Monday, 30 May 2011

After the poets convention.

Hey Susie remember me?
May I have my jacket back
You borrowed it last night 
While sharing a cigarette outside
With the tall Hungarian poet.

I didn't see you again.

Had he been a better poet
He would have wrapped warm words about you.
Removing the need
For you to borrow my jacket
Or for me to write these words.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Gil Scott Heron. 1949 - 2011. He died too soon.

Last night I met a young poet thirty years my junior. She and I had seemingly nothing in common save poetry yet we found one common reference point: Gil Scott Heron.

Maybe for her it was about his skin colour or his role as, if not father of 'rap' then certainly the man who planted the seed that gave us Hip Hop. He gave us something of a meeting place.

If Gil Scott Heron had not existed I would not be doing the work I do now. Two poets have inspired me: One, Brian Patten, gently spoken English romantic, urged me to write. Gil on the other hand urged me to experience life, get out there, taste it all, feel the bad as well as the good, the rough and the smooth, holler at injustice and then bitch about it and then write.  Gil didn't have an easy life, troubles came his way and troubles inspired and informed much of his work. troubles were his muses. Thanks to Gil I now experiment with involving musicians in my poetry, I experiment with sounds. His later poem: 'where has the night gone' is the saddest thing I know and 'I'm new here' reliably assured me that , no matter how far I'd gone, I could always turn around.

He lived long enough to see the revolution televised and the pointlessness of 'Whitey on the moon'. He live long enough to see a black president. He lived long enough to see a resurgence of interest in his work and his words.

But he didn't live long enough.

Gil, youv'e gone too far this time. Too far to turn around.

Friday, 27 May 2011

I deleted your name out of pure joy.

I deleted your name out of pure joy

I wrote it on my school books for practice
I created new typefaces to suit
I wrote it on album covers to read as we hippliy listened
I wrote it in amateurish embroidery
on my first denim jacket
when a hells angels motto would have easily sufficed
I wrote it in snow
In weedkiller
In paint stripper
I wrote it in haste
and at leisure and in stables and with the lawn mower

with my fiinger on the dust of white vans

I wrote it in imaginary sky writing
looped the loop at the end of the 'L'
I tattooed my dreams
And wrote 24 hour one word lyrics
in shy places.

I wrote it.

Then I deleted your name out of pure joy

When you noticed.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tony Butcher Photography at the Tabernacle.

I reviewed an exhibition of Tony's photographs at the Tabernacle some months ago. At that time his show focussed on the body; obviously a subject he enjoys.

Currently on show in the Tabernacle gallery is a much broader demonstration of Tony's eye and Tony's art. Street art, Provence, Californian excess, the body and even babies in a box come under his scrutiny and his lens.There are 'plays' with focus that scream impressionism and there are monochrome studies to die for.  A triptych of Brighton skylines is mesmeric in it's power; two horizons teasing you with the absence of a third. 

If I had the money two of Tony's images would be hanging on my wall now.

Do make an effort to see this.

Lager and lime. A journey to Bukowski.

It started with an innocent twitter strand; @1755Dictionary had mentioned lager and lime in a tweet, I had commented and away it went nowhere. We did briefly discuss snakebite, Watneys Red Barrel and worthington E (Imagine walking into your local and saying: 'I'll ave an E please').

Lager and lime was the drink of choice for a lot of my teenage peer group. I suppose the juvenile sweetness of the lime cordial cut the adult alcohol. We were kids. We were living on the wild and dangerous side of underage drinking but we were kids... We craved sugar, E numbers and       snogging.

Yesterday, with nostalgia weighing heavily in my heart, I went to my local 'Gastropub'  (I will not name names but it knows where it is) and ordered a 'Lager and lime' for old times sake.

the Albanian barman fed me a crusty look, sneered lazily at the dusty bottle shelf and then shaking his head tried to sell me a bottle of Sol with a lime fraction cramming the neck.

Readers. I declined.

Today I had better luck. I ventured into the Tabernacle bar in Powis Square W11, and, catching the eye of Mark Richardson, the head chef, enquired as to the likelihood of obtaining a Lager and lime.  'Pint?' Said Mark. One eyebrow raised. 'Pint'. I replied. Eyebrows levelled as if with a spirit level. Under the watchful eye of Christopher Scholey, the General Manager who is renowned for his uncanny knack of being where the action is, Mark proceeded to pour a silken strand of piss coloured beer into something resembling a vase finally topping it off with a handsome dollop of cordial.

