JONNY WAN. BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH. WARREN ELLIS. A MAGAZINE FOR MANCHESTER. ISSUE 1. FREE.
NOW THEN IS A FREE MONTHLY MAGAZINE FOR PEOPLE IN MANCHESTER. MANAGEMENT.
IAN PENNINGTON. James Lock.
design & Layout. MATT JONES. SCOTT GREENWAY. PROOF & COPY. IAN PENNINGTON. SAM WALBY. FELICITY HEIDEN. ADVERTISING. SAMUEL BUCKLEY. IAN PENNINGTON. Ben Jackson. AD DESIGN. SCOTT GREENWAY. ADMIN & FINANCE. SARA HILL. PHOTOGRAPHY. ELLE BROTHERHOOD. CAT CAMP. DISTRIBUTION.
CONTRIBUTORS. RICHARD GOULDING. ROBERT HAWKINS. SAMUEL BUCKLEY. MATHEW GRAY. SAM WALBY. JOE KRISS. MATT JONES. LOUIS BARABBAS. DENIS JONES. IAN PENNINGTON MANCHESTER SCENEWIPE CHECAN LAROMANI. TASHA FRANEK. ALAN BYATT. ELIJAH JAMES. SEAN MASON. WORDLIFE. #FLASHTAGMCR. TOM MASON. FAT ROLAND. BENJAMIN JUDGE. SARAH-CLARE CONLON. DAVID HARTLEY.
We aim to cultivate choice, voice and responsibility by providing a platform for independent art, trade, music, writing and local news. We support Manchester’s economy by only working with independent traders, community groups, charities and local government. Almost all articles published in this magazine are written by members of the community, not professionals. If you don’t like what you read or have something that needs to be said, get in touch. Your opinions make Now Then what it is. WRITER? IAN@NOWTHENMAGAZINE.COM ARTIST? JONES@NOWTHENMAGAZINE.COM MUSICIAN? IAN@NOWTHENMAGAZINE.COM POET? JOE@NOWTHENMAGAZINE.COM WANT TO ADVERTISE WITH US? SAM.BUCKLEY@NOWTHENMAGAZINE.COM DOWNLOAD BACK ISSUES: NOWTHENMANCHESTER.BLOGSPOT.COM SEARCH ‘NOW THEN MANCHESTER’ ON FACEBOOK. TWITTER? @NOWTHENMANC #NOWTHENMANC
Now Then is produced by not-for-profit social enterprise Opus Independents. Printed at Evolution Print. evolutionprint.co.uk We recycle all possible materials with recyclingrevolution.co.uk. The views expressed in the following articles are the opinion of the writer(s) and not necessarily those of Now Then Magazine. Reproduction of any of the images or writing in Now Then without prior consent is prohibited. Now Then may be unsuitable for under 18s.
OCT - NOV 2012.
Now then indeed.
5 // Localcheck.
And welcome to our first ever printed magazine in Manchester. For those unfamiliar with our sister publication, the fifty-something issues old Sheffield monthly, there is a brief rundown of our aims on the page opposite. It’s been an epic journey to reach this point, but each step of the way has been worthwhile for us in discovering more of our city and its surrounding area, people and places. We’re here to support the diverse Manchester community and do so by acting as a forum for discussion and debate. So if you have something to say, please get in touch.
THERE GOES ANOTHER… DRINKING WITH HIS EYES. Hosted By Manchester Mule.
7 // Assange. Hide And Seek.
9 // Psychogeography. This Is The Modern World.
12 // Food.
Eats Shoots And Leaves.
16 // Wordlife. #Flashtag.
20 // Benjamin Zephaniah. Dub Poet Talks To Now Then.
29 // Jonny Wan.
For this inaugural issue we’ve brought in some of the arts groups making a name for themselves in the city. Manchesters Mule and Scenewipe take charge of a page each and #FlashTag showcase some of their flash fiction under our Wordlife banner. Our main interviews are with the multi-talented dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah and Dirty Three’s violinist Warren Ellis, and we have think pieces on Psychogeography and Julian Assange in addition to our regular music and theatre sections.
Digital Illustration Done Justice.
We’ll be publishing every two months and growing all the while, so keep an eye out for us in the premises of a wide spread of Manchester’s independent traders. Check out the Favourites section towards the back for a few of our picks this month.
38 // Warren Ellis.
Finally, we’d like to thank everyone who has helped in any way along the way. You know who you are and we hugely appreciate the support and faith shown in us.
Our Pick Of The Bunch.
33 // Sound.
On Being A Southerner Up North.
34 // Live.
Nothin’ But Abattoir Blues Festival / Norvun Sunday.
35 // Manchester Scenewipe. Spotlight / Listings Picks.
36 // Albums.
Pangaea / Grizzly Bear / DBH / Jamie Harrison Louis Barabbas & The Bedlam Six. Bearded Violinist Talks Dirty Three, Nick Cave and Soundtracks.
43 // Theatre.
Greater Manchester Comedy Fringe Festival / JB Shorts.
44 // Favourites.
Enjoy the read. IAN.
LOCALCHECK. SELLING OUT SMITHFIELD. richard goulding.
Manchester City Council was on something of a mission this summer. Protests greeted plans to demolish Ancoats Dispensary and gate off Library Walk, the scrapping of hundreds of thousands of the city’s nonfiction stock in favour of a Central Library “relevant to a 21st century city” drew condemnation from the poet laureate and artists frustrated with secrecy surrounding the choice of fitting a memorial to the Peterloo Massacre erected their own. Amid all of this, planning permission was waved through for the latest phase of the Northern Quarter’s award-winning Smithfield regeneration surrounding Shudehill’s historic fish market. Council leader Sir Richard Leese praised the intended ten-storey block of 77 apartments with a couple of ground floor shops as “evidence that the area remains a thriving residential and commercial location”, a not unwelcome accolade given the dearth of new city centre developments since the credit crunch. Property developers Muse praised to high heaven the “deconstructed puzzle box” look of the new addition to one of Manchester’s most overtly trendy neighbourhoods. Politicians and developers both kept quiet about other elements of the scheme. No provisions for affordable housing are attached to the project, in contravention of the council’s own policy that one fifth of new housing in the city should be affordable and a departure from earlier phases of the area’s regeneration that included 62 homes built by the housing association Riverside. In one stroke the new building will slash the proportion of affordable homes in the neighbourhood by one quarter, from 23 per cent to 18 per cent. A remarkable omission at a time of housing crisis, when just under 20,000 applicants, 6,692 of them deemed to be in need, linger on Manchester’s housing waiting list. Muse is not lacking cash to chip in for affordable housing, being owned by the Marylebone-based Morgan Sindall Group plc, a £2.2bn firm with fingers in several taxpayer-supported pies including its subsidiary Lovell’s PFI refurbishment of Miles Platting. The council is reluctant to disclose details of the regeneration deal, citing “commercial confidentiality”, but Smithfield’s regeneration in the past has seen publically owned land ceded to developers for free and Muse’s business model relies on not maintaining a “land bank” of its own according to its 2011 accounts. Council officers nevertheless argue that benefits far outweigh the costs of converting a patch of fenced-off wasteland last used as a car park to a “vibrant” new development they hope will attract shoppers and visitors up High Street.
Planners are confident the flats will help to ensure that we are “competitive with the great regional cities in the world” and “develop the international brand of Manchester and support growth in the tourism and visitor economy”. Presumably the council is eager for a few cranes on the skyline to make the stagnant economy appear a little healthier and appeal to investors looking for somewhere a little cheaper than London and the South East. Manchester’s regeneration model of retail and property investment brought few benefits to its people even before the crash however, with 42 per cent of its children raised in poverty, and despite endless talk of opportunity, such boosts for the city’s propertied interests will likely cement social divisions. What the past two decades have brought is the steady abandonment of housing as a right rather than a commodity. The city’s 20 per cent “affordable” housing target conceals the fact that only 5 per cent of such developments will be social housing, with the remaining 15 per cent “intermediate” housing offering cheap council-underwritten mortgages for first-time buyers. A bullish 2008 consultation defended this housing market subsidy on the grounds that the aim is to “retain economically active households working in the City, rather than being a magnet… to low-income households”. With the likely outcome of ever higher numbers of Manchester’s people expelled to its peripheries by crippling housing costs and savage benefit cuts, the city’s branding as “attractive to all those who want to live, work, shop and have fun” rings hollow as its keys are given over to landlords and speculators.
References available on request. MULE is a Manchester based non-profit independent media project, looking to promote social justice by getting out the news and views you won’t find elsewhere, from the rainy city and beyond. They are currently recruiting volunteers for various roles, from editors and writers to campaigners. Keep an eye on the MULE website and social media pages for more information. manchestermule.com
Assange. Hide and Seek. Mathew Gray.
Julian Assange has reason to be paranoid. The editor-in-chief and founder of Wikileaks – the international online whistleblowing website – has made enemies with the most powerful government in the world. More immediately, Assange is at the centre of an international diplomatic stand-off, relating to sexual offences alleged against him, including one of rape. And the whole world is watching. The US Government has been greatly embarrassed by Wikileaks’ publishing of classified documents, including the now infamous ‘Collateral Murder’ video, apparently showing an unwarranted US helicopter attack on Iraqi civilians. Whilst no proceedings have yet been brought, the US (who hardly have an exemplary recent record in dealing fairly with individuals they deem to have threatened their national security) has convened a grand jury, likely to be considering the activities of the 41-year-old Australian, with a view to bringing charges of espionage against him. Some leading US political figures have even likened Assange’s activities to terrorism, in one case, comparing him to an Al Qaeda leader. The sexual offences are alleged to have occurred against two women in Sweden in August 2010, the same year as the majority of the documents were published. In December 2010, the Swedish authorities issued a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) whilst Assange was in England. The UK courts dismissed his appeal against it in May 2012. Before he was extradited, Assange took diplomatic refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has remained since. The Swedish authorities have insisted upon his return to Sweden to face questioning and probable prosecution. The UK, whose bail terms Assange has flouted, wish to enforce the extradition. Despite calls that diplomacy should not include interference with other nations’ legal systems, Ecuador (with its own agenda for assisting such a high-profile humanitarian activist and enemy of the US) has stated that Assange can enjoy its diplomatic protection for as long as it takes. Assange himself, who has conducted a number of interviews since his detention, believes that the matter will be resolved within 6 to 12 months, most likely by Sweden dropping the charges. His defence team appear to concede that questioning in Sweden ought to take place, but seek assurances that he will not be extradited to the US by Sweden and the UK to face charges relating to Wikileaks. The UK has made clear that any further request for extradition would need the agreement of both the UK and Sweden. Both nations, being party to the European Convention on Human Rights, cannot extradite a person where there is a serious risk of torture or death. Also, their respective treaties with the US do not allow extradition for political offences. Legally, Assange has run out of options. He now takes (rather questionable) diplomatic refuge.
