TODOS SANTOS CUCHUMATAN – GUATEMALA.

Lately I’ve been poking around at WordPress trying to understand their obscure system for posting multiple photos, I think I’ve finally got it, or at least enough to get started. I’d like to do an occasional post devoted to photography rather than music. I’ve always thought of myself primarily as a photographer, I wore all sorts of other hats but generally speaking, wherever I went I was always carrying a Nikon F or an F3. But not just a Nikon, often/usually I also had my camera bag on the other shoulder, that contained another Nikon with a different lens, plus both of them had motor drives. A Nikon F with a 180mm, f2.8 lens, with a motor drive with 8 AA batteries in it and loaded with a 36 expo roll of Ektachrome 200 weighs about 5.5 – 6 lbs. I carried two of those plus several spare lenses, spare batteries, plus a lot of various misc. photo gear and lots of spare film. I’m not complaining in the slightest, it was a chosen way of life. Generally speaking, wherever I went, that’s what I carried, particularly whenever on ‘holiday’ or at a musical event.
So I was walking along a rural lane in the village of Todos Santos Cuchumatan, It is situated in northeastern Guatemala in the the remote Sierra de los Cuchumatanes mountains at an elevation of about 8,000 ft. My fiend John and I had driven there in the VW camper van when we visited Guatemala in the late 70′s. The population of Todos Santos is predominantly indigenous, of Mayan descent, most of whom still speak the Mayan language of Mam. The town is one of few places in Guatemala where the indigenous population still make and wear their traditional clothing.
As I walked along that lane that morning I glanced up and saw a young boy walking towards me, my Nikon was in my right hand at about thigh level, the lens must have been pointing forward.
When he was about 10-12 ft from me he suddenly bent over from his waist to look directly level into the camera lens, I suspect that he’d never seen a professional camera with a long lens before. Instantly I dropped to one knee to be at his level and fired one quick shot and as I did so I remember saying to myself “That’s probably the best photo I’ve ever taken” but at the same instant I knew that it was out of focus. I straightened up and instantly fired another but the magic had passed, he was no longer looking into the lens. There was no auto-focus in those days, every shot had to be manually focussed. I should mention that the reason for using a motor drive was because the film was instantaneously advanced whenever a shot was made, the camera was always ‘cocked’, always ready to shoot, a huge advantage.

This is the first shot I took that day, to the non-critical eye it might look OK but if you look carefully you’ll see that it is out of focus.

best copy

This is the second shot, it’s OK, it’s in focus but something’s missing.

the kid2 copy
If you click on them they will become larger.

Here’s a selection of photos of people from that village, notice the similarity of their clothes, the women make them on primitive looms in their cottages and every family has a different traditional design. This is not uncommon in Guatemala and you can often tell where a person’s from by the design of his/her clothing. I’ve read that the design of these clothes originates with the Spanish conquistadors who came to Guatemala in the sixteenth century, check out the codpieces, the shoes and the elaborate collars. I started buying examples of their clothes and came home with a large collection. They were not dumb about selling them, I recall at one cottage paying about $440 for several items, a huge amount considering that the men usually worked at seasonal agriculture for less than $1 per day! The women were the only ones who made and sold the clothes and these were not tourist items, there were no tourists, these were the clothes that they wore. They’re absolutely beautiful. I have them hanging in the house.
I very rarely asked permission to shoot photos, had I done so the moment would have been lost, instead if I saw a shot I’d point my camera and smile and a return smile was my OK. I can only ever remember one time where someone was upset at my shooting, it was in this village and I was standing against a wall at the edge of the market shooting with a 300mm lens, suddenly there was a ‘whack’ up the side of my head, a woman had hit me with a stick; I took the hint and quit for the day. Generally speaking most people were happy to have their photos taken.

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Yo Llama! Yotanka! Edinburgh Festival Social Review Mash-up.

