Archive for the ‘music’ Category
*For my 6th birthday, grandma put a crisp dollar bill in a card and instructed me to go get something I really wanted. The then 3-year-old release of Bringing It All Back Home was on sale at Woolworth for 99 cents, and I really wanted Maggie’s Farm; this amused mom no end as she thought I would by a model or a giant bag of army men. For this year’s birthday run, 45 years hence (yeah, I am now 51 years old), I loaded a shitload of Dylan on my mp3 player and headed to Trowbridge.
The route was simple and not too much of it off the paved surfaces, as you might be able to tell better from this link http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5951129 than from the copy of the above map. A hard rain was forecast but for those lucky enough not to be expecting rain it was still not dark yet (but it was getting there)…there’s three paraphrased Dylan quotes in one sentence for those keeping score.
“My names Danny, aged 45, looking for married or single ladies for discreet [sic] adult fun 07751-497085″
Don’t forget that the country code is 44 if you ladies seek to contact Danny. This was sighted at the Swindon Bus Station.
The above bridge was between Woolverton and Rode or, more importantly, between the Red Lion and the Cross Keys. The one below is in Trowbridge where the stream is a little more decorative.
There wasn’t a lot of graffiti, surprisingly. The one below, spotted on the way out of Trowbridge, was a brief amusement; however, it was time for my boot heels to be wandering.
When I first scoped out Ludgershall ( pronounced LUH[
d]-grrrr-SHAWL), I heard the live music from up the road but I was on a time constraint and wanted to take in as many venues as possible. Thus I delayed the trip to the Queen’s Head but soon remedied it as I headed toward the Castle grounds. Inside, I negotiated the crowd and got a Flying Scotsman at the bar (the Scotsman is always a good choice with the sort of iodine aftertaste you usually expect in malt whiskey).
The pub was hosting a family day, a sort of town fête with a number of bands, some barbecue, and far too many children. But, the music was decent.
The band on while I was there were the Imposters, a cover band (of course…everyone in England is in a cover band) but a very good one…better than you would expect to open this sort of thing. Still, I had a shirt to dump and had to move on.
Released 24th of March, 1973…40 years ago today (and that same year on my birthday my cousin, Chuck, gave me the first of many copies I would wear out through use and abuse…and on the covers of which literally pounds of pot would be liberated from literally thousands of seeds and bin loads of stems). I’m loading the mp3 player with a little of the Floyd as I write….
“I can’t think of anything to say except…
I think it’s marvelous!” from Brain Damage, DSOTM, The Pink Floyd
Other birthday greetings are also appropriate. A visit to the George VI Rex post box on the corner of North and Western Streets a few weeks ago saw this one on its way to a long-lost acquaintance back in the States:
There was little exercise and fuck-all going out for anything aside from bare necessities this week as fever, aches, and blinding congestive pressure took hold. To have something new for the blog this week, I did what I always do when ill…I scanned the news. Here are some highlights from the week.
The Crufts Dog Show started this week and will continue for much of the next 8 months. I used to think that the BBC should dedicate a channel exclusively to darts, snooker, and Crufts but a friend pointed out that they already have one called BBC 2. It is interesting to see the odd breeds that have developed over the years, though.
Rest in peace, brother Chavez.
Once, me and Hugo were out drinking and, boy, could he put it away! I overdid it and puked all over myself, covering my shirt in filth. ”What am I going to tell Jackie? She hates when I embarrass myself in front of heads-of-state.”
Thinking quickly, Hugo stuffed a 20 peso note in my shirt pocket: “tell her a guy at the bar did this and gave you the note to pay for the cleaning.”
I got back to the hacienda and she hit the roof and I told her Hugo’s story at which point she calmed right down–Hugo was a genius of crisis control.
Then, Jackie said, “hey, Bun…why are there TWO twenties in your shirt?”
“Oh, that other one is from the guy that shit in my pants.”
North Korea severed musical relations with Seoul during the week. Here we see evidence of Pyongyang’s development of prohibited Boy Band Technology. Worrying though this may be, few experts believe that this is Da Bomb.
