This is how I have been spending most mornings over the hols. Eating my mom’s Christmas sweets by my fireplace in my flat. Life is grand.
Happy New Year Everyone! xo
My friend and I checked out Tafelmusik’s ‘Handel Messiah’ on December 21st at Koerner Hall. A perfect way to spend a chilly and icy Friday night the weekend before Christmas.
In years past I haven’t made enough time to get lost in the holidays early on. This year I was determined to properly inhale some delicious moments with dear friends.
Handel’s ‘Messiah’ was being performed by Tafelmusik at Koerner Hall and never having been I thought it could be the start of a new tradition.
Ivars Taurins directed the performance with the assistance of Joanne Lunn, soprano, Allyson McHardy, mezzo-soprano, Aaron Sheehan, tenor and Douglas Williams, bass-baritone. The Chamber Choir that supported the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and primo and prima orators only added a ribbon of pure delight to the performance. The room boomed with love, sweet tones and fervour of the season.
Taurins to a classical laywoman like I, facilitated the music with a fierce but humorous approach. He was animated and as a viewer the musicians appreciated his vigour being the leader of the pack. He shook his hips, flailed his arms, demi-sun salutations and smiles. Something I have never seen, nor I am sure will never see again. My friend and I turned to each other a few times throughout the performance and in awe of the talent and knowingly grinning at Taurins having a grand time. Passion. Pure passion.
Koerner Hall is another hidden gemstone in the City of Toronto. The high ceilings with wave like wood, a similar theme in the seating plan, tan wooden comfy chairs, a circular seating plan that allowed every audience member to have the best seat in the house and a room that cradled the musicians and vocalists sound into our virgin ear drums. The space in itself is something to marvel in when viewing Tafelmusik perform. I guarantee you will leave inspired and light on your feet. I did.
A bit of history about Handel’s ‘Messiah’:
“Handel says he will do nothing next Winter, but I hope I shall persuade him to set out another Scripture collection I have made for him, and perform it for his own Benefit in Passion week. I hope he will lay out his whole Genius and Skill upon it, that the Composition may excel every other Subject. The Subject is Messiah.
Charles Jennens to Edward Holdsworth, July 10, 1741
And so in August 1741 Jennens sent the libretto of Messiah to Handel to be set to music. It did not, however, keep Handel busy that winter, as he completed the entire score in just three weeks. He had been invited to Dublin that November to present a series of oratorio concerts and it was there that Messiah was first performed. The Dublin performance was very well received, but the first London performance in 1743 had a more mixed reception — controversy raged over the suitability of a theatre as a place to perform a sacred oratorio, particularly when the subject was to be the Messiah. It was not until 1750, when Handel turned to it for benefit performances for the Foundling Hospital and thus stilled the controversy, that Messiah was fully accepted and applauded by London audiences. By the time of Handel’s death in 1759, it had become the most frequently performed of all his oratorios, a position it has never relinquished”.
Handel’s ‘Messiah’ as performed by Tafelmusik was joyous and full of movement alongside colours of the season. Koerner Hall was intimate and acoustically stunning – a truly moving ambience to sip on as we watched in awe at the performance that transformed itself in front of us.
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir performs year round – I encourage you not to wait for next year’s holiday season and start building lovely moments like I bore witness to into your year ahead. Music is truly transformational and a beauty to be hold in a natural and inspiring space.
Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian mates and those abroad! I had a smashing dinner and hang out with my family this afternoon. Great food, wine, laughter and silliness. Try your best to reflect upon life’s lil blessings over this long weekend. They are fleeting and embracing the moment with family is the real sweetness after all the running around prep before a holiday.
Happy Thanksgiving from Thirty Four Flavours!
“Talk Tonight” is one of many acoustic B-side tracks sung by Noel, and was at the time, the most vulnerable song he had ever attempted. It was inspired by the near-breakup of the band in Los Angeles in autumn 1994, when Noel walked out without telling anyone and headed for San Francisco. He stayed with a girl he had befriended during a previous show there. According to the sleeve notes to The Masterplan, she talked a distraught Noel “off the ledge” and took him to the park where she played as a child. It is also mentioned in the Oasis book by Paul Mathurs, Take Me There, that his friend also had an obsession with Snapple Strawberry Lemonade, which contributed to the line in the song, “all your dreams are made of strawberry lemonade.” The song also featured on the DVD Live By The Sea.
