Blog

The following writings were constructed at the 'Message From ... '  series of gigs at the Barnfield Theatre, Exeter. Edited versions have appeared elsewhere but here they are reproduced in their original form.

Mar 19, 2015
Posted by: Tim
Marcus has said of his Marsyas Suite:
Inspired by the painting by Titian ‘The Flaying of Marsyas’. The suite tells the story of a shepherd who finds the flute thrown away by Athena after the gods tease her about her face turning red when she plays. Marsyas, after the initial problem we all have when getting started with an instrument, soon soars above the other musicians with a god’s instrument. News of the upstart reaches the ears of Apollo, god of Music. He challenges Marsyas to a musical duel; with the Muses as Apollo’s rigged jury, Apollo naturally wins. It ends in the usual way of a Greek tragedy, with Marsyas being flayed alive...
Mar 19, 2015
Posted by: Tim
In Exeter’s Princesshay area you will find no bands in the coffee shops or restaurants. Instead every three months the centre management audition and issue permits to musicians who then take their economic chances in the hypothermic wind-tunnels. These opportunities for musicians, externally  redefined as buskers, were described to me by the management as ‘lucrative’. Enter here the multiple perspectives of whether music is a diet that should be preserved in all its forms by grants and sponsorship, or a lean-mean animal that should adapt daily to its changing environment so as to stay healthy. We have now entered the realm of cultural politics described by Professor George McKay in Circular Breathing and by Dr Duncan Heining in Trad Dads, Dirty Boppers, and Free Fusioneers. Alison Rayner’s place on the spectrum is, as she told us: ‘If you don’t organise things then nothing happens’. Spookily, as the zeitgeist tends to be, London’s Blow the Fuse has developed as a musicians self-help group at the same time but independently of Exeter’s Message From ...; both are about getting the things done you want done by doing-it-yourself...
Mar 19, 2015
Posted by: Tim
If the triumvirate Wave were to be about any one thing only then that one thing would be architecture. I put this forward in the absence of any shiny attention grabbing manifesto from the band themselves. Roz Harding, Mike Outram, and Jim Bashford, remind me of domestique bicycle riders in the Tour de France; they are real hard-workers, dedicated to getting the job done by being there for one another; there are no fixed job descriptions and the interest is in attending to the gaps, the grey areas, that arise contingently at the time of performance. Sure they are all strong characters but they happen to have big hearts and put the team first. This swims against the current tide of individualism and to my mind puts their music closer to the spirit of the original New Orleans bands than to be-bop and hard-bop modern jazz (also true of the music of Ornette Coleman: discuss!)...
Mar 19, 2015
Posted by: Tim
‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’: so wrote L.P.Hartley in The Go-Between. Jazz saxophonist Ben Webster said of 1940s New York: ‘Those were really happy days; everyone was on the streets, everyone was making a buck’. There is something about Billy Bottle’s music, and indeed his whole band, that evokes imagery of a past way-of-life; imagery that meanders between the historical and the romanticised...