I finally decided to take the plunge into the world of Twitter. I’ve been thinking of doing so for a while and held off partly out of inertia and partly because social media seems a necessary evil rather than something I embrace.
To my surprise, I’m enjoying it so far. This might be because I’m participating in #TheDarkIsRising; a Twitter group-read of Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising, one of my favourite fantasy books. Also, I’m only slowly starting to follow people, choosing people whose ideas I’m interested in. This secluded pocket of the Twitterscape seems benign, welcoming and stimulating and reminds me of the early days of the Internet; when people created websites for the fun of it and discussed books, music, politics, etc. on bulletin boards. Maybe the novelty will wear off but I hope not!
Four years ago I wrote a children’s story about shapeshifting for my young friends, Lucy and Jay. They loved it, so I’d been planning on looking for a publisher for it. Time flew by and other projects took priority, so it got put on the back burner. Now it’s finally being published by Wyrd Harvest Press.
A journey by train, tube, plane, taxi, ferry and bus got me to the 8th Fanø Free Folk Festival to perform with Helen Tookey and Nick Jonah Davis. Nick and I played a set at 1 am the night we arrived, and the three of us performed ‘If You Put Out Your Hand’ the following afternoon. You can see clips from both performances in these video roundups of the festival:
It was an intimate festival on a tiny island that felt a little lost in time, with colourful, thatched cottages, empty roads and endless stretches of sand.
Musical highlights for me were Dead Rat Orchetra‘s energetic saturday night performance and Kottos with their virtuosic ‘folk music from an imaginary land’.
I have a track on ‘From The Furthest Signals‘; the latest compilation to be released by A Year In The Country. Other contributors include David Colohan, Sproatly Smith and The Hare and The Moon. My beautifully packaged contributor copies arrived in the post yesterday, as did hardback and paperback copies of Fenris Wolf 9, which includes my essay ‘Art As Alchemy’.
The paper I presented at last year’s Psychoanalysis, Art & the Occult conference – ‘Art as Alchemy’ is published in the new edition of The Fenris Wolf, along with the other papers presented at that conference.
I’ve recorded the song I wrote for DRY Project‘s ‘The Reasons in the Fens’, with the help of James Street and Dean Honer. I made a video to go with it using footage I filmed when I was in the Fens for the project and photos people connected with the project sent me.
Rusalnaia’s ‘Time Takes Away’ will get a vinyl release this year courtesy of Feeding Tube Records. The test pressing of the album arrived last week and is sounding good.
The album made it onto Thomas Blake’s Top 10 Albums of 2016 list at Folk Radio UK:
‘Trans-Atlantic duo Sharron Kraus and Gillian Chadwick created the years witchiest, headiest brew of incantatory psych-folk, often switching during the space of a single song from pretty pastoralia to full-on space-rock freak-out mode. It makes for an exhilarating listen, and a great introduction to the impressive careers of both of its creators.’
The postman recently brought my contributor copies of a new compilation album and book. The album is ‘Gathered Leaves’, a compilation of tracks from the CD’s included with Ptolemaic Terrascope magazine, released by Sugarbush Records. It features an old banjo track of mine that was recorded by Jeffrey Alexander along with tracks by The Bevis Frond, Six Organs of Admittance and Damon & Naomi with Kurihara. It was a really nice surprise, as I hadn’t realised it was being compiled. A blast from the past!
The book is Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music: America Changed Through Music, a collection of essays published by Routledge that I was invited to contribute to. My essay is entitled ‘How Weird is Folk?’ and it looks at differences between the way folk music is perceived in the US and the UK. It’s very exciting to be included in an academic publication like this, as I left academia for music about 15 years ago and have recently been reconnecting with the academic world, writing papers for conferences that explore ideas that relate to the music I make.