I did a Sunday mid-day run down the Kennet and Avon Canal Path and then overland to Devizes from Pewsey with a number of pubs in my sights. The first leg, from the bus stop north of Pewsey out to Honeystreet and the Barge Inn are shown here with an early section showing the iced over waters that kept me company most of the way:
The music for the run was Sixto Rodriguez, the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary ‘Searching for Sugar Man‘ which we saw the opening night of the Swindon Film Fest. This is some fantastic stuff but I have to wonder if I would feel as strongly about it without the detail in the film. The albums, Cold Fact (1970) and Coming from Reality (1971), have aged especially well despite a bit of overproduction; you hear bits of Leonard Cohen, Dylan, and Simon and Garfunkel in some cuts but the lyrics are definitely specific to the composer and his location. The movie was as much a revelation about him as it was about the liberal-leaning white population of Apartheid era South Africa and the police state in which the bootlegged copies of these (unknown in the States) albums became some of the most important musical benchmarks of the time.
But, musical benchmarks are everywhere I remembered as the Barge Inn loomed. Rodriguez faded as soon as I removed the earphones and was replaced in my head with my own very poor rendition of Wild Thing on the ukulele (which I have been working out, unsuccessfully since Reg Presley, lead singer of the Troggs passed away last month…Reg is quoted as saying this was his favourite pub).
Mine as well (and the barkeeper and most of the patrons at the New Inn in Coate, which I visited later in the day agree). I sat beneath what is essentially the Sistine Chapel Roof of crop circles and there is a hippie vibe but one that emanates from the sort of hippies that use soap and frequent booksellers–perhaps more like beatniks than flower power proponents. Next to my seat was a large African tom-tom and nearby was a tempting acoustic guitar (but neither I nor any of the dozen or so drinkers here at 8 minutes past noon had taken in enough alcohol for that).
I had a Croppie from Honeystreet Brewery which I highly recommend for a long run (abv just over 4%). While finishing the brew I peaked out my window to see another of the Wiltshire White Horses to tick off my checklist; a moment later, I was back out on the canal path heading toward the King’s Arms in All Cannings (with Sixto back in full howl).
Well, it is true that we LOOKED at a couple of houses in Montagu Street but preferred Old Town over Rodbourne as it is so much closer to the things we actually do in town. And, the house we settled on isn’t sharp or sophisticated outside but inside works so much better for us; to mix my Bob metaphors, it seemed to say, “your débutante just knows what you need, but I know what you want.”
[Sidebar: I did a 30 minute lecture, recently, with more than 50 Bob Dylan lyrics,marked on the white board as 'ticks' as I progressed, peppered throughout, and only one professor from the audience came by to congratulate me on THAT point...Oxford may be grand, but it isn't really cool.]
But, returning to the starting theme, we got a basement down the stairs.
It has been a nice run so far, I have to admit (despite obvious glitches), on Ferndale Road, and I’ll still come over for the butcher and the Italian deli, but rarely more…”when bringing her name up he speaks of a farewell kiss to me…He’s sure got a lotta gall* to be so useless and all muttering small talk at the wall while I’m in the hall….”
*Jackie doesn’t cut Jerry any slack…I love the man and the things The Family did for us chemically and, for that matter, matrimonially (probably more to do with Kleps, the guy who did our wedding, than her hatred of the Dead, but same batch, same dip). See you kids who know us at the house, the rest schedule a meet-up at Riff’s, the Vic, the Hive or the Castle!
So, here we go…another fucking move. Let’s try to make this one a little more permanent for awhile.
The Talbot was closed when I first walked by, but on my return it was still closed (watch is a few minutes fast). I had a look around and spotted one of the ceramic brewery plaques on so many of these old pubs–this one in spectacular condition:
Once inside, I ordered a Mole Lang Syne (holiday beer from the Moles Brewery) which took forever to pour (I think they just tapped the barrel). By the time I took a seat, a dozen other drinkers had poured through the doors, fore and aft, and been served (some fast drinkers were awaiting refills). That was alright, though; I had mine and some time to look around the old house.
Calne has its own music scene and benefits from its position between Bristol, Bath, Chippenham, Marlborough and Swindon; but the one act that grabbed my attention I only spotted when editing the photos: Clark and the Kryptonites. Unfortunately, they already played and I’m sure they will be too big for the venue by the time the world tour is over.
The August Bank Holiday weekend has been hot and sunny the past few years, so this one was an especially big disappointment weather-wise; still the entertainment was superb.
The Swindon Mela, an asian festival now in its tenth year, was Saturday in the Town Gardens and there were more and better vendor stalls than ever before, with the community welfare based ones (NHS screenings, yoga, massage) largely grouped together in a part of the park not used last year and more and better food stalls than ever before. Also, they stock ice-cold Cobra lager in the tents.
There were some very good musical acts, including a bunch of avant-garde types (or, maybe just hippies) that call their act Coach and played some very appealing psychedelic rock. There was an acoustic group that played Bollywood classics, too, and they were brilliant (didn’t catch the full name of the act but the dude on 6-string was called Jazz); they were followed by a very sad display of Asian hip-hop so we left the Bowl and tried the other stages.
The dance acts were (as last year) a hoot mainly because there is always one talented middle-age Indian woman and two or more clumsy middle-age white ladies and then a bunch of children whose talents range the gamut of age and experience; they all seem to be having a grand time and that and the music is infectious. A men’s drumming group did a 15 minute set and they seemed to be having a better time than the dancers. Another successful Mela, I think.
Sunday was nice out and I barbecued a large hunk of pork shoulder and got in a bit of a run.
Monday, we went to our second (previous one written up here) Devizes International Street Festival (the 100th anniversary of the Devizes Fayre, it turns out). Devizes rules, and I could spend a week wandering the medieval trails around town (rumour has it there are smugglers’ tunnels between most of the pubs and out to the canals, as well, but I haven’t found any…yet). The Festival is our regular visit together even though I use this as a running start or finish once every few months.
I had hoped to catch Ska Cubano, but we already planned to leave before their set was to start, but we did catch Jon Amor’s Blues Band who seemed to be playing for each other as much as for the crowd–that always helps get the crowd on board but it doesn’t hurt that they are one of the best blues-rock acts I’ve seen in a couple of years. There was also a group from Mali, headed by Vieux Farka Touré whose guitar sounds reminded me a bit of the African bits of Graceland. These guys were fun but every now and then one of them would look out at the crowd and appear to be thinking, “these poor white people must be starved for entertainment…standing around in this cold, hellish deluge when there are perfectly good, warm bars to go into;” but, no, they’re just English (and they’ll be in the bar as soon as they need a refill).
We caught this bit of street theatre as well, made to look like a silent movie with a pianist accompanying the players. Everything was broad gestures and all the sets and props were black, white or grey. It was loads of fun, if a bit too long, and the rain held off until the last few minutes when the chase scene started. After getting some more beer and cider after this performance, we continued on to tour some of the town but the Millenium Cross at the Church was so spectacular it deserves its own blog entry.
I had a lot of in-the-office work today, and Spotify’s commercial breaks got tiresome so I tried out Grooveshark. Excellent, but now I long for the sort of musical talent you take for granted will show up at your town (and maybe in your bar) back in the States. Swindon, Bath, and Bristol have reasonably decent music scenes, but you wind up seeing a lot of covers played by folks that have deep-enough songbooks of their own not to have to stoop so low.
