Archive for the ‘tunnnneeeee!’ Category

7 heaven

In san fran, stateside, tunnnneeeee!, west coast on December 6, 2010 at 11:57 am

This is for the crate diggers with the dusty fingers. The ones who scrabble around charity shops, and haunt record shops, hunched over fingers flicking, trawling, looking for the perfect circle of vinyl.

I’m an interloper, a faker, I gave all my records away and I never paid for any of them anyway. Back when I was young and didn’t have writers block and I interviewed all those Drum and Bass boys, and briefly thought that being a music journalist was the way to go, but not really, because the pay was abysmal and I was always happier faking, creating illusions, fictions, than having to transcribe the thoughts of those who made music but couldn’t talk about it.

So I haunt record shops, my collection of music all digital, streamed and downloaded, ripped and playlisted. But record shops draw me back, the atmosphere, the reverence, the alphabetizing, the genre’s the flyers, the posters, the t-shirts, the music that drives all of them. Never buying a record but enjoying inhaling the musk of desire, the male passion for completion, for discovery, for searching for searchings sake, just in case.

And the record stores out here are ripe for it, small nooks, that will capture a certain collector/curator’s heart and have them coming back again and again. The neat rows, the extra boxes on the lower shelves, the sheer mass of vinyl contained therein. The independence of each one, a space all its own, like the local bike shops we so adore, and patronise on the regular.

Ah record stores how we love thee… 


In Braaaazil, Rio de Janeiro, Sud America, tunnnneeeee! on November 12, 2010 at 5:05 pm

The street party that is Friday nights in Rio is a riot of people and sounds, and smells. Street vendors serve beef or chicken on a stick. But it’s the music that holds the attention, it throbs from every corner, from every bar front. The connection that Brazilians share with their music makes me smile. A samba band plays under cover, a crowd has gathered and the song starts but before the intro has even finished they have started singing, the words known by all. Lapa is filled with these spaces as everyone crowds in to be closer to the band, to be closer to the music, to merge with it. And I lean on the edge a smile on my face, tapping my foot and wanting it to never end.

We break out as a massive, and head over to Lapa with Thomas, a crazy Frenchman who works at the hostel and lives over in Lapa itself, in one of the blocks by the tiled steps. Its raining, and we sit in his cramped bed sit, getting drunk on beer, and straight cachaca, about ten of us all crushed in, waiting for the water to stop falling. It gets messy, so fucking messy. Even before we hit the streets and the bars, and the clubs. Dancing till the wee hours, losing people, finding them again, and generally just having messy brazilian fun. So good, oh so good.

get on the good foot

In Braaaazil, Salvador, Sud America, tunnnneeeee! on November 5, 2010 at 2:15 pm

There are some Californian girls in the hostel and on their last night in Salvador they organise a night out to a club in rio vermelho, which is the modern party side of Salvador, lots of open air bars and clubs, all within a tightly packed strip of roads.

We all drink caiphrinha’s in the hostel and then load ourselves into cabs and head in the opposite direction to pelourinho, ending up in a wonderfully makeshift bar, which looks as if it’s made out of things the owners found lying around, the roof is open to the sky and when we arrive it’s pretty empty, but people keep coming and coming and coming until the place is packed.

Salvador is really humid and it’s soon a sweatbox and I’m glad i’ve nabbed a position in front of a big fan which cools me and dries my soaked shirt.

The female dj is playing lots of stuff, pretty much most of which I like, I’ve made up my mind I like her as a dj when she drops signed sealed delivered and the night gets better musically from there, she’s weaving old soul and funk tracks in with Brazilian stuff, which most of the crowd knows and sings along to and I dig it, I dance I sweat I enjoy myself and when the time comes to leave I don’t want to go.

salvador street party

In Braaaazil, Salvador, Sud America, tunnnneeeee! on November 5, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Every Tuesday down in pelourinho they have a street party, and we as a hostel massive head down there.

I’m not sure what to expect but I’m sure it’ll be good, Salvador is a place where music is all around. I went out on a boat trip earlier in the day to itaparica and on board the boat was a little three piece, drum, tambourine and  banjo, who sang all the way along on our journey, covering all the Brazilian classics, which a group of bods in the back knew all the words to and sang along with. When your sitting in a bar/restaurant if the big screen isn’t showing football it’s showing a DVD of some live musical performance. It I’d wondrous how music is such an integrated part of life here.

