While echoes of Ferguson still resonate across Amerikkka and the rest of the globe Carleen Anderson, who originally hails from the deep south, has penned a poetic and moving reflection on this never ending cycle of violence. She is joined on the song by master percussionist Ade Egun Crispin Robinson aka Bro Spry

Song One | Grains of Dust by Carleen Anderson from Occupation on Vimeo.

While echoes of Ferguson still resonate across Amerikkka and the rest of the globe Carleen Anderson, who originally hails from the deep south, has penned a poetic and moving reflection on this never ending cycle of violence. She is joined on the song by master percussionist Ade Egun Crispin Robinson aka Bro Spry

Song 1 – Grains of Dust by Carleen Anderson

Verse 1
(You, me, are we
All for one or fall) Far from any worries of Third World Problems
(Far from Third World Problems) Entitled Paved Streets
(Paved Opportunity) Curbsides bordering the lawns for the chance of
(Golden Chances) Opportunity
(Or just plain lucky)

Chorus 1
Marching to the chorus singing Them or US
Vocalising We Not Them are Worthy of Love
Labelled as Superior or Less to the Gods
Blinded by the Separations Between Grains of Dust

Verse 2
(Fire) The fire blasting through the flesh of her loved one (His lifeless body falls) His lifeless body falls
Face down pressed against the ground
Cold, cruel payment
Breath and blood – Last Sounds

Chorus 2
Marching to the choir singing Them or Us
(The build up from repression The ongoing oppression – Long standing debts) Vocalising We Not Them are Worthy of Love
(The systematic weapons
Repeating unlearned lessons – over again) Labeling Superior or Less to the Gods
(The weary testifying
The worn out justifying – all sides will lose) Blinded by the Separations (The cycle of violence
Will only end when respect
Is for everyone
(Between Grains of Dust)
Parted by the pull of Power and Glory Blinded by the Separations Between Grains of Dust

Composed and performed by Carleen Anderson

Percussion Ade Egun Crispin Robinson

Music recorded and produced by Ty Cerdd studios.

Film by Tim Hopkins

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BIG UP! THE FLYING MONK Talk Show – Episodes 1 & 2

wBack in May 2013 I penned a review of Alex Kozma’s excellent book ‘Warrior Guards The Mountain’ and earlier this year was most happy to see that he and Steven Benitez had finished the documentary film which accompanies the book. The movie is a must for anyone interested in or practicing martial arts and it appears to be springboard for a series of in-depth documentary follow ups.

‘Warrior Guards The Mountain’  is available to stream or buy on DVD via Alex’s site and Steve Benitez’s

Right now, I am also thrilled to announce that Alex and Steven have not long launched ‘The Flying Monk’ talk show. The first two episodes  feature the duo in conversation and you can check them out below – I just watched both episodes over a lunchtime bowl of rice and was immediately moved to scribble this little piece.

To check future episodes make sure you go onto Youtube and subscribe!

For all other enquiries, please email

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Northern Soul: Keepin’ The Faith

Northern Soul: The Film & Keepin’ The Faith.

Northern-Dancer 1

At long last, today – October 17th, Elaine Constantine’s much anticipated film Northern Soul hits the big screen at 120+ cinemas around the country and the buzz just keeps on keeping on. There’s been a spate of pieces in The Guardian over the past 12 months (including an interview with Elaine and a piece “How to dance to northern soul” by Tim Jonze) and with the film’s imminent arrival features have inevitably appeared in other national dailies. The Beeb’s Culture Show featured journalist Paul Mason documentary Keeping The Faith – a reflection on his youth at Wigan Casino and “a music scene that has refused to die”. Last weekend Gilles Peterson dropped a Northern Soul special on BBC6 and interviewed both Elaine and her partner Marco Santucci while over on Mi Soul my good friend Ross Allen was diggin’ into the double cd on Harmless that’s been compiled to go with the film.

NS film poter 2 My younger brother has had the film on pre-order at Amazon for months and I’ve been busy trying to lock down an ace spinner from the Northern scene to help him hone his spin skills to the level of a kid with glasses that he spotted in one the Northern Soul trailers or a “making of..” shorts. He’s a refined northern soul dancer – having honed his skills over four decades but that tight multiple northern spin can be bloody elusive.

