Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blues Gone Green

A couple of music based pieces in fairly quick succession with the addition of this piece, but it's not without good reason I assure you...
Last Sunday afternoon I rolled down the hill to The Eden Project to catch an interesting show: Blues and Roots maestro Martin Harley was playing the final show of his "Blues Gone Green" tour in the inspirational environs of the Mediterranean Biome, the culmination of a bike powered, completely emission free UK tour.
Between August 20th and September 19th Martin pedalled 1,200 miles and played 27 live shows, averaging around 50 miles per day on a "Big Dummy" cargo bike fitted with racks to carry his guitars. My friends at Finisterre kitted him up with a load of technical clothing to equip him for all of the vagaries of the British summer weather, and he arrived last Sunday from Plymouth to play his final show in fine form. Martin was playing solo shows (as opposed to fronting his three-piece band the Martin Harley Trio) with all of the power for the PA system provided by a special "solar" truck covered in photovoltaic cells, introducing some songs from the new album and mixing up beautiful acoustic folk ballads and blistering slide blues stompers.
A ripping show after a month pedalling a massive bike up and down hills - big props to him for showing that you don't necessarily need a massive hermetically sealed all mod-cons tour bus, or even a comfortable saddle, to transport you between gigs in order to arrive refreshed.
You can just go slow, inhale some fresh air and enjoy the view en-route.

Read his own account of the tour on his "blues gone green" blog here.

Photo above by Angus Cowan, photos below snapped by Martin.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Run in, walk out

Thankfully, in percentage terms, not a great deal of the worlds coastlines are developed and paved over, or have beach access blocked by big private houses. The majority of coastlines are as nature intended, a narrow belt where the land meets the sea taking the form of cliffs or beaches, mangroves, marshes or dunes.
This is what makes our experiences of the coast so special.
Where I live in Cornwall there is a coastal footpath that runs around the entire coast, all 258 miles of it. Most of the main beaches have car parking available so you can just drive there, pay your meter money, get changed on the concrete so that you don't get sand in your wetsuit, surf, and drive home again. But there's a lot more beaches than just those that you can drive too, and most of the time they're the better surf spots - not least because there's no crowds.
Perhaps a longer drive, the last bit down a farm track with grass growing down the middle. A few styles and gates, slipping in cow poo as you run down the path, getting scratched by the brambles, nodding a hello to the occasional passing dog walker. A quick surf check from the top of the cliff then keep sliding down, and the last bit scrambling down the rocks onto the sand. You always run even though you know you'll be out of breath when you get there, because you're always too excited to see what the waves are like.
Surf for a few hours, then put your wet wetsuit and towel, all waterlogged and heavy, back into your bag, pick your board up under a paddle weary arm, and start the long, slow trudge uphill back to the car.
Walk in, run out.
You'll feel better for the effort, and you saved a few coins on car parking.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"So which one is Mumford, and are they really all his sons?"

Back in early July the Crown Princes of the British folk/rock scene revival, Mumford & Sons, played a gig at the Eden Sessions supporting Doves. I'd been looking forward to this gig for ages, mainly because it's not all that often that bands make it past the end of the M5 to this corner of the country, and also because it was technically speaking my last day of "proper" work for the next couple of months.
So having written it in big red letters on my calendar, circled it loads, and bullied a load of friends into getting tickets too, I was late and missed half of their pretty short set. I have a very valid excuse, mind; a rare and incredibly good left hand point-break just up the coast from me had been woken up by a long-range ground swell (even rarer outside of winter) and was firing for the afternoon on the pushing tide, so I went surfing with a friend. We kept checking our watches and working out how long it'd take us to race down to the Eden Project after "one more wave", but they were the sort of waves that you can't drive away from.
We did make it there in time to catch the last 5 songs of their short support slot, and they were on fine form. Here's a shot from in the thick of the crowd as they fully got their stomp on, and one from up above looking down.
Probably one of the last times that these guys will be opening for another band rather than headlining I'd guess.
A few weeks ago my best mates girl Nicolle e-mailed me a link to this video - she's a massive music head and fully has her finger on the pulse (and runs a rad music blog) - it's of Mumford & Sons jamming on the streets of Paris (and singing in French no less) playing 'The Banjolin Song' and 'Awake My Soul', it's 9 minutes and 48 seconds of great music that is well worth checking out. It's on vimeo and isn't downloadable hence I can't throw it up directly on here, so apologies, but a move of the mouse and a left click is all it'll take:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Al-Jazira Al-Arabiya

A few weeks back I fulfilled an ambition that's been eating away at me for the past four years or so: Go on a surf trip down the Arabian Peninsula, look for waves where people don't usually look for waves and have a bit of an adventure. Naturally I also took my camera.

Drift online surf magazine have been good enough to run the article that I produced as a result, so rather than me posting a ton of photos here, you can hit the jump and check it all out via them; words, images, the whole shebang...

Al-Jazeera Al-Arabiya

Big thanks to my friends Scott and Dan at Surfing Dubai, to Kim for relentlessly bombarding my inbox with photos of his own trips to the area and swell charts until I could bear it no longer, to Drift for once again deeming my output worthy of spreading and to you for taking the time to be interested. Cheers, I'm made up.