So after a half day listening to niche talent, here are the people I wish would tour the UK, especially with a stop at, for instance, the Rolleston, the Twelve Bar, or Riffs:
Delbert McClinton (current tour dates: http://delbert.com/tourschedule.htm)
John Prine (http://www.johnprine.net/tour.html)
Guy Clark (http://www.guyclark.com/tour.php)
and, since her people have somehow gotten her
Spotify Grooveshark-linked to all three (and I like the name), Cheyenne Marie Mize (http://www.songkick.com/artists/3241966-cheyenne-marie-mize)
“Yeah it’s all right ’cause it’s midnight and I got two more bottles of wine.“
I spent most of my misspent youth believing Jimi Hendrix said, “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy,” so it comes as no surprise that this was wrong, too:
“I’ve looked at clowns from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow,
it’s clown illusions I recall.
I really don’t know clowns at all.”
And, try as I might, I can’t understand ANYTHING on those early Roxy Music records. By the way, if clowns frighten you, this might help:
I was duped. It seemed like a nice concept, a bit of pride in our little town; but, do you know, the place was CRAWLING with homosexuals! Same thing happened last year.
Okay, seriously, I know we are a town, but a large town; and I know this is the 5th year of the event and it is still gathering steam, but let me tell you honestly that two drag queens and a rainbow flag do not a Parade make:
The Mailcoach (great gay bar name, by the way) sent a Grayson Perry queen (Jackie says it is supposed to be Marilyn Monroe).
The Pink Rooms, essentially the Only Gay [Nightclub] In The Village, managed a motorized carrier for its drag contribution.
Swindon is pretty cool about most things and folks just turn up, not because they care one-way-or-another about what cause is being touted but because there is something going on in the park. ”There’s beer and fried food,” is about the only prerequisite and I’ve never been the fittest fellow in sight at, for instance, Atlanta or Amsterdam Gay Day events–but here, I am a buff god.
Loads of families show up–there’s a bouncy castle. And, speaking of bouncy castle, here’s a little something to prove that some fetishists are catered to at the grounds:
The entertainment is usually pretty good and only about half of it hits you over the head (or waves a figurative cock or minge in your face) with gay-ness largely because more than half the acts are just there to perform and many probably can’t be painted with the broad brush of LGBT (are those all the letters?). Especially powerful in the rock category, Joan of Arc ruled and only did one Joan Jett cover (and the lead singer did a fantastic Axl Rose impression at one point):
I guess the best line of the day came from Trixie CumMore (the drag act at the top of this article). She pointed at some girls and asked where they were from.
“Pen Ill!” they drunkenly yelled back, then raised their plastic cups up in the air, “Woooooo!”
“Penhill,” chuckled miss CumMore, then gesturing back at the stage, “Don’t be afraid, darlings. This is ‘e-lec-TRI-city.’ No top-up meters for my show.”
Finally, there’s freebies out there waiting to be posted to anyone with a UK postcode. Get them:
Paul is that tiny speck at the far end of the stage
Swore I wouldn’t go to another festival after going to the 2009 Hard Rock Calling to see Neil Young, mostly because of the immense crowds and lousy sound but partly because of Seasick Steve. Then I went to a big music festival in Holland to see Bruce Springsteen and paid dearly with the huge crowds and Seasick Steve’s performance of precisely the same material as three years earlier (right down to the faux folksy patter, faux-ksy, for short). And so it came to pass that I went to see Paul Simon, Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the 2012 Hard Rock Calling this past weekend.
Their opening act was Alison Krauss who may be a decent performer but can go get fucked for all I care. About 10-12 years ago at the Dahlonega Bluegrass Festival she was the headline act but the fest included Ralph Stanley, Jim and Jesse, and — better than anything — Bill Monroe all of whom have boots she is not fit to lick. So, while these legends performed their asses off during the shows then stayed up through the night jamming with impromptu clutches around the campsites, she hid out in her touring trailer with a 50 foot perimeter guarded by State Troopers, complained that Bill Monroe’s show went on too long before hers, then had her Storm Troopers set up a security area in front of the stage (at a bluegrass festival) before she was brought on for a short and shrill set. At Hyde Park, we went to another stage to watch Big Country instead.
(Let me say that I owned a Big Country album but let a girlfriend keep it because it really wasn’t worth arguing about when there were actually GOOD records in the pile. Let me also say that the band aged well and do a pretty good live performance, considering. Sorry about letting that record go, in retrospect; not too much but some of the ones I do still have from that time are dogs.)