Today marks the 60th birthday of Joe Strummer. 60. This past weekend was also the Annual ‘Strummer of Love Festival’ coordinated by his lovely daughters in Somerset, England. I’m thinking next year possibly hitting it up for my 40th birthday. http://www.strummeroflove.com/
I have a funny relationship with The Clash. I liked them as a teen but didn’t get really into them until my early 20’s. I remember having a crush on a boy in highshcool that used to make tapes for me which always had ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go?’ on them.
A few years ago, my friend A reintroduced me to them and again it was a love affair. Time passed and again, The Clash got shelved for some new music of the moment. Then recently another chap sent me home with another bagful of Clash books, DVD’s and the like. The Clash on the brain much? I need to stay away from boys who like The Clash methinks.
I’ve liked many a band growing up. In a way I sometimes think I have music adhd. But whenever my iPod and mood find myself coming back to ‘Combat Rock’ and ‘London Calling’ – I feel so happy. The music instantly takes back to my teen years when it was all about spinning vinyl on the crappy record player in my bedroom and forgetting about homework for hours on end.
Last week I received a fresh paperback copy of The Clash with a lovely hot pink cover. It tells the unique story of the Clash, by the Clash. The Clash was a band like no other. Pioneers of British punk rock, their incendiary gigs, intelligent song writing, definitive style and passionate idealism caught the spirit of the times and made them a worldwide phenomenon. Rolling Stone magazine declared London Calling one of the greatest albums of all time, their autobiographical documentary Westway to the World won a Grammy, and their music lives on, influencing emerging bands and exciting new audiences today.
This is the first official book to be created by the band. With unprecedented access to the Clash archive, this landmark publication brings together previously unseen material–including tour posters, artwork, and photos of the band at home, on stage, in the studio and on the road–with each member telling it like it was, in their own words.
Trendsetters, icons, revolutionaries: their story is steeped in mythology. Many people have an opinion about what made them who they were – this book gives the chance to read the full story, from all four band members themselves.
What I appreciated about this book is that it gives small bit size pieces on each of the lad’s stories at certain times in their musical history. Paul Simonon is my favourite but between him and Mick Jones they kept me giggling throughout this compact pocket edition.
Initially when this book came out in hard cover I thought ‘how am I going to read this book tucked up in bed?’ It’s an easy read and so unlike in the long windedness of ‘Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer’.
There are so many good bits to the book: the disco graphic snapshot retrospective, global historical tour dates, film information highlights and fantastic vintage pictures of the band.
Ah yes, not only is the book a good chuckle but reading it will bring you closer to the band. It’s pretty emotional at times – be prepared.
I have an extra fresh copy of The Clash book to giveaway to one of my lucky readers. Thank you to Chapters Indigo! All you need to do is sign up to my blog and you will be entered for a chance to win it. The deadline for entries is August 31, 2012.
Lastly, Happy Birthday to my fellow Leo, Mr. Strummer! Wherever you are in the heavens…we miss you.
Ten years ago, the angry young man of punk and legendary frontman of the Clash, Joe Strummer, died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart defect. Instead of celebrating what would have been his 60th birthday next month, his two daughters Jazz and Lola, will be marking his life and legacy along with 5,000 others in a field in Somerset at a one-off music festival they have helped to create, called Strummer of Love. It is a fitting tribute for a man famed for his love of a good music festival, and who brought up his daughters immersed in the same world.
From the moment they were born, both Jazz and Lola accompanied their father on his annual pilgrimage to Glastonbury. “We grew up going to all sorts of festivals,” says Jazz. “Every year at Glastonbury, Dad would create this kind of impromptu camp where people would just gather.
“He was always setting up camps – even with us as kids, it was always I’ll make you a camp out of sofa cushions and stuff. He loved that whole idea of creating a vibe and an atmosphere. At Glastonbury he would string up his flags, get loads of hay bales, have a big campfire – there’d be 24-hour music and he’d be DJ-ing. We’d all go as a family, and our friends would be there. It just became this hub of fun and people. He named it Strummer- ville and we were left to do exactly what we wanted. Run wild, run amok.”
At the time of Joe’s death, a few days before Christmas in 2002, Jazz was 18 and Lola 16. Their father collapsed at his home in Somerset after taking his dogs for a walk.
“I remember I was in Oxford Circus trying to do some Christmas shopping,” says Lola. “You always kind of know, I think. I was sort of in distress that day and couldn’t figure out why. I got a phone call saying come home. So I got on the tube and I remember sitting there, weighing up the options. I knew it wasn’t my mum because I had spoken to her earlier, and so I thought it must be either Jazz or my dad. By the time I got off the tube I rang home and said, ‘Dad’s dead isn’t he?’”
