Thursday, 31 July 2014
The bus trip from Tallinn was almost missed as I mistakenly thought it was leaving at 1.45 instead of the 1.30 that I swear was declared on the website and in my diary where Id written the time to remind myself. It took two and a half hours to reach Tartu, which is Estonia's second largest city and also, from what I gathered in a trip earlier in the year, the University party city.
Upon arrival Tartu looked busy - really busy. There were stalls in every park, stages in various squares - all a part of the Hanseatic Festival that was occurring. I picked up a leaflet showing all the activities for the period of the festivities and found Lost Harbours mentioned. The sun felt stronger than in Tallinn, the heat was not offset by a cold sea breeze. The walk across town to Genialistide Klubi felt longer than usual, dodging families and tourists whilst the heat relentlessly beat at me. Eventually though, I found myself in the cool confines of one of my favourite Baltic venues sipping a cold beer and contemplating the show ahead.
Mari Meentalo and Ivo Naries who played a wonderful set of folktronica before me.
There seems to be a plethora of great graffiti in Tartu, this is just one example.
William Must Hunt playing his tender, Nick Drake esq songs outside Genialistide Klub the next day, definitely worth spending an extra half-day in Tartu for. I caught up with him in Riga two weeks later for another outdoors show at Noass on the old docks.
On the bus journey back to Riga the heat of the weekend vanished under waves of rain as we passed through storm ridden forests on the border of Estonia and Riga.
A big thank you to Kaido, Juhan and Astrud for organising the shows and helping out over the weekend.
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Back in the Baltics from my trip to the UK for the Leigh Folk Festival and after only two days in Riga I jumped on a Lux Express coach to Tallinn to participate in the Culture Dust festival which takes place in a ruined ex-Soviet Prison. Normally open as a museum, the festivals site annually gets turned into a musical node for Estonian and international talent.
Below a few photos from the ex-Soviet Prison which is now open as a museum.
The view from the stage.
Some ribald entertainment pre-playing.
The stage I was on faced the sea giving me a wonderful view during my set. Afterwards I wandered around with my host, taking in some of the other acts. One group that particularly struck me was Holy Motors, a young shoegaze group from Estonia who were fronted by a lady whose voice was very reminiscent of Zola Jesus. Her almost emotionless tone sat beautifully above the washes of guitar noise.
There was so much going on in various locations, plus a lot of good food on offer, unfortunately I needed to be up at a reasonable hour and having all my gear with me meant that I couldn't totally relax and enjoy the party vibe that was warming up in the Garden area, so at about 1am I caught a taxi to the hostel to make sure I was rested before the next days journey and the show in Tartu.
This is definitely a festival to watch out for in the future, the setting is picturesque and the crowd friendly. There is certainly enough happening to keep you occupied over several days despite the overall area used (in comparison with other festivals) being quite small. Whilst it is in the heart of Tallinn it doesn't feel like a city festival at all, this is because of its seaside location and not being near the Old Town.
Monday, 14 July 2014
Under the capable direction of John Hannon, myself, Emma and Diana (Owl Service / Greanvine ) recorded a version of Idumea at No Recording Studio in Rayleigh. I'm not sure when this track will see the light of day, it needs a couple of minor tweaks first, but I think it is the start of the next album - more on that later.
Diana in the recording booth.
Lewes was the last show for this trip back to the UK and somewhere, despite its close proximity to Brighton, I had never visited before. Initial impressions were that it was a quaint town, quintessentially rooted in it's medieval street layout surrounding a Saxon built castle perched on its prominent hill which overlooks the flood plain of the River Ouse. Four second hand / antiquarian bookshops were to be found in the high street - of course we couldn't help but look in each one.
The venue for the show was Cafe Des Artistes, a re-purposed warehouse that had been turned into a venue / artists workshops / gallery space situated in an industrial park next to the slowly oozing Ouse. The headline act was 21 Crows, a melancholic folk group who reminded me a little of The Doomed Bird of Providence in their stories of colonial doom.