So we were left wondering, as we noted that so many people left the Big Country tent early what was going on and how fucking rude everyone was being…later, after we realised we missed Kodachrome due to the empty space left by a really short and apparently unworthy of comment Alison Krauss set that prompted Paul Simon’s 3+ hour set to start early, we also noted that far too many of the folks there at this bloated venue were so hermetically attached to their electronic devices that hundreds of tests and tweets must have reached the exodising Big Country fans that the Graceland concert was starting that they were compelled to march Morlock-like to the muted mainstage area.
There are many music and other reviews of this fantastic sound scape, like this one and this. But, in the interim we came up with some new, we hope, international sign language…I have really poor and deteriorating hearing due to years in bars and nightclubs, an explosion incident during a carpenter apprenticeship on the MARTA construction sites I worked long ago, and many years in labs supported by noisy vacuüm equipment: as a result, conversation in loud situations is impossible.
Wellies have become fashion, unless you might wander into this mud puddle. The guy probably isn’t a narc; I’m just old and that’s what I would have thought, years ago.
So, things we want to point out to one another to have a laugh require a bit of shorthand. For instance, if we want to point out stupid footwear (usually, but not always, unusually high heels on otherwise inappropriate shoes) we do the walking fingertips using the pinky to point along the line of sight:
If some one is too old and/or fat to manage a shirt they are displayed in we pull a cheek (originally both cheeks but efficiency rules):
And, bald guys with a ponytail get one of these:
Or new one is the sign for “too drunk to be out in public.” You can do it by crossing your palms in front of your face but it has already morphed into the one-hand version with crossed fingers in front of your nose and the pinky pointing at the offender. The cross is the Cross of Saint George, the vertical/horizontal bits of the Union flag representing England and the English. Get it?
As an immigrant, Swindon is turning out to be the perfect introduction to what it means to be British. Not what people think it means nor what they might want it to mean, but what being British actually is: and that is epitomised by residing in this large, North Wiltshire town. According to the Office for National Statistics and the British Social Attitudes Survey, Swindon is the most average place in Britain–that is, the mean and spread of income, ethnic demographics, housing choices, education and a host of other measures tracks fairly consistently with those of the nation as a whole.
And, like the nation as a whole Swindonians believe that where they are from is a bit shit. I have come to realise that this is not so much an inferiority complex as a way of coping with the numbingly ordinary existences that are inflicted on most Brits; the fact that most of the citizenry are potty at best and more-often-than-not downright surreal works of walking street theatre to the casual visitor does not seem to register at all with them until it is pointed out (and the odds are about level whether or not pointing it out will cause offense or fertilise a budding friendship). The ludicrous idea that an opera should be composed about life in Swindon was compelling to me for that reason as much as the love I have for my bleakly dull adopted home.
It was surreal, I give the players, writer, composer, crew and supporting cast and voices that. A group of naysayers were always on the stage sneering and sometimes taking more-or-less funny potshots at the trite-ness of the play that was taking place in the rest of the set; yet, most of that hackneyed material was prima facie more interesting than The Cynics’ dismissal of wee points of parochial pride made during the development of the stories surrounding the working class family they mocked…and even they occasionally blurted out some weird Swindon trivia (of which there was much).
It would be a good game to play with an adolescent to have them jot down every name or place mentioned that had nothing to do with the plot development (hint, Diana Dors doesn’t count because she is the narrator/mistress-of-ceremonies). If the kid has that particular sort of autism that also makes them good card counters, you might try to get them to tally how many times the word Swindon is sung or said in the two-hour course of the show.
But, it wasn’t bad, not at all; there were some genuinely funny bits and that I hope were intentional as we were sitting on the front row Stage Left/House Right and some of the real corker lines occurred while young, nervous singers were fainting distance in front of us–it seems half the town were either on stage or in the audience. The production, while not lavish, was very high quality and clever; costume and set design were interesting and the small band of musicians were talented. And, the actors with singing parts had FANTASTIC voices. I had quite a nice time.