The Bow Bar retains its poise despite the gurning

The Bow Bar retains its poise despite the gurning

The Bow Bar is turning into a veritable honey trap for Spillers of late. Last month’s victim was Tatanka Yotanka who braved the throngs for a couple of swift pints prior to Barb Jungr at the Queen’s Hall, while I bolted for the door just in time to see Coriolanus at The Playhouse. Conversation ran the full spectrum from what ails to Grauniad, to the art of cabinetmaking and the joys of London life. Anyway, here is our round up of some of what we saw in Edinburgh 2013.

The Beijing People’s Art Theatre had a unique take on staging Shakespeare, employing TWO heavy metal bands (Miserable Faith and Suffering, death metal but turned down from 11 on this occasion)  in their production of Coriolanus. I had studied the play for the Irish equivalent of the A levels, and it seemed an odd choice for the Chinese Ministry of Culture to get involved in. what the implications of political power being exerted from the bottom up, and there is a telling comment about the difficulty in reasserting power once it has been ceded to the people. An entertaining evening, somewhat tempered by a lack of any menace in a 100 strong chorus.

The Summerhall venue had a terrifically varied programme this year. Song Noir by Pumajaw  brought a Lynchian approach to cabaret from Pinkie McClure and John Wills (ex-Loop), the highlight was an inspired take on the Peter Gunn theme with Maclure taking Mancini’s riff while Wells conducts a mash-up of what could be Dazed & Confused era Jimmy Page v The Prodigy. One of sport’s great rivalries forms the backdrop to Jamie Wood’s Beating McEnroe, an entertaining and immersive story of bitter defeat as tasted by his six year-old self. The yin and yang of Wood’s battles with his older brother are projected – sometimes literally – onto the epic Borg/McEnroe clash. A dollop of slapstick and the help of some only too willing members of the audience make for a startlingly bonkers finale with loss avenged in Wood’s inimitable hands-on fashion.

Pippa Bailey’s Biding Time (Remix) is a beguiling multi-media exploration of the battle between art and commerce. First performed in 1987, it has been revived and remixed in a collaboration with Louise Quinn (and A Band Called Quinn), film-maker Uisdean Murray and Grid Iron’s Ben Harrison and benefits enormously from advances in technology over the last quarter of a century. Music and sound production are delivered to the audience via silent disco headphones, making the experience unworldly yet hyper-real. Louise Quinn’s songs and performance are strong in their own right and the production benefits from the story’s parallels with her surreal experiences in the music industry. I understand that this production will be touring next year, so it may be coming your way.

Off to the Scottish National Gallery on Princes Street where you can still catch the Peter Doig exhibition until the 3rd of November.  Doig has been fairly and squarely reclaimed  for Scotland on the basis of being born and resident in Edinburgh until the age of three but in truth he’s been elsewhere for most of his life; Trinidad and Canada  before art school in London and then retracing his steps back to Trinidad, painting all the while.  The exhibition title ‘No Foreign Lands’ reflects that journey and, coming as it does from fellow Auld Reekian (“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only…”) Robert Louis Stevenson, it bolsters the Scottish connection.

The show is of works from the last ten years in Trinidad.  Doig works a lot from photographs of scenes that resonate with him so there are quite often various versions of, or excerpts from the same subject and this show is a chance to see a few pairings of these which is a bonus.  Doig is a figurative, painterly painter who revels both in the medium and the depth of art history at his disposal, happy to quote at will from a range of other artists.  If you have even the most cursory knowledge of painting over the last century and a bit you’ll soon have at least half a dozen names in your head as points of reference and the notes by the paintings are not shy of listing them either.  Mine were Gaugin, Rothko, Bacon, Manet, Caulfield, Hopper and Jasper Johns for starters. This isn’t to suggest that the work is simply derivative, a better analogy would be with sampling in music; a painterly riff here, a structural backbeat there, a high class guest on backing vocals.

