SIDETRACKS AND DETOURS
PASS IT ON
Weekend Walkabout volume 10
Sunday 23 July 2023
It is amazing that today´s post is already volume number 10 of Pass It On Weekend Walkabout to complement our free daily posts at Sidetracks And Detours available at https;//aata-dev/
I would like to thank all the contributors to this week´s bumper bundle sized edition that takes us from Morris Dance in the UK, through The Ribble Valley, with its jazz and blues down to Jazz In Reading from where we depart for Rio via New Orleans.
We listen to the radio of course, as we look at all points forward, Lendanerar to a singer song-writer and learn some island insights of Lanzarote.
With any luck, you might be able take break from your reading to enjoy the hour of dry weather promised later at Old Trafford so that England can win the test match and square the series. And it is just possible that McLroy or Rose, or the deserving Tommy Fleetwood might win The British Open Golf tournament ! We´ve seen funnier things happen on our weekend walkabouts !
Art And Culture: All Step Up ! by Derek Schofield, reviewed and obscured by Michael Higgins
Visual Art: The Metamorphosis July 2023 Festival, previewed by Anto Kerins
Visual Art: :Open Day Exhibition, by Claudie
Live Music Events: Feel The Power Of Live M usicfrom Manchesster Music Festival
Live Music: The Adsubian Gallery presents M:Davis
Live Jazz In Reading: From Rio To New Orleans preview by Jim Wade
Live Jazz In The Ribble Valley: Gigs This Week via Ribble Valley Jazz And Blues Festival
Jazz On Air: Hot Biscuits by Steve Bewick
On Air: music and chat from Lanzarote through Europe by Monster Radio
On Air: bringing music back with Boom Radio
A Readers Perspective: All Points Forward by Peter Pearson
Lendanear To Singer Songwriters: Sufjan Stevens by Ralph Dent
Island Insights: Teguise Goes Live by Norman Warwick
logo Culture And Tradition
All Step Up!
The History Of The Manley Morris Dancers
by Derek Schofield
´Reviewed and Obscured´ by Michael Higgins (left)
All Step Up, (right) is the beginning phrase and figure in the Morris Dance in question. But which Morris Dance? As the title suggests it is the Manley Morris Dance performed by the team trained up in 1934, at Manley in Cheshire, England, by Bob McDermott of Royton near Oldham, in Lancashire. The Royton team itself had been ‘revived’ by folk dance seeker Maud Karpeles in 1929 after meeting with the then leader James Coleman and its chief concertina player, Lees Kershaw. But Miss Karpeles also met in Royton with Bob McDermott and his brothers who constituted a major element of the Royton dance team and inherited responsibility, along with the English Folk Dance Society, for a form of dance riven by family rivalry. In her 1930 notation of the dance entitled The Lancashire Morris Dance she gives the information that Mr Coleman had taken over as leader from James Cheetham ‘about thirty years ago’. This was a little misleading and very general.
That thirty years seemed a long one with a temporary revival with a church boys’ team trained up by Coleman and the Mc Dermotts in the mid 1920s and an earlier temporary split in the team by the two families training up their own dancers as two separate teams before 1912. Consequently it was Bob McDermott, a dancer of great local renown at the time who was asked by the Howarth family of Manley, east of Chester and some forty miles from Royton, to train a team there. Dorothea Howarth, folk song and dance enthusiast, became Manley’s official founder and patron. Hence a gradual removal from the ‘tradition’ of Royton began, although Bob ‘borrowed’ Royton and Oldham musicians to play for Manley from time to time until his death in 1962.
All this is diplomatically treated by Derek Schofield as he moves on to the original dancers of Manley, the training of local recruits and the playing of the concertina, the traditional and ubiquitous musical accompaniment of all the Oldham area dancers. In this foreground the author explains the Folk Dance and Music Revival of the early twentieth century led by composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and the music teacher Cecil Sharp. He highlights Sharp’s ‘discovery’ of the Midlands/Cotswold handkerchief waving dance and his desire to keep this masculine tradition in being as opposed to his disdain for the views of folk enthusiast Mary Neale who saw in the dances therapeutic exercises for girls as well as boys and men. Schofield points out that Maud Karpeles (left) was of Cecil Sharp’s opinion. Hence The Howarth family’s desire to keep this masculine tradition alive, albeit by borrowing a Lancashire one, a dance associated with a smoky mill town and performed in wooden soled clogs cleated with irons, and alien to the very rural farming hamlet of Manley.
The associated dress of vandyke -seamed knee breeches, white stockings and colourful sashes and ribbons was also kept, the only difference being the adoption of a brimmed hat rather than the ubiquitous Royton jockey cap. Manley retained the rows of Royton neck beads and the cotton rope ‘slings’ or plaited cotton waste wrapped in beribboned calico which were twirled round the wrists and over the head as the dance progressed.