I doubt this will ever see the light of day again after the weekend run. It really is too site-specific to be of much interest outside the town. Too bad. I guess one of the highlights for me was the little 30 second blackout bit when Noel and Liam Gallagher smack each other across stage trying to decide what to name their band (hint 2: they don’t count on the aforementioned list because they are characters in the show). Another was the use, almost exclusively, of local talent with the peculiar accent of the area: more than once in the self-referential (and still not at all self-reverential) lines you would hear mention of “an orperar? About Swindon…don’t be daft.”
Except for the spectacular weather, no real surprises were in store at the Old Town Festival over the weekend. Saturday’s line-up of mostly rock bands were impressive but this is a good town for music. The family oriented Sunday fare was a bit shit, but if you were expecting it to be a bit shit you could really lay back and enjoy yourself. During one of the brass bands (there were several, along with some talented classical youth groups), we explored some of the tents and I bought a copy of Closing Time from a cat welfare charity table…success!
Nice afternoon in the Vrijtof
We planned the Netherlands trip around a Bruce Springsteen concert at PinkPop, a music festival going on during Pinkster weekend every year since 1970. Unusually fair priced (we also saw the Hives, the Specials, Seasick Steve, and 8 other acts on our day ticket), even the food tickets were reasonable (although the food sucked…€2.50 for a beer seemed fine, though).
Maastricht is a little city in the conservative southern Dutch province of Zuid Limburg, full of students and bars and tourists largely from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. When I last visited in 2001, hardly anyone spoke enough English for me to communicate (but my rudimentary German and French kept me from starving lost in town). This trip it was hot and sunny and everyone spoke English to us as soon as we tried to use Dutch.
The Specials and some of the mostly white crowd.
On Sunday, the convention centre near our hotel had the annual Eerste Pinksterdag Vlooienmarkt (flea market) and we had a wander around since the rest of the city was locked up (save for the bars and some restaurants). I got the clock, here, for €20; it was running a little slow but I think I got it adjusted.
Stolen web picture, but we are under the orange circle at the right
As the Specials note, though, “it’s later than you think.” We continued to enjoy ourselves the rest of the weekend before heading back to Amsterdam for my birthday pancakes, and stashing the little pipe I brought along for this trip near the RAI Station.
This was my first overseas trip since moving to Swindon and the Advertiser publishes photos of idiots holding up a copy of the paper in foreign lands (a segment called ‘Where in the World?’). I got in two of these but they haven’t yet been published:
In a Maastricht neighbourhood on one of many stylised donkeys
This finally appeared in the Advertiser at the end of summer
time = Bruce minus 20 minutes
How many pickers does it take to change a light bulb?
Five. One to change it and four to shake their heads and mumble, “that ain’t the way Earl woulda done it.”
Here’s an obit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/9172830/Country-singer-Earl-Scruggs-dies-aged-88.html
I’m going some place like THIS to mourn and drink some whiskey:
Listen up Athens, GA and Austin, TX peeps: you have a challenger for the Surreal Rock Bar in a Backwater of the Year Award. I was 9.5 miles into a Sunday run and spotted Riff’s down the road toward Wootton Bassett and, although I was fairly certain it only opened at night, I decided to give it a go, just in case.
Wandering around I heard what sounded like a band rehearsing inside and tried the door. Voila! It opened and inside the sounds of a heavy metal band were screaming to escape, only to be held back by the singer/babes howlin’ those blues standard lines: “Waterloo, Couldn’t escape if I wanted to. Waterloo, Knowing my fate is to be with you, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa….”
Whoa, indeed. Mid-song, the guitarist left the rest playing and came over; “what’ll it be, mate?” I bought a Carling and settled in to watch along with a middle-aged couple and some farmers that seemed as bemused at my sweaty state as they were at the floor show. This hamlet (Greatfield is far too small to be called a village) is quite literally in the middle of fucking nowhere, and to find an LSD-flashback-inducing scene like this without scraping some fungus from the bottom of one of the MANY cow patties around here was quite a treat.
