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Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Keith Tippett Takes A Pebble

On a train somewhere past Peterborough. . . .

Knackered and clapped-out are just two of the family friendly phrases which described my condition yesterday after working in excess of 60 hours in four days at the WOW festival in North Shields.

Yet there was more music to be addressed in the shape of Keith and Julie Tippett who were in concert at The Cluny warehouse in Byker. The venue is a Victorian built whisky warehouse just outside of Newcastle and Keith Morris (all round good guy, promoter and musician) has been presenting an increasingly adventurous series of concerts over the last few months.

The opportunity to see Keith or Julie Tippett doesn’t come around much, so however tired I was feeling I had to get my vast and lardy butt along.

Tippett has to be one of the most technically proficient players on the improvised music scene there is and listening to him last night, it was understood that there was little or nothing that was not available to him.

This is not to suggest that the player was prone to any ostentatious displays of musical prowess. If anything there was a simple humility about the music which belies the complex density of their combined sound.

Although the instrumentation was bare, the duo created the impression of a large ensemble which evoked strings, brass, drummers and massed choirs. Julie Tippett moved in and out of the music, bringing us wordless dispatches which were playful, instinctive and intimate.

The fact that the venue had a very noisy bar immediately next to the performers was at first a drawback. Yet oddly enough, the bar room ambience added another dimension to the performance. There were times when the music was so quiet (a pebble rolled across the strings of the piano for example) that it was in danger of being completely lost. Somehow, this seemed to be part of it.

Anyone who knows Keith Tippett’s work will be aware of the lyrical side to his playing and the second of half of the performance ended with a gorgeous ballad, containing a descending motif which shimmered and hung in the air - a real thing of beauty.

This was by any definition of the word some of the most uncompromising music I’ve heard for a while. Its was also some of the most beautiful and uplifting that I’ve had the privilege to be part of for a very long time indeed.

One other unexpected bonus was the amount of old chums I’d not seen for donkey’s years. This meant the interval and the afterval were taken up with quick catch-ups and promises to meet up at other gigs.

For example, I had wanted to have a chinwag with Chris Wilson and his wife, by the time I got turned around they had gone. Chris is a graphic designer who had got in touch with me a while ago as he had some potential designs for the book cover. I think we managed to exchange about half a dozen words all night. So apologies to Chris if you’re reading this - no snub intended, it was just the ebb and flow of the night. We must flap the anorak another night. Get yourself down to the Fat Ox kidda !

After the concert, we had a few beers with Keith, Julie and Rob Ayling from Voiceprint Records. A few drummer jokes aside it was good fun and very agreeable. Keith and Julie both expressed their willingness to take part in the book and we made plans for me to go down to their cottage next week to do the interview.

We were able to talk about Blueprint which as Crimheads will know was produced by Robert Fripp. It’s always been one of my favourite albums and Julie talked warmly about the recording of it. Rob Ayling suggested it might be re-issued by Voiceprint which would be wonderful.

Keith asked me to tape the Crimson albums he was on, so that he’d be able to recall the events surrounding the recordings. This morning I got on to Declan Colgan at Virgin and asked if he’d send Keith the Poseidon, Lizard and Islands albums.

Within an hour or so, Declan e-mailed back confirming that the deed was done. Caps aloft for Colgan !

Soon to be establishing base camp in Leafy Highgate tonight. Thereafter, I’m off hunting down ex-Crims, their friends and memorabilia for the next few days. Received a cheeky call from Kimber, so I know I’m going to be in for a rough ride.

Tuesday, May 30, 2000

Good Time Tippetts

A cloudless blue sky. The sea is a mottled deep blue flecked with silver.

Up at 6.30 a.m. despite the long week-end. I feel surprisingly lively considering the amount of hours that have been put in. E-mails from Richard Palmer-James and Andrew Keeling.

Tonight I’m going to see Keith and Julie Tippett in concert which will be a delightful contrast to all the "good time" festival music I’ve been digesting over the last few days.

This is not to suggest that KT’s music is not capable of delivering a "good time". Far from it. I just hope I don’t fall asleep in the middle of it

Monday, May 29, 2000

Sore Feet

Another long day. To bed very late and up very early for four to five days in a row make Sid a very dull boy. This morning the BBC did a live link up with our festival as part of their nationwide Music Live event, they have also been on site recording various shows for the World Service.

The rain today was phenomenal and yet a very good crowd braved the weather and were determined to enjoy themselves. Overall, the festival has been a great success despite it having taken place in the teeth of the wettest bank holiday in living memory.

At the end of the event, as the staff were being packed into a fleet of mini-buses, there was a mixture of gladness and sorrow. Glad to be getting home to bed and loved ones but sorry that the great team spirit and camaraderie was now at an end.

It’s well after midnight and my feet are very sore and callused.

Sunday, May 28, 2000

Rain, Red Cross & White Faces

Got in last night at about 12.45 a.m. The first day of the festival has been a great success. The fireworks were wonderful. I never get bored of seeing this kind of spectacle. Headlining act Nitten Sawhney wowed the crowd with an eclectic mix of rap, Asian big beat, soul and 70’s fender rhodes jazz. We were worried that it might be a shade too esoteric for the large family crowd who come down to see the fireworks on Saturday night.

However, we needn’t have worried. Everyone loved the music and the air show. Attendance was estimated to be around 150,000 across the two mile site,which considering the rain in the early part of the day, is not too bad.

Managed to get an hour off-site and being a good e-junky, immediately came home and downloaded my e-mail. More digital art received from the "grate" Kimbrini. Wonderful stuff. When I get a chance, I’ll ask Dan if it’s possible to post it up on the diary page.

Prompted by this e-mail, I gave leafy Highgate a ring and casually dropped into the conversation that I’d received an invitation to the Orange Fiction Awards bash at the Victoria & Albert museum. Looks like I can take a guest and so it seemed like a nice idea to see the KimberSmith Foundation gear up a notch in the swanky affairs department.

I need to find out what the dress code is for such a night but if it is formal evening wear, I think Kimber will look stunning in taffeta.

Tonight Asian Dub Foundation played a stunning concert to around ten thousand people on the main stage. The crowd of predominately white faces, surged forward causing one or two problems for those squashed at the front. It had rained pretty solidly for two or more hours before the concert and yet the crowds kept coming.

Only one woman fainted and happily she was grabbed from the front and handed over the barriers into the arms of the Red Cross staff who are always on hand at large events like this.

The band played a full 90 minute set which was brash, energetic and pleased the crowd no end. I thought they were wonderful.

Saturday, May 27, 2000

It Doesn't Rain But It Pours

07.22a.m.

Yesterday spent fine tuning (aka last minute panics) for the Orange Window On the World International Music Festival. The rain and sleet was unrelenting - well it is an outdoor music festival isn’t it ?