As it goes, it was my brother who turned me onto the music that was being played at the Twisted Wheel. I was 18 and doing foundation at Rochdale College of Art. My friends were bikers, hippies – regulars at the Magic Village who drank in The Crown – the only pub in Manchester that served people with long hair and had a superbly stocked Juke box (whoah, just had little memory flash of Albert King’s ‘Cold Feet’). I collected records but it was Captain Beefheart, Love, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Mothers of Invention, Velvet Underground, Howling Wolf, Roland Kirk.

Richard Searling

Richard Searling

We were both at school with Richard Searling – who is today one of the most celebrated Northern DJs. He was the first kid I’d seen with cropped hair and matching wrangler jacket and jeans. My brother, along with a close mate who’d become a Wheel regular and was probably robbing chemist shops, was fixated on being a mod. That said, we lived in mill town outside of Manchester and there was no money in our house for Levis or Ben Shermans or a made to measure blazer. You had to have left school and be earning to even think about style.

I finished at Rochdale in the summer of 1970 and after doing a couple of months of shift work in a local paper mill spent a portion of my money on a new look that I was to take with me to art school in leafy, conservative Cheltenham. A leather coat, a pair of plain Royals, tonic mohair trousers, 501s, DMs,a Harrington, couple of button downs and a bottle of Brut! I also carried a little record box of sevens – Earl Van Dyke, Fascinations, Al Wilson, Archie Bell, The Dells, The Contours, Jackie Wilson, Gladys Knight,The Elgins… which accompanied the rest of my record collection.

Twisted Wheel Wheel - 1970

Twisted Wheel Wheel – 1970

The Twisted Wheel closed in early 1971 leaving the Wheel regulars to roam the nation in search and next all nighter. Cheltenham, had a long-time rep as a mod town, and I quickly discovered a pub that was frequented by a posse of Wheel regulars. Being dressed appropriately as well as having a solid command of the dance moves I was welcomed into the firm. It allowed me to dip out of the art school world and reconnect with a dressed and pressed, soul music loving crew of working class geezers who thought nothing of driving up to the Catacombs in Wolverhampton and then when it closed around 1am heading off through misty countryside to find an all nighter in a church hall in Market Harborough. Good times.

NS 3Northern Soul dancers at Wigan Casino mid 1970s

Meanwhile, back in Manchester my brother was checkin’ out the Torch in Stoke, which opened in ’71 following the demise of the Wheel, and also the very excellent and progressive Highland Room in Blackpool Mecca which was deejayed by Ian Levine and Colin Curtis. He has good memories of Wigan but by the time it opened its doors in September in 1973 I wasn’t really down with what it had to offer. In 1974 I moved to east London. I’d become heavily involved in politics and the combination of the music and the message was paramount. The Northern scene originally resonated with the rise of the Black Power movement. The leather driving gloves and clenched fist salute was pure Tommy Smith at the Olympics. However, by ’74 you’d had radical offerings from Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Gil Scott Heron, Parliament and jazz-men like Archie Shepp.  The Godfather – James Brown – had ushered in the Funk while Black America was ragin’. There was a musical renaissance taking place in Black America and it was largely being ignored by the Northern scene.

In Britain in 1974, we were being subjected to an IRA bombing campaign, the National Front and racism was on the rise  and the nation was on a three day week in response to a miners strike. The streets of London were piled high with garbage. Tough times were ahead for the working class youth in the soon to decimated north of England and appropriately 1974 – that first ecstatic year at Wigan Casino – provides the setting for Elaine Constantine’s Northern Soul. It seems like age has passed since I came across an initial interview with Elaine about the film she was making and I loved the inspirational  story of being at a school or youth club dance in Bury and suddenly, on the arrival of a certain tune, she witnessed a posse of awkward teenage lads become transformed as they slid out of the shadows and onto the dancefloor.

I have yet to see the film… it’s got to be this week..  and am looking forward to it. However, along with the film I can also heartily recommend the hard-back book – Northern Soul: An Illustrated History – that Elaine and writer Gareth Sweeny have put together. Whether you are from the scene or not I suggest you seek it out. The combination of oics from the 70’s mixed with images from the film can be a touch confusing but it effectively prevents it all from slipping into a retro cul de sac. That said, the essential content of this book is a no holds barred people’s history, from the Twisted Wheel to Wigan casino and Blackpool Mecca to the new Millenniunm, built around a collection of personal testimonies from those who were there. The music, the drugs, the rivalries – the life.

The Book

The Book!

