Revelation Review: Gaz Coombes

Gaz Coombes at Revelation St Marys July 2015

It was a rain-stormy night when Gaz Coombes returned to Ashford last Friday. A sold out crowd filled Revelation St Mary’s ready to hear him. This gig was a special start to the weekend of the 20th Create Festival (Ashford’s amazing annual music festival which this year featured Mark Morriss and Adam Ant – causing much excitement for this Goody Two Shoes), but on Friday it was all about Gaz.

Although I have been enjoying his music for the last 20 years, this was the first time that I have seen the former Supergrass frontman perform live. Why did I wait so long? Circumstance mostly, although maybe the wait was so I could see him now, in this wonderful venue, and after the recent album release Matador, which is sublime.

I loved the loud guitars and all the dreamy looping and synth-iness that filled every space in the church, as Gaz switched seamlessly between multiple instruments – from keyboards to various guitars, while simultaneously working the vocal magic.

His stage presence still has a touch of that signature cheeky charm, but in a classy way. There were no Supergrass hits played, he didn’t need them. The crowd sat and listened attentively and yelled YEAH! between songs. There was a HELL YEAH! which prompted Gaz to give a wry whisper of “not in here”.

The highlights are going to be all my favourite tracks, of which there are many – the haunting 20/20, the whimsical lullaby The Girl Who Fell To Earth, the soothing inspiration of Matador and the lovely lyrical pathos of To The Wire… 

I was toe-tapping throughout, so I was glad that for the encore, Gaz encouraged us all to stand up. I got to wiggle and wave my arms in the air, which made me very happy indeed, and for those less inclined to shake their stuff, there was the synchronised clapping. This is definitely still music to move to.

Yet another great Revelation night and the start of a wonderful weekend that showered Ashford in rain and some damn good music ( I think I can say that now I’m not inside the church). 

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Over The Rainbow And Keep On Wishing…

WishesWhen reality becomes too much or life too mundane, I send myself over the rainbow by putting my nose in a book, my eyes on the silver screen, or opening my ears and heart to music.

I like getting lost in my own imagination, but I love exploring the ideas created in the minds of others. It is no surprise I seek and find magic in creative places.

I live in the real world, but I also know that reality includes lots of other people who each keep other secret dream worlds inside their head! Some of those people put them on paper, tell stories, paint pictures, make films, dance or transform spaces, others confide in friends or whisper wishes to themselves when they are alone. Dreams are definitely part of the real world.  

Disappearing into a daydream is a short term survival tactic, one that has proved very useful to me, but I also want to be the kind of dreamer that makes things happen, not just wish that they did. If there is anything Kermit the Frog has taught me, it is that you can be a dreamer and still overcome real world adversities.

Most stories have a protagonist with a dream or a hero with a vision, and if  there is not a happy ending, there are at least lessons to be learnt from their adventures. You don’t even have to have your head in the clouds to dream or to make a wish. You might be more of a writing down a goal type of person. I just think it is more fun when you wish with some whimsy! 

Nature also reminds us of something bigger and more miraculous, something beyond our day to day lives. Even though we have an understanding of the stars and the skies, there will always be an enigmatic beauty that invokes a child-like wonder.

This is why I picked The Rainbow Connection as this month’s DIY Creative Club theme, and why I have doodled quotes about wishes from my favourite songs and films in a cute notepad. When I see a rainbow, I know it is light, but it feels like magic, hope, innocence and luck, a reminder to dream, to go over the rainbow and to keep making wishes.  

A little wishing goes a long way into keeping the inner magic sparkling, which is why I wish on all sorts of things – stars, dandelions, candles, clicking heels or coins thrown into wells, but also catching and keeping a piece of falling ticker-tape or blowing bubble wishes and sending them out the window into the world! I make it up as I go along, whenever I need a wish.

Wishing on a shooting star was on my must-do-before-I-die list. I had a Hollywood style scene in mind, probably laying on the hood of a car, which I have never done so I swapped this for laying on a stony beach. In my head, I would be next to another hopelessly romantic human, some kind of soul mate, both of us gazing at the sky, the mood ripe for wish-making. 

