Gigs this coming weekend …

Jakartass will be reporting from Jakarta because I haven’t been invited to the Ubud Writers Festival (And it’s bloody expensive!)

However, friends Mark Heyward and Elizabeth Pisani, who I’ve yet to meet, will deservedly be there.

Mark Heyward’s gigs

Friday 3rd. 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Venue: Ubud Botanical Gardens
‘Looking for Borneo’

Crazy Little Heaven, which I reviewed here, has evolved into a colourful collaboration between the author, Mark Heyward, illustrator Khan, and acclaimed New Zealand photographer, David Metcalf who are contributing their work for free. Mark’s contribution consists of excerpts from the book, and a bonus CD of his original songs. The book has been put together by outstanding Australian designer, Clare McAlaney, and has high production values.

This project is 100% for charity – three projects for children in Kalimantan and Bali. The book will retail for $50 or Rp.585,000. It will be on sale throughout Indonesia at Periplus and Books and Beyond outlets (both have agreed to waive their normal commission) – and in other shops in Australia and across the region. (Electronic preview)

Sunday 5th. 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM
Venue: Left Bank
Discussion Pulau Life.
Five writers about Indonesia, not including yours truly, discuss – erm – life in Indonesia.

………………………………………………………………………………..

Elizabeth Pisani’s gigs

Thursday 2nd. 9:45 AM – 11:00 AM
Venue: Neka Art Museum
Discussion: What lies in store for the world’s third largest democracy?

Saturday 4th 11:45 AM – 1:00 PM
Venue: Left Bank
Discussion: What, if anything, is happening to cease systemic corruption here?

Sunday 5th. 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Venue: Neka Art Museum
Meet Elizabeth Pisani‘ who will be talking about her outstanding book Indonesia etc,, which I reviewed here.

………………………………………………………………………………..

Jakarta

Friday 3rd. 18:30 – 20:30 (gratis)
Venue @america Pacific Place Lt.3
I Know You Well Miss Clara (IKYWMC)
Interview with guitarist Reza Ryan here.

Saturday 4th. 18:00 – 22:00 (Rp.50,000)
‘Loudnatic 2014′
Black Studio, Jl. Panglima Polim III/146.
IKYWMC + Tesla Manaf (review of recent gig here.)

Image of the Week – 124 (Shops)


Terrence in his bookshop in Montreal.

“Bookstores, you know, are also a form of community centers. A lot of people come here just to sit and browse and chat with their friends. I’ve had people come in here, men and women who have met one another and ended up getting married, for heaven’s sake.”

One of a series of photos by Vladimir Antaki

People pay less and less attention to their environment. They are always in a hurry, they don’t take the time to spend time with one another. Unfortunately, these places will one day no longer be around. This is one of the reasons that compelled me to want to document these ‘guardians’.

Because I don’t have an acquisitive nature, I remember few shopping experiences in a mall with a sense of pleasure.

Our Kid and I used to hike up to Mangga Dua to a particular computer store where we were on name terms with the owner, but in terms of distance and transport, especially the Busway, Ratu Plaza is now a darn sight more convenient. On the third floor are a couple of shops which I regularly visit for computer peripherals because I know they’ll be helpful. There is also one particular stall of the many selling pirated DVDs where I exchange inconsequential chat with a short jilbab’d lass.

I won’t use the other stores or indeed any other mall because their decor is all show, with no clutter to indicate that the staff or owners truly care about their businesses. They’re probably an outlet of a company with a head office and a human resources department.

When shopping becomes a ‘lifestyle’, with no ‘customer service’, then I become a mere passer by. Yes, I do have a local Indomaret, but the only recognition I get is when I’m asked if I need a plastic bag for my biscuits and coffee. And no, I generally don’t because I’ll have one or two in my knapsack.

A Lifetime of Gigs

I’ve been to umpteen gigs in a variety of venues, from pubs and clubs, to theatres and cinemas, arenas and to outdoor festivals. Those gigs and concerts which have stayed the longest in my memory have been for their entertainment value, for music which enthralled and moved me, for audience reaction and for other indefinable reasons, which I’ll attempt to give in my potted reviews which are roughly in chronological order.

Note: The majority of the links lead to music examples, or YouTubes of the real thing. Enjoy.

My first gig would have been my school band Karl King And The Vendettas who got as far – but no further – as getting management and appearing on TV.

At college, there were local bands: Simon Dupree and the Big Sound, the Brian Hugg Fraternity, and the Clayton Squares who came down to Chichester from Liverpool and we all danced. I also got to see the Graham Bond Organisation at the Portsmouth Guildhall.

