Friday, 20 February 2009

Everything is free

I had been obsessed with Gillian Welch about a year ago, specifically Time: The Revelator, needing to hear it a couple of times a day. Time wore on, and other stimuli infiltrated my attention. Listening indifferently to it just this week, whilst toiling away at some administrative nonsense, the meaning of one of the songs, Everything Is Free, suddenly became clear. I'd fallen in love with her morose southern drawl and the simplicity of the recordings, not particularly the content of the lyrics.

Everything Is Free seemed to resonate strongly with my own feelings about how music is these days, how the way the world works now. We give everything away for free because we can't beat the pirates. They're too many, we are too few, and our righteous cause of payment for goods and services delivered, is dismissed, let alone even considered. So instead of beating them, we acquiesce, and take money from sponsors instead, directly or indirectly rather than from the listeners themselves.

What I love the most about the song though, is the last verse, which intimates that, if this is the way it must be, then one has no right to demand anything from the musician. Their expression of creativity may well be free for all to hear, but pure. Free from meddling record companies with agendas. The control is placed firmly within the musician's hands.

Whether this is a good thing or not, is somewhat subjective. Some sort of direction, whether it comes from the musician or whether it comes from some svengali type, is always positive. Personally I see both sources of direction as being equally valid, regardless of whether they make money or not. Financial success shouldn't really be linked to purity of expression, or the corruption of it, though it often is. Her two fingers up at all that ironically undermine and yet demand of her, and the stoical nature of her music is something to admired.

Lyrics printed below:

Everything is free now,
That's what they say.
Everything I ever loved,
I'm going to give it away.
Someone hit the big score.
They figured it out,
That we're gonna do it anyway,
Even if doesn't pay.

I can get a tip jar,
Gas up the car,
And try to make a little change
Down at the bar.

Or I can get a straight job,
I've done it before.
I never minded working hard,
It's who I'm working for.


Every day I wake up,
Come in a song.
But I don't need to run around,
I just stay home.

And sing a little love song,
My love, to myself.
If there's something that you want to hear,
You can sing it yourself.

'Cause everything is free now,
That what I say.
No one's got to listen to
The words in my head.
Someone hit the big score,
And I figured it out,
That we're gonna do it anyway,
Even if doesn't pay.

Listen to the song here:

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Power Down VII, February 28th, 2009

Power Down VII is upon us, and will be Saturday February 28th at the Islington Arts Factory, 2 Parkhurst Road, N7 0SF. Apologies for the late news of this date, but we had a slight issue with the cancellation of some acts. However, all the troubles are over, and this will be a very special one, i can guarantee that.

If you're new to this and are unsure what Power Down is, it is this:
"Power Down is an irregular night of eclectic musical entertainment that aims to promote sustainability through subtle means. The performers are completely unamplified and the audience is silent out of necessity. The lighting is provided by donated candles and a type of candle that we make ourselves using recycled vegetable oil from the local fish and chip shop. Food and beverages are served which are either organic or locally produced. The nights are held together by the host Marmaduke Dando, and are generally held at the Islington Arts Factory in Holloway, north London.

"The following acts have performed at Power Down in the last 2 years: The Hoosiers, Liam Bailey, Cellorhythmics, Seb Genovese, Ahuman, Portico Quartet, Chris Lyons, Rebecca Jade, Rachel Rose Reid, Rob McCabe, Tall Stories, Sara Mitra, Josephine Oniyama, Citizen Helene & The Racists, Lemond, Chancery Blame and The Gadjo Club, Zoot Lynam and his band, Top Shelf Jazz, The Langley Sisters, Ed Harcourt, and Marmaduke Dando. "
The line-up for this Power Down will be just 3 acts this time, to give you all enough time to drink and talk in between sets, and make the last tubes.

The line-up for Power Down VII will be just 3 acts this time, to give you all enough time to drink and talk in between sets, and make the last tubes.

Cellorhythmics as the Working Classical Orchestra - The progressive cello group who played the first ever Power Down with The Hoosiers two years ago are back with their 10 piece orchestra, the Working Classical Orchestra. Have a listen and look at one of their performances here:

Kat Vipers - Hailing originally from Greece, Kat Vipers is a young pianist with a flamboyant vibrato that croons over everything from gypsy folk, to punk and sinister fifties-era melodrama. Have a listen and look here:

The Boycott Coca Cola Experience - One man on a bicycle playing his guitar while he rides to power a small amp (a momentary power up). Hilariously dry tales of the horrors of the modern world. Take a peak here:

Entrance will be 5 pounds on the door, and doors will open at 8pm. The first performer will be on about 8.30pm. The usual cheap organic drinks will be on sale at the bar.

There are about one hundred buses that stop outside the venue, and there are two close tube stations, Holloway Road and Caledonian Road station. Do not fear if you reside in some far flung recess of London, the entertainment will be finished in time for you to catch your tubes. As this aims to be a low carbon event, we urge the audience to use public transport, bicycles or their own feet to get to the venue, as the performers will also be doing. There are secure places to lock your bikes. If you have to drive, then please don't come!


Monday, 2 February 2009

Enjoy the silence

London is under a blanket of snow. I stayed up late last night looking over it all in wonder. The sky was sodium orange, almost like daylight, the city lights reflected in the flakes. How I imagine daylight on Mars to be, two thirds the strength of Earth light, and with an eerie tangerine glow to it.

This morning, no public services are working of course, and it's too heavy to cycle or walk. There are children laughing, adults grinning, snowmen leaning wonkily, and a silence I've not heard, since, hmmm, my travels through Siberia, and Mongolia.

Not only is it the acoustic quality of snow, that sucks up all sound, and kills reflections, but it's the fact that there are hardly any machines running today. Just a smattering of cars, going very slowly. It's utter heaven. Imagine what London would be like with this few machines? It would be a utopia. Marinetti wouldn't know where to look. The only thing to complete the scene would be to have the church bells playing Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue.

What a wonderful world.