The Weymouth Carnival took place earlier this week, and because of a variety of things, we basically missed everything. Everything but The Dolmen's headlining gig on Wednesday night!
I'd been trying to catch the band live since my move to Dorset in late January; last Wednesday, finally, I managed to walk away from my desk and make my way to Weymouth beach where The Dolmen were playing the headlining slot.
And let me tell you: we had a fantastic time, even though it started to rain early on during the band's set and we ended up absolutely soaked - I cannot dislodge Weymouth beach's sticky sand from my little red shoes!
Deeply rooted in the landscape, the myths and history of the Dorset coast as well as Pagan beliefs, The Dolmen's music (described on their website as "Medieval Celtic Folk Rock") is rich and evocative, and its influences varied, reflecting the personalities and inspiration of the various band members.
There is a very special energy running through the band's live set - a spirit of freedom and passion which are incredibly infectious; frontman and founder Taloch Jameson is a powerful and charismatic character who leads a group of excellent musicians, tonight including his young son as a superb second drummer and his daughter on flute.
I managed to take a few pictures on the night in spite of the rain...
I will definitely catch The Dolmen live again, hopefully locally!
The Dolmen are very much involved in the discovery and preservation of the local history and are currently helping promote Deeper Dorset, a project dedicated to "discover, record and protect the wealth of Dorset's maritime history..."
Below is the latest official video for The Dolmen's track "Free Will", shot mostly at the Tout quarry sculpture park and St George's church which is very familiar to us as it's only 10mn up the coast path from us! It is a really cool use of this very special place.
It was lovely to finally stop off in Abbotsbury again last week to go and have a quick look at St Catherine's chapel, the setting of my third novel, The Right Place.
I am glad to say that the broken window which had stayed boarded up for months and months has now been replaced and light can again pour into the small space.
Some tourists must have left the outside gate open as there were some, erm, fresh clues to a wandering cow's presence inside the chapel!
I was delighted to see a new batch of messages in one of the niches written on an array of different supports, very much like in the excerpt of the book I have posted on The Right Place's page (you can read the whole extract on the page).
The now familiar prayer had been committed to a glossy thick cream-coloured card; the black gel ink hadn’t entirely dried yet and some of the curved letters still glistened in places. Underneath the five verses of the traditional prayer to St Catherine, patron saint of spinsters, a woman had applied her red lips: here they were, round and full in all their painted glory, the ruby-red outline shouting sassiness and vitality: not at all the kind of mouth Kat had thought would belong to someone so desperate to get hitched that they would appeal to a fictional religious character. And yet, Kat couldn’t help feeling a certain sadness as she contemplated the lonely wish card left behind in the small niche, with an unlit white tea candle and the still-fresh head of a red rose for only companions.
At other times, the recess was crowded with messages and tokens of fervent faith in the powers of the saint. Some of the wishes had obviously been scribbled in haste, in some kind of emotional whirlwind, on the first paper surface the writer had found – a sticky note, the torn lined page of a notebook, or even the back of a supermarket receipt, often in biro or pencil. Then you had the ones that had obviously been composed carefully, thoughtfully. Those had been written down at the back of a postcard purchased in a local art gallery, on letter paper or on a posh bit of card.
The Right Place, first draft
I will keep going back over and over again throughout the next few months to absorb the atmosphere of the place.
Unfortunately, I still haven't found the time to sit down and add to my word count! But spending an hour in Abbotsbury and actually walking in the landscape I am writing about really helps with inspiration and I am planning on getting started again in early September.
AWTP took place two months ago, and only now can I finally sit down and write about it. I'm getting even slower than I used to be!
The past few months have been a (positive) challenge for the Arcane Publishing/ArtPix team: relocation across the country, new HQ in an old house requiring some gentle TLC and maintenance, complete change of lifestyle, new job(s), loads of plans, too little time and a very, very tight budget... I would be lying if I said that work on my third novel, The Right Place, has progressed any further, but I am now putting in place a schedule which, I hope, will leave me a little bit of time each month to work on the book.
Contrary to my previous two novels, it is going to be a long and slow road to publication...
I am still pinching myself each time I step outside of my house and catch a glimpse of the sea a mere 3 mn walk down the road. Dorset is beautiful and inspiring - it has its challenges too, but the area where I live has so much potential!
I hope to post a little bit more about the isle of Portland, Weymouth and Dorset in general over the next few months.
Now, I will admit that after 20 years of spending a lot of time in dark concert venues around London (and close to 12 years writing and taking pictures for a variety of online and print music magazines – at some point, I could go to five gigs a week!) finding myself unable to make my way to some of my favourite artists’ gigs can sometimes be frustrating. But one has to make compromises in life – and to be perfectly honest, I had started to resent the fact that the train & tube ticket often cost as much if not more than the events I attended.
Therefore, the best thing that could happen was for some bands to come to us in deepest Dorset, and in June, the lovely (and incredibly hard-working) Shaun and Karen made this possible with the third edition of their truly alternative, grassroots festival Alice’s Wicked Tea Party.
Major (and frankly most of the small) festivals are now a no-no for alternative folks who like their sounds edgier and darker (and DON’T get me started on the disastrously ill-fated Alt-Fest – yes, we too had pledged!!!). I’m more into neo-folk than folk, to be honest, and folk is indeed the most popular music genre around here (by the way, neo-folk/dark folk/industrial bands and artists: Dorset, and especially the desolate and strangely beautiful Isle of Portland, would be an ideal backdrop for an event or two!).
For 2017, the festival was moved to Knolle Farm, a peaceful (!) and picturesque site very close to one of Dorset’s famous landmark, Corfe Castle.
