Author Archives: cath

Sloth Racket ‘Shapeshifters’ album and tour

The second Sloth Racket album ‘Shapeshifters’ is available to pre-order today, with albums shipping out and full release on 12th June (on Luminous). Recorded in October 2016 at Blueprint Studios in Salford, the album is made up of four new pieces that we developed over the course of our Autumn tour. Have a listen to a preview track and order your copy in advance from the Luminous Bandcamp site.

To launch the album we’re heading out on tour at the end of June, with support from Arts Council England. The tour takes us to some new places, perhaps the most exciting of which is the first ever edition of Listen! in Cambridge. Listen! is being set up by dedicated London jazz scene supporters Carol Garrison and Graham Lee, who have relocated to Cambridge and decided to get their hands dirty setting up a new outpost for adventurous music there. As well as Cambridge we’ll be playing in Bristol and Norwich for the first time, plus returning to Leeds and Brighton to play at Wharf Chambers and Safehouse. To start things off we’ll be doing a set on the Saturday of the second LUME Festival, which presumably you’ve already got your tickets for…

Here’s the tour itinerary, with links to more info on the gigs:

24th June London: IKLECTIK (LUME Festival)
26th June Leeds: Wharf Chambers (presented by Sproggits)
27th June Bristol: The Old England (presented by Pull The Strings)
28th June Brighton: The Verdict (presented by Safehouse)
29th June Norwich: York Tavern (presented by Plink Plonk)
30th June Cambridge: Unitarian Church (presented by Listen!)

See you out there!

 

Trip report: Raw Tonk Records fifth birthday mini-tour of the Lowlands

I’m back from a few days in Belgium and Holland with Ripsaw Catfish, on the Raw Tonk Records fifth birthday mini tour of the Lowlands. The touring party was three duos: Colin Webster and Andrew Lisle; Graham Dunning and Dirk Serries and Ripsaw Catfish. We were away for three nights, playing at Pletterij in Haarlem, De Singer in Rijkevorsel and De Ruimte in Amsterdam. Colin brought the entire Raw Tonk catalogue, which made for a formidable merch table. 23 releases! It didn’t stay looking like this for long though, as the Haarlem audience snapped up a sizeable chunk of the stock on the first night…

Each night we changed the running order: it was interesting to compare the three gigs as whole evenings, as well as each duo’s changing music. In particular, Graham and Dirk had never played together before, and it was fascinating to hear them create their music together for the first few times. I hope there will be more to come. The Pletterij date (which was reviewed by the Opduvel blog) coincided with the release of our second Ripsaw Catfish album on Raw Tonk, ‘Namazu’, so that gig became our album launch. It opened with a blasting set from Colin and Andrew:

Video and audio from these gigs are on their way: all three were recorded so I’m looking forward to listening again. Rob Braken took this photo of our set, also at Pletterij:

I can’t find any decent quality photos from our second gig, at De Singer in Rijkevorsel, but it was a lovely evening (reviewed on Peter Prong’s blog). I was struck by the great hospitality at all the gigs and the friendly audiences! At De Ruimte in Amsterdam, where Anton and I also played last year, the room is at the top of an old ‘traffic tower’, with views across the city. Despite the amount of glass, it still manages to feel really cosy:

A massive shout out to Dirk, who drove us around in a van each day from our base in Rijkevorsel (where he lives). The Simpel & Goe B&B where we stayed, incidentally, was excellent! Colin took a selfie of the gang on our way to have dinner before the gig at De Singer:

The Raw Tonk fifth birthday celebrations continue over the next couple of weeks. You can catch the Raw Tonk Festival at Hundred Years Gallery in London on 25th March (tickets), The Old Bank in Manchester on 26th March (tickets), and a Raw Tonk triple bill at Cappelens Forslag in Oslo on 2nd April.

First two photos by Dirk, last two by Colin, middle one by Rob Brakel.

Five Years of Raw Tonk Records

This month, Colin Webster’s mighty Raw Tonk label is celebrating its fifth birthday with a burst of activity – including lots of live dates for Ripsaw Catfish! First up is the Raw Tonk Lowlands Tour this weekend. We’re heading to Haarlem, Rijkevorsel and Amsterdam as part of a cluster of three duos:

After that there’s some brief down-time before the Raw Tonk Festival hits London and Manchester. For these gigs Anton and I will be playing trio sets with Dee Byrne for the first time:

And then to top it all off, we’re heading to Oslo on the first weekend of April for a triple bill of Ripsaw Catfish, Tom Ward/Andrew Lisle and KTHXBYE at Cappelens Forslag.

Happy birthday Raw Tonk – amazing work Colin!!