“It was such a shock. It wasn’t like he’d been ill. The day before, we’d all had such a great day with him. He had been away on tour and we hadn’t seen him for a couple of months. So we all met up – our mum, our grandparents, his second wife Lucinda and her daughter Eliza, and we’d all gone out for a meal and then sat in the Groucho [club] drinking champagne. It was a really, really lovely day.”
The girls reacted in very different ways to Joe’s death. For Jazz, it took a while to sink in properly, and a few years afterwards she experienced panic attacks. “I think I had a bit of a delayed reaction,” she says. “I went to see someone and we talked about it a lot. Now I feel quite resolved.”
Lola dealt with it more immediately. “After it happened, I completely let myself deal with it,” she says. “I was really miserable and it was a very tough time. Jazz was living away from home and I felt there was no one really around. It changed my life completely. But you do get over it. Death is just a part of life and you have to accept that.”
Both girls say that helping to organise Strummer of Love has brought many feelings flooding back. Everyone in the lineup has been chosen because of a special connection with Joe Strummer in some way. So among the performers are Mick Jones, the former Clash guitarist, the Pogues, with whom Strummer also played, Alabama 3, with whom Strummer’s stepdaughter Eliza now sings, and Billy Bragg, his long-time friend and political ally.
“It’s kind of strange because it has been 10 years,” says Lola, “but I feel like a lot of stuff is resurfacing – feelings, almost like grief. It’s weird. And it’s stronger now than it was just a few years after he died.”
Jazz feels the same. In June this year she gave birth to her first child, Boudicca – who would have been Joe’s first grandchild. “Having a baby makes you rethink a lot of stuff, and I’ve been thinking about Dad a lot recently,” she says. “He would have been obsessed with her. He was fantastic with kids. He loved them, he really did.”
Still, both sisters are acutely aware that their father’s heart defect could have cut his life short at any moment, so they are grateful for the time they did have with him. Plus, there is also his musical legacy.
“I’m just grateful for his music because we still have his voice,” says Lola. “We are lucky to have that.”
Joe also did a series for the BBC World Service called the London Calling broadcasts, to which both girls listen regularly. “I remember he took us to Bush House and let us sit through the recording,” says Jazz. “They are great because it’s him talking and picking his favourite tracks, which brings a lot of his personality out – which is nice because that’s the kind of thing you forget. I like to listen to them when I’m working in the studio, and sometimes when we have parties we put them on. It’s comforting.”
Neither of the sisters got to see the Clash as the band started disintegrating in the early 1980s, just before Jazz was born in 1983.
At first the family lived in Ladbroke Grove, London. Joe, a diplomat’s son, had been sent to boarding school aged nine and tried to give his daughters an upbringing different to his own.
“As kids we were really encouraged to be free,” says Jazz. “Dad came from a strong authoritarian background. His father was very academic, and he went to public school, which he found really tough. He hated having that put upon him as a kid, so he tried to encourage us to be as freewheeling as we liked.
“When were growing up there were no rules – we were left to run wild. We were nicknamed the pit-bull kids because we were so mad. At home we were allowed to scribble on the walls because he considered it creative. We’d ransack the place.
“I think our mum might have had a bit of a different view but she kind of went with it.”
The upshot of Joe’s liberal attitude, however, was that Jazz found herself expelled from nursery school, when she was barely out of nappies. “I had slight behavioural problems,” she says. “I’d just throw my clothes off and run around. I was disruptive and unruly. It’s really embarrassing, actually. In the end, they couldn’t get any school to take me so we moved down to Hampshire where my mum found a nice little private school that would let me in.”
Being Joe Strummer’s offspring wasn’t always plain sailing. When Jazz and Lola were around eight and six, their parents divorced. “We both dealt with it differently,” says Lola. “I think I was quite an oblivious child – I didn’t really have a clue – but I do remember Jazz cried, so I cried.”
“I don’t think I dealt with it very well at all,” says Jazz. “It was pretty horrific. But by that point Dad was quite vacant – he wasn’t really around much anyway. I think he was very unhappy and frustrated creatively.”
The years when Joe’s career was floundering had a big impact on his family. “There was quite a dark period, when we were a bit older and he couldn’t get work, and he was struggling,” says Lola. “It was hard for him to move on musically and creatively. He’d be at gigs and people would just be screaming for Clash tunes – but if you listen to his music, his tastes had completely changed. He’d mellowed and softened. When he died, though, his career was starting to take off again. I remember thinking it was such a shame. But in a way it was better that he went out on a high.”
