Like the autumn, the winter arrived more or less overnight. We felt it blow in off the North Sea and felt the chill settle on us. The autumn light has been very beautiful and our winter sky here on the east coast never fails to lift the spirit, even as darkness intensifies.
A highlight of the winter so far was the jazz and poetry gig with Dave Green and Pat McCarthy, just a couple of short weeks ago – time really has flown. Pat and I are doing a lot of work on our set and it’s coming together with great fluency and playing well with audiences.
The Concert for Commemoration was a night to remember as well, with the choir really giving their all and with beautiful accompaniment from all of the musicians. It was a special night, long to be remembered.
It has once again been a time of change, with much of the past now settled and in its place and the future looking exciting and full of challenges. With Pat and the La Luna team we are preparing for a busy spring in NE Lincs schools. Most exciting though is the forthcoming jazz and poetry Requiem, a collaboration between me, Pat and Alan Barnes with the support of Arts Council England and overseen by Gill Wilde. There will be more to report on that shortly.
It’s been a tense time but the ships have all come safely into port and I am immensely grateful for all the kindness and support I have received and for the affirmation of my work, which continues to be a source of joy to me.
Ralph Dartford – Recovery Songs
The Albert Room, Cleethorpes Library, 4th October, 7.30 pm.
Tickets £5 from Cleethorpes Library. 01472 323650
Advance Booking highly recommended.
This powerful show examines the personal journey through recovery and is an honest, painful and uplifting examination of the process.
It feels as if autumn is here. From that misty smell in the air to the webs hanging between shed, wall, bench and plant pot to the earlier dusk and later sunrise, the year has turned. What a summer it has been, with intense heat here in the east and days that seemed luxurious while they lasted. My garden has been a source of constant delight and distraction, evolving and changing over the months. It’s beginning to look a little weary and it is time for bulbs and autumn planting to take over from the summer blooms.
This can be a melancholy time, looking back over the adventures of the summer. I think of the lovely Verdi Cries by 10,000 Maniacs (give it a listen here if you don’t know it – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1dQRgtUxu0 ) and the tender, sad words evoking a summer holiday and its end as well as something deeper and ineffable.
My summer has included some get-away time to beautiful places where the environments have been restorative and full of peace and wonder; from gardens full of statuary and majestic trees to canal walks and the signs of autumn in the hedgerows.
As the autumn settles in I am thinking about new work, poems, songs, gigs, partnerships and productions, much of which is underway. I am glad to have had such a fine summer in so many ways and glad to have been able to walk in the sunlit uplands with my best human.
Together in Grant Thorold Park for the East Marsh Community Day
Here is the link to our Autumn Brochure listing all our events for Autumn 2018. The programme is packed full of poetry, workshops, fine art. talks and music and is the result of a collaboration between La Luna, Lincs Inspire, Riverhead Coffee and others. There are paper copies available of the brochure and these can be found in libraries and other public spaces locally.
There have been some gentle moments of joy this week, as fleeting as the imprints in the sand shown in the photograph above but captured in the psyche.
Teaching singing is a great joy, whether with the wonderful choir on Monday nights or in schools and workshops. On Wednesday three of my Year 6 girls took me totally by surprise with their entirely serious and thoughtful choreography to a song we were learning. They simply decided to do it and I didn’t interfere.
This afternoon at the poetry cafe, writers came together and all produced some new work out of a workshop exercise I presented. The words were funny, touching and profound and it was a privilege to share that experience.
Other gentle moments this week have occurred in connection with others; a lovely taxi driver who made me laugh; an overheard conversation on a bus between a young man and his carer looking forward to their tea; a chat in the pub with an earnest and beautiful woman shining with the love of her God; a hug from a friend; the blue eyes of my best human looking deep into me and knowing me truly.
Gentle moments in a world that can be everything but gentle. Precious indeed.
I was going to call this blog post Spirit of Jazz in recognition of the fantastic CD The Spirit of Trane by Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble because the band had me and the rest of the audience in rapture last night at Grimsby Jazz’s final gig of 2017. But actually it’s spirit I want to write about because it has been a week of feeling spirit in so many lovely ways and although last night was the apex there have been some fantastic moments of community and togetherness that I want to try to capture.
When we talk about spirit what do we mean? I think it’s a word that is myriad in its meaning and probably context specific. There was a spirit in the room last Friday when the community choir performed at Cambridge Court. There was a sense of shared purpose and fellowship which I think is captured in these pictures.
I know I talk a lot about the power and the value of singing together but it comes home when we go out into the community and perform. The choir’s spirit is immense; big-hearted, generous and welcoming. Monday evenings at St Mark’s should be available on prescription.
Last night’s gig at Grimsby Jazz was just spectacular. Gilad Atzmon is a genius and I would never use that term glibly. When Gilad plays Euterpe enters and something transcendent happens. The Orient House Ensemble is a stunning band. Each musician plays from the soul and inhabits the music so completely. It was an immeasurable joy to be lost in it. It was a poignant night as well because it was Gill Wilde’s swansong gig. But what a finish. My best human remarked that it was one of the best gigs he’d ever been to and I have to concur.
I woke up thinking about jazz this morning and its glorious defiance as a musical genre. It is so free and so revolutionary and it challenges you as a listener to really engage. I started going to the jazz in Grimsby years ago because I wanted to be excited by music and musicianship. I’ve had such an education and such revelations and have immersed myself in jazz as a writer and performer. I want more of it all the time.
Back to the ordinary world today and the second Riverhead Coffee Poetry Cafe. What a rich afternoon. The participants bring so much, not just writing but themselves. It’s evolving as a place to consider the nature of ourselves not just as writers but as beings, existing in a time and a place. Today there was such a wealth of shared narratives and everyone left with an uplift.
