 1938? Have I not outgrown the out and out idealism? It seems these questions will probably never be answered and all that I stood for and set my heart on before the war will be wrecked. Could I but forsee the outcome of the next decade and I feel I should be able to die happily. Isn't something to be done for us who languish in despair at the probably fate of this world should we win or lose?

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Loving your neighbour...

Some serious wisdom from Russell Brand about the past week in the UK:
But I know, as we all intuitively know that the solution is all around us and it isn’t political, it is spiritual. Gandhi said 'Be the change you want to see in the world.'

In this simple sentiment we can find hope, as we can in the efforts of those cleaning up the debris and ash in bonhomous, broom-wielding posse’s. If we want to live in a society where people feel included, we must include them, where they feel represented, we must represent them and where they feel love and compassion for their communities then we, the members of that community, must find love and compassion for them.
Read Russell's full article here.


FRANK FAiRFiELD - Forward! Into The Past!

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"Music is something that humans do," he says. "In every corner of this planet, wherever there has been a human, there has been music. But music was not for sale before the first big gramophone companies came into being, it was just natural. Now it's like the difference between food and McDonald's. Mashed lymph nodes wrapped in cellophane isn't food, but we're so used to the barren landscape we don't question it. That's how I feel about today's music, it's barren. But there's beautiful music out there if you're just willing to take a look." - Frank Fairfield via The Guardian

   Folks spend a lot of time trying to explain Frank Fairfield. Not explain him away, but just explain. Or  try. To decipher. Perhaps because Mr. Fairfield, and more importantly his music, is genuine, honest and dare I say, earnest. He and his music are not the least bit retro, cloying or precious...and that makes some people nervous. One must remember he is mortal clay and not some Tom Joad-like materialized ghost from, as Haggard would sing, the good olde days when times were bad. Fairfield is no John-Boy.

Only in his late twenties, Frank Fairfield makes music that appears to arrive from a rent in the dark, musty, well-worn purple curtain of time. One could just as well imagine Fairfield taking the stage at the 1926 Grand Old Opry, going on before The McGee Brothers and Uncle Dave Macon, as you could at the Old Time Fiddle Convention in Galax, Va or Portland's Pickathon, or San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. 

Frank Fairfield plays antique music smudged only by modern recording technique and sonic sensibilities. If you didn't know better you might think you are hearing a well-made field recording of Bascom Lunsford or Charlie Poole. As writer April Fecca wrote, Fairfield's sound is, "so authentic that you wait to hear the hiss and pop of old vinyl."

Frank Fairfield's new album, Out In The Open West , his second for the terrific Tompkins Square record label from NYC, is out now.  

(Btw, you gotta check out Tompkins Square Records! In the wasteland of todays record label survivors, these guys are a gem. I have their 3CD deluxe set called People Take Warning ! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs, 1913-1938 and it's simply amazing. Check out their catalog. They are truly a special company.)

If you are a fan of serious old-timey, American music with out the trappings that come with some ex-punk rock dude gettin' his ironic hipster roots n' 'stache on, and you're not down with yesteryears sallow, fake-tanned and sensitive-brand Nashvilleified & Bransonated post-Soggy Bottom Boys "bluegrass" pop tripe, then Frank Fairfield is your man


Via documentary film maker Max Shores
Audio of each artists full set is available for free download as well. 
Check the video details on YouTube for more info:


All Guadalupe Plata Bandcamp sales during this summer will be donated to the Muddy Roots Music Festival Official Film Project. Go HERE to name yr price. GET SOME!

Guadalupe Plata - Pollo Podrío from NYSUfilms on Vimeo.


 So, evidently this is,

"Ubangi Stomp Club, in association with Pablo Picante, presents La Noche De Los Monobandas (Night Of The One Man Bands) . Featuring Amazing One Man Band (Uruguay) vs The Fabulous Go Go Boy From Alabama (Brazil)"

It's so awesome how international this sound is now.  

Translation from a Brazilian blog:: 

April 29 was declared as "International Day of 'monoband," people who play alone
several instruments at once.

In several days 'monoband' will perform in different cities of Brazil and the universe, to express visually and musically their independent way of making art.

If you are a monoband this is your day to mess around and annoy or delight everyone with their sound and spread their art all over the city.

Introduce yourself and register your concert video. The videos will be joined subsequently released on the Internet.

In Sao Paulo:

1 - Xtreme Dog Blues & The Fabulous Go-Go Boy From Alabama in the Cathedral Square 15hs.

2 - Amazing One Man Band & The Fabulous Go-Go Boy From Alabama on the sidewalk of Avenida Paulista - Consolation between MASP and the 19hs.

Other performances take place in Curitiba, Blumenau, Belo Horizonte, Buenos Aires, the U.S. and Europe.

JOHN SCHOOLEY Should Be A Bigger Fckn Deal.

Last Nights Presents: Sightings, Circuit Des Yeux, Messages, Vizusa

Wednesday Wisdom...

Some recent links that caught my attention (and that, maybe, have yet to write about!)...

Mike Rimmer's eulogy for Gravy Train's guitarist, Norman Barratt
Have to confess the news of Norman's passing came as a tough one. Here was one of my contemporaries, we played many of the same stages, I admired his never flashy, expressive technique... The image of him playing his favourite cherry red Gibson 335 (special edition with Bigsby tremolo!), always reaching for the controls betwixt every phrase, while carefully chosen notes swooped and soared above everything else going on... He was a true musician's musician and a special guy.

Shane Claiborne and the Simple Way guys give out packs for school kids... click to help

A brilliant set of online jigsaw puzzles

Financial Times comment on the C of E's money troubles

St Luke's church Kentish Town gets, ahem, born again


Chords for Contemplation...

Been privileged to have been asked by Tim Abbott to compose and produce some music for CYO, a Colchester based organisation that provides resources to support Sanctum, who visit schools and create spiritual spaces that give students an opportunity to contemplate.

The four pieces are instrumental versions without the voiceover yet retaining the same title as each of the 'spaces' they were written for.



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Thx Joe Kessler!

Subway Sandwich Sensation...

We like this... Featuring beatboxer Yuri Lane demonstrating his technique of beatboxing through a harmonica. An advert you actually want to watch!