Last night we wined and dined with our corporate guests in the swanky surroundings of the Gosforth Park Hotel. A pleasant enough evening I suppose, engaged in the light burble of polite conversation.

However, in the last twenty minutes a whole range of possibilities of working with the corporate sponsors emerged, which was exciting and energising artists in residence schemes, e-poetry and many other wonderful ways of keeping people happy at their workstations. So it was worth it after all.

The rain continues to pour and my lift has arrived.

Friday, May 26, 2000

A Character Building Experience

Slightly more productive evening helped along by a call from Jamie Muir. We were trying to work out whether his trip to London could tie in with mine. Sadly after a bit of jostling of the diaries, it’s proved impossible.

So it’s back to plan B which is to do the thing over the phone. Talking in person is always better than over the phone but in this case it looks like its going to be the only way to get the thing done.

I’m interested in talking to Jamie and getting his take on Crimson. However, Jamie’s musical career is hardly confined to Crimson and as a long-standing enthusiast of European free improvisation, I’m as interested in his work with Derek Bailey etc.,

Then there’s what Jamie did after Crimson and his life as a painter. "Nothing to do with Crimson !" the purist might shout. For me though, it’s about getting a view of a whole person rather than trade on some sloppy received wisdom.

Jamie and I talked over the question of the musical and personal tensions in Crimson tonight and there’s always an issue about how frank or candid one should be for fear of offending individuals. There’s also the question of self-censorship and revising or rehabilitating opinions - what we think now isn’t necessarily how we felt then.

My response to this is to let it all come out. Having talked to several ex and current Crim’s, they all seem to confirm that the process by which the music has been arrived at has not been without some personal cost and grief of some sort.

So, I think it’s more than legitimate for this to surface and be aired. Most of the people I’ve talked to so far have also stated that their was also a very positive period - it was the best of times, it was the worst of times as some blokey once said. (Poet at your convenience. Anag).

Mortal terror ran through my veins as I opened an e-mail from Jonathan Brainin telling me that I’ve been accepted on the Level Two Guitar Craft course which begins in September in New Jersey.

I am truly the world’s worst guitarist (in any tuning) and the thought of all that practice makes my knees wobble and my lips tremble like a big girl’s blouse.

This must what must be meant by "a character-building experience".

Urgh. . .

Thursday, May 25, 2000

Laurie Anderson's Moby Dick

21.45 p.m.

Busy, busy, busy with lots still to do before the Orange WOW festival begins on Saturday. Bought Asian Dub Foundation’s new album and single today on behalf of work. The view from the festival office is the New Way, New Life is not going to get to the number one slot but it is a catchy pop song.

I find the hectic blending of the different styles of music to be highly engaging indeed. The only problem for me is the bombastic nature of the rap over the top. Whilst there are many important messages contained in the words, I find I’m less and less interested these days in being shouted at.

E-mails between Ian Boddy and myself regarding the title of the next DiN release. It’s a frankly superb collection of noise terror from a group that goes by the name of Surface 10. I don’t know much about Surface 10 other than they come from the USA. In fact further reading reveals that "they" are in fact a "he". Ian sent me the CD a while ago and it’s been getting a good hammering here in Whitley Bay.

Actually, it’s not a million miles away from ProjeKct X and I’ve suggested to the Bodster that he sends Pat M a copy for his consideration.

Got an e-mail from Jason Bell who lives outside of York. I met Jason several years ago at Shepherds Bush when KC were last there. We’ve sort of kept in touch via the odd e-mail. Jason is a stick player who was active in the York music scene for a while. I know he was also doing some playing with Matt Seattle sometime last year.

He’s going to be at the next KC gig at Shepherds Bush so it’ll be good to meet up for a natter. I gather from the guestbook that there’s a suggestion for KC Crimheads to meet up. I do like a good flap of the anorak myself and am looking forward to meeting up with various chums from around the UK.

In the post tonight were my rail tickets for next week’s trip to London and a press package from Jacob Heringman. Groovy stuff indeed.

07.25 a.m.

Listened to the premiere of Laurie Anderson’s new epic work Moby Dick on Radio Three last night. I did this while tidying the upstairs living room and despite the distractions, I was able to keep an ear out to what was going on. There was the usual mix of wit, irony and out-there obliqueness mixed over some seductive grooves. I also spotted a few sonic contributions from Brian Eno taken from his 1992 ambient album The Shutov Assembly. I’m not sure how well the music and voice worked on their own, divorced as they were from the visuals. Enjoyable in places but could have used a bit of editing.

Phone call from the great Kimbrini last night dotting I’s and crossing T’s about my forthcoming visit next week. Debbie also set up her arrangements with some old chums who’ll she be visiting for the couple of days we are both in London.

Two days to go before the Festival and we are entering into that quiet zone where nothing much more can be done except shameless plugging in the press and on TV and radio.

Currently listening to Lightness by Brian Eno. It’s music composed for an installation at the Marble Palace, the State Russian Museum in St.Petersburg.

Wednesday, May 24, 2000

Feeling Down Despite The Sunshine

Wednesday, 05/24/2000

07.25 a.m.
In bed last night listening to Late Junction on Radio Three. They played McFall’s version of Little Wing by Hendrix. I really love those slurring strings as they move slowly through the melody. If you haven’t heard it check out their DGM release Like The Milk.

Feeling a bit down this morning despite the beautiful sunshine. The reason is that I got virtually nothing done last night on the book. Instead, I sat in front of the computer and wasted time, pretending to be busy.

What really annoys me is that I didn’t break off and do something constructive like paint or read or even watch the programme on Liberace which was on television.

New resolution; I’m only going to turn the computer on when I’ve got something concrete to do. Then I’m going to turn the bugger off.

The only silver lining to my vague sense of depression this morning is the news that Pinochet is likely to have his immunity from prosecution removed. Oh and there are three Iris' out in the garden.

Today will be spent fine tuning civic arrangements for the forthcoming festival and doing some pratty press things. I’m lined up for a radio interview and there’s some TV stuff to sort out.

Tuesday, May 23, 2000

The Blank Generation Game

A night spent staring at a computer screen achieving very little indeed.

Monday, May 22, 2000

Cotton Wool Clouds Over Cullercoats

6.00 a.m.

Huge blue skies strafed with shards of white cotton wool clouds. The sea is flat and silver with the black dot of a fishing boat slowly ploughing back towards Cullercoats.

Two small planes circle lazily overhead, waiting for permission to land. Early morning light has such a wonderful quality to it which really lifts the spirit, making a tired and groggy fat bastard into a full of beans, up and at ‘em fat bastard.

22.36

Heard from Hugh O’Donnell at DGM today and we tied down the date for a rifle through the archives. Also tonight, I managed to book my train for London next week. Faxed Keith Tippett three pages of questions for our impending interview.

God, I’m knackered. . . .off to bed.