Arriving at the festival site really felt like walking through a magic door into another dimension: you drove along a bucolic road in the Purbeck countryside and suddenly found yourself in a little enclave populated with punks, goths, rockers and everything in between. An explosion of colours, loads of sounds, two stages built in two barns. The whole thing had the DIY feel of the punk spirit, but was ran with the determined professionalism of people who love what they do.
The atmosphere was incredibly relaxed and the scale very human. Obviously, the weather was on the organisers’ side and the whole event went like a rumbustious dream…
The contrast between the postcard-perfect site and the colourful, eye-catching and often irreverent artists on stage absolutely worked in the event’s favour.
There was a great mixture of music genres and atmospheres; over the weekend, we journeyed from downright anarchy (Clusterfuck, Barmy Army) to seductive dark glamour (She Made Me Do It, Das Fluff), deliciously clever cabaret (Rude Mechanicals) and pitch-perfect, joyous “dirty rock’n’roll” (Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons). I discovered some thrilling bands, I finally saw some others who had been on my “to see” list for quite some time…
The dreamy Where The Night Falls
The spunky, punky and multicoloured PollyPikpocketz
The insanely chaotic and catarthic Barmy Army (it's in the name!)
I like a band who makes an effort and builds a whole narrative for their universe! Self-confessed "industrial Slaughterhouse Steampunk Steamgoth Blues" The Wattingers. Shame they couldn't project their videos properly!
I was really chuffed to finally see She Made Me Do It, featuring two members of a band I've loved for years: Rachel Stamp. I couldn't be at the rare gig Rachel Stamp played at The Underworld in Camden a few months ago (*sob*) and it was a bit of a surreal experience to have the glamorous London duo appear on stage in the middle of a field. Still, Will Crewdson and Shaheena Dax managed to turn up the heat and gave a sultry, energetic, super-professional performance.
Industrial Metal was represented with dedication, pride and energy by the Die Kur guys, who were obviously incredibly pleased to be there. They even threw in a little bit of fire eating in the mix!
Anarchy in the UK is alive and well - it's bashing barrels on stage and it's really loud! Clusterfuck were dancey, menacing and rather entertaining!
The excellent Healthy Junkies gave us some great grungy sounds!
Without doubt the classiest act of the festival, the superb Das Fluff brought their dark, brainy, elegant cabaret noir all the way from Berlin. We were lucky enough to get two performances, as their Friday set was shortened by time issues. Thankfully, the dramatic trio played a full set on the Saturday! I think they gave me the best pictures of the weekend too...
Friday's headliners, Naked Lunch, started playing back in the 1980's. They resumed performing in 2011 after a hiatus of over 30 years! This is dark, intense electronic music...
Saturday kicked off with the West Midlands mad professors Dead Happy, who indeed had a massive go at entertaining their audience. They do their very own brand of "Freaky Disco Metal" and would be an asset to any festival who likes it loud, bright and mad!
The Blunders: punk, rage and social commentary.
Down From Above: catchy electro/rock
Another favourite of mine at AWTP: Rude Mechanicals. I hadn't heard of the band before the festival - and I really wish I had; I found their set fascinating and unsettling. There's a whiff of eccentricity and high drama in their stage performance - they define themselves as "Post punk, Art Rock, Dark Cabaret", a thrilling mix. Fronted by the superb and expressive Miss Roberts, RM drag you over the threshold of a strange, off kilter world.
If you like your sound to be straight forward, big, fast and furious, Saturday afternoon brought you Bournemouth's Kill The Colossi ...
... and Brassick from the West Midlands.
A familiar name on the alternative/electronic circuit, Global Citizen gave a tense, serious performance.
Babal is psychedelic and colourful and fuses different genres of music and highly visual performances.
Mr Strange was back at the festival by popular demand. A highly visual electro-rock outfit, they got the crowd dancing!
It was really cool to see Reza Udhin's Black Volition live again - albeit this time as a duo! It had been a great honour to have Black Volition play at the music/literary event I co-organised back in February 2016, and the band's first album, Sea of Velvet Rays, is simply superb. BV debuted two new songs at AWTP and if all the tracks on the forthcoming album are that good, then it will be quite something. I can't wait to listen to it!
I was just so excited to finally see Crispin Gray's new band Starsha Lee. You see, Mr Gray is a complete icon of the London alternative scene. For years, I was in love with the band he had created with Katie Jane Garside, Queenadreena, probably the band I've seen the most live, ever. The dynamics and universe of QA have never been equalled ever since. Starsha Lee frontwoman Sofia does possess the same delicate beauty as Katie Jane but... well... Let's say, not to be mean, that there is only one Katie Jane Garside. (if you are too young to know about Queenadreena, just go and check them out!).
The set started well with a sensationally dirty, decadent rock sound. But the singer grew more and more irritated by the minute and left the stage in a strop, soon followed by the rest of the band. Hence massive disappointment!
Still, I got some great shots! ;-)
Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons gave a super-tight, high-energy performance - so much so that I just couldn't capture Pussycat properly - what a performer!
Finally: on the Saturday, Matt ArtPix and Arcane Publishing set up a massive stall in one of the barns. It was a real honour to be there and we really wanted to thank the people who bought books, t-shirts and other items from us and those who just came over for a quick chat!
We had a fabulous weekend, and we hope to be back for the fourth edition of AWTP next June! We really recommend you buy your tickets for AWTP 2018: the early birds are incredibly good value. The facebook event page is HERE.
Come and join us in beautiful Dorset!
I think therefore I write.
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