So on entering the old town and walking down the cobbled streets I wasn’t surprised to see the samba band drumming away, I was surprised to see that they were all women of differing ages, banging on the drums, dancing as they maintained their rhythms and generaly just having a gay ol time. He beats were strong and we stayed and watched the crowds gather, the drum troop took up the whole width of the narrow street so people had to edge round along the very small pavement.

It felt like they would drum forever but we had more to see, further along, down one street and up another a concert was ongoing. A stage had been set up at the base of a massive set of stairs, which was filled to overflowing with people dancing and drinking as guest performers came on and played a few songs, mostly reggae, covers and originals, but it changes as one singer band was replaced by another, but the music went on and on.

I bought beers off a man working the crowd with cold tins in his rucksack, and downed them quickly as I discovered I’d got a thirst on me. Stepping from side to side, looking round constantly at the beautiful people around me. There is something very alluring and comforting to me in that mélange of colours and skin tones that brazil throws up, dark with light eyes, light with dark eyes and a whole range inbetween.

Left the concert as it was still going strong and headed back upto see the last of the drummers. But the female band had been replaced by another band with half naked men behind them exhorting the crowd to dance, changing steps and arm movements and getting the packed street behind to follow suit, soon everyone else was as sweaty as the dance leaders themselves.  As the people stepped from side to side, bumped into one of the guy who’d been on the boat tour, he’d been filming the whole thing on a hand held camera and he took us on to another club round the corner, equally packed, with a stage set up and a band playing to the dancing samba masses.

Soundtrack to Mendoza

In Argentina, Sud America, travelling, tunnnneeeee! on April 29, 2010 at 3:34 am

The bus winds it’s way through the Argentinian country side, following the course of the lakes, snaking along the humped road, the sun slits through the gaps left by the half closed curtains, golden and warm, as every so often my face catches the suns gaze, turning my lids orange. The view from the window is glorious, the green and dun knobbled, cobbled terrain, bushes bobbles on the surface, the moon is full and rising even before the sun has set, the low slung cerro’s casting long shadows, and the road stretches on for ever, wisps of clouds hang balloon like in the clear sky, a pale shade of blue, darkening as it pushes itself onto tiptoe to reach the upper atmosphere.
Johnny hammond’s “tell me what to do”

is followed by “our lives are shaped by what we love”

on my headphones, the perfect chilled soundtrack to this low flying journey, johnny’s piano intro, followed by a tweaking, wah wah guitar riff, high pitched over the little fills, which create a palette of melodies, then the bass and johnny’s short verses, before the saxophone does it’s thing, sly and wicked, and a cool walk away all combined in the solo which sits high above the beats beneath.
“flying high with you….
trying hard to sleep….
tell me what to do??”
Dusk creeps over the land, sun relinquishes it’s hot grip, and the vertically challenged hillocks in the distance are draped in a livery of purple and cerise and aubergine. The moon is big and full and easy to see but when I try to capture it, it just appears as a pale white dot, a glitch in the image, a bad pixel. I take shot after shot trying to capture it and immediately delete them, my eye is a 70mm lens and my camera is a 28mm.
I’ve sat on buses all day today and will be on this one into tomorrow morning. Listening to music all the way, glad the playlists on the iPod are so long, the big chill containing 338 chilled, mellow, outdoor tunes, named in honour of my first festival experience out in the wilds of Herefordshire, amongst deers and ageing children of hippies and friends ready to drink a cocktail, share a smoke and dance as the tunes roll down, sitting on grass, blanket beneath your cheeks, feeling the night come upon you stealthy with a chilly grip, eyes turned to the spotlit stage and the music that is amplified from it, heads nodding and feet tapping and the connection with it strong, linked to all those around you.

