12 December 2019 Feature slot: 9pm, Thursday, 12 December – The Palace, Hastings

Come along to a wee feature slot tonight 9pm @ the Pig’s Palace in Hastings.

After taking time out from performing, I recently felt like dipping my toes in again. The Twist Live Promotions asked me to play a small feature slot at their night – and I was happy to. In these politically challenging, and austere, times with so many cuts to crucial services, arts funding is always first to go. We all have to find ways to fill the void, and continue to create spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds to share talents and passions – keeping us alive to otherwise unseen realms within and without and awake to the opportunities for change. This supportive event is one of many doing this, providing a space for all types of performance at all levels.

Art for the people, by the people. See you there!

And remember: Support, buy, like and share independent art by independent artists!

I’ll be performing Revolution – and a few other tracks – seems the right day for it!

 

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05 October 2019 Xtincy Rebellion – April Rebellion and 7 October Extravaganza

In April I got word of an action by Extinction Rebellion (XR) before it hit London and took over five areas: Piccadilly Circus; Waterloo Bridge; Oxford Circus; Marble Arch and Parliament Square and boy did it cause a stink – quarters of the press to politicians to some members of the public were frothing at the mouth ergo my endearing nickname xtincy rebellion.

So I shimmied on down to Waterloo Bridge the first day to check out whether there really was a takeover and re-greening of the bridge with a festival of music and performance, jubilant fun and civil disobedience. And YES. There really was!

What struck me, approaching the bridge but still some distance away, was the total absence of traffic – a sight unseen on any day let alone a weekday. Second, was a swathe of flags fluttering in the breeze off the bridge balustrade with an image I distinctly recognised as @extinctionsymbol  – a zig zag figure eight (hour glass) inside a circle (the world).   I connected with this Twitter handle around 2012 as it shared global news, facts and statistics, on species’ extinction rates, and images of beauty of creatures and habitat, and also their abysmal circumstances and decline. I know, not the most uplifting but true…. and I need to know the truth.

Many people find it too challenging to face difficult news. A product of a society lulled to sleep by a state that’s coaxed it into compliance and submission – a bit like a nanny but a malevolent one with damaging long-term consequences – and ultimately into complicity and its own doom.  Through consumption and manipulation via state and corporate owned media, propaganda, and the promulgation of fear – fostering phantom domestic and international threats or stoking potential ones.  To the point where, many citizens, expect to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, and only complain when things are not as they are told.

Is it time for the TRUTH?

Extinction Rebellion seems to think so – it’s the first of their three demands

And THIS THING was in full swing with truth speakers and seekers aplenty. Revellers of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds with household greenery, plants, shrubs and flowers, to re-green the bridge, along with picnics, blankets, hay bales, flags, placards and face paint, and a mini skate bowl no less. A small lorry supported solar panels powering a stage (the flatbed of said lorry) for bands and performers. I witnessed an extraordinarily creative and festive event with banners, human barriers, and other free-form performances each end of the bridge.

And I experienced a similar if, even more jubilant, alternate reality only 1.5 miles away at Oxford Circus days later.  I’d only seen Oxford Circus anywhere near living up to its name during a 2011 anti-austerity march when a Trojan horse, ornaments and other paraphernalia took over the space.

But this time the circus really was in town and planning to stay for an, as yet, unspecified amount of time.

Floating (on a trailer) smack in the middle of Oxford Circus was a very pink boat christened the Berta Caceres. A variety  of volunteer acts, musicians, MC’s, speakers, poets, performers and DJ’s boarded the good ship Berta or danced routines around the tarmac underneath. Entertaining rebels locked under and around her hull, along with revellers, curious tourists and the public at large dancing to DJ’s, singing along with musicians and cheering galvanising speeches.  While compliant rebels were intermittently picked off by police, one by one, their slack bodies – difficult to haul or carry – taken to vans brimming with earlier pickings.

I happened upon one van to find a mix, in age and sex, of people in good spirits, chatting or making introductions, sharing news and events of the day. Let’s say you’d be forgiven for thinking they were in a taxi ready to go home, instead of to the clink.

Remarkable was the togetherness, connection and dare I say, love (the expansive, unconditional kind as opposed to the consumptive Valentine’s day, saccharine Disney or manufactured Hollywood kind) among so many disparate people.

Yet as a non-violent movement founded on the principle of radical love this shouldn’t be a surprise. It was present in the way people spoke to, or assisted and supported each other and others who visited, and devoted themselves to their action.  It was incredible to share a space – a traffic thoroughfare on one of the busy streets in the country – disobediently transformed into one of the best nights of your life with so many transgressing for the best possible reason, LIFE.  We’re all in this together – to reclaim a soundbite disingenuously co-opted by Brexit deposed UK Prime Minster, David Cameron.  I guess it takes something much bigger than us, individually and collectively, to engender this type of communion, solidarity, commitment  among so many – The celebration of LIFE, all life, on earth and the very real possibility of losing it.

