Josie Moon

Writer, Musician and Community Artist

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Shadow Kingdom: Bob Dylan, July 2021

Shadow Kingdom: Bob Dylan

Live Stream Event – July 2021

From the opener When I Paint My Masterpiece to closer Baby Blue Bob Dylan gives us a mesmerising fifty-minute glimpse into his Shadow Kingdom, over which he presides, elusive as ever, wearing the masks of jester, crooner, mage and poet simultaneously; only occasionally allowing us to see his true, astonishing face in close up.

Bob Dylan at eighty is the artist of our age, Nobel Laureate and weaver of worlds. In Shadow Kingdom across thirteen songs, he creates a mood and atmosphere that linger long after the show ends.

Shadow Kingdom is subtitled The Early Songs of Bob Dylan. The set list is drawn mainly from the period 1965 – 1967 with a couple of early 70s inclusions.  The stand-out song in terms of period is the 1989 What Was It You Wanted? from Oh Mercy; arguably Dylan’s finest 80s album. It sticks out in a set that otherwise represents that late 60s purple period when Dylan was producing brilliant album after brilliant album.  Perhaps Dylan is asking us to reflect on what is wanted from him, both now and back in the later 60s when he hit his stride with the tour de force that begins with the snarls and growls of Bringing It all Back Home and ends with the thin wild mercury of Blonde on Blonde

Shadow Kingdom is filmed in soft monochrome tones, directed by Alma Har’el and shot in Santa Monica over seven days. It perhaps defies any expectations that the audience might have had before seeing it.  What was it we wanted; a concert movie? A live set? Whatever it was we wanted, what we got was a beautiful surprise. The band is stripped back, the black and white sets are curious and mercurial Dylan is diction-perfect.  

There is a distinct Lynchian vibe in the settings; this band would not have been out of place at The Roadhouse in Twin Peaks. The interplay of shadow and light, the ubiquitous cigarette smoke are tropes that are familiar to those who know the Lynchverse. But with Lynch, it is always the darkness that dominates. In Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom, the light is equally important. There are even visual jokes.  Two hard staring tough mamas flank Dylan as he croons I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight; one even flicks lint from the shoulder of his jacket. During The Wicked Messenger, the lead guitar player is wheeled into shot three times to play the riff.  There is humour at work.  There is also compassion. Queen Jane is no longer approximately, and the song is more reconciliatory than accusatory. Forever Young drips with love – imagine having that written for you as a kid? Tom Thumb does not sound as pissed off as he was in 1966; perhaps he and Juarez have come to terms with each other after all this time.  To Be Alone With You gets a re-write, reminding us that the bard can do as he likes with his own words; he doesn’t have to please anybody but himself.

The bar setting for half of the set features a cast of characters from another time; the late 40s, early 50s. They seem to be an ensemble of outsiders, cast in a dignified light, noble, enigmatic and strange.  A louche, drunk girl lounges against the back of the stage. Unlikely couples dance together, reminding us of a time when dancing with strangers was not a danger to health. Dylan delivers his poetry and music with intensity and gesticulation that add to the gravitas of his performance to a largely indifferent audience. Even stranger than a broken down roadside bar, semi–derelict with a  cast of characters looking for a novel, is the room with the black and white chequered floor, where light and shadow create a dream-like space and where without the audience, all eyes are on Dylan and his musicians.  

Dylan holds the space across liminalities. The setting, the audience are out of time. The past and present collide through the poetry and the music, through Dylan’s presence, his voice, which is rough and rich. His band play behind face masks; the clear and present danger of our times reflected in their inscrutable, hidden faces. They play stripped back Americana, without drums. They are consummate players providing acres of space for Dylan’s words to cast their spells.

The audience is without masks They smoke endless cigarettes, are proximate to each other. Over this out of time kingdom of shadows and light, Dylan presides; his words the laws of the place, his face, grave and wise, etched with the lines of a life richly lived.

Dylan has given us other rich gifts during the period of the pandemic. His seventeen-minute opus Murder Most Foul was released on March 27, 2020 as a single.  It is a moving and troubling work that examines the murder of John F Kennedy through an inquiry into the impact of traumatic events on the culture.  It was followed by the release of Rough and Rowdy Ways on June 19th 2020, Dylan’s 39th studio album. The album is undoubtedly one of his finest.

