GREETINGS… as the end of 2012 is virtually upon us I thought I ask a few erudite and knowledable cultural compadres what events and artefacts made life in recession ridden Tory Britain and elsewhere bearable or even thrilling…
First up comes Jody Gillett, former editor of the English speaking version of http://www.mondomix.com, Braziliophile, budding film maker and a key player in the annual WOMAD camping circle.
A wonderful singer doing beautiful things with a repertoire built up over years of song collecting with Gypsy and Traveller communities across the UK. What Sam Lee brings with the new arrangements on his debut album (the Mercury nominated Ground Of Its Own) is a very young band which makes the whole project feel exciting and on the move. I’ve seen them three times – first at the 2009 launch of Will Hodgkinson’s great book A Ballad Of Britain, then at an intimate happening at the Bedford pub and most recently at Womex where he wowed a global music industry crowd. Every time he was barefoot, charismatic and funny. And the songs? Ancient, unusual melodies and all heart. (check out Goodbye My Darling and The Tan Yard Side.)
Also: Os Nelsons – https://soundcloud.com/os-nelsons
wfmu.org/The Best Show
I came across this recently, thanks to persistent insomnia episodes. It’s a 3 hour phone-in show on the New Jersey community station, presented by Tom Scharpling, a grumpy humanist and comedy writer with a deep knowledge of daytime US TV (Storage Wars, anyone?) and American rock lore. He responds to genuinely random callers from all over the country (plus occasional set-ups with collaborator Jon Wurster) like they’re hecklers, variously interesting fellow-citizens or just triggers for rants. Good if you’re into US popular culture (aka what’s happening in Huntsville, Alabama of a Tuesday night) or harsh hang-up-the-phone etiquette. It’s rambling, funny freeform radio with strangely touching moments, punctuated by silences and the sound of Tom clicking his pen.
Mission To Lars
Sweet, moving film with jeopardy, love and courage at its core. It was also a pretty revealing portrait of a family and a lesson in how so-called campaign films can be effective in multiple ways – raising money for Mencap and making you feel gooey about heavy metal. Mission to Lars was made by a brother and sister with Tom Spicer, their elder brother who has Fragile X Syndrome and who’s obsessed with meeting Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich. It’s a window on autism, family dynamics and film-making. It’s also a road movie, which is always good.
Bill Cunningham’s New York (dir. Richard Press)
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Swandown (dir. Andrew Kötting)
Rodriguez – Cold Fact (1970) + Coming From Reality (1971) (www.lightintheattic.net)
Thanks to the film release this year, Sixto Rodriguez had his two early 1970s albums re-issued (and this time he’ll see the royalties). Back then they bombed in the US, but boomed in South Africa and Australia, unbeknowst to him, who worked on construction sites for decades while raising his three daughters. The magic in Malik Bendjelloul’s documentary (Searching For Sugar Man) is Rodriguez himself. What an inspiring guy. I went to see him at Royal Festival Hall in November. His backing band were okay…where were the strings though? But the man wrote some great songs. And he got up there and sang them in a 70s bubble, it was unexpectedly moving. The place was packed with fans, and he came across exactly as you’d wish – humble and real. At “a solid 70” he is almost blind, but his voice was all there. And the albums too. Respect, Rodriguez.
Also: The Existential soul of Tim Maia/Nobody Can Live Forever (Luaka Bop)
Other inspiring 2012 highlights:
CONCERT: The awesome summer solstice happening…
Sacred Music : Sacred Spaces: A Re-envisioning of John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ at The Chapel, King’s College.
EXHIBITION: Jeremy Deller’s JOY IN PEOPLE at The Hayward.
SPOKEN WORD: Kate Tempest’s Brand New Ancients at Battersea Arts Centre.