The bus is taken out of commission and we are transferred to another as we wait in the cool night air, underneath the awnings of a bus station that feels like an airport.
Restless night as the bus zooms through the darkness, uncomfortable, chill breeze emanating from somewhere, hitting just that tiny bit of exposes flesh, no position conducive to sleep, shift, stretch, scrunch, curl, nothing hapening. Check watch every so often, time moving in big chunks, so sleep must be pressing it’s weight upon me.
Awake for the final time as the sun draws a blood red line along the horizon, right side of the coach welcoming the new days arrival as the sky lightens and the sun rises, left side mourning the nights departure as the moon slowly disappears.
Vineyards cover the land as far as the eye can see, the only demarcation the taller trees that line the edges of the fields, and the gravel roads that bisect them. A low flat view, providing a perfect sight of the warming earth, the nights condensation turning to mist, weaving a blanket of smoky layers over the grapes. Assume at first it’s a fire then realise my mistake as i see the mist everywhere.
Outside of the cities, Argentina is a country of low slung single storey buildings with awnings and sloped roofs, of long roads whether paved or gravel, of the Andes dominating the view, the giant on the edge of your vision, well at least in the district of San Carlos which borders Chile. There is a pleasantly rustic and outdoor feel, of the community trying to make the best of the location, rather than gentrifying it, as if the land is too big and strong and rather than try and tame it they are just living with it’s routines, it’s habits, it’s nature, letting it dictate to them what is required and what isn’t.
In the time is takes to write the above, the sun has popped over the horizon, bulbous and golden, so low at this point that the trees which edge the vineyards, provide a shield to it’s glare, intermittently creating patches of sun and shade. And as the sun rises over the land, just like when it dipped below the horizon the night before, it feels like a scene out of a road movie, the wide expanse of land, the long two lane blacktop, the bright sharp shards of sunlight requiring the wearing of shades, the scrub growth, the dwarf bushes populating the ground all the way to the horizon, the electrical poles that quarter the earth sticking their wooden fingers into the sky, and just then as I look out into the light light light blue sky the Isley brothers pop into the mix, “brother, brother, brotherrrrr!”

Soon after a zed and two l’s from Fila brazilia comes on and I recline the seat some more, close my eyes and let it wash over me.

So wanting to make a film with a decent soundtrack, something as broad as the big chill playlist which reverberates inside my ear canals, none of this iconic rock, or wall to wall hip hop and rnb, or the odd nod to the present day, or the latest fey indie bands homage to heartbreak. It feels like movie soundtracks are either sweeping danny elfmanesque, yann tiersen orchestrations, or products of musical synergy, which band/artist/singer songwriter has produced a hit this time or let’s do a goodfellas and pack it full of hits that everyone knows. I want more, actually it’s more than that I want what I listen to and love to be up there, for the whole swathe of music, jazz, dnb, trip hop, soul, funk. And as I finish this you won’t guess what comes on.
Maxwell’s “I’m you: you are me and we are you (pt me and you)”

from the album that he and the hordes of screaming female fans at the academy last year seemed to conveniently forget Embrya, which in my mind will stand the test of time better than the two that have come after, a perfect, confident, sprawling, epic, egotistical concept album. Go get it people, big basslines, haunting vocals, and an overarching water symbolism, oh and strings to die for.


In Argentina, Buenos Aires, Sud America, tunnnneeeee! on April 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm


Stood outside as we got there early, waiting for the place to open, for the locals to rouse themselves and come out. Nervous about my pigdin spanish, how to order rum and cokes at the bar? answer either ask for a ron y coca, or a cuba libre. Problem solved.

Even in buenos aires they do that bullshit of keeping you waiting outside, when there’s plenty of space inside. Got to give the impression that people are dying to get into this place.

Two rooms in here, don’t find the other room til later when more drunk members of the group than I drag us in there, because the music in room one’s gone a bit housey. Two bands perform before hand, the first very reminiscent of early Lenny Kravitz, their songs never get out of first gear, midtempo numbers with a slightly paunchy black haired singer whose voice isn’t strong enough, and lacks the stage presence to drag a sombulent crowd with him. There are some interesting melodies they create but the drop never comes, and I’m bored before they’ve even finished the intro’s to each of their songs.