An enjoyable show and certainly recommended if you can get there in the next eight weeks. Many large scale pieces which range from decoratively atmospheric to deeply engaging.  A room of hand painted posters for film shows from which you can trace the graphic tendencies of some of the larger stuff, plenty of his working out in the form of sketches and photographs.  It may be his method of working from an already captured image but the most moving of these works have that veiled quality of a moment of dreamtime, the kind of sepia distance in which you feel you are reaching back to engage with something already lost to you.

Barb Jungr at Queens Hall was a night approaching perfection.  She’s been touring her ‘Stockport to Memphis’ album set for much of this year and I’ve caught it in various smaller venues.  Here we and accompanist Simon Wallace were blessed with a fabulous grand piano, a beautiful acoustic and Barb singing with the freedom and inspiration that comes from being on top of your game.  One of those nights where audience and performer conspire to make the silences as important and moving as the songs. Here’s Barb talking about Stockport to Memphis.

Tatanka’s reason for being in Edinburgh this year in particular was to support the young folk from Shatter-point Theatre who were breaking their Fringe duck and presented eight nights of improvised comedy under the name of A League of Ordinary Gentlemen – What Happens Next? A well tested format of building an hour long show from audience suggestions was given added momentum by youthful vigour, irreverence and liberal silliness.  Highlights included the pirates from Jersey chancing on the land of the Beyoncés, captured here in glorious Dimmovision by TYTV.

That concludes the report from the Edinburgh jury. Join us next year for some art, larks and of course beer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instrumental Abstraction

abstract-underwater25pc

I usually paint figuratively (that means that I paint pictures. Of things. Generally, they are things that I can see). But this is an attempt at an abstract painting. It started as paint left over on the palette from another painting; the colours didn’t suggest anything in particular, so l just tried arranging then in a manner that pleased me. The results are reminiscent of an underwater scene, I think. Continue reading

Car’tune Co’mic

jesus-and-mary-twinsSo I hope everyone has seen this site before – it’s why the internet was invented according to barbryn and I:
http://thischarmingcharlie.tumblr.com

I have nine days left to finish a massive bit of artwork for a major (the major) exhibition of the year around these parts – so what better use of my time – than knuckling down and … and .. and

….faffing about with comic strips.

Monkey gone to Hoobes
calvin-and-pixies


Question is, what would you merge?
Does Eeyore pick up the mic and sing Cohen?
Does Andy Capp sing AC/DC?

Give us your wish list
if it’s a bit more obscure show me some links -
‘spill pints for creativity.
Tank Girl has got to work with Kenickie lyrics, right?

Continue reading

Nile Rodgers & Jean Pierre Muller: An Indigo Night in F

Edinburgh has played host to many artistic collaborations over the years, with none more intriguing than the 7×7 project between artist Jean Pierre Muller and seven musicians: Nile Rodgers, Robert Wyatt, Mulatu Astatke, Archie Shepp, Sean O’Hagan, Kassin and Terry Riley. The project commenced last year at the Summerhall venue with the creation by Jean Pierre of a street of individual houses to explore with the soundscape provided by his seven collaborators.

Last weekend saw a further development with Muller and Rodgers presenting their Indigo night in F – a broadening of the artwork, live performance and some engaging storytelling, drawing on Rodgers’ life story and career which had been joyously detailed in his recent autobiography.

The two tiered stage is bare and the soundtrack is 30′s jazz, a nod to their Harlem Nights sub-theme. Gradually the stage is filled with a series of pop-art style cut-outs and then Muller arrives at the easel to paint an introduction in art and words using a stencil to link the various ‘F’s: freedom, family, fate, frustration and so on. Nile Rodgers then appears between the cut-outs to introduce the first of the pre-recorded movements – a very contemporary sound with the sort of insistent groove and vocoder work one could readily associate with his most recent collaborators.

Rodgers’ storytelling is vivid and what a tale he has to tell, having been raised by hippy heroin addicts, he joined the Black Panthers and played in the house band at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre. A life-size cut-out of the late Bernard Edwards is placed beside him as he introduces us to the collaborator with whom he became musically inseparable. What Rodgers brought to the table with melodies was matched by Edwards’ gift for arrangement, and we get a fantastic insight into their talent for creating music that appears on the surface to be simple and sing along, but is awash with innovation, jazz chords and a love of chromatics.

