Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The Half Moon in Putney (South West London) has been hosting live music regularly since 1963. Since that time it has seen performances by, among others, The Rolling Stones, U2, The Small Faces, Ralph McTell, Badly Drawn Boy, Richard Thompson, Kate Bush, Kasabian, The Wombats, Newton Faulkner and Mr Hudson. The current tenant has been ordered by the brewery (Youngs) to quit the pub by the end of January 2010 and there are fears that the venue could be turned into a gastro pub. Following a public campaign, Youngs are now saying they are sympathetic to music remaining in the pub but it seems that the new tenant could decide otherwise. See Save the Half Moon on Facebook for latest news.
The Foundry in Shoreditch is a relative newcomer and a different kind of venue. Not so much a music pub like the Half Moon , more of a bar with art/performance/music and various other parties and happenings. It has a squat bar ambience of the kind found in places like Berlin or Rome but rarely in London, although it is not actually squatted. Anyway it is facing demolition and replacement by a hotel - almost a text book case in the urban regeneration cycle whereby hipsters take over run down properties for low or no rent, make an area trendy, and then are displaced by corporate operators cashing in on the value they have added. The Save the Foundry campaign is urging people to comment on the planning application for the hotel - the deadline is 4th January.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
So, a short series on some of these musical and dancing deities start with Saraswati, an Indian goddess associated with knowledge, music and the arts. She is usually shown holding a stringed instrument called a Veena. While Saraswati is mostly a figure in Hinduism, she is also acknowledged by Buddhists. Musicians and others often recite a mantra known as the Saraswati Vandana Mantra, which goes: 'May Goddess Saraswati, who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon, and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops; who is adorned in radiant white attire, on whose beautiful arm rests the veena, and whose throne is a white lotus; who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me. May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance'.
Monday, December 21, 2009
On Friday 11th December 2009 Andy Norman, host and organiser of Thimbleberry Music Festival in County Durham, UK appeared in court facing the charge that he "did permit the use of cannabis on his premises". The charge relates to alleged use by the festival-goers of cannabis at the last September festival. He has not entered a plea and is due back in court on the 5th February 2010 to face committal to Crown Court.
The charge is being brought under Section 8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. An amendment to this Act passed by the Government in 2001 made it a criminal offence for people to knowingly allow premises they own, manage, or have responsibility for, to be used by any other person for the adminstration or use of any controlled drugs.
A conviction would doubtless be used as a pretext not to grant a licence for the festival next year, and would also set a very dubious precedent. People inhale at pretty much all festivals, so presumably the police could charge anybody organising or hosting a festival with this offence.
There is a facebook group in support of the festival.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
It is not a particularly uplifting book. The description of the massacre itself - and indeed of earlier atrocities in the Cultural Revolution period - is, as you might expect, very harrowing. But there is also an honest treatment of divisions with the protest movement. The narrator's judgement is presumably also the author's: 'When the guns were pointing at our heads, we were still wasting time squabbling among ourselves. We were courageous but inexperienced, and had little understanding of Chinese history'.
Although the Square where the demonstrators camped out was ultimately to be a killing zone, there is also a sense that within it a zone of freedom was temporarily created where thousands of (mainly) young people were able to escape the rigid controls of living in a police state: 'Tiananmen Square was the heart of our nation, a vast open space where millions of tiny cells could gather together and forget themselves and, more importantly, forget the thick, oppressive walls that enclosed them'.
The author describes moments of festivity - in a sense Tiananmen Square was that generation's Woodstock as well as its Wounded Knee: 'The Square was blanketed in dawn fog. Everything was quiet. The nights were much livelier. Boys would sit back to back drinking beer. Couples would huddle in quiet corners humming love songs to one another, then sneak off into empty tents to make love. It was like a huge party'.