Despite his own view, the diplomatic headlock seems unlikely to be broken without the surrender of Assange himself. In the meantime, the complaints of the two women – who have had to endure vicious personal online attacks from his supporters - go unheard. As well as legally, Assange has a moral obligation to face such allegations, if only to take the opportunity to clear his name. Support for Assange is divided: ranging from a view that he is a deluded egomaniacal self-publicist, falsely using the diplomatic system to dodge facing unsavoury allegations; to one of a brave, highly-principled, almost messianic, information freedom fighter, gallantly swerving the clutches of the oppressive superpowers. Indeed, he has drawn support from some unlikely sources, including Women Against Rape. So, where lies the truth? Mr Assange ought to be given credit for Wikileaks, a website that has done much to enlighten, empower and unite citizens all over the world; holding accountable governments that, lest we forget, are there to serve. However, he now asks two governments to ignore their own legal systems - and the justice and transparency they are designed to protect - in order to further his own private cause. Furthermore, the assurances he requests (in respect of a purely theoretical request for extradition on hypothetical charges from a speculatively named country) would probably have to be so necessarily vague as to be easily circumvented. All for a man who answers not to charges of some state-related subterfuge, but to offences of a sexual nature. Assange demands something both impossible and meaningless in insisting on such assurances. In actively coming in front of the camera, thus embracing the personality culture so influential in politics today, Assange has inextricably united his own cause with that of his organisation. He therefore risks the reputation of his creation and his legacy and must also think tactically. If, as he fears, there is indeed a US administration led conspiracy, what better way to test his beliefs in public empowerment and enhance his popularity and reputation? Surely, neither European government would dare extradite such a highly-regarded journalist on dubious spying charges in the face of such public support. If no such conspiracy materialises, he has the opportunity to clear his name and claim victory for public influence in quashing any potential US extradition request. If, however, he decides to remain in hiding (as well as the messianic comparisons falling rather short), his paranoia and cowardice are revealed, together with his rather grubby personal agenda, which, using his influence wholly inappropriately, he demanded was fought out on the international stage. One thing is certain: the whole world is watching.
Psychogeography. This is the Modern World. Robert Hawkins.
My time on this planet has thus far been incredibly short. In terms of time and history, my twenty eight years pale into complete and utter insignificance. There are buildings still standing in this city that are twenty times as old as I am. The majestic splendour of Wythenshawe Hall still casts its Tudor gaze over us, the words and philosophies of Marx and Engels still echo around the globe from a candle-lit library inside Chetham’s School and of course the historic Liverpool Road Railway Yard was the birth place not only of inter-city rail travel, but also the greatest period of industrial expansion the world had ever seen. So, upon reflection, it is unsurprising to find myself feeling a little uneasy about my place in a city which has seen so much history, so many struggles, so much joy, so much poverty, so much affluence, so much death, so much life and so much change. At the southern boundary of the city lies Wythenshawe, the largest and most populated district in Manchester. Wythenshawe is my hometown; it was where I was born, where I was educated, where I live and where I work, so in many ways Wythenshawe defines who I am and what I do. Now, to the unfamiliar, Wythenshawe is a place full of fascinating history, fascinating people and fascinating stories. Being a product of this vast concrete sprawl can sometimes be a little overwhelming; it can infect my mind like ink dripping into water, so if I want to make some sense of my place in an ever changing city, what better place to start than the area I come from? So my solution is the Dérive. I first heard this term whilst reading a book review written by the genial, witty and all round morbid sage and flâneur Will Self. Will Self has been a real inspiration to me in terms of his writings and political views, but it is his enthusiasm and description of Psychogeography that has proved to be a real revelation. Self, himself having been inspired by the father of modern-day Psychogeography Guy Debord, argues that by walking and drifting through an area, city, suburbia or conurbation, one is able to smash down the barriers of the imposed architectural landscape and free one’s mind from the mental slavery of, in this case, post-industrial drudgery and modern mass capitalism. Unlike Debord, I will not be drifting across 1950s Paris, soused on red wine and planning the demise of western capitalism. My intentions are a little less global but just as profound in terms of my own personal well-being. I am an historian by nature, so the idea of a world which is under constant change should hold fascinating appeal to me, but unfortunately this is not always the case. Perhaps it is the pessimist in me but I am a person that values heritage and legacy, and these are things I really struggle to find in the world we now live. Almost beyond recognition, the last twenty years has been a period of immense change. Politically, geographically, technologically, demographically, culturally and architecturally, as a city, Manchester is under constant progression. But is progress always a good thing? Twenty years ago, an average person such as myself might have stepped out of the house, walked for ten minutes down to the local shops, bought some items from the various independent retailers specialising in different kinds of produce, walked back again and be sat down again just in time for the twice daily news bulletin on BBC1. Now, I might step out of my house, mobile phone glued to my ear, get caught on CCTV seven times before I get in my car, drive down to the 24 hour retail behemoth, pick some frozen processed gunk in a cardboard box from the freezer aisle, get caught on CCTV another seven times, insert a piece of plastic into a machine that has an annoying voice, get back in my car, drive home, get caught on CCTV another seven times and be in front of the 24 hour news channel, microwaved gunk in hand, just in time to hear the headlines that I have already heard seventeen times today. But, hey, that’s progress. So this is what I must do. I will commit myself to the only thing which defines me more than the area in which I live. I will walk. In fact, walking defines every single one of us; it is what makes us human. Since the dawn of man, when our ability to walk upright allowed us to colonise the world from our ancestral heartlands on the African continent, we as a species have strived to improve and progress. So from now on I will take the off-road path, the dirt track, the muddy river bank, and the woodland. Because in the end, when all is said and done, they will be the only rites of passage left. Apart from the frozen gunk aisle at Tesco. wythenshawewalker.wordpress.co.uk PAGE 9.
MANCHESTER CITY CENTREâ€™S ONLY ARTISAN BAKERY /// The Hive, NQ, Lever St, Manchester, M1 1FN t: 0161 236 9014 e: email@example.com w: bakerie.co.uk
535 Wilbraham Road Chorlton M21 0UE 0161 882 0700 www.thenookbar.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
A little gem that’s the heart of Chorlton. Always something going on. Come and see for yourself a warm welcome awaits.
‘Nookie Time’ Monday -Friday 1pm-7pm San Miguel, Tuborg & Thatchers Gold Cider All at £2.90 per pint The Best Sunday Roast in Chorlton The Nook’s legendary roast Every Sunday from 2.00pm til 7.00pm
(search for) The Nook
• Great selection of Coffee and loose leaf Teas • Traditional kosher Bagels (supplied by family run bakers in Prestwich) • Delicious homemade soups and stews • Cakes of the highest quality • A simple yet excellent selection of fine wines and world beers • Good music (DJs and live music every weekend) • Nice people If you are passionate about the finer things in life (without the extortionate prices) like we are, then come and join us at The Spoon Inn - the latest addition to Chorlton’s Barlow Moor Road parade (opposite the Bus station). Open morning till night to accommodate an array of Chorlton residents in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. 364 Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton, Mcr, M21 8az, 0161 881 2400 PAGE 11.
Foraging. Eats Shoots And Leaves. Samuel Buckley.
When October comes around we are instinctively reminded of the cold to come. The impending dark, the frosty claws that once again wrap around our fickle social lives. Despair not, because amidst this harsh realisation lies a heart-warming distraction: the coming of mushroom season. Buried amongst the mosses and grasses of our parks, submerged between the brambles and thickets of our hedgerows, there is a vast array of fungi. I have been keen to forage for the last few years. I downloaded a few apps on mushrooms. I made a few country wines and ate some wild garlic shoots but it’s a minefield out there. Nature is vast. I’ve just spent a year living in the Lake District and have returned to the city pertaining to be Lord Baden Powell himself. Nothing could be further from the truth. I still borrow my girlfriend’s tent and sleeping bag for festivals, under duress of actually having to camp, and I think the wine I brewed may induce blindness. I gave a bottle to a friend for his birthday. I’m still waiting for the results. So I decided to look up someone with a little more experience. I came across a chap named Jesper Launder, a medical herbalist and wild food expert. Jesper has clinics in Didsbury, Bolton, Manchester and also runs foraging courses around the north. I joined a course he was running with Chorlton’s Kagyu Ling Buddhist centre. Arriving late with blurred eyes and a swollen belly from last night’s curry, I sheepishly met the rest of the group with whom I would share this experience. The day was designed primarily to give an induction into the identification of edible wild plants and mushrooms, and to impart advice on the harvest of wild foods. So off we headed, swinging wicker baskets into the thick, lowpressured autumn winds. We stopped by a Linden tree. “The flowers and pseudo leaves make a relaxing brew,” Jesper told us. But this was a “dog zone”. Stop, smell, taste? The braver amongst us chanced a bite and displayed a pleasant countenance. Dig in, I thought. Be brave, you can redeem yourself for your thoughtless tardiness. Throughout the day we identified and foraged several berries, seeds, herbs and roots, but despite our vast array of goodies we were lacking in mushrooms so we headed to Mary Louise Gardens, somewhere Jesper was confident we’d find the mushrooms we’d set out for. Mary Louise turned out to be a fairly modest gold mine. There, we forked off onto the grass in an untidy comb-like formation. Every now and then, upon hearing a cry of glee we would all scurry to the source of delight to see what had been discovered and Jesper would stand in the middle of us, carefully brushing debris from the fungus in question, to give us the vital information of that species. Names; characteristics; what would happen to us upon consumption. We returned with no less than nine varieties of edible mushroom to mix into tasty dishes; all leaving with full bags, a deep feeling of accomplishment and with a glimpse of an ideal – that life can be as fruitful as the trees and shrubs around us, providing you’re willing to look and dig in.
Hawthorn Berry Ketchup. This is a favourite of Jesper’s, which I tried out as soon as I got home. Try it as a substitute for Tommy K or even with cheese and biscuits. Its tangy sweet flavour will have you laughing in the face of Heinz. 50g hawthorn berries 100ml cider vinegar 100ml water 80g sugar Add the berries, vinegar and water to a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Poke the berries with a wooden spoon and when soft (about 10 minutes), take off the heat. Once cooled, sieve the pulp through a fine mesh leaving behind the skins and seeds. This is an arduous process but worth it for the end result. Add the sugar to the pulp and put back on the heat for a further five minutes. Pass again, cool and store in the fridge in a sterilised bottle.