Schofield details the early characters – Leslie Howarth of the farming Howarth family and Caleb Walker, a tenant, the latter taught by Bob Mc Dermott to play the dance tunes and who became the mainstay of the musical accompaniment, along with drummer Harold Marshall borrowed from Royton and concertina player George Shannon from Oldham.
But it is Bob who retains top billing as he commutes from his home in the Oldham area some 40 miles away by train once a week for practice. And his views on the dance with ideas of where to ask to perform – local fetes, football matches, park carnivals – were a far removed scenario from the old pre First World War days when dancing was done on summer Saturdays after the mid-day finishing time at the mill via street dancing and the occasional long distance procession to Blackpool where dancing on the pier could be very lucrative indeed for the team collectors with their tin coin boxes. Indeed the dance used to be done in the early 19th century at the local summer wakes or saints’ holy days and once accompanied the carts of stacked rushes used annually to floor stone floored churches. Fancy rushcarts were occasionally built in the Oldham area well into the 1890s and occasionally pre- Great War days. But the dance had long become a separate event made more elaborate in its evolutions from its simple processing and brief crossing and criss- crossing at the public house and church ‘halts’,
The author details the movements of the Manley/Royton dance as the dancers progressed through time to their disbandment in 2005, explaining the ‘step ups ‘– rhythmically walking a few bars forward and back- and the various figures danced between changing ends and files. Indeed the dance was and is a changeable one which incorporates many figures which can be adopted to lengthen or shorten a routine depending on time and energy.
That energy seems to have carried the Manley team to folk festivals and like gatherings not only in various venues in Britain but in Ireland and on the continent too, where in the Netherlands they ‘invented’ a new figure called ‘Double Dutch’. These things happen for Bob McDermott was never averse to adapting figures to fit a need. And tradition can be very flexible.
By 2005 when age and lack of young recruits finally ended this run the Royton connection had ceased and it might be said that the dance had evolved as a local tradition. Yet in all this time the original Royton team went through several further revivals itself, last dancing in Royton in the 1980s. Bob Mc Dermott continued to dance with Royton in the 1930s (right) and he occasionally played concertina for them. After the Second World War they again reformed and in the wake of the coronation, in the early fifties were revived under the auspices of Royton Urban District Council and taught by old stalwart James Coleman and his son Norman. This team did not survive the 1960s but in the 1970s I helped to revive the dance again. Hence my involvement with the Morris Dance and its history and my late connection with the Manley/Royton story. I am referenced in the book and am perhaps too close to some aspects of the book to be reviewing it. As I have informed the author I could never chronicle the Royton Morris Dance and its performers as he has the Manley story. There were too many cooks and too many broths in Royton, especially in the bitter rivalry between the Mc Dermotts and the Colemans (though happily not the dancers). But for all their haphazard ways the dance had been performed in Royton at least since 1891, and possibly before that in the 187Os. So they too had had a good run.
In Manley the comparatively wealthier farming Howarths (compared to any Royton organisers) were already involved with the English Folk Dance Society when Bob was first invited to train the Manley team. And they provided the organisational support for its upkeep and public presence. Leslie Howarth and Colin Howarth were two dancing members and Dorothea Howarth was their ‘patron’ in spirit as well as word. She passed away in 1985. This book records in great detail the various members, conductors and musicians and bestows great credit on the archive keepers of the team and the work in collating documents and photos by the author of this historical chronicle. Alas, the sheer detail overwhelms the reader not familiar with all the personnel named in the book. Essentially it is a book for former members and the general English Folk Dance fellowship.
This could never be done for the Royton Morris Dancers, as the lack of book-keeping and hand-me –down half records of mill working , under-educated dancers, stretching back into the 19th century, gives it rather a legendary, saga type of narrative, full of half forgotten memories and punctuated by the meanest of masculine quarrels and overindulgent posturing. Great Drama, poor documentary material.
What Derek Schofield’s book does illustrate by its very scale and intensity is the 20th century diversion, or cultural appropriation, from the indigenous ‘folk’ who fashioned the Royton Morris Dance in the first place and the ‘Folk Dance Society’ of educated, and rather elite, patrons formed to take over the fading tradition.
All Step up Now- by Derek Schofield 2022. Published by the Author on behalf of Manley Morris Dancers.
The Metamorphosis July 2023 Festival
previewed by Anto Kerins
The Metamorphosis July 2023 Festival (right) is already in full swing and I´m sure Pass It On readers will enjoy reading about this excellent event and will hopefully put a date in their diary to visit an exhibition that runs until 30th July.
From the 1st to the 30th of July, in Arrecife Monday to Friday.
In Mala, Saturday & Sundays: here.
Lacuna Festivals are proud to present Metamorphosis 2023.
Metamorphosis 2023 is an International Contemporary Art Festival with 200 artists representing 65 countries. Artforms include the Fine Arts (painting, sculpture and drawing), Video Art, Animation, Fashion, Performance Art, Dance, Spoken Word, Written Word, Virtual Reality and Installation.
