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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Can I charter your yacht? Tax Evasion in Greece

"Sorry, not possible". It's a tax dodge.

Sometimes I wonder who is more angry and indignant about the alleged EU Greek "gravy train" that may soon be coming to an end: the striking Greeks or all the other fed-up European workers and tax-payers.

The Daily Mail investigates! 

All very undignified. But should commentators be so cynical?

EuroIntelligence reports that the financial markets are not expecting many of the austerity measures to be implemented, in spite of all the fassaria in Athens.

Update, August 2011, Kathimerini

Glyn Hughes, Obituaries

I have only just heard that my old friend Glyn Hughes, a truly great poet, novelist and artist, died five weeks ago, on 24 May.

Here is an obituary from The Guardian

The Telegraph

The Yorkshire Post

Friday, 24 June 2011

Greece- A Year in Crisis: Friedrich Ebert Foundation Report

This is an important report (pdf file), "Greece- A Year in Crisis" by Nick Malkoutzis (June 2011) published by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Thanks to June Samaras for bringing it to my attention.

http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/ipa/08208.pdf

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Amazing Monopatia Mountain Resort, Ano Pedina, Zagori




It came as a surprise to discover the world-class Monopatia Mountain Resort restaurant in the small Zagori village of Ano Pedina. It opened in January 2011.

Managed by Vasilios Paparounas, the brochure rightly describes it as “a year-round destination for discerning nature lovers and enthusiasts of traditional architecture”.

The whole complex has been restored to the highest standards of traditional Zagori stone architectural integrity and detail (eg characteristic decorative-functional ironwork) and the contemporary interior design, from the spotless modern kitchen to the ceiling lighting, the windows, and the solid oak floorboards, provides a feeling of cosmopolitan spaciousness and refined artistic taste. There are many fine works of art on display throughout the buildings.

We were invited to inspect a number of the lodging areas, which range from manor house rooms, to cottages and suites, and we were impressed by the immaculate presentation and standard of comfort in every area. The combination of traditional antique Epirot elements with crisply elegant modern design appealed to us.

Most impressive of all was the view from the restored threshing floor, or aloni.






The prices for accommodation are (understandably) high for the area, and the wine cellar is well stocked; the list includes some very special and expensive wines, but the restaurant offers a range of deliciously cooked and beautifully presented specialities, which are very reasonably priced and affordable.

We couldn’t stop raving about the mushroom pilaf. The entrees and sweets were fabulous too. Service was outstanding.


Vasilios Paparonas, who comes from Ano Pedina, but who has had long experience of managing some top Athenian restaurants, is also an expert on mushrooms, and collects them daily in the forests. The many naturally organic vegetables and other local ingredients used at Monopatia make a meal here a unique culinary experience. There are distinctive elements of innovative fusions (the CD playing in the background was a collaboration between Petroloukas Halkias, a noted Epirot clarinet player, and Indian musicians, flute, sitar, tabla) and  ecological Zagori nouvelle cuisine

This must surely be one of the best restaurants in Greece; I can say this even while remaining fiercely loyal to the restaurants and xenonas in my own adopted village a few miles up the road.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Corfucius' Blues

Here is that review back online, now embellished with some suitably embarrassing candid camera photos.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Greece's Credit Rating- Now the Worst in the World?

Svenska Dagbladet

Financial Times

Telegraph

Triple C (the worst of around 130 countries monitored) and a General Strike tomorrow...

Conspiracy, denial or heads in the sand?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Lectio divina


Up in the Epirot mountains, I have been reading the Swedish poet Ingemar Leckius, and this is one of his most profound poems (in Swedish, and in English translation by John F. Deane).

But every time I read it, I start humming Blind Willie Johnson's "Nobody's Fault But Mine", as sung by Corina Hamilton:

"It's nobody's fault but mine,
Nobody's fault but mine.
If I don't read and my soul be lost,
Nobody's fault but mine".

Anyway, here is the Swedish poem that has been inspiring me the last few days, which I shall contemplate as I descend the Vikos Gorge shortly.

Lectio divina

by Ingemar Leckius


Varje dag őppnar han
den tusenåriga boken

det välbekanta berglandskapet
med den främmande vinden

som för honom från brant till brant
från insikt till insikt

ända tills tanke lämnar
det hösta redet

och han fortsätter att läsa
med slutna ögon.


From Ljus ab ljus/ Light from Light
Translated from the Swedish by John F. Deane
Dedalus, Dublin, 2000

Lectio divina

Every day he opens
the thousand-year-old book

that well-known mountain landscape
with the unfamiliar wind

that leads him from steep to steep
from insight to insight

until at last his thinking
quits the highest nest

and he continues reading
with his eyes closed



Translated by John F. Deane
(Lectio divina, Note: spiritual reading according to medieval monastic tradition)




Saturday, 11 June 2011

Help Me, Baby!