Further reading: ‘Wild Food’ & ‘Mushrooms of Britain and Europe’, by Roger Phillips. Kagyu Ling: dechen.org/manchester To book a fruitful day on one of Jesper’s many courses, visit: jesperlaunder.com
Mushroom & Nutmeg Filo Wraps with Lemon Dill Spheres & Blueberry Puree. Serves 4.
250g fresh blueberries Juice of one lemon Pinch of salt 2g Xanthan gum
700g mixed wild mushrooms 3 cloves garlic 4 shallots Tablespoon fresh chopped oregano Zest and juice of one lemon Half a glass of white wine 50g butter, plus a little for frying One and a half whole nutmeg, freshly grated 8 sheets fresh filo pastry
Blend blueberries, lemon juice, and a small pinch of salt in a tall container with a hand blender until smooth. Pass this mixture through a sieve. Now blend in the Xanthan gum and pour into a squeezy bottle, reserve in the fridge until ready to use. Lemon Dill Spheres:
First fry the shallots and garlic with a tablespoon of butter and a little olive oil for about a minute. Add the chopped mushrooms to the hot pan to fry for a couple of minutes before pouring in the wine for the last minute of cooking. Drain the liquid and transfer them to a bowl. Now add 50g butter, oregano, lemon zest and juice and nutmeg into the bowl and mix together well.
Juice of one lemon 50ml white wine (dry) A good handful of fresh dill, chopped 300ml single cream Seasoning (salt and coarse black pepper)
Place half the mushroom mix in a blender and blitz to a rough mix then roughly chop the left over mushrooms before recombining them together with the blended mix. Add salt and pepper to taste and a touch more butter if necessary to hold the mix together. Chill the mixture for a couple of hours in the fridge before using. It should be a moldable consistency.
Add the cream and chopped dill and bring to a gentle simmer for a couple more minutes to thicken the sauce a little. Season to taste.
Now cut several sheets of fresh filo pastry to 20cm squares. For each filo package brush one sheet lightly with melted butter then place another sheet on top of the first and again gently brush this with a little melted butter. Take a generous tablespoon of the mushroom mixture and shape it into a ball and place this in the centre of the double-layered filo square. Then lift up the corners of the square and bring them together above the mushroom mix, pinching in any loose pastry at the top. Twist the bundle to make a small closed package. Brush the outside of these little filo pastry bundles with a touch more melted butter and now these can either be cooked straight away or reserved in the fridge. To cook, place the parcels on a baking tray on the middle shelf of the oven at 220C for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
Heat the lemon juice and white wine in a pan until boiling, then simmer and reduce for two to three minutes.
Putting it together – Place one of the filo packages in the centre of the plate with circles of the blueberry puree around it. Drizzle the lemon sauce to your heart’s content over and around the filo parcels and serve quickly. By Eddie Shepherd, The Eighth Day Café. Eddie is also a freelance vegetarian chef specializing in modernist cuisine. For more recipes check out vegiechef.co.uk. His new ebook ‘Modernist Vegetarian’ is now available. Matching Ale: This month’s matching ale is ‘White’. Created by The Outstanding Brewing Co. A cloudy wheat beer with earthy, spicy, citrus flavours. 5.0%.
out of the blue Specialists in sustainable line caught fish fine game and free range poultry | shellfish sashimi grade fish | sushi 484 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 9AS Tel. 0161 881 8353 Email. email@example.com
Sweet Tooth Cupcakery Manchester’s original award winning artisan cupcake bakery. Gluten free and vegan cupcakes, loaves, tray bakes, layer cakes, cookies and daily specials all freshly baked.
9a Oswald Road, Chorlton M21 9LP t: 07855 765355 w: sweettoothcupcakery.co.uk
One of the finest continental bakeries in the UK. Established over 40 years ago, current owners Stefan and Joanna Najduch have spent the last 22 years making Barbakan the success it is today. Barbakan has its roots in Eastern Europe and it was named after the historic city of Krakow, Poland. Barbakan is famous for its wide range of continental breads freshly baked on the premises each day by highly skilled Master Bakers devoted to their craft. The bakery produces over 15,000 loaves of bread a week and supplies restaurants, sandwich shops, café bars and hotels, as well as its own award winning delicatessen in front of the bakery! For the last 40 years, Barbakan has been supplying hand crafted speciality breads to customers throughout the Manchester area.
www.barbakan-deli.co.uk 67-71 Manchester Rd, Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester, M21 9PW • Telephone: 0161 881 7053 PAGE 15.
WORDLIFE. COLLATED BY #FLASHTAGMCR.
Appropriating the hashtag symbol since 2011, #Flashtag are five award-winning bloggers and writers from Manchester who champion the very quick and the very short; flash fictions which stab, nip, tease, and surprise, which aim to leave you wondering what your eyes were doing while you weren’t looking. Regulars now on the South Manchester festival circuit, this cotton city weaved us together through a shared enthusiasm for collaboration and progressive writing. We present here five of our own pieces, brief dips into our variously murky minds, but we thrive more on the words of others, and Manchester is full to bursting with intriguing and thrilling others. It is true that our two flash fiction competitions and our printed anthology Quickies: Short Stories for Adults have featured the great and the good from beyond this city, but it is Manchester that anchors the whole endeavour into place, making it a town worth diving deep into in the search for hidden word treasure. In October, on the 13th day of that chilly month, two of our team will be making a brief foray upwards to Lancaster to take part in Litfest 2012, but for now this altogether rainier city provides plenty of inspiration to keep us going. See below for more.
#Flashtag are: Sarah-Clare Conlon wordsandfixtures.blogspot.com @wordsnfixtures
SUCH A NATURAL. Mr Green puts the green in greengrocer. His juicy Coxes loll in wicker baskets; his dirty carrots nestle in wooden boxes. “Nothing wrong with a bit of muck,” he says so often his wife repeats it in her sleep. Still, she will admit they’ve not been able to keep the tweedy types away since branching out into seasonal, organic and local. “No airmiles here, eh Mrs Green?” he informs them, via her, at least twice a day. No funny carpet tile patches of fake grass, either. No tacky plastic frames with interchangeable digits. No orange and lime starbursts. Mr Green’s displays are pared down, and he’s particularly proud of the slate plant markers he daubs prices onto with special chalk. All it takes is a damp cloth and a cocked eyebrow for Mrs Green to wipe away the rogue apostrophes. It wouldn’t do for the Guardian readers to spot them.
SARAH-CLARE CONLON. Originally published (as Natural) in the Jawbreakers anthology. nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/anthology.html
Tom Mason 330words.wordpress.com @totmac Benjamin Judge benjaminjudge.com @benjaminjudge David Hartley abarrelroll.blogspot.com @lonlonranch Fat Roland fatroland.com @fatroland flashtagmcr.wordpress.com @Flashtagmcr
THE HAUNTER. You get to choose where to haunt so I pick your parents place, these fizzling fingers primed for revenge, my wisping arms supercharged with poltergeist powers. I envisage myself appearing in the bathroom mirror; a fleeting glimpse of my bloodied snarl as your mother takes one of her stubbornly long showers. I’m going to flick your dad’s tools on at midnight, let the drill drop square into his dog’s head, pin the carcass to the door of his precious workhouse, spin the hands on the clock as he weeps for forgiveness. I will be satellite interference on the Adult Channel, an unseen mouse fraying router wires, ecto-fluff clogging sinks and drains, cracks in crockery cutting lips, slicing toes. But I arrive to discover that at some point during those three distant years they had quietly and quickly moved house. Now, I’m stuck with a lovely old couple from Burnley who collect cat ornaments. I catch the things they drop and do nothing more.
Originally published with Lancashire Writing Hub. lancashirewritinghub.co.uk/2012/05/flash-fiction-daycompetition-winner/
CUPID AND THE STRING.
Hunched in the corner of the room, his bony ribs scrape against his legs; sticks which fold awkwardly into grooves across his chest. He is a thin man. His grey skin stretches taunt across his bones, too small for his delicate frame. Straining at the corners.
He’s really, like, dark.
But for the frenzied darting of his jaundice pupils, Cupid is completely still. His eyes roll around in their sockets, flinging themselves across the derelict room. Before him, countless pieces of string stretch across the hall. The threads snake across the landscape, weaving in and around each other; a thick mesh of grey destinies which smothers the splintered, wooden floor and cobwebs up into the dark air. Cupid has come to a decision. His pupils dilate and he snaps his head up from his chest. The laboured breathing which crawls out from under his brown, chapped lips begins to quicken and, slowly, ever so slowly, he begins to uncurl his delicate frame. A thin, toothless smile crawls across his scabbed face. He reaches for the pair of rusty scissors swaying from the leather belt across his waist and prepares to go to work.
Hedgerow took a long pull on the spliff, clutched his throat then hacked out a cough that was more musical than Mr Kevin expected. Do you require a glass of water? Like, I’m just saying, he’s really kinda dark. Like, deep. Two-toke pass, yeah? Mr Kevin brushed at the dots of fluff that had speckled his trousers from sitting on the tie-dye couch. In his other hand was a leather book thick with tatty receipts. I’m just interested in the four months’ rent. He’ll sort you out, man, when he gets back. I’m just saying he’s, like— Dark, yes, we’ve established that several times. A curt laugh from Mr Kevin then in its reverb, the sound of Hedgerow blowing the air grey. A latch rattled. The apartment door fell away from its frame as a black hole ripped through the rooms. A cutlery draw rocketed into its abyss. Wood cracked into splinters. The black hole consumed.
A silence with walls.
Originally published on 330 Words. 330words.wordpress.com
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Benjamin Zephaniah. Dub Poet Talks To Now Then. Interview by Sam Walby & Joe Kriss.