What followed was truly cinematic. Beads of condensation, the tears of my youthful minds eye, trickled down the glass as it stood before me. I was Attenborough in Ice Cold in Alex, I was Crocodile Dundee. I was Kane face to face with rosebud. Et in Arcadia ego.

Looked better than it tasted though. Too sweet.

On the way home I decided that one Lager and lime does not make a swallow, popped into the offie, purchased 8 different varieties of lager and a bottle of cordial (not Roses though, they didn't have Roses in that bottle decorated with embossed dogrose of my youth). I completed my journalistic preparations with two sausage rolls and an apple strudel from the brilliant bread stall on Portobello.

Now.... 6 pints later I can confirm that, yes, indeed, lager and lime improves with quantity. I am however not improved by a gallon of fizzy beer. Reaching for a volume of Bukowski poetry at pint 5 was a mistake too. Oh where is that schoolgirl now, green bowlered and green tighted, who led me to the land of snog armed with nothing but an illicit under-age lagerandlime and a map of boundaries to be breached.

Anyone remember Rum and Black?

Monday, 23 May 2011

Carnival Comedy Club.

Here is another gem in the Tabernacle/Carnival Village calendar.

Comedy nights can often be painfully unfunny, there are too many mediocre or worse comedy events in London resulting in a lot of barrel scraping. Some modern comics seem to think that it is fine to mock the afflicted or just swear a lot and the job is done. None of this is the case with Carnival Comedy.

I had not been before and knew very little about it.

It was rammed, not an empty seat and many people standing. I sensed that the audience were old friends of the event and there was a carnival atmosphere. Organiser and compere Geoff Schumann is a natural performer and a very funny man who likes to involve his audience. If you are of a shy nature I recommend the seats in the shadows. The acts were consistently good, non insulting, happy people come to share their joy. Fridays full line up comprised of:

Felix Dexter
Maureen Younger
Auria Styla
Martin Wyatt
Wayne Rollins
Axel the entertainer
Variety D

Carnival Comedy Club is a regular feature at the Tabernacle with a strong line up of acts.I heartily recommend you check it out. Book tickets though to avoid disappointment

Carnival Village venues host a rich mix of entertainment – the familiar and the surprising – from music, dance, film, theatre and exhibitions to arts events and workshops throughout the year. All exhibitions and some events are free!
Carnival Village Favouritesinclude comedy’s coolest jesters, poetry, spoken word and talks from the wise and wordly, to Caribbean jazz, oral culture evenings and the London Calypso Tent music spectacular.
Carnival Season presents a multi-arts spotlight on the period around London’s biggest street event, whilst a festive satirical panto also caters for your best-loved traditions.

Full Carnival Village listings and calendar can be found at:

Friday, 20 May 2011

Badly needed redevelopment of Portobello Road.

Earlier this month a scheme to develop a shitty little patch of Portobello Road was unveiled.

It concerns the patch of land that lies between the once infamous Cafe Ravenous at number 275 and the railway line. At present there exists a brick wall topped with security fencing capped with prison like spikes; an eyesore.

The proposal includes the creation of  10 new mews houses tucked away behind 2 new shops fronting onto the street. The Portobello facade is in total keeping with what already exists; there is no attempt at 'flashy' Purist arseing about, no Minimalist overkill and no threat. It simply places what should have always been there.

the Mews development is a different story; thoughtful, sensitive, modern, Eco-friendly and unobtrusive, utilising a strip of waste land.

The Architects, CHASSAY+LAST know Notting Hill well and it shows. The principals behind the scheme are locals. This is not a sharp suited 'smash and grab' raid on the neighbourhood by city developers. It does not herald an 'All Saints' type intrusion.

There will be some moaning minnies and detractors but the truth is that this little strip of Portobello needs sorting. K&C are throwing a shedload of money at the underused square opposite in an attempt to 'bring it up'. this proposal does nothing but add to the area.

Thumbs up.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Dark Dark Dark and Black Heart Procession.

