Friday 15 October 2010

Artists and Apis Mellifera (otherwise known as the Honey Bee)

My sister inlaw Katriona Beales has just written this article in her latest blog- it was part of a talk about Arts in the light of the funding cuts and I really like the point she's making - comparing artists to the Honey bee...
here's an extract from the blog and her own website link also...

Artists and Apis Mellifera
Text from a brief talk I did last night [7th Oct 2010] at the AIR Activist launch.

"I have only 2 words I really want to say tonight, neither are English - Apis Mellifera...
I have heard much talk about a cultural ecology – conjuring up nice images of inter-dependent organic systems where each part, whether large or small, is recognised as important to the whole. I'm not sure the phrase 'cultural ecology' really reflects the true dynamics of the cultural landscape around us - but let's work with it.
The pertinent question from me, is what is the role of the artist within the cultural ecology?
I believe it is much like the role of Apis Mellifera, better known as the Common Honey bee. As artists move across and in-between cultures, socio-political topographies, and virtual and real environments – much cross-pollination happens. New ideas are born, and society benefits from the fruit of those.
Of course – Apis Mellifera also benefits from the process, and in it generates it's own sustenance.
However, the honey produced has also been enjoyed by the human race for thousands of years, forming a staple part of the human diet since at least the Egyptian times. In cross-pollination not only are ideas generated, but also art work.
Honey sweetens our lives, just as art adds richness.
But who is this work for, is it honey solely produced just for the bee or the bee-keeper?
Are artists just producers of a cultural commodity – with little say in it’s dissemination or in it’s consumption?
Since 2006 there has been a drastic rise in the number of total disappearances of common honey bee colonies. This has been termed colony collapse disorder, and has been met with near panic from the agricultural sector who rely on bees to pollinate the majority of the worlds agricultural crops.
Without stretching the analogy too far – on the brink of 25% or possibly 40% cuts to the arts – there are strong challenges to say the least, to making a living as a practising artist. And while I have dipped a toe in some of the arts funding debate, I have found the majority of the perspectives shared to be about protecting arts and cultural institutions, without much discussion about the impact cuts on artists living and working in the UK today.
AIR Activists is about providing a platform for artist voices. This is timely and necessary. Artists need to not only shape the flavour of the work they are creating, but also influence the various bee keepers. At the end of the day, the bee keepers are actually reliant on the bee for their livelihood.
AIR Activists are about reminding the bee keepers of that fact.
Apis Mellifera."
 Katriona Beales

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Just some thoughts really, Frank Turner, Love Ire and Song...

My friend Paul (see link at the bottom of this blog) recommended a singer songwriter to Bill and myself a few months ago, called Frank Turner-  and recently one afternoon having done the myspace, youtube searches etc, both being suitably impressed we purchased some of his albums... One of them Love Ire and Song, has several songs that have got stuck in my head, not just for the catchy musical hooks but more for the sentiment and ideas sung out through them... here's the lyrics and video of a song from that album called... Photosynthesis...

Well I guess I should confess that I am starting to get old. All the latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold. All the kids are talking slang I won’t pretend to understand, all my friends are getting married, mortgages and pension plans. And it’s obvious my angry adolescent days are done, and I’m happy and I’m settled in the person I’ve become, but that doesn’t mean I’m settled up and sitting out the game – time may change a lot, but some things they stay the same.
Maturity’s a wrapped-up package deal or so it seems, ditching teenage fantasy means ditching all your dreams. All your friends and peers and family solemnly tell you you will have to grow up, be an adult, be bored and unfulfilled. But no one’s yet explained to me exactly what’s so great about slaving 50 years away on something that you hate, about meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity. Well if that’s your road then take it but it’s not the road for me.
And if all you ever do with your life is photosynthesize, then you’ll deserve every hour of your sleepless nights that you waste wondering when you’re going to die.
Now I’ll play, and you sing – the perfect way for the evening to begin. I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up, and most of all I won’t “grow up”. FRANK TURNER

So anyway, he says it kinda like I think it at the moment... and so does Howard Thurman... "Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive" Dr Howard Thurman, Philosopher...
And Paul (our friend who recommended Frank Turner) has recently made a very good feature film Big Font Large Spacing- well worth checking out 

Friday 12 March 2010

Dust and Gold

Just thought I'd write a few lines about new Dust and Gold album...
Really pleased and excited about the new product...

