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Friday, 23 July 2010

Oxford University Press US edition of "The Ionian Islands and Epirus"

Pleased to see that OUP (USA) has now listed "The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History" as a forthcoming US publication.

I've also had word from an Australian contact, who's been checking off and on, and "there are now copies in  Abbey's  bookshop behind the Queen Victoria Building" at 131 York Street, Sydney (also available online at www.abbeys.com.au).


Ionian Islands and Epirus: A Cultural History ( Paperback - April 2010 AUS )
Jim Potts   
Usually ships within 24 hours
AUD$34.95


The best bit of hype appeared in the Dorset Echo, with the headline "Author's book hits shelves of Waterstones". I had a hard time finding it. There were in fact three copies on display in my local Waterstones, but they were all in the History Section. I asked the helpful assistant to move a few copies to the Greece section under Foreign Travel. She turned out to be of Greek origin, with the surname of Mavromati. She was delighted that I knew the meaning of her name.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Jerry Lee Lewis in Athens?


Having missed Bob Dylan in Athens, I've just discovered that I shall not be seeing Jerry Lee Lewis perform in Athens either. He recently released a new single, Mean Old Man.  He's at the Lycabettus Theatre tomorrow night, according to Athens News


"Great balls of fire! After an absence of 20 years, Jerry Lee Lewis is back in Athens for one night of rock’n’roll! Performing at the legendary Lycabettus Theatre with his sister, Linda Gail Lewis, Some Like It Hot and the Memphis Beats, the 74-year-old promises a night full of surprises. Jerry Lee Lewis is bringing rock’n’roll back, and you need to be there!"

  When July 23, 9pm
  Where Lycabettus Theatre, Lycabettus Hill
  Tickets 55 euros
  Information 210-646-5000





Here's something I wrote 25 years ago!

The Killer

A career in cultural diplomacy.
Met a lot of concert pianists: regular recitals.
Nothing against them: decent people, played good piah-no.
But I must admit
I'm a rocker at heart.
Prefer boogie-woogie blasting out,
Jerry Lee thumping the keyboard,
Pumping the pianner with fingers, fists, elbows, feet,
Humping it, jumping on top of it too,
Kicking the piano stool
Across the quaking stage,
Standing there shaking and stabbing the keys.
I loved it then, a quarter of a century ago;
I love it now; it's the music of my age.
When nobody's around,
I still try to pick out a basic twelve-bar boogie,
Pound away like the Louisiana "Welshman" on the Steinway concert grand.
I'm good at the glissandi. Nothing else.
The Killer began at eight. For me at forty it's getting late.
Rewrite the syllabus for Young Beginners !
Let Great Balls of Fire, the Lewis way,
Become their Grade One Study piece:
Fortissimo; with feeling.

(January 1984).

And for Czech friends, a Czech translation from just before the Velvet Revolution (samizdat edition, Prague, October 1989):




Now a plug for a new Jerry Lee Lewis CD , and for a good supplier I've used before:

THE FOLLOWING NEW RELEASES ARE NOW AVAILABLE TO ORDER AT BIM BAM RECORDS TO PURCHASE ON-LINE GO TO WWW.BIM-BAM.COM



JERRY LEE LEWIS - MEAN OLD MAN

18 TRACK SPECIAL EDITION

DUE FOR RELEASE ON SEPTEMBER 7th
(NEWLY RECORDED MATERIAL - 18-song edition. Jerry Lee Lewis might be a Mean Old Man, but he's got plenty of friends. For his new album, the 74-year-old rocker will be assisted by three of The Rolling Stones, a former Beatle and 'God.'

According to Rolling Stone Keith Richards plays guitar on Lewis's version of 'Sweet Virginia,' Mick Jagger sings on 'Dead Flowers' and Ronnie Wood plays on 'Mean Old Man,' a song Kris Kristofferson wrote specifically for this album. Ringo Starr and John Mayer help out on 'Roll Over Beethoven' and Eric 'God' Clapton and James Burton back up 'The Killer' on 'You Can Have Her.'

The album, due September 7, is packed with all-stars, just like 2006's Last Man Standing. Other guests on Mean Old Man include Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Slash and Kid Rock.