I hadn't realised you could get that many ladders into a pair of pantyhose.

It feels like it was American vernacular music week at the Tabernacle after the Handsome Family on Tuesday and last night Dark Dark Dark and Black Heart Procession.

The Dark (I'm losing the will to repeat that word) are a Minneapolis based chamber folk sextet and to my mind moody rather than dark. An accordion featured heavily. All in all great  background music for people falling in or out of love but without any 'bang'  for the inbetweenies. The one female member was wearing those tights, I hope it was a fashion statement rather than the product of abject poverty.

During the interval I wandered out into a perfectly still dusk in the courtyard; full of birdsong and peace.

Black Heart Procession (2 guys, one piano, one saw (I kid you not)) are an 'Indie' curiosity from San Diego. I stayed for four numbers but the musical saw is not high on my list of pleasures; it smacks of 'parlour trick'. Not my bag so it would be unfair to say more than the band failed to capture me let alone induce Stockholm Syndrome.


I briefly chatted with Melpomeni at the Tabernacle last night. Check her out:

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Songs about bridges: The Handsome Family at the Tabernacle.

I like bridges. I like songs about bridges.
The Handsome Family like bridges. They make songs about bridges. Not just about bridges though; they make songs about other things we can fall from and things we can fall into. they make songs about falling too.

Their songs document a foreign place to me in a musical and lyrical language drawn from the history of that place: USA.

You cannot pigeon-hole these people, they'd fill a loft and then some. Filling the place with stories you want to hear and then wrapping those stories in music.

I am a massive fan and this gig was a pilgrimage for me. This isn't a review it is in homage to lyrical beauty wrapped in (sometimes very gutsy) roots.

The Handsome Family are an Edward Hopper exhibition in song.


Monday, 16 May 2011

Charlie Simpson at the Tabernacle.

I knew I was the wrong person to review Charlie's show at the Tabernacle last week. fortunately I got chatting to some fans in the bar afterwards... They put me straight in no uncertain terms. I asked one of them; a Portuguese girl named Teresa Teles to write a review for the blog.  Here it is:

Teresa Teles writes:

Last Tuesday Charlie Simpson performed for the first time as a solo artist. This date sold out approximately three weeks in advance and, as expected, Charlie was anxious as he tweeted: 'Show day nerves starting to kick in! Very excited though.'
As 6 o'clock approached the fans started to gather around the building, eager for the doors to open. It has been said that this was the most popular event the Tabernacle has ever held.
At around 7.40 pm the supporting act, The Xcerts, opened the concert. The band cheered up the punters with a few acoustic numbers as they waited for the big man to show up. Twenty minutes later Charlie Simpson joined the stage and was received by a happy and cheering crowd. Thorns was the opening song. The more devoted fans had already had the chance to hear this song almost a year ago.
The crowd was enthusiastic and so was Charlie. At the end of Thorns, we could see how happy he was. His public  liked what he was doing. This was not a common show – most of the songs performed have not yet been released. (Young Pilgrim will be soon.) So the people were given new melodies. And they liked it. Once could say that the most appreciated moment was when Charlie performed his 'so played on radio and TV shows' new single Down Down Down. A great moment. But again the crowd the was amazed by another Simpson song: one he said he had written a couple of days before – Please Let Me Go. Magic was done. Charlie was on his own on the stage with his guitar playing this touching and beautiful song. I was told some people even shed tears.

After a few more songs, there was no place for doubt – Charlie Simpson is going to become big as a solo artist and even Fightstar fans are enjoying this project.
The show closed with The Farmer and his Gun, a more cheery number.
Peel your eyes and hearts because this man is going to hit the charts.
The play list was as follows:

Cemetery Gates
Down Down Down
Sun Down
Hold On
Need a Friend
If I hide
Please Let me Go
All at Once
Farmer and his Gun

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Uniq the poet. Walking.

Charlie Simpson at the Tabernacle.

A full house at the tab tonight, obviously Simpson fans and here for Simpson; a good looking, charismatic man. I know nothing about him or his music. Fortunately this happened:

notes for a poem.