Following his concert in Brighton with the Harry South Big Band, Georgie Fame signed my programme. What about me? asked his companion. That programme turned up just last year and I discovered that she was Alfreda Benge, now Robert Wyatt’s wife. A year later, I was at the Royal Albert Hall to see Georgie sing with the Count Basie Orchestra, sadly unrecorded. And the last time I met him was at JavaJazz in 1994

Georgie wants a cigarette after his set at Java Jazz.

I like classical guitar music, and went to several concerts in the Camden Festival with John Williams, once an unhappy student of the the great Segovia. I saw him at, I think, the Royal Festival Hall where I had one of the hard seats behind him on the stage so I couldn’t actually see him playing … but the majority of the audience could see me. Not being able to fidget, scratch my arse or pick my nose made for a very uncomfortable evening.

I got a ticket to go to the Rolling Stones at the Wembley Arena, but couldn’t see them: they were too far away. I slept through Jimi Hendrix’s last performance at the Isle of Wight Festival, and sang “Hit me, hit me, hit mee” with thousands of very peaceful Glastonbury goers,

Every John Martyn performance was unexpected; would he be sublime and happy, or drunk, rambling and still a joy to watch? And would Van Morrison be grumpy as usual?

I’ve got a Sony Walkman recording of Eberhard Weber playing solo at the Bass Clef, a club in East London, “Playing with myself is cheaper in the long run …” I’ve also got a recording of the Jan Garbarek Group, which he was part of, in London. Then there was Peshkar, which was basically Shakti, but with Larry Coryell instead of John McLauglin.

The Hammond organist Jimmy Smith was so arrogant that I haven’t liked him since. Bo Diddley went through the motions, as, sadly, did B.B. King. Ry Cooder a couple of weeks later was the blues man of note: How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live? Indeed, a perennial song of our times.

In 1976 (?), I went to a concert by Kevin Ayres. I’m unclear about the venue, although the memory of his guitarist Ollie Halsall dressed as a bumble bee flying across the stage, carried by wires indicates a theater, possibly the Finsbury Astoria, aka Rainbow., playing – erm – Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee lingers on. (This is another guitarist.) Then Kevin went vamping over to the piano dressed like Marlene Deitrich and sang Falling In Love Again.

Erroll Garner, Brighton Dome, 1966
One of my all time favourite albums is Erroll Garner’s Concert By The Sea. Released in 1955, my father had it in his record collection, and I knew it well.

A year or two after I’d left the parental nest and was at teacher training college in Chichester, I discovered that Erroll was going to play along the coast in a magnificent auditorium, so I promptly bought a ticket for a balcony seat. Unfortunately for Erroll, but luckily for me, the auditorium was barely filled so I was able to move to a front row seat. From there I gazed down at Erroll as he grunted through his totally improvised set – he couldn’t read music. Ever since, I have kept an image in my mind of his smile beamed up at me.

Malataverne Festival 29-31 May 1971
Having cashed in my pension fund from three years teaching in London, I set off for I knew not where on my first set of world travels, Hitch hiking and people would determine my destinations, which is how I arrived at the Malataverne Festival, billed as the French Woodstock, peace and love and all that.

Held in a disused quarry far off the beaten track, I found a spot on the rim from where I could see down onto the stage and hear the music, mainly folk. Alexis Korner and Peter Thorup were the ‘stars, and I faintly embarrassed myself by requesting that Alexis should give us an advert. His deep and mellifluous tones were commonplace on British TV at the time extolling the virtues of soap powder. Alexis didn’t quite catch my request… Eh?

I had a dream one night, one that remains vivid to this day. I could see a typical French town square, un place, except rather than being an open space surrounded by classic buildings, they were the square and the open space was on the outside. So we danced around the buildings … … and then I woke up. I looked down … it was dawn and I was catching the end of a night’s entertainment. The lead singer was exhorting the audience to get up on their feet and to join a conga line which then danced off out of the quarry and off to their own slumber spots.

Faust – Rainbow Theatre, 1973
In that year, if you bought a full price Virgin album, you could buy Faust Tapes, a German ‘krautrock’ group’s album for the price of a single (c.50p). I thought it was unlistenable then (and I still do now!)

Virgin put together a promotional evening at London’s Rainbow. I don’t recall who else were on the bill, but Faust definitely were. Their stage presence was nil; the set was unlit and all we could see were the red lights on their amplifiers and other equipment. Seemingly treating us with disdain, a whisper did the rounds: “Let’s creep silently out of here and go to the bar.”

So we did.

Caravan & New SymphoniaTheatre Royal, Drury Lane, 28th October 1973
The album was released in 1974 on vinyl, and on CD in 2001 with previously omitted tracks and in the original order which you can hear here. However, what’s missing is that once the gig had finished, those of us who were still in the theatre were asked to stay put because the first track, Memory Lain, Hugh-Headloss, had to be rerecorded due to a glitch on the master tape.