When the Goddess of Democracy statue was raised in the square 'Students from the Academy of Music stood up and sang 'The Blood-stained spirit' and Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy'. Barechested boys from the Dance Academy performed a Shaanxi Province folk dance, beating drums tied to their waist'. In another episode, two characters get married in the Square: 'Someone put a tape in the cassette player and told the newly-wed couple to dance....The crowd of children and adults began to dance too. The air and sunlight seemed to move to the rhythm. As the crowd spread out, the paved terrace began to shake. 'This is the season of love... You can smell the love in the air, Everyone needs to fall in love....' Soon everyone on the Square was dancing. Tens of thousands of people were singing, clapping and stamping their feet. The Goddess of Democracy's upheld arms looking like a flock of white doves soaring into the blue sky'
Another feature of the movement was that protestors continued to sing socialist songs, in particular the Internationale. As the soldiers gathered to crush the protest. 'The broadcast station played a tape of the Internationale. The sound was louder and cracklier than usual. Everyone in the square sang along. The announcements blaring from the government speakers on the lamp posts had become louder too, and the echoes added to the din'. The author is aware of the contradictions of this: 'The national anthem blared out again from the loudspeakers on the Monument. 'Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves! With our flesh and blood, let us build a new Great Wall'. As we sang along, we began to relax a little. It occurred to me that most of the people who'd been shot by the Party since 1949 had shouted 'Long live the Communist Party!' when the bullets were fired. I wondered whether I, too, was going to die singing the national anthem beneath the national flag'.
This caused me to reflect too - to what extent can the language and symbols of the 19th and 20th century socialist movement still be used by those who aspire to a better world? Can the red flag, the Internationale, the hammer and sickle be reclaimed or have they been tarnished beyond repair by the butchers of China, Cambodia and the USSR? I am not sure.
Monday, December 14, 2009
... and the Climate Camp with similar concerns, while world leaders convene in Copenhagen. There didn't seem to be a lot going on and it was much smaller than the Camp on Blackheath over the summer. I guess the temperature had something to do with that, and the fact that a lot of activists have headed to Denmark.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Mr. Stopford Brooke said some time ago that Socialism and the socialistic spirit would give our poets nobler and loftier themes for song, would widen their sympathies and enlarge the horizon of their vision and would touch, with the fire and fervour of a new faith, lips that had else been silent, hearts that but for this fresh gospel had been cold. What Art gains from contemporary events is always a fascinating problem and a problem that is not easy to solve. It is, however, certain that Socialism starts well equipped. She has her poets and her painters, her art lecturers and her cunning designers, her powerful orators and her clever writers. If she fails it will not be for lack of expression. If she succeeds her triumph will not be a triumph of mere brute force.
The first thing that strikes one, as one looks over the list of contributors to Mr. Edward Carpenter's Chants of Labour, is the curious variety of their several occupations, the wide differences of social position that exist between them, and the strange medley of men whom a common passion has for the moment united. The editor is a 'Science lecturer'; he is followed by a draper and a porter; then we have two late Eton masters and then two bootmakers; and these are, in their turn, succeeded by an ex-Lord Mayor of Dublin, a bookbinder, a photographer, a steel-worker and an authoress. On one page we have a journalist, a draughtsman and a music-teacher: and on another a Civil servant, a machine fitter, a medical student, a cabinet-maker and a minister of the Church of Scotland.
Certainly, it is no ordinary movement that can bind together in close brotherhood men of such dissimilar pursuits, and when we mention that Mr.William Morris is one of the singers, and that Mr. Walter Crane has designed the cover and frontispiece of the book, we cannot but feel that, as we pointed out before, Socialism starts well equipped.
As for the songs themselves, some of them, to quote from the editor's preface, are 'purely revolutionary, others are Christian in tone; there are some that might be called merely material in their tendency, while many are of a highly ideal and visionary character.' This is, on the whole, very promising. It shows that Socialism is not going to allow herself to be trammelled by any hard and fast creed or to be stereotyped into an iron formula. She welcomes many and multiform natures. She rejects none and has room for all. She has the attraction of a wonderful personality and touches the heart of one and the brain of another, and draws this man by his hatred of injustice, and his neighbour by his faith in the future, and a third, it may be, by his love of art or by his wild worship of a lost and buried past. And all of this is well. For, to make men Socialists is nothing, but to make Socialism human is a great thing.
They are not of any very high literary value, these poems that have been so dexterously set to music. They are meant to be sung, not to be read. They are rough, direct and vigorous, and the tunes are stirring and familiar. Indeed, almost any mob could warble them with ease. The transpositions that have been made are rather amusing. 'Twas in Trafalgar Square is set to the tune of 'Twas in Trafalgar's Bay; Up, Ye People! a very revolutionary song by Mr. John Gregory, boot-maker, with a refrain of
Up, ye People! or down into your graves!