Come and see the physical exhibitions at Sala de Exposiciones El Quirófano (Mon-Fri, 16h-20h) and Galeria ArtenMala (Sat-Sun, 12h-22h) and enjoy our digital galleries online at ArtSteps, Youtube and Flickr.
Throughout July we also have events taking place online and face to face in our gallery spaces. Events include practical artist workshops, panel discussions, performances and talks from leading contemporary artists.
Find out more by visiting our website: lacunafestivals.com and keep up with all the latest updates by following us on Instagram @LacunaFestivals
photo room Shown is a photo from the Sala el Quirofano exhibition centre in Arrecife which includes my Spring War – Summer triptych close up and in context. I very much hope you can visit the exhibition and meet the organisers Sarah-Jane and Simon. email@example.com They are doing a really marvellous job – you will enjoy you visit.
We published a Gathering of Anton´s poetry in our Sidetracks And Detours Pass It On Sunday Supplement on 11th June and have also included on 27th April a story entitled xxxx in our daily Sidetracks And Detours posting. Both articles can be found in our easy to negotiate archives of almost 1,000 free articles.
Sidetracks And Detours staff will certainly be visiting the exhibition, and naturally, will deliver our revire in a forthcoming Pass It On Sunday supplement.
We are grateful to Anton for keeping us informed.
Open Day Exhibition
The art pieces Claudie creates would complement any home. Her range is quite extraordinary and she offers a panoramic ocerview of this world we share, and then fixes her microscopic eye on to the tiniest,seemingly most insignifcant something we might have missed. Her works sell well, and a couple of years ago she enjoyed a very successful exhibition in the gorgeous La Ermita Marina Rubicon, and we attended a glorious opening evening event, complete with drinks and nibbles and wonderfully complementary live instrumentalist.
The next occasion we met Claudie was at a Christmas Artists´ Market she had eveny helped organise in the open air Plaza Del Lyons in Teguise which showcased a dozen or so of the island´s excellent artists and craftsmen. Claudie had her own stall, too, and assumed what we now know is her constant alchemy of welcoming receptionist, art expert and enthusiast: all whirling freely on a whirlwind of joie de vivre.
She jokes now that she feels that she lives in a gallery, with so many self.made artworks decorating her house, which she regularly opens to the public. These open days, in the beautiful sea port of Orzola, right in the North of Lanzarote, already attract plenty of visitors, but Claudie is also aware that Sunday is a busy family and market day on Lanzarote so not everyone can get to her frequent Sunday openings. She therefore invites anyone who would like to enjoy a non-obligatory viewing can get in touch with Claudie followinf the detials on the logo, to arrange an appointment.
We wonder if Van Gogh ever thought of that !
Live Music Events
Feel The Power Of Live Music
from Manchesster Music Festival
Manchester Music Festival, in collaboration with Green Mountain Academy for Lifelong Learning, presentsIN CONVERSATION: The End of Classical Music is Vastly Overrated.
Classical music has thrived for centuries and is one of the most powerful, moving, and enriching genres; but many say classical music is now facing its biggest challenges of all time. Join MMF Artistic Director Philip Setzer and the hosts of Vermont Public Classical Helen Lyons and James Stewart on Tuesday, July 25 at 5:30 pm in the Manchester Community Library for a thought-provoking discussion on its place in history and in today’s world. We’ll also hear from some of the pre-professional musicians of MMF’s renowned Young Artists Program.
Philip Setzer is a versatile musician with innovative vision and dedication to keep the art form of classical music alive. He was recently appointed as Artistic Director of Manchester Music Festival and he will usher in a new era as MMF celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024. In addition to being a founding member of the world-renowned Emerson String Quartet, Philip serves as Distinguished Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at SUNY-Stony Brook, Visiting Professor of Violin and Artistic Director of Strings Chamber Music at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Director of the Shouse Institute of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival.
Helen Lyons serves as the Music Manager and host of Vermont Public Classical’s Monday-Saturday morning program. She grew up in Williston, Vermont, and holds a BA in Music from Wellesley College and Artist Diplomas from the Royal Academy of Music in London, and College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. She has enjoyed an international singing career spanning three continents, performing in Europe, China, The Philippines, and the USA.
James Stewart is Vermont Public Classical’s afternoon host. As a composer, he is interested in many different genres of music; writing for rock bands, symphony orchestras and everything in between. James received a Bachelor of Science in Music with an emphasis in Composition from Toccoa Falls College in Northeast Georgia in 2001. In 2007, James earned his Master’s of Music in Composition from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. There he also made connections with the Open Dream Ensemble, an outreach arm of UNCSA and the Kenan Institute for the Arts.
Violinist Bree Fotheringham is a dedicated artist and advocate for classical music in the 21st century. As a soloist, she has garnered awards including the 2020 Grand prize at the Whittier Young Artist Competition and has appeared with the Utah Symphony and the Colburn Zipper Orchestra, among others. An enthusiastic chamber musician, Fotheringham was awarded the North American Recovered Voices Competition prize and has shared the stage with prominent artists such as Noah Bendix-Balgley, Andrew Marriner, and Clive Greensmith.
Johannes Rosenberg, born in 1999 in Bamberg, Germany, is a violinist currently studying in the Master of Music Program at the University of Arts Berlin. As an avid chamber musician, he has been invited to such prestigious festivals as the Lucerne Festival (as a member of the Lucerne Festival Academy), the Davos Festival, the International Music Students Festival in Kyoto, Japan, and the crescendo Festival Berlin.
presents M. Davis In Concert
We are always pleased to announce details of schools, workshops, meet the artist events and of course exhibitions from the beautiful and much-loved Adsubian Gallery In Spain, but I am not sure we would have expected to learn of them hosting live music sessions. Nevertheless take note of the details (left) , and if you arer in the area why not support what I think is a new venture and a fine example of joined up thinking?
The Adsubian Gallery present M.Davis in concert
5th of August 2023
20.00 – 23.00h
Singing Soul, Jazz, R&B and more, from the 50s, 60s, 70,s 80s ……🎤
Tickets 10€ per person
Refreshments to purchase from La Pianola. Show your entrance ticket to receive your discount.
The concert will take place on the annexe terrace (10a Calle Principal)
Visit or call the gallery to purchase your tickets 634 312 826
Jazz In Reading
FROM NEW ORELEANS TO RIO: Thomas L´Etienne
preview by Jim Wade
Sunday 30 July
From New Orleans to Rio with Thomas L’Etienne
Gates 12pm, food at approx 1:30pm. Music from about 3pm
£22, child £10, under ten free
Pre-order food when purchasing tickets
Information and tickets
Here’s news of another great event in the series Jazz at Oaken Grove Vineyard. located at Benhams Lane, Fawley, Henley-on-Thames RG9 6JG.
Gates open at midday and guests are welcome to enjoy drinks on the wine terrace before the jazz starts, Wines from the vineyard as well as other guest wines and local beers will be available to order. Food is available to pre-order
The German clarinetist and saxophonist Thomas L’Etienne is a well established name on the European jazz scene. So, take a musical round trip with Thomas and friends
With a jazz clarinetist and saxophonist this will be a beautiful way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
Thomas was living and working as a musician in New Orleans for fifteen years. In the last decade, he has spent at least three months each year in Rio de Janeiro studying and playing Brazilian choro and samba music.
You will visit all these musical merltin pots in the course of the afternoon, whilst enjoying,…
Lunch – Sharing Platters Accompanying the music will be the amazing sharing platters made fresh on the premises. Packed with local cheeses from Marlow Cheese and Nettlebed Creamery, fresh charcuterie, crackers, pickles, nuts and more, please order your meat or vegetarian option at checkout. Gates open at 12.00pm midday after which food will be served at approximately 1.30pm and the music will start at about 3.00pm
Jazz On Air
by Steve Bewick
Next week our Hot Biscuits programme from the mix-cloud features a few tracks from the Tim Franks Quartet, with Tim (right) on drums, Dave Turner Bass, Tim France Tenor sax and Gary Boyle on guitar live from the The Carlton Club.
Tim describes himself, on his web site auto bio, as ´an Artistic drummer with my own style´.
He was íIntroduced to drumming at a very young age, not only from watching his Dad´s band play but also from practicing rudiments on the kitchen table with his grandpa, Carl Red Franks, a legendary, big-band jazz drummer. Along the road, there have been many sources of inspiration including great musicians that Tim has played with over the years and drummers that he aspired to.
´There are so many great drummers´, says Tim, ´but my favourite current drummers are, Mike Portnoy, Mike Mangini, Terry Bozzio and the drummers that inspired them, Niel Peart, John Bonham, Kieth Moon, and the incredible drummers that inspired them, like Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, and Gene Krupa. Too many to list here. A wise friend of mine once told me not to try so hard to sound like other drummers but to just be myself and create my own sound and ever since then, that’s what I´ve done. I’ve been playing professionally since high school and further developed my skills performing with the Gilroy High Drum Corps and the undefeated Central Coast Drum Drum Busters.
In 1988, Tim was the recipient of Gavilan College “Outstanding Instrumentalist Award” for excellent live performances on the drums.
I play both acoustic and electronic percussion´, he explains. ´depending on the use case, and I write, record and perform with bands that have many different styles.
Also featured on Hot Biscuits this week will be Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz of Verve Records, with a story about that girl from Ipanema. You will hear the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, a remix from De-Phazz and Trish Kelly Clowes in free –fall with Ross Stanley on piano. Tom Ollendorff Trio deliver Charlie Parkers’ `Bongo Beep.` The show will c lose with with Richard Jones Trio playing `Mr Relaxed.`
there is plednty ther to interestthe jazz buffs and the newcomers to the genre, so be sure to check out our lionk and have a listen and then pass it on to friends who can tune in any time on www.mixcloud.com/stevebewick/ 24/07
music and chat from Lanzarote through Europe
by Monster Radio
I don´t think there´s a blue plaque on the studio wall or any thing like that but i have two or three times been invited by radio broadcaster and writer Aileen AJ the4 DJ Henry to sit and have a live chat with her on air, one of the conversations she calls A Perfect Storm
She asks questions just pointed enough to keep gursts like me focussed and at the same time, Desert Island Discs fashion, she aks us to slect five to ten favourite tracks that in some way define our lives.
