Category Archives: Ripsaw Catfish

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.

A nice chilled December (after a mad November!)

The last few weeks have been pretty packed for me, with some really nice gigs around the place. Ripsaw Catfish returned to Birmingham and played at a lovely and busy Fizzle night (good work Andrew Woodhead!), I played a trio set with Seth Bennett and Andrew Lisle for the first time, and LUME took over the Barbican freestage for an afternoon as part of London Jazz Festival. Sloth Racket appeared at the LUME LJF gig, fresh from the excellent Limefield Studio in Manchester where we recorded our first album – the takes of which I’m listening through now…plus I went to Leeds and Sheffield, depping on bari with Beats & Pieces Big Band. It’s all been a bit mad!

December is looking a bit more chilled out at the moment, which is really nice. Our new tiny LUME label, Luminous, is releasing its first album (‘Interference Patterns’ by Deemer) on 7th December, and we’re launching it on the 6th at the Vortex. We’ll also be running another dice-and-hat gig at Hundred Years Gallery on the 17th. Before that, Ripsaw Catfish continue our accidental ‘city a month’ series by playing at Safehouse in Brighton on the 16th. I’m working on lots of plans for 2016 over the next few weeks too, so watch this space for (hopefully more frequent) updates.

Peter Woodman took some great photos of our LUME afternoon at the Barbican: here’s one of Sloth Racket, complete with Dee standing on the (awesome) LUME merch stall, and Gina Southgate painting us as we play…

sloths at the barbican

Ripsaw Catfish in Birmingham and Sloth Racket recording…

Quick post with a couple of bits of news…

Ripsaw Catfish is heading to Birmingham this week! We’re playing at Fizzle on Tuesday 3rd November (tomorrow!), in a double bill with a quartet comprising Trish Clowes, Percy Pursglove, Oli Brice and Mark Sanders. Should be a really nice evening – head down if you’re in the area!

Also, Sloth Racket is going into the studio next week. Woop! We’re heading to Limefield Studio in Manchester to record what will hopefully be our first release. After that we head back down to London to play a set on the Barbican freestage on Saturday 14th November, as part of the LUME programme at LJF. We’re working on lots of Sloth activity for 2016 too….more on that to follow…

Summer into Autumn

With multiple things to mention on here, I thought it was about time for a proper blog post rather than the usual snatched update. Sitting outside writing this on a warm but grey day, it really feels like we’re at the tipping point between Summer and Winter; a pretty nice place to be. Autumn is my favourite season and at this point in the year there’s always that feeling that we’re on the edge of it, about to dive in, start a new chapter. For me I think this is mainly a hangover from living in academic year mode for possibly too many years; but music seems to be structured the same way, with lots of people about to start their new seasons after taking a Summer break. There might not be much going on now, but things are about to happen….time to get a new pencil case! And so, with that in mind, this post will attempt to tie up the loose ends of my Summer activities and look forward to imminent Autumn ones.

Manchester Jazz Festival

The trip to Manchester with Madwort Sax Quartet (featuring last minute special guest Dee Byrne) was great fun. The gig was sold out – crazy! – and Tom’s music went down really well with the audience. The plan is to get a proper recording done this year, and I think we all felt inspired after the MJF gig to make it happen. Dee did an amazing job stepping in for Chris Williams at the last minute too. David McLenachan took some photos of us that show the gig’s lovely setting in the Portico Library:

MSQ in the portico 2 MSQ in the porticoTom’s blog post about the gig also features some tiny videos of the performance on Vine, taken by MJF.

That evening I was part of another gig at Soup Kitchen, as the UK leg of the Efpi/Onze Heures Onze collaboration. We played a set with all the French and UK musicians together, and then OXYD (Alexandre Herer’s band) played the second set. It was really nice to do the collaborative set live after meeting a couple of times in a rehearsal setting. There are a couple of videos of the set, taken by Jazz North, which I’ll post soon.

I also managed to catch a lot of other music while I was at the festival, with highlights including Rodrigo Constanzo’s DFScore performance, Dave Kane Quartet (with last minute special guest Nick Malcolm), and Craig Scott’s Lobotomy live show. Steve Mead’s programming at MJF is really great. He isn’t afraid to put on some totally out-there music, even in the main festival pavilion, and judging by all the packed-out gigs his audiences are clearly up for hearing it. If you ever want to go on holiday to a jazz festival, I’d say go to Manchester. The entry charges were really low too, so going to multiple performances didn’t break the bank. Inspirational stuff from a programming point of view, I thought.

Ripsaw Catfish ‘Shoaling’ live recordings

In a bid to try and get on top of some stuff I’ve been neglecting, I’ve finally got around to putting the Ripsaw Catfish ‘Shoaling’ recordings up online. This was our collaborative touring project last November/December, where Anton and I played five gigs around the UK with ad-hoc ‘shoals’ of local musicians. We wrote a set of small compositions (fragments really) and sent them around in advance, with the idea being that the shoal music would be ‘informed by, incorporating or ignoring’ these elements. The results were all completely different – obviously! Have a listen:

Ripsaw Catfish hasn’t had a very busy 2015 so far, although we’ve been playing together a lot in other projects, but we have a couple of things coming up in the Autumn: we’re playing in London at the Zero Wave Club on October 20th and in Birmingham at Fizzle on November 3rd. These will be straight-up, non-shoaling, duo gigs.

Autumn

As well as those Catfish gigs, Word of Moth and Sloth Racket will both re-emerge this Autumn. We’re playing a Word of Moth set at Lancaster Jazz Festival on 20th September as Seth is their artist in residence. Our first Moth festival outing! Before that, we’re appearing at Chris Dowding’s St Paul’s Sessions series in Marylebone on September 4th, sharing the bill with a solo set from the formidable John Butcher! Intense. It will be great to resurrect the Moth; after having a lot of fun doing the first gig in February, Dee and I have been so busy with LUME activities (mainly the tour) that the project has been on the back-burner. I’m writing some new music for it and can’t wait to get stuck in!

Sloth Racket are also out and about in September, playing at Jazz At The Oxford on September 21st. This is the first gig of George Crowley’s ‘Can Of Worms Presents’ series, so we’ll be sharing the bill with them which should be a blast! After that our next outing will be at London Jazz Festival in November, as part of LUME’s plans which haven’t been announced yet….not totally sure why, but I’m sure they will be soon. Anyway, it will be good! Sam Andreae is in Berlin until January, so having two Sloths gigs in that period is amazing.

LUME plans

This is the first Autumn in a while where we won’t be launching into another season of weekly LUME gigs. We decided that the format needed shaking up and streamlining, and that we needed to take an extra-long Summer break, so September and October will be quiet on the LUME front. The ‘LUME Presents’ Vortex residency is starting up again on September 6th, so there will be a couple of gigs happening, but LUME proper will undergo a sort of re-launch in late November. We’ve put in a grant application and plans are underway, but we’re keeping it under our hats for now.  It’s been so nice to take time off and reflect on everything we’ve done in the last two and a bit years, to take stock and then think about what we want to do next. I feel like we’ve been working non-stop for the whole time (and actually, we are working now even though the gigs aren’t running), so this break from the gig routine is very welcome. LUME isn’t dead though….watch this space, all that stuff….we’ll be back!

Live At LUME album and LUME is 2 birthday gig…

Quick post about an exciting week coming up. Firstly, we’re releasing a compilation album called ‘Live At LUME’ to raise money for future LUME activities. All the tracks are recordings made at LUME gigs and donated by the artists. Alex Bonney also donated his time to tidy up and master the album – so although they’re bootlegs, they sound really great! Have a listen below and grab your copy from the Bandcamp page. It was another great excuse for me to do some linocut printmaking too – so there’s a handmade CD edition…

Also happening this week is LUME’s 2nd birthday party/gig! We’re decamping to Hundred Years Gallery on Thursday 9th July for a night of improvised music with a difference. See the (also handmade and involving linocut printmaking) flyer below…

LUME-is-2-e-flyer