Namazu

The second Ripsaw Catfish album ‘Namazu’ is available to pre-order from Raw Tonk Records now – with the CDs shipping out on 17th March. Recorded over two gigs at Cafe Oto (for Match & Fuse Festival last October) and IKLECTIK (for LUME’s LJF triple-bill special last November), it’s a nice record of where we’re at with the duo, nearly three years after our first release ‘For The Benefit Of The Tape’. The excellent artwork is by Colin Webster. Namazu is a giant catfish from Japanese mythology, responsible for earthquakes but usually restrained by a stone to its head…


We’re playing a cluster of Ripsaw Catfish gigs as part of the Five Years of Raw Tonk celebrations: Pletterij, Haarlem, NL (17th March); De Singer, Rijkevorsel, BE (18th March); De Ruimte, Amsterdam, NL (19th March); Hundred Years Gallery, London (25th March); St Margarets Church, Manchester (26th March); and at a venue tbc, Oslo, NO (2nd April). We’re also appearing at Thinking/Not Thinking Festival on 8th April at New River Studios, London.

Trip report: Word Of Moth at Jazzwerkstatt Festival, CH

I’m just back from a fantastic trip to Bern, Switzerland, playing at Jazzwerkstatt‘s tenth anniversary festival with Word Of Moth. Dee and I were invited by Marc Stucki and Benedikt Reising, the artistic directors at Jazzwerkstatt, to bring a LUME ensemble to the festival and collaborate with some Swiss musicians. Two sax players who have spent the last decade building up the festival into its current five-night form, Marc and Benedikt share a lot of common ground with us, so it was a great to chance to get an insight into the Swiss take on artist-led endeavours like our own. They both appeared several times across the programme as players, popping up in horn sections of various different ensembles and as part of established collaborations. It was clear that Jazzwerkstatt inhabits the same territory that LUME aims to; creating self-produced gigs and festivals that allow the artistic directors to develop their own work within the context of a wider community of artists and collaborators.

The festival venue was Turnhalle, the converted gymnasium of an old school building that is now inhabited by a truly amazing cross-arts space called PROGR. The building houses artists’ studios, venue spaces of different sizes, two cafe/bar/restaurant options and a new ‘living room’ open for use for small events and meetups. It was immediately evident upon walking through the school gates that this is a place with a strong artistic community around it.

In discussion on email with Marc and Benedikt before the festival, we decided to expand the usual Word Of Moth lineup of me, Dee, Seth Bennett and Johnny Hunter to include Oli Kuster (keys), Simon Petermann (trombone) and Lukas Thöni (trumpet). LUME suggested the instrumentation, Jazzwerkstatt picked the players, and the rehearsals were booked in. Rather than writing new music for the collaboration, we arrived in Bern armed only with the existing quartet repertoire and a plan to arrange new versions of the music through rehearsal with the Swiss musicians. This approach felt slightly risky, but it was closest to the spirit of how Word Of Moth usually works (simple frameworks for pieces, that we flesh out into arrangements together). We had spent the past couple of weeks working intensively as a quartet for the recording of our first album and two UK performances, so the band felt in good shape as we set out. Oli, Simon and Lukas turned out to be a great fit, and over the course of two rehearsals at PROGR we assemble a set of music for the gig.

The technical team working on the festival were a total joy to work with, and the gig had possibly the best live sound on stage I’ve experienced. They also used a very pleasing 3D stage plan (see above) to discuss how we wanted to set up. As our second rehearsal was a public one taking place on the stage, we worked on the music as the team simultaneously set up the microphones and monitors, and by the end of the afternoon everyone was ready for the gig. I liked this approach as it meant we had quite a long period to acclimatise ourselves on stage, which I think meant I felt more comfortable in the space when it came to the performance.

Photo from the Jazzwerkstatt Instagram, credit coming soon

Our set was on the festival’s opening night, and we played to a packed house of enthusiastic listeners. After months of discussion and preparation, the gig felt like it was over in about two seconds (as these sort of things usually do); but the unanimous feeling after the show was that it had gone really well. Thanks to Jazzwerkstatt’s very generous hospitality we were able to stay on for the rest of the festival, and conversations with our three Swiss bandmates during that time revealed that everyone was keen to play together again in the future. We left Bern having made many new connections, heard all sorts of new music, and encountered a new city and its artists. Thinking back over the trip as I write this I’m left with a feeling of optimism; that exciting taste of a new creative thing emerging and looking around for where to go next. We have already started talking about how to make a UK return leg happen, so I have a feeling that the next LUME/Jazzwerkstatt encounter will be making itself known before too long…

Madwort Sax Quartet album available to pre-order

It’s out there! Well, almost. The Madwort Sax Quartet album is available to pre-order from Efpi Records now:


We’re touring to celebrate the release: catch us at Jazz North East, Bridge Hotel, Newcastle (12 February)Plink Plonk, York Tavern, Norwich (1 March); A Little Bit Of Nothing, Derby (2nd March); IKLECTIK, London (5 March) and The Wonder Inn, Manchester (6 March).