Track listing:
Mean Old Man, You Can Have Her, Sweet Virginia, Rocking' My Life Away, Roll Over Beethoven, Bad Moon Rising, Dead Flowers, You Are My Sunshine, Middle Age Crazy, Whiskey River, Swinging Doors, Hold You In My Heart, I Really Don't Want To Know, Railroad To Heaven, Sunday Morning Coming Down, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Miss The Mississippi And You, Please Release Me)

USA VERVE £14



JERRY LEE LEWIS - MEAN OLD MAN

10 TRACK STANDARD EDITION

DUE FOR RELEASE ON SEPTEMBER 7th
(NEWLY RECORDED MATERIAL - Standard, 10-track edition. Jerry Lee Lewis might be a Mean Old Man, but he's got plenty of friends. For his new album, the 74-year-old rocker will be assisted by three of The Rolling Stones, a former Beatle and 'God.'

According to Rolling Stone Keith Richards plays guitar on Lewis's version of 'Sweet Virginia,' Mick Jagger sings on 'Dead Flowers' and Ronnie Wood plays on 'Mean Old Man,' a song Kris Kristofferson wrote specifically for this album. Ringo Starr and John Mayer help out on 'Roll Over Beethoven' and Eric 'God' Clapton and James Burton back up 'The Killer' on 'You Can Have Her.'

The album, due September 7, is packed with all-stars, just like 2006's Last Man Standing. Other guests on Mean Old Man include Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Slash and Kid Rock.

Track listing:
Mean Old Man, You Can Have Her, Sweet Virginia, Rocking' My Life Away, Roll Over Beethoven, Bad Moon Rising, Dead Flowers, You Are My Sunshine, Middle Age Crazy, Whiskey River)

USA VERVE £12







Having first seen Jerry Lee live at the Colston Hall, Bristol, when I was 13 years old (and many times since) I was delighted to be able to visit his ranch in Nesbit, Mississippi
, a little south of Memphis, where he keeps his car collection and memorabilia, and where I had a chance to see round his house and piano-shaped pool. Tours of the ranch are apparently no longer available. He deserves some peace and quiet. What a life!

Jerry Lee has had to cancel his current European tour dates. He is suffering from a painful form of shingles, and has been in hospital in Memphis.


One of my favourite country songs:


"It all depends on who will buy the wine"












Albert Camus , The Outsider (L'Etranger) - Books that Made a Difference 2



"The Outsider" ("L'Etranger" or "The Stranger") really did 'make a difference'.

Camus is one of those writers to whom I return again and again, one of the few writers who captured the spirit of the Mediterranean, especially in his notebooks/diaries, short stories and lyrical essays (like "Summer in Algiers").

Here he is, reading from "The Outsider": the voice of  Albert Camus  

And a very short film that sums up his philosophy of the Absurd in 25 seconds!

I sometimes think that the suburb of Belcourt in Algiers must have had a lot in common with Mandouki in Corfu, as it was.

What to do with a warped 10" 78rpm blues record?

This record's cooking!

Last week I bought a marvelous classic jazz-blues 78 , "My Daddy Rocks Me" by Trixie Smith, at the local open-air market. It was in excellent condition. Unfortunately I left it on top of my little Fidelity record-player (which I'd bought for twelve pounds at the same market about ten years earlier), and forgot to switch it off overnight. The valves got very hot, and by next morning the 78 was warped and unplayable. What to do? I looked up various possible solutions on the internet, but none of them seemed satisfactory or likely to succeed (the recommended method involved two sheets of glass, and a hot day or an oven at its lowest heat). I didn't have two sheets of glass, but I did discover I had a frying pan with a diameter of exactly 10 inches at the base. Then I discovered a pyrex dish with a 10 inch diameter at the outer edge.
If I turned it upside down, it fitted exactly over the 10 inch record's circumference-edge and snugly into the frying pan. Eureka! After a few trial runs with oven temperatures from 150 to 200 degrees (for only a few minutes, with the oven door open), and a little extra pressure on the pyrex dish once the record had softened, it seemed to do the trick. I let the record cool outside the oven, and found an almost perfectly flat 78!













I'm not making any recommendations, as this method may be dangerous and may not work for others or for all types of record (certainly not for vinyl LPs), but I thought I'd relate the story. I can now enjoy Trixie Smith singing "My Daddy Rocks Me". I'm tempted to see it as one of the first rock 'n' roll records!