Diggin' in the crates - Wigan Casino Record Bar 1980

Diggin’ in the crates – Wigan Casino Record Bar 1980

NS 7While the Northern scene, like the soul and funk weekenders, continued to thrive despite its ageing following, this film has already provided the springboard for a new generation of dancers – a core group of whom came to the music and the dancing though their acting roles in the film. Basically, they got hooked and once hooked there’s no going back. It’s going to be most interesting to see what kind of impact the film has in the near future. The Northern Soul compilation album (and the package of 7″ singles) available through Harmless record romped into the album charts at number 6 and it appears that a whole new generation of kids might just get tempted by those soulful vocals, that beatin’ rhythm and the trancendental, euphoric potential of those fleet-footed, acrobatic dance moves. All you need is a little faith.


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LIVE: Collocutor, The Grip, Steve Williamson….

London town regularly delivers an overwhelming array of LIVE music and the late summer has been exceptional with enlightening and stirring  sessions from  Collocutor, The Grip and Steve Willamson.

Last Monday night I caught the launch of the the Collocutor album at the Forge in Camden Town. I was introduced to the music of Collocutor by On The Corner records boss Pete Buckenham and album producer Nick Woodmansey of Emanative. Both maintained, ” You have to check them live.” and on the night I was not disappointed.

Tamar Collocutor

Tamar Collocutor

Led by saxophonist (baritone + soprano)/flautist, Tamar Osborn, who you may know from the Fontanelles and numerous other projects, this ensemble is built around two distinctively different percussionists –  Maurizio Ravalico and Magnus Mehta – and bassist Suman Joshi. This rhythmic triumvirate provide a unique foundation for Tamar,  Simon Finch (trumpet/flugel horn), Josephine Davies (tenor) and guitarist Marco Piccioni to step off from.

On their very first tune Marco Piccioni’s blistering solo on Stratocaster, which propelled him around the back of the stage on his tip toes in moonwalk fashion, gave us a indication that we were in a few surprises.  Maurizio Ravalico’s unique approach to percussion which included a surdo drum, a hi-hat made from washing machine parts, a violin bow and a selection of Tibetan bowls was the perfect foil the horn players who switched between crisp ensemble parts and free flowing, muscular solos.



Apart from Joe Henderson’s ‘Fire’ and the encore of Miles’ ‘On The Corner’  all compositions were Tamar’s and took in influences from Yusef Lateeef’s book of scales, memories of an island in the Mediterranean – the divine ‘Archaic Morning’ – and an elephant pendant (which somehow led Tamar to explore in sound & music what it would be like for an elephant to be stranded in a room to small for it!).

The LP

The LP

The session at The Forge was Collocutor’s first live performance and it received a rapturous response from the musician heavy crowd in attendance. Their organic,  rhythmically innovative blend of modal and spiritual jazz is definitely attuned to this moment in time and Tamar’s compositions clearly initiate a conversation between those onstage and those in the audience. I definitely want to hear more.

The Grip - Oren, Finn, Tom Pic: E. Heatherwick

The Grip – Oren, Finn, Tom Pic by E. Heatherwick

Cut from the same roll of musical cloth and equally reflective of the times is The Grip –  a stellar trio featuring saxophonist Finn Peters, tuba-master Oren Marshall and drummer Tom Skinner. Inspired by Black Arthur Blythe album – ‘The Grip’ – and the musical combinations he explored at that time, the threesome took to the stage in the Vortex armed with a bunch of fresh compositions inspired by stories fictional and true, all of which appear a brand new LP on Slowfoot entitled ‘Celebrate’.

gripThe spirit of pioneers like Steve Reid, Bob Stewart, Yusef Lateef and Blythe himself filled the Vortex but The Grip combine legacy with their own unique compositional skills, focused energy and intuitive 21st century funk. Oren is a monster, a force of nature,  whose relentless spirit and creativity surges through his tuba to deliver warm , rhythmic waves of sound that allow Tom Skinner and Finn to breach the boundaries. Memorable moments included a tune dedicated to ‘Saladin’ and a mesmerising meditative Lateef-like composition that stemmed from the tale of a man whose job was to slaughter animals. All in all it was a wild night that made me want to dig into the album and ensure that I check their next gig.