A series of terrific stories about Grace Jones, Club 54 and Diana Ross is interspersed with solo runs through Good Times/Rappers Delight, Upside Down and the fabulous Thinking About You and some entertaining banter with Muller, still at the easel on the upper tier. Towards the end of the performance Rodgers (thankfully) narrowly avoids decapitation as a mobile of Cab Calloway’s head – which was suspended from the ceiling – slips its mooring and crashes down onto the microphone.

The two artists are presenting this project as a work in progress, and have been in negotiations about taking the project further. The mix of pop-art, hit music and the pair’s engaging personalities are certainly a winning combination and it is a measure of the man that Rodgers has made the time to see this project through at a time when his currency is so high. Mamma Mia is certainly ain’t and, whatever happens, if you get the opportunity to see it just go!

Love is a long road

The Beacon Theatre, New York City

The Beacon Theatre, New York City, photo by Andy Tennille


When I heard that the tickets for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 5-night run at the 2,800-seater Beacon Theatre in Manhattan were to be allocated by lottery, I thought I might as well have a go. It proved to be an expensive decision. To win didn’t mean you got a free ticket – what you won was an opportunity to buy a ticket. Well, I won twice and I’m not going to tell you how much the whole thing cost – because, to be honest, I don’t know and I don’t want to know.

Continue reading

I heart Peter Doig

1990-91 White Canoe

1990-91 White Canoe

I saw a mention of a forthcoming Peter Doig exhibition in the Grauniad last year, and now finally it’s been announced – August 3 to November 3 at the Scottish National Gallery. I’m a huge fan and will certainly be visiting Edinburgh to see the show, so I’m wondering whether any RRers will be going too, and whether we can get a Social organised. Indicate your interest in the comments!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2013/apr/29/peter-doig-exhibition-national-gallery-scotland

It’s all for charidee, mate

"Cowboy Boots"; "Green Wellies"; "Trail Boots" - all acrylic on canvas, all (c) Amanda Bates

Never one to do things by halves (nor to ignore an opportunity to paint), I ended up doing three paintings of shoe-like objects for Parkinson’s Awareness Week and the “In My Shoes” theme. They are not, as it happens, all mine (I have Young Onset Parkinson’s, so the theme is apt). The wellies belong to my son, and were both easier to get hold off and muddier than mine, which I only wear if I really have to (not because I have Parkinson’s. I don’t like wellies because I have the wrong shape feet for wellies). Wellies really ought to be muddy. My cheapo lightweight walking boots, or trail boots, are also appropriately muddy.

And they are all on eBay in the hope that someone (hopefully lots of someones, so they bid the price up …) will buy one or more, and Parkinson’s UK will get a modest, painting-sized chunk of money.

And the ‘Spill gets more hits than my solo blogs, so I am shamelessly exploiting it because of the charity angle.

Charity singles are a bit of a hit and miss affair. They may hit the charts, but they frequently miss the spot. I’m having difficulty thinking of a truly great one, although I can’t help but recall that the first record I ever bought was Ferry Aid’s “Let It Be”, an ensemble affair in aid of the Zeebrugge Disaster of 1987.

(I had convinced myself that my first single purchase was the Pet Shop Boys’ “It’s A Sin”, but the dates defy this recollection by a couple of months.)

So we’re back to shoes.

With a suitably Smashie and Nicey sort of DJ intro. Is it time for Bachmann Turner Overdrive yet?

In My Shoes

While I was contemplating this post on one of my other blogs, I kept coming up with songs I wanted to soundtrack it with.