The reality of my wish on a shooting star was quite different, although it did actually involve a car. I was driving along a dual carriage way, on my way home, alone, tired from work. I saw a star shoot across the sky on the horizon. I thought “A SHOOTING STAR! A REAL ONE! QUICK, MAKE A WISH! SHIT, WHAT DO I WANT TO WISH FOR?! ANYTHING! DOESN’T MATTER! DECIDE QUICK! THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT YOU WISH!” Then I made a wish. A wish that existed just to make another wish come true, if in a less romantic way than expected. 

I surprised myself with my shooting star wish. The thing about impulsive wishing is that it is dangerous, any story with a genie demonstrates that very clearly. We know we are supposed to wish wisely, but wild panicky wishes are useful too, a quick way of finding your heart’s desire, with no need for melting witches.

Some wishes make me sad and regretful, others are shockingly shallow (and I think that is ok too!), while some wishes open up a whole can of emotional worms. There is no shame in wanting, wishing puts a name on it and makes it your own, while retaining some magic and sparkle. A wish doesn’t have to come true to become real, it can inspire other things, a conversation, a work of art or another dream. But making a wish will always feel wonderful. 

Make a wish today, deal with what it reveals and then make it real.

Things I Love Thursday A-Z

Things I Love Thursday A-ZAMANDA PALMER – Listening to lots of AFP and the Dresden Dolls at the moment. I saw her play at Union Chapel and it was an amazing show. She used her Patreon backing to record the whole thing, so you can watch it here.
BADGES – I collected badges as a kid, then I enjoyed casually acquiring band badges, and badges from art projects, and now I realise I am still collecting them. My new favourite is my ‘World is my Oyster’ badge that came in my most recent Badger Box (another B thing I love). 
CAT COVEN – A shop of dark delights, witchy apparel and an essential t-shirt for coffee lovers/dependants like myself. Coffee, cats, chocolate, Cassy… so many good C words!
DANCING – Nothing vigorous or coordinated, but I do try to dance to at least one feel-good song a day. 
EDDIE CAT – My darling kitty boy. As seen on my Instagram and a sporadically updated Facebook page.
FILM PHOTOS – My friend Pete has been taking film photos and sharing them every day on his blog and Instagram. They are amazing.  
GALA DARLING – Creator of Things I Love Thursday, author of Radical Self Love: A Guide To Loving Yourself And Living Your Dream (which is wonderful) and one of the most magical women I’ve ever met. 
HUGS – I love a good hug me. 
IDEAS TEST – As I’m moving to Sussex, I am giving up my full time role as Programme Manager at Ideas Test just as exciting things are happening, but then exciting things are always happening with this programme! I’m taking the time to appreciate everything and enjoy my last few weeks.  
JOURNALLING – I love any kind of writing, but journalling is great as I get to doodle, waffle on endlessly about myself and create a strange stream of consciousness. I also have a new travel journal from the last Badger Box, so I need to plan some some of voyage or adventure so I can use it! 
KICKSTARTER – I love backing projects, and I hope you do too as I’ll be launching one very soon! A collection of black out poems called 50 Shaded Poems.Now there is a social (aka stalking) element to the platform too, here I am if you want to see what I am backing and what I am creating!
LENNYHow exciting is this?! I guess that depends on how much you like Lena. I love her. Obvs.
MEL EDEMy artist sister. I get to see almost all of her artwork before the rest of the world because I am her no 1 fan! I’m so excited that I’ll be living closer to her soon, we are plotting weird photography sessions, surreal and retro film nights and other arty adventures. M is also for mugs and our joint dream of having a Mug Museum! 
NHS – Most of us in the UK value our National Health Service. Without it I would be dead, or at best living a very bleak life indeed, so I like to give it a shout out every now and then. Nurse and campaigner Jacqui Berry (my new favourite vlogger) shared this amazing video this week. Share at will. 
OATCAKES AND ONION CHUTNEY – I think my tastebuds must be getting old because this is my new favourite snack. 
POETRY – Recent word love includes Flyaway_69’s stunning 9 Word Story, Dan Simpson’s Slow Apocalypse
QUIET – Silence is underrated. 
RADICAL SELF LOVE JULY – I’ve found so many amazing ladies to follow. It has been challenging and fun. High point so far – my lip sync video! This is not the sort of thing I would have ever thought of posting publicly, but the challenge gave me an excuse to try it and actually, I loved it! It won’t be a regular feature though! Most challenging point so far – the no make up selfie, which was harder than I expected, but made me face up to my face! 
SARAH STARRS – Sarah has just relaunched her website and it looks incredible! I recommend signing up to her weekly emails, I’m always delighted when they hit my inbox.
TEXTS FROM YOUR EXISTENTIALISTOne of my favourite Instagram accounts, combining artistic masterpieces, philosophy and text talk. I’ve ordered some prints already. 
UNCUSTOMARY LOVE – Excited about this forthcoming book from one of my favourite creative bloggers, Mary at Uncustomary Art.
VINYL – Um, I have a secondhand vinyl addiction developing. Shout out to Sound and Image on Chatham High Street! 
WIZARD OF OZ – I just adore all things Oz! 
X RATED BUT BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN EMAILS FROM NERVE – I’ve recently signed up to this cheeky email newsletter, which is erotic but poetic. 
YOU – Thanks for reading!
ZINES – I recommend It doesn’t have to be perfect and Imaginary Girl Bands both by Gemma Flack, both amazing.  