Sunday, May 21, 2000

Bill On The Blower

Saturday was spent recovering from a hectic week at work where the preparations for the three day music festival are reaching fever pitch. The launch event ran at the Hilton Hotel and included the participation of a government Minister, a large multi-national communications giant and 200 captains of industry.

I was hosting a table which included some of the great and good of the local TV and theatre world as well as the regional arts association. Given that this was work, I stayed on the mineral water all night while all around me got completely shit-faced (as we say up here).

I didn’t get away until after midnight and left the revellers to do their "networking". So although I was sober, I still felt bedraggled and tired when I rang Bill Bruford for the second leg of our interview for the book.

Bill was candid about the difficulties that crept into the 80’s line-up following the recording of Discipline. It’s clear that his passion and enthusiasm for the music from that period remains alive although it is tempered by the remembrance of some of the internal difficulties and tensions which seemed to be present in varying degrees.

Last night was spent listening to the Pet Shop Boys, Here Come The Warm Jets and oddly enough, selected highlights from the Bruford blokey’s back catalogue.

Today, the glacial strings of Keith Jarrett’s Arbour Zena provide the perfect antidote to the previous two hours of Radio Two’s Desmond Carrington. Debbie and I listen to Desmond’s programme avidly.

At first we thought it was a spoof Bonzo-esque excursion into British surreal humour. Amazingly enough it’s played straight and Desmond Carrington is a real person in his late 70’s.

An actor with one of those plummy, "luvvy" kind of voices, Desmond adds a quaint and anachronistic take on the light music industry of the last fifty years, making this most idiosyncratic of broadcasters, required listening on a Sunday afternoon. It’s like tuning into another time when Desmond talks.

The boys and I spent part of the day going around the local Safeway supermarket in Whitley Bay with one of those handsets that scans the bar-codes as you wander around. Took us twice as long to get £50 worth of groceries but at least it made the chore more palatable for Tom and Joe.

Jamie Muir rang this morning to set up dates for an interview. He’d not received the letter I’d sent him a couple of weeks ago and so I think I’ll have to send it’s copy by registered post. Good news is he’s still up for an interview and we’re going to try and fix up a spot in a couple of weeks.

Also on the dog and bone today was Keith Tippett. He’s playing in Newcastle at the end of the month and we’ve arranged to meet up for a beer after the gig. The bonus is that he’s playing with Julie Tippett who has one of the most remarkable voices around.

E-mails with interesting propositions from Andrew Keeling and John Kimber.

Also some half-baked correspondence with Jonathan Brainin, the registrar for the Guitar Craft course in New Jersey in September, where I sent him some dim half draft of a post that I hadn’t finished but sent in error.

Mr.Brainin (whose middle name should be "Tenacious") told me to shut up, stop arguing and go to bed already. I guess when the train is coming it’s best to get off the track.

Stephanie Ruben has also rung today to work out dates and times for an interview. She also confirmed that Mel Collins is interested in getting involved in the book which I’m very pleased to hear. That means that just about all the ex-Crims are signed up and on board. Yee-ha !

Off to watch the next programme on Beeb 2 on Tate Modern.

Thursday, May 18, 2000

The Wrath of the Slugs

Feeling a bit washed out this morning as I was up for quite a bit in the night with Tom and his asthma. He was fine and remarkably bright all things considered. Before heading for the bus, we took a look in the garden and surveyed - THE WRATH OF THE SLUGS.

Three gorgeous purple velvet Iris heads were chomped and rasped beyond recognition. Miraculously, the row of bedding plants we installed on Sunday are untouched.

On the bus, the ride is slowed down by traffic and road works. The bus brakes so hard that Joe careers off his seat doing a forward roll. There’s a gasp and a burst of laughter as Joe picks himself up, grins and almost takes a bow.

A day of rain, hail and superb sunshine.

In the garden tonight, fragments of blue china pottery swimming in translucent rain water.

Later, a huge double rainbow presents itself in front of the house disappearing into the sea. Stunning stuff. I fumble about for a camera but don’t quite manage it.

In between surly teenagers going "yeah" and "dunno", I manage to slip a couple of calls into the Brother’s Giles regarding slots for interviews in June. Also a call to Stephanie Ruben about the same.

E-mails in from Andrew Keeling outlining some of his potential future projects and confirmation of external funding for the Bill Bruford concert in Whitley Bay later in the year. Also a note from Richard Palmer-James outlining some areas of discussion for the book.

Debbie chooses tonight’s selection of music. So far this has included Dancing Shoes by Cliff Richard (one we frequently twist to) and the wonderful Baby Lemonade and the superbly groovesome Gigolo Aunt by Syd Barrett and Lullabye by The Cure (the languorous re-mix),Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks and the anthemic Everyday Is Like Sunday by Morrisey.

Wednesday, May 17, 2000

And now a TV commercial

A beautiful silver moon hovers in the crushed blue velvet sky. It’s gone ten o’clock p.m. and the house is quiet. I’ve just finished a meeting with Big John my colleague on the WOW festival having prepared the next two days battle plan. It’s been one hell of a busy day which started up at around 6.30 a.m. and my first meeting at 8.00 a.m. The highlights include a site visit with thirty first year fine art students who are going to display their work in our own little Tate Modern on Tyneside.

Onwards to a facility house to piece together a TV commercial. When you’ve only got ten seconds you have to be very careful about what goes into it. When you’ve only got an hour and a half to get it all done from start to finish it gets pretty hairy. However between Big John, the delightful Cassie Durham (video editor) and myself we get the job done.

Tom and Joe (who by this time have been picked up from school) are angels and sit politely and watch it all happen. Cassie shows them what some of the buttons do and even finds them some popcorn. The finished advert looks good and I’m pleased to say we’ve managed to get it on some good prime-time schedules - Coronation Street (long-running Brit soap) and so on.

I can hear Tom coughing with asthma along the hallway as he lies asleep. There’s a good chance I’ll be up to him a fair bit as he’s not been sleeping too well over the last couple of nights.

Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Thrummed, strummed and twangled

Another beautiful morning - brilliant sunshine and huge serene clouds making their slow way across the sky. A gorgeous flat blue sea and a warm pleasant wind.

The day starts proper at 7.45 p.m. on the lawn drinking tea and planning the day’s agenda with John, a big hail and hearty colleague from work. The WOW festival is only a week away and there’s much to do.

Today we hit several printers who have various jobs on the go, call into the offices of Galaxy FM (commercial radio station who are one of our partners for the festival) and listen to the next set of radio ads. They’ve done a stunning job and the really good news is we can use a strap-line contained in the jingle for the TV ads which start next week. The TV ads only last ten seconds, so every little nuance counts.

After that, I have to sort out some invitations and seating plans for a sponsors evening at the end of this week at the local Hilton Hotel. The evening is not just a chance for sponsors to have a backslapping jolly but is also the occasion for the local business awards.

These are presented by the Secretary of State for the Department of Trade & Industry and represent an opportunity to bestow accolades and small businesses as well as some of the larger players in the field.