Hopefully Shadow Kingdom is a beginning and not an end and Dylan might treat us to his later songs or a filmic setting of Rough and Rowdy Ways. However, it’s best not to live in hope; Dylan will do what he wants, as he should. That’s what makes him the artist he is

Set List Details:

1.           When I Paint My Masterpiece:  1971 – Bob Dylan and the Band                                   

2.           Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine:  1966 – Blonde on Blonde                            

3.           Queen Jane Approximately:  1966 – Highway 61                                   

4.           I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight:  1967 – John Wesley Harding                                    

5.           Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues:  1966  – Highway 61                                 

6.           Tombstone Blues:  1966 – Highway 61                                        

7.           To Be Alone with You:  1969 – Nashville Skyline                                    

8.           What Was It You Wanted:  1989 – Oh Mercy                            

9.           Forever Young:  1973 –Planet Waves                             

10.        Pledging My Time:  1966 – Blonde on Blonde                                         

11.        The Wicked Messenger:  1967 – John Wesley Harding                                       

12.        Watching the River Flow:  1971 – Single with Leon Rusell   

13.        It’s All Over Now Baby Blue:  1965 – Bringing It All Back Home         

Personnel

Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, harmonica

Alex Burke

Buck Meek

Shahzad Ismaily

Janie Cowan

Joshua Crumbly

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Horses: Patti Smith

Horses is the debut studio album by American musician Patti Smith. It was released on November 10, 1975 by Arista Records

Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.

The opening line of this seminal album still raises the hairs on the back of my neck. This week I have immersed myself in the life and work of Patti Smith, rediscovering Horses, watching astonishing videos of performances and interviews and reading not only her work, The Coral Sea and Just Kids but other writing about her and her extraordinary life and work.

One morning this week, feeling unusually energised in this strange time in our collective lives, I danced to the whole of Gloria, in my pyjamas, shaking my whitening locks and soaking in the raw, energetic brilliance of it.

There is so much written about Patti, her life and her work, and so much critical appraisal of Horses that it is hard to know what to add. There are two personal moments of intersection with Patti Smith’s life and work that have returned to me as I’ve been listening and reading. One was my recollection of seeing her 1976 performance of Horses on the Old Grey Whistle test. I didn’t see it in 1976 because I was nine years and it was on late at night. I saw it in the early eighties, probably 84/85 during a repeats season. I was emerging as a young woman, curious about the world, about art, intent on discovery. I was encountering feminism for the first time and beginning to question the paradigms of femininity in my own life and culture. There was Patti, snarling out of the screen, androgynous, raw, powered with an energy unlike anything I’d seen. I found her a bit scary. I was used to seeing a very different presentation of women in music, often doll-like, obscured by hair and make-up. As a little girl I had cavorted around the living room every Thursday evening, imitating the dance moves of Pans People/Legs and Co on Top of the Pops, believing this was a zenith of female achievement and artistic expression. Patti was not that.

My second intersection with Patti’s world was an unexpected surprise. In 2012, on holiday in Scotland, myself and friends discovered that Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs were on display in the arts centre in Dunoon. It was a cold March day in a small town where we spent a thoughtful couple of hours with these provocative and moving works.

The Romantic, Bohemian sensibility of Patti Smith, and Robert Mapplethorpe imbued their life and work from the moment of their chance meeting in New York. Rimbaud and Blake were their guides and watching Patti now, singing In My Blakean Year, with her band, masked for our times, bringing in 2021, her words joy will conquer all despair take on a whole new depth and resonance.

Patti now has all the grace and power of a magus, a shamanic crone, shimmering with gravitas. Her generosity and compassion radiate from her. After all her losses, her tragedies she could have so easily succumbed to bitterness and corrosive sorrow; instead she stands in the light and offers her hand to all and invites us to dance with her and to embrace hope and responsibility for a better future.

If you’ve not seen it yet – watch this.

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Winter Comes

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.

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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.

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A Concert For Commemoration

Earlier this summer, La Luna secured a substantial Arts Council grant for the provision of a number of poetry and music projects for North East Lincolnshire.  The Poetry Cafe is up and running under the leadership of poet and teacher Carolyn Doyley and the Emerging Voices project is now well underway with young writers engaged in a year-long project. Look out for their first event in December.

One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of the project was the commissioning of brand new music for the Great Grimsby Community Choir.  The choir is constantly evolving and developing. It has great creative energy and enthusiasm and it was the choir’s willingness to try new things and be challenged that resulted in this project being possible.