 

A few of the links are affiliate links, which means if I earn a penny or two if you buy anything. Rest assured, I only share stuff I love and in this case, that I have already brought and love so much I included them in my A-Z!

New Favourite Song: Juice Vocal Ensemble – Lullaby for the Witching Hour

New Favourite Song - Juice - Lullaby For The Witching Hour

Yesterday morning I scrolled through Soundcloud looking for something new to listen to. A little way down this track from Juice Vocal Ensemble caught my eye and then my ear.

Although I listen to all sorts of music, this is the first bit of contemporary classical music I’ve actively sought out and it still vaguely suprises me how much I love it. I caught the experimental vocal trio performing last year, just by happy chance while visiting Kings Place. I fell head over heels for their Rihanna cover, and have been following them on all the usual social media outlets ever since. 

Lullaby for the Witching Hour was written in 2004, but that counts as new when you’re talking classical. Juice vocalist and composer Kerry Andrews cites diverse influences including: Brian Wilson’s ‘Our Prayer’, the Belgian/African a cappella group Zap Mama, and the soundtrack to the French animated film ‘Belleville Rendez-Vous.

Having recently declared that I need to make a playlist of lullabies for grown ups, this is the perfect lead track. It is beautiful. Give it a listen and have sweet witchy dreams.

What To Wear When You Want To Harness The Power Of The Flower

Cassy Fry Flower Power

Hello petal! No need to adjust your sets, this outfit post is coming at you in full summer colour! I’m doing Gala Darling’s #RadicalSelfLoveJuly instagram challenge and today’s prompt is FLOWER POWER! It is perfect as I’ve been feeling a bit sad this week, so I needed an abundance of colour and nature.

What to wear to harness the power of flowersI’m wearing a bright and beautiful skater dress from Peacocks which has been customised with vintage lace. Obviously I couldn’t do flowers without doing Crown and Glory, although instead of going down the floral crown route, I went for an array of bobby pins.

Other accessories include a pair of black lace plimsolls from Primark, batwing sunglasses from Sugar and Vice and my new favourite badge by Katie Abey, which arrived in my Badger Box today (which was full of amazing things!).

Cassy Fry Summer FloralsRight, now I’m all dressed up, I’m off for more adventures now… 

 

 

 

Stop Stalling And Boost Your Creative Productivity

I’m delighted to have creative entrepreneur Torie from Call it Adventure guest blogging for me. I love Torie’s blog, which is full of inspiration and advice for boss babes and adventurers, and she has some fantastic strategies to share to boost your creative productivity.   

Stop Stalling and Boost Your Creative Productivity

Hey everyone, I’m so glad to be here, talking creative productivity with you today. Like Cassy, creativity is what makes me light up. It’s not always about creating something from nothing, though. Sometimes it’s looking at a problem in a new way or creatively managing business tasks to make them more fun. Whatever shape it takes in a given day, I’m willing to bet you identify with creativity as your main source of inspiration and motivation as well. If you aren’t feeling creative, you certainly want to feel that more.