And just in case you’re wondering what on earth any of this has to do with the arts, without schmoozing with business, we wouldn’t be able to do any of the festival and the like.

After addressing some issues of departmental politics, I’m whisked up to Newcastle and a meeting with the Environmental Agency which is a Government quango.

We’ve been commissioned to deliver a major public event / environmental festival in August and it all requires planning, programme and making sure that the client understands what is possible within the budget.

This is then followed by another meeting on the other side of town (Wallsend - where I was born) with a design agency who are building up the Arts service website. Their dummy screens look crisp and bright and really the only issue to resolve is content.

Also approve another set of poster designs and then set off at the end of the day to meet Debbie back in Newcastle. We meet up to sort out aspects of our perilous finances and to get train tickets for travel at the beginning of June. It’s Debbie’s birthday on 2nd June and we’re going to celebrate it by going to the Tate Modern. Yippeee !

Back home and there’s e-mails concerning the possibility of getting Opus 20 to play in Geordieland (err…that’s Newcastle for the uninitiated) and beyond. Ostensibly, the real reason to get them up is to use the digital recording studio as a cheap way nailing their renditions of the Lams / Keeling arrangements of the RF soundscapes.

The logistics involved are immense so if it happens, it will be a triumph of the will over adversity.

Also sent Ian Boddy some text for The Wire magazine’s Label Lore section. It seems there’s a possibility that they might feature DiN following the positive review of the Boddy / Chris Carter album, Caged in the last edition.

Speaking of reviews, I picked up a copy of the Mojo which contains a reasonably positive review of TCOL by John Bungey. For myself, all I can say is that TCOL continues to grow and develop.

Initially, I had some difficulties with the self-referential aspects of the album but the more I play this sucker, the more I find it slowly sinking in. Does it make my toes tap and my fingers click ? You bet - big time !

Frackture is a constant source of pleasure at the moment and Frying Pan is a wonderful piece of lurching classic Crimson. Having said that, TCOL has had to compete for a place on the turntable with ProjeKct X’s Heaven & Earth.

The sheer edge on the playing is staggering and each listen brings many rewards, one of which is the clean and well-defined production.

Also listened to David Bowie’s last album Hours which a chum at work loaned to me. The previous week I had given him TCOL to have a listen to. A cultural exchange I guess. On the Bowie album is a post-it with the following message:

Sid,
A bit of homage to Fripp in the guitar department on this one especially on "Survive". I’ve only played the first two tracks of the KC album but it sounds like a lot of clarting about to me !

Perhaps it’s a grower ?

Later in the day, Steve (the author of the above note) confirms that he’s only able to play TCOL while his partner is out of the house. I count myself very lucky indeed that Debbie is able to put up with as much KC as she does.

There’s much of Crimso that Deb actually enjoys. Mind you, one of my fond memories is watching P2 at Ronnie Scott’s from the merch table and noticing Debbie in the front row actually asleep while Trey, Ade and Robert thrummed, strummed and twangled.

Monday, May 15, 2000

Can a urinal be art or is he just taking the piss?

06.55 a.m.

A gorgeous warm sunny morning. The sea is a flat golden mirror sparkling and gently undulating. Two small fishing boats out of Cullercoats harbour plough a thin furrow of white foam, followed by several speculative gulls.

The garden at the front of the house looks much better having had an influx of bedding plants installed yesterday afternoon. We spent the afternoon at a local garden centre picking up various shrubs and the like. This is when having four children plus a couple of their chums is a distinct advantage as it means they can be press-ganged into carrying the booty.

After getting home, we then set about the tedious task of preparing the ground and putting the plants in. The kids quickly evaporated, leaving Debbie and myself to carry on with the rest. After a couple of hours, it’s all done and dusty, requiring baths all round.

In the evening, I watched a programme on the television about the new Tate Modern which has been in the news this week following its opening on Friday. The programme chronicled the advent of "the ready-made" in art, taking Marcel Duchamp’s seminal "Fountain" as its starting point. Can a urinal be art or is he just taking the piss? Personally, I like that stuff.

After the programme had finished, I meant to get up and turn the TV off. Sadly, I failed and promptly began to doze thus losing an evening and getting a cricked shoulder and neck for my trouble.

Saturday began with a burst of spontaneous painting by the children at around 6.30 a.m. Once again, the light was stunning and warm sun poured in through the windows, filling the room with a cosy yellow glow.

Tom and Joe work very quickly signing off sheets of paper in a matter of seconds. Their work has a vigour and honesty which my own plodding scraping and smearing lacks. In my head I see a square of shifting, shimmering yellows. In practice what I get is a set of flat, dull smudges.

Changing tack, the boys are enlisted to help me finish an assemblage called Two Summers. The right hand panel was begun last year and contains Poppy leaves captured in wax. This year, we’ve taken half a dozen yellow tulips and placed their petals in the left hand panel and again, captured it in wax.

The two panels work very well next to each other and I proud as punch the boys want to cover lots of other things in wax.

Saturday afternoon consisted of a visit to a local countryside park and climbing up a hill on top of which is placed a huge sun dial. The hill is entirely artificial, created as it was out of the cast-off soil from the local factory site.

The view from the hill is quite stunning and the children have a wild time running around and about. I sketch and Debbie soaks in the atmosphere. Vast blue skies move serenely way above us. We both feel very small - which is a bonus when you’re my size.

On our way back home, we call in to the shops and pick up the ingredients for our feast.

The evening was rounded off watching a video of a movie called Pi. Shot in a translucent black and white, the story revolved around a character who was obsessed with discovering the hidden patterns contained in the numbers of the stock market. Nice to look at but fairly pointless. Still much better than the dull-as-ditchwater The Sixth Sense which we had the bad luck to watch the previous evening.

I’m conscious that I’ve done no work at all on the book this week and I had planned to get some done over the week-end but as you can see from the above, nothing at all got done. I guess the trick is not to worry too much about this.

There’s a natural ebb and flow to these things and my guess is that I wouldn’t have produced much of any value. A whiff of self justification perhaps ?

Friday, May 12, 2000

Planning Fireworks

07.28

Not too much work done on the book this week due to a shed load of day job work. In May, our service organises a large music festival which attracts around three quarters of a million people over three days. There are four stages, zillions of bands and performers, theatre companies, food courts, franchises and the like.

All these need to be organised, chased, hassled, problem-solved and so on. So, as we get further into May there are significantly increased demands on my time both in and outside of work. Headline acts include happening dudes, Asian Dub Foundation.

Last night at ten o’clock, I stood at the end of the pier on the mouth of the River Tyne and watched our pyrotechnic team fire off a series of test fireworks. Stirring stuff but it meant that nothing too much got done on the project.

That said I still managed to talk to Bill Smith (designer of numerous KC covers) and to the potential publisher of the book on related issues of book design and some forward marketing plans.