2nd band is fronted by a guy from Coventry, but they start audaciously with a man playing bagpipes, as the rest of the band come out on stage. But thankfully he doesn’t stay out for the whole set. But they are definitely more RAWK! Lead singer’s got out of control blond curly hair, shirt over his tee, and lots of energy and he swaps between singing songs in spanish and english. The band a three piece pound their way through their songs, battering them to submission, dragging us with them, lively, and excitable, much more involved in giving the crowd a good show. They do a song at the end which sounds like a red hot chilli peppers cover, but I haven’t heard enough of their songs to know and the other rock bods beside me disagree so I let it go. But I’m sure I’m right.

Stacatto dance, hip, hand, leg, foot, head turned, frozen, fractured as the strobe blinks, ice White, cold blue, as the four to the floor builds, electronic yelps twist and blare, jump from one foot to the next, take over the space, bounce from one foot to the other. Electronica is big in buenos aires, consuming all others, driving the populace into delirium. And for the time I’m there I let it overtake me.

Club Araoz

They pull shapes, they stand on their hands, legs bent, bouncing on their palms, windmill into head spin, arms out, he music is irrelevant just as long as the beats are heavy and the tempo high. Jazz dancers without the steps, acrobatics valued over a connection to the music, one guy stocky and dark, poplocks and steps to a tune I like him, each step is in time he loves the song or at least can find the bassline in it.
This is club as spectator sport relegated to the circle round the edge, clapping hands, yelling support, providing a backdrop. Never liked that, why come to a club to watch others dance where’s the fun in that!
Then the switch up, an off kilter school yard choreographed routine, full of missteps, pauses and glances to check what’s next to a James brown medley, is ended with a rolling bassline and the circle is broken as the people bumrush the dancefloor and suddenly it’s wall to wall bodies, the hip hop culture club is a sweatbox as hips gyrate and everyone’s two stepping to this big down tempo hip hop which dominates the 21st century, metallic beats, snap out and throb over quantized basslines, that drag, flows that say nothing for sixteen bars, brag and boast, in slurred southern tones, the more things change the more they stay the same.
Hip hop reduced to a cypher, low riders on the video screens, baseball caps with flat peaks, baggy pants slung low, baseball tops, NYC emblazoned jackets, sneakers and gang signs waved high.
For a club that purports to be the home of hip hop culture in this city/country, the dj’s definition of hip hop is fairly narrow, I haven’t heard any of these songs and they are pretty much the same kind of big bang basslines, strange melodic lines and chanted choruses, punctuated every other song by Rhianna warbling over a bumping bassline. If you’d been parachuted into this space you wouldn’t have any sense of the rich tapestry and history of hip hop. I’m tapping my foot and nodding my head because you got to take what you can get, but I’m bored and I’m writing this instead of dancing so make of that what you will. But the young people seem to be feeling it, herking and jerking from side to side, hands held aloft, shocking out to the songs which will define their youths and be played loud at their weddings and their back to 2010 dances.
The dirty south, lil jon, ludacris, yung joc, akon, vocoders, and all the other mc’s and producers who I don’t know have alot to answer for. Hip hop at it’s most dynamic and engaging has a voice and a point of view and a diversity of sounds and ways of being and saying, listening to the mono beat culture purveyed here makes you want to believe in the hip hop is dead mythology that has been stated for the last decade by those who can’t bear the lack of diversity, and hark back to their “golden age” but it is there you just have to look harder for it.

And buenos aires doesn’t have enough black folk to create that space for hip hop diversity, so they follow the major musical trends from the states, and this is what goes platinum, this is what rocks the clubs, this is what they raise their hands to, and I wonder at three o’clock on a Friday morning if the Dj can or has anything else to play.
He runs the deck, verse chorus into next track and I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be so unmoved by an hour and a half of hip hop, even when he plays a couple of songs I know, it doesn’t stir any desire to dance. But when he drops M.I.A’s paper aeroplanes it does bring smile to my face, but then it’s back to the monotony of another jay-z rant over uninspired beats.
As he slips back through the decades, from snoop to cypress hill via snow and sean paul, I can see that hip hop is a cypher through which your personality can be sieved and reconstituted in a more rebellious version on the other side.

selection of songs that Dj played that night. Let me know if you like any of them. I’m still not feeling them.