My Daddy Rocks Me

My man rocks me with one steady roll.
Ain’t no slipping when once he takes hold.
Well I looked at the clock, the clock struck one,
I said, “now daddy, ain’t we got fun,”
And he kept rocking with one steady roll.
That’s right-
My daddy rocks me with one steady roll.
It makes no difference if he’s hot or cold.
I looked at the clock, the clock struck three
I said, “Now daddy, you’re killing me”
And he kept rocking with one steady roll.
I said,
My daddy rocks me, with one steady roll.
Ain’t no slipping when once he takes hold.
I looked at the clock, the clock struck six.
I said, “Daddy you know a lot of tricks,”
And he kept rocking with one steady roll.
That’s right- My man rocks me,
With one steady roll.
It makes no difference, if he’s hot or cold.
I looked at the clock, the clock struck ten.
I said, “Now daddy, lets go again.”
And he kept rocking with one steady roll.
That’s right- My man rocks me with one steady roll

Here's a damn good cover of Trixie's "Freight Train Blues" (also successfully flattened out by my patent process!)

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Big Jay McNeely - Rapping on Rock!


Gone, gone, gone!

Who else knows how to rock like Big Jay McNeely?

 

If you've never heard him, go to his website, www.bigjaymcneely.net

Big Jay was born in Watts, California, in 1927.

The legendary honking saxophonist is still the greatest rock 'n' roll showman in the world.

Do you want to hear him rapping about his music and the origins of rock 'n' roll in the USA?

Listen to Big Jim rapping with Big Jay back in December 1997.

NB Photo credits unknown 

Theresa Nicholas, Corfu Artist and Writer







 Theresa Nicholas first came to Corfu in 1961. If Corfu has an observer of its folklore and old customs equivalent to Dorset's Thomas Hardy, then Theresa Nicholas surely qualifies.



In her art she has recorded Corfiot life as she knew it from the early days, as it used to be lived: old olive-presses, village life, women with donkeys and mules, wine cellars, buildings and architectural features, churches and belfries, chimneys, costumes and interesting characters, all sorts of fascinating old images, man-made and natural, captured before they (largely) disappeared. Theresa has followed her eye and in consequence has witnessed aspects of life in Corfu that few foreigners have been privileged to see.

She started illustrating Corfu scenes soon after she arrived, but much of her work was commercial. 'I churned them out for tourists' she admits. But they gave her a means of survival until 1980, when she started doing more serious work, experimenting with mixed media compositions, as well as linocuts, monoprints, etchings and oil-paintings.


She has exhibited in Corfu in 1996, 2002, and 2004 (and 2009-Ed.).

Women in Metzova Church, by Theresa Nicholas

(Mandouki 1963, Photo by Theresa Nicholas)

Theresa has been a great walker in her day. She tells that in the early days peasants were amazed at the sight of foreigners walking: 'Me ta podhia? Dhen echis aftokinito?' (You're going on foot? Don't you have a car?)

Her home and small studio near Kanoni is a true artist's garret, and it is fascinating to see her precious works, which she is reluctant to sell, hanging from every wall.

We are now lucky that we can buy copies of her sketches. Corfu does not know what an artist it has in its midst.

This article appeared in The Corfiot in June 2006, and was reprinted as the introduction to Corfu Sketches.



Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Beats are Back (2)







For an entertaining and witty animated version of Ginsberg's "Howl", go to Ginsberg 

For an excerpt  from "On the Road", listen to Jack Kerouac  and  go here for Jack reading from The Beat Generation 

For a recent Ferlinghetti poem, "Pity the Nation", try Ferlinghetti

The last word on the Beats has been with the women associated with some of  them. I've had a chance to talk to Carolyn Cassady and Ann Charters. They put things in perspective!

Postscript:

The Beats are on the road again
High on jazz and blues
Climbing up the mountains
With nothing more to lose

The Beats are Back! Some books that made a difference.


Want to see Ginsberg and Dylan together?

Monday, 19 July 2010

Harry Wedge (H J Wedge), Wiradjuri Artist, "You don't know nothing about us"




Harry Wedge, of the Wiradjuri nation, is one of the most popular and challenging contemporary Aboriginal artists (or he was when I was living in Australia).

This painting, one of a pair I purchased at the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative, focuses on Aboriginal culture and creativity; the other one explored some of the negative perceptions that exist in Australia concerning aspects of the Aboriginal lifestyle. "You don't know nothing about us" is the title of the two paintings.