Steve Williamson - Pic by Carl Hyde

Steve Williamson – Pic by Carl Hyde

The appearance of the Steve Williamson Quintet at the Pizza Express in Soho was also a joy to behold. This was the first time the saxophonist had played his own compositions, with his own hand-picked band, in well over a decade. The choice of musicians in the quintet was inspired. Polar Bear’s Seb Rochford played drums while the furiously innovative Robert Mitchell took on piano duties. Their rapport was crucial in pushing Williamson’s horn solos into the stratosphere. The fedora sporting, electric bassist, Michael Mondesir sat smiling throughout as he applied himself to the complex rhythms that graced the sheets of music in front of him.

For me, the set was vintage Steve Williamson. The music he’d resurrected for this performance sounded as fresh and as radical as when I first heard it. ‘Waltz For Grace’ with Filomena Campus on vocals was heart rending and showcased an ensemble in free flight. It was only on the final number that we were to get an insight into music that Steve has been writing in recent times. He is, without doubt, desperate to present this music as he hears it and as expected it’s rhythmically complex and demanding – for both the listeners and the players. Personally, I’m up for the challenge and more than keen to hear the results of his plan to include string instruments and extend the range of voices within it. Maybe we’ll get to hear that when he does a promised recording for Jez Nelson’s Jazz On 3 later this month. Can’t wait.

Steve & Michael

Steve & Michael Photography by Carl Hyde


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The Save Our Southbank  petition table is packed up for the last time

The Save Our Southbank petition table is packed up for the last time

Such good news. After a hard fought ‘Save Our Southbank’ campaign, this well deserved and somewhat remarkable victory proves activism pays. Coinciding with the publication of their chunky hard backed book Long Live Southbank, and following on from talks which have taken place over the last three months, the Long Live Southbank campaign and the Southbank Centre issued a historic joint statement outlining an agreement that secures the Queen Elizabeth Hall undercroft as the long-term home of British skateboarding and the other urban activities for which it is internationally famous.

The Undercroft  Pic: Sam Ashley

The Undercroft Pic: Sam Ashley

It seems that an intervention by Mayor Of London, Boris Johnson, might just have tiped the scales.  The agreement has been formalised in a binding Section 106 planning agreement with Lambeth Council. On the basis of the protections secured by the 106 both parties have withdrawn their respective legal actions in relation to the undercroft. These include Southbank Centre’s challenge to the registration of the undercroft as an asset of community value, Long Live Southbank’s application for village green status for the undercroft, and a judicial review of Lambeth Council’s decision to reject the village green application.

All  this legal bizniz costs lots of money and while the campaign would like to thank all their supporters  there remains a portion of funds to recoup. To give a helping hand you can check the shop and purchase a copy of the book or the new ‘Roots & Culture’ tees etc. Also, it’s still possible to whack in a bid for one of those funky one-off boards, designed by the likes of the Chapman Brothers, James Jarvis et al.

Skateboards: The Auction

Skateboards: The Auction

Finally, during the last month of the campaign, while talks were taking place, Long Live Southbank finished writing their Cultural and Heritage Assessment on the Undercroft. This 120 page document was delivered, with the help of dozens of local skaters, to over 100 relevant politicians, the Southbank Centre and their partners, architectural organisations and heritage bodies. It will soon be available to read on their website.

OK… I’m out… push, kick….


The Book: Lovin' the concrete vibe of the cover!

The Book: Lovin’ the concrete vibe of the cover!

SOSB book

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KEEP ON KEEPING ON is a poignant trans-generational story that was filmed over a four year period and explores the connection between ageing legendary trumpet player Clark Terry and young blind pianist Justin Kauflin.


Produced by Quincy Jones and Paula Dupré Pesmen this debut documentary by Mike Hicks is a must see. It tells the highly absorbing story of the relationship between Clark Terry – one of the founders of Jazz education – and his most recent protégé Justin Kauflin. As a young man ‘CT’ played alongside the giants of the big band / swing era – Duke Ellington and Count Basie. He mentored Miles Davis and Quincy Jones; and he draws on this experience to help 23-year-old Justin to overcome the performance anxiety and nerves holding his phenomenal talent back. What Hick’s captures in this film is the flowering of a friendship between the two men that transcends their mentor/student relationship. As Clark Terry’s health declines and Justin, who is completely blind, struggles to make his way in New York, their sessions together are mutually beneficial and incredibly poignant. Life affirming.


Oct 8, 2014 8:45 PM – BFI Southbank, NFT1

Oct 9, 2014 3:30 PM – BFI Southbank, NFT2

Oct 10, 2014 6:30 PM – Rich Mix Cinema, Screen 1

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