But this wasn’t my first brush with the business of extinction and what to do about it…other than face it.  I’d been involved in Dark Mountain back in 2010, which pegged itself a cultural movement, though I remain unconvinced.  After a promising start it seemed less a movement and more an opportunity for a publishing arm for the two blokes who came up with the manifesto which I note, ironically, is now for sale.

I’d also previously actioned disappearing trees, spotlighting their beauty and value – ecologically and spiritually – and the impacts of their loss. Another time me, and cohorts, focused on the extinction of many beautiful critters down by the Dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park. I was informed, by one woman (to my comical amusement) that extinction “wasn’t her thing” – the tragi-comedy of our times!

Because one thing in life we will NOT have a choice about, if we do nothing, is Extinction.

But getting back to the point, this was definitely the biggest action and best festival I’d been to on the subject!

Parliament Square and Piccadilly Circus were also overtaken along with a large area of Marble Arch/Hyde Park attracting even more crowds – also the scene of democratically determined next steps and ultimately the decider in the cessation of XR activity just shy of two weeks.  The programme  at each site from teach ins/ teach outs, to workshops, music, art, dance, speakers, poetry and so much more was immense.  Added to which with the various road-blocking actions in each surround. Well. Imagine the activity, energy?! Emotional, uplifting, connecting, exhausting and exhilarating were some descriptions.

There were also criticisms, some valid, to do with diversity for example and XR’s reach into communities beyond the (generalising here) white middle to upper class demographic – which they committed to addressing. While other comments like misinformation about people dying because ambulances were stuck I could not take seriously – pumped out of the bowels of toilet-papers like the Metro, Sun and Daily Mail. XR were in touch with emergency authorities throughout – as happens during other disruptions including accidents or events like the London marathon – advising them of routes, disruption and co-operating to open roads. Then there was the whole “people couldn’t get to work” or “the pollution caused by traffic is counter-productive”. Well comparatively to pollution caused by everyday traffic jams, as in London pollution in general which causes around 28,000 deaths a year! I think it was relatively about the same. Especially as with pollution around the world there’s no incentive for governments to legislate for clean energy or to hold polluting and poisoning to account. Nor did I swallow the accusations of hypocrisy because a celebrity hopped on a plane to support XR.  If that one celebrity on a plane – and let’s face it, it was full of other people – amplified the message by ten then my view is, it’s worth it.

One Extinction Rebellion motto is: “No blame, no shame”. In other words, my words, don’t blame, shame or judge others within the movement for their green credentials or the methods they choose.  Use all the tools of the system at your disposal to the best of your ability to amplify and raise awareness. We are all complicit in one way or another, on some level, because we all live within the system and you’d have to entirely isolate yourself to achieve this. The system needs to change.

The next Extinction Rebellion extravaganza is 7 October.

Consider offering your time to support the future of this planet.  There are many types of roles from stewarding to first aid to coordinating, well-being, cooking, technical support, stage-building, art and crafting, actions or road-blocking etc. It’s entirely your choice. Find out more. The power many takes the pressure off the few.

Is it time to TELL the TRUTH?

I think so.

Because it’s the same system that is destroying the environment and causing climate change is the one that enforces Austerity yet bails out banks, and does little to bring those responsible for the collapse to account. And demonises the disabled and caused the death of over 100,000 vulnerable people in the past ten years. It’s the same system that causes global poverty and the rise in food bank usage and supports global conflict.

The next Extinction Rebellion extravaganza is 7 October.

Is it time to TELL the TRUTH?

I think so.

  1. Tell The Truth – Governments must tell the truth be declaring a climate and ecological emergency.
  2. Act Now – Government must act now to support biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  3. Beyond Politics – create a Citizen’s Assembly

Read more

Extinction…coming to a town near you. ….

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02 July 2019 Blog – The Feastory of Feast

02.07.19

Helloooooooooo,

An old acquaintance messaged to ask if I’d like to drop down to the West Norwood Feast in October last year and play a short set. I’m always happy to support community minded, charitable, philanthropic, altruistic, humanitarian and environmental type projects when I can, and said sure. The weather really brought it in the most glorious autumnal way – sun and clear blue skies. And the buzz cooked up by the market, spread by its merry band of fantastic volunteers, and the infectious jubilance of talented performers like these guys below and the crowd’s response, was a bonus!

Held on the first Sunday of every month, April through to December, in West Norwood (London), I was one of many volunteers involved in the early days of this street market come festival – even before it came to life. Meeting up with locals in workshops in 2011 held by reps from Space Makers Agency – who were funded by the Council and I think later a little pot of money from City Hall – we were tasked with assisting the community in bringing something special to the area. See a brief Feastory here.

Thriving in its sixth volunteer-powered year I was now returning having bowed out a few years earlier to tend to my music and creative muse.  Inspired, I felt really proud to see it flourishing, and to know that some five thousand plus locals take to the streets each Feast day to join in the fun or just hang out.