ps photo’s under youtube clips

and you can’t go to any club without hearing this song.

or this one.

la bomba de tiempo

In Argentina, Buenos Aires, out and about, Sud America, tunnnneeeee! on April 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm

How comes afrobeat isn’t more popular here, la bomba de tiempo are rocking the crowd! Maybe it’s the live performance aspect of it, but femi kuti should come and play here he would have a lot of fun
Listening to la bomba de tiempo both during the show and later at the after party when they play with an electric guitar, horn section, a drummer and a xylophone player, it’s amazing how tribal it becomes, a musical exorcism, polyrhythmic, and so fucking loud. The drums roll and roll and roll, and the horns trill, shrill, giving melodic counterpoint to the throbbing drums. It becomes all encompassing, it pushes everything else away and you are connected to the drums, as they switch between one stanza and the next, foot never stopping it’s tapping, as the group finds new ways to make you sweat. Each band leader making throwing signs in their own way, as into the music they are making, that is unfolding under their direction as we are at hearing it unfurl flaglike before us. Stomp and stamp, yell and scream and wait for the drop to come when the thunder rolls deep and full.
Hands pointed, fingers upraised, palms curled, signal shorthand, waiting poised, each member focused, awaiting instruction, a point, a cut, a wave, a circle, line drawn in the air, here it comes, teased with crescendoes that return to solos, waiting, anticipating, here comes the clapping, then the drop, 120bpm. Flooding the air, primal and beyond conscious comprehension, it takes the breath away, sucks it out of you as you dance. Sweat running in rivulets, soaking clothes, shirts, vests, blouses, tops, tees, bras. It defies the descriptions that I try to give it, it pulls you outside of yourself and into the memory that we all hold of fires burning deep into the night, callused hands pounding on animal skin pulled tight across bowed wood.
Man in black vest and baggy pants spinning dervish, unable to stop, girl Afro full and unkempt, hips swirling, feet a blur, crowd pogoing, hands aloft, throats roar, blood flooding their extremities. The ache of the feet, soreness in the hips, thighs, calves. Chest tight as you try to draw breath, and the drums roll on, roll on, tumble and never stumble, never falter. Mama Africa in us all!
The electrification of it halting it’s power not at all, bound to it now as we all are, adding a melodic content on top of the power of the drums. Hands blur as they beat out what their leader commands, bound together by his clenched fists, and his imperious commands, silent but so forceful. He drums and they follow, we follow, we will always follow.

It is in our blood, in  the people our ancestors used to be. Moved from one continent to another, the drums taken from us, hands born to pound the call, forced to do other work, but the drums call, they call and in the end, blood will out. So we shuffle and dance, arms flail, we swirl and the ashes from the fire we circle around pop and crackle and are uplifted to the heavens, and the stars above us are the same ones those who came before saw and danced underneath. Nothing changes except what we do to the place we call home. The drums never change, they still call us home….

Queenstown Cartel

In Kiwi, out and about, travelling, tunnnneeeee! on April 18, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Standing watching another covers band, this one is called the cartel, they occasionally play their own songs in between the kings of leon and the clash – did the clash do I fought the law, if so the clash, if not someone else who did do that song. But they take so long between songs, there’s the obligatory sip of drink, move to the amp, fiddle with guitar, speak to crowd before they play the next song. Where’s the seemless blurring of one song and the next? Have I been spoiled by the breakestra and will no other band live upto their well oiled skill and musicianship. Maybe it’s too much to ask for a local band to be better than average. Maybe they need more rehearsal time? I on the other hand need to stop being in bars where they are playing rock on the real… It’s just depressing, no offense Allan, Rich, Lucy, Vikki and my other rock loving friends.

And this place called world bar, which is usually a euphemism for black music, just like urban has become, is playing host to the aforementioned rock covers band.