Cowards ever will be slaves!
is to be sung to the tune of Rule, Britannia! The old melody of The Vicar of Bray is to accompany the new Ballade of Law and Order -which, however, is not a ballade at all - and to the air of Here's to the Maiden of Bashful Fifteen the democracy of the future is to thunder forth one of Mr. T. D. Sullivan's most powerful and pathetic lyrics. It is clear that the Socialists intend to carry on the musical education of the people simultaneously with their education in political science and, here as elsewhere, they seem to be entirely free from any narrow bias or formal prejudice. Mendelssohn is followed by Moody and Sankey; the Wacht am Rhein stands side by side with the Marseillaise; Lillibulero, a chorus from Norma, John Brown and an air from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony are all equally delightful to them. They sing the National Anthem in Shelley's version and chant William Morris's Voice of Toil to the flowing numbers of Ye Banks and Braes of Bonny Doon.
Victor Hugo talks somewhere of the terrible cry of 'Le Tigre Populaire,' but it is evident from Mr.Carpenter's book that should the Revolution ever break out in England we shall have no inarticulate roar but, rather, pleasant glees and graceful part-songs. The change is certainly for the better. Nero fiddled while Rome was burning - at least, inaccurate historians say he did; but it is for the building up of an eternal city that the Socialists of our day are making music, and they have complete confidence in the art instincts of the people.
They say that the people are brutal
That their instincts of beauty are dead
Were it so, shame on those who condemn them
To the desperate struggle for bread.
But they lie in their throats when they say it,
For the people are tender at heart,
And a wellspring of beauty lies hidden
Beneath their life's fever and smart,
is a stanza from one of the poems in this volume, and the feeling expressed in these words is paramount everywhere. The Reformation gained much from the use of popular hymn-tunes, and the Socialists seem determined to gain by similar means a similar hold upon the people. However, they must not be too sanguine about the result. The walls of Thebes rose up to the sound of music, and Thebes was a very dull city indeed.
Chants of Labour: A Song-Book of the People. With Music. Edited by Edward Carpenter. With Designs by Walter Crane. (Swan Sonnenschein and Co.)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
A student collapsed at a freshers’ party and died after complaining the loud bass music was ‘getting to his heart’, an inquest heard yesterdayTom Reid, 19, was taken ill in a crowded London club after standing close to the speakers and telling a friend: ‘The bass is affecting me.’ There was no trace of alcohol or drugs in his body and his heart was in good condition.
A coroner recorded a verdict of natural causes, saying the straight-As student was killed by sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS), a heart disorder which kills 12 young people a week.
Cardiac experts said the bass could have triggered SADS if Mr Reid had underlying, yet unknown, genetic problems. On September 27, he had gone to Koko nightclub in Camden, north London, for the party, dubbed Night Of Mayhem. His friend Alisha Riseley told the inquest they were pushed towards the speakers. She added: ‘Tom said he felt like the bass was getting to his heart and we went to stand at the back.’ He told her: ‘My heart feels funny. I think the bass is affecting me. Oh God, I feel very weird. My heart is beating so fast'.
A sad story, don't think we should make too much of it - sometimes everyday things affect people in very serious ways (e.g. peanut allergies). It's not strictly true that bass killed him - a heart disorder killed him, for which the music may have been a trigger. There is some evidence that infrasound (very low bass frequencies) can cause discomfort or worse - see this Basswatch summary. These are generally too low to be used musically though, even if Throbbing Gristle apparently experimented with them using an industrial tone generator.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
'But music and Islam have a dodgy relationship. In Saudi Universities – and here I thank Jonas Otterbeck, Independent reader extraordinaire of Malmo University in Sweden – the most sanctimonious of students have assaulted music enthusiasts; when a professor at King Saud University, Hamzah Muzeini, condemned this brutality in the daily Al-Watan newspaper, he was convicted by a Sharia court – a ruling later overturned by King Abdullah. Yet according to journalist Rabah al-Quwai'i, some sheikhs encourage youths to burn instruments and books in public. In Saudi, I should add, Christmas carols – like all Christian religious services – are banned, except for the all-purpose "Jingle Bells". Father Christmas, I suppose, wasn't really a Christian.
