Saturday, 31 October 2009

the zombie skank

Ever heard of zombie walks? God, I think this would be the best thing to do on Halloween ever! Dress up like a zombie and invade the streets with hundreds of other zombies. I knew of zombie walks in the US and Canada, but I didn't know there was one so close to where I live: in Bristol!! They had a zombie walk for the first time last year and was a huge success. Just look at the pictures! Anyone who fancies joining next year's walk should check out their Facebook group or MySpace and let me know so we can stride together!

I would definitely be heading over to Bristol to walk along today, if it wasn't for the fact that my day is packed with other fun events and parties here in Cardiff. First I'm heading over to the Halloween October Fest at Artisan Beer's on Kings Road. It's a micro brewery (it's so small you could call it a nano brewery!) within an artist studio complex, so there will be the best beers, market stalls, open studio's, a BBQ and lots of live music. Among which the amazing Word Virus Essay!! I'll then be popping over to a friend's birthday party and to top it off I'll be dancing till my legs are worn away down to my knees at Dance of the Dead!! The line up of Toddla T, Ms Dynamite (she's back!!), Mumdance and Squire of Gothos (just to name a few) will have me walking home like a zombie for sure!!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Jah man!

Ras Kwame, one of my favourite Radio 1 DJ's, recommended the film Babylon on one of his shows. Now I know this man has good taste, and he was spot on about this one as well.

Set in
South London during the early eighties Babylon tells us about the trials and tribulations of Blue, a 'toaster' (= an MC) for a soundsystem. After its screening in 1980 it was released on VHS, but copies were limited. Thus it was virtually unavailable, but it gained a cult following thanks to people making copies of copies of copies. Now 28 years later the movie has been completely restored, remastered and re-released on DVD! Not only the improved sound and picture quality should be a major leap forward compared to the (bootleg) VHS, also the subtitle option in the DVD menu is very welcome addition. At least, for people like me who find Jamaican Patois a little hard to follow.

I bought the DVD last week and I finally got around watching it last night. I thought it was a good. Grim and pretty depressing, but good. And it was great to catch a glimpse of the dancehall culture in London in the 80's...

It reminded me about another movie I watched a couple of months ago: This Is England. Also about troubled youth in the eighties and the way music played an important role in their lives...

The two movies kind of tell two sides of the same story, and the soundtracks have the same roots (reggae and the 2nd wave of ska). They're definitely not feel-good-movies, except maybe for the fact they make you happy the 80's are over. They also show music can be a source of consolation and hope. Thank JAH for music!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

I loves you Porgy! And Bess!

Not a lot of things are more exciting than entering a theater, hearing the orchestra tune their instruments and waiting for the lights to go out... And then the curtain goes up and the music swells...

Last night I went to see
Gershwin's "people's opera" Porgy and Bess being performed by the Cape Town Opera. They had changed the setting from South Carolina in the 1920's to the township of Soweto in the 1960's. Since there were quite some similarities there, it worked really well. As the company's manager put it: “When our cast sings Porgy and Bess, they sing from the heart because it means something to them.”

I LOVED it! I left the theater with very, very sore hands (after it had finished the audience was still so caught up by the story that they booed the 'bad guys' - it was brilliant!). Unfortunately I haven't got much time to tell you more about this love story, its social-historical background and the controversies surrounding it. But if you're interested you can read more about it here.

The piece is a great mix of proper opera, jazz, blues, folk and gospel. Many of the songs have be come CLASSICS, proof provided by these songs performed by the three grand dames of jazz...

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Summertime. Get it here (YSI).

Billie Holiday - I loves you, Porgy. Get it here (YSI).

Nina Simone - I love you, Porgy. Get it here (YSI).

Monday, 19 October 2009

Dust Off

When Nanna and me were at some opening in some gallery, we ran into our old teacher of the Art Academy. In between sipping cheap wine and nibbling euroshopper nuts she asked us if we wanted to submit an idea for the next project week called Slow-Lab which focussed on old techniques and handwork. There was nothing slow about the whole thing cause we had to submit the idea practically within the hour. But we pulled it off and called our project: Dust Off

The idea was to let the students take a look in their grandma's attic, the dusty drawer, or to let them go to the thriftstore to find something old and forgotten. They had to let that object be an inspiration for something new using various techniques. Because this assignment was pretty vague we made them take a look at some wonderful artwork done by Merel Karhof, Sarah Illenberger and Richard Saja. They master this dusting off thing!