The post was an exercise in increasing awareness for Parkinson’s, as requested by the charity Parkinson’s UK. So I thought it might be appropriate to spread the word on other platforms, and the best place that I know of for playlists is the ‘Spill.

cowboyboots25pc

The painting is for sale, by auction, for charity. Click on the picture…

Now, how does this new-fangled play list thingumajig work?

there’s and aRRmy around the country

d1-DsD-guru-and-playeRR-tee-photo

Now you’ve gone and left me and there’s nothing here,
But a tenner in my pocket and a fridge full of beer,
There’s an aRRmy around the country, we’re all stuck in our rooms
It takes a lot of preparation to make a move.


1 Foot Soldiers (Star-Spangled Funky) Funkadelic
2 A Brighter Beat Malcolm Middleton
3 On My Shoulders The Dø
4 Brave Tin Soldiers Sarah Nixey
5 The Happiest Place on Earth Desaparecidos
6 Soldier’s Grin Wolf Parade

Continue reading

Why Are You Being So Toquiwa Now?


Tokyo all female three-piece TOQUIWA release their hi-energy J-punk in the UK on October the 22nd, 2012. Scopitones announced TOQUIWA’s self-titled debut on digital release and limited edition tour CD.
They begin touring the UK on 26/10 in Bournemouth – I’m going to be there (in a home made bright orange TOQUIWA T-shirt) – I also made a T-shirt using the ticket from a live Wedding Presents Ukrainian Sessions gig. But I can’t wear both.

This is the track listing and below the review are Smash Hits style questions sportingly answered by the band.

(I want to post this today – so I will have to ask Sakura to advise if I’ve got anything in the wrong places)

Photograph of the band used with permission – all designs created by arTEEsane are not for profit – please don’t use.



illustrative track from Music Ripple recorded as Pinky Piglets

The self titled album by Toquiwa on the Wedding Presents Scopitones label, should almost be called go out and get ‘em girl – such is the frantic pace that they erupt with perfect pop rock. The first 13 seconds set up the album (you heard right – 13 seconds sets out their manifesto) – Fantasticly playing the many influences and condensing them into a tight Toquiwa package.
Strangely managing to be extremely talented musicians yet still exuding that punk ethic of innocence and naivety.
The tracks have so many astonishingly catchy segments and hooks, you wonder how the pace can be kept up, but keep up they do, building and building, twisting styles and era’s together as if timelines were squeezed, squashed and smashed into their musical brains. Until in comes out sounding as though these things should always have sat together (superbly) in each 3 minute track.
Not only that, they know how to sequence an album – just as your head might explode keeping up – (ten second bar room blues, into superfly 70′s style, into a quiet millisecond break – roaring back into .. you get the drift – I’m loath to compare because it all sounds so Toquiwa – but as reference you could detect The Animals merging with a Curtis Mayfield track with hints of Kirsty MacColl’s weariness and wonder, while a Status Quo repetitive rock riff underpins a track – and quite loud quiet indie rock aesthetics jostle in) they take a breather with a ballad – and then we are invited to party hard once again, ending with an enthusiastic Wedding Present adaption to thrill and inspire while closing the album out.
It’s fantastic fun – superbly performed and feverishly played. Total enjoyment.

Would they be happy to answer my frivolous questions linking to each song on the album?:

各曲に関連した私のくだらない質問に答えていただけたら幸いです。

Continue reading

RR Player Shirt

Woohoo!

I think I got the inaugural RR Player shirt? It arrived today (unannounced, with no fanfare) and was a wonderful surprise. It totally exceeded my expectations.

Shane had emailed me a list of my A listers to check which took me a few hours as I hadn’t got a clue and had to look some of them up in The Marconium. He has listed these as you can see on the design.

I requested a long sleeve ladies style in a faded-out looking black or gray colour. The fabric is great.  Here’s a picture of everything except the neck (which is round).

This is going to be my Thursday shirt from now on.

 

Thanks Shane!


Camelid Wears Cotton Threads Shocker!

