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Radiophonic Workshop at the Roundhouse
With visuals by Rory Hamilton & Jon Rogers

Radiophonic rock out!

I always like to think that Somewhere supports innovation and is ahead of the game and last night I experienced something of an uncanny direct result of this! In 2002 for TV swansong we commissioned the wonderful Generic Sci-Fi Quarry by Rory Hamilton and Jon Rogers in collaboration with members of the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop. As I understood it at the time some of them came specially out of musical 'retirement' to work on the project. Anyway it seems it was a success as last night they were back together and on stage performing at the Round House for a night of nostalgia.

What I hadn't expected to see was chunks lifted directly from the TV swansong quarry piece ... when the show began with the opening sounds and visuals from the quarry I thought for an awful moment I might have paid to watch a whole show I had commissioned 7 years earlier!! Anyway to be fair they only used two sections of the TV swansong work ... however I'm sure Rory and Jon would have liked it if these had been credited! As it was they will have to be content to know they screened alongside clips from Dr. Who, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Quatermass and err Sea trek.

Our final practice session at the bandstand

Swansong for a circus?!

Our Song for a Circus is nearly finished. Poor Tim is at the stage where it seems (to my untrained ear!) as though he's just listening to it over and over on a repeat loop.

The photo is of our last session playing with the band on the 15th of March. Sadly (at least for me personally) this felt rather as though we went out with a whimper rather than a bang - albeit quite a pleasant one.

This project has been hampered with problems from the word go - it's part of AGRIFASHIONISTA an ambitious project curated by Grizedale arts (who we've enjoyed working with many times before) but funded by the A foundation (who have a base at the old Rochelle school on Arnold Circus). The various projects were all to get a small amount of funding (not enough in fact for the amount of work involved with making a project with 'people involved') but the 'pay off' was to be a live week of performances and a web broadcast from Rochelle. Lots of artists we know and some we wanted to meet were to be involved and everyone was excited to see what could develop. It felt right from the start as though something wasn't quite right about it. Michael the amazing project manager was a model of professionalism and relentlessly optimistic despite date changes and numerous set backs for the many AGRIFASHIONISTA projects he was trying to manage. Eventually though even he couldn't put a brave face on it. A Foundation had 'financial problems' and in effect cancelled the live week a month before it was due to happen (this is cutting a very long story short).

So Grizedale now have a raft of projects at various levels of completion and nowhere to show them (at least at that point) Michael had worked on a project for months that in effect wouldn't now happen (and a bunch of invoices to pay), and we had a band of people we'd worked with for 6 months to tell that the final performance wouldn't be happening! Unlike the other artists projects, ours involved a lot time investment from other people & so we couldn't just stop - for a couple of weeks we went ahead as usual without even being to say that the situation was changing.

Anyway to cut to the final solution, our 'song' will be launched on the AGRIFASHIONISTA website as will the other projects over the next two years, as Grizedale press on trying to still realise them all.

Aside from the fact we still haven't been paid (which I assume will eventually happen) this whole experience did short of shake me. Suddenly I really had to question what it was I was doing ... going out to try and meet people from the Boundary Estate and involve them in a project supported by the A Foundation - an organisation many of them felt a great deal of resentment towards. It seemed that I set (myself) the agenda to try and promote a sense of integration for the Foundation into the community local to their base, only to actually be given the signal pretty clearly that in fact the residents were right - their views or involvement were in the bigger picture irrelevant to the Foundation's workings. Only it wasn't someone from the A Foundation who explained this - in fact we only received one carefully worded letter from them, it was me who had to host the rehearsal were I explained the event we'd all been building up to just wasn't going to happen.

Artists are used all the time to broker 'good feeling' between organisations and local communities, to 'involve new audiences' and all the other jargon terms banded about ... the irony is this time I set this agenda for myself! Nothing on our brief required us to work with local people, or do more than simply turn up for the live event ... but it seems I just can't stop myself. One of the reasons I wanted to do the project was that I wanted to know more about the area and really see what makes it tick ... and I guess I did do this. Maybe I just need to feel useful, but somehow without the final event and the chance for everyone in the band to meet the other artists and indeed the staff from the A Foundation and perform in Rochelle school as well as the bandstand the whole thing makes less sense for me. The song is good, the band were an interesting challenge, and we were the people to benefit from the project with our weekly debates about what the song might be and how the Estate operates - maybe that's enough.