Despite the divorce, their parents maintained a good relationship and the two sisters have fond memories of the adult relationships they formed with their dad. Every summer they would go to Spain, to Joe’s home in San José, Andalucía, a part of the world he had fallen in love with.
“When we got to a certain age, he’d just take us out drinking with him,” says Jazz. “We’d go pub crawling round all the little Spanish bars; he’d invite all our friends, too, and we’d just stay up all night. He was so generous and welcoming. He was a real Pied Piper character.”
There was talk about the Clash reforming before he died. “But there had been talk for years and years about them reforming,” says Jazz. “They had been offered stupid amounts of money to do it, but they were very good at keeping the moral high ground and saying no.
“But I think if Dad hadn’t died, it would have happened. It felt like it was in the air,” she adds.
It is clear that Joe Strummer’s creativity has rubbed off on his two daughters. In 2004, they started organising club nights in East London, at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, kick-starting the trend for rock’n'roll tea dances. Jazz is also founder of the successful Shoreditch arm of the Women’s Institute and last year her book on sewing and baking, Queen of Crafts, was published.
Lola sings in a band called Dark Moon, which is playing at Strummer of Love and Bestival, and designs clothes for her label She Vamps. The two sisters share a studio in east London, near where they live.
“I started the WI because I had got really impassioned about women’s issues and women’s rights,” says Jazz. “I think because the Clash were so political and Dad had such strong opinions about equality and stuff, it affects you. But, equally, he was a great inventor of things – he was always making things happen. So I think more important for me was his passion. He’d have an idea and then do whatever he could to make it happen. I think that’s what really rubbed off for me.”
At Strummer of Love, Jazz will be looking after her eight-week-old baby at the same time as organising a big DIY tent called the Handmade Hangout, where all manner of craft classes will be taking place. Lola, meanwhile, will be singing from the pop-up stage, and their mother has organised the healing field.
“It’s funny looking back, but I always had a feeling he must have known what was going to happen to him,” says Lola. “Our stepmum found these lyrics he’d scrawled on a piece of paper a few months before he died, saying, ‘I was just somebody, who loved a body then left a body’ or something like that. I took them and turned them into a song because I felt it needed to be written. But I do believe he knew.”
Either way, as his family roll out the hay bales and gather together round the Strummer of Love campfire, Joe’s spirit will still be with them. “I just know he’d love that we are doing this celebration for him,” says Jazz. “It would be totally right up his street and such a good expression of who he was. He would have loved it.”
Had a great weekend having a Summerlicious dinner with my sisters and one evening in with my old mate Melissa. It’s not often I get to say this – but man life is good. No matter what crappiness lingers – life is good.
I spoke to my niece and nephew today and we had a lil moment of ‘Call Me Maybe’ on the phone. Man that song is catchy. So as I dance in my seat to this version with the ever dreamy Jimmy Fallon, Happy Monday!
I come home late most nights. I rarely ever see anyone coming and going in my building. Nor do I know my neighbours. Good times?
A few weeks ago I came up the elevator and walked onto my floor. Man, did I have this eerie feeling that someone was standing at the other end of the hall. I turned to look quickly and no one was there. So I quickly walked to my apartment, as I am putting the key in the lock – again I had a feeling someone was staring at me. I look – no one.
This has happened now a few times. I blame The Shining.
Even though Indigo’s brand is splattered all over the following video…put that aside. I like the message. I live in an amazing country.
My friend T and I both lived in England for sometime separately at different times. We often talk about how much we miss the UK . Years have passed for me. 9 years as of June 25, 2012. I can’t believe it.
I always knew there was a reason I had to come back. Time has shown me why. I would have never been able to see my niece and nephew every week, talk smack with my friends, meet new people, say goodbye to others, do fulfilling work, watch my parents age, know my siblings better, find closure with so many of life’s lessons and begin to understand myself.
I know it can’t all be down to Canada. But man I was glad to say goodbye and resent it when I moved back. Today, I love and treasure it. I’m a lucky girl and Canada, you have given me so much to love and appreciate. Thanks to my parents for immigrating here too!
That said. Let me encourage you to celebrate Canada Day listening to this tune from The Shins who I will be dancing to in exactly a month at Lollapalooza. Holla! I have been busting a groove to this song all week at work when I needed a bump.
Although the video is filmed in Portland, Or it looks like the woods in a Northern Canadian town.
Happy Canada Day! xo