AJ the DJ is informed and infomative and wiuth a sense of humour, and is just one of the several excellent broadcasters at a station that delivers jazz, country, blues and pop from Lanzarote across The Canary Islands and mainland Eyrope.
Give it a google, twist your radio dial to the right setting and tune,….we thoroughly recommend the island vibe.
brining music back
Boom Radio (also Boom Radio UK) is an independent, commercial, national radio station in the United Kingdom. Owned by Boom Radio Ltd, the station is aimed at baby boomers, the generation of people born between 1946 and 1964, and is the first radio station in the UK to specifically target this age demographic. Launched on 14 February 2021, Boom Radio broadcasts nationally on the Sound Digital DAB multiplex and is also available online.
The station was developed and launched by Phil Riley and David Lloyd, two commercial radio executives who felt older listeners were being overlooked by stations such as BBC Radio 2 in favour of a younger audience, and Boom plans to compete with Radio 2. Boom’s content features a mixture of music, conversation and radio personality, with presenters including many who have previously made their name in national and commercial radio, such as Graham Dene, David Hamilton and Diana Luke. The programming for Boom Radio is recorded and presented remotely by its presenters from their own homes, rather than being done in a traditional in-house studio setting. Boom’s launch against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic influenced its decision to operate without a central studio, and it is believed to be the first national UK station without such a facility.
A Readers Perspective
ALL POINTS FORWARD
by Peter Pearson
With the Knopfler Kronikles being left open for his scheduled new album, you might be right in suggesting that the flight of The Eagles might offer us a similarly interesting diaspora to discover-
The Eagles have always performed in this area on their UK visits since I can remember and I have always attended, so that’s a lot of gigs.
Interestingly, at the Liverpool gig a couple of years ago my brother and I were sat amongst a group of avid fans a bit younger than us who enquired if we had seen them before. We responded that we had first seen them at Bingley Hall Stafford (an agricultural auction hall) on their Hotel California Tour 1977 -our inquisitors had no idea they had ever performed at such a venue.
Today, stubs (left) sell on Ebay for £30 for a concert for which the ticket was £3-50. I still have mine. I could wax lyrical about the sound and presentation because at that time most acts we were seeing sounded nothing like their recordings. The Eagles, though, were note perfect !
Dan Fogelberg (right) appears on the ticket as support and I was so looking forward to seeing him as well. Sadly he pulled out sick at the last minute and Valerie Carter replaced him.
So this would be the concert I would select as my favourite Eagles performance. certainly it is the one of whicvh I hold the fondest memories. These include elements peculiar to the venue and its surroundings which are worth adding, alo9ngside the fact that Bernie Leadon had just been replaced by Joe Walsh and Randy Meisner was still there.
I think it is a good idea to leave the Knopfler Kronikles open. I keep a watch on a web site that provides almost daily updates on Mark and his musical activites. There seems to be a lot of noise about a forthcoming album. Although there is no hope of a tour to support the album, one or two gigs seem to being considered. This is án exceptionally helpful site, sympathetic to the needs of the fans
There is no comparison between the way the Eagles treat their fans and the way Knopfler does. Mark really looks after them.
For instance, signing up to his web site has enabled me to bypass the Ticket Masters of this world and get front row seats at the best prices, He has previously given members free CD’s and downloads when purchasing tickets. He lined up with the other members of the Notting Hillbillies at Southport Theatre after the gig to provide autographs. I could go on. Alas the Eagles are polar opposites. Maybe the Irving Azoff factor.
Lendanear to singer-writers:
SUFJAN STEVENS: Notes In A Beginner´s Mind
an article by Pat King.
that enthused Ralph Dent
Like a teacher’s pet eager to please, Sufjan Stevens certainly enjoys having an assignment attached to his art. For a while there, the lines were certainly blurred on whether the guy was releasing actual albums or instalments. Earlier in his career he teased fans, and maybe more so the music press, with his audacious plan to write and record 50 albums, one for each U.S. state. The grandiose promise was never kept, of course, as he was only able to tackle two—his 2003 debut Michigan and his 2005 breakthrough Illinois—before his attention veered elsewhere. I first became aware of his music in Paste on-line magazine and we have previously featured Sufjan on our pages in an article entitled Self Leadership, A Path To Follow posted on 21st July 2021. Now come follow your art down the sidetracks & detours of A Beginner´s Mind, led by Pat King, a Philadelphia journalist who hosts the In Conversation podcast at Ears to Feed.