I see a regular Sunday trip out Greatfield way if this house is open and halfway rockin’. Very funny set today, at least, as I saw the group do Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” as if Lemmy and the gang were involved. I am in love.
In Oxford awaiting clearance to re-enter the labs and start bringing the mass spectrometers online, I had anywhere from one-half to three hours to kill. I wandered up Cowley Road to see about some food but the doors to the Bullingdon were open and I was drawn inside. Oh well, a Brains S.A. couldn’t hurt, could it?
I expected a crowd like usually hangs out at music venues; young, heavily tattooed/pierced/otherwise-decorated; what I got was a steady stream of old blokes that could have been the actual crowd at the music venues I used to hang out at: I was easily the youngest of the lot. I get the feeling this changes as the entertainment starts up (Blues Mondays, Jazz Tuesdays, R&B/Soul/Funk Fridays, I think), but the codgers gave every indication that they were settling in for the evening and I would gladly have joined them if work wasn’t about to start any moment.
The Town Gardens is my favourite park in Swindon and it gets used frequently for festivals. This weekend it hosted the Swindon Mela, billed as a celebration of all things asian. This was an awful lot of fun although far too crowded for my taste; still, if moved to a larger park it might lose a bit of the cosmopolitan flavour that the Town Gardens offer. Also, the Garden is at the highest point in town and that lends a bit of an air all by itself.
By asian, the Brits almost always mean Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and Bangladeshi but it was nice to see such a wide variety represented (although Indian geographically, there is a substantial Goan population in town that has a vibrant culture and a unique identity, for instance). I didn’t note a lot of Iranian or, looking further east, Thai stalls but the crowd made it hard to get close to any of the information booths or vendors. There was a little segregation to note:
The ethnically English among the crowd (and a lot of us other pale folk) found the most culturally familiar fare at the Cobra Lager stand. Bitter and strong (like me!), it was refreshing after the climb to Old Town on this warmest day of the season.
The Bollywood actor Jeet worked the crowd not from the stage but face to face. He even came back onto stage and performed more (again, right at the railings to the delight of the mostly female fans) when the much more aloof and (it seemed to me) self-important Silinder was fashionably late. After his extra gigs, Jeet came strolling through the crowd with his offspring, shaking hands and chatting amiably with anyone who came along.
With Jeet away (there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere), the stage filled with a female dance troupe and the crowd up front quickly exchanged young women for a bunch of dudes.
The overall crowd mix remained about 60% caucasian British, 40% Asian, with 2 or 3 Caribbeans and a couple of Americans. Advice for next year’s visit: arrive early and stake out a good place near the Bowl after getting some food and beer (the queues are enormous after about 1 pm).
Two nights ago, the circus next door spilled out onto the streets with some yelling and screaming followed by a visit from one cop who hauled away a girl when another cop showed up and went into chat with the neighbours for an hour and a half…we poured a couple of drinks and, like many of the other neighbours, took up observation posts in hope-against-hope that the paddy wagon would show up. It didn’t but another cooper did and started interviewing neighbours a few doors down from us. Before he could get as far as our joint, an emergency call came in and he and two other cop vehicles posted at either end of our street rolled off with sirens going. Shit, missed opportunity.
Last night, though, our viewing of a documentary about a teenage drag queen in some lead mining town in County Durham (I love BBC 3) was interrupted and a better opportunity for temporarily relocating one or more of the next door neighbours emerged. We gave it a few minutes to make sure this was going to be a big blow-up, but it seemed to have staying power. The coppers must have been too busy to answer the multiple calls from up and down the street this time so I sent them a note (expurgated here of identifying details as per the vagaries of libel law, here):
Earlier adventures available here, but there will be more:
24 April 2011–Part 1
19 June 2011–Part 2
21 June 2011–Part 3
17 July 2011–Part 4