9Bach live at Neuadd Ogwen

As the North Wales village of Bethesda braced itself for a blizzard, a near capacity crowd battled the bitter cold night, in order to watch 9Bach perform live at the village’s independent live music venue, Neuadd Ogwen. It was a homecoming show for the band, following their co-headlining appearance with Moulettes at the majestic Cadogan Hall in Belgravia, London the previous night.

Fellow Bethesda band Yucatan came on stage first, with a sadly brief set. Just five songs were played in total. Included though was a cover of Across The Universe (Ar Draws y Gofod Pell). Yucatan recorded the track this year, to coincide with The Beatles celebrations at Festival No.6, 2017. The fact that this classic fitted in seamlessly with the band’s own compositions speaks volumes. If you ever dream you are bird soaring over the mountains of Snowdonia, then Yucatan songs like the beautiful Cwm Llym, played tonight, would be the perfect soundtrack to listen to while you fly.

Yucatan

Bethesda based poet Martin Daws was up next. Daws was commissioned to write his poem “Love Letter to Bethesda” by 9Bach for their Llechi show, and tonight he bridged the gap between Yucatan and the headliners effortlessly. His smooth and amiable delivery brightened the room, and his use of the kalimba during the poem “Bring Down the Walls” carried a hint of the international feel of things to come.

Martin Daws

9Bach’s “Tincian” was voted best album at the 2015 BBC Folk awards, and the band includes traditional Welsh folk songs in its repertoire. However, they blend the traditional with other styles in such a way that the label “folk” no longer seems large enough to do their music justice. 9Bach are far from parochial. Their music certainly captures the beauty of the area where the band is based, but it is enriched by rhythms, melodies and stories from around the globe. The Australian aboriginal performance group, the Black Arm Band Company was name checked at one point for instance, and Greek rembetika gets a look in during the set too. There is also a definite funk and groove present at times, to move things along.

So while it is hard not to use the “F” word when writing about 9Bach, these World Music ambassadors are far more than folk music alone.

A song about the last known male northern white rhino left in the world, Yr Olaf blends in comfortably with another about the interconnectedness between people, between us and place, between us and nature; that song, “Anian”, is also the title of the band’s latest album.

9 Bach

The three “London boys” at the back (Ali Byworth, Dan Swain, Martin Hoyland) provided a faultless canvas of drums, bass, and guitar respectively, upon which vocalist Lisa Jen Brown, keyboard player/singer Mirain Haf Roberts, and harpist Esylit Glyn Jones painted enchanting and evocative portraits of the world, of the past, of the slate quarry nearby, and of what it means to be alive in these troubled times.

9Bach exuded warmth and confidence in equal measures on stage, and one can’t help but feel that the audience returned home after the gig all the richer, and with a glow in the heart. It was a night Bethesda could be proud of.

9 Bach 2

(Photographs by Denise Baker)

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June Round Up

I pinched this format from my cousin’s daughter, Becky and I’ve tweaked it to fit my needs. Hopefully it will serve as a much-needed kick up the backside, and encourage me to keep up with my blog posts.

So here goes…

Financial status: Money continues to trickle in and gush out of my account on a regular basis. Fortunately I tend to eat food that was destined for bins, avoid contracts wherever possible, avoid buying “stuff” even more, wear charity shop finds, read second-hand books, and earn just enough cash to cover my half of the rent, contribute something towards the utilities, and still have a bit of brass left in my pocket for “essential treats”

Jobs done: My regular day and a half a week spent working on  the community radio station I’m setting up here in Bethesda, Pesda FM.

There were also two Life Modelling Sessions; one in Gerlan, one in Bangor. I struggled to come up with 10 two-minute long, off the cuff poses during the busy Bangor class.

There were two washing up gigs for Moel Faban Suppers ; and I’m still not being given enough tea towels and scourers to do the job properly by my boss (AKA “The Girlfriend”)

Another call to do some extras work for Rownd A Rownd This time I had to walk into the shop and pick up a basket. Judging from the decorations in the window, you’ll be able to see the scene sometime this Christmas. I don’t think it’s as big a storyline as the last scenes I shot for the show, not too long ago.

Writing done: I revisited one of the short stories I wrote when I first considered taking my writing more seriously. I wrote “The Woman Who Yelled At Puddles” about a decade ago. There were plot chasms and clumsy sentences everywhere. I rewrote it, and got it down to 1000 words, gave it to my manager to read, argued with my manager about her editing suggestions, kissed and made up with my manager (AKA “The Girlfriend”) and am now going to make most of the changes she suggested, and then submit it for a competition.