Apart from again hearing Caravan playing favourite tracks, but in a new setting, what makes this evening memorable is that with a fellow teacher from the Colebrooke School for Maladjusted Children (now thankfully closed) in Islington, we took a group of students along for their first gig; they were extremely well-behaved!

Hatfield and The North – Notre Dame Hall, London November 23rd 1973
Two friends of mine who I knew in Ibiza when I lived there in 71/2 had recently arrived in town and I took them along with me as by way of introduction to some good music. The Hatfields and their support band Gilgamesh were part of the Canterbury Scene which is still going today through the likes of Caravan and Soft Machine Legacy.

Notre Dame Hall was “converted from the basement/crypt of the Notre Dame de Paris RC Church close to Leicester Square.” The seats were therefore of the stacking chair variety arranged in half circle rows; Mark, Tonya and I sat at the end of one.

It felt like a family affair: good vibes were in the air. I knew that because I’d shared gigs by Caravan and Soft Machine many times before. The music started, familiar to me but not M & T, so I lit up the spliff I’d brought with me and we had a good inhale of the enhancing substance from war zones. Then, to their mild horror and possible paranoia, I said pass it on. But they did, and like one of those chain letters, far more came back our way.

There was an interval, and then the band … I’m not sure which one, or maybe it was both … came among us passing out home baked brownies. Did they contain secret substances? I can’t say with any exactitude, but for those of us with the munchies, they went down a treat.

Boomtown Rats – Carlisle Market Hall, October 18th 1978
I was living in West Cumbria at the time, Son No.1 was just two years old, and ‘punk’ had just about reached the semi-industrial wasteland. Money was tight, and Wife and I had somewhat separate social lives because one of us had to babysit. I can’t now recall whether I went up to Carlisle by myself or with my regular social partner, but I can recall the gig.

It was the first gig of a mini-tour to promote Rat Trap which was “the first rock song by an Irish band to reach No.1 in the UK.”

The hall had rows of stacking seats and they were occupied by grandparents with their grandchildren, public (i.e. private) school students in their uniforms, and others who I wouldn’t have expected at a gig by an erstwhile punk group. It wasn’t long before all the chairs were picked up, and put neatly at the sides of the hall: we wanted to stand and dance.

Bob Geldof came across like Mick Jagger, prancing across the stage and atop the speaker stacks, adding physical energy to the very tight songs we could singalong with. I stood in front of the right stack of speakers, hardly the best place for stereo listening, but certainly a good vantage point to almost catch drops of Geldof’s sweat.

I went home exhausted, but very happy. And slightly deaf for the next 24 hours.

Simple Minds – Theatre Royal, Drury Lane 82/3
My local library had a selection of vinyl albums which could be borrowed, one of which was Reel To Reel Cacophony the second album by the Simple Minds. I was hooked by the development from prog-rock through punk rock and into a new hybrid, and immediately purchased the album, and the next three: Empires and Dance (’80), Sons and Fascination (’81) and New Gold Dream (’82). There was a driving groove which I wanted to experience live.

Come the evening of the gig, I rode my motorbike through the pouring rain into town, parked it in a secure spot a short walk from Drury Lane and set off head down and still helmetted trying to not get any wetter as I walked down the middle of the traffic-free road. I was a bit puzzled by a line of barriers to my right with people standing behind them, and was further surprised when a policeman asked me where I was going, which was just along the turning to the right.

He said ok and let me walk on I glanced to the right as I walked past a limousine and realised that Princess Diana was getting out the other side to where Prince Charles was waiting. I was passing the Royal Opera House, the venue for their choice of an evening’s music, but I was focussed on my gig, not theirs

Pint in hand, I went on to the floor in front of the stage and was soon lost in my own world … ba,dum, ba,dum, ba,dum, ba,dum …  as I Celebrated  with the band driving along their familiar grooves.

At some point it crossed my mind that I’d paid to see the band, so I looked up and, yes, there was Jim Kerr cavorting at the front of the stage … and I was the only one looking at him. Everyone else was ba,dum, ba,dum, ba,dum, ba,duming along, head down.

Pat Metheny Group – Hammersmith Odeon (1982?)
The first time I got to see the Pat Metheny Group, Pete and I were up in the gods of the Hammersmith Odeon. The group we saw that evening had Paul Wertico on drums, Steve Rodby, on bass and Lyle Mays on keyboards.

I doubt that many in the packed audience had been at Metheny’s first British gig, at the Bracknell Jazz Festival the year before, if memory serves. We didn’t know what to expect and we got sublime, saudade spine tingling melodies played acoustically, heard the fingers slide up the strings, loud synthesised orgasmic group singalongs, and Ornette Coleman free-formish what-was-that?

