Saturday, 12 June 2004

Musical Beetroot

Spinach beet (A4 sketchbook, Pilot disposable pen) Posted by Hello

It can hardly have escaped your notice that I'm passionately interested in Art and in Gardens. I'm therefore really pleased, over the moon, even, about having booked my tickets to London at the end of the month. At last I can get to Tate Modern to see the Hopper exhibition.

But I've also just realised that on the same trip I can take in Tate Britain, where they're showing The Art of the Garden. Hurrah!

Lest you get the impression that the Zip Passion Portfolio contains only two quivering passions, however, let me reassert my abiding interest in music. And here, I'm indebted to Occupied Country for drawing my attention to the existence of The John Martyn Website. They're playing One for the Road and Johnny Too Bad at the moment, but the selection will change.

I've been a fan of John Martyn for years and used to look forward to his gigs in Newcastle a lot. Even when I thought he was slipping a little into MOR with the Phil Collins-produced numbers, I still thought he was terrific; just not as terrific as in his Echoplex period.

There was a good tv documentary on Martyn a couple of weeks ago and it was encouraging to see him making a determined effort to get back on the road, despite all of his set-backs, not least being the loss of a leg.

Last night's BBC4 documentary on Viv Stanshall was also well worth watching. I had no idea he'd done so much after the Bonzos split up - everything from an opera to a ship converted to a floating theatre. Yet most of it came to nowt, mainly because he had no faith in his ability to succeed, and kept walking away from things, people, projects.

An unjustly neglected English eccentric, I didn't even know, until now, that he'd died in his top floor flat when he set his beard alight. I think it was "Legs" Larry Smith who said that if the fags couldn't kill him from the inside....

Neil Innes carried much of the story, inevitably, and had a good tale about their first drive across America. Being somewhat odd-looking, they were stopped by a police car. The police officer asked them if they had any drugs, coke, hash, whatever. "No, no," said Innes, hoping against hope that Stanshall would keep quiet, "we're British, we prefer a good pint of beer."

"D'you have any weapons, any guns or knives?"

"No, no."

"Then how do you fellas expect to defend yourselves?"

At which point Viv Stanshall leaned forward and said, "Good manners!"

Oh, and it's not all old stuff I like. This week, the CD player has been occcupied with: Manu Chao, Philip Glass, Andy Sheppard, Andreas Scholl, Duke Ellington, EST, Brad Mehldau, Bill Frisell, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Gregory Isaacs, Zappatistas, the Baghdaddies and Natacha Atlas.

And Donovan.

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