chronicle: May 2008

The Orchestra Pit celebrated its fifth anniversary with a Soho knees-up, at The Arts Theatre Club in Frith Street. The varied but punk-tinged line-up kicked off with the boisterous Bottle Brunettes, billed as “kitsch pop punk”, whose only female member was blonde.

In mesmeric contrast, there followed a beautifully tune-free solo improvised guitar set by Gary Smith, a man who clearly knows his onions (and electrons).

Next up, fuelled by pizza and plonk at the glorious Lorelei round the corner, was trombone poetry, billed as the trombonist from The Bureau, and maintaining the rock & roll with Alternative Music Festivals and a new “recipoem”, Highball.

To round off the evening’s pogoing and/or lounging, “cult punk lounge legend” Vic Godard & The Subway Sect hit the stage. The last time Vic and your ‘umble trombonist shared the bill was on a kind of triple-header tour with the Sect, The Modettes and The Bureau (who have recently recorded a brand new album). We never spoke again for over a quarter of a century. Something I said?

A week later, trombone poetry was persevering at The Perseverance, home of Freedom Of Expression III. The proceedings were inaugurated, for a change, by trombone poetry, featuring old creak favourites like Night Shift and Self-Portrait with Vinegar and Baked Beans plus creak some new stuff, and accompanied creak by a floorboard.

The melodious Cris Tanzi followed, accompanied by the nimble bass of Alex Igloofm and the unsettling whiff of her smouldering guitar pick-up.

The blues-obsessed Mississippi MacDonald was next, accompanied by the unsettling crash of his cowboy boot on the rickety stage.

Finally, the mellifluous Julie McKee sat behind the house keyboard and brewer’s-droop microphone, and sang songs from her new album, accompanied on a couple of them by the hopefully not-too-unsettling sounds of a trombonist weaving through songs he’d never heard before.

After a successful four-minute trial run in the lounge at Nidd Hall in Yorkshire with pianist Don Hunt, trombone poetry managed to engineer a half-hour spot at the next destination of the Len Phillips Big Band (a regular employer of this trombonist): Sinah Warren, a seaside jewel in the crown of Warner Leisure Hotels. A score of big-band punters gathered in the lounge of the leisure centre, and a jazz set was delivered, punctuated by the click of snooker balls, and briefly punctured by a counter conversation about how many plastic balls are meant to be in these bags pardon I’ve got six but she’s only got five can we have another ball please only I think she’s a ball short.

Rhian Edwards‘ poetry pamphlet launch, originally located in the basement of The Poetry Cafe, became a more elevated affair, i.e. upstairs at The Black Horse. Trombone poetry launched the readings, briefly accompanied by a slight pong of muzak, followed by poets Emma Hammond and Hugo Williams and star of the show, Rhian, unperturbed by a party of Welsh hecklers.

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