So I bounce, too old to stand around watching chunky, square girls flirting hard in their too tight short red dresses, and their knock knees. And head to a place called tardis, which is at the end of cow lane, when I arrive they are playing brickhouse by the commodores, followed in short order by a dangerdoom track which has Talib kweli on and then a mash up of welcome to jamrock and hip hop by dead prez which I find extremely exciting…

But it is populated by the dj, barman, and two mans dem sitting at the bar, plus me when i join them. But despite the lack of eye candy I find myself happier straight away…

The dj is a young guy called ned, who dj’s under the name mr feet, he’s good, nice smooth mixes, a knowledge of tunes before his birth, working off a laptop so i’m assuming he’s using ableton or some other equivalent, but I’m not being a purist, I don’t even dj so what can I say, but he makes my evening/morning a happy one and puts me in a good frame of mind for the jaunt across the pacific and my month in new York when it’ll be all good music all the time and not a hint of rock at fucking t’all…

So I head out from tardis to another place called subculture downstairs from a bar called monty’s, as head down the stairs he’s playing brickhouse as well, is this song following me. I lean over the bar to get served and the dreadlocked bar man gives me a bottle of monteiths cider for free. Result! Subculture has more bods in it, more people playing at hip hop, and as the dj mashes up i know you got soul and I don’t love reggae I’m thinking I should bail. How comes those songs that I believe have been confined to cultural obscurity inevitably come back to haunt me around the world, where they are revered as floor fillers. The dj isn’t as good as ned, his tune selection is about keeping the crowd involved rather than serving the cognoscenti, ned was pretty much playing to himself and me and the barman, this dj has the responsibility of keeping a crowd dancing, whether they know what they are dancing to or not. Got to love how about to be lovers will bump and grind to any song at any tempo! Doesn’t that make a mockery of the club your in and the music your listening to? Just dry hump on your seat, this also relates to those who feel the need to salsa to all music’s outside of Latin, yeah I can see you can salsa, and your girl is excited to be wriggling her hips in a rhythmic fashion but your dancing to electric relaxation, nod your head and two step like the rest of us. Taking up too much space for no good reason, find a room for your extended foreplay you muppets!

So the dj has managed to empty the dancefloor with his electro stylings and I’m sitting here waiting to see what he plays to bring the people back into the fold, is he a good shepherd or will he let his flock wander away to an interesting night somewhere else? I’m giving him ten minutes to play something interesting then I’m bailing…

He’s playing some non descript drum and bass, I nod my head because I love drum and bass, but it’s not a big tune, I should note that I haven’t listened to drum and bass properly for like five years and I have no idea what the prevailing sound is, but this just sounds like identikit drum and bass, nothing original about it, and just like one of the dragons I’m out!!!

I step from left to right there’s nothing that he’s playing that surpasses the big tunes from ten years previous, nothing that touches, Leviticus, or warhead, or share the fall, it feels like dnb has stood still.

I head back to tardis and become adopted by the drunk man at the bar who plays rugby, not sure whether it’s professional, he looks a bit chunky round the middle to me, or is a happy amateur, more than likely, who is drinking in this bar and enjoys being here because no one knows who he is, he regales me with how he can dance and has rhythm except when he’s drunk, this is all good as tardis has now captured a lively late night crowd and it’s two going on three. Drunk rugby man has a conversation with the manager of the bar, to ascertain how drunk he is, as in New Zealand as in Australia, your not allowed to serve anyone who is visibly drunk, drunk man does a passable impression of someone sober and is given a pass, however when a police car rolls down twenty mins later and there are long conversations between barman whose from Rochdale and is mightily happy they are top of division two (anyone know who their manager is by the way) and policewoman about drunk man. Finally after much communication police woman rolls away and drunk man who has been absent makes an appearance, gives me some money to buy him a drink and is promptly thrown out, and I am accused of being his friend. I feel aggrieved for all of a minute then drink the rum and coke that drunk rugby man had purchased me and wind my way the five mins back to my hostel. Good first night in Queenstown.

Three piece on Cuba st

In Kiwi, out and about, tunnnneeeee! on April 18, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Please note this was written during the evening, as I got progressively drunker. Apologies for the hating at the end.

