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Hurray for the Festivities

"You are too single minded about this disability stuff. You have a life outside of it. You need to leave it at work and appreciate all those other things that you have".

This is a criticism I have to put up with from time to time. There is some truth in it. But, i'm not so bad as people make out. I can put my work away. I can distinguish between my work and my life. I see where they meet, interact, and where I can find peaceful seclusion. Its also an interesting question because it comes up in interviews from time to time. How do you relax, cope with pressure?

So the festivities started, the holidays came on and I relaxed. It was great. But a couple of things came up.

First thing; Phil Everly died. I thought the Everly's were great. There hits were stupendous. Songs like Claudette showed they could rock with the best of the early rockers. Dream showed off harmonies that would later inspire the Beatles. Sibling rivalry foretold tales to come from the Kinks and Oasis. But something was missing in the news. Did Phil experience depression? 

I looked and I looked. Seems it was Don. Don also developed a Ritalin addiction apparently. I remember all the early rockers who had an impairment. These get a mention in Yeah Yeah Yeah - The Story of Pop previously mentioned. According to Bob Stanley; Bill Haley wore a kiss curl to hide partial eyesight, Gene Vincent developed mobility issues following an accident and before becoming a rocker, Don Everly experienced depression. Bob names more. Disabled People invented rock n roll and pop music as we know it. I think we should celebrate.

On the last days of the hols I go to see 'Mandela - Long Walk To Freedom'. I wouldn't have bothered but someone wanted to see it so I went along and it was well worth the 2 hours 26 minutes you have to sit in the dark. It struck 'em that Mandela was first a man and then a participant in a struggle before becoming a leader in that struggle. It's a journey. It takes time. But the early call in the new year returned to freedom, to independence, to equality. We learned from others in our own struggle. It felt good to be reminded of this. 

So seasons greetings everyone. Enjoy the new year. Celebrate, learn and struggle.

Posted by Rich Downes, 7 January 2014

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 7 January 2014


Just wanted to write something quickly  about something i experienced last week. Our mate Ken mailed us inviting us to a ritual. Funny that.... our mate Ken.... only just started calling him that and it hits him with a frisson. On the one hand its nice, warm and means friendship. On the other hand its not a colloquialism he welcomes and demotes him from our teeacher - the maestro. For it was ken who took us through his course on Folkore, Mythology and Witchcraft. These interests are studied from a sociological perspective and Ken likes to be an insider. So it is we get field trips to ancient sites, do visualisation exercises, get turned on to folk music and dance, hear about rock n roll amongst the cunning folk and attend coven rituals.


Last weeks gig at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, a London home of the esoteric, fell to such an occasion.


Ken is a guest of the coven. Welcome when he wants to be there. He was excited to be given the role of Autumn Lord and wanted us to be there to experience and share it with him. This is one of his kindnesses which i tend to neglect. I treasure him for it here. And welcome the chance to reflect on the times he has asked me to either play Prince of Chaos (Halloween) or the internee of John Barclaycorn - deep in the woods at Lammas where no one can see him being murdered (not literally).


Anyway, a week early we found ourselves treated to a Summer Solstice Ritual. Later commenting on it and not being too pc, in the moment, i said it had all been a bit pouncey but i mean't thespy. Incredibly theatrical. Many players, many roles, Including the nobility designated to the quarters (hence, the Autumn Lord) welcoming in and saying farewell to the gods and elements of the compass points. A tableau is set before us from the circle. A crone becomes the earth mother goddess. Here isn't that sexist. Hopefully not in the context. The nobles vie for her hand. Autumn and Spring quickly lose out and Summer and Winter have a stand-off which given the time Summer wins. We dance a circle dance. The wheel spins on. We quaff ale and break bread before refusing the invite to dine as we prefer to go to the Dolphin for a quick half.


It was a good night. This week we have the solstice. Next week a barn dance. The old ways continue to call those who will listen. Me i can't be bothered. To join the gang i need to accept a divinity and get on a path and i'm too aetheist for that. Doesn't mean i can't play though


One thing it did remind of that fits here is the notion that only professionals can act as explored on DAO's facebook pages recently. The thing with this performance is some did it extremely well and some did it rather less well. Quality of performance did impact on the importance of it all.Still practice will make perfect.

Posted by Rich Downes, 18 June 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 18 June 2012

Rock N Rollers don’t wash their hair.

This is a fundamental tenet of my beliefs.
And I’ve had it dashed.

Repeat exposure to old copies of Top Of The Pops, ancient photos revealed in the holy book of Mojo show the fathers of rock n roll, the progenitors of pop flouncing around with clean locks.

I feel sick to my stomach.
I keep on telling myself I will never believe again.

But where did I create this mantra. It was forever in Chuck’s ducktail, Little Richard’s pompadour, Elvis’s Quiff. And blow me down; even Buster Bloodvessel’s bald head was cleanly shaven – in all likelihood even dabbed with aftershave. Brut-ish brutes.

Eyeliner, make up, lipstick. They’ve all been at their momma’s pots.

Even last night, back at the Karamel Club, Nia’s deep bluesey, Karen Dalton, Billie Holiday, barnet was washed. Charlie Snelling’s positive pop evoked tainted love tresses proved pure. Adam Masterson’s urban pagan pernickety lion’s mane pristine preened. What has been going on in mind.
Rock N Roll gave me a commitment to rebel long hair, regular face fluff and ear wax. But did it have to be so dirty.
Where was I in aligning myself to rock, greaser, grebo, hippy, punk and permed footballers. Why couldn’t I see that my religion was dominated by fake pretty priests. When did music stop getting real and when will it return. Chris Sheehan I ban you from the shampoo.

Posted by Rich Downes, 29 March 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 April 2012