Some of the artwork inhabits the building.
First act on: Van Couer in full flow.
Within a few days of the Folk Festival finishing we were heading to London to play a show at Ryan's Bar in Stoke Newington alongside Astrakan who had invited us to play that evening. First, however, we obviously had to stop at the British Museum, where we whiled away a few hours in the Islamic Art rooms before discovering the Pacific Islands area. After this a trip to the new Foyles bookstore was in order, the layout being more spacious than their previous location threw me into geographical turmoil as I attempted to navigate the new layout. Both of us managed to succeed in spending far too much money on lovely, lovely books.
At Ryan's bar, just after we soundchecked, two strange folk arrived out of the blue: Sasha and Dmitry of Banana Pill, both over from Finland on a UK tour and who, having nothing better to do on their night off, had decided to come see us play.
Banana Pill in London
Astrakan rocking out and sounding a bit like a rude version of Deerhoof.
Next stop No Recording Studio and Lewes in Sussex for a show at the Cafe Des Artistes.
Monday, 30 June 2014
The last weekend, as discussed in a previous blog post, saw us take part in a four day folk festival in our home town. Despite my wavering and failing voice we prevailed through the weekend of fun, frolics, socialising, drinking and awesome music. The organisers created an amazing line-up taking in a huge variety of folk musics, artists and musicians across a huge number of different venues, plus it all ran smoothly - a big well done to everyone involved, so much work and dedication, it all paid off in the end.
The view across the Thames Estuary.
Our input was to help open the festivities with a set at the Squeezebar on the Thursday evening, which we managed despite my ailing vocal abilities and poor taste in onstage jokes. Friday night saw Emma and myself at the Fishermans Chapel to watch the Owl Service, You Are Wolf (one of my high-lights), Crafting for Foes, Firefay feat. Alison O Donnell and Roshi. feat Pars Radio. This was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the entire festivals dynamic line-up.
Adam Rees Squeezebox Organiser and member of Crafting for Foes.
Roshi feat. Pars Radio
You Are Wolf
Saturday morning saw an instrumental, improvised Lost Harbours set backing the poetry written by Justin Hopper for Public Record: Estuary and performed by various artists including Jo and Ray of Sundown Arts and Justin himself. The setting was the beautiful St Clements church - perched on the hill overlooking Old Leigh this building dates back to roughly 1400 and later that evening it was the venue for Mike Heron (Incredible String Band) and the Trembling Bells.
The original recording can be heard and downloaded here: CLICK
St Clements Church - The Trembling Bells and Mike Heron played there later that day.
After an afternoon spent relaxing in the Library Gardens enjoying the music of Crafting for Foes and She’Koyokh, with Çigdem Aslan (another festival highlight), we ventured back to the church for Cath and Phil Tyler (third festival highlight) before heading off for soundcheck back in Old Leigh for that evenings show.
I won't say too much about that night, except that I'm hoping a recording of the set comes to light. We were joined by Diana Collier of the Owl Service / Greanvine for vocals on Idumea, a studio version of which will hopefully be recorded at No Recording studio at some point in the near future.
The Dead Rat Orchestra in the Scout Hut as part of the Squeezebox line-up on the Sunday.
Sunday was a day to chill out and see our friends bands play: Plantman, Melodie Group and Ghost Music, and ramble between venues enjoying the weather (despite the occasional shower). The Dead Rat Orchestra put on a grand show for Squeezebox, showering the audience in wood chip and scattering metal shards across the floor. C Joynes was as great as always in the Fishermans Chapel, keeping me spellbound with his guitar playing. We sat outside the Chapel and listened to the Trembling Bells as the venue was rammed to the rafters for their performance. For the last few hours of the festival we watched the last acts in the Sundown curated Scout Hut: Haiku Salut, Blazing Zoo and Ghost Music were the last three acts I caught - a great end to a great festival.
Time to rest for a day before two more shows: Ryans Bar in London the 1st July (8.30pm) and the Cafe De Artistes in Lewes, Sussex on the 4th July.