Child in the Sun
Turnaround Town
Feathers and Flowers
She's OK
Digging Song
Here We Go
Leaning On Nothing
Somewhere In Copenhagen
Sing It Out
Come On In
Dust And Gold
Waiting For You

As an album Dust and Gold is stand alone but also makes up part 3 of a colour themed trilogy of work, (previous releases being my debut, Brilliant Blue and the follow up Red Tree.)....
The Title Dust and Gold is taken from track 11, but in my mind the rootsy overtones of banjo scattered through some of the songs makes for the dusty image while the jazzier sounds of the soprano sax and piano create the shiny gold texture- and this comes together for the very last song with banjo, sax and piano in ‘Waiting for You.

The album has been recorded, mixed and mastered by Dylan Fowler at his studio Felin Fach in Abergavenny here in Wales- it's a beautiful place, an old converted Mill surrounded by trees and a river running alongside. The studio itself was rustic with sloping ceilings (as Bill saw straight away- no straight lines!) Dylan and his wife Gill were exceptionally hospitable and made the whole experience feel more like some creative retreat rather than the time limited pressure of recording that could have been the case! Dylan also took on the role as producer working closely in collaboration with me on arrangements of the songs. We recorded all of my lead vocal with either guitar, banjo or piano parts as ‘live takes' and a number of tracks were jammed and improvised live with percussion/ accordion/ piano adding on additional overdubs later.....

The style and content of the material draws upon folk, roots, blues, americana, jazz, gospel and singer songwriter genres, and is very much a crossover integration of all the above.
Instrumentation includes, acoustic guitars, mandocello, banjo, soprano sax, piano, percussion, cello, accordion, electric guitar, bass, layered vocal harmony, harmonica and more…

visit the Hushland Label Shop to pre- order CD's (pre- orders include limited edition bonus EP) and take a listen- to some of the tracks in the Hushland Listening Lounge

Thursday 28 January 2010

Sometimes she feels lonely... so she sings

My next door neighbour is a fascinating character, at 82, she's still savvy and switched on, but very frail these days. She was born in Italy and married a Glaswegian (who was stationed in her small town in Bolognia) and so her English is an unusual blended accent of Scottish and Italian. She told me once that she would have liked to have been Opera singer but got married instead! Her kitchen is adjacent to my dining room and often I hear her singing as she makes her meals. I told her the other day how much I enjoyed hearing her tunes, and she replied that 'sometimes living on your own gets you down and lonely- so I sing, I sing so I can hear the sound of a voice out loud'
This morning as I ate my breakfast, she was singing loud and true- it was 'Moon River' and it was one of the saddest and most beautiful renditions of that song that I have ever heard... Later I will tell her again how good it is to hear her singing, but I felt that I didn't want to let that moment pass by with out marking it in some way... I'm always in search of authentic art, art which moves and touches you and leaves you somehow different as a result- and that is exactly what my neighbour has given me this morning...

Monday 18 January 2010

you tube songs

Bill has just posted the video he made to Please Don't Pass Me By on You Tube- here's a link...

Thursday 14 January 2010

Cunning Plans!

Hey Folks, here’s a belated Happy New Year greeting to one and all- though after the devastating news in the last 24 hours of the Haiti earth quake- all previous thoughts of festivities pale into insignificance…

Anyway these last weeks Bill and I at Hushland Central have been plotting and planning our next bold moves for 2010 and the release of my new CD number final instalment of the colour trilogy- Dust and Gold. (Kudos to anyone who gets the Ani Difranco song reference in that sentence there!)

So here’s a bit of what you can expect to be hitting your inboxes in over the next weeks and months….

New Dust and Gold CD Special Offer Pre Order Packages!
We will be opening up the shop for a limited time period to take pre orders of the new album at the beginning of Feb-
And there will be 2 special offer deals you can buy into both will include a limited edition bonus 4track EP available only with the pre- order deals
We will tell you more very soon!

Brand New Website
Bill is working hard on creating a snazzy new Rachel website that we plan to go live with in March- and to celebrate this we’ve been busy mixing tracks from 2008’s wonderful gig at The Point- that will become available as free downloads from the new site…

Hushland at Home
After the great success and adventure of invading living rooms across the UK last year, we’ve decided to do it all again and this time put out a general invitation to anyone of you who might like to play host to a Rachel Taylor-beales concert in your home- there will be a page specifically dedicated to the logistics of this on the new website but do drop us a line at anytime if this sounds like something you might be interested in pursuing…

CD Launch Gig
We are planning a big old gig with a host of guest-ing super talented musicians to join with Rachel and form a unique big old band to coincide with the launch of Dust and Gold in May… with a whole load of new visuals to project behind it all…

and there will be more info on all of this to follow soon…