I also submitted four poems to 3 sites; in a variety of combinations. Oxy Bloody Moron I Love (Dot Dot Dot) Victor’s Secret and Blue Girlfriend Blues (note to self: post Victor’s Secret and Blue Girlfriend Blues on here).

I made a little more progress on a “work in progress” I’ve been working on for well over two years now; it’s gone from a novel to a short story to a collection of short stories over a 30 month period…it’s progressing, slowly.

Mostly wearing: I’ve rediscovered my “Don’t Let Your Tongue Cut Your Throat” T-shirt. And I recently dug out my Captain America T-shirt; since it turns out he’s been a sleeper agent for Hydra all these years.

I struggled to remove all the old gold glittery nail varnish from my toenails; before the new bubblegum pink varnish was painted on (hashtag it’s a long story)

I also cut up a pair of ripped blue denim jeans, in order to make a new pair of shorts to wear,during the recent heatwave.

We’re still looking for my wedding dress; for our cross-dressing, cross-gendering wedding at Shambala Festival later this Summer. The groom…erm…bride…erm…Denise is considering wearing a frock coat, with pin striped trousers; hipster style, with full beard. I’m thinking traditional bridal gown for me.

Mostly eating: I’m being encouraged to eat more salads; in order to lose the “cake belly”. Fortunately, living with a chef means salads aren’t boring and tasteless. We’ve been treating ourselves to ice-cream since we found a freezer to put in the garage; and the weather turned warmer…for a while, this being North Wales. There was also a delicious duck dish, left over from one of the Moel Faban Supper wedding gigs recently.

Mostly drinking: Still switching to de-caf coffee around 4pm. There’s an opened bag of the Moel Faban coffee blend in the cupboard at the moment; 60% Columbia/40% Sumatra, blended by Poblado Coffi and I was allowed to use a bit, as a treat. We’re out of Grapefruit juice again though; it never lasts long, because I often gulp from the carton. I know.

Mostly buying: Two notepads from charity shops. One is a large, ledger type hardback, with glossy pages. I’ve had to buy two special pens, so I can write in it. The pens cost more than the pad.

I also found these beauties in a charity shop, as new, £1 each

 

 

Major events: June was spent mostly coming to terms with the fact that I had recently held the hand of a man I hardly knew, while he took his dying breaths. It’s the first time I’ve seen someone die. I felt…human.

Reading done: 

 

 

Nod was engrossing. I picked it up in the hospice I was spending a lot of time in, and read it in snatches over the next few weeks. Plot aside, the author’s personal story and the circumstances in which I found the book added poignancy to the reading experience.

Secret Invasion I read in two days; another charity shop bargain at £1.50.

I recently started to buy Private Eye again. I was a regular reader for years, and there’s a collection of the annuals in one of the toilets at home.

The Gaiman is autographed by the man himself; from when we went to listen to him speak with Stephen Fry, at the Hay Literary Festival in May.

Films watched: Revisited Turner and Hooch. Watched it with “The Boy” (my girlfriend’s 14-year-old, flakey minded, long-haired, multi-instrument playing, skateboarding, zombie loving geek of a son). He enjoyed it. I wept at the end…again…every time, every time I watch it.

I endured Step Up 2 while down in Dartford, and was duped into watching Grease while there too.

We were also misled by the promo picture and blurb accompanying a Scandinavian film called Girls Lost we watched last night.  We expected a relatively lightweight movie, and were traumatised by the end.8EgUVp2T

Mostly growing: I received a free pack of wild meadow seeds from the Wildlife Trust at the end of May; as part of their Go Wild In June campaign. I planted them on a patch of ground in the back garden. Within a week there were shoots appearing. Eventually I hope to have a patch of garden containing these wild beauties; alongside all the wild strawberries we have growing there already: Lesser Knapweed, Meadow Buttercup, Meadowsweet, Red Campion, Ribwort Plantain, Self-Heal, Teasel, White Campion, Yarrow, Corncockle, Cornflower, Corn Chamomile, Corn Poppy, Ox-eye Daisy, and Lady’s Bedstraw

 

 

There’s also the plant pot in the conservatory, but there’s no sign of life there yet. And growing my own mushrooms is still high on the To-Do-List.

Right, that’s it. I’ve probably gone on too long, and broken a number of blogging cardinal rules, but what the hell.

See you at the end of July…but probably before, if the manager dangles the right carrot, or swings the most effective stick.

