Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

4thought.tv Job Opportunity

4thought.tv seek web/video Producer

Channel 4 has commissioned a cross-platform religion and ethics project, 4thought.tv, based around a series of short films, in which a single speaker will reflect on religious and ethical issues or aspects of their spiritual lives.

The films will air after Channel 4 News every day, 7 nights a week, 365 days a year. The strand will also have a strong online presence on the forthcoming 4thought.tv website, overseen by Cross Platform Commissioning Editor Adam Gee. Every film will be made available to view on this site (and on 4OD), as well as providing a rich mix of extra video content.

The project requires a person who combines the roles of Web Producer, Production Co-ordinator and liaison person, interfacing between the TV indie (Waddell Media) and the two digital agencies involved – Johnston North and Atto, all based in Northern Ireland. The job is based in Holywood, County Down for an initial period of a year.

For information on how to apply visit www.northernirelandscreen.co.uk

The Man with the Boo guitar

Songwriters' Circle

I’ve long been fascinated by the relationship between musicians and their instruments – guitars especially, like Neil Young (now elder statesman) and his axe and BB King (with whom my older son shares a birthday, I share mine with John Martyn) and his trusty, curvy soulmate Lucille. I’m making my way back right now from a unique gig at Bush Hall in BBCland courtesy of Songwriters’ Circle (recorded for BBC4 broadcast in the autumn).

Chris Difford’s  (of Squeeze) guitar had a glittery border around the body and the hole (is there a special name for the big hole in a guitar?) They looked like old pals.

Boo Hewerdine (of The Bible and songwriter for the likes of Eddi Reader) had the most striking design of the evening’s six acoustic guitars – black with * BOO * inlaid on the neck in pearl. He had a very strong presence on stage, big and quiet but all his mots justes right. Had a brief exchange with him in Nandos after the gig, enjoying the balmy evening of the Uxbridge Road with my old pal JRT.

Justin Currie’s (of Del Amitri) had a morse code of inlaid mother of pearl around the Hole with No Name. Like Boo, a fine, strong voice but a touch lighter and more soulful.

Chris, Boo and Justin played the first session – a spectrum ranging from great lyricist to great voice, with Boo the lynchpin in the middle. Boo has composed with Chris and recorded with Justin.

Richard Thompson’s guitar was pale and functional, a work tool, with a couple of plectrums attached to the top. He proved a fabulous embellisher of his two fellow singer-songwriters’ tunes.

Suzanne Vega’s instrument was rich browns, in perfect condition, matching her hair. Between Richard and Loudon she provided a melodic female counter-balance.

Loudon Wainright’s axe had a cheeky bit of walnuty-wild cat pattern finishing. He appeared like Clint Eastwood meets Bob Dylan. Gifted with words, a streak of humour through everything, somehow making the sad even more poignant. The highlight of the night was the song about going through his dead dad’s closets. Another highpoint was the laugh-out-loud funny tale of a guitar he had to leave behind in Durrango thanks to Suzanne, an airline bitch.

12 feet away from those six in a tiny old venue was a once-in-a-lifetime music experience. Of the six, Boo and Richard Thompson seemed to have the deepest connection to their music-machines. Of the two, Richard seemed truly joined at the hip and totally living through his. I’m writing this paragraph walking home from the gig across the road to Muswell Hill from which the great man hails and where the origins of the Fairport Convention name stems. He struck me tonight as perhaps being the bearer of the John Martyn guitar-baton in the wake of the sad, sad loss last year of that even greater man .

Boo Hewerdine, Justin Currie & Chris Difford beating round the Bush

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."
...


The blue guitar
And I are one.

Wallace Stevens

Role in the Hay

A couple of snaps from last week’s Hay Festival gig courtesy of Saint John Walker

Hay Festival 2010

L to R: Adam Boulton (Sky News), Euros Lyn (Dr Who, Torchwood), Frances Donovan (ITV Wales News/Sports), Yours Truly, John Denton (BBC)

Hay Festival 2010

Gabba Gabba Hay

a laid back event

Had a good role in the Hay this week, doing a speaking session chaired by Sky News’ Political Editor Adam Boulton with the likes of Dr Who director Euros Lyn and ITV Wales news and sports presenter Frances Donovan.

As I was driving towards the Hay Festival from Hereford train station in my chaffeur-driven Jag (could easily get used to that) I leafed through the programme. I kept seeing the name Peter Florence which seemed very familiar for reasons I couldn’t figure. It turned out Peter, the founder of the Festival, was at university with me and a fellow linguist. We had a nice chat when I arrived at the Festival site and I recognised him easily enough after all these years, an affable fella. It’s quite an event he’s built up over the years (with his dad originally I think) and well worth his MBE.

I nabbed a delightful hour trolling around the second-hand bookshop in the former cinema – I came away with a perfect crop: a novel about Manet, a Pierre et Gilles picture book, a Phillip Kerr thriller and a signed Martin Gilbert history book.

My one evening there I spent delightfully with an author friend of mine met thanks to Wikipedia (but that’s another story).

I got the chance to take in a couple of events (on the look out for arts presenting talent) – a session on the forthcoming British Art Show 7 featuring three of the selected artists and the two curators. BAS 4 in 1995 (it’s a 5-yearly review show) was the one that showcased the YBAs. 2009 Turner Prize nominee Roger Hiorns, famed for his copper sulphate council flat (Seizure) and pulverised jet engine, cut an intriguing Hockneyesque boyish figure. I also caught a lecture on Henry Moore by the curator of the current Tate Britain show, Chris Stephens, which was fascinating, prompting us to refresh how we see Moore and to appreciate his radical edge and dark side more. The comparisons he made by juxtaposing Moore sculptures with Robert Capa photographs was convincingly illuminating.

I spent a good part of the afternoon hanging out in the Green Room, tapping away beside Adam Hart-Davis in dubious shorts/boots/socks combo. Highlights of the passing faces ranged from Ian McEwan (I’m a big fan of Atonement) to Andrew Marr (I mainly catch him on Start the Week). I also enjoyed chatting with Adam Boulton’s wife, Anji Hunter, formerly Tony Blair’s aide. Likewise it was great to get an insight from Adam on his recent, already legendary clash with Alastair Campbell. It didn’t feel like the time&place to raise the issue of that sneaky non-viewer question to Nick Clegg during the Sky leaders debate.

Headed home in the company of the Derek Browne, former British triple jumper and investment banker, now focused on encouraging entrepreneurial initiative in the country’s young people through his outfit Entrepreneurs in Action.

Bookishness is what I’ve always loved about Cambridge (where I first met Peter Florence) and Hay has the same vibe in its own way – a particular kind of tranquility and a top Simple Pleasure. It’s a real battery-charger to immerse yourself for 48 hours in art and books.

Coming soon on Simple Pleasures 4: My latest project about to enter private beta – a literary one.

Gabba Gabba Hey

a laid back look (in a nervy kinda way)

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