There's an interesting blog posting on Harry's work.

There is also an excellent book about Harry Wedge: "Wiradjuri Spirit Man", with an introduction by Brenda Croft and an essay by Judith Ryan (Craftsman House).



Update, 2013

Franchesca Cubillo gave me the sad news in London in September 2013 that Harry Wedge died in 2102.





Mithinari Gurruwiwi (1929-1976)



Have you ever been to Arnhem Land ?
I can't tell an ancestral file snake
From a Rainbow Serpent or sacred olive python.
Is that bäpi or the wititj totem ?
I've never been to Garrimala
In Galpu Country, to which this bark
Alludes, according to my catalogue.



Can anyone enlighten me? Howard Morphy, in his excellent "Aboriginal Art" (Phaidon), writes of Mithinari Gurruwiwi's characteristic development of  "themes from Galpu clan mythology", and of how the artist "expresses them in an individualistic way with great fluency and boldness of design. His works exemplify certain features of Eastern Arnhem Land that resonated strongly with modernist aesthetics- the boldness of the geometric shapes, the balance and vbrancy of the colours".

Judith Ryan's "Spirit in Land, Bark Paintings from Arnhem Land" (National Gallery of Victoria) devotes two full pages to bark paintings of Mithinari, including a very similar work, "Ancestral File Snake". (1964) . In her note on the artist and the painting (p. 109), she writes that Mithinari Gurruwiwi was of the Galpu clan, Dhuwa moiety, Yirrkala, north-eastern Arnhem Land. "The snake...comes out of the water to greet wolma, the pre-wet thunder clouds. Like the wititj python, the file snake makes rain by spitting into the sky."



I must be missing Australia, probably as a result of seeing Australian friends in the last few days.

We talked a lot about Aboriginal art, about Queenie McKenzie, Rover Thomas, and about Sidney Nolan, Garry Shead and other admired Australian painters.

The outback calls! So do Sydney Harbour and the Eastern Suburbs!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Australia: The Wandjina Image

The use of the Wandjina image (the Aboriginal Rain Spirit or Cloud Being found in many rock shelter and cave art sites in the Kimberley region, Western Australia) is becoming increasingly controversial.


This is a detail from a bark painting by a well-known artist (RK, deceased, c.1927-2008). She painted many bark Wandjinas and certainly had the right to use the image, as did other members of her family.

Here is a poem about the Wandjina Rain Spirit:


Mamadai and Wanalirri
Where wandjina shelter.
The god-like face on rock and cave,
Mouthless image of creator.
Round eyes on bark, on canvas, slate:-
Make the rains come soon, come late.


I. M. Crawford, in "The Art of the Wandjina" (OUP, Melbourne, 1968), wrote:

"These Wandjina spirits have considerable powers and the Aborigines are careful to observe a certain amount of protocol when they approach the paintings, fearing that if they do not, the spirits might take their revenge...Should the Wandjinas be offended, the Aborigines believe that they will take their revenge by calling up the lightning to strike the offender dead, or the rain to flood the land and drown the people, or the cyclone with its gales which devastate the country".

It is not as if people hadn't been warned.



Cacoyannis in Conversation



Michael Cacoyannis (born June 11, 1922), one of the world's great film-makers, talked to me at length back in 1978, when my 8 page interview with him was published. This is the original illustrated interview, "A Sense of Belonging", as conducted and published in 1978. The text-only version appears in my book "Corfu Blues". Cacoyannis' masterpieces include Stella, Electra , Zorba the Greek and A Girl in Black.

See information about the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation.
See also a recent article about a new biography of Cacoyannis.

Walter Lassally talking about the filming of Zorba










Friday, 16 July 2010

Ingmar Bergman, Summer with Monika


Ingmar Bergman and Harriet Andersson (photo above, copyright Jim Potts).



One of my favourite Swedish films by Ingmar Bergman is "Summer with Monika".

Did "Summer with Monika" really come out in 1953?

It still brings back memories of visits to the islands in the Stockholm archipelago.

If you want to practise your Swedish, here's Ingmar Bergman talking about "Winter Light".

Even better, an interview with Ingmar on Fårö, his favourite island

It's where I took the photograph above.

Here's a scene from Wild Strawberries.