 

 

Oxy Bloody Moron

I can understand why a grieving parent,

Would insist on a bloody revenge.

I can see why a tree hugging, blissed out old hippy,

Would spend solstice camped out near Stonehenge.

It’s obvious to me why a tired out child,

Falls asleep while you tell them a story.

But there’s one thing for sure,

I just can’t comprehend;

That’s the mind of a working class Tory.

They’re turkeys pining for Christmas.

They’re cricket fans praying for rain.

They’re early worms searching for hungry birds.

They’re masochists hiding from pain.

They’re china shops looking for bulls to set free.

They’re Marmite fans spreading on jam.

They’re virginal sluts wearing chastity belts.

They’re buying an ice cream,

And letting it melt.

They’re not taking sugar,

Then adding two lumps.

They’re a broken suspension,

Driven fast over bumps.

They’re reading a book,

Without checking the cover.

They’re finding a soul mate,

Then taking a lover.

They’d saw through the branch of a tree,

That they’re sat on.

They’re never the pigeon,

They must love being shat on.

I bet they look for Lego they can stand on,

But take care to take their shoes and socks off first.

Then fill their mouths with a dozen cream crackers,

In a feeble attempt to quench their thirst.

They’re a fart inside a diving suit,

And a chocolate fireguard.

They’re “Congratulations” written,

In a “Deepest Sympathy” greetings card.

They’ll tell you a tale,

With no sign of a story.

They’ll cheat playing football,

Then steal all the glory.

They’ll tell you they’re vegan,

Then eat your baloney.

And that’s why you can’t trust,

A working class Tory.

 

I Love (Dot Dot Dot)

I love the way your wild red hair,
Clogs up my bathroom sink.
I love the way you take precisely,
“One and a bit sugars” in your drink.
I love the way you blush when you fart.
I love how you need to buy gluten free tarts.
I love the way your furrowed brow,
Lets me know that I’m in trouble now.
I love the way you lick my sweat,
Have I gone too far with this poem yet?
I love when you shout up the stairs, and you bellow,
“If it’s brown flush it down,
If it’s yellow let it mellow”.
I love how you look in your “period pants”.
I love how you love to get pissed up and dance.
I love how you bite your bottom lip,
When my fumbling tongue,
Finally finds your clit.
I love your neck,
I love your nose.
And yes, I admit, I’ve a thing for your toes.
I love how you mix the egg yolk with the white.
I love the smell of the bathroom,
When you’ve had a shite.

I love how you don’t make me eat my tomatoes,

I love how you manage to make herbs in the garden grow.

I love how your green eyes spark up when you see me,

I love how our talks end up with you on my knee.

I love how you match up your bras and your knickers.

I love how I now get and know what the trick is.

I love how you taught me there’s such things as soul mates,

 

I love that I found you,

Before it was too late.

To Be Continued…Hopefully

I’ve polished a turd,

And I’ve crocheted mist.

I’ve found my way home after dark,

When I’m pissed.

I’ve loosened my belt,

Post a big maccie meal.

And I’ve watched a girl strip,

Without copping a feel.

I’ve eaten Marmite,

And said that it’s not shite.

I’ve mixed colours with whites,

And the whites still came out white.

I’ve put on socks,

And discovered they match.

I’ve entered a contest,

And there was no catch.

I’ve judged a book by its cover,

And loved it.

I’ve read reviews,

And considered them bullshit.

I’ve slept with a model

She farts, and she snores.

I’ve been warm in the garden,

And shivered indoors.

I’ve smiled at a funeral,

And wept at a wedding.

I’ve been full up on dinner,

With room left for pudding.

I’ve met nice guys from the right side,

And shit heads from the left.

In this rich life I am living,

I know warp thread from the weft.

I’ve been bored and yawned for hours,

In the bustle of the city,

Spent an hour smelling flowers,

Thinking “aren’t these colours pretty”.

I’ve scoured the shops,

For the cheapest brands.

I’ve let seventy quid,

Slip straight through my hands.

My sides have ached,

Watching Charlie Chaplin.

But could hear Chubby Brown,

Without any fear of laughing.

I find Kathy Burke,

In some strange way, attractive,

But think Jordan, Kim, J-Lo,

Are terribly plastic.

I chill to Van Morrison,

And scream with The Cramps.

I’ve collected the following:

Books, scars, and stamps.

I’ve got five decades behind me,

And don’t know what time’s left.

So I try to cram more in,

As I weave my threads.

We’re all made of stardust,

Carl Sagan once said,

So when I stop shining forward,

Best assume that I’m dead.