Benjamin Zephaniah is an internationally renowned poet, novelist, playwright, musician, actor and public speaker. Born in Handsworth, Birmingham, the young Zephaniah fell in with the wrong crowd and was in trouble with the law on a number of occasions, before leaving his life behind and moving to London in the early 80s in pursuit of his dream of becoming a professional poet. He was to become instrumental in the popularisation of performance poetry in the UK, eventually being categorised as a “dub poet” due to the strong links between his writing and the rhythms of reggae music. Since then he has written five albums, various plays and youth novels, made film appearances and presented radio shows, all the while remaining an outspoken yet humble supporter of many good causes, both at home and abroad. We caught up with Benjamin ahead of his appearance at Off The Shelf 2012 to talk about curating youth events, breaking down the barriers between audience and performer, and Jamaican independence. You’re curating three youth events as part of Off The Shelf this year. How did you find the poets and what are you hoping to achieve with the events? First of all, I have to say that asking me to curate was a good plan, because if they’d said, “Just come along, do something and then go home,” I probably wouldn’t have done it. What I’ve always wanted to do is give people a voice. I’ve always tried to give people a voice that don’t normally have a voice; get people on stage who don’t normally get on stage; get people to listen to other people who they wouldn’t normally listen to. So I’m working with young people; probably poetry is not their first priority in life, probably they’ve had a bit of a rough deal in life. They certainly would never be listened to by adults. To source those people, we talked to social workers, probation officers, people who work with young people, and asked who they thought would be up for it. With the Poetry Party [for 7-11 year olds], we sent out a message to some schools and I think that was very quickly oversubscribed, so no problem there. I’m a professor of poetry and creative writing at Brunel University, so for the Benjamin Zephaniah and Friends up-and-coming poets event, I thought right, I’ve got a poet that’s graduated from there that’s trying to make his way on the spoken word scene, and another woman who’s a student, who’s done a little bit of performing but mainly on protest marches and things like that. She’s a strong Muslim woman, so I thought if we could let her have a voice, with an audience like this, it would be good. With the Poetry Party in particular, it’s about giving kids a positive first experience of poetry, isn’t it? The reason why I call it a Poetry Party is that, as much as possible, although we’re in a theatre for this one, we try and get a party atmosphere. So it’s like going to a party for the kids, but instead of having music, we have poetry. We make our own music with our own words. It’s a very simple concept but kids love it. They don’t have to get up and perform – some just sit back and enjoy it. You PAGE 20.
know, not everybody goes to a party and dances – some hang out in the kitchen. Do you think performance poetry is more inclusive than the more traditional poetry establishment? If I thought so, I’d say yes, but actually I know so – absolutely know so. A man said to me the other day – I was in Hull – he said, “I don’t understand it. I’m a white, heterosexual, middle aged male, born in this country and living here all my life. I can’t seem to get any gigs any poetry readings.” I told him, “With all due respect, we’ve been listening to you for years.” Now is the time for all the marginalised groups to come up – immigrants, lesbians, gays, people who have been outsiders – for them to have a say. Of course there are straight white men in there, but you’ve got to come with something new to say to the world. You’ve spoken in the past of your dream of establishing a healthy performance poetry scene in the UK. How far do you think this has been achieved? I’m going to start sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet here, but I think we have done really well. I can remember when there was no performance poetry scene here. People like me and Linton Kwesi Johnson encouraged people to hold nights. I can remember hiring halls, and people saying, “A poetry reading? This is the middle of Brixton. It’s 1984, there are riots all over the place and you want to hold a poetry reading?” And we packed it out, and proved that we could do it. We wanted to create a scene where it’s just normal for people to go out and listen to poetry, and nowadays a boy and a girl can go out on a date and listen to poetry. That would’ve been crazy back then. It’s to do with breaking down the barriers between performer and audience, isn’t it? Making it like a conversation between friends. That really is it. I know that when I’m on stage, there are people in the audience that are more educated and well read than me. What have I done to deserve to be up there? I just happen to be able to tell my story in a particular way, but I don’t want a barrier of “me and them”. In Pakistan and in other parts of Asia they have a thing called mushaira. It’s a poetry performance, but as you’re performing they ask you to do that line again, do that verse again, or somebody in the audience will say, “I’ve got a poem like that, do you want to hear it?” and they stand up and do it. I’ve done that in England. When you’ve got no fancy stuff – no guitars, no computers, nothing – the only thing that makes you different is that the lights are turned on you, and you can just as easily turn the lights on them too. What would you say was the turning point in your career? I’d like to go back a bit and talk about a turning point in my life. I was living in Birmingham. I remember the night exactly. I went to bed, and there was a guy at my door with a gun protecting me. I was sleeping with a gun underneath my pillow. There was some gang that wanted us and we were after them. I’d not long had a friend that was shot and another that was doing a life sentence. I woke the next morning and said, “I’m not doing this anymore.” When I think about it, where was I actually going? I just drove to London. I didn’t have anybody, but I just knew I had to get out of that scene. So that was the real turning point in my life.
called the NME Racket Packet, and it was new and up-and-coming artists. They did a gig that went with it, and they offered me a fee of £70. I thought, “£70! I’ve arrived!” Do you think the humour in your poetry makes it more memorable? I think the mixture of rhyme and humour, if you’re putting a serious political message over... at a grassroots level it’s a way people remember things, it’s a way people think about things. My poem ‘Macho Man’ has people laughing their heads off, but at the same time it’s showing up the macho men. Sometimes I can see girlfriends looking at their boyfriends and saying, “That’s you, that is!” The amount of people who’ve told me that they remember that poem – they can’t remember the exact words but they remember the gist – it just sparks conversations and debates, and I love that. It’s what I want to do. Do you have any advice for poets who want to perform and get published? First of all, in terms of your writing, be honest. Don’t go with fads and fashions because they fade, and if you’re known for being attached to one trend, when that trend’s gone you can’t complain. The world doesn’t owe you a living. In terms of getting published, I would say start with performing if you can. Just go to an open mic night and do a poem. If it doesn’t go down well, you will know why, because you can see and feel why. Maybe it needs tweaking or you need to do something else, but the audience’s response is immediate. It’s not like giving a poem to a publisher and waiting for weeks for them to reply and say, “It didn’t quite work for me.” Once you’ve got a bit of clout on stage, as long as you can think about writing for the page in a different way, you can do it. You were recently featured on a few radio shows talking about the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence. What did this mean to you as a milestone? I’ve been asked a load of things about Jamaican independence and I keep saying the same thing – Jamaica has never been truly independent in my view. The highest court in Jamaica is actually the Privy Council, which is in London, and the head of state is the Queen. It is a milestone in the sense that the weight of the colonial masters is taken off Jamaica, in a very real and physical sense, but one of the major problems is with corruption that starts at the top. I remember being in a Jamaican school, and saying to the kids, “Don’t forget education is really important”. And this little kid got up and said, “Sir, I don’t want to disrespect you, but you must understand that in our country, the most educated people are the most corrupt.” I had to look him in the eye and say, “I completely agree with you, but the reason why you’ve got to get an education is that you’ve got to show us a different way.” benjaminzephaniah.com
I suppose in terms of poetry, I remember when I started, I’d get £5 a gig, sometimes £10. And I remember NME released a cassette PAGE 21.
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Jonny Wan. Digital illustration done justice. Interview by Matt Jones.
It’s not often that I look at advertising to be blown away by the art on them. Jonny Wan has the uncertain acheivement of being the best art I’ve seen on an advertising banner in Sheffield. Immaculate vector work, a name to watch for – real illustrative talent. A Sheffield lad now based in Manchester, we spoke to Jonny about his inspirations, working processes and current projects.
What got you started as an artist? Tracing it back to the very beginning, it was my fascination for the cartoons I watched, the comic books I read and the video games I played growing up throughout the mid-late 90s. These three things provided my greatest exposure to visual culture growing up and I still enjoy looking back at these things today. I think what captivated me the most was the imaginative and more often than not abstract worlds these things created for me. This eventually led to me picking up a pencil and start copying my favourite characters, re-imagining them in my own world with different storylines and backgrounds. I also loved to create my own little worlds where characters I loved from TV would battle it out with characters I loved from video games. Can you describe the process of starting a new piece? The process is always the same and pretty simple. I will rough out sketches then bring them onto my computer to finalise. The only difference is whether the work is for a client or for a personal project. For a client there is usually a commissioning process with a formal structure, deadlines and contracts. I will have to spend a bit of time talking through the ideas with whoever I’m working with and there will most likely be a couple of rounds of amendments and changes as the project progresses. Personal projects can take a lot longer to conceive and realise, but can also be the most fulfilling. It’s also the time to experiment and really push your work forward and expand your creative practice. Through my own experience, it’s the personal stuff that drives the commercial stuff. It’s very easy for an illustrator to become known for something and people will commission you to produce that same thing with a slight variation over and over again. That’s fair enough and will pay the bills, but I felt it was sapping my creativity and after a while it became dull. Even with my own work now, I’m pushing character design and straying away from pattern and embellished illustration to keep things moving forward. What are you working on at the moment? I have just finished a set of weekly editorial illustrations for the Financial Times and have just seen some glove designs launch recently, so a lot of projects are coming into fruition. This leaves me some time to delve back into some personal projects I have been meaning to start and I’ll also be looking to push my typography work. I’m also looking to branch out from illustration and explore other areas of creativity through graphic design and photography, looking for ways to incorporate that into what I already do.