Even when we are oozing with creativity and feel like the world is our blank canvas or brand new word document (or notebook if you prefer to go old school like I do occasionally), making creativity time PRODUCTIVE is no easy task. We live in the age of social media where endless distraction is just a couple finger taps or a glowing notification screen away. “Infotainment” is the creative entrepreneur’s worst enemy. I’ve spent the better part of the last couple years working to fight off the stagnation that comes with constant distraction so I can amp up my productivity when I’m working on creative projects – here’s what I’ve learned.

Have a space.

A lot of us are working on our creative businesses from home. It’s hard enough to draw the line when you live where you work, but if you don’t have a certain space in your house or apartment designated to work, you’ll find yourself dragging tasks out for hours on the couch, flipping channels on the TV or being unable to say no when the kitty wants to cuddle. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, a desk with a calendar on the wall in the corner of your bedroom can do the trick if need be. I have a desk in the guest bedroom with a small cabinet on the opposite wall. I can peek out the window and see the Rocky Mountains in the distance, I have a bulletin board hung up above the desk and a big calendar to the right (Day Designer + Blue Sky – I cannot recommend this enough, there’s a column for projects, to-dos and notes for the month…SO HELPFUL!). When I come to my desk, it’s like entering a whole different world where my deadlines matter and the to-do list seems more pressing.

Use the Pomodoro method to limit distractions

This is the part where I tell you to GET YOUR PHONE TO SHUT UP! Put it on Do Not Disturb mode, flip it over while you’re in the biggest “time part” of the 45 minute period, keep it on the other side of the room on silent if you have to. This is something I’ve been implementing fairly recently and it has made a world of difference. The idea behind the Pomodoro method is this: You focus on one task (just ONE!) for 30 minutes and then break for 15 to do various smaller tasks.

Our brains are not wired to multitask efficiently, really. It works fine with the small stuff, but the quality of our bigger, more creatively intense projects suffer when we are constantly switching our brains back and forth between different tasks. So, focusing in on one task for 30 solid minutes allows you to really get into “your flow” that place where the work seems almost effortless and zoned in. Then, if you are really feeling it, keep going after the 30. Otherwise, if you’re practically itching from not checking your email or handling miscellaneous business tasks for “so long”, you can take the 15 minute break time to clear out your inbox and schedule those meetings or follow up with a client. Make it your goal to start with the 30 minutes and then slowly work up to an hour of one-task time followed by 20 minutes of the extra stuff. You will knock out projects faster and feel like you have more clarity to tackle the rest of what’s going on. Multi-tasking all day leaves us feeling scatterbrained which seriously hurts productivity. If you’re having trouble with this (I know I sure do!) try the app, Forest. It grows a little tree while you work on your focus task, and if you leave the app your tree dies. The more times you successfully complete a focus task time period, the bigger your forest gets. How fun is that??

Structure your to-do list –  then check those suckers off!

It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by a massive to-do list, but if you ONLY put the big, overall tasks on it, you’re going to get frustrated when you have been working for four hours and haven’t been able to check anything off. What I like to do is have the bigger list item with a checkmark next to it, THEN break it down into smaller steps with check boxes by them as well. It’s like watching that little Domino’s bar thing telling you your pizza is being prepared, is in the oven, is being packed up, and is on it’s way to you! And okay, maybe you’re not getting pizza at the end of it, but you’ll have a completed project you never stopped being excited about and that’s (almost) better than pizza.

Let technology help you – use connected apps.

Chances are, if you’re a creative entrepreneur, you’re pretty freakin’ busy. You may be running around without access to a desktop for a good portion of the day. But that doesn’t mean inspiration won’t hit, and when that happens you’re going to want tech to be on your side. I love using apps that sync with my phone, tablet, and laptop so I know I can access the info I need regardless of what gadget I have on hand at the time.

