London Word Festival – The Goodbye Library @ The Nave

A night dedicated to celebrating the library, lamenting the closures of many in recent times.

As London Word Festival explains it:

“Mining the Dewey Decimal classification system, Emmy The Great and poet Jack Underwood waltz through ten sections of their 000-999. Inspired and shaped by categories found in British libraries. From True-Life Tragedy, through Mind, Body & Spirit, Sociology, Large Print, and Teen Fiction, Emmy and Jack use song, poetry, multimedia to present a light-hearted lament for the library. Featuring guest contributions from Elizabeth Sankey – one half of indie duo Summer Camp– comedian and visual artist Miriam Elia, Coconut Unlimited author Nikesh Shukla and novelist and poet Joe Dunthorne.


London Word Festival – Intergender Wrestling @ The Nave

What can I say..if you weren’t at the Nave last night then WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!

Andy Kaufman (he of Taxi fame and so so SO much more – get on google {other search engines are available] now!) had a reputation for wrestling women during his act, assuming an extreme persona to whip the crowd into a frenzy and will on any woman who dared to challenge him.

Last night, Mel Brimfield’s re-interpretation of this idea came to fruition at the Nave as part of The London Word Festival

Hosted by Sir Francis Spalding

with Tim Wells as referee…

Kevin Eldon providing some commentary for the first half…

Simon Munnery taking on the persona of an egotistical wrestler ready to put women in their place, starting with Isy Suttie for Round 1…

…but she was sadly defeated…leaving Round 2 to Lore Lixenberg….

…again…Munnery was victorious…but how would he stand up against the Beaux Belles and their madcap dance/aerobic stylings?

Unfortunately they seemed to end up wrestling with each other byt the end of the round, letting Munnery win by default…

Oompah Brass, who had been playing earlier from their amazing vantage point..

came down to the ring and got the crowd singing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody…

Then it was back to business with Tony Law taking over the commentating…

Josie Long certainly made an entrance..

Next up was Rachel Pantechnicon who began by drawing lines around the ring…

Finally it was time for Helen Lederer to face Munnery…

she used the ‘oh my goodness what’s that, it’s terrifying’ technique to distract Munnery…

before laying the SMACKDOWN and putting Munnery in his rightful place…

…claiming the title!

So there you have it…a madcap night of Intergender Wrestling or, as I like to think of it…a Cuddle-a-thon like no other!


London Word Festival – Man/Machine @ Rich Mix 19/04/11

This was a night dedicated to all things robotic, a celebration of the automatic and a discussion of just how far technology can take us…

Throughout the night Alex Nowak and  Tamarin Norwood performed their choreographed piece ‘Doing Words with Things’ in British Sign Language…

Nathan Penlington hosted…

FOUND provided the music, performing their new album ‘Factorycraft’…

Ladies of the Press* provided a short film…

Nikesh Shukla entertained us all with a story of his struggle to learn how to dance, and programming a robot to teach him, whilst teaching us some moves of his own…

Ross Sutherland presented his new lecture and accompanying film on translation and robot poetry, ‘Every Rendition on a Broken Machine‘, inspired by the work of JG Ballard…can robots write poetry?  Indeed it appears they can if programmed carefully enough, but do they have a soul?!

Finally Paul Granjon had us in hysterics with ‘Low Tech Songs and Servo Drive’; his discussion of the advancements of what can only be tactfully called ‘love robots’…singing along to instruments he made himself out of the most unlikely of objects!


London Word Festival – Private View 18/04/11

The London Word Festival has been putting on some unique events this year, and last night was just one such example…a Private View of Lara Clifton’s ‘Baby Oil and Ice’, containing photographs by Julie Cook and Sarah Ainslie…alongside an evening of performances inspired by the striptease trade…as the London Word festival describe it:

Private View

Baby Oil & Ice by Lara Clifton
featuring new work by Michael Curran, Rob Rainbow & Liza Angst, Jason Singh, Gemma Tortella & Caryl Mann (A-Line) & Ima Doll
Sushi by Hannah Silva

Ye Olde Axe | 8pm | £8.50 adv/£10.50 door

An evening of performance inspired by the striptease trade, set in one of Hackney’s grandest Victorian strip-joints, Ye Olde Axe.

Baby Oil & Ice lifted the veil on the world of pub striptease in London’s East End. Containing photographs by Julie Cook & Sarah Ainslie, the book contains over 100 images of venues, changing rooms, performers and punters with writing by the strippers, staff and customers, collated by Lara Clifton. Inspired by the book, we tell the stories of the real people who dwell in the booths, baskstage or by the bar. Five brand new works will bring together sound artists with performers and strippers: avant-film from Rob Rainbow and Liza Angst, physical live-art from Ima Doll, vocal sculpting from Jason Singh,and psych-folk by Gemma TortellaCaryl Mann (A-Line).

Performances include:

SEREN by Gemma Tortella and Caryl Mann

This piece is a collaboration between musicians Gemma Tortella and Caryl Mann.  Gemma is in the band A-Line, a London based psychedelic folk band as well as sometime cabaret and burlesque performer.  Caryl Mann is a professional harpist and composer working in contemporary music.  They have played together in A-Line before but this is their first song-writing collaboration, for this project they have named themselves Seren meaning star in Welsh, they’re both from and met in Wales.  All the strippers from the book are stars in their own right and the song will have the same title.

MY LIBIDO (Hooligan Mix)

conceived by Michael Curran, mastered and engineered by Tony Mc Adam

The precarious sound of thrills, pills & spills!

My Libido uses samples of East End Football Hooligans, 70s Erotica and NO GDM by Gina X to scope out the honcho-social space of the strip club – where the force of desire shoots slap bang diggidey - right  into the lap of the spectators.