If only we could identify the Love DNA .There would be testing clinics in every town. A super clinic in Oxford Street Queues round the block

Testing their love:

The old men and their Bankok brides
Spotty oiks and village bikes
Ballerinas, ballerinas
Old lovers, new lovers, perhaps not lovers at all
Scientists with actresses
Barristers and rough diamonds
Artists and bank managers
Ghosts and priests
Goths and poets.

All testing.In the departments of love:

A tattoo parlour
Gown shop
Cake shop, florist
Wedding chapel, Elvis present daily
Hallmark card shop
white goods, bedroom sets
Lingerie and soft fruit.

Receptacle for redundant dildos
Viagra falls by the chocolate fountain
Cubic Zirconiums as big as the ritz.

Cinema screening non stop rom coms
Pretty girls with trays of condoms
Pretty boys with trays of condoms
Hotel rooms for love struck non doms.

'Soul Food' at the Tabernacle.

'Soul food' described itself  in the Tabernacle calendar as 'A feast of talent to feed mind and nourish your soul'. apart from that I had nothing to go on as to what was in store on Sunday night.

Well they were right and it is and I came away smiling. Soul Food is a Spoken word and musical collation with Carribean spicing. and very well done.

I have always been an admirer of the story telling tradition from those Islands; I remember being enthralled as a young man listening to lyrical, often hilarious, tales told by an old man I once had the luck to know. His tales helped me on my way to being a poet. the tradition is living on here in Notting Hill.

There were a lot of acts on the bill, of a consistently high standard. too many to name individually here (I'll be posting a full review on the Tabernacle website) ranging from the singing of the very young and surprisingly confident 'Shaleah' who must be heading to good things. Uniq the poet caused me once again to consider rap as poetry. 'Mosaic' was very very good, hard to define his style and material but I'm going to go with 'Theatre for voice'. Catch him if you can.

And the evening went on. Heidi Vogel impressed me with her wonderful voice, deep tones and bossa nova. Kat Francois is an observational comedian (among many other talents) who defies any critic who says that women don't make good comedy. I get to see quite a lot of comedy, rarely do I laugh as much as during her set. She has a Theatre Royal show coming up. Well worth checking out.

The evening was hosted by the Delicious Princess and Jason grant and produced by Afropick. We are assured that soul Food will return. I shall be there. Might even try to get on the bill.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Loco Cabaret @ the Grand Union. Review of sorts.

Bloody hell, that was good.

Thanks to everyone who came down to the Grand Union last night. It was great fun. The place rocked. James and Dan are putting together a very cool fortnightly event which attracts some serious performers. I'm not going to list them all but they know who they are. Here is the fb page

Thanks to Dan Antrobus for the guitar solo; you are a star Dan.

I have a feeling that this night will rapidly outgrow the limited space at the Grand Union, let's hope they move it into the garden for the summer.

The next one is in two weeks time. Be there.

Orlando Seale & the Swell Tabernacle video

these streets. orlando seale and the swell at the tabernacle from emma seale on Vimeo.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Loco cabaret @ the Grand Union W9. Saturday 7th May.

Hosted by James Simmins and Dan Antrobus, this fortnightly show features regular artists & special guests as well as encouraging new performers.

I shall be there doing some poetry stuff but more importantly having a very splendid time.

Previous review HERE

Tonights line up  includes Many of the usual suspects plus:
Holly Robens
Stuart Frobisher
Cristian Aftershave &
Freak Elite

With poetry from
Tristan Hazell

Plus Special Guests

Charlie Simpson @ Tabernacle W11 next Tuesday.

Charlie Simpson will play a one-off show at London’s Tabernacle on May 10th.
This is the first chance to see the new musical incarnation of the Fightstar frontman live.
 "Down Down Down", the multi-textured debut solo single taken from Charlie Simpson’s forthcoming album "Young Pilgrim" is currently Fearne Cotton’s Record of the Week on Radio 1.  It is available to download from iTunes now, with an impact date May 16th.

Win tickets to see elbow play St Pauls Cathedral crypt.

I know this is a little 'off' the manor but Elbow at St Paul's looks like one of those things that shouldn't be missed. Tickets are not on sale but can be won in THIS COMPETITION courtesey of Absolute Radio.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The Island Experiment and rock n roll poetry.