Over this week-end I’ll be planning my interview / research trip for early June. This will hopefully involve interviewing the Giles Brother’s, the original EG, a visit to DGM and a rifle through the archive(taking Julie O’Hanlon for a drink while I’m there), down to John Wetton and Stephanie Ruben.

Thursday, May 11, 2000

All That Jazz

07.39

In the post last night was a package from the USA from the Fayman Blokey. He’d popped a DAT of some Fayman grooves for Ian Boddy and I to mess around with in our quest to take an eternity to record an album.

A big thanks to Jeff for donating this material. Given that -
a) we’ve never met
b) didn’t know of each other’s existence four months ago
c) haven’t even heard the kind of things each other are up to
- the boy done good.

Jeff also enclosed a kids diary with a big Smiley face on it. Is he trying to tell me something or what ?

Also just in from the states - Ian Boddy who’s just got back from his short jaunt to Philadelphia. He’s a bit fazed so I don’t really know how his shows went. More later I suppose.

Saw Phil Toudic’s comments in the Guest book about my liking of Herbie Hancock, etc.

In the 70's I didn't really listen to much prog. It was Crimson, VDGG and Gabriel era Genesis. But around ’72 / ’76, I really got into the whole British jazz scene - Softs, Nucleus, Centipede (which of course had connection to Crimson) and the American Jazz -rock scene.

So in addition to Miles and HH, I was heavily into Weather Report (I Sing The Body Electric / Sweetnighter/ Mysterious Traveller) and of course, the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

My big passion was Jazz in all its many and varied forms. It really got my toes tapping and still does. The benchmark for my listening was how well it measured up against the music of Miles Davis (I LOVE the electric period) and King Crimson.

In playing terms, Jazz is what mostly filled my time and around 1978 I was also involved at the time with my own little jazz-rock group Ipso Facto. We were crap but we got a few bookings playing sub Weather Report via Coltrane via European Free-Jazz and a guitarist with a Steely Dan fixation who tried to incorporate cum hell or high water, the choppy solo from Kid Charlemagne.

A bit later I helped form a great trio called Shaking Hands in which I also played bass. Very badly. We played hard-edged fast(we liked to think) free-form jazz (sax bass and drums) and we were often supporting punk / new wave acts of the day. We were so loud and unrelenting, that in some perverse way, we kind of fitted in. At least that was my memory of it all. For a couple of numbers I would contribute some wordless angry bellowing which also fitted in quite well with the prevailing tide of anti-literate vocals.

E-mail’s in from the squirty love-god Kimber, who tells me that he has valiantly secured me a ticket for KC at Shepherds Bush. Yippee ! I can feel my fangs sharpening by the second.

Also in from Dan Kirkdorffer, confirmation that I’ve got the job of maintaining the News Section for the Present Moment series. Crikey - does this mean that I get an office of my own and a key to the DGM washroom ???

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Frying Pan & Oyster Soup

08.36 a.m.

Another bleak and featureless morning with a fine drizzle that makes the passing traffic hiss as it moves along at the end of the street. Both Debbie and I slept right up to the alarm clock and I feel sluggish as a result.

E-mails overnight from Dan K regarding the PM pages and the increase in site traffic in general. Also heard from Matt Seattle and we edge a little further toward some kind of PM event later in the year.

Were this to come off I’d like to brand the event as a "DGM / Present Moment Oop North" (this only works if said with a Yorkshire accent) event. The deeply wonderful Julie "What would you do without me ?" O’ Hanlon at DGM will talk it over with the big D. Slowly but surely, things seem to be moving along.

Of course, it’s very easy to get caught up in the internal excitement of it all. The real challenge is how we translate this energy and enthusiasm into bums on seats.

Matt Seattle’s current diary has some very interesting comments on this process from a personal perspective but the issues are the same.

E-mail in from John Kimber of leafy Highgate. It seems that Kimbo has finally got some of his paintings digitised.

Regular readers of this page may well recall an abortive attempt by yours truly, to capture said Kimbrini paintings on a previous occasion. All I got then for my trouble was a set blurry smudges and a lot of ear ache from ‘is Nibbs.

Kimberman works on large-ish canvas’s and is very concerned with creating huge airy fields of colour which suggest vast distances and indeterminate space. Short flurries of twisted brush work are often placed on the textured surface which provide the viewer with a point of reference or focus.

Interestingly these rough strokes and small bursts of colour and contrast evoke anything from flowers, coded glyph’s and even on one set, nothing less than a procession of Chinese dragons !

John paints for himself rather than for an audience although slowly but surely, an audience is starting to find it’s way to his door in leafy Highgate.

E-mail from Sean Hewitt tells me that KC are going to play at Shepherds Bush. Hooray ! I stick on Frying Pan and Oyster Soup this morning by way of celebration and by way of kicking out the jams in a too sleepy household. These are two of my favourites from the new album and are guaranteed to get toes tapping between Whitley Bay and Nottingham.

Tuesday, May 09, 2000

Crusty old gits with an axe to grind.

22.03

Listening to Thrust by Herbie Hancock and ProjeKct X’s Heaven And Earth. Not making any particular point here or going for an interesting juxtaposition - simply that’s what’s on the player tonight.

In the middle 70’s, this album and Headhunters were never off the turntable. Chameleon (from Headhunters)with its fat funky bass line was a particular favourite of the Smith gang of the day. The spiky clavinet solo on Butterfly (from Thrust) was another favourite.

Of course they sound a little stilted these days but Hancock shines through as a player of great economy and poise - even if he is guilty of having an overactive pitch-bender.

Mind you flitting between the two, there is some judicious use of the funk to be found on both discs make no mistake.

Reading 45 by Bill Drummond. This was loaned to me by David Symes, who was this week-ends featured house guest. It’s a witty collection of writings about the music scene in the late 70’s when I was still grooving to Miles Davis (all era’s) and he was getting Echo and The Bunnymen a record out. Drummond has a sly wit about him and I know I’m going to enjoy dipping in and out of this one.

Also on the reading list at the moment is Days In The Life (voices of the English Underground 1961 - 1971) by Jonathon Green. It’s a collection of eye-witness accounts of the 60’s and is fascinating getting a take on the 60’s revolution that always seemed to be happening down south and around a certain class of people.

Though I wasn’t around then, I get a lump in my throat when I read the accounts of setting up IT, the UFO and so on. It did seem to be a time of unbridled optimism and a sense that anything was possible. Perhaps it was this energy that Crimson tapped into ?

Also being dipped into at the same time are the Ossie Clark diaries. Ossie was a fashion designer who shot to fame in the 60’s and famously had his portrait painted by David Hockney. For a few years he was designer to the stars (Rolling Stones, royalty,etc.,) and his diary is populated with some of the great 60’s icons. Then his star waned and eventually he slid into poverty, dependency and depression. Oh and he was killed by his lover.