Whilst walking away from awful hostel bar up cuba st came across this great funky jazzy three piece drums double bass and guitar, they were all kinds of awesome, melding their own compositions into a long freaking jam of a jimi hendrix tune, which I can’t quite put my finger on, no got it now voodoo chile. Fucking superb. I mean like out of this world kind of superb, if I hadn’t given my last pieces of change to the band up the street who were busking to get to Manila, they would have had it. I’m seriously thinking about breaking a note to give them some dollar. Only thing is, as always, I’m amongst a group of sitters and watchers rather than interacters, no head nodders or foot tappers, apart from the odd hippy and me. It’s like they can’t find the center of the bass or if they can they aren’t willing to show it. I’m supposed to be on a mission to find a bar playing good tunes but I might just stay here all night or at least until I find out what they are called, cause the are all sorts of super dope and ms bickerstaff you would love them….

If they are not influenced by the breakestra and the bad plus I will eat my hat…

And it is a nice hat as well.

Street beats they are called, awful name, good band.

I then adjourn to the southern cross where a four piece band are murdering “it’s your thing”, sucking all the grit and soul out of that beautiful song and turning it into something that a couple can happily jive to, and they do. Plus cider costs nine bucks and I’m out looking for someplace better to be…

Then it’s a long walk along the seafront looking for someplace else to drink. I’ve passed the Matterhorn which has been recommended on Cuba st as well as Good Luck. But it’s early and there’s no harm in taking a quick fifteen min jaunt down the road. Imagine soho and bricklane joined at a t junction and you’ve pretty much got Wellington covered, one street cool and interesting, one just out to get the out of towners.

I roll back to Matterhorn and get involved with one of the barmen about why cachaca is classed as a rum when it is cane spirit, and he says it’s down to the Americans. Damn Americans! It seems rum is made from the molasses and cachaca is made from the sugar cane juice, the by product of heating sugar cane. And the Americans call it Brazilian rum rather than rum, though my barman informs me that an expensive rum by Zacapa, which is the good stuff that made me miss my flight to sydney is made the same way it’s classed as cane juice but let me tell you the Zacapa is a great fucking rum. Get it if you can.

Scottish bar girl Claire whose been here two years, but hasn’t seen the beauty of New Zealand and is off to Cuba courtesy of Havana club for four days, then gives me a shot of Appleton estate 8yr old as a gift for this being my 1st night in Wellington, it is beautiful… She also has a very nice sleeve tattoo.

So after Matterhorn I end up in Good Luck which is just down the way and down a set of stairs amongst a load of young bods playing at hip hop, as jay z’s New York or Empire State of Mind as its officially called blares out of the speakers, making shapes and stepping from side to side. Want to tell them that shit won’t fly amongst black people until the dj plays “dreams of fucking a rnb bitch” by biggie and I lose my goddamned mind…

Then watch the dancefloor empty as the infamous, original queensbridge murderers rolls forth. Fucking lightweights. What do you know about hip hop? I want to shake each and every one of them. But what would be the point. They only know what’s played to them on the radio, they don’t feel hip hop deep down in their soul, feel it like it’s their skin being shook and shaken. It’s a shirt or a pair of jeans they can put on or take off. Fuck that it’s my skin the only way you can get it off me is by skinning me and killing me in the process. Fuck you and your I can choose this or that. I didn’t choose it, hip hop chose me. In it till I die…

The dj plays a composite of hip hop by dead prez with some other song, after blister in the sun by violent femmes, no vocal just the beats and I wonder if he knows how disrespectful that is to those who know what hip hop is about, it casts a shadow across my soul. I love that song so much, properly, not even lying, and this dj denigrates it by mashing it up with something else and not even playing it properly, why fucking bother! I’m starting to hate him a little bit, actually a lot, bastardising the music I love for the know nothings filled with alcohol who’ll dance to whatever rnb nonsense has been played on the radio that morning. I spit on you, or better, I shit on you….


