Love. Supremely.

Hey kids.

I’m writing this in Brighton station. I’m making the long journey back north after a very inspiring time at the Love Supreme Festival.

Initially, I was wary. It was my first time at this particular festival and I didn’t know what to expect. The demographic was different to WOMAD or How The Light Gets In (my usual festi hangouts). I was struck by the number of aging soul boys and girls – no longer fleet of foot, and now wide of girth – until I realised that I was amongst that number. I also felt a distinct London/southern air to the proceedings. On one occasion, I even heard a teenager comment to his friend, matter of fact like, that his parents had chosen an excellent weekend to go sailing. Sailing! You don’t hear that kind of talk in the mean streets of Sheffield, S.Y.

So let’s get to the performances, for it was they which melted my soul. Mr Gregory Porter. Take a bow. He was deep like his voice. The air seemed to shimmer in the space between his notes and his humanity. He sang to a beautiful Sussex sunset, all orange skies and seagulls soaring on the thermals. I can safely say that I’d not been touched in this way by a live musical performance.

Ever.

Kamasi Washington. Heir apparent to Coltrane and Pharaoh Saunders. It was utterly wonderful to watch musicians at the very top of their game. In decades to come folk will surely discuss performances such as this one in the similar tones to the twentieth century outings of Bird, Diz and Miles. I noted the particular intensity in the eyes of Kamasi when he was playing. Something was burning bright; soul, life force, cosmic wisdom? At times you have to breathe inwards and acknowledge that black folks run very, very deep.

I was also taken by Kamasi’s astral maiden-cum-singer (Patrice Quinn). She was quite something to behold, and functioned as spiritual conductor for the band. That is, her purpose was to draw down all manner of wonder and love onto the stage for the purpose of enchanting us all. There was a point during improvising where the sound went awry. An electrical buzzing noise burst through the PA. Patrice simply lifted her arms skyward, performed some kind of Egypto-nubian-vedic realignment of her neck and face, and embraced the chaos. She channelled the electrical fault into the improviation! My mind was blown.

The Nightmares on Wax DJ set. Now I thought this was going to be a bit passé. I mean, I’m a fan. I own his Carboot Soul and Passion albums, but I’ve been grooving on his output since the late 1990s. I was thinking is he going to say anything new to me?

Well he did. In spades. However today, I’m finding it very difficult to put into words exactly what he did. I am reminded of the phenomena of dream forgetting. While grooving on Friday night, I could speak the language. I resonated deeply with the meaning of the message. He was stretching time with beats. A weird quantum elongation. His artistic messages extended across tens of minutes. Let me rephrase – you know when speaking to a friend, you might say “it’s a beautiful day today”? Well the messages in that performance, for instance “life is epic”, seemed to resonate for ages – an extended, beat-driven meditation on a simple idea. I of course was dancefloor shaman – shaking those bones for all who were able to hear. Magical.

Other honourable mentions go to Blue Lab Beats. I only heard the last two tracks of their set, but I was mightily impressed. Luckily, both they and I will be at WOMAD in a few weeks so I’ll give them a full listen then. Cameron James – pianist for Max Mosely who also guested on one of the Kamasi Washington numbers. If Nightmares on Wax stretched time, Cameron compressed it. In a single short musical phrase I heard Coltrane, springtime, train tracks; beautiful things. Cosmic things. He’s another artist I look forward to exploring.

Well, now the return to work and things mundane stretch out before me, and will dissipate the wealth of soulful spirituality that the festival has inspired. Redemption comes again in the shape of WOMAD at the end of the month. And, more than likely Love Supreme again next year.

Peace, love and music everyone!

 

Fly With Me

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Eagle Flying High. Photo by Montag

Well then, it certainly seems like poetry is the thing for me at the moment.

If you, dear reader, understood anything about the real Montag (although me understanding myself is something that I continually struggle with!), you’d know that I am first a poet. Everything else is secondary: prose writing, music, art, photography – they all play second fiddle to the yearnings of my poetic heart.

I starting scribbling in my early teens and continued throughout adulthood. During early manhood I needed to keep it concealed because, where I grew up, poetry was most definitely not cool. At college and university I found souls who understood the poetic aspect of me – and that was wonderful. Shortly afterwards, I started an early internet poetry zine, which attracted quite a bit of love at the time. We held events in London and even published an anthology. Continue reading

Sauce!

Untitled drawingI’m always happy in a kitchen.

I like cooking, and eating too. And happily, by some fortunate combination of genetics and discipline I’ve managed to avoid a large girth despite these epicurean tendencies.

So, I’m currently sat in my sunny kitchen, polishing off the last of my breakfast cup of coffee. I’m enjoying this moment of pre-work serenity, just relaxing and reading the local magazine.

While reading, I chanced upon an article about a local speciality known as Henderson’s Relish. It’s a dark brown liquid used to spice up dishes and has attained a cult status in the city which I currently call home. Bearded hipsters can be seen  around town wearing t-shirts fronted with images of the product. Indeed Hendo’s (as folk round here call it) has been freely endorsed by local celebrities: musicians, DJs, artists and the like. Continue reading

The Irresistible Lure of the Linear

Straight Line Cityscape

Straight Line Cityscape – Photo by Montag

Straight lines.

Great aren’t they?

With straight lines we build barns, houses, bridges and roads.

With ruler – or straight edge – in hand, our engineers design piston rods, pipelines, train tracks. Even artists use them to help create the illusion of perspective.

The humble straight line has been responsible for countless advances in the modern world.

Take the wheel, that shining exemplar of the non-linear. Wheels often only make motion possible through the use of spokes or axles. That is, straight lines.

No wonder then that we’re obsessed with the linear. But it’s not all good.

A word of caution, if I may.

Continue reading

L’Instant Présent

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Live For The Moment – Photo by Montag

If you have read any of my other pieces on here or elsewhere, you might rightly reach the conclusion that I am utterly in the thrall of the philosophy which is known as existentialism.

Indeed on this blog alone, there’s one essay entitled Existentialism In The Age of Social Media and frequent references to this intellectual love-child of Jean-Paul Sartre in many of the others. I have written existentialist articles for my other blog but I can provide no proof due to my insistence on doing a Banksy and keeping the Montag identity a bit of a mystery.

It would be easy to think then, that existentialism is the philosophical substratum to my waking life and that it underpins my thoughts and deeds in the way that a good, practical philosophy should. The truth is that this is not completely the case. It is true that I am a great admirer of existentialist thought, but this is mainly because it gives contemporary expression to aspects of a much older philosophy which has informed my behaviour through the majority of my adult life.

Here’s the story.

Continue reading

JD in Bed

cropped-cropped-dsc_0008.jpg(This post was originally drafted on 22nd February 2015. Publishing today as a tribute to Jenny Diski who died aged 68 on the 28th April 2016. I was a huge fan)

Right now I’m in that bed – the one in the header image of this blog.

Coincidentally the bedclothes are the same as in the photograph (I do have numerous other sets – like I said, coincidence). The cat (Morris) is curled up next to me and we’re both enjoying beaucoup du soleil.

I’m still feeling the lovely wooliness from the ganja-on-toast that I enjoyed last night (I gave up all smoking about ten years ago but still enjoy getting stoned occasionally). So what else is there to do but chill in bed and write (plenty actually, I want to go downtown and take some photographs. I also want play some jazz on my guitar. I’ll be out busking later this year – and don’t mention the garden…) Continue reading