Which of your most recent pieces have you enjoyed making the most? I really enjoyed the editorial pieces for the FT. I love editorial work in general because of its tight turnovers and the variety of topics you get challenged to illustrate. Editorial is not often the best paid and probably won’t put your name in lights like an advertising campaign would, but it allows you a lot of freedom to experiment and is often considered the bread and butter for most illustrators. The deadlines can be punishing, with the copy coming through at the end of the day and the finals due for the next morning, so it can really push an illustrator, but for me it’s that kind of pressure that gets me working at my best. How has your art changed over the years? I think my work has evolved dramatically over the years and hopefully will continue to do so. At university all my work was hand drawn with very minimal colour. It was only after graduating that I started to teach myself to work digitally. I think the more techniques you experiment with, the more that will inform how you create images and in turn your work will evolve. Personally I feel I’m still trying to find my voice illustratively and there are still some aspects of my style that need tweaking. I am happy with my work at the moment, but I’m always looking forward to what else I can bring into the mix. Recently I have had the chance to see my work applied to products like vinyl toys, engraved phone covers, book jackets and apparel which adds a 3D element to my work. The thought of my work going from something flat into something that’s tactile really excites me, so I’m currently trying to find other avenues to make my work stand out in that way. Who or what are your biggest sources of inspiration? I turn to things gone by for inspiration. I love looking at ancient art from a variety of cultures and take a lot of influence from the way character forms are constructed and how patterns are implemented. In terms of designers and illustrators, people like Abram Games and Charley Harper spring to mind. I find these guys amazing because of the level of craft involved in their work. This was before the time of computers, the creative suite and the elliptical tool. These guys were planning out their designs using compasses, set squares and rulers, and their work is still an inspiration today. Geometry and symmetry seem to play a large part in your work. Are they actively part of the process, or do they come naturally, so to speak? The strong lines, geometry and symmetry that appear in my work are just a reflection of the creative aesthetic that excites me. For example, I prefer the angular, almost cubist style cartoons like Dexter’s Lab and Samurai Jack over something like He-Man, in which all the characters are more or less anatomically correct. The same thing can be applied to most of the things that I find interesting in art and design, like Cubism and Art Deco. I love looking at these movements for inspiration and I’m sure somehow subconsciously they find a way into my work. Good advice you wish you’d been told earlier? Learn the business side of art, like setting up as a sole trader, registering as self employed, getting an accountant and so on. Try and stay away from trends. Create work that has longevity rather than something that’s seasonal and fleeting. jonnywan.com
sound. On being a Southerner up North. Louis Barabbas. I am one of this region’s countless creative immigrants. The North has shaped my character all the more for my not being a native. I was born in Portsmouth. I will always be an irredeemable Southerner to the majority but it matters not a whit so long as I refuse to value acceptance for its own sake. I understand only too well that the cultural signposts in my little scrap of the nation’s collective memory are laid out differently to those around me. I grew up next to the sea but don’t feel as though I was especially shaped by it, only reminded of a persistent elsewhere that might lie beyond. It wasn’t until I was nearly twenty that I found the somewhere that I really wanted to be from. As in the case of so many others, the somewhere was Manchester. After all, for good or ill, it is one of the world’s foremost cultural engines – nowhere is sheltered from that kind of soot. I estimate that around half of the people I deal with on a day-to-day basis are émigrés like me. But we have not come together as outsiders – we are decidedly not Other – but rather a species of anchored nomad found in all major cities. The lure is often a morbid one though. For me it was the orphaned rays of a long dead star that drew me in, longing as I did to be ensnared in the orbit of a particular music scene that had burned out a decade earlier. But that was then. I no longer wish to worship – I now wish to work. And this is where the trouble begins. For I am smitten with a common desire for my creative output to transcend place. No environment, no matter how radical its artistic population, can sustain a singular undefiled creative identity beyond one generation. Over the years Manchester has welcomed all manner of influence, from Irish folk to New York dance culture, it has always straddled the Now with one foot in the past and the other in an imagined (even idealised) future. Sometimes, however, one glimpses an aggressive conservatism taking hold of this cultural legacy, an impulse to either build walls around past triumphs or, worse still, fashion that past into a cruel apparatus with which to define the present. It is perhaps inevitable that Manchester, after exerting such sway over the British popular music landscape (and pretty much dictating the rule book for a certain kind of independent record label) would go on to inspire more derision than admiration from the rest of the UK in the years following Brit-Pop. Tony Wilson famously said: “This is Manchester, we do things differently here,” but after a while it seemed very much like Manchester was actually just chasing its tail, the dubious mantra ‘the next Stone Roses’ being a kiss of death to any hotly-tipped new band that drew too much attention to itself. But, as Bob Lefsetz once said: “The day you become mainstream is the day you die.” One cannot appraise the fertility of a creative ecosystem by scrutinising the flatulent guzzlings and affected bitterness of a pampered glitterati, regardless of the dignity of their humble roots. Since moving to the North I have met some of the people that contributed to the songs that inspired me to leave the South, but in doing so I came no closer to the magic (the opposite in fact). What I have found, however, is a jazz scene, a folk scene, a blues scene, a poetry scene, and endless experimentation and collaboration. I became aware of small overlapping communities of artists working together with relatively no ego. This is what happens when thousands of people make the same pilgrimage and all discover the same peculiar disappointment – they start to build something meaningful of their own. That is also the mark of a great city; it allows its inhabitants to continually reinvent their surroundings without destroying or devaluing what went before. I suspect I am now getting ready to leave Manchester. Though my departure is currently more suspicion than intention, there is a certain whiff of inevitability hanging about my thoughts. I think it has changed me enough; I am now ready to spend some time with a town that is a little less assertive. There is, however, one thing of which I am certain: When I go, I will go from Manchester and when I reach my destination I will say that I have come from Manchester. Louis Barabbas is a writer, musician and creative director of Debt Records. He also occupies a place on the board of Un-Convention and is a mentor with Brighter Sound, two organisations that work to support the creative, entrepreneurial and professional development of emerging and established artists. PAGE 33.
live. NOTHIN’ BUT ABATTOIR BLUES FESTIVAL.
8TH SEPTEMBER. GULLIVERS & THE CASTLE HOTEL.
9TH SEPTEMBER. ROADHOUSE.
REVIEWER – IAN PENNINGTON.
REVIEWER – DENIS JONES.
You wouldn’t count a rare sunny day this summer as a time to sing the blues unless paraphrasing Leroy Carr to ask How Long such temperature will remain in this city. Not that the two groups responsible for this day-long co-promotion, Nothin’ But Blues and Abattoir Blues, can be blamed for synchronising with sunshine. Fusing powers can go either way and the blues is a volatile genre by definition but, in this case, two heads are better than one.
In a time when music and the arts industries are searching for something unique to define themselves and stand out in an open source environment, Manchester-based promoters and event organisers Norvun Devolution have been quietly and confidently opening up the Roadhouse on the second Sunday of every month for the last eight years. They display and open up the sometimes closed and mysterious nature of Manchester’s broad, interwoven and exceptionally creative community with an aim of instigating and presenting new collaborative work from the vast array of artists and bands. Few nights can boast a free event at which the audience will be able to see some of Manchester’s busiest bodies, no longer becoming a bystander expected to just observe and applaud where required. Norvun Devolution and its team create a setting with multiple projectors, chess, origami, live music, graffiti, and a soundtrack selected from some of the best vinyl collections and their custodians, and best of all: free crumpets.
The blues comes in many shapes and sizes as is reflected in a diverse line-up with Gullivers taking on the more raucous, angry electric blues, while The Castle Hotel welcomes the more Delta-inspired duos such as The Bourbon Words and Rag N Bone. My Red Balloon, named after the tattoo on his forearm, opts for percussive guitar rhythms with a math rock dexterity on the strings with pull offs and palm mutes. There are folky ballads from Will Jeffery and Happy Soul, with the latter’s vocal tone evocative of the nasal Liz Green or Hatstand Medicine Band’s Black Jack Barnet, and TG Elias also ticks the easy listening box but with a sound closer to Rod Stewart. Some seem to only loosely fit the blues tag. Black Fiction lean towards post-punk, owing largely to the Curtis-esque baritone, and Cactus Knife recall slow burning psychedelic shoegaze of Sol Seppy, with one song making use of the riff from Brian Jonestown Massacre’s ‘Wisdom’. The Family Wolves are also more psyche than blues, but a family shorn of half its pack for this show elucidates the roots and rhythm of an often densely layered musical behemoth, although at times they’re just as room-filling as with the full quota of six. During quieter points you notice the roaring fans, by which I mean coolant devices and not avid groupies, although that’s not to say there isn’t a fair audience for their set. It wouldn’t be a full spectrum without grizzly blues rock distortion, which Euchrid Eucrow, Death Vignettes and Hopper Propelled Electric all provide, touching on ground trodden by The Black Keys and The Von Bondies. But the amplified benchmark is set by Rik Warren’s display of electric blues minimalism, manufacturing crunching grooves with the fewest of notes and giving repetition a good name. His new project with David Schlechtriemen, aka The Pickpocket Network and also of Driver Drive Faster and Honeyfeet, is named Walk but Stomp might be more apt given the similarity to Junior Kimbrough’s persistent riffs. The kick with Walk is the evolution to sequencer blues; leaving electric blues in the past by warping their sonic creations with 21st century electronic gadgetry. As Cactus Knife had earlier peddled their new music video and its professional sheen, singer Bobby backtracked by saying, “not that anyone’s arsed about professionalism in here, are they?” Probably not, because it’s that raw grit of the live show that makes the blues what it is – and this festival captures it in abundance.
Aside from the difficulty I have trying to explain an event which has so many facets, I also have the difficult prospect of reviewing it through my eyes as one of the performers at the latest instalment. After four days recording in 80 Hertz studio (one of Manchester’s hidden gems situated at the sharp project in the north of the city) at the beginning of the week, myself and The Pickpocket Network (David Schlechtriemen) were well practised if a little tired to give an interpretation of the new tracks I will be releasing in the new year. Without a blow-by-blow analysis of the performance and its technological intricacies I feel all I have left to talk of is our highlights as the performers. Ironically it was not the new album material that stood out from our point of view. Once the set was over there seemed to be time and energy for one more track with support from the origami-folding audience members. So, tentatively we began to improvise to create a track that was new to our ears, and in some ways inspired by the efforts of all in the Devolution team and their hard work. Sometimes improvisation can be fleeting in its consistency and tedious to say the least, as musicians attempt to capture something spellbinding that will never be repeated. In this case, as performers, we were glad to know that Norvun Devolution records, films and edits performances from each month so you will be able to see and hear our ramblings as well as videos from previous events at norvundevolution.com. For this we doff our caps to all those at Norvun as you, the reader, will be able to witness something which would normally be restricted to the few who were there to see it unravel. Personally I look forward to listening to this particular moment again as I have the inclination that it will be developed and moulded into an additional track for the next album. Here’s to Devo!
MANCHESTER SCENEWIPE. SPOTLIGHT.
It’s rare to find a band that creates for the sake of creating, who recoil from glory – however tempting, never resting on their laurels, always seeking to better themselves. And just when they’re about to pat themselves on the back, they tear up the painting and start again. Frustrating, painful, even pointless as this may sound, it’s the only way to find true art within creativity.
WHY? 10TH October / Central Methodist Church / £15 adv.
This lifelong search is exactly the burden that Adam Carless of Manchester’s dreamy, addictive, noise-pop experimenters Weird Era carries on his shoulders and probably the reason that most people outside of the closeknit music community of the city won’t have come across them yet.
WHY? are a unique and indefinable force in the world of American indie music. Led by front-man Yoni Wolf, WHY? effortlessly fuse folk and hip hop with the most intelligent, painfully honest, astoundingly original lyrics you are ever going to hear.
Oneohtrix Point Never. 13TH October / Islington Mill / £10 adv.
Along with drummer and co-founder Luke Chase, Carless’ output to date has been staggering; releasing two albums a year since their conception, as well as numerous B-side collections and demos, not to mention the 300+ unreleased tracks stockpiled by Carless since the age of 16, Weird Era are a band that demand and deserve die-hard loyalty.
The Fat Out Till You Pass Out promotion team capture another forwardthinking sonic gem for Salford’s Islington Mill. Expect mind-warping whirls of electronica.
A Carefully Planned Festival #2. 20TH-21ST October / Various Venues / £12.50 adv.
Sprawling across venues The Castle, Gullivers, Kraak, Nexus, Soup Kitchen and 2022NQ, the second instalment of the Carefully Planned Festival sees over 100 underground and emerging artists take to Manchester’s most intimate venues in this thoughtfully curated, beautifully executed event.
Ghost Outfit. Waste. SWAYS Records.
Mind On Fire 8th Birthday Party. 26TH October / Kraak Gallery / Free.
Manchester’s indie-noise two-piece Ghost Outfit return from exile bigger and better than ever with new track ‘Waste’ taken from their long anticipated debut album, due out on Salford’s SWAYS Records. FREE Download. ghostoutfit.bandcamp.com
Words by Sam Alder.
When a promoter, band, record label and DJing behemoth as prominent as Mind On Fire becomes about as old as the average adult shoe size then you know it’s time to celebrate. Ten DJs reminisce and look forward to the next eight years, with visuals by EMN.
The Walkmen. 30TH October / The Ritz / £15 adv. Touring their seventh album, Heaven, New York five-piece The Walkmen bring their explosive live show to UK shores for the first time in nearly two years. Intimate lyrics and ambitious musicality make this show a must see for music fans across the board.
Death Grips. 6TH November / Sound Control / £11 adv. Sacramento’s Death Grips are a trio of wildly unpredictable musicians. Crassly branded as rap-rock, they surpass any journo’s need to pigeonhole. Their sound is aggressive, confrontational, noisy and savage but with an undeniably addictive quality that provokes thought and intrigue.
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Time Flies. Crowfoot Records.
Shields. Warp Records.
Reviewer – Ian Pennington.
Reviewer – Tasha Franek.
Dbh – the initials of Dan Bridgwood-Hill – is a guitarist whose experience of Manchester’s diverse live music scenes has enriched and unfenced his playing style. Post-rockers NASDAQ, FTSE 100 and Burnst don’t conjure the same subtle intricacies as the majority of this record, which is due to be released via vinyl and accompanying mp3s. Closer reference points from Bridgwood-Hill’s other projects and collaborations might be the ambient folk of Emphemetry or TG Elias’s acoustic numbers.
Any band recommended by Radiohead is worth a listen in my book, so in 2008 when Jonny Greenwood mentioned Grizzly Bear as his favourite band, my love affair with the psychedelic pop group began.
Indeed, opening track ‘Side Street Side’ is a finger picked scene setter that develops into a gentler offspring of The Rolling Stones’ classic ‘No Expectations’. You could argue straight away that it is therefore kitsch and unworthy to be referencing such a popular song, but as the fish featured pouter himself Mick Jagger would no doubt attest under oath, modern popular music has been borrowing riffs since before he was born, so that’s not as slanderous as it may seem. It’s how you progress the sound that matters most. While that introduction and other ditties such as ‘Twelve’ (which is as chipper as Mumford & Sons in its slides and cheery twangs, but without the same queasily saccharine sing-alongs) indicate an upbeat, jovial mood, there are other psychedelic or acid folk leanings such as the miasmic torpor of the echo chamber on ‘Daytime Climber’. That is continued into the piano jangle on ‘Climb And Descend’, which begins by recalling Thom Yorke in his Amnesiac mindset before the onset of lusciously layered electric guitars and orchestral strings illuminates a path towards A Ghost Is Born era Wilco. It’s that angle on folk music of the sort that, if it is folk, then it’s a folk that nudges into avant-garde territory trodden, cultivated and inhabited by the likes of American musical freethinkers Devendra Banhart and JOMF. With no lyrics to hide his music behind, dbh’s instrumental pieces are forced to speak and breathe for themselves; sometimes gasping for that breath amid the clutter of coalescing instruments and occasionally looking over their shoulder as with the eerily well titled ‘Ghost Dance’, but largely sighing an easing lullaby as might be the case with Jack Rose, Voice Of The Seven Woods or James Blackshaw. And when the points of reference are as strong as those, there is no need to worry about sounding like anything preceding you.
A good few years into their success, the Brooklyn-bred boys already had a fantastic collection of material as they toured with Radiohead and began to really make a name for themselves at a selection of US festivals. Still going strong as a touring band in 2012, the release of their fourth studio album Shields has been the words on everybody’s lips, and now that it’s finally here it feels a little bit like Christmas has come three months early. When a band releases something as strong and loveable as Grizzly Bear’s previous album Veckatimest, there is undoubtedly a great deal of pressure on them for their next move. On first listen, I wasn’t blown away by Shields, but I wasn’t disappointed either, so I listened again and again. Each time it played through, I fell a little more in love with each track until I came to the decision that they have once again managed to create a masterpiece. A natural progression in musical maturity from the previous albums, Shields ties together all of the genres which have been thrown into the band over the years. Perhaps it’s the four-year relationship making me ever-so-slightly biased, but there is something incredibly compelling which told me I’d get it in the end, and I was right. Opening track ‘Sleeping Ute’ captures everything that I like about Grizzly Bear, from the near perfect harmonies to the slashing guitar and layers upon layers of percussion. There is so much going on, you immediately feel as though you have to listen to it again to make sure you didn’t miss anything. On the flip side, tracks like ‘The Hunt’ and ‘What’s Wrong’ follow more of an airy, linear structure. In fact, almost every song could come under its own individual micro-genre, but somehow they all seem to slot together. There is something about this album which strikes me as a ‘love it or hate it’ sort of deal. It’s enchanting, and if you give it the time of day I’d put money on you falling in love with it, but I can see some people missing the charm. For those of you who are with me, Grizzly Bear’s world tour comes to Manchester on 18th October, so I’ll see you there.
Jamie Harrison. Honesty! Fraternity! Nightvision! Red Deer Club Records. Reviewer - Trojan. Picture a new kind of rock‘n’roll star. If you’re doing it right you are probably staring into the eyes of Jamie Harrison. He’s probably smoking a rollie with the distortion pedal for his archtop guitar turned all the way up to half.
Pangaea. Release. Hessle Audio. Reviewer – Checan Laromani.
This record feels like Harrison’s most complete project yet. His composition, arrangement and musicianship all share the same milestone sensibilities. The synth bass pedal and Casio keyboard have never been in such glorious company. It plays havoc with your heart. One minute wringing it dry of salty tears with instrumentals like ‘Tontine’ and ‘Special Offer’, the next stopping it dead with a brash slap across the face, as in ‘When A Dog’ and ‘Cindy’. This record is united with a delivery that is hands in pockets matter of fact and a sincerity that is hands on shoulders reassuring.
Pangaea, progressive exponent of all things jungle, techno and house as well as co-founder of Hessle Audio, returns to the label with Release, an eight track LP that continues his journey through the darker sides of his previous outputs, following on from ‘Inna Daze’ and ‘Hex’, one of the hardest hitting 12’’s of last year. All eight tracks are characterised by their nod to the dungeon end of jungle and techno, as well as the influences of pirate radio with chopped ragga, female vocals and samples of MCs. Opener ‘Game’ sets the tone for the entire record with its rolling US vocal sample – ‘’Do your thing, just make sure you’re ahead of the game’’ – propelling the track forward, referencing the distinctive and irregular approach Pangaea takes to his music which makes him stand out so much in a scene often dominated by straight house and techno. It’s a substantial opener, spraying a blend of percussion and jungle snares over a stomping kick and bass that wouldn’t seem out of place in early speed garage. The next two tracks, ‘Release’ and ‘Trouble’, take a slightly more restrained approach. ‘Release’ is littered with eerie tones and a continuous percussion line that gives it a sense of time, creating an emotive and musical track by Pangaea’s standards. ‘Trouble’ returns to the magic Pangaea formula with the air of a tune that sounds like tribal jungle under a microscope.
LOUIS BARABBAS AND THE BEDLAM SIX.
The tempo really picks up on ‘Majestic 12’, a straight 4/4 driving techno roller laced with organ bass lines and bumpy snares. Its upbeat nature almost seems out of place amongst the dark and sombre tones of its predecessors. The slightly rowdier nature continues on ‘Time Bomb’, a foot stomping track befitting of the name. If anything, these two tracks grab the listener’s attention after an opening set of tracks that can at points merge into one. ‘Middleman’ follows, and is the most obvious indication of the dubstep roots of Pangaea and the Hessle imprint. 2-step kicks and a weighty snare punctuate brass lines and the odd vocal snippet. It’s a solid and complete track that harks back to the early days of the dubstep movement, a theme carried on with ‘Aware’.
THREE DOWN, FOUR TO GO. DEBT RECORDS.
Release ends with a track called ‘High’. Almost devoid of drums, it instead covers a more ambient atmosphere with the odd crackle and vocal that sound like a scratched CD, skipping in a way that isn’t easy on the ear.
Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six are due to release their forthcoming single ‘Three Down, Four To Go’, a song that is about the seven ages of man and the seven deadly sins. Dirt swing is a peculiar brand trademarked by the band. Would that imply that if the average music fan were to hail their love for dirt swing it’d be a reference to the Bedlam Six TM thing? The tune is jive-smitten, by their own admission, projecting cabaret blues, rhythmical blues, those testimony blues. You just put it on repeat and enthuse.
All in all, this is a landmark release for Pangaea, and Hessle is a fine record label, both progressive and inclusive of all that has made Pangaea an exciting standout amongst today’s plethora of music producers.
REVIEWER – ELIJAH JAMES. When I saw Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six I thought I could be watching a Doors cover band because of the closeness in style of the way in which the lead singer haunts the microphone to produce a sound that is a mixture of Captain Beefheart inspired ramblings through a Jim Morrison kaleidoscope.
Warren Ellis. Bearded violinist talks Dirty Three, Nick Cave and soundtracks. Interview by Sam Walby.
Warren Ellis is a multi-instrumentalist best known as the violinist in Australian rock band Dirty Three. Formed in 1992, Dirty Three’s live performances have been an inspiration to many an instrumental group, particularly the so-called post rock movement of the 1990s and 2000s. Fusing country and western, rock and roll, folk and punk into one riotous, semi-improvised sound, Dirty Three are still playing together after 20 years and eight studio albums, having put out the return to form Toward the Low Sun on Bella Union earlier this year. Warren has also worked with Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds since the mid 90s, and also forms part of the psychedelic, beefed-up Bad Seeds spin-off group Grinderman, who so far have two albums under their belt. Since 2005, Warren – currently based in Paris – has also collaborated on a number of films scores with Nick Cave, including The Road, The Proposition and The Girls of Phnom Penh. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Dirty Three. Did you ever expect the band to have this kind of longevity? No, I think if you think about that sort of stuff it never happens. It’s like Christmas – it never comes. At the start you just hope you can continue to create stuff that you feel good about. We never actually thought about how long we’d go for, but we did ask one question at the start. I think it was me that asked, “When do you think we’ll stop?” And the answer was, “when we feel like we haven’t got anything else to say”. I’ve never looked at anything in terms of how long it will go on for. I’m always surprised when I get another year out of it. I’ve always been one to take what I can and do it with the same attitude that I’ve always had. And I’m still doing it 20 years later, which baffles me. When I think it’s been more than 20 years that we’ve been together, I do feel very proud of that achievement. It really does feel like something – more than I’ve been involved in anything in my life. How has the new material from Toward the Low Sun worked in a live setting so far? It’s been really good. It’s really developed since we recorded it, and it sounds much better now. Recording is always documenting where you are at that point in time, and then you usually get out and start playing it, and the songs either work or they don’t work. That’s just always been the way things have gone in any group I’m in. Sometimes it works one time in the studio and never feels right again on stage, or something just doesn’t translate into the live setting. With this one, I think we continue to play most of the songs in some format. We tried to get them all up and running, but I think two have fallen by the wayside. It’s been great, because they’ve kept developing and kept the freshness in the shows.