Throughout Sufjan Stevens’ extended break from his affair with regional history through song, his sheer ambition as an artist has never wavered. He’s maintained a relatively prolific streak while taking attentive notes, with prime examples being his detours into a complete album of Christmas music, and his sound-tracking work for the films The BQE and, more notably, Call My By Your Name. But with his brand new collaborative album A Beginners’ Mind (right) , with fellow Asthmatic Kitty recording artist Angelo De Augustine, the parameters of the project seem less rigid in execution than they have been in the past.
While Stevens (right) is no stranger to genre exploration and experimentation, something he has never been able to shake free of is how tightly wound his music sounds upon execution. Whether it was his Whoville marching band orchestrations on his maximalist twee masterpiece Illinois, the electronic textures on 2010’s polarizing The Age of Adz or last year’s The Ascension, you could feel him labour ring over countless hours of transcribing the exact notes. The perspiration dripping from his brow gave weight to every last whispered lyric and wrung-out glockenspiel hit. Even his revelatory (and arguably best) record Carrie and Lowell, which was much more minimal in musical breadth than anything he had done since early records like Seven Swans, felt claustrophobic in it’s white-hot emotional depth and recorded in a way that was almost too close for comfort.
photo 2 album´But with A Beginner’s Mind´, says pat King, ¨Sufjan Stevens the auteur has loosened his grip enough to concede some creative control. The album is, according to the credits, a total collaborative effort with De Augustine—according to the liner notes, the two wrote, arranged, performed and mixed everything on the record, save for extra drum and bass accompaniment on Back To Oz and backing vocals on Lacrimae by Melissa Mary Ahern. The two wrote the album together, trading verses and choruses during a month-long writing blitz while staying at a friend’s cabin in Upstate New York.
Of course, this is a Sufjan project. So the footnote that goes along with the record should be explained. Apparently, the two soft-spoken troubadours bonded over their appreciation of the silver screen as the 14 songs on A Beginner’s Mind were inspired by specific films that they watched together during their stay. The two cite a wide variety of works that span all genres and levels of “sophistication,” such as The Night of the Living Dead, All About Eve, Point Break, She’s Gotta Have It and Wings O Desire. Another film that inspired the two was Silence of the Lambs, so much so that the two dedicated this album to the loving memory of that film’s director, Jonathan Demme.
The album takes its name from the Zen Buddhist term Shoshin, which encourages those who practice to approach situations with a sense of openness and the acceptance of a “beginners mind.” It’s a message that permeates the record in both its message and in its construction. Stevens and De Augustine both possess gorgeous falsettos that evoke a certain beauty on their own. But on the moments that they sing in tandem on the album, they conjure elemental harmonies that neither could have achieved while double-tracking alone in the hushed corners of a studio. On the opener, Reach Out, the pair sound like a bruised, cardigan-draped interpretation of the Everly Brothers as their voices meld with one another like two spirits holding hands and walking through a brick wall into some realm beyond our world.
Neither of their personalities as vocalists are diminished in this collision, as Stevens assumes his role of the lower register and De Augustine hits the high notes. While this aspect of the record is an endless thrill that only grows more impressive as you get further into the track-list, perhaps its greatest achievement is the downright loose feel of some of the orchestrations and performances that the two were able to pull from one another in this collaboration. By no means is this The Replacements’ Hootenanny, but there is a sense of ramshackle comfort and ease to these songs. While most of the tracklist maintains a stripped-down, conjoined-twin troubadour feeling, moments like the up-tempo, psychedelic pop of Back To Oz feel as close these two have come to making a racket in a garage just for kicks in quite some time.
Rarely is there any sense of bombastic flair, and in certain moments, like the Stevens-led piano ballad (This Is) The Thing and the lo-fi It’s Your Own Body And Mind, you get a sense that the initial voice memos are what the two built around to create what you would ultimately hear on the record. These breaks from harmony provide an extra wallop whenever they appear, like on the tender Murder And Crime, where De Augustine is given the spotlight to deliver its final blow. “Where does everything go when everything’s gone?” he asks as Stevens’ breathy vocal accompaniment trails off, “For my heart cannot break much more.”
The instrumentation on these candlelit ballads is reminiscent of both Stevens’ Carrie and Lowell and De Augustine’s 2019 album Tomb. The squeak of steel strings is picked up on finger-picked acoustic guitars. Piano keys moan against the wood as they are delicately pressed so as not to overcrowd. On the album’s penultimate track, the ode to Jonathan Demme and Silence of the Lambs’ Agent Clarice Starling, Cimmerian Shade, you are able to hear where the idea for this project jumped from a Google Drive planning session to a lasting moment of beauty. The song unfolds over a gorgeous finger-picked guitar and mandolin, with both Stevens and De Augustine unpacking the character’s arc of outrunning shame and achieving self-acceptance. “I just wanted you to know me / I just wanted to love myself,” they plead in the chorus, “Fix it all, Jonathan Demme / Beauty resides where your spirit dwells.”
