Saturday, April 22, 2006

Are there, perhaps, any crack-whores in tonight?

It’s been a bit longer between posts than I would have liked, and I’m sorry for that. As soon as work starts up again, the time just seems to slip away.

I’ve not been entirely work-obsessed, however, I did find time to go to Cheltenham to the Slak Bar, to see the weirdest singer I have seen for some time. The Slak Bar is a smallish pub which hosts some of the Calmer* series of events.

(I should, perhaps explain that Cheltenham is somewhat up-market from Gloucester and has certain pretensions that us simple Gloucester folk don’t always appreciate. Some people, for example, would have you believe that those in the know refer to Cheltenham as ‘Nham. I mean, I ask you? Calmer* is a series of acoustic events responsible for bringing a few interesting and exciting bands our way, which I whole-heartedly applaud. I just can’t bring myself to ask anyone about that bloody asterisk though…)

Anyway, Calmer* is the classier version of Gloucester’s Acoustica evenings (or so I’m led to believe), and last Thursday they hosted a fairly unique singer in Baby Dee, a transgender classically-trained harpist and circus performer, who used to be part of Anthony and the Johnsons.

The evening started rather inauspiciously with a no-show from first act James William Hindle, who I was quite looking forward to hearing. I was quite disappointed, really, because he’s a pretty good songwriter, I reckon. I won’t post any of his songs, but there a good few available on his website

The second act was Pantaleimon. And well, I’m at a loss to say much about her, really. The Calmer* site tosses a few words like “Appalachian dulcimer”, “drone-based lullabies” and “ancient as the hills”, and drops a few names like Devendra Bahnhart, Will Oldham, and even Allen Ginsberg. But to be honest, she was shocking, and if I could be bothered I’d do some clever punning about her name. It was best summed up by my sister, who reckoned I should make a request for “Smelly Cat”…

So far, so not very good. When it came to Baby Dee, however, things changed round completely. If there was a very large element of Emperor’s New Clothes about Pantsaleimon (damn, I wasn’t going to do that…), then Baby Dee reassured me that there are still some genuinely barking special talents around, living on planets I’ve never even heard of.

Crooning and warbling her way through a series of delightful and weird-as-whisky ballads, and accompanying herself on harp or accordion, she really made me smile. By turns beautiful and then bawdy (“And though I may not know who’s humping me, at least I’ve got some company”), she was well worth the evening on her own (which as it turns out was just as well).

Next week, Calmer* is putting on Richard James (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci). As I can’t post anything from their site or from Baby Dee’s (though do go there and listen to the samples), and I refuse to post anything from James William Hindle or that woman with her Appalachian bloody dulcimer, instead here’s a track from the Soft Hearted Scientists who are also appearing next week and sound like they’ll be pretty good to me.

I'll Be Happy I'll Be Sleeping

(I did also go to the rugby and had a fun afternoon watching Glaws beat local rivals and jolly-come-latelies Worcester. I won’t talk about the game, I'm sure you're not interested but if you are, this feller will…)

3 comments:

Martin Cole said...

...and has! Good report on Calmer*, an event I've been to just the once - and enjoyed too. Having said that, I recall a fairly mixed bag that night too.
Hopefully catch you Acoustica in a week or two. M

Sweeny said...

Am hoping to be there, though I still need to buy my ticket. I think the the last one sold out, so I need to be quick...

Cheers

Martin Cole said...

I would recommend Martin Stephenson heartily - in my humple opinion, this could be the greatest Acoustica ever.