You’ve spoken before about how you thought the band might have run its course after you released Cinder back in 2005. How did you overcome this barrier for Toward the Low Sun? We actually started talking about what it was that still made the live shows feel vital and inspiring. We’d come off and think, “Why can’t we do this in the studio?” And then we approached the studio in a much more simplified way. Our songs had been getting more and more structured, and there wasn’t a lot of room for improvisation and risk. Cinder was a logical point to get to after all that explorative stuff we were doing, but a lot of that stuff just didn’t translate live, and we had a hard time performing it, because what felt genuinely interesting to us is the way we interact when we play. We’ve never been a band who wanted to play the same songs every night in the same way and be happy with that. It was always about taking risks in the live setting, and knowing that the show can really work, or just fall flat on its face. That’s genuinely still thrilling after 20 years – knowing that we can either do a great show or an absolute dog of a show. The material we were coming up with before wasn’t particularly encouraging that aspect of our raison d’être. When we realised that, then we got in the studio, and the first two tracks on the album were the first two tracks that we put down, and suddenly there was a way forward. There’s a certain thing that goes on when the three of us play. It’s very much a group, the Dirty Three, in the same way that Crazy Horse are a group. When they play, they sound like Crazy Horse. It doesn’t sound like anyone else, whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em. I’m not saying we’re in the same league as them, but if you take one of us away the group doesn’t sound the same. To me, Toward the Low Sun seems like a return to your original method in a way. Yeah – a real re-stating of our objectives and a move forward too, because in the past we couldn’t have made a record like that. I’d certainly lost the narrative of the group for various reasons, and I found it hard, maybe because I’d been doing a lot of score work and a lot of stuff with Nick [Cave] singing. Although you go into it with the same intention, it’s a different place that you find for what you do. I think I’d lost that narrative and it was a real relief to find it again. Our main concern has always been how we play together, because as long as it feels like it’s gone somewhere – in our minds at least – then it’s worth continuing. We never formed the band to make any friends or top any charts. It was like war. I know you are focusing on Dirty Three right now, but back in 2002 you put out a solo EP. Have you considered doing a fulllength solo album? I did have a whole thing ready to go. I did it live a couple of times – once in Canada and once in London. It was thrilling to do it the first time, but the second time it had already lost that... there just wasn’t that interaction. I did have plans to finish off this whole album, but other things came along and I just wondered what the point of it was really. And then I started using some of it for soundtracks and theatre work, so I started to give the songs a life in a different context.
Did you find it refreshing to be able to do work on soundtracks with Nick, as well as Bad Seeds and Grinderman material, and then return to Dirty Three when you were ready? Yeah, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Just to go and do other things. The soundtrack work’s been great, because it encourages you to be bolder and step outside your domain, because you can get a bit stuck doing your own thing. A film is something else and you have to find a different way in. That for me was incredibly liberating, and certainly had a big effect on everything that followed. It just kept the whole thing alive, which is what you want. I don’t want to keep doing this if I don’t feel anything for it. With soundtracks as well, I suppose it’s the fact that there’s someone else who is removed from the songwriting process who has the ultimate decision about whether something stays in or gets cut out. Yeah, and that can be a blessing and a curse. You have to let go of things and you have to fight for things. The closest equivalent is an architect building a big house. You might have all these great intentions for it, but if the person buying the tiles comes in and picks a horrible colour, then you’re sort of stuck with that. Sometimes people can make great suggestions, and sometimes you just have to roll with it. Which has been your favourite soundtrack that you’ve done so far? The Proposition [2005, written by Nick Cave] is very dear to me, because it was one of the first ones I did and it happened in such an organic, explosive way – very quick and very cathartic, in a way. But I’d have to say that the Jesse James one [The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007] is probably the one, if I had to pick. Interestingly it’s the only bit of music I’ve been involved in that I can put on and be removed from it. When I went to the cinema and saw the effect of it, it really blew me away. I don’t like listening to my own music, because I’m aware of all the stuff that went wrong – it’s hard to let go of that like I can do with other people’s music – but the Jesse James one is one that I feel removed from, and I really like that score and love that film.
PHOTO - Nicholas Harrison.
FOOTBALL & MUSIC UNITED IN ONE CITY FOOTBALL & MUSIC UNITED IN ONE CITY
11th November November 2012 2012 12noon 12noon –– 1am 1am 11th
Friday 9th 9th November November 2012 2012 Friday From 4pm 4pm –– 11pm 11pm From The National National Football Football Museum, Museum, Manchester Manchester The
U P P SS TT A A II R R SS U
O N N O
H E E TT H
C U U R R R R Y Y C
M II LL E E M
A festival festival of of music, music, food, food, discussions, discussions, art art and and film film upstairs upstairs on on Rusholme’s Rusholme’s Curry Curry Mile. Mile. A
A special special event event looking looking at at the the role role football football plays plays in in our our communities. communities. A Free entry entry — — register register at at unconventionhub.org/uncon/3 unconventionhub.org/uncon/388 Free Music,poetry, poetry,performance performance and and photography photography from from Music, THEWHIP WHIP THE
Debate and and discussion discussion with with Debate FC ST ST PAULI PAULI (HAMBURG) (HAMBURG) FC
MIKE GARRY MIKE GARRY KEVIN CUMMINS KEVIN CUMMINS PLUS MANY MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED PLUS MANY MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED INCLUDING VERY SPECIAL MUSICAL GUESTS INCLUDING VERY SPECIAL MUSICAL GUESTS
CO-OPERATIVE TEAMS FROM AFRICA CO-OPERATIVE TEAMS FROM AFRICA THE FOOTBALL SUPPORTERS FEDERATION THE FOOTBALL SUPPORTERS FEDERATION FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER THE PFA THE PFA PATRICK VIEIRA PATRICK VIEIRA PAT NEVIN PAT NEVIN AND MANY MORE AND MANY MORE
STUART ROY-CLARKE ROY-CLARKE STUART FRANCOAND ANDTHE THE DREADNOUGHT DREADNOUGHT FRANCO
Photo © Kevin Cummins Photo © Kevin Cummins
THE MANCHESTER MANCHESTER UNITED UNITED FOUNDATION FOUNDATION THE CITY IN INTHE THE COMMUNITY COMMUNITY CITY
FEATURING: FEATURING: BOBBY FRICTION FRICTION (RADIO (RADIO 1) 1) BOBBY SYMBIZ (BERLIN) SYMBIZ (BERLIN) MARTINA TOPLEY-BIRD MARTINA TOPLEY-BIRD METZ N TRIX METZ N TRIX PUNJABI HITSQUAD PUNJABI HITSQUAD SIKH YOUTH DHOL ACADEMY PLAYERS SIKH YOUTH DHOL ACADEMY PLAYERS AZIZ IBRAHIM AZIZ IBRAHIM VIRSA (VINTAGE BHANGRA PERFORMANCE) VIRSA BHANGRA PERFORMANCE) VIRSA (VINTAGE GHIDDA DANCERS VIRSA GHIDDA DANCERS SATELLITE STATE DISKO SATELLITE STATE DISKO FROM INDIA) (VINTAGE FILM FOOTAGE (VINTAGE AJAH UK FILM FOOTAGE FROM INDIA) AJAH UK JAYDEV JAYDEV JESSE HACKETT (GORILLAZ) JESSE HACKETT (GORILLAZ) PLUS MUCH, MUCH MORE PLUS MUCH, MUCH MORE
VENUES: VENUES: ANTWERP MANSION ANTWERP MANSION CAFÉ RANOIR CAFÉ RANOIR HAVANA SHISHACAFÉ HAVANA AND THESHISHACAFÉ STREETS AND THE STREETS OF RUSHOLME. OF RUSHOLME.
THEATRE. PREVIEWS BY SEAN MASON.
THE GREATER MANCHESTER COMEDY FRINGE FESTIVAL.
JB SHORTS 8.
In a time of austerity the one thing we all need is a good laugh but, ironically, this year’s Manchester Comedy Festival was scrapped due to lack of funding. Budgets for the festival have understandably dwindled over the past few years, but last year Manchester City Council pulled all funding, and the 2011 festival existed due to the backing of The Comedy Store. Manchester’s comedy legacy is just as rich as its musical one, and the Manchester circuit is held in high regard, often lauded as being more supportive and just as important as the London one.
A space below a bar often used by bands and club nights is not the obvious home for a showcase of six short plays written by six top TV writers and performed by stars of TV and some of Manchester’s best up and coming talent. Such is fringe theatre. In October, JB Shorts returns to Joshua Brooks on the corner of Charles and Princess Streets with six more exciting plays.
So for the Manchester circuit the cancellation of this year’s festival was, while no great surprise, a terrible loss – not just for performers, but for audiences and in potential revenue for city businesses. That was until a select few venues clubbed together to maintain the festival spirit. Following the success of July’s Greater Manchester Fringe Festival comes the Greater Manchester Fringe Comedy Festival. It’s not a replacement for the Manchester Comedy Festival, but an opportunity for acts to get their shows seen. Event organiser Gareth Kavanagh explains, “Knowing how important something like this is for smaller acts, as venues and customers alike we thought it would be a shame not to see something happen in that slot. And having just literally finished the Greater Manchester Fringe in July, it didn’t seem too much of a stretch to extend the brand to cover a bespoke comedy festival in the last two weeks of October.” “It’s predominantly grassroots, fringe material giving established performers the chance to try something new and for new acts to strike out alike. It also opens up comedy to new venues, so in theory it should help grow Manchester’s comedy scene.” One of the shows returning to Manchester during the fringe is The Sitcom Trials, a live show which allows audiences to vote on 5 short ‘pilot episodes’ written by local talent and performed by up and coming comedy actors. The winner of July’s Sitcom Trials entitled Games Night will return as a full length script as part of the October festival. Kevin Sutherland, the man behind the Sitcom Trials and The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets (also returning), says the festival “is a great way of publicising events under a banner, so when people are attracted to something familiar like a comedian they already know, they’ll be much more likely to take a punt on something unusual happening at the same venue.”
