I will be doing a brief interview with Helen on the subject sometime over the next week, but in the meantime, here is an account of last weekend's Club Artyfartle in her own words...
I'm emerging from a fog of a grant application which has taken the bulk of two weekends plus the whole of this morning so far; I'm dodging a rain of emails from work about work.
I've had a short laugh-break (you don't need to read much of Giles Smith's Lost in Music before you get to that point: this morning, it was the description of him force-folding his fingers round the neck of the guitar as he struggled to play it).
I have a review copy of Lucy O'Brien's She-Bop to read (I had a delve last night and I'm already hooked) and review here later this week.
Let's think back to Sunday....
Cold, wasn't it? I was prepared for nobody to turn up except us, the performers, which would have been fine as it's the sort of do that's interesting to watch as a performer as well as audience. We couldn't get the paper tablecloth to stick to the flock wallpaper (it was the makeshift projection screen and it kept pretending to stick and then silently floating down as soon as we turned our backs).
I had a rug from home and I set up the chairs for us on that, and Guy Forks and the tip jar. Acton Bell mentioned doing a runner as she was so nervous (we all were) and at one point I thought she really had when she momentarily disappeared. The floor was sticky and the vibe was definitely rock'n'roll, but the quiet sort, for a Sunday afternoon. Joan set up the projector on a long chain of extension leads, rather like a funky giant's necklace and definitely not correct from a Health and Safety point of view, but quite spectacular in its own right.
My brothers appeared, and so did my Champagne Friend and her partner; and so did lots of other unexpected people, giving the lie to the fact that Facebook Events are a good idea. As far as I could see (and as observed astutely by Joan), the act of pressing the button to say 'yes' was satisfying in itself and meant that you didn't need to come. They were there in spirit, I know! It was emails that did it: there was Katy, who is a friend of both Joan and myself, and members of the Gymslips, Dolly Mixture, Strawberry Switchblade and Ut, as well as a clutch of artists and much-loved pals.
So I took the trumpet downstairs, gave it a creaky blast or two and we did a procession up the winding stairs. Lucy sat at one end, I sat at the other ( two old ladies in glasses, I believe the observation was!), with Acton Bell and Paul in the middle. Fear strangled my voice for the first song and we all had a collection of shaking fingers, fluffs and missed lyrics the first time round; but then I think we got into our stride and one after another we played our new stuff: Amy's wry and perceptive lyrics (enhanced by the fact that she worries so much in case she is too bitchy), Paul's romantic crooning and Lucie's bright and melodic pop. There was time to talk about our lyrics and the audience was silent and listening: you could hear a pin drop.
If you didn't get to London on sunday why not check out her Gonzo artist page
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