I have to say, the students we
nt all out! I've had an awesome and inspriational week and have never seen such a hardworking group. Most of the participants used techniques that they'd never used before, and I really respect that. Unfortunately I couldn't put everone's work up here, but only a small selection.

Merel de Graaf - Embroidered family portraits

Ming Ho - Screenprinted Puzzle

Sharon van Wijngaarden and Ingrid Wuyster
Screenprinted educational illustration

Nancy de Wit and Sjoerd Bongertman
(puff)screenprinted scarf 'mink'

Monday, 12 October 2009

"bringing the Bristol sound to Cardiff"

Not that I'm not biased or anything, but I would like to call to your attention this excellent band from Cardiff: The Word Virus Essay. Their singer Rachel has a golden voice and it sounds like she comes up with the most beautiful melodies effortlessly. Then there is Daryl, who writes most of their songs and is responsible the electronics and plays guitar as well. Their rhythm section is ace. Sanders is a really really really good drummer, and their double bass player Casper is not only a fine musician, he's also a HOTTIE ;-) The music is a mix of trip-hop (you know, that mid 90's Bristol sound), drum 'n bass and trance (in a very good way!!).

Catch them tonight at The Promised Land in Caerdydd! There are two other bands on the bill, including another Cardiffian band called Miss Maud's Folly. I've heard a lot of good things about this band, so I'm really looking forward to this gig!

The Word Virus Essay - Two lives. Get it here (YSI).

Sunday, 11 October 2009

my weirdest finds, part 3

Last weekend we discovered a new store just around the corner of our house, called the 80's toyshop. It is packed to the roof with vintage BMX and chopper bikes, Hulk Hogan action figures, Star Wars memorabilia, arcade machines, Amiga computers and much much more. My beau was drooling over the Kuwahara BMX in the window, but instead of laying down 600 quid he decided on spending £2,50 on a game for his Gameboy.

Now where was his ancient Gameboy? It had to be in one of these boxes that were still unpacked, gathering dust in our storage. Now comes the good part: in his quest for his Gameboy my man found my bag-that-looks-like-a-rock!! So here it is:

Does it look like a rock or what?!

And while I was doing some cleaning out over the weekend, I came across another great German fleamarket buy, that easily makes it into my top 3 of weirdest finds...

Now if it's true that the tie was designed to focus attention on a man's crotch, I think this tie definitely succeeds in that goal.

Friday, 2 October 2009

a student's soundtrack (in the '90s)

The streets are alive with the sound of... students. They're back. And as I was walking past one of Cardiff's universities yesterday, it made me think of the time I was a fresher. Oh good times.

When I came to study at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam I didn't know a soul in that city, so I joined a student association (sort of a fraternity). But not a preppy one with an initiating ritual and all that crap, no I joined Rotterdam's "alternative" association. And for two or three years I had an amazing time there. Even though we weren't bonded by being disgraced and tortured in our first year, I made some friends for life there. Three of them are still among my closest and dearest friends.

So what did we do at this student
association? Well, the main activity of course was drinking (I think the beer was like one guilder or something (€0,50) - I soon got really chubby...). But you could also learn some things over there. Like how to pour beer from a tap. Or how to organize events. Or how to DJ. Yes yes, it was here at the Rotterdamsch Studenten Gezelschap that I got my first taste of DJ'ing. And these are a couple of songs that ruled the dancefloor back then:

Frequently requested by my friend Annoek:
Pulp - Common People. Get it here (YSI).

Frequently requested by the metalheads:
Bodycount - Bodycount Is In The House. Get it here (YSI).

Played with much reluctance, but unavoidable since it was a number 1 hit (can you believe it!):
Babylon Zoo - Spaceman. (I'm not puttig this one up as a download - who would possibly want this!?!)

No explanation needed, this was our ANTHEM:
Underworld - Born Slippy. Get it here (YSI).

When it was late and everybody pissed out of their skulls (good chance of a polonaise):
Guus Meeuwis & Vagant - Per Spoor (Kedeng Kedeng). (Again, I'm not puttig this one up as a download - you could not possibly want this!)