Being British, we applauded politely after each piece, some of which we recognised. None of us waved cigarette lighters (now camera-phones) in the air to say “Look at me, I’m at a Pat Metheny gig”, something which Americans and Indonesians posing as audiences are prone to do.

When they finished playing some of the tightest ensemble playing we had ever been privileged to witness, ~ whoosh – as one ~ the entire audience stood and roared for more. I still get goosebumps recalling that magic moment.

The group came back and stood at the front of the stage looked around, looked up, their arms around each others’ shoulders and you could almost hear their mutual thought ~ “What the f**k have we done here?” ~ as they realised that we had given them the ultimate accolade. They played another half an hour and seemed to surpass themselves. They knew we could take it.

I have been to a number of gigs here in Jakarta, and my reviews of some of them are here.

For now I look forward to more from Ligro, IKYWMC, Tesla Manaf, simakDialog and, especially, Tuslah.

Image of the Week – 123 (Amsterdam Weirdfest)

I don’t know where I found this week’s image, but it’s not part of Amsterdam’s Weirdfest which is apparently “jampacked with genius, from barbecued photobooks to inflatable bouncy-castle clouds and the madcap brilliance of Augustin Rebetez.”

Image of the Week – 122 (Dead Elephants)

Photograph: Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP/Getty Images

Two critically-endangered Sumatran elephants were found dead in Indonesia’s Aceh province with their tusks missing. These magnificent but critically endangered animals are usually killed by villagers who regard them as pests that destroy their plantations, or by poachers for their tusks.

All the others in this series of wildlife images are uplifting.

Tesla Manaf – a short review.

I’d arranged to chat with the latest Indonesian guitarist to join the MoonJune stable after his gig last night at the Rolling Stone Café in Jakarta’s enclave of the wealthy. But apart from giving high fives and hugs to his many friends, he was still so full of nervous energy that he needed a while to come down from the high he’d left us all in that he needed a period of calm.

The occasion was a showcase of his album due for international release on MoonJune Records in November, A Man’s Relationship With His Fragile Area, an album I’ve been listening to for a couple of months. To say that this is unlike anything else you’re likely to hear would be an understatement, yet there are echoes of which keep you engrossed and returning to.

Tesla’s label for his musings is neo-classical; I’d accept that. Jazz, it isn’t, although senior jazz guitarist Agam Hamzah was there, as was Chico Hindarto, the promoter of such gigs as Pat Metheny’s first in Jakarta back in 1995, and the MoonJune artists I Know You Well Miss Clara next month.

Tesla’s group was kept under a tight rein, with every key and instrument change choreographed and synched so tightly so that the first number from the album Chin Up was note and tempo perfect.

The group is a four piece with drums played by Desal, bass by Khrishna and a variety of woodwind instruments by Hulhul. His main instrument is the clarinet, but variety was added with a bamboo flute, a descant recorder (which I learnt to play way back in elementary school), and for discord, a tarompet pencak, which is a double-reed woodwind instrument from the Sunda (Bandung) area of West Java generally used to accompany the martial art form of pencak silat .

I noted the following about The Sweetest Horn: it opened with a whistleable marching band nursery melody played on descant recorder with a drum beat, joined by skittering drums, then guitar and clarinet playing as children do, until they combine to build an echo of an express train which gradually comes towards a halt: a guitar lead pastoral theme takes over, but with underlying menace from the bass.

Time passed, surprisingly fast, and for this listener it all came together with the final number, Where Are We Now? (which is not on the album): ah, I thought, I now understand it. Where it all made sense was that I felt that the group was given freedom to play, to stretch themselves, albeit with a continued measure of synchronicity.

Tesla has carved a very interesting musical path, and I really look forward to trailing behind to discover where his muse takes him next, especially if he takes time to let his innate curiosity relax and enjoy the view. After all, it’s not the destination which is of importance, but the journey itself.

Image of the Week – 121 (Behind Every Cloud)

There is something in this photo by friend Lora Hemy which captures my soul. She says it signals the end of summer, but as she lives in the far north of Scotland that is to be expected.

There is a little darkness within all of us: for some there is a lot.

For me, the notion that until the end when we gradually fade in the mists of time and memories there is always a ray of optimism. When you are down, the only way is up, so my struggles with this week’s computer collapse are soon going to be in the past. Yep, I remain an unashamed optimist.

The image also conveys the sense of being alone, a spiritual sense I revel in. I’m happy wandering alone in the clouds … and that’s not a sardonic comment on my height.

With a friend or two I can communicate, but in a crowd, I tend to sit back and observe. Mind you, I’m also more than happy to share in a good gig such as this one and I hope this one which is tomorrow.

That’s what Lora’s fine photo conveys to me.

How about you?

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