A couple of my favorites here are Sunrise Calendar (this is seriously an amazing app. It connects with SO MANY apps, including Office 365 now!) to keep all of your calendars and to-do lists in one place. Plus, it’s really pretty and I’m a sucker for a well-designed app. I also adore Evernote. I know this certainly isn’t new to the scene, but its syncing capabilities are amazing, and you can share notes and edits with a chat feature on the premium account. This has made collaborating for guest posts, testimonials, and getting feedback from other creative entrepreneurs on rough drafts so much easier.

Using connected apps saves you time and allows you to be on the go like you need to be sometimes. Just remember that it’s always best to set aside some time for a good sit-down editing session before you hit publish on something or launch a new product. Convenience can make it a little TOO easy to hit ‘publish’ before it’s ready. Don’t skip the revision step.

Feeling stuck? Get outside!

Even if it’s hotter than Hades out there, step away from your work for half an hour. Put on those sneakers and hit the trails/sidewalk/streets. You can walk, jog or run, but moving your body when you’ve been staring at that blinking cursor waiting for you to create can clear your head (and save your computer from a good punch). Some of my best ideas have come while I was running, music blaring in my ears, focusing on my feet on the pavement. There’s something about focusing on something else that lets solutions pop into your brain you couldn’t have come up with while staring in frustration. Good blood flow = good brain flow. Get out there and move!

Have you tried any of these, and have they worked for you? What are some tips for increasing creative productiveness that you have? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Torie Jochims - Call It AdventureTorie Jochims is a writer, blogger, and creative entrepreneur. She is passionate about your success and helping you create a life filled with self-love and dream-making. She loves Gala Darling, good coffee, warm pet cuddles, hiking in the mountains, bouldering, eating well and reading great books. She is a hopeless romantic with no desire to cure it. Torie also writes online content for a variety of online sources and loves collaborating with like-minded boss babes.

website: http://www.callitadventureblog.com

twitter: http://www.twitter.com/_torie

instagram: http://www.instagram.com/callitadventure

league of adventurers: http://www.callitadventureblog.com/league-of-adventurers

Adventure To… Lordington Lavender

Cassy Fry in Lavender field at LordingtonLordington Lavender had their annual open days this weekend, so I went along to wander the purple fields and soak up the sublime scent in the sunshine. As soon as I rounded the corner to the lavender field, the smell hit me. I immediately wanted to lie down in the flowers and snooze under the blue skies! 

Getting outside is the quickest way to chill out an over-active brain while simultaneously refuelling creative inspiration. I’m not really the active outdoorsy type, I prefer lazing around outside to going on an epic hike, but I do like exploring my surroundings and stimulating my senses. This was the perfect outdoor adventure for me. 

Although it was busy, the field was big enough to find a peaceful space to saunter through, feeling the lavender gently brushing my legs and listening to the buzz of busy bees. I loved watching the butterflies, bumble bees, beetles and bizarre unidentified bugs. 

 

Cassy Fry daydreaming in lavender

I did find a spot to sit (for some selfies… had to happen I’m afraid), but it was so hard to get back up off the ground! I’m pretty sure that the lavender cast a spell on me. I wanted to lay back, watch the clouds drift by above me and let the smell seduce me to sleep. I’d now love to camp out in a lavender field! For now, I got myself a big bag of dried lavender so I can take home a bit of natural relaxation and serenity.  

Cassy Fry at Lordington Lavender

What I wore: raspberry Audrey dress from Lindy Bop with a striped t-shirt from Internacionale, sunglasses from H&M and a Radiant Crystal necklace from Sugar and Vice.

 

Revelation Review: Michael Morpurgo ‘The Mozart Question’

Michael Morpurgo at Revelation St Marys

It was the sound of the snipping scissors that transported me to Venice – one of a few unexpected delights of last Sunday afternoon. For the next hour or so, I forgot I was actually sitting in a church (Revelation St Mary’s in Ashford) to watch and listen to Michael Morpurgo tell his story, The Mozart Question, accompanied by actress Alison Reid, violinist Daniel Pioro and The Storyteller’s Ensemble.

