Archive for the ‘soul music’ Tag

Coincidence No. 366 – Time & Timing

Sandy Denny with John Bonham, Robert Plant & Jimmy Page, September 1970

30.iv.22

I go to see the brilliant play ‘Jerusalem’ by Jez Butterworth at the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue with a friend (it’s my second time seeing Mark Rylance do this career-defining performance – I first saw it at the same theatre in 2011). Towards the end of the play we hear a hippyish English folk song – at first I think it is Vashti Bunyan, then realise it is actually Sandy Denny’s ‘Who Knows Where the Times Goes?’, which she wrote at the age of just 19. However I can’t recall her name (or that of Fairport Convention) on leaving the theatre (even though I used to lead historical walking tours of Muswell Hill and environs which included a stop at the house called Fairport where they originally rehearsed). 

The next day I am (unusually) reading the Sunday paper when her name crops up. I text it to my friend (along with the word ‘chaperone’ which I also couldn’t recall on the day). 

2.v.22

The day after that my young friend texts back the name of the song. (We also discuss Coincidence No. 367 which is that we happened to walk together past the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho on the way back from the play – he hadn’t heard of it, I explained the bombing outrage – it turned out to be the exact date of the carnage in 1999.) I text him back to confirm that that’s the song and send him a brilliant podcast about it – ‘Soul Music’ from BBC Radio 4. At just that moment the very song plays on BBC Radio 6.

 

Mark Rylance at the curtain call for ‘Jerusalem’ last week

Oh Geno (Gee Knows)

screening of oh geno at curzon bloomsbury 23 october 2018

Curzon Bloomsbury 23 October 2018 – Dalton Deverell (Prod) Sophie Shad (Wr/actress) Onyinye Egenti (Dir) GENO Washington ??? (Ram Jam Band bass player)

On arrival at the Curzon Bloomsbury on Tuesday evening to see a drama-doc short ‘Oh Geno!’ I was greeted with a lovely surprise – the director Sophie Shad welcomed me and explained that the film had come about because of me. I had no idea. But was delighted. Here’s how it happened…

I was introduced to Sophie through a fellow trustee at the Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley, the oldest purpose-built cinema in the country (which is about to join the Curzon group – there’s a Company Members’ meeting going on as I write but I’m 8,000 feet above Finland so unfortunately can’t be there).

Sophie had just produced her first scripted short ‘Kitty’s Fortune‘ (2016), a story set in Auschwitz, and came to see me at Channel 4 about next moves with her producing partner Dalton Deverell. They were thinking of following up with another holocaust story. During the course of the chat it came to light that Sophie’s grandfather is none other than Geno Washington, the soul singer (who I first came across through Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ eponymous song).

That man took the stage, his towel was swingin’ high
(Oh Geno!)
This man was my bombers, my dexys, my high
(Oh Geno!)
How the crowd, they all hailed you, and chanted your name

I gave the opinion that at that particular juncture a holocaust story might be especially challenging to get off the ground and perhaps the Geno connection was a more joyful route for the times and a better use of weapons in their young armoury.

We discussed a short form documentary series in the wake of that meeting but it never quite came together, I left Channel 4 and our ways parted (largely because their focus was on scripted).

geno washington ram jam band my bombers lp cover design

A few weeks ago an invitation arrives for the screening and I am surprised and delighted the Geno project came off. What I hadn’t realised was that it was on leaving that initial meeting at Horseferry Road that the pair of them determined on making a film about Geno.

Sophie kindly explained my role in the genesis of the film in the Q&A after the screening to 150 delighted audience members. Besides her and Dalton on the panel was the director,Onyinye Egenti, and the great man himself, Geno. Geno bantered with me in the audience, saying I was to blame, with his crazy infectious laugh.

Oh Geno short film poster geno washington

The film is to debut at Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York next month. It is a really well scripted piece focused on the meeting of Geno and his wife-to-be, Frenchy (Sophie’s grandmother) in a London club in the mid-60s. He was just out the US Air Force, getting to love Britain. She was a Jewish refugee from France, a single mum and feisty club manageress. Sophie plays her own grandmother – which has a certain resonance – with a beautiful stylishness (the camera loves her). The moment zoomed in on is just right to capture the essence of an extraordinary couple. And the ending is pulled off with aplomb – avoiding the common pitfall of the punchline-type ending of short dramas (it has the punch-line dynamic but it is subtle and judged just right).

sophie shad plays frenchy in oh geno short film

Sophie Shad plays Frenchy

At the screening I found myself sitting beside the young actor who portrayed Geno, Edward Nkom. He captures the physical charm of Geno well.

Edward_Nkom_actor HSA_associates

Edward Nkom plays Geno

It will be interesting to see if this nugget develops further and into what – scripted, drama-doc, it could go in various directions. I’d love to see it evolve into an iterative project centred on this fascinating couple.

Geno_Sheet_Muisc_1 dexys midnight runners

%d bloggers like this: