Josie Moon

Poet, Musician and Educator

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Fish Tales @ The BBC

Happy New Year to everyone. Here’s the link to the broadcast of Fish Tales from the Herts Jazz Festival.  It’s available until about 22nd January on the BBC iPlayer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09k6btg

Here’s a review from Jazz Rag of the performance at the festival:

One programmed concert of new music at many a festival these days is the latest suite by Alan Barnes, usually for an all-star octet. This year it’s Fish Tales, music and poems based on the Grimsby fishing industry. I often wonder how precisely thematically based jazz suites relate to their subject matter, but in this case the correspondence between the music and Josie Moon’s words is pretty close, from the rowdy fun of Three Day Millionaires to the street parade sounds of Homecoming, even Dave Green’s bubbling bass solo for The Drowning Man. Moon’s poetry covers the domestic, the documentary and the supernatural, her explanations are clear and her readings dramatic. Alan Barnes’ writing makes particular use of the versatility of his threeman reed section (some lovely writing for two clarinets and bass clarinet) and, with top-class soloists throughout the band, Mark Nightingale and Robert Fowler made a particularly strong impression.

Ron Simpson

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Fish Tales and Fairy Dust

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at La Luna HQ and in the world at large. The most unexpected and delightful present I think I’ve ever had is the fact that Fish Tales will be broadcast on Radio 3 on CHRISTMAS DAY at 11.00 pm on the lovely Soweto Kinch’s Jazz Now programme. The recording was made at Herts Jazz Festival on a nice October afternoon. I was so glad I was wearing a long, full skirt because my legs shook all the way through the performance  – you try not to think about being recorded while you’re being recorded but your unconscious likes to remind you and I was nervous.

Radio Times

I know I’ve said it often this year but Fish Tales has been the most extraordinary creative experience, right from the start, from the first inkling of the first poem to the last gig at Shrewsbury. It has been sprinkled with fairy dust throughout.  These jazz musicians are spectacular talents, all of them with their ability to dazzle with improvised solos and to come back to a complex score full of subtlety and nuance.  Audiences, venues, promoters have all been full of welcome and bon homie and every gig has had its own flavour and its own moments of delight.

I do have books available and if anyone would like one, just drop me a line. As it’s Christmas I’ll do two plus P&P for £8 I don’t have many left so get them while they last!

To entice you, here’s a poem from the collection:

The Fisherman and the Seal Woman

He saw her dive off the port side,

the flash of her sea-green eyes

had him mesmerised.

 

She watched him from the deep,

waited for him to sleep,

blew him dream kisses.

 

She swam to the fjord,

shed her skin,

shivered, human, on the ice,

watched his ship blow in.

 

She had him in a heartbeat

when he looked into her eyes,

smelt the winding serpent of her hair,

knew he could not live without her.

 

The fisherman took her for wife.

hand-fasted they jumped the fire,

kissed under the dancing sky.

 

He gave up the sea for a hearth

and the green Norwegian slopes,

his heart caught fast in her net.

 

She paced the shore in longing,

yearning for more than the cabin door,

the mending of nets,

tending the babes that came each year.

 

She heard her sisters’ call

felt the sharp pull,

until the seventh spring,

no longer able to keep it in

she retraced her steps

found her skin

slipped easily into the water

leaving her little sons and daughters

wide-eyed, wondering

at the transformation of their seal mother.

 

He sails the fjords and open seas

wild-eyed, more sad than mad

that he didn’t see

that she was never meant to be.

She was a dream of a girl

from a frost-bitten night

under a red sky in which

there was no delight.

He hears her in the cries of the seals,

sees her hair in the winding eels

that slip and slide along the side

of the boat where he fishes and fishes

and hopes and yearns,

prays to all the Gods, that she will return.

 

He knows in his soul that it cannot be

that his seal woman is at one with the sea,

free forever, gone for good,

called back by the salt that ran in her blood.

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Fish Tales in Folkestone

 

Folkestone is quite a trek from Grimsby but I have become adept at sleeping in the back of the car or at being in a poet’s coma as my lengthy naps have been described. The Dartford Crossing is an event and I’m glad I was awake for it as the bridge is quite beautiful. The traffic isn’t and the roads are in a lamentable state – but I digress.

The welcome at Folkestone Jazz Club was warm indeed. The Tower Theatre is a beautiful space, a lovingly adapted chapel that is inviting and well designed for performances.  The octet found themselves up close and personal again after being some distance apart at Herts on Sunday.

The vibe was suitably windswept and sea-inspired as a storm was brewing in Folkestone when we took to the stage for what was a barnstorming performance from everyone.  Because the stage was small I sat to the side which gave me a new aural experience.  I’ve got used to sitting with Mark and hearing a lot of gorgeous, warm  brass solos from him and Neil with the visceral delight of Gilad cutting through. I’ve heard lots of drums and bass as well and so it was great to hear more of Alan, Dean and Pat this time.

After having my knees knock throughout the set last Sunday, I was pleased to feel enough nervous energy to power my performance but not so much that I feared I might fall over.  As the tour has progressed I’ve added more layers of storytelling to my introductions and have grown in confidence. I feel I know the poems so well now and really enjoy inhabiting them as I share them with the audience.

The standing ovation at the end brought tears to my eyes and yet again the lovely comments from audience members made my heart swell.

I am thrilled that we have more dates in November and yet more next summer. At the moment I feel I could do this forever and never grow tired of it. However, there are stories, poems and ideas bubbling away and we shall see what time brings.

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Tour Tales 2

Photo credit: Melody McClaren with thanks 

Back to life, back to reality, well until Thursday when we hit the road again and head for Folkestone for the last gig of part 2 of the grand Fish Tales Tour.

Grand indeed. We’ve had nothing  but warm welcomes and kind words and I want to say thank you to all the venues and promoters who have hosted the production; Dave at Swansea Jazzland, Steve at Leeds Jazz 7, Chris at Wakefield Jazz and Clark at Herts Jazz Festival.

Thank you also to the lovely audiences who have been so rapt and so attentive. It has been a wonderful experience for me to truly feel the impact of my words in the response of the audiences.

Many thanks to everyone who has bought the books and CD’s, that is true support and is hugely appreciated.

Finally thank you to all the lovely people who I’ve spoken to after gigs who have commented on how much the poetry moved and affected them, how much they enjoyed the show and my delivery.

It is such a great joy and such a lot of fun to perform with this stellar cast of jazz legends, all of whom play with energy, fizz and aplomb.  I have been dazzled by some of the solos and lost in the tunes as they weave and wander, telling the story through the voices of the instruments.

Fish Tales lives and breathes on the stage; it is a complex and beautiful work and I am immensely proud to have been part of its creation and to have the great good fortune to be bringing it to audiences across the country.

 

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On The Road

Out on tour, taking the route from the late summer flowers in the garden, all the way to Swansea through beautiful South Wales to a welcoming stage a spit from where Dylan Thomas lived.

Then long, bad roads with hold-ups and delays up to Leeds and a glorious gig with added bonus of old friends coming along to say hello after too many years to count.

Home for a brief hiatus and then off we go again to Wakefield and Welwyn this weekend.

More poetry is needed, I concur. It is only ever a good thing.

 

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A Fish Tale- For Juniors

This week sees the official release of A Fish Tale – A Story and Song for Children.  This is the little sister project to the major A Fish Tale  Jazz and Poetry tour.  This work has been undertaken in partnership with Gill Wilde at Grimsby Jazz and Sue Baker at the NEL Music Hub.  This Spring the creative team has delivered sixteen workshops for primary school children in NE Lincs.

Today we came together with 700 children, a fabulous band and conductor and performed the story and music live to an audience of rapt parents, grandparents and guests. What a joy.  All of this work was made possible thanks to an Arts Council grant and has been money well spent on a worthwhile and hugely enjoyable piece of work.

We now have a wonderful book for sale; a photocopiable resource including the whole story, the songs, lyrics and music and a CD to accompany.  This is available to order directly from me by emailing msjosiemoon@gmail.com  

Josie and book

The book is £20 plus £1.50 p&p.  This is a resource that can be used by children’s groups, schools, community groups, libraries and choirs and incorporates local history and myth as well as having fantastically singable songs.

I have to say a big thank you to my partner and co-writer in this project, Pat McCarthy who is a consummate composer and sympathetic arranger for voices. You can catch us out on tour with Alan Barnes and the orchestra across the country and also look out for McCarthy  and Moon gigs coming very soon.

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Buy the CD: Fish Tales

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 

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Buy Josie Moon’s book of poetry – “A Fish Tale”

‘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.