Baby Oil and Ice  - Jason Singh (www.thesinghthing.com)

The piece is inspired musically by Disco/Balearic/ Slo-House genres and the physical act of the dancer moving from being clothed to naked.  As with the dancer, each rhythmic cycle and reversed texture of the piece is removed layer-by-layer thus stripping away drums, percussion, bass line, pad textures, to leave just a single melody, which finally in itself draws to a reversed close.

Rob Rainbow

Do taboos speak of an aversion to the body ? An investigation with time based media and photography.

plus Sushi by Hannah Silva

Hannah Silva is a writer and performer whose distinctive style combines the physicality of theatre with energetic, fast-paced lyrical gymnastics. Sushiuses statements from women involved in the sex industry as well as a guide to effective eye contact and a discussion around ‘empowerment’ to weave a musical soundscape. Silva challenges and subverts traditional ideas of the body and poetry in performance.”

Location for the night: Ye Olde Axe on Hackney Road…

…which appropriately enough, given the context of the night has it’s own license…

‘Baby Oil and Ice’


Daylight Music 16/04/11

Nice to be back at Daylight Music this week…especially with another fantastic line up:

Nadine Khouri

Message to Bears

and one of my new favourite bands…Her Name is Calla

Daylight Music (also available on twitter!) is having a break for Easter…back on the 7th of May with Gill Sandell, Evi Vine and Waverley Keys…see you there!


Rachael Dadd & Friends @ King’s Place 15/04/11

Billed as part of the Folk Union series at King’s Place, curated by Arctic Circle, this was a very special sold out night indeed, with all the proceeds going to the British Red Cross (Japan Tsunami Appeal) and Nomadamura. Rachael explains:

“‘I’ve been watching the disasters unfold in Japan to a nation of people I’ve grown to know and love. During my time spent travelling in japan over the last 3 years I have been shown a truly amazing amount of kindness & warmth. Always interested, always fun, so keen to learn and understand other cultures, Japanese people are incredibly welcoming and hospitable as a nation. I will always be indebted for the experiences I am continually given in Japan…the profits of this event will be shared equally between the Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal and Nomadamura, an island community south from the disaster who are offering shelter and food for many families from the northern regions hit by the Tsunami.”

The night itself featured solo performances from Rachael Dadd


Rozi Plain……..

Kate from This is the Kit………

and Wig Smith…….

……..during the 2 short breaks there were delicious cakes and beautiful merch to be bought in the foyer…

…as well as time for some tuning backstage..

…before all the musicians got together for some amazing one-off collaborations…featuring animations by Betsy Dadd projected behind them…

…as well as live drawings from artist Louise Philips…

…and a performance by Carrie Hitchcock..

when the artists weren’t playing they were busy painting, drawing, or providing accompaniment using chopsticks on glasses…

…one of the last songs of the night was performed under blackout, by candlelight, as a gesture that we should all try to focus on saving power, rather than continuing to build more nuclear power stations to feed our ever increasing demand for more power.

All in all a magical night…

…big thanks to techies Neil on sound…

..and Mike on visuals…

and of course, friend to all penguins, Ben Eshmade, without whom none of this would have happened!


Bedtime Story Nights @ 40 Winks 13/04/11

This amazing soirée has been running on a monthly basis since June 2009, and I’m almost ashamed of myself for having only just discovered it!  It is held at  40 Winks, the unique brainchild of Mr David Carter, and curated by storyteller extraordinaire Rachel Rose Reid.

Arriving at 40 Winks,

I offered my answer to a secret question to gain entry, where I swiftly swapped my shoes for slippers, and climbed the stairs to change into my pyjamas.  Other guests were dressed far more glamourously than I in frilly vintage nighties to get into the spirit…

After Hendrick’s cocktails and nibbles in the kitchen (including lox and cream cheese bagels – yummy!), our host for the evening Mr David Carter welcomed us all and we divided into groups and headed off to one of two storytelling rooms to begin our journey.

I began in the music room where Helen East spun a tale of snake-charming of sorts…

…before heading upstairs to enjoy the hilarious Superbard‘s recounting of a vampiric flatmate ruining his dating chances…

…later all the guests came together in the main room on the ground floor for an acoustic performance by Vivienne Youel

……..such a great way to spend an evening…go find out for yourselves soon!


Coquette @ Kettner’s 09/04/11

The inimitable, effortlessly charming Mr David Carter has been running Bedtime Stories on a monthly basis since June 2009 at his beautiful boutique hotel 40winks (voted ‘the most beautiful small hotel in the world’ in German Vogue 2009).

Saturday saw the birth of a new event – the flirtatiously named ‘Coquette’, this time at Kettner’s…and what an afternoon of vintage dressing up and downright pampering it was!  Guests were invited to step into a bygone era, with hair styling and makeovers (provided by Benefit)…

…as well as an entire room full of vintage clothing available to borrow through the day…and buy later…who doesn’t love dressing up?!

For those who felt in need of a pamper, treats were available in the beauty therapy room..

…while others got lively with some fun swing/charleston classes…

In fact there were a few classes/talks throughout the afternoon,

including how to make the perfect bellini…

some tips on navigating the nightmare that is dating in the modern world from Zoe Strimpel

…an actual kissing masterclass…with lovely Alex from behind the bar volunteering his services…

…much to the amusement of his colleagues!

Indeed, there was a whole host of fun to be had at Coquette, with palm reading,

fortune telling,

a delicious Hendrick’s and elderflower cocktail served in beautiful teacups,

oh, and did I mention the CAKES?!

There were also many beautiful wares to buy including divine hand crafted hats, glamorous nightwear, and jewellery.

All told, an extremely relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon at Kettner’s, surrounded by carefully chosen items from Mr David Carter’s personal collection…