However I can't help feeling frustrated that the organisation who initiated the work literally don't, it seems, want to hear it.

Musical life in the circus of course goes on without us and this weekend you can hear a brass band from Crystal Palace playing in the bandstand. If you play and you want to join other musicians afterwards Jan (our star player) will be leading a jam at NO:ID gallery, if you really want to hear something about Arnold Circus ask Seamus (our singer) if he's there ... but get a drink first it's a long story ...

Seamus in full swing with Marcus & I

Come and hear A Song for a Circus

As Karen travels back from Texas I have been preparing for projects closer to home, practising on my 'home-made double-bass' - fashioned (by Jan) for the Boundary Estate band from some rope, a large bucket and a bit of wood! It sounds remarkably good and if you want to hear me play it along with the rest of the band, this Saturday is your last chance ...

We'll be out playing in the Arnold Circus bandstand from 3.00 until about 4.00 (wind permitting), and then we have our last recording session in the big Club Row space at Rochelle. I will bring some cake, Tim will bring his headphones.

After this we will be working to finish the song and get a CD out to everyone who has played with us, the final version will be launched on the AGRIFASHIONISTA.TV site next month.

Seamus in search of a chorus
Photo: Nina Pope

Pop goes the weasel ... this Sunday on the Circus

This Sunday (10th Feb) the band that is slowly growing and making "A Song for a Circus" will be actually out on Arnold Circus (starting in the band stand at 3.00pm) practising some of the experiments we've been trying out. This is partly to see what we sound like outside & work out if some sort of 'live performance' will work in the Agrifashionista week, but mainly to try and let people know what we're up to and maybe attract new resident members.
My main motivation is we need a drummer ... so if you live on the Boundary Estate and play the drums come on down, we could sure do with you ...

That said I am really keen on the Sitar and Melodeon combo we have to date.

The next tune we might tackle is Pop goes the weasel we love the Anthony Newley version and with all the local connections ( "Up and down the city road, In and out the Eagle" ) it might be an interesting track to do a 'cover version' of ... My feeling is that Seamus (our nominated singer) could certainly carry off a Newley-like "off the cuff comment over the lyric" vocal!

We're gaining in popularity (if not visual style) on Myspace and one of our new virtual friends are another band that apparently anyone can join ... they're called the citizens and they want to be our friends, I quite like their '24hr CCTV' if you fancy a listen.

If you're on Myspace come on be our friend ...

Jan recording the sitar track
Photo: Nina Pope

A Song for a Circus

Somewhere is suddenly VERY busy ... we're still trying to sort out Almanac, we're off to Newlyn to see the new Gallery there next week, we're working really hard on our show for the Northern Art Prize in Leeds (on everything from making 'honesty' tables to editing our new short film) AND we're launching the first of two Somewhere projects for Agrifashionista this week --->

A Song for a Circus is a Somewhere project I'm developing with composer Tim Olden. It's for the wonderful Arnold Circus on the Boundary Estate in East London & we're looking for musicians who live or work there to collaborate with us ...

Read more here or see our lovely new posters on the circus --->

(Thanks to Steve Ounanian for designing these with us)

Teenland - production still
A film by Jeanie Finlay

Our friends in the TV!

The musical Somewhere mastermind Tim is on TV tonight!

Well ... he's not on in person but his fantastic musical presence can be felt
throughout tonight's new documentary by Jeanie Finlay ...

Teenland - In Teenagers' Bedrooms

Four bedrooms, four teenagers, four portraits of life behind the closed bedroom door.
Teenland - takes us into the sanctuary of four British adolescents on the brink of
adulthood and explores their passions, obsessions and hopes for the future.

TV Broadcast Premiere - Wednesday 30th May 2007, 10.00pm, BBC4 60 minutes

Jeanie is also a friend of Somewhere and this is her TV premiere too, Tim's job was to create suitably teenage cover tracks for each of the programme's characters.

Many familiar faces feature in the different bands but sadly Karen & I's vocals for
Hushabye mountain hit the cutting room floor - just too creepy apparently ...

I know it's on at the same time as the Desperate Housewives Wedding but you can
all record that!