The new music, which has been co-written with Pat McCarthy, Joanne Townell and myself is in rehearsal and will be performed at Grimsby Minster on November 17th.  The music commemorates the centenary of the end of the First World War and we hope it is a moving tribute to everyone who lost their lives in that terrible conflict.

Tickets for the concert are £8 full price, £6 students and unwaged. Accompanied children under 16 are welcome to attend free.  Refreshments are available at the interval.  Tickets can be purchased directly from me via email to info@josiemoon.co.uk  or from Cleethorpes Tourist Information office or the Grimsby Minster Coffee Shop.  Doors open at 7.00 pm for a 7.30 start.

 

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McCarthy and Moon Autumn Tour

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We are pleased to announce our Autumn Tour for 2018 with a series of dates in North East Lincolnshire.

Friday 14th September 

7.30 pm at The Globe in Cleethorpes.  This lovely new coffee and book shop is an intimate venue with very welcoming hosts.  Entry is free. Signed copies of Poems from the Swamp will be available to purchase At £7.50

Poems from the Swamp Josie Moon

Poems from the Swamp

Saturday 29th September

7.30 pm, The Steel Rooms, Brigg

£5.00

Myths of  Birds and Water: An evening of Poetry and Jazz featuring a spoken word performance from Steve Meek.

The theme of the evening is birds and water and the myths that surround both.

Saturday 27th October 

7.30 pm, The Steel Rooms, Brigg

£5.00

An evening of Poetry and Jazz featuring a spoken word performance from Steve Meek. With special guests David Power and Ken Marley.

Thursday 1st November 

7.30 pm, The Albert Room Cleethorpes Library

£5.00 – Tickets available from Cleethorpes Library.

An evening of Poetry and Music featuring very special guest, internationally renowned bass player, Dave Green.

Dave Green

Internationally renowned bass player, Dave Green

 

 

 

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Words and Pictures Autumn Season 2018

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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.

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Christmas Songs in August

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The Best Words project is now well underway and the Words and Pictures autumn season brochure is almost ready to be released.  It’s packed full of poets and events programmed for several venues across the region.  The web version will be posted here on the website shortly.  Here’s a quick overview of what is happening:

Emerging Voices

One strand of best words is the Emerging Voices writing project for young writers aged 18-25.  We have established our group and their autumn schedule is already looking busy with a series of workshops and events including visits from poets working on the national scene.  Their first meeting was inspiring for all of us and we’re looking forward to a fine body of new work from them.

Poetry Cafe

Poet and teacher Carolyn Doyley takes the helm of the Poetry Cafe in September when it reconvenes on the 3rd Thursday of the month at Riverhead Coffee.  There will be a mixture of workshops, read-arounds and poetry suppers through the autumn with some very special guests.

Carolyn Doyley

Carolyn takes the helm of the Poetry Cafe

Great Grimsby Community Choir

Pat McCarthy and I have been writing music over the hottest summer I can remember – thankfully it’s cool and rainy today – music for centenary of the end of the First World War, and music for Christmas.  It’s not easy to envisage the frozen landscape of midwinter, the short days and darkness when you feel like a basking lizard but we’ve done our best and Great Grimsby Community Choir will be rehearsing their new music from September.

McCarthy and Moon

We have three gigs booked for the autumn so far and we are looking to add dates.  We are setting some of the poems from Poems from the Swamp and working on other material.  We are particularly delighted that the incredible Dave Green is joining us in November at the Albert Room for some great improvisation and the warmest bass sound you can imagine.

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Best Words

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Announcement

I am delighted to announce that thanks to a substantial grant from Arts Council England, La Luna will be offering an extensive programme of events from the autumn of 2018 and into 2019.  The Best Words programme will be announced in full shortly but here is a taster of what’s on offer.

The Poetry Cafe

Our poetry cafe will continue to take place at Riverhead Coffee, Victoria Street. Dates and times are subject to confirmation but we will continue to run the events on Thursday afternoons.  We will be offering workshops and performances from special guests, all of which will be announced over the coming weeks.

 

Emerging Voices 

Following the success of our Young Voices project in 2017 we are delighted that we will be offering up to ten young writers aged 18-25 a chance to work with editors, writers and personal productivity specialists to develop their writing for a publication in 2019.  They will also be given performance opportunities. We will be inviting potential candidates to apply in July and a small bursary will be available for successful applicants.

In Case of an Emergency cover

Front cover of the Young Voices 2017 publication In Case of An Emergency. Available from Amazon.

