Thursday 15 September 2011

*Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF)

Neil Gaiman
Lazlo Krasznahorkai

Simon Callow
Joan Bakewell
John Vailliant
John Byrne
Michael Ondaatje

This blog is mostly about music, but it is also about how music and words/lyrics/poetry and art work together.  While I enjoy Mozart, the music I enjoy most is also about the music and power of words.   
Edinburgh Festival is quite unique as it celebrates all forms of creativity in a major way - from the silent performance movement of the award winning fringe show LEO, the music of the Edge and the main International Festival, it's Arts festivals and theatre and drama all abound here. 2,500 shows at 250 venues over 3 to 4 weeks, over one million visitors.  
Some of the authors at EIBF were also musicians and artists.  For example Norwegian author Jo Nesbo who is known internationally for his crime novels and who also writes songs for the band Di Derre.  Also Nobel prize winner for Literature from China Goa Xingjian.
He is a writer, poet, playwright and painter. Gao describes himself as a 'total artist' creating novels, short stories, essays, plays, paintings and film. His 'Ballad Nocturne' continues his ongoing experimentation with dissolving and redefining artistic boundaries, and with melding aesthetic forms. After speaking out against the cultural revolution he now lives in exile in France, in his Second Life.  As happened in Russia, the 'free thinkers' and the creative people have had to flee China

Revolutionary change and times was the main theme for the EIBF this year. Change is not simply a good but also a necessary thing. Which begs the question - why have recent years seen such an upsurge in revolutionary thinking. Is it Twitter and Facebook!?  Those who are saying 'NO' - this isn't working and we want a better way.  
The Debates (the Spoken Word). This year the EIBF started doing Debates each evening and I went to the one on 'Scottish Independence'  The speakers were Ming Campbell, Mike Russell SNP, and articulate historian Neal Ascherson.  The main issue became around one of a hope for Forward Optimism.(refer to another Blog later for this debate). Fun comes in many guises and I had a fun time at the Debate as I reflected on the power of words.  And on how words and music together have the most powerful effective over our memories and emotions.  
My best images often come when the shoot has a buzz about it and where the author is either up for having portraits taken or has outstanding depth of character.   
Karin Altenberg

Candia McWilliam
A good portrait is about the character of the sitter and their stories.  This year I took photos of Irish writer Edna O'Brien, eccentric character and artist John Byrne, Chinese writer and artist Gao Xingjian, presenter Joan Bakewell, 'Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, footballer John Hartson, playwright and artist John Byrne, Scottish national poet Liz Lochhead, actor Simon Callow, writer Neil Gaiman, journalist John Valliant, The English Patient author Michael Ondaatje, comedy writer Rowland Rivron, feminist Badisha, writer Karin Altenberg, as well a Philosophers, politicians and other creative thinkers. MORE AUTHORS images on my Photographic Blog -  and website -

Saturday 13 August 2011

The Raghu Dixit Project Oran Mor Glasgow 4th August 2011

--> This vibrant colourful band had bare feet, warm hearts and large smiles. Their purpose was to have us all smiling and dancing!   The Raghu Dixit Project brought colour and Indian dance to the Oran Mor Glasgow with strong musicianship and Dixit's striking vocals. I had heard Rahu Dixit's band first on the Jools Holland BBC tv show last year when he sang No man will ever love you like I do, and Raghu's voice could melt a thousand hearts...  They hadn't managed over for Celtic Connections in January due to visa problems and Rahu said that they were happy to have made Glasgow this time. 

They carried the audience with them and it was all great fun.  The band were all accomplished musicians both guitar and violin players added strong energetic playing to the mix. 

Their set included songs from their album -  I'm in Mombai waiting for a miracle,  No man will ever love you like I do, Mysore se aayi, Hey Bhagwan, and Gudugudiya.  Their songs covered themes that were true to the heart such as - we all have a second chance in life and how well all have more strength than we realise and that we should lead our lives in a simple way. 
Raghu said what a big deal playing Jools Holland had been yet he felt the song his manager requested him to sing did not so well represent the breadth of his music.   He said how well their album had been selling on iTunes ever since.  They have brought in modern western musical influences to their playing of their traditional Indian songs. While their sound is mostly upbeat with energetic dancing rhythms which work great at the gigs to get everyone bouncing along, I often feel that it is the haunting slower melodies that linger in the mind the longest afterwards.   
I wondered as the venue was not packed out that the tickets price was more than the usual price for a relatively unknown band at this venue.  Raghu spoke of the hopes that we might one day all dance the same dance, well we certainly did tonight!      
They were well supported by Adam Stearns, a young Glasgow artist I recommend checking out. 
The Raghu Dixit Project was founded by Raghu Dixit is an open house for musicians and artistes from different genres to come together, collaborate and create a dynamic sound and expression. He is from Mysore India and he is the front man for his band The Raghu Dixit Project.  His music is an amalgamation of Indian ethnic music and various world music influences.  Dixit is also a Microbiologist and a proficient Indian classical dancer . He performed on the Jools Holland show in 2010.

1. Hey Bhagwan
2. Gudugudiya Sedi Nodo
3. No Man Will Ever Love You, Like I Do
4. Lokada Kalaji
5. Kodagana Koli Nungitha
6. Well I'm In Mumbai, Waiting for A Miracle
7. Khidki
8. Har Saans Mein
9. Mysore Se Aayi

Mercury Prize List 2011

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I'm very keen on King Creoste's atmospheric album 'Diamond Mine' and on James Blake's electronic dubstep and piano debut album 'James Blake.' I've seen several of the nominees live the past year - Blake, Metronomy, Everything Everything, and King Creoste from Fife Scotland. The Mercury Prize looks for forward thinking creativity, originality and uniqueness - basically an artist who offers something new. Adele is the big seller this year, however her song 'Somone Like You' really reminds me of a song Rod Stewart sang a few years back, while she has strong soul voice. 

Adele and Tinie Tempah are among the nominees for this year's Barclaycard Mercury Prize. Alongside 2001 winner PJ Harvey and Elbow - who won the prize in 2008.  Plus Katy B, Metronomy, King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, Anna Calvi, Ghostpoet, James Blake, Everything Everything and Gwilym Simcock.   

Simon Frith, chair of judges said with regard to the list of nominees that it, "highlights the remarkable possibilities of what can be achieved with music - the grand gesture and telling detail, albums that are dramatic, ambitious and artful, emotional and affectionate, funny and profound".... "Much of the music here evokes a sense of place and time, providing a wonderful snapshot of Britain's varied musical life."  The Mercury winner will be announced 6th September 2011.

King Creoste Bat's in The Attic

Saturday 6 August 2011

Fleetwood Mac - Angel - Stevie Nicks

Just love this Stevie Nick's song.