Delighted to have my poem King Kong in November’s 1st anniversary edition of The Krakow Post
I bought a ticket like everyone else
and tried my luck to sneak back here,
to see him first. We’re alone
behind the curtain. He towers although slumping.
His manacles have chains like tankers anchor’s rodes.
In the pit outside the orchestra tunes up
like a drunk coming to, meeting light.
I dare to reach and touch the nail of his thumb -
a warm battle-bitten shield. No reaction,
but the slow oceanic heave of his chest,
I would’ve said a sigh, and the redwood creak
of the reinforced stage and as the drums roll
like waves collapsing on a distant shore,
I’ve had enough, I’ve had my fill,
and as I leave, push past people,
the boy spills ices in the aisle.
The place is packed - made up faces,
under immaculate hair, the ones at the back
with opera glasses, binoculars, as if needed.
The snow of New York, the night, the lights;
‘KONG: THE 8TH WONDER OF THE WORLD!’
the pharmacy they put in him,
like a thunderhead sulking its progress,
is processed by swimming pool-sized kidneys
with blood like mine, slamming the heart.
Review for my new album Phosphor, in Polish mag, The Krak, in English, by a Texan called Haggis
Songs of Love, Death,Tractors and Tennis; live review from The Lleach newspaper
Songs of Love, Death,Tractors and Tennis too help the island audience to defy the winds.
Despite a bad weather forecast and the threat of ferry cancellations, there was a strong turnout for Sound of Jura’s first concert of 2013 in Jura Hall, with a good showing from Islay and the mainland too, all of whom were greeted with a round of applause from a warm Jura crowd in a hall bedecked with whisky casks and bathed in candlelight. All proof that there’s a substantial and devoted audience for live music on these islands.
Anyway, let’s get down to a discussion of the music itself. Karl Culley hails from Harrogate via Krakow, and his acoustic guitar and singing was accompanied by fellow Yorkshireman Ash Johnson, who does a fine version of the ‘strong but silent’ type as he underpins the whole on double bass. Karl’s been to Jura a few times before to record albums with Jura musician/composer/producer Giles Perring, and to perform too. This time he was launching his new album ‘Phosphor’, so much of his set was devoted to songs from this new recording. A personable, if somewhat shy perfomer, he is a wizard on the acoustic guitar with a very individual voice and style. His highly developed fingerpicking seems to have grown as much out of listening to electronic dance music as it has the greats like John Martyn. His songs are poetic and evocative, and there was even a song called ‘Qualifier’ about life on the tennis circuit. It was entrancing and, with a momentary appearance by Perring on a brushed snare that added a welcomed bit of percussive snap, he and Ash Johnson wove intricate patterns together, as the deep bass lines, often reminiscent of dub, kept coming under the fluid acoustic playing.
The second and third part of the evening were devoted to the music of Kris Drever and Éamonn Coyne who took us on a real journey. Drever’s playing is known to many because of his role in the multi-award winning LAU, as well his own work and outings as sideman to the likes of Eddi Reader. Eamonn Coyne, whose wry patter jabbed playfully at his partner all evening, comes to us from Ireland via the quite immense Treacherous Orchestra, and his articulate and thoroughly steeped playing is an exemplar of the modren celtic banjo tradition. However, the colours that he is able to add to some Drever’s gobsmacking guitar expositions with subtle lines played on a tremolo effected tenor acoustic were very special indeed. Kris Drever was in fine voice too, and the Jura audience was treated to a beautifully paced pair of sets that drew on the new album ’Storymap’, and the previous recording ‘Honk Toot Suite’. We were taken on journeys that lead to other places but were never too far from the folk tradition which, as Drever reflected in one of his asides, basically deals with three main themes - “love, death, and love and death” - alongside the key sub themes of “tractors, boats and whisky”. The patter was warm and funny. AND there was a tune or two in the Jura Hotel bar afterwards.