Great Grimsby Community Choir

We are particularly thrilled that funding is available to write and perform new music with the Great Grimsby Community Choir. Professional musicians, writers and arrangers will work with the choir to produce two new suites of music, one to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One and another for Christmas. Concerts with special guests are currently being planned for the autumn and winter.  There will also be a CD available in time for Christmas!

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Poetry Thursdays at The Albert Room

In addition to this exciting programme of events La Luna is delighted to be working in partnership with Lincs Inspire to bring a year-long programme of poetry to The Albert Room in Cleethorpes Library.  We are currently planning workshops and performances with writers from the local and national scenes and will announce the full programme soon.  This programme will launch on National Poetry Day, October 4th.

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Full details of all our events will be published shortly and updates will appear on the website as events are confirmed.

Thanks to everyone who continues to support La Luna activities.

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Beautiful May

May is my favourite month of the year. Lengthening days, blossom and the trees exploding into full life make me feel peaceful. The Ash Tree in the garden has burst into life. I was keeping an eye on it, wanting to see the exact moment it got its leaves. But of course I missed that.

Ash Tree 1

May began with a fabulous gig over in Hull with the Women of Words Collective at Kardomah 94.  I was delighted to be their May out of town guest and enjoyed performing enormously. I also enjoyed the rich variety of performances from the other women writers there too.  The event provides a welcoming and supportive space for women writers to meet, read and listen and to really appreciate each other.  I loved Michelle Dee’s Blue Dress especially. A brave and touching piece that has stayed with me since the event.

Josie at WOW

Poetry continued to be at the fore as May flowered with a lovely Poetry Cafe meeting at Riverhead Coffee on Thursday afternoon where writers gathered to read, talk and listen to each others’ wonderful words.  The cafe is a small, perfectly formed thing of beauty and I could not be more delighted with how it has developed over the past year.

The celebration of words continued into the weekend with Poetry and Poppadoms at St Mark’s church, the first of what I hope will be a series of events in partnership with Ruchita Green of Masala Masters. Divine food and best words from our guest poets who all excelled. Special mention for Eve Darwood, an exceptional poet who had never read her work aloud before and Alex Murphy who similarly was a novice to reading her work for an audience. Two very different takes on the world but both wonderful. However, it was Ruchita who made me cry when she read a piece celebrating her beloved grandmother who lives in India and at seventy-five sounds as if she is the very heart of her family.

Josie and Ruchita

This week the workaday world has taken over somewhat with a mixture of schools work, bid writing, event and publication planning but May still has many treats in store. On Thursday 17th La Luna celebrates the launch of Calling to the Moon, Maria Garner and Vivienne May’s beautiful collection of moon poetry accompanied by stunning art work and photographs. The book will be released on Amazon a few days after the launch so look out for notice of that. The event is at St James’ Hotel, Grimsby at 6.00 pm. There will be music and readings from both authors.

 

CCTM book launch

I am also very pleased that on May 19th I’ll be working with Jo Townell and Nic Reed at The Great Big Sing, a sparkling fizz-ball of a singing workshop we’ve put together to encourage singers to come along and have a go – particularly if you haven’t sung before or think you can’t. This event is at Signhills School in Cleethorpes, registration at 9.30, workshop starts at 10.00.  £10 including refreshments and resources.  You can book by leaving a message on the site or on the GGCC Facebook page or on any of my pages.

I hope your May is blooming and full of light.

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A Great Big Sing

A Great Big SIng Event Header Image

Saturday 19th May

Signhills School, Hardy’s Road, Cleethorpes

9.30 registration

10.00 – 1.00 workshop

£10 per person inc resources and refreshments. open to anyone aged over 16.  

May is shaping up to be a busy month for La Luna and I’m very pleased to be co-running this workshop with Nic Reed and Jo Townell.  If you’ve sung with us in GGCC then you know that I believe everyone has a voice and everyone can sing;  perhaps not like Mariah Carey but probably like yourself, and that’s enough.  With practice and good technique every voice can develop. This workshop is designed to inspire confidence in your own voice by singing material that is fun, accessible and with enough of a challenge to it that you will feel progress.

Singing together is proven to improve mood and a sense of well-being and in this inclusive, friendly workshop we aim to ensure everyone leaves smiling and uplifted.

If you would like a place, then please do book in advance.  You can book here by leaving a comment and I’ll get back to you to confirm.  We’ll look forward to singing with you.