JB Shorts regular James Quinn explains a little of why this show is such a favourite of audiences and practitioners alike. “I think the fringe scene in Manchester is particularly vibrant. 24/7 laid the foundations, then JB Shorts and Not Part Of cemented it,” says Quinn. “It’s created a culture of writers, directors and producers who no longer wait around for work, but create their own opportunities.” Past shows have attracted stars of stage and screen John Henshaw, Arthurt Bostrom, Sue Cleaver and many others but the show is also a great showcase for new talents and fringe events such as this are firmly on the calendars of industry professionals. The standard is that high and when you watch JB Shorts you’re just as likely to be sat next to a star of TV and stage as you are watching one. Quinn says one of the reasons the show is so successful is “the great energy between the old and new” and as a result audience expectations are always high. It’s a vibrant, stimulating, fun night out and “most importantly it’s a great night of entertainment,” he adds. One of the strong features of JB Shorts is it appeals to a wide range of people. Quinn claims that theatre remains uncomfortable for people but JB Shorts allows them to experience new writing in a different and less formal environment. It’s a showcase, it’s a proving ground and it’s a great night not-at-the-theatre.
JB SHORTS 8 will be at Joshua Brooks, 9th-20th October.
As in July the festival has its own beer provided by The Outstanding Brewing Co in Bury, and venues include the Lass O’Gowrie, Taurus, Fab Café, Sandbar along with new recruits The Ape and Apple, Nexus Art Café and last, but not least, the famous Frog and Bucket Comedy Club (with more venues and artists signing up). Denise Hough of new sketch group Under One Cap says this opportunity is a “great open forum for showcasing your work to an audience who are ready to try something different... for new acts it gives us the opportunity to show what we can do!” So, whilst we wait for the true Manchester Comedy Festival to return (hopes are high for a 2013/14 re-launch), the Greater Manchester Fringe hopes to keep you laughing until then.
The Greater Manchester Fringe Comedy Festival runs from 17th-31st October at various venues around the city. More information on venues and shows can be found at greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk
Free For Arts Festival.
The Whim Wham Café.
FREE FOR ARTS, FREE FOR ALL. So says the slogan of the nomadic arts programme Free For Arts Festival 2012. It’s not so much a disorganised brawl, but more an inclusive event ideology, serving up a substantial platter available to as wide a patronage as possible.
We were invited by Jess and Alix, the owners of the newly opened Whim Wham Café, to witness the arrival of their first class saloon carriage. A small room separated from the main dining space, the Louche Lounge offers the comfort and luxury of a Victorian upper class rail carriage for use as a cocktail lounge or a private dining area.
The festival, first staged in 2009, is a not-for-profit enterprise focusing on the idea of positioning a diverse range of arts and performances in unique city-based locations, ensuring accessibility for the general public. The festival curators, including new directors Ali Gunn and Emily Songhurst, have spent the summer months scheduling a showcase of local art based on ideas submissions received before the end of June.
Apologies if I’m moving too fast, perhaps you’ve not yet had the delight of being acquainted with The Whim Wham Café. For three months now the Whim Wham has been providing a refuge from the confusion of modernity with this epicurean eatery and gin saloon. The railway arches of Whitworth Street provide the key setting for a 1920s speakeasy serving homely food, painstakingly sourced and lovingly created. What more could you ask for? Perhaps local artisan ales and specialist gin cocktails. Very well.
19th-26th October. freeforartsfestival.co.uk
The festival returns to Piccadilly Place for its annual Free For All exhibition to launch the programme, which is one of many weeklong residencies. Groups such as Rochdale’s Springbank Mill Collective, the Mid Conversation visual artists and Manchester School of Art’s photography graduates curate installations at other venues across the city. They range from deeply personal introspection and social commentary to simple yet intriguing ideas. One such idea is Charlie Holt’s Possible Record Sleeves, which is hosted by Oldham Street’s Vinyl Exchange and seeks to support independent record stores whose relevance in a digitally focused third millennium is under constant scrutiny. This collection of recycled cover art is vaguely reminiscent of Sonny Smith’s 100 Records exhibition (search for it online), featured at last year’s Sounds From The Other City Festival. I’m going to be unapologetically biased with my next pick. We at Now Then have staged The Broken Door’s audio-visual dexterity at Chorlton’s Dulcimer venue twice previously. Usually an improvised drum and bass quartet, their excursions into film are a slickly rehearsed affair, adding their own interpretation of classic musical soundtracks. Both Singin’ In The Rain and Fantasia deservedly went down a treat with us and it is the latter that Free For Arts have picked up on for a slot at 2022NQ on 24th October. Further events include workshops, experiments, seminars, knowledge exchanges, a zine fair, and the interactive story-telling techniques of the Teacup Theatre. A veritable feast.
The Louche Lounge Launch. 13th september.
The launch was, to use an iconic quote, “like a wax museum with a pulse”. The Hatstand Medicine Band supplied fitting country rags as we stepped into the still unveiled 1st class carriage. We were handed dainty china cupfuls of Hendricks gin and cucumber cocktails. “Take a seat and make yourselves comfortable,” said our ticket attendant. The room looks spectacular, attention to detail is immense. The chintzy table lamps, the plush red leather upholstery, the original William Morris print wallpaper all suggest that this has gone beyond fancy for Jess and Alex and turned into obsession. It’s paid off. Once in the private carriage we were joined by Miss Cadence Alexia who entertained us with an agile dance routine. One more tub thumping ditty from the Hatstand boys before the ticket master announced our destination and out we piled to hand over the secretive space to the next eagerly awaiting group. The theatre of the whole night was incredible and not once did the veil of otherworldly romance slip. Throughout the night we were offered tasters from the menu. A glass of rich, salty ham hock broth, goat’s cheese and beetroot on Melba toast, and an original Lancashire hotpot volovant. All hearty combinations with a gutsy and much needed move towards a cuisine fit for Manchester. More Gin cocktails were splashed into our glasses by glitzy-garbed hostesses. More cabaret in the dining room from Miss Bonnie Petite had heads turning away from their bustling conversations. As I stepped back out into 2012 for a cigarette I couldn’t help feeling resentment in taking out my phone to send a text. “Never mind,” I thought; my next dose of nostalgia is only a hop and a gin sling away.
FAVOURITES. OUR PICK OF THE BUNCH.
Host to our monthly Now Then live events for over a year, and located within earshot of Chorlton’s ‘four banks’ crossroads, Dulcimer has built a solid reputation that ticks the boxes of both bar and venue. We love a good real ale here at Now Then, and when the in-house ales are named after Bob Dylan songs – Blonde On Blonde being a personal favourite – there’s a doubly warming glow whilst supping away. Food-wise, they’re famed for platters including pork pie, pate and cheeses.
Last year, 18 year old filmmaker Joe Barratt set the reels in motion for a festival facilitating grass roots film in and around the Stockport area. Its 2012 venue, The Plaza, is celebrating its 80th anniversary this October, although almost half of those years were spent masquerading as a bingo hall. At the turn of the millennium the English Heritage upgraded the building to a Grade II* listing and now, three years after the restoration of its cinema and theatre space, it is the perfect location for the festival.
Past ties to the Dulcimer venue include B-Music and Andy Votel, while the current crop of weekend tune selectors range from Coops’ Balearic and Goff’s psychedelic to the funk and soul of Family Affair. October’s live shows include Driver Drive Faster on Saturday 13th and Suzuki Jonzo on Wednesday 17th, with Al Doum & The Faryds taking to the stage on Wednesday 7th November.
Screen Stockport aims to provide a platform for local creative talent by connecting them with experienced industry professionals via a main festival on Sunday 14th October and a second festival on Friday 19th October, showcasing films submitted by students. Categories range from animated shorts to music videos with directors from local to international.’
567 WILBRAHAM ROAD, CHORLTON. DULCIMER-BAR.CO.UK
77 Wellington Street, Stockport agapanthusinteriors.com
Stockport has had a bad press in the last few years but where there’s light there’s hope. Nestled in the cobbled streets of Hillgate, Agapanthus Interiors are creating something special that could mean a revolution for this down on its luck town. Sharing its landscape with St Mary’s church and the market hall, the Hillgate area of Stockport stands high above the chimney pots and towers of a bygone era. The view from the top floor of Agapanthus is stunning and owners Tom and Zoë have taken a bold step in opening on the outskirts of Manchester. They have managed to transform a four-storey property into a unique and inviting space for the purpose of renovating and selling specialist interior fittings. Upon walking into the shop you are greeted by a shimmering brilliance, a ceiling supporting a myriad of dazzling chandeliers. Some ready for sale, some ready for Tom’s workshop, where some have been designed and made from scratch. The next two floors offer a wealth of silks; mirrors, cabinets and fittings all lovingly procured and brought back to life by Tom and Zoë. As well as a multitude of show spaces, Agapanthus boasts a tranquil outdoor area for ‘cocktail hour’. For the future Tom and Zoë are planning workshops in craft and renovation, a pop up restaurant and series of intimate concerts. Watch this space. For a day of relaxation and inspiration visit Hillgate. If Agapanthus is anything to go by this area will be brought to life in the not too distant future.
One69A is an ideas factory. Officially a screen printing collective based in studios at Islington Mill, but whose team, closely knitted to Herbal Sessions and Dub Smugglers sound system groups, is a laterally thinking creative juggernaut as well as a platform for fledgling, subversive and counter-culture artists.
the plaza. sk1 1sp.
THE WAREHOUSE PROJECT. THEWAREHOUSEPROJECT.COM VICTORIA WAREHOUSE, TRAFFORD.
After several years as Manchester’s most ambitious booker of electronic music, The Warehouse Project has moved its furniture into its third permanent residence. Since launching at the old Boddington’s brewery back in 2006, genres and sub-genres have drifted through and WHP has catered for them all. By this stage, many big names are returners, but the picks have to be 6th October with SBTRKT, Four Tet, TNGHT, Lone, XXXY and the HOYA:HOYA residents; 9th November including Flying Lotus, Lapalux and Floating Points; and 1st December with Orbital, Marcel Dettmann, Zomby and Nathan Fake. And there’s plenty more over most weekends up to the new year.
For a magazine professing to encourage discussion and debate, it’d be senseless to leave out Un-Convention. The independent and grass-roots music conference first began in 2008 at Sacred Trinity Church, partly as a reaction to In The City’s major label bias, and now tours globally with the aim of helping to support emerging musicians of all styles and from all walks of life by facilitating networking, knowledge sharing and industry awareness. They return to the UK this autumn for a quartet of events, with Un-Conventional Women: Pussy Riot having already taken place during September and further events taking place at the National Football Museum, Moss Side and Hulme, and Upstairs At The Curry Mile.
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antique lighting painted furniture homewares 77 Wellington Street, Stockport, SK1 1FE www.agapanthusinteriors.com
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