It would be incredibly naff to review an event in which I took part.  However,

The Island last night was great fun, Wade puts on a very good local showcase (rather than open mic) event but when I say local I don't mean parochial I mean it is in a 'Local' with a big loyal following which attracts acts from all over the place.

Last night's line up was consistently good with one or two demonstrating great talent. I'm not going to put a list here, there is a link to the Island Experiment fb page on the right.

On a personal level My poetry was kindly received and thanks to the presence of house bassist Patrick and Roger Pomphrey I was able to do my rock n roll poem with guitar solo. Always a high point for me when I find a willing collaborator.

If you are ever in NW10 on a Wednesday night You could do no better than get down to the Island.

My poem 'Poetry is the new Rock n Roll' will be getting another airing at Loco Cabaret @ the Grand Union W9 on Saturday night with Dan Antrobus providing the solo.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Rebecca Poole at the Cobden Club May 20th.

Catch Rebecca prior to her Ronnie Scott's Gig on 31st May and stardom.

Don't just take my word for it: "Rebecca Poole is one of the brightest stars on the jazz soul circuit" According to Jazz Fm and she is at the Cobden Club W10 on the 20th 0f May.

Her last single 'What Happened to Romance' was playlisted by Jazz FM and picked up by BBC Introducing. It is now available to download from Itunes.

Rebecca is a farmers daughter from Oxforshire who fell in love with Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald.

"I write songs that are a mix of vintage swing and modern day pop. I'm a true romantic so I think of old fashioned love and it's contrast with today and twist a bit of humour in". 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Jake Emlyn. I Don't Rap.

Wade-aid: Orlando Seale at the Tabernacle W11. Plus lots more.

                                 Orlando Seale and the Swell

Wade Bayliss was back at the tabernacle last night for another of his Island Experiments and he has been tinkering with his formula since the last one.
The 'house band' being joined by guests set up has been replaced with a less chaotic running order of artists MC'd by Wade in his now familiar white jacket (a jacket which seems to get whiter as it gets older)

I missed IN XANADU and ANDY MITCHELL  but was in time to catch the indescribably cool  CUTHBERT 80 with JAMES SIMMINS & PATRICK LONG  and CHELSEA DIXON. 

HAYLEY TUCKER who gave us three songs with that belter of a voice of hers. 

Cool VALENTIN GERLIER arrived with a duet of vocal assistants providing the harmonies, replacing the advertised string quartet. He has some fine, well crafted and soulful songs.
I had not heard of JAKE EMLYN.

Why not? He has the appearance of the love child of Brian Jones and Marianne Faithful sitting elfin like behind a keyboard resplendent in red velvet and topper. his songs (he don't rap, he tells us. But he do) are joyfully observational, riddled with angst, insecurity, self assurance, Hilarity, naivety, wisdom and pathos, all delivered in a wonderfully camp manner. Deliciously funny and very very good. If Jake doesn't become a star there is something wrong with the world.

Wade and his band: PATRICK LONG, MARTIN SAVALE , JAYGUN, MATT WINN, MR TOM BONES + HENRY BLAKE played us through to the headline act of the evening:


I've known Orlando for a couple of years, first saw him perform at the Troubadour and then he very kindly took part in one of my spoken word/music things in the Tabernacle bar in 2009. Things have moved on and Orlando arrived back at the Tabernacle with a 10 piece band (including strings, flute, clarinet and a number of drums) fresh from his BBC Live sessions success and blew the place away with a short but brilliant set. His band is very, very good and tight - orchestral training certainly brings discipline by the shed-load. Orlando's stage experience (he is a multi-talented man) shone through in his demeanour and commitment.
I am not going to attempt to describe what these people do save to say that it is Big in every sense , almost operatic in it's ambition. Orlando's lyrics are literary and lyrical, considered and there for a purpose. It's rock and roll for grown ups.
The set was far too short followed by the delightful scene of the man coming to the front of the stage for 10 minutes to chat with well wishers and new fans... By the way, Orlando is a babe magnet.

It was a consistently good night and testament to Wade's growing alchemy skills.The next experiment is in a couple of months.

Orlando Seale and the Swell are playing at the Union chapel London N1. on June 4th. It is a fantastic venue and it promises to be something special. 

I will be posting a separate blog-entry on Orlando and the Swell in the coming days.