– and collaborative releases like this one generally tend to be more interesting on paper than they are in execution. They are sought after by completists in order to have the spine to point to on their record shelves, or listened to to fulfill the curiosity of casual fans. But with A Beginner’s Mind, Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine have stumbled upon a beautiful vocal recipe. This could be both a blessing and a curse, however, as it will be hard to hear either of their voices isolated on their own future solo projects and not think of how the other could have enhanced them with their presence. Some bells don’t need to be unrung. Like the quid pro quo made with a caged murderer in Demme’s Silence of the Lambs, the outcome is too important to deny´.
Classic Cars, Scooters, Motor Bykes & Mariarchi Music as
TEGUISE GOES LIVE
for fiestas De xxx
Plaza De La Mareta dela Villa De Teguise
Saturday 8th July 12.30 to 18.30
reviewed by Norman Warwick
The Festival Of The Virgin Del Carmen is celebrated in all the municipalities of Lnazarote at this time of year. There is particular colour and pageantry in the fiestas and events held in the coastal towns, but in the former capital, Teguise, they do it slightly differently. This year, the town is promoting a wide and diverse series of events running from 6th to 22nd July.
The Día de la Virgen del Carmen is celebrated on July 16th in many coastal towns and villages across mainland Spain and throughout its islands. Places as diverse as Almuñecar, on the coast of Granada province, and Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife share the festival with many other coastal communities in Andalucia, Murcia, Valencia and Catalonia.
The Old Testament prophet Elias, towards the end of his life, became a hermit in a cave on Mount Carmelo. Hundreds of years later, pilgrims trying to follow in the prophet’s footsteps, invoked the protection of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmelo – Stella Maris, the Virgin of Carmen. Now, the Virgin is the patroness and protector of all seamen, fishermen and even, as we shall see later, scuba divers.
Most of the Día de la Virgen del Carmen traditions involve at least one parade through the town, making its way to the sea front. Usually, a flower-strewn effigy of the Virgin is carried through the streets by a group of the local fishermen. When they reach the sea, they are usually met by a flotilla of illuminated and boats, all sounding their horns and decorated by flags and flowers. After prayers are made for all those at sea, the statue is then customarily taken on a boat, around the local harbour as the fireworks and bands accompany her journey.
The Virgin, according to the legend, is responsible for keeping the waters around the shore clean and safe; many devotees used to refuse to swim until after July 16th!
Obviously each of the towns holding their own celebrations will adapt the proceedings according to their own traditions. Since 1981, for example, when local scuba divers placed an image of the Virgin on the sea bed, a part of the tradition in Malaga has involved divers paying their own respects to their underwater patron. In Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife doves are released when the Virgin is taken onto the boat.
In our home town of Playa Blanca, here on Lanzarote, the local priest is taken out to sea on a boat surrounded by an array of freshly washed down and licked by paint, to look at their best when they follow and settle by the lead boat to hear special mass, delivered, at sea by the priest, at sea, with often thousands of spectators watching from the sea walks and rocks.
Always fascinating for visitors, the Día de la Virgen is similar to many of the traditional Spanish festivals in that it manages to combine religious devotion with a seemingly endless capacity for partying – without any sense of incongruity. Being held in the middle of a Canary Island summer, barbecues on the beach feature strongly in many places – and very late nights, of course.
As all the boats later return home, it is not uncommon to see the pries jump off the boat and wade in the water (to reference my favourite gospel song), often knee deep, and we have seen the odd mishap with the priest ending up fully soaked.
Always a stirring celebration, and often profoundly moving, Día de la Virgen days are amongst the most important celebrations on the Spanish mainland and on the islands, in, often uniting visitors and local inhabitants who together symbolically acknowledge the need for protection for ‘those in peril on the sea´ (to reference one of my favourite hymns that I remember from my primary school days some sixty years ago).
The Festival Of The Virgin Del Carmen is celebrated in all the municipalities of Lanzarote at this time of year. There is particular colour and pageantry in the fiestas and events held in the coastal towns, but in the former capital, Teguise, they do it slightly differently. This year, the town is promoted a wide and diverse series of events running from 6th to 22nd July.
So on Saturday 8th July 2023, my wife Dee and I set out on what would be the first of several visits in July to Teguise, geographically pretty much in the centre of the island. The advertising posters, all over the town and the rest of Lanzarote are not always directed at we who don´t speak Spanish so, although we had seen such advertising on garage counters or tied to lamp-posts I was glad to see a poster included in Miguel´s What´s On Lanzarote on line site, for which I write a weekly column. It was from that source we had learned about the day´s events.
Even then we had to do some bits of research. The events were taking place around a small stage built in front of the ´tent´ that will also serve as a venue for other concerts over the period of the festival. This was all taking place in the large square to which the Sunday morning market has recently been moved to accommodate the ever-increasing number of visitors.
The first thing we noticed was that parked in front of the very long wall that runs along the ´back´of the square were around twenty classic cars ans,motor cycles and scooters parked to show them at their best by their proud owners.
