Just to say I have been happily busy and doing a fair bit of teaching by skype and still teaching at Worcester too (see below). I am planning a few library events to launch my Merrie Melodies tune book and Vol 2 is well on the way too.
Now if you are free tonight and in either Gloucestershire, England or Counties Roscommon or Longford in Ireland, here’s some fun events to hop out to!
Fri 18th November : Karen Tweed & Friends : AVENING, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
The Avening Church Ceilidh, Avening Memorial Hall, Avening, Gloucestershire, GL
Tickets £15 / Children £8 (includes a delicious hot home-made supper)
More information : Piers Hansen 01453 836207 / 07770 745642
Alternatively, tonight there is also :
Session at the Shannon Bar, Tarmonbarry, Co Roscommon, Ireland 9.30pm
with Tom McElvogue (flute), Michael Lennon (accordion), Jimmy McLoughlin (Accordion), Mairtin O Muiri (guitar) and Johnny King (bodhran and bones) amongst others. . .ladies are most welcome too and you’ll enjoy great music and fun!
I have been to Germany, twice this year, enjoying time out with Nick Wiseman Ellis, Thomas Fenn and Mike Nelson and their friends, playing tunes and chatting about organic farming, sheep, Choro music and of course, checking out Nick’s progress on yet another Fair Isle sweater.
Thomas Fenn was showing me some fantastic graphics for old jazz LPs (I am showing my age here!) and one particular book on the work of David Stone Martin by Manek Daver.
The introduction to the book reads:
‘I grew up in Bombay, India. In the years immediately following World War II, I started collecting jazz (you buy your first record; you are a collector). My first records were 78 rpm’s pressed in India. The sleeves were nothing more than the cheapest ; paper envelope printed with the insignia and name of the record company. An individual 78rpm sold for the Indian Rupee equivalent of 50 American cents. Which certainly did not justify the record company designing a sleeve for a particular record.
This changed from the mid 1940s when farsighted producers like Moses Asch started packaging 3 or 4 78 rpm records into one album. The packages therefore needed both sleeves to separate the 3 or 4 records in it and an album to keep them together. Thus arose the natural opportunity to adorn the package with an art cover. The selling price of around 3 dollars made an attractive package viable and in fact, essential. In fact, to get the customer to spend this money, the package had to look attractive both on the shop shelf and at the house.Welcome to the record album!
This is where David Stone Martin comes in – virtually from day one of the record album. For Moses Asch was among the first – if not the first to package almost all of his 78 rpm output into albums. These were illustrated largely by David Stone Martin. . . ‘
I will pop some of David Stone Martin designs in another blog and it is amazing how old designs like his and graphic designer Herbert Matter still stand their ground, without the aid of computers or Adobe Photoshop in their day.
Now as you know, I do like graphics, drawing/sketching and have been looking into old LP covers; tractors and wool (not sure when Stevie Wonder and chocolate fell off that list. . .). . . .and I have been kindly sent some great reading material on the history of tractors and Massey Fergusons (which are very popular where I live in County Longford). Johnny ‘Bones’ King has been winning local ploughing competitions and I am looking forward to going to one soon, after he explained to me at one session, recently the skill involved in ploughing.
One of these years I may even make it to the Hedgelaying competitions on the Isle of Wight!
(kindly sent by Mike Nelson)
Did you have a good Hallowe’en? I like any event that makes people come out of their houses and the youngsters I met at the door impressed me when I asked for a dance, a joke or a spell. One of them tried to turn me into a frog! I loved dressing up as a kid (no change there, then) and it was hilarious how much effort went into the costumes.
Anyway, I have had some great conversations recently about ‘dingdongs’ (as my dad calls them) or house parties. Not the ones where everyone is standing in the kitchen because they don’t wish to dance or listen to the records, but where friends and families meet to do stuff other than watch tv or computers.
It may involve card games or board games or doing a massive jigsaw or making a model airplane or some Heath Robinson contraption. . .’round the table’ get togethers as Ian Craigan called them, sometimes while people have a few tunes in the corner, which in turn may even turn into a kitchen ceili or sing along.
These events don’t need to be vintage. I’m starting next week by trying my first gingerbread architecture, thanks to ‘cellist Marion Goebel. . .it may even keep me quiet for a bit. . .wait till you see what she has done!
Meantime, Karen Street and I have been recording all sorts of fabulous melodies to get our relatives singing along-a-ding-dongs! More about that shortly. . .do let me know your favourite old songs. Mine is currently, ‘If I’d Known You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked A Cake’!
I came across this recently, which I really like. . .
And talking of portraits, drawing and things creative, here’s a great book, packed with an amazingly eclectic collection of drawings by people you know and may not know about. Mike Nelson reminded me about John Holder, whose work you may remember from the iconic Cambridge Folk Festival posters in the 1970s and 1980s. There are some super quotes about drawing and this one, I felt, was particularly good . . . much of it also. for me applies to music or anything creative.
Good Old Drawing
A Hundred Illustrators, Artists and Cartoonists who believe in Drawing
John Holder & Philip Hodgkinson
‘Drawing isn’t what you think it is. Drawing isn’t an ‘it’ at all. . . drawing is a ‘how’.
A complex ballet of information processing, two-way, non-verbal dialogue and extreme fine motor control allows us to process emotion, space, reality and imagination and offer it up to ourselves and others in a form that is instantly and universally understandable. . .regardless of what language you speak or how old you are.
. . . what you are witnessing happening is not the thing itself but the end of a long and complex process.
. . .unlike a spoken language, the more detail you put into it doesn’t necessarily improve the communication. In that regard, drawing is more closely related to music or poetry.
A few simple strokes can express terabytes of complex feeling and physical / spatial relationships.
Our eyes (and optical cortex) are tuned to detect ‘edges’, changes in direction or materials, because this is critical to our perception of depth. When we draw from life, we have to prune away the irrelevant ‘noise’ in the image to a point where the essence is there, but the vast majority of the data are missing. This happens in the brain, not at the end of a pencil. If we didn’t, every drawing would take several months!
It is this essential ‘pruning’ that lies at the very centre of both drawing from life and drawing from the imagination.
Drawing happens in the mind.
. . .A concert pianist is several bars ahead when he plays.
You are several steps ahead when you draw.
Drawing teaches you to see, and as such, it is one of the most powerful creative acts you can undertake.
Not everyone can learn to draw brilliantly, anymore than anyone can become Paganini, but everyone can learn to see through the study of drawing.
John Lennon said, ‘Everyone can draw until someone tells them they can’t.’