I hadn’t read the book and I didn’t know the story. I took my seat knowing that I enjoyed the productions of War Horse and Farm Boy and that the Revelation classical programme has always pleased me, but still assuming, as an adult, I was not the target audience for this performance. As an arts manager and programmer, and now as a reviewer, I’ve spent years using my professional interest as an excuse to attend events that “aren’t really meant for me” – I’ve included many children’s shows and classical concerts under that. It is definitely time to shake off my need to legitimise my presence. However, I do still love the apparent surprise of being delighted! 

And this is certainly a performance that delights, even with the moments of absolute sadness. It is quite amazing how Michael Morpurgo can unfold narratives that address the holocaust and its legacy, to create a story that is essentially a happy life-affirming one. No wonder Mozart and the violin are at the centre of the tale, both make music that can simultaneously invoke utter sadness and joyful beauty.

It feels like this story was meant to be heard aloud, with Mozart (and Vivaldi and Monti among others) to accompany the words. I was utterly captivated, all the elements of this performance interweave so beautifully. It seems so simple and minimal in presentation, but it is wonderfully complex, emotionally and artistically. 

Alison Reid read the part of Lesley, who finds herself unexpectedly travelling to Venice to interview a renowned musician, Paulo Levi. She is instructed not to ask the virtuoso violinist the Mozart question, however Paulo decides it is time to reveal his secret. Michael unravels the mysteries from the perspective of both adult and child, parent and son, teacher and pupil, while violinist Daniel seamlessly shifts between playing as Paulo, his father and his teacher. The story tells how Paulo, as a child, discovered both the violin and what happened to his Jewish parents at a concentration camp, and why he never plays Mozart. 

For innocent ears, it is a sensitive and inspiring introduction to a horrific history – here is another review of this performance which features a seven year old’s reactions (expect astute questions and air violin!). 

For me, it was an enthralling reminder of the power of storytelling and music.  

Guest Posts and Poetry

WriteI’ve written guest posts for two amazing blogs recently.

The first was for the super Sarah Starrs over at The Laughing Medusa. Sarah writes about self love, adventure and lifestyle design. When I have a bad day, I look to her blog for guidance, reassurance or a gentle but firm, kick up the backside. She inspires me so much, so I was absolutely delighted to write a little something for her blog – Why Self Love Fuels Creativity And Embraces Your Dark Side

The second guest blog post is all about how to Overcome Adversity and Be Your Own Boss over on Call It Adventure – which is a boss babe’s guide to life, style and adventure. Torie and her blog are all kinds of awesome. I recommend joining her League of Adventurers and watch out for a guest post from Torie on here soon. You can expect a productivity boost and some creative miracles!  

And I’ve also been writing poetry. Lots of it.

I’ve been posting the odd piece of work in progress over on Instagram and Tumblr, and I’ve recorded a couple of poems, which you can listen to on Soundcloud

Finally, I’ve finished a collection of black out poetry, and I’m so pleased with it that I am going to make it into a book! I’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon, so expect a flurry of shameless self-promotion!  

Link Love: Art Inspires Art

Creativity can be contagious. Just check out these links I’ve found over the last month – all creative projects inspired by other wonderful works of art.

The month’s DIY Creative Club theme was ‘based on a book’. Areeba Siddique who writes a fabulous blog called I Have A Messy Bun created a zine about the character in her favourite novel, AmarbailOver on the Sunny Side of the Street, there are book inspired illustrations peppered with emotion and kawaii cuteness. I’ve taken inspiration from some of my favourite fairytales and fantasy stories by transforming a poem I was working on with some witchy wordplay (I’ll post it on Soundcloud soon).

This mash up of black and white TellyTubbies footage in with Joy Division’s is one of the most beautifully soothing things I’ve ever watched. 

The Other Art Fair shared an image from Alejandra Corral’s art book Uncovered Red ridding hood – inspired by my favourite fairy tale. 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 8 bit is so sweet and surreal. I love the 8 bit soundtrack.

William Blake is one of my favourite poets – his work continues to delight, comfort and inspire me. Set to song, his words sound wonderful.

With the summer solstice, inspired by the enigmatic Stone Henge, some mysterious mischievous maker constructed Fridge Henge in Maidstone.

Let’s end with a song (or 22), all based on books, or with a literary connection on the last DIY Creative Club playlist. It is collaborative list, so you can add any that we missed! 

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