It's not difficult to understand the objections to modern music and pop. Hamdi Hassan, a member of the Egyptian Assembly for the Muslim Brotherhood, complained about Ruby's first video and "the gyration of other pop stars". Incredibly, of all issues raised by the Brotherhood in the Assembly between 2000 and 2005, 80 per cent involved cultural and media issues – so much for the injustices of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan!
In my own country of choice, Lebanon, the Ministry of Defence monitors music, according to musician Mohamed Hamza. In November, 1999, Marcel Khalife was charged with blasphemy before the Beirut courts, an outrageous infringement of cultural liberty supported by the Sunni Grand Mufti, Mohamed Kabbani. Khalife had set a verse by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish to music in his album Arabic Coffeepot, but Darwish's poem contained lines from the Koran (part of verse four of Sura 12, for the uninitiated) and protesters argued that Khalife had defiled the Koran by singing it as part of a commercial song. Shiite clerics – to their great credit – defended the song-writer. He was acquitted, the Beirut judge adding that Khalife had "chanted the poem in gravity and composure that reveal a deep perception of the humanism expressed in the poem ornamented with the holy phrase." Phew.
But when Amar Hassan wanted to sing about love as well as politics in the Palestinian city of Ramallah in 2005, he was threatened before a Nablus court and his concert broken up by gunfire and the explosion of stun guns. The conflict, as Otterbeck realised in his thesis, has deep roots: between secular nationalistic music and Islamist music. In Algeria, the Islamic Armed Group made their point in lethal fashion, assassinating Berber singer Matoub Lounès'.
Full article here.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Baghdad's night life falls foul of religious right - Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki accused of colluding with fundamentalists to shut down night clubs
'The raids came just before midnight a week ago. At the start of Eid al-Adha, the four holiest days on the Islamic calendar, hundreds of Iraqi police and soldiers stormed each of Baghdad's 300 or so nightclubs. Officers from the most elite units stood outside as soldiers slapped owners' faces, scattered their patrons and dancing girls, ripped down posters advertising upcoming acts, and ordered alcohol removed from the shelves. They left many of the clubs with a warning – any owner who tried to reopen would be thrown into prison, along with his staff.
The official reason for the mass raids is that none of the premises had licences. The reality is that a year-long renaissance in Baghdad's nightlife may be over, as this increasingly conservative city takes on a hardline religious identity. Bohemian Baghdad did not last long. "They treated us like terrorists," said Sinan Kamal, a chef at the Jetar nightclub in east Baghdad, displaying both a licence and weekly receipts for fees collected by the Tourism Ministry. "They sat us on the ground and made us put our heads between our legs. They slapped us and were impolite with the girls. They were behaving like religious police."
...the nightclub owners, and other representatives of bohemian Baghdad, can expect more of the same. "Saddam wasn't troubled by nightclubs at all until he suddenly found religion again in 1994," said Kamal. "Then he came along and closed everything. We have so far not seen anything which has led to an improvement in our society. In fact, it is increasingly like Saddam's regime. I'll give you an example: three days ago when I drove home, there were guys in their cars listening to loud music, just near the Jaderiya bridge. The police at the checkpoint went over to them and beat them heavily. For about a year guys have enjoyed driving the streets like this. This is something they couldn't do ever. Then they could. And now they can't again."
One of Baghdad's leading Islamic figures, Saleh al-Haidri, happily claims credit for leading the crackdown on wayward youth – and for curtailing the city's nightlife. "They were forbidden under Saddam and they are forbidden again now," said Haidri, the head of the Religious Endowment Office. "There is social and religious backing for this. Two months ago I personally talked to the Baghdad governor. I saw many youths drinking alcohol in the streets and in cars and I received many complaints from families, especially about nightclubs, which are dens of pornography and corruption. Believe me, they are a breeding ground for crimes and they anaesthetise our youth. They violate Muslim rules, but Iraq will not turn into a religious state by closing these dens down. We need to teach people culture and morals in order to rebuild this country, not allowing them nightclubs."
