I always get gig nerves and I’m always glad I do. They have a focusing effect and take me right to the heart of the moment, to the meaning of the performance. It never matters how big or small the audience is, gig nerves are always welcome as a physical sign that I’m engaging with what’s about to happen.
The process goes in stages for me. In the afternoon before a gig I become introverted, lost in the anticipation of what’s ahead. I withdraw, go into that space inside that’s exclusively mine. It’s a private room in Moon Towers to which no one but me has access. Only recently have I recognized this withdrawal as a positive thing. I used to worry that it was my body telling me I didn’t really want to perform but now I see it’s my body’s way of making sure I’m ready.
As I physically get ready for the performance – hair,make-up, dressing – I come out of that withdrawal and into the anticipatory stage. Giddiness follows and then readiness.
Taking to the stage last night with the most incredible band, the Alan Barnes Octet, I felt that I had rarely been more ready or more up for a gig. This tour, this music, this poetry, this performance period feels like a whole new level of experience, a different world. It’s not just the fact that every member of the band is a stellar musician in his own right or that together their alchemy is beyond the reach of words. It’s also the marriage of words and music, of Ariadne’s silver thread leading the way through a labyrinth of rhythms and sounds and vibrations that create a whole shimmering completeness. It’s an ecstatic experience to be in and of that process.
Kardomah94 is an exceptional place. It’s an arts space with an ethos of ‘can do, will do, and they do. It is a venue that serves artists and audiences equally well and it truly was a pleasure to be there.
As with the very best gigs, I don’t remember very much about last night. But I do remember the conversations afterwards, the people we touched, the rapture in the room at moments.
Pauline, a member of the audience gave me two drawings as a gift. A witch in an eggshell and me as a mermaid. How beautiful that she saw me as a mermaid. Thank you Pauline. And thank you to everyone who came last night. It was truly something.
It’s a big week at Moon Towers, the imaginary house inside my head where I spend a lot more time writing and a lot less time ‘doing’ in the world. Moon Towers is an enormous, rambling old place with an orchard and a rose garden in what was once a ballroom. There’s a pile of old dogs sleeping on couches in a conservatory that is west facing so as to welcome the sunset each day. There is always a sandwich, always a coffee and never any laundry or washing up to do.
And we’re back in the real world for a moment. The real world this week actually is a manifestation of the fruit of the time spent in Moon Towers. This week sees the beginning of the tour with Alan Barnes, Pat McCarthy and the fabulous Fish Tales orchestra. We begin on Thursday 6th July at Kardomah 94 in Hull. I’ve been rehearsing and buying frocks.
Also this week I launch the first part of my ACE funded poetry project and am thrilled to be working with Antony Dunn, Nick Triplow and the young writers at Franklin College. This part of the project will culminate in a La Luna anthology of new writing from the young people later this year.
As if that wasn’t enough, A Fish Tale for Juniors goes to print tomorrow, just in time for the children’s singing festival next week. I get to dress up as Saga, the Norse Goddess associated with poetry and history for the festival. Appropriate for a storyteller I think.
Last but not least, Pat McCarthy and I will be getting our heads together and launching a new and exciting mini project featuring jazz and poetry.
Sometimes I think I don’t do enough, that I’m not busy or productive enough. I fall prey to feeling guilty about the time I spend on the roof at Moon Towers, counting stars and dreams and singing to the old dogs downstairs.
But it’s all worthwhile and beyond exciting when a week like this rolls in; when your doves come home from the mysterious places they’ve been in flight and settle in their cote under a twilight blue sky with the scent of old roses drifting in on the breeze.
A Jazz Suite by Alan Barnes and Pat McCarthy – Artwork by Dale Mackie and Poetry written and performed by Josie Moon.
The CD is now available from http://www.woodvillerecords.com/FishTales.htm
‘A Fish Tale’, the poetry collection is now available to buy as an attractive, limited edition pamphlet. Make your order via the secure Paypal link on the contact page.