One of the largest areas of the market is the ‘street food hub’ in the grounds of St Luke’s Church – at the fork betwixt Knights Hill and Norwood High Street. With the imposing colonnade of the Church as the backdrop, the landscaped forecourt rolls down into grassy slopes divided by a pathway through the middle.  You’ll find people lounging about chatting, necking some street dish or guzzling the ol’ amber nectar – ale and cider by small brewer – or joining in a free kid’s activity. The Church also offers free tea, coffee, and cake or biscuits du jour, inside along with respite on a busy day.

That spectacular facade set the scene for one of the earliest Christmas Feast events (2011- I think) which I coordinated with a bunch of dedicated and so hard-working volunteers. A chance encounter at City Hall put me in touch with an outfit called Creatmosphere (light artists). I got sign off from the Feast committee for a light display and installations in the grass – which I think got jumped by some kids, whoops!  With street foods stall, spiced mulled wine and cider, and a programme on the portico and steps of musicians, a Salvation Army band, a local choir and Christmas carols with hurriedly printed and shared lyrics- madness and dashing about – we had everyone joining in and singing.

Despite technical hitches and all kinds of glitches with power supplies, health and safety, logistics, equipment and transport, along with the last minute vagaries of people, flake outs and temper flares, we still managed to pull it off!  Miraculous. And by other accounts a success.

What I love about Feast is that it aims to draw in and weave within the fabric of the community – in the broadest possible way.

Plenty of ‘community events’ and ‘markets’ have sprung up in the UK, particularly in London, over the past twelve or more years. But how many actually tap into and cater for diversity – in the widest sense – weaving within existing community spaces, places and functions, fostering and holding the space, is debatable. I think a good community event has something for everyone, regardless of socio-economic or other circumstances, builds bridges and removes obstacles to inclusion.

As it is and in their words “Feast has around one hundred market stalls, over five sites along the high street. Volunteers book the stalls and organise a full programme of free fun and creative children’s activities (from sports days to mural making) and live entertainment (musicians to brass bands to live DJ’s, and open mic performance spaces for young people).  It is a farmer’s market, a craft fair, a flea market and a street food hub all rolled into one, even though the main goal is to provide an experience wider than that”.

On that note and I love this bit: “each monthly Feast is themed by volunteers who organise free community engaging events in addition to the core market activity. This ranges from talks on Caribbean cuisine for Black History month, a fashion event showcasing local talent and retail, art trails up and down the high street, to a Sports Feast featuring all the local organisations that promote active lifestyles”.

Yay Feast! It really is a unique and extra-ordinary market.

My journey in Feast didn’t come without its challenges. What worthwhile thing in life does? (If you got something feel free to share?). Among the many, many, great experiences and interactions with so many people there were also ideological tussles with other volunteers, Agency peeps, annoying egos (including mine no doubt 😉 and challenges finding stall-holders or dealing with their last minute absence, technical glitches and the occasional tricky punter and the like, all wrapped in differences of opinion in approach, direction, style, misunderstandings, silences, self-reflection and questioning.

But Ochone (alas in Gaelic ;-), that is the way and politics of life. And is it not also what brings true value, in the painful growth and development, and what makes us the beings we are and turn into? And what it is to be a living, thinking, feeling being within increasingly complex social and societal structures? – grist for the mill as they say!

Definitely one project with a meaningful legacy (I can’t say that about every one I’ve done) that I am proud of (and I rarely, if ever, say THAT)!

Anyway, back to business.… these guys from One Drum West African Workshop were fantastic, uplifting and elevating the crowd to another level – standing – evidenced by the truly ‘not easy to achieve’ crowd participation!

Love Feast?  Get Feast!  Hook up with other locals and make ‘your’ Feast, or mini project, idea or event.  Get on Facebook and find volunteers or go through the local services or the library or other community spaces. Pots of funding can be found through local government initiatives and/or city-wide programmes. Or drop me a line if you want to brainstorm.

Adieu. Over and out!

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17 March 2019 From Sweaty to Red Betty

17.03.19 – The Red Betty gig was an intimate affair. With Melbourne temperatures rising to between thirty five and forty degrees many peeps stuck close to home or opted for the balmy outdoors. So we really appreciate the small contingent that made it out and into the low-lit, snug interior of this distinctive, quirky, little venue to sweat it out and show support for Allie K Stewart and guest support Elliot Harvey. Tucked away behind Sydney Road on Houdini Lane those who ventured out were also treated to lovingly made drinks by those clearly experienced in the art.

We also thank the wonderfully generous co-owners come bartenders of this eclectic music loving venue for opening their doors for us.

[Thanks to Brook McKeon for the photos]

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01 November 2018 After the Feast Footage from the West Norwood gig

Thanks to those of you that joined Allie K Stewart for the last minute set at West Norwood Feast, Sunday, 7 October 2018.  See footage of Allie sound-checking and performing the gig (thanks to an audience member) in front of the colonnade facade of St Luke’s Church.  A beautiful autumnal day set the scene for this monthly street market-festival which promotes an inclusive, community spirit and great atmosphere.

UPDATE:  And if you haven’t seen it already. Read Allie K Stewart’s wee blog about the Feast  comment and share, share and share. Sharing is caring. Support independent art and artists!

[Thanks to Val Beirne for the footage]

 

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