And spirit is the thing that unites this experience, the spirit of people coming together to do what they do; to talk, make art, share ideas, perform, give. It’s something spectacularly human and wonderful and the stuff of living. Long may it happen.
Illustrations from In Case of an Emergency by Sophie Helen Ashton https://www.facebook.com/sophieashtoncustomart/
Looking at my calendar for December my hair begins to stand up in fright and then when I look back at November I wonder how I got everything done that needed doing – but of course I did, because we just do. November was a month and a half in terms of what I managed to do; not single-handedly of course, there are lots of people who deserve thanks, bottles of wine and much more besides.
I moved house in November, just over a week ago in fact. So far, so very good. Great place, loads of room and all boxes labelled in a sane way that I understand. They may not be unpacked for some time, we’ll see.
Last Thursday I finished the first phase of my ACE funded writing project with the launch of In Case of an Emergency, the anthology of writing from young people who either attend or have attended Franklin College and undertaken the now defunct Creative Writing A Level. There is a lot that I could say about the government’s decision to scrap the course and much has been said. It was a lumpen, brainless decision borne out of the ridiculous notion that education is about measuring and not much else. The anthology proves that real education is not something that can be measured. The learning, experience and production that went into the book is not something that can be weighed against a set of meaningless assessment objectives and performance indicators. The book is an expression of the souls and imagination of its young contributors. And it is a thing of beauty. It was very telling that amongst the audience for the launch on Thursday evening there was not one single measuring stick wielding individual present. Their absence was noted but not missed.
This Thursday (December 7th) is the second La Luna Poetry Cafe @ Riverhead Coffee. This is an opportunity for writers and those interested in writing to come together, share work and talk about what it means and what interests them about it. Last month we had a terrific afternoon and very diverse contributions. Everyone is welcome, it’s free to come along and the coffee is great.
December is very much about music and singing and the Great Grimsby Community Choir has a full and busy schedule. We are supporting community events and taking part in a very special Christmas concert at St Augustine’s on December 22nd. The weekly joy of getting together at St Mark’s and singing our hearts out cannot be underestimated. We are a very welcoming choir and we embrace new members. Everyone is welcome to come along and join us; no auditions!
It’s a lovely December afternoon. I’m looking forward to singing at Grimsby Minster later as part of the choir for the Advent Carol Service and then to settling down to watch Casablanca with my very best human. I love Advent, probably more than I love Christmas and I wish everyone a whole lot of love and peace.
And so the official tour comes to a glorious finale with a wonderful gig at The Hive in Shrewsbury. It was a special evening after a very special run of gigs. This tour has been an incredible experience for me as a writer and performer. I’ve found a rhythm and a style on stage that I am very comfortable to inhabit. I feel like I’ve found my home now as a performer and it is a very happy one. The warmth and generosity of the musicians has played a big part in me finding my groove. I will miss them all and am already forming plans and ideas, dreams and schemes as to what happens next.
So, thank you to everyone who has made this a success and such a joy. But special, heartfelt thanks to my lovely friend, mentor and jazz wizard Gill Wilde. It was Gill who started this and she was there to the last note and the last word. Her energy, commitment and belief in this project have been the special ingredients that have made this work. Gill is stepping back from her role as Mrs Grimsby Jazz and the town will be poorer for it. Gill has given so much time, love and energy to jazz over the years and although she deserves her time in the sun, we will miss her so very much.
And so, adieu for now beautiful jazz and poetry world but we won’t be apart for long …
In Case of an Emergency: Book Launch. November 30th @ Moon on the Water
La Luna presents: In Case of an Emergency
Book Launch with Franklin College Young Voices
La Luna Publishing is delighted to announce the publication of its first anthology of ambitious new writing In Case of an Emergency. The book is the result of a project delivered by La Luna for the Franklin College Young Voices, emerging writers keen to develop their skills in both writing and performance. The book also features photography and original illustrations.
To launch the book La Luna is hosting an event at Moon on the Water in Cleethorpes on Thursday 30th November where the participants will perform some of their work. The event begins at 7.30 pm and entry is free. Copies of the book will be available to purchase for £6.00
The anthology has been produced with support from Arts Council England. The funding has meant that the young writers have had the invaluable opportunity to receive critical editorial feedback on their work from professional writers and editors Josie Moon and Nick Triplow. They have also benefited from workshops with professional poets Antony Dunn and Helen Mort.
It would be wonderful to have a great audience at the event to show support for these talented young people and the work they have done.
The Poetry Cafe @ Riverhead Coffee
Following on from our enjoyable National Poetry Day events La Luna is very pleased to announce that in partnership with Riverhead Coffee we will be hosting a regular Poetry Cafe event for poets, writers and audiences to enjoy an afternoon of readings and conversation about writing. The first Poetry Cafe will take place on Thursday 2nd November at Riverhead Coffee between 3.00 -5.00 pm and this first event is open to anyone to come along and read. We plan to run this event monthly and to have many poets and writers from our region joining us.
We were sorry to have to cancel the Poetry Tea today but even poets get poorly and we will reschedule this event as soon as we are able.
Great Grimsby Community Choir GGCC
Following our very happy and successful move to St Mark’s church where we are settling in very nicely GGCC now has a packed autumn schedule of events and performances. We are thrilled to be singing this Sunday as part of The Fisherman’s Memorial Service at Grimsby Minster. The service starts at 2.00 pm and all are welcome to come along. We have some lovely songs to sing including Jo Townell’s arrangements of You Know You’re Home and Cold Winds Blow both by McCarthy and Moon and written specifically about the Grimsby fishing heritage.
Thanks to our friend Ian Pickles at The Peoples Magazine we have a lovely new logo.
For regular information about what GGCC are up to why not like our new Facebook page