From Rolls Royce to Mini, they were all there, gleaming and immaculate, with a dozen scooters and even more motor bykes demanding our attention, so we had a wander and took some photographs. As we came back down the line we were delighted to see that open again after all this time was La Palmera, that until it closed down as a result of the pandemic, was the absolute epitome to me of what a blues bar should be: Low Ceilinged, dimly lit, a well stocked bar, good acoustics, very visible stage, a strong guest lisd,t of excellent musicians of the genre and a fantastic menu.
We both stopped in surprise to see the place with an open front door once more, and we headed straight over to it and through it. At the moment it is only opening on Saturdays and Sundays, when the town best attracts visitors, but we were told the owners will soon be having a triall run of Friday openings, too, though whether or not Friday will once again become the live music night is uncertain.
With the sound in the square still being check, checked and one, twod too, and lots of si, si it was like every sound check you have ever heard. There was though, a strange phenomenon, due to Lanzarote´s wind system, open deserted landscapes and high mountains and walls and buildings, we found ourselves in the midst of the best stereo separation I had ever heard, as the sound from the speakers flew across the square, hit the wall and bounced back.
We sat outside the bar, scoffing nacho and chips and quaffing white wine (Dee) and beer (me). It was great stuff and the service was friendly and prompt and we were able to return to the front of the stage just as the opening band, Nueva Stella introduced their first number. It was lively and bouncy and delivered with great energy by a male and female singing and dancing duo and their keyboard accompanist.
There were all sorts of sinewy, snaky, Latin American riffs going on as three ladies of a certain age followed suit with some joyous and soulful dancing in front of the stage.
The overall feel I took fromNueva Stella´s music was that of a modern Mariarchi sound, incorporating other genres such as ranchera songs, the bolero ranchero and even the cumbia from Colombia. into its traditional string music, song and trumpet format. Mariarchi is actually Mexico´s most emblematic music but From my early teens I have been a fan of how Linda Ronstadt incorporated Mariarchi in to her rock gigs. Mariachi is still very popular in Mexico and other parts of the world, especially in countries where it is associated with the culture and traditions. It offers an insight into Mexican culture and remains some of the country’s most popular music.
What the band here were offering was an infectious and irresistible fusion of Latin America, Cuban and Mexican sounds and those loyal friends and front row dancers were stepping and swaying, somehow seemingly knowing every word of every song.
I am not being disparaging to Nueva Stella in saying that much of their music was in the same tempo. This was a great opportunity to demonstrate what they obviously do best. They
had been invited, I guess, so that they could create a festival atmosphere and engage with the static audience and the passers by, as well as the danceers. Constantly, throughout the performance, young mums and dads would take their young children out on to the dance floor, where they could run around and giggle as dad ´dad-danced´.
The keyboard and backing tracks were in perfect sync and the vocal duo were light on their feet, too, stepping out, in white t shirts and black shorts like George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in Wham, when they were big at the Club Tropicana. These two people stepped and bopped with as much good timing and joy as Wham used to,…..and at the end of their high-energy ninety minute performance, there was one of those original three dancers, still moving, and never putting a foot wrong.
The refreshment van parked nearby seemed to be doing brisk trade, so while Dee found a bench in the shade in a leafy glade, I went over and purchased a wine and a half of beer, before we listened to a sound check that didn´t seem to be going as smoothly as had that of the Mariarchi band.
Café Con Leche, being a more acoustic set, might have required a little more precision in their mix, and the diligence of them and their sound man was certainly subsequently rewarded by clear, crisp and dreamy vocal and acoustic deliveries.
They were perfect to follow the high energy of the past hour or two, and we remained in our ´best bench in the house´ to listen to a set that put me in mind of the English folk music of the sixties and seventies. There were echoes of Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor and even of the wonderful Magna Carta.
There were pretty guitar runs, gentle vocals and haunting choruses, and I even suspect some of the material might have been self penned.
The show was now running late, meaning we wouldn´t be able to catch the two final acts by Sin Red Social and DJ Juan Hernandez., whiuch I guess would have drawn a different évening´crowd.
photo castle Nevertheless, we couldn´t complain. This had been a free event and we had seen two excellent groups, whilst sitting in the shade from the glorious sunshine, amidst hundreds of people, watching the young parents and their tiny dancers, surrounded by classic vehicles, with the castle on the horizon behind them. seemingly protecting us today as it has for over four centuries
What more could we have asked ?
From Monday 24th Auguust 2023 to Friday 28th July 2023, we will follow Sidetracks & Detours across some interesting terrain. We´re packing a Dolly Novel to read around the campfire, and we´ll discuss merits, and de-merits of the children´s song, Eeny Meeny. You might need strong shoes in the middle of the week when we come to a sign warning, Muddy Road Ahead, We will also enjoy one great jazz man celebrating the life of a late, great jazz man and we´ll just about get home in time to continue building that bigger bookshelf to ensure we can make room for in the sidings for that Long Train Runnin´. We´ll then have a day off on Sauturday 29th July to workl on the following day´s Pass It On Weekend >Walkabout, which will include a close look at The Art Of Timing.
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