Roads to Siam
rockin' Tudor stylee

Now I'm REALLY with the band

A few pics from the latest Somewhere recording session, this time for our film 'Living with the Tudors' - we got most of the Bata-ville band back together to record some tracks for Tim Olden's soundtrack. They were given the tricky job of replacing two tracks we had used to placehold in the film while we cut - The Shirelles ' Going to the Chapel' and something dark by Sonic Youth - with something appropriate yet slightly Tudor-y. Undeterred by this ludicrous proposal, we spent what was for me an elucidating weekend sprinting through three tracks with sound engineer Kenny MacLeod who also works at the CCA, so knew both how to get some sense out of both musicians and artists.
'Roads to Siam' are mostly my two brothers Mark & Sean, with Chris Grove and Terry Nelson. We recorded at Chem19 studios outside Glasgow where I was secretly thrilled to read that Teenage Fanclub and Malcolm Middleton had also recorded. We were later joined by the lovely Gaelic choristers (pictured) Emma Deans, Rachael Deans & Kirsty Paterson for some high-pitched la-la ing which I ineptly directed and joined in on, rather flatly I fear.
Thanks to everyone for their work....

the Tudor...

Doug Howarth
Is this the most patient man in East London?

Patient People ...

Somewhere have been out of blog action for quite some time ... engaged in tasks that demand a great deal of patience. Between us over the last 2 months Karen and I logged about 70 tapes for our new film Living with the Tudors. Whilst Karen approached the task with sporadic gusto producing funny lengthy hand-written transcripts of our own Z1 footage I tackled the monster that was the tapes shot on various formats by our DOP. My approach is undoubtedly more mundane yet exhibits slightly sick dogged determination. It is an undeniably tedious task but my God it pays off in the edit, and that sense of preparation and probably a serious personality defect on my part give me a perverse sense of satisfaction as I see the neatly logged clips and bins appearing in my Avid logging tool box.

Now though, we get to bask in the heat of full creative flow for 6 weeks of editing, whilst all around us must push their respective levels of patience beyond known boundaries. Pictured right is our fantastic editor Doug ... any man who can sit between Karen and I for hours on end as we discuss each comment from a character & flip through our (extensive!) logs for those elusive, fleeting (and at times I have to confess completely imagined ) perfect cutaways needs the patience of a Saint.

Lisa our production manager certainly proved herself on the shoot but as though that wasn't enough she's now re-lived many of the interviews as she transcribed them for us.

Undeterred by the scoring of our last film Tim Olden now gets out his collection of recorders and harpsichord samples for the score (don't panic just joking!) as Karen and I keep sending him new cuts and MP3's ...

Last but not least, blissfully uninvolved in the film to date Dorian has been plugging away at sorting out our on-line shop within the rigours of various VAT regs., again enough to push anyone's patience to the limit.

Good job I find editing more exciting than almost all other parts of 'being Somewhere'.

Tomas Bata & family
Just one of the great images from the Reminiscence Centre

Reminisce & be thrilled ...

There's two events coming up this week with 'Somewhere connections' that you might be interested in:

Wednesday (25th October) is the Open Day, at the Bata Reminiscence and Resource Centre. It will be open from 11a.m. until 4p.m. all welcome.

If you've seen Bata-ville and would like to take a closer look at East Tilbury & meet the stars of the film this is your chance! I plan to go along for a catch up with their plans for a new building and expansion of the archive.

Then on Tuesday & Wednesday this week (24th/25th) Tim Olden (who writes all the music for Somewhere productions) is 'Horror DJ' at Brendan Walker's two Thrill Laboratory evenings at the Science Museum. Book now to avoid disappointment ... a spooky night out with fish & chips, heart rate monitors and a ghost train thrown in ...

Folk Off ...

Now I am in no way saying I didn't enjoy the Museum of Sorrow 'do' (part-organised by fellow Samurai Ben Sadler) last Friday, but Circulus?! They are SO not my cup of tea ... and despite my love of 'all things re-enactment' I do not want to imagine "what it would be like if I accidentally slipped into a medieval future where I thought it was 1972". But hey, there were a lot of women in nighties in the audience who did want to!

Unlike a lot of other re-enactors I'm not averse to all things of an authenti/modern hybrid nature - Aux contraire. We have spent a lot of time recently thinking about the music for our film "Living with the Tudors" which will be just that (and thanks to Tim who'll be writing it, for the entry title and sharing my Circulus-horror on Friday night "Do you think they're all geography teachers?")

Later on the same weekend I watched "A Knights Tale" ... now that dance scene IS good.

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