Much more in the full article here
Monday, December 07, 2009
'There's a new effort underway to help prevent underage drinking in Walker and Grandville. This afternoon the police chiefs from both communities, along with other local leaders, announced an expansion of Silent Observer's "Fast Fifty" program for students. The program which offers a $50 reward to students who anonymously report weapons and other school offenses, is being expanded to compensate callers for reporting underage drinking parties as well. Chris Cameron with Silent Observer says, "For those that report underage drinking parties to Silent Observer and police go there and are able to break it up and prove there is an underage drinking party going on, that tipster will then be a 'Fast Fifty' tipster. They will receive a $50 reward as well.'
I am sure the good citizens are delighted that the police have enough time on their hands to chase up young people for the heinous crime of drinking at a party- many of them at an age where they could legally drink in Europe, and certainly old enough to be sent off to Iraq or Afghanistan. And yes it really happens, according to Merrimack Journal, 3 December 2009:
On Friday, Nov. 27, Merrimack police arrested 13 young adults and charged each with possession of alcohol by a minor over a party at 24 Seaverns Bridge Road just before midnight, according to a Merrimack Police arrest log. Everyone arrested at that party was 18-20 years old and they were charged with possession of alcohol by a minor. One of the men, Stephan Halvatzes, 19, of 23 Cascade Circle in Merrimack, was also charged with “facilitating an alcohol by a minor,” according to the arrest log...
The party was one of two alleged underage drinking parties over the holiday weekend.
On Sunday, Bedford police arrested 26 people between the ages of 15 and 23 years old allegedly having a drinking party inside a local business, according to police. According to police reports, an officer was on routine patrol around 1 p.m. on Sunday, when he observed a group of individuals hanging around a parking lot. The officer discovered containers of alcohol outside the entrance after the individuals ran inside.
Inside ATA Martial Arts Studio, on Route 101, the officer found 26 people having an underage drinking party. One juvenile and 14 people were charged with internal possession of alcohol, eight people were taken into protective custody and Erica Therrien, 19, of Goffstown, was charged with facilitating an underage alcohol party at the ATA Martial Arts Studio, where she worked.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
'At least 101 people have died following an explosion at a nightclub in the Russian city of Perm, 1,400km (870 miles) east of Moscow. Officials said fireworks caused the blast and that most victims had died from smoke inhalation. More than 140 people were reported injured in the accident, which happened at 2315 local time (1815 GMT). The Lame Horse nightclub had been celebrating its eighth anniversary, emergency services said'.
The photo below, from the BBC website, shows people in their party clothes laid out dead on the pavement.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Five local 'pirate' radio stations (or as they prefer to call themselves, community radio stations) jointly broadcast the appeal. They invited people to drop off donations at Uppercuts Barber Shop on Nunhead Green, Maestro Records in Rye Lane and the Real McCoy clothing shop in Brixton - evidently many responded. This was part of an impressive display of community mutual aid which saw local people, and indeed council workers volunteering their time, coming together to respond to the fire.
The local press have picked up on the story this week. The South London Press had the headline 'pirates to the rescue', while the Southwark News has the full story, in terms of actually giving credit to the stations involved - Lightning, Galaxy, Vibes, Genesis and Ontop FM.
Anyway makes a change from they usual Ofcom-led nonsense media tales of criminal radio operators disrupting the airwaves.
(cross posted from Transpontine)
There's some interesting examples online, including at the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo blog. The following example comes from that collection - the front of 'a dance card for a masquerade ball held at Lenzens Opera House on March 7, 1891. The name "Miss Laura Stein" appears in the lower right corner' - probably the name of a dancer at the ball.
There's some examples from Cork at Set Dancing News, including this one for a National Dance at the Hibernian Hall in 1916:
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Walter Gibbons (1954-1994), Salsoul producer and DJ:
Jacques Morali (1947-1991), the man behind the Village People, he also wrote The Best Disco in Town for The Ritchie Family:
Paul Jabara (1948-1992):
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Mel Cheren and Michael Brody, founders of Paradise Garage:
David Cole, (1963–1995) of C+C Music Factory:
Arthur Russell, (1951–1992):
Sharon Redd, (1945–1992):
Dan Hartman (1950–1995):
Tony de Vit:
Ofra Haza (1957-2000)
See also: We Salute the Disco Dead 2