In an interesting piece of synchronicity, both Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield suggest I should talk to Stephanie Ruben. Stephanie was at one time married to Peter Sinfield and for those who were present at the Border’s in-store in October last year, it was Stephanie who made some telling comments about the power of the music contained on the first Crimson album.

I talked to Stephanie tonight and she confirmed that she was willing to take part in the book and had many stories and memorabilia to share. She also volunteered to speak to Mel Collins (who lives a couple of houseboats down from her) when he got back from Germany this week-end.

I noticed how refreshing it was to hear the sparkle and brightness of a woman’s voice on the subject of Crimson. I don’t mean this to sound patronising. One of the reasons I suspect both Fripp and Sinfield independently of each other suggested I talk to Stephanie is that she provides a very different perspective on the pair’s working and personal relationship.

However, I confess it’s a pleasure to hear her voice and it makes a welcome break from crusty old gits with an axe to grind.

Also phone calls tonight from Sean Hewitt regarding the TCOL album (too HM and retro in places for Sean’s liking) and exasperation at the will-they-wont-they waiting game which UK fans are having to endure at the moment in respect of KC’s potential dates in London and elsewhere around the country.

E-mails from Darren Woolsey in Bradford and the totally cool Remco Helbers. Remco is a stick player based in Holland who is uncannily tall and thin and is a great guy. I met him on a level one Guitar Craft course and subsequently in London with his partner Ada. A lovely guy and one who would be a most welcome and worthy house guest.

Also a post from HansPeter Kuenzler who was one of the journalists who was present at the RF webcast a few weeks ago. HansPeter writes;

Hi Sid,

I'm reading in your diary of your sense of excitement about Tate Modern. I've been involved in a couple of contributions for German and Swiss TV about it, and I can assure you that the whole building is absolutely wonderful.

The architectonic detail is astonishing, never mind the extraordinary feeling you get by standing in a room as gigantic as the entrance hall. The way the art is displayed is equally impressive. There is, for instance, a stunning, dark room hung entirely with dark Rothkos.

You will have a fantastic time when you see it!

You bet kidda !

7.45 a.m.

Cold and grey this morning and yet over the sea some clouds appear to be tinged with gold. The first task performed this morning was putting the rubbish out. As the black bags mount up, they are stored in one of the two little sheds in our back yard.

The decanting of them into the back lane is a ritual which is eagerly awaited by the sizeable feline population. I know that once I shut the yard gates they will descend on the bags in a plastic-shredding frenzy.

On the news there is much excitement about the impending opening this week of Tate Modern. The gallery has been several years in the building, converting a disused power station into a space for some of the most exciting strands of art of the last century and beyond. It opens this week and though I’ll be unable to get down for another few weeks, there is a sense of excitement which gives me a tingle.

I do have a soft spot for the old Tate building (I was part of week long festival of Performance Art in 1981) but the place increasingly struggled to do some of the work it carried justice. At least the new building will ensure that there is the space to display the huge amounts of work which hitherto has languished in the stores.

Of course, the opening of the new building doesn’t mean that the old Tate (or Tate Britain as it will now be called) will be ignored. Indeed the exhibition of works by William Blake later in the year whets my appetite as much as peering at vast splodgy canvases.

Some e-mails in the night from the extended Present Moment team. Also some cheerful commentary from Pat Mastelotto. Richard Palmer-James chimes in and indicates that the shooting season can begin.

Heartened to read on AK’s diary that DGM have acknowledged receipt of his CD Quickening The Dead. I have a vested interest in seeing this album released as currently one of my paintings adorns the cover. As well as sporting a deeply wonderful painting (ayethangyew!) it contains some moving music.

Last night after my PX frenzy I rounded the evening off with O Ignis Spiritus. Performed by the ubiquitous Hilliard Ensemble (they are never off Radio Three’s Late Junction programme), it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful piece of music.

Monday, May 08, 2000

The collision of melody, hybrid-exotica

23.02

Debbie unwell in bed with a bad headache and nausea. This malady has coincided with the arrival from DGM today of an advance copy of ProjeKct X’s Heaven & Earth.

The music is sublime and stunning with a constant swirl of activity throughout the seventy plus minutes. Wild, freewheeling solo’s jostle with densely wrought thickets of processed sound which gives the album a rushing sense of urgency.

Indeed the collision of melody, hybrid-exotica and the magpie-like cut and paste places the listener in a centrifuge where the half-glimpsed and the well-known shift and exchange places at a bewildering pace.

It’s the sheer verve and unrestrained passion of these collages which tantalisingly suggests that if they give themselves permission to cut loose from the composed repertoire, we could well be up for some truly classic Crimson.

The album is the perfect companion to TCOL, though it’s inevitable that people are going to compare one against the other. This would be a mistake. Although the two albums were recorded at the same time, they are addressing fundamentally different concerns.

It’s not really a case of whether one is better than another. Whereas TCOL meets the obligations and to a certain extent, the expectations of KC, ProjeKct X has a mission to blur and cut across the genres and sounds so contemporary and panoramic, it’s positively breath-taking. For this, Bill Munyon and Pat Mastelotto fully deserve the plaudits they will no doubt receive.

My face ached from smiling so much when I was listening to this album tonight.

Phone messages left for Keith Tippett and conversation with Peter Sinfield who was on fine form tonight lording it over me because he has a Mac that works and I have a clapped out old PC.

Speaking of which, I received some very helpful suggestions and remedies for the PC from Brian Thomson of Dublin.

Also dealing with e-mails from Dan regarding Present Moment developments and potential, an invitation to a party from Robert McFall, should I be in the vicinity in a couple of weeks time.

Also some commentary on different aspects of the book from Trevor Lever and Tony Gassett. Trevor and Tony provided me with some helpful bits of musical analysis as the book was starting to come together. Tony wonders if they might be helpful again. I tell him that my guess is yes !

E-mail in from the now likely publisher and we start to get down to some serious negotiation regarding the book.

07.35 a.m.

Yesterday afternoon was spent bailing out of a sinking ship. My big Pc has been out of action for a week. My chum in Wellingborough was able to talk me through the bios and set-up and stuff. All well and good.

Then the fatal error messages and blue screens, freezes and lock-up. A few more bad sector messages and Scandisk failures later, I ring Wellingborough who tells me to get out - NOW !

So, I’ve saved five years worth of personal diaries as well as the work done so far on KC:TxT on around 35 floppy discs. Until I can get the money together to get this thing looked at, I’ve decamped to the trusty laptop.

On a happier note, Ian McDonald rang last night and we’ve arranged to get his interview underway this week. Ian was suffering from a sore throat which will hopefully improve later in the week.

Sunday, May 07, 2000

Bill Bruford As A Dalek

07.43 a.m.

Up at 6.00 a.m.-ish feeling what Debbie would call Bluterous (pronounced Bloo-ter-us - meaning too full (of food) or puffed up and addled). It could be worse of course. I could be what Debbie calls Stotious (pronounced Stow-shush meaning drunk and dizzy though not necessarily in that order).