In bike, ozstraylia, travelling, tunnnneeeee! on April 2, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I love Brazilian music, it is happy music, it is summer music, it is lazing around with the sun on your face music. And I’ve always felt an affinity to brazil since ’82 when i decided i was brazilian because my favourite player was eder, a gangly left winger, who scored a thunderous volley in one of the opening group matches, flicking the ball up with his right foot to power home with so much swerve and bend from his left that the keeper never even moved,

who wore those friendship/surfer bands around his wrist. Which i emulated with my looped rubberbands because i was from south london and didn’t even know that they could be purchased, so I made do and adapted what was around me, even at that young age I was like a ranger, improvising, adapting, and overcoming. As with all things heart related there was crying and tragedy, brazil so obviously the best team in that years world cup, lost 3-2 to the eventual winners Italy, when all they needed to do was draw. It could and has been said that, the ’82 team was the last of the swashbuckling brazilian teams, the last to be true heirs to jairzinho, pele, tostao, and the attack, attack, attack, you score two we’ll score three, teams that had reached their zenith with the ’70 squad. Anyway I cried my heart out when they lost, one of the defining momets of my childhood, alongside the doomed six year olds love affair with my uncles girlfriend in Barbados, was their loss, cementing the knowledge that in footbal as in life those that were the best don’t always triumph.

So I’ve been a fan of brazil since way back when and it’s one of the reasons why I’ll be going there on this journey, from listening to the husky tones of tom jobim on aquas de Marcos,

to joyce’s five minute long scat on aleida de ogum,

to the iconic celebration suite by airto,

just cemented this love.

But enough back story, joey whose a friend of a friend of mine, had returned to Sydney a couple of years back and we’d arranged to meet up when I hit town. Now I’m pleasantly surprised to find joeys a member of a Brazilian drum school and he and the band will be playing at bronte beach for the birthday of a friend. It’s just another chance for the drummers to practice and I’m delighted when joey invites me down. I get to ride to one of the public beaches, bronte is inbetween bondi and coogee beaches, I get to see how vicious these hills are, and I get to listen to some batucada! What more could you want for an afternoon.

2 bottles of cider, towel, Birkenstocks, swimming trunks, suncream and sunglasses, and I’m off down the road.

I won’t bore you with the ride, suffice to say it wasn’t that long, about half an hour, maybe longer and the hills out weren’t too bad, long lugs up a steady incline. The exit on the otherhand was a torment of straining thighs, push pull, push pull. Hands cramping as I pulled hard on the bars, ascending barely faster than walking pace, standing/stamping on the pedals, it doesn’t get any easier no matter how much I concentrate on my technique, it just gets harder, each breath, each turn of the crank. I had to take a fucking run up to get enough speed to attempt the damn thing in the first place, sometimes riding fixed sucks, sucks hard. Just when I think I can slow to a snail like crawl and sit back down and just grind it out, the hill keeps going, back out of the saddle, grit the teeth and will not be defeated, wheezing, head hot, grips slick with my sweat I get to the top and pedal ever so slowly along the flat, well relatively flat.

But I’ve gone to the end, well the middle and I’ve spent all that time building up the whole Brazilian thing to punt past it to the cycle out.

So anyway joey and the band are really good, really really good, just like a batucada band should be, two big drums, three smaller ones, some strange tambourines, a drum with a straw and a sponge to make that strange, sqwauking, squeeking sound and someone on the shaker, who eventually becomes me. But they are loud and rhythmic and as they bang out the sounds, people around the BBQ area poke their heads out and come and see what the noise is about. They stand and tap their feet, nod their heads, swing their hips a little before edging forward and joining the circle that we have formed. Obviously my time on the shaker was the high point of the impromptu performance, jam session. My shaking of the shaker held that shit together. Have I told you about my desire to be in a band and just play the triangle for one song. The band tours the world and I’m required for just one song, one motherfucking song, where I hit that triangle really goddamned hard and that’s it! I tour the world say to groupies “yeah I hit the triangle in that song, you know the one, the one with the really big triangle bit at the end, yeah I killed it tonight…. You wanna come up to my room?” That’s the dream, that’s the dream, and playing the shaker which requires a little more concentration than at first seems necessary is a step towards it.

But this afternoon I am the shaker, the shaker with the most, letting those grains, slide around in their container, an accomplement to the rest of the layers of percussion, which make it so rhythmic and exciting. I can’t smiling, its like I’ve been given a sweet when all of mine have hit the floor and are unedible. I’m part of the band, and for a little while, I listen and ask questions, and try to figure out how the beat builds, and when I should drop out as they change from one rhythm to the next. Its the most fun I’ve had in ages, and it makes me hunger to get to the beaches and clubs of brazil.