Pen Friends: French Leave:




"The Paper is breathless 
Under the hand
And the pencil is poised
Like a warlock's wand
But the white page darkens
And is blown on the wind
And the voice of a pencil
who can find?"


( From 'Drawings by Mervyn Peake '
Grey Walls Press 1949 )


I Wrote :


The Mighty Parker

The mighty Parker descended
in a gentle, yet forceful drop
meeting the paper with a damp kiss.
travelling south producing 
a vertical line.
A nanopause, then a flourish.
I.
Movement on a North East,
South West axis
until;
M.

Nanopausing,
then the Parker movement is
repeated until;

M.


Before the nib rests to
inhale,
vertical lines combine with 
horizontal branches
until;

E.

Characters converse:

" Hi i am I"

"Hi I, i am M "

"Me 2"

"who is your paper mate?"
I asked

i be eeeee!

" Can we get together?"

I asked.

" Great idea "

They replied.
Go.

I IiiiI  

Mmmmmm

 Now together 

I'm 

I'M

" Now you two try."

"OK"


Mmmmmmmm

Eeeeeeee

Oh!

Meeee

Me

ME.

'ALL TOGETHER NOW

"I'M  ME ! "

( Original idea Circa 1981; refreshed with a
flourish  16th August 2017  Ck)

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( In this link, you will hear John 'Drumbo' French speaking about Beefheart's first album "Safe As Milk,")





As you probably realise  by now, I'm a big fan of the music and life of  the late Captain Beefheart. So, when in 2003,  I learned that  after an absence of twenty years, members of the Captain's Band were reforming as " The Magic Band, " under the leadership of John ' Drumbo ' French and playing London, I grabbed a ticket and attended the concert.



Here is what I wrote in my blog of this event:

As a callow youth, I made a weekly habit of reading " Melody Maker, " a music paper cover to cover,
I always looked at the various London venues where artists were playing; The Round House, Shepherds Bush, Astoria and so on and in my mind conjured up images of such places. They all sounded exotic and daring and I have to say the reality of Shepherds Bush was very different .

 Inside was a small auditorium, with a stage and a drinks bar running down the left hand side.
Moreover, it was poorly lit and everybody was standing up facing the stage. So with the smell of stale beer and much of the audience freely smoking various substances, it was quite an initial cultural shock.
But the sense of anticipation was real enough. The mostly older male audience were in an excited state
When the band members appeared, the whoops of pure joy were wonderful to hear; nicknames ( Drumbo and Rockette Morton ) were shouted out as if they were long-lost cousins. The band were visibly overawed by the reception and when " Abba Zabba " started the party began.



Members- top left Mark Boston,( AKA Rockette Morton ) Bass; top right John French ( AKA Drumbo) Drummer and leader; bottom left - Gary Lucas ( AKA Mantis Lucas) guitar ;  bottom right - Denny Whalley (AKA Feelers Reebo ) Slide guitar.


Nicknames bestowed upon them by the Captain. The banter between the band and audience was exceptional. Bearing in mind that they were an American band and this was the first time for over two decades they had played the material live, the musical knowledge of the fans was amazing.

At one point during a lull between numbers, they called out to 'Rockette ' " what beans are you running on Rockette?" To which the bass guitarist replied " I'm running on laser beans." This strange interchange was a direct quote from 'Trout Mask Replica' and demonstrated how much of the Beefheart lore they knew.

Here is the set list:

  1. Abba Zabba
  2. My Human Gets Me Blues
  3. Steal Softly Thru Snow
  4. Gone Bops Over Kilimanjaro
  5. On Tomorrow
  6. Evening Bell
  7. Alice In Blunderland
  8. Big Toe
  9. Veterans Day Poppy
  10. Floppy Boot Stomp
  11. China Pig
  12. Dropout Boogie
  13. Nowadays A Woman’s Gotta Hit A Man
  14. When It Blows Its Stacks
  15. Circumstances
  16. I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby
  17. Click Clack
Gary Lucas recited a Beefheart poem and later played the very technical and difficult "Evening Bell."
For the first forty two minutes the band played as an instrumental unit. At that time Drumbo climbed down from the drum kit, introduced Robert Williams to take his place and then came to centre of stage with a mike and announced that he was about to sing.
He said how large the Captain's lungs were and how he (Drumbo) had had to go into the desert to work on his voice power. He was very respectful to Beefheart and hoped the audience would bear  with his vocal range.

He need not have worried for, from the first  notes of " Floppy Boot Stomp, " he commanded the stage and sang with gusto, warmly appreciated by everybody.

In all ways it was a triumphant concert and I felt privileged  to have attended.

The final encore,( which was to close all future shows,)  was " Big Eyed Beans From Venus ."
Here is a video taken at The Scala ( which I also attended at a later date)





I have been fortunate to see the band on five other occasions; twice  in Bristol and three times  in London. 

Although personnel have changed, through illness ( Mark Boston); through other commitments; (Robert Williams, Gary Lucas ) and through personal reasons ( Denny Whalley), the resulting band under the leadership of' Drumbo ' have always retained their fire and passion with almost missionary zeal bringing the music of Beefheart to us.

They have continued to be amazed and delighted at the warm reception the British audiences have given them and also at  knowledge of the material being played.







Two shots of Drumbo. Note the saxophone
which John now includes in his act.




'13 ticket for the 'Fleece ' Bristol. Drumbo's autograph?



Age, as we know is a river and the older we get, the faster it flows downstream and so finally the MB have  announced their farewell tour of Britain. The only surviving  original member being, as you guessed, Drumbo.
Thanks to my good friend K., I will be attending (DV)  this year, in late November. I can't wait!



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 To finish  with, here are two snaps for you:



Just of the M5 turning to Stroud and Dursley, is this old mill, 
which has been converted into a restaurant and pub.
enjoyed coffees in very pleasant surroundings.



 This is "The Lady's Window ,"
 at Trevelgar, Cornwall from where KB 
sent this lovely photograph.



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So it's high summer at York Races next week, but of course we know, don't we,  that Winter Is Coming, with only two episodes  of this season's " Game Of Thrones "left. Getting worried  about who survives  for  the final six shows  next year. Oh well, we'll soon know.

As ever,
WiFi for now,
Ck.

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