To be both bluterous and stotious is a deadly combination so I count my blessings that I’m only feeling mild waves of nausea. The reason for this might have something to do with the late night consumption of Pizza. Debbie and I had gone out to the local multi-screen cinema to see American Psycho. The film was quite enjoyable despite it’s grim subject matter. Christian Bale as the "hero" of the story was impressively wooden. This is a compliment.

The decision to have a pizza was one of those spur of the moment things and the result is the addled end of Bluterous. This is manifesting itself via a winning combination of wind, nausea and acid indigestion. I think my body is trying to give me a message.

When I got up and attended to e-mails, there was a thick sea-fret rolling majestically up the street. A lonely fog horn sang away. Now half an hour later, the sun has broken through and the bird song has returned. In this lovely, honey-gold light, I make a grim discovery.

When talking with Bill Bruford yesterday, he said only wanted to give one definitive interview about KC. Obviously I enthusiastically agreed, assuring Bill that the two hours he was about to give on the LTIA era would be the last time he would need to do it.

Sadly, the grim discovery this morning involved me listening to the BB tape and finding that all of the dialogue is swamped by an ear-numbing buzz. Worse still, Bill’s rich tones are reduced to that of a whispering Dalek with a bad throat and no mercy lozenge to be had !

Which means that at some point we are going to have to go through it all again. So, part of the morning has to be spent fault-finding to see if I can trace or replicate the problem.

Bugger.

More e-mail from Jacob, Andrew and Dan regarding PM. Dan has added yet more material to the page and it’s starting to look substantial. Whatever, they are not paying you Dan, it's not enough.

An e-mail from John Stevens up in the scottish borders in a small village called Lauder. He's invited me to sample the peace and quiet of the border countryside. Many thanks for the generous offer John. Not sure when this will be possible though.

E-mails also from Robert in Nashville. I’d asked RF if he would sound Adrian out about participating in the book and he’s said yes. Good news indeed given the impact AB has had on the music of Crimson over the years.

Thus Sunday morning means tea, The Archers ominbus edition (it's a radio soap opera which chronicles the everyday life of sheep-strangling folk)and some modest gardening. I hope readers of this diary will marvel at the glamorous, creative white-knuckle ride that is the life of a DGM diarist.

Saturday, May 06, 2000

Interviewing Bill Bruford

An overcast Saturday afternoon is made all the more bearable as the music from Jacob Herringman’s latest CD works its magic and transports me to another time and place. There’s a state of grace which seems to accompany this music which is both relaxing and exciting all at once.

An hour or so dealing with a lot of e-mail. The Present Moment working group continues to click and whirr in fine fashion with lots of ideas and energy. There’s potential for a Present Moment event in Edinburgh and London and maybe one in between.

David Symes - he came, he saw and er…went. On his way to a friends wedding somewhere near Washington, David carries three of the heaviest bags known to mankind. Quite what he’s got in them I cannot imagine. I walk him along to the Metro and wave him off. We had a nice couple of evenings chatting about the Canterbury Sound and the like and I look forward to seeing him again soon.

Before David left, I spent a couple of hours on the phone talking to Bill Bruford. We covered the formation of LTIA period, his working with Jamie Muir and onwards through to the recording of Red.

In one sense, this morning’s interview was about finding out what Bill could and couldn’t remember of that particular period. I’d like to be able to go back and work on getting some extra detail from Bill about what was going on back then.

We’ve agreed to talk in a fortnight’s time about the Discipline era and move onto the 90’s after that.

In the post today is a letter from one of the publishers who had initially expressed some interest in the KC project. It turns out they thought I meant KC as in "& The Sunshine Band". Once they twigged to the fact it was actually KC as in "& The Tritone Band" they’ve done a hop,skip and a jump sharp like. This is good as it means I now know who’s in the running to publish the book and who isn’t.

Friday, May 05, 2000

Happy Birthday you old get

Yesterday was my Sister’s 50th birthday which of course I completely forgot. Rang her from The Fat Ox and bellowed something like "Happy Birthday you old get". That should do it.

Spent last night out in The Fat Ox with house guest David Symes. We join Debbie and her chum Heather. Back at the house, DS and I flap the anorak until the early hours and then foolishly I dally with e-mail when I should be going to bed and getting some rest, not to mention some much needed beauty sleep.

Despite this, I’m up and out early and head off to a meeting to discuss Internet radio and work with young people.

Later in the day I head off to Newcastle and meet up with David who has found Spin Records where he has picked up Music For Films by Brian Eno and Supergrass’s second album.

We find a suitable place to sit and chinwag before heading off to Whitley Bay. Once there, Debbie tells me that Peter Giles has rung. I return the call and we chat about the book and his potential involvement.

I’m interested in talking to Peter about the Bournemouth music scene in the mid-sixties and the formative influences in GG&F. Peter tells me he’s happy to help and would prefer to do the interview in person.

There’s even a possibility of interviewing both Giles Brother’s at the same time which might be quite interesting. We agree to speak in a couple of weeks to firm up dates and times for the interview.

After a large meal with all the kids, Debbie, David and my mother Doreen, we wander out and watch the children scalp the lawn and wreak havoc. David and I settle down in front of a roaring gas fire and play through most of the Hatfield & The North / National Health / Robert Wyatt back catalogue. Superb bands which have a charm and grace all of their own.

World Leader Symes points out the similarities between "Oh Len’s Nature" by the Hatfield’s and Red by KC and Peruvian Marching Powder Band.

More e-mailing regarding the Present Moment from Scott, Diane at DGM, Matt and Jacob. Dan Kirkdorffer keeps us all in-line and in touch with the various ideas that are flying around. An exciting way to work indeed. E-mails in also from Robert and John Wetton and Julie at DGM.

In the guest book I notice a comment is made about the book making some money for the DGM coffers. DGM aren’t publishing the book and so I’m afraid it’ll be me and me alone who’ll be heading off to the beach -house in Malibu on the proceeds.

Speaking of Malibu and the playboy types you get round there, Jeff Fayman e-mails me to say he’s finished some tracks for the project I’m doing with Ian Boddy.

Speaking of Ian Boddy, he’s somewhere in the States (Philadelphia) about to do a concert. Good luck Bodman !

Thursday, May 04, 2000

Two Moments of Synchronicity

A bleak grey start although I can feel the warmth in the air. Sure enough as the day progresses, the sun begins to come out and all the ills of the world seem easier. Silly, I know but a bit of sunshine really can make a difference to how one views the planet and the people in it.

Two moments of synchronicity today.

On the bus taking Tom and Joe to school. I take my mobile phone out of my pocket and think about ringing John Sargent and what I need to talk to him about. Thirty seconds into my thought and PRECISELY at the moment I was going to ring him, the phone goes and it’s John Sargent.