The ‘Spill is full of weird and wonderful things, characters and artists. Let us all gape in awe at the skills of Mr Saneshane aka arteesane whose fabulous and subtle creation is sported by moi in the photo. This, my friends, is the pertest perk of being temporary guru. Now I know that it’s not a great fit, but I’m hoping to grow into it…

llamainatshirt

I’m with the readers recommend guru.

Wearing Influences On Our Sleeve-Less T-shirts – Electric President


I’ll be at Chatsworth Road Market, Hackney – I believe that’s in London (in the Rushmore Primary School playground) on Sunday between 11 and 4 o’clock if anyone wants to come along and say Hi – I’ll be the one with bright orange t-shirts and Brainasaurus books to sell.

Hopefully, Sunday night I’ll be back to add some phone songs – until then, have fun everyone.
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Continue reading

A SLIDESHOW TEST

Somewhere on another post this week there was some discussion about cars, new blokes I suspect since the last time I mentioned this subject there was mostly silence. So I’ll take the opportunity to try something I’ve been wondering about lately; how hard is it to do a slideshow on WordPress? Turns out to be very simple though I haven’t figured out yet how to vary the speed of the slides nor the size; of course I’d like ‘em to fill the screen and to stay on for a long time. My interest in cars goes back literally 60 odd years and you can see that the ones I favor mostly come from that era though there’s a lot more from the ’30′s. I’ve chosen just a few from my Italian file, I think that the Italians have produced the most beautifully designed and engineered cars in the world; if I were buying a car today I’d rather have any of these 60 year old relics than anything on today’s market. We don’t need music to distract us with these images but I thought this might be appropriate, it’s from a recording of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1958; I don’t follow Formula 1 any more but I do enjoy going to Laguna Seca for the vintage races, the cars that race there often look a lot like the ones in these photos. These are just a few of my car photos, I have many more in files for most European countries if anyone’s interested.

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Raymund Rogers 1958 – 2011

Further to Amy’s “art” post last week. I have always wanted to share my love for my good friend Raymund Rogers’ talent. And I’d been leaving it ’cause, as you know, there’s always time for these things. Well, carpe diem my friends, seems that time’s been doing an awful lot of catching up on us recently. Ray died a couple of weeks ago and I never got round to it. I have no idea how good Ray was as an artist. Pretty good, I reckon, but I’m not qualified to say. As a person: the best. Always willing to forgive my pathetic attempts to keep in touch and at the ready with a bed and hospitality in his charming little cottage in Boscastle. The only true childhood friend who made it into middle age still as a friend. It’s hard to reconcile his death from cancer of the colon with his lifestyle – Ray was a vegetarian, clean living, generous spirit who put a lot more into this world than he took away with him. I’ll miss him. Here are a few of his paintings. Rest in peace, my friend.

Joining the Girls


Stepping Stones


To The Sea


Boscastle Icicles

George Shaw – Painter

So GF wants some non-musical culture posts. Well, i don’t cook or see many movies these days, so i guess the art and photography beat falls to me, since it’s about all i know. (Hopefully i’ll be joined by the likes of Messrs. Maki, GF, and Mitch).

George Shaw is a relatively new to me painter, first heard about him a few months ago in the G, and it was love at first sight. So i was delighted to find out today that he made the shortlist for the Turner prize. I’ve never seen any of his paintings in the flesh, which is a shame because he paints in enamels, not oils. A British vernacular painter, Continue reading

The wonderful world of Winsor McCay

I wanted you to see this wonderful example of the Little Nemo In Slumberland comic strip – if you click on it you can get it big enough to read the words in the speech bubbles. Unfortunately they’re in Dutch (where are you, TonNL?) but I had an enjoyable time on a translation website finding out what they said.

There’s a Wikipedia page about Winsor McCay (that’s where I found the picture) and also one about Little Nemo. So if you like it you can find out more yourself! I’m so glad I was a bit bored at work the other day and started to investigate where the style of the Runnin’ Down A Dream video (see previous post for Day 17) had come from. You can see it’s the same bed, at the end. Now that I’ve seen this picture, though, I’m sorry they didn’t do the video in colour.