Here’s the playlist for my two-hour DJ set last night in the Blue Nun wine bar (or, as a friend of mine cruelly dubbed it, “Madonna’s Bra”).
Theme from Enter the Dragon – Lalo Schifrin Positively Beautiful – Lewis Taylor A Historia… – Max de Castro 10 Amp Fuse – Soulus Olvidalo – Brownout Ya Hand – Dele Sosimi Shoe Shine – Siphamandia “Spha” Bembe Emboscada – Vico C Idemo Dalje – Speed Caravan Lo que Traigo es Flow – Funky Skallelujah – Joe Ferry Seven Nation Army – the Dynamics Out of the Blue – Caleb Quaye & the Faculty Perry – New Cool Collective Minha Fantasia (It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over) – So Pra Contrariar Kiseki – Kana Uemura Amor de Carnaval – Daniela Mercury & Gilberto Gil Valio la Pena – Marc Anthony Josephine Brown (Psycho remix) – Sonnyboy Sweet 2 My Soul – Dana Divine Madan – Salif Keita vs. Martin Solveig VIP (Fire Island Dub) – GusGus San Ayen – Kassav’ Sarama – Vieux Farka Touré Move on Up – Angelique Kidjo featuring John Legend You Are, You Are – Curtis Mayfield Looking For You – Kirk Franklin Church Music – the David Crowder Band Hip Teens Don’t Wear Blue Jeans – the Frank Popp Ensemble
Things I nearly played, but didn’t:
That Lady – Isley Bros It’s a Disco Night – Isley Bros Back Room – Siphamandia “Spha” Bembe
And a couple I wanted to play, only to realise I hadn’t brought them with me:
I wish the sun would make up its mind; I can’t keep putting this hoodie on and taking it off immediately afterwards…
It’s nearly noon. A shower’s been had; a toothbrush has accidentally been dropped down the gents’ loo; a replacement for said toothbrush has been found (thank God for aeroplane freebies); breakfast has been had, and there are still a couple of hours to spare before some of the items I want to see on today’s schedule begin. A good time, then, to look back on yesterday.
I arrived on site just after midday, and the happy reunions started almost immediately. I caught up with the team running the Press office (another happy reunion), and was halfway through updating this blog when the fire alarm went off. Does everyone assume it’s just a test when that happens? The whole Grandstand area was evacuated and the ringing went on for some time; thankfully there wasn’t a fire (or at least, nothing noticeable was burning) and we were eventually let back in – only for the thing to go off again a few hours later!
Friday night was hip hop & jazz night on the mainstage. thebandwithnoname kicked things off, followed by Ugly Duckling (who sadly I missed, as I was busy catching up with another friend, sorting out a few work-related things and searching for something to eat). It was while Ugly Duckling were on stage that nature decided to upstage not only them but every other band who happened to be playing on Friday. “Look!” “Up there!” “Check out that rainbow!”
It was a sight. Starting not far from mainstage, the enormous Technicolour arch spanned Cheltenham Racecourse all the way past the Grandstand. Sadly, my attempt at photographing the whole rainbow (my first attempt at using the panoramic feature on my new camera) resulted in a montage of three slightly off-kilter views of the same place!
Meanwhile, back on the mainstage, Ty delivered a storming set. His audience wasn’t the biggest (even given that he was a support act, there could have been more people); nevertheless, he had a commanding stage presence and the audience lapped it up. Sharlene Hector (who played a solo set here last year) and HeidiVogel did a sterling job on backing vocals. It was also good to see him bring on Vula (who also did a solo gig here last year) for a guest slot.
Courtney Pine rounded up the night’s mainstage programme with a high-energy set which, in true Courtney fashion, married jazz with reggae, drum & bass, South African township jive and a few other things (I’m sure I heard some salsa and even some klezmer in there somewhere!). On guitar was Cameron Pierre, whose birthday it just happened to be (I’ve got a couple of tracks from his Pad Up! album in amongst my selection of tunes for this evening’s DJ set. Who knows, I might play one!).
Later on, I enjoyed some mellow acoustic music in the Performance Cafe, where Sugarfoot (formerly Brownmusic) were playing. They were one twin short (Loretta couldn’t come, so Natasha bravely held the fort), but still sounded as beautiful as ever. I missed Zic Zazou earlier on, but they played one tune for us during Last Orders (most creative use of a pile of old bottles I’ve ever come across!), along with some comedy from the always-good-value-for-money Jude Simpson and a video report from Greenbelt’s new sister festival, Bunnybelt.
Well, that was yesterday. I have a couple of panel discussions to pop into today; Shed Seven are on later tonight – and I’ve got my DJ set to prepare for, of course…
The 09:48 1st Great Western to Cheltenham Spa has just pulled out of Paddington. In about two and a half hours’ time, I should be searching for a nice accessible spot on Cheltenham Racecourse on which to pitch a tent. I’m still pondering whether to go and socialise or just lie in it and sleep once it’s up.
The tent will be home for the next few days while I’m at the Greenbelt festival. I hadn’t realised it before, but this is actually my 20th Greenbelt! All of a sudden, my DJ set tomorrow evening has a whole new meaning.
It’s been an interesting 20 years – in which I’ve gone from being the unsure rookie punter whose borrowed tent fell in on him on his first night in it, to a virtual resident of the press room. These days, I even get to inflict my choice of music on the other punters! Nice…
There’s a lot I love about Greenbelt. Back at the start of the 90s (and the start of me dabbling in this writing thingy), the writing workshops held at Greenbelt’s London HQ were key to my early development as a writer (thanks a lot to guys like Dave Roberts and Martin Wroe, who used to share their insights and expertise with us). The more I went, the more I realised there was more to Greenbelt than music. I’ve discovered an array of writers and thinkers (Caesar Molebatsi, Robert Beckford, Jim Wallis, Phillip Yancey and the late Mike Yaconelli, to name a few), and made lots of friends through my annual pilgrimage to Cheltenham (and to Castle Ashby and Deene Park before that). And of course, I’ve heard more great bands and singers than I care to remember.
On the Greenbelt blog (see my blogroll), there’s a series of “Why I’m Excited” posts, in which people associated with the festival have been talking about what (or who) they’re looking forward to the most. Here’s my “Why I’m Excited” list:
Jars of Clay are playing! So too are Brownmusic, Gil Scott-Heron, Ty, Beverley Knight, Foy Vance, Courtney Pine and Greenjade. Just a few of the acts I don’t want to miss.
They’re screening Africa United on Sunday afternoon (check back here for a review soon after).
A couple of ‘must go’ workshops and panel discussions – including one on storytelling and one on the relationship between music and activism.
The comedy line-up’s brilliant: I have to see Jude Simpson, Milton Jones and Andy Kind (he’s recently been featured on Channel 4’s 4thought.tv – top bloke).
And did I mention that I was Djing? 7Pm on Saturday in the Blue Nun wine bar. Drop by just before Shed Seven on Mainstage…