Reading Scott Stoman’s diary and thinking it would be good to see Opus 20 live. I receive an e-mail alert. I click it open and there is an e-mail from Scott which opens with;

Hi Sid - we should meet up sometime

Spooky stuff.

Head off to meet David Symes off his train from London. His train is delayed for two hours ! I read a discarded copy of the Manchester Guardian and thought lofty thoughts and eventually David’s train limped into the station.

I whisk David back to Whitley Bay where Debbie tells that Bill Bruford has rang to confirm his interview session for Saturday morning, Jacob Herringman has sent a package and that John Wetton had phoned and left a message to give him a ring back.

After we eat some food, I ring John who tells me that he has spoken with Mel Collins. This is good news as Mel was one of the last of the elusive Crim’s.

The bad news is that Mel was back off to Cologne where he’s working as the MD for a German TV show. Are there any German readers of this diary who might be able to help me track down which show ? There can’t be too many TV companies in Cologne can there ?

The package from Jacob is his latest CD which looks very handsome. I'm looking forward to hearing this latest edition to the Present Moment Series.

Wednesday, May 03, 2000

Sometimes being a dad is great

My feet didn’t touch the ground today. Starting at 8.00 a.m. with a crisis meeting with our marketing man and moving on from there at a rate of knots. Happily the day came to an early end with me picking up the kids from school. Tom and Joe are happy and full of it and talk non-stop on the bus journey home.

Tom talks about apple trees. They planted a couple of seeds last year and they now stand at about three to five inches. We work out how clever apple trees are at spreading their seeds around (dropping off trees etc., - please e-mail me if you are unfamiliar with the concept) and Tom regards this as a form of re-cycling. Little ideas and big concepts - a moment to treasure and I guess you had to be there for it to have any resonance. Lovely stuff. Sometimes being a dad is great.

A veritable e-orgy is currently taking place concerning issues around the Present Moment and how to promote it. Dan "I laugh in the face of sleep" Kirkdorffer works wonders with re-positioning the location of the newly created PM page. It goes from the catalogue page right up to the navigation bar at the top of this page. Lots of ideas are fizzing around the ether so keep peeping at the PM page for impending changes.

Highly amused to read myself described on Bill Nelson’s diary as a "jolly chap". I think the phrase Bill was grasping for was "Big drunk Geordie bellowing in my ear".

A small surge of e-mails from Julie at DGM, Robert Fripp, Sean Hewitt and the original EG - all in connection with the book. Vague preparations need to be put in place for the arrival tomorrow of World Leader David Symes. In a feat of inspired thinking, I’m going to treat David to a visit to the Fat Ox pub on a Thursday night rather than the Friday night. If you’re passing by the Fat Ox in Whitely Bay tomorrow night drop in and say hello.

Tuesday, May 02, 2000

EG Together

Bleak grey morning as we leave the house this morning. I spend the day in tedious details, pushing paperwork and being a local government officer. In the evening Debbie and I go out for a brisk walk around the sea front area, getting thoroughly windswept. This is the ideal antidote to a heavy evening meal and a rather fine bottle of cheap wine.

Back in the house, Alys spends the night on the phone and Sam has his sneery chums around being professional teenagers. From what I can tell a couple of them appear to be goths.

Debbie and I retire to the downstairs room, hit the sofa, liberate the Hagen-Daz ice cream and watch the programme on Rothko we taped from the other night. We watch TV so rarely that it feels like a real treat and when a programme is as good as this one it makes one feel lifted, informed and inspired.

Checking my e-mail it’s a treat to see two messages sitting one on top of another from David Enthoven and John Gaydon - the original EG. They are both ready willing and able to contribute to the book.

Both agree it would be fun to do and Enthoven suggests I interview them both together. Gaydon suggests his offices in London as an appropriate venue. I e-mail them and suggest early June as a potential time to meet up.

Monday, May 01, 2000

Jamie Muir On The Blower

A new month and thus with a ceremonial rat-tat-tat on the top of the biscuit tin, we turn over the next page of our Rothko calendar. It’s called "Untitled red" and it’s simply stunning in a glowering-brooding-dark-depressing-but oddly-up-lifting kind of way.

Last night on BBC 2 there was a programme on Rothko which I didn’t see but taped. Kimber saw and said the boy done good. Plans are hatched to nip down to see the Rothko room in the new Tate Modern building in London which opens soon in May.

Debbie and I get to walk along the sea front today which is crowded with day-trippers (it’s beautiful sunny weather here today) and the other part is crowded with young drinkers intent on seeking oblivion - but who am I to cast aspersions given my shocking and shameless display in London a couple of days back ?

Upon our return, the day turns into a bit of a roller-coaster ride Crimson related phone calls.

First up, Bill Bruford phones to discuss potential dates for Earthworks appearing up North. We try and recall when he last played in Newcastle. I suggest it might have been when he played with National Health or Roy Harper - ‘76 - ‘78 ? We also arrange a date for an interview next week.

Later in the day, I talk to Michael Giles who was interested to know who else had come on board with the book and who I had interviewed so far. I tell him the story and I have a worry he’s about to turn it down. Happily, he doesn’t and we agree to talk later in the month or early June.

In the meantime he asks who is missing from the list and I mention Jamie Muir. Michael has a number for Muir (the pair worked together on the Ghost Dance album with David Cunningham) and promises to give him a ring on my behalf.

Half an hour later the phone rings and it’s Jamie Muir.

I confess to being slightly taken aback but quickly recover enough to ask him if he’s willing to do an interview. Once again he is and we exchange addresses. I mention to Jamie about the Bremen Club release of which he was unaware.

Debbie pops out with Alys into the centre of Whitely Bay and returns in floods of tears having been smacked by one of the many drunks which populate the town centre of a Bank holiday week-end. Though unhurt she is upset and feels so angry. The force of the smack as the guy ran past behind her, almost pushed her into the road. We try and eat and forget the incident. A hand-print was clearly visible on her back.

Peter Sinfield returns my call and he tells me that Michael Giles had been in touch since I talked to him early in the afternoon. It transpires that Michael had not only rang Jamie Muir on my behalf but had also rang Greg Lake. Greg you will recall had via Bruce Pilato declined the interview but had sent me a copy of an interview CD on which there are some quotes regarding that part of Greg’s career. So, there’s a chance that Greg Lake might well come on board in person. Fingers crossed.

After the children are swiped with a rolled-up copy of the Yellow Pages, I ring Peter Sinfield back and we begin the first formal interview for the book. Over an hour and a half we cover the meeting with McDonald and then GG&F, moving onto the formation of KC. The conversation comes to a natural halt at the end of the first American tour and we arrange to pick up the story from the recording of Poseidon later in the week.

Telephone conversation’s with Sean Hewitt and David Symes. David is coming up for a short stay over this week-end so expect some serious flapping of the anorak and a visit to the Fat Ox.

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