Last night we did a short repeat performance of the diverse trio.

Corina was amazing, Raul was wonderful...and I wailed my mouth harp.

We added one new number.

"You gotta help me baby, I can't do it all by myself".

Bring it on home. Have mercy, Sonny Boy!.

Paddy Leigh Fermor, Obituary

Guardian Obituary, Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor

Now that both John Campbell and Paddy Leigh Fermor have departed from us, how many traveller-writers are there left who can remember the old way of life of the semi-nomadic, transhumant Saraktasani shepherds, like the ones who once waxed lyrical to PLF about the high Zagori pasture-lands above Vitsa and the Vikos Gorge? 


"All their eyes lit up like those of the children of Israel at the thought of Canaan...You didn't need wine there- the air made you drunk; and as for the shade, the grass, the trees and the water - why the water came gushing out of the living rock as cold as ice, you couldn't drink it it was so cold, and you could drink it by the oka and feel like a giant. Words failed them".

They fail me too.

Europe On Foot

I wonder if Luke Slattery ever got to meet his hero.

Bruce Chatwin did.

The British Council (British Institute) in Athens must have been a very special place in the 1940s when PLF was Deputy Director.

I am looking forward to participating in a conference in Athens next January on the role of The British Council in Greece from 1945-1955. I am sure that the late and much lamented Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor will figure large.

Salute the heros.

Update: The Last of the Scholar Warriors, Christopher Hitchens

Robert Kaplan

Margot Demopoulos

Kathimerini

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Down at the Kondokali Crossroads (Blues Latitude Live)


I'll miss the Blues Latitude gigs on 10 and 17 June, but the poster should pull 'em in.

The PRISM, GR2010

This looks like an interesting collective multimedia project, the innovative  PRISM, documenting the hard winter of 2010 in Greece.

The first five episodes are now online in English. Click on screen below for trailer in full screen mode.

Pensions for the Dead

This story doesn't go away: 4500 dead former public servants in Greece have been receiving regular pension payments.

Bild

Spiegel Online

There's a blues song here: "See that my pension's paid on time".

Hat tip to Eurointelligence.

Monday, 6 June 2011

How far can you Press a Poet? Stevie Smith was right!

How far can you press a poet?
To the last limit and he'll not show it
And one step further and he's dead
And his death is upon your head.

Stevie Smith



A propos:

Letter from Byron to John Murray, 31 July 1821:

'Are you aware that Shelley has written an elegy on Keats - and accuses the Quarterly of killing him? -
    Who killed John Keats?
    I, says the Quarterly
    So savage & Tartarly
    'Twas one of my feats -

    Who shot the arrow?
     ............................

Dining in West Dorset

"Dining with Dinosaurs", The Spectator, 28 May, 2011.

There is one paragraph with which I do not agree: and it has nothing to do with restaurants or food.

"For curiosity’s sake, take a wander through the Prince of Wales’s housing project Poundbury, just outside Dorchester. Admire the tumbleweed: it’s mainly second homes and care homes. Its jumble of traditional period styles — some might say pastiche — is neither ugly nor beautiful, but has the cardboard-cutout eeriness of a deserted film set. Philosophically it’s crippled by its own nostalgia, and the way it throws up questions about its own authenticity makes it like a conceptual art exhibit. Architectural folly on a grand scale? Discuss." 

Annunziata Church Tower, Corfu Town




Who should finance restoration?

See John's Corfu World blog on the subject.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Where have all the (Greek) forests gone?

One of the Greek Sundays, Realnews (www.real.gr) reports for World Environment Day that between 1987 and now (2011) Greece lost 13.5% of its total forest or woodland areas, a total of 4,500,000 stremma.

How many illegal houses replaced all the trees that were burnt, bulldozed or cut down?

1 stremma equals 1000 sq. m.



Binsey Poplars

(Felled 1879)

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.

O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew—
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being so slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Summer Festival/Fair, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Corfu (including Gospel Blues)


Update (2012): The dates for the Summer Fair in 2012 are 15 and 16 June.


The Summer Festival , 2011, ended on a high night with the Classical Night on June 4th, performed by some exceptionally talented Corfiot (Greek) musicians.


Costas Zervopoulos (flute) and Marilena Eloul (piano) delighted the audience with their performances of Bach’s Sonata in G minor, BMW 1020, the Ballet Scene from Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice and pieces from Bernstein’s West Side Story, demonstrating that Holy Trinity Church is the perfect setting for chamber music. I hope chamber music recitals will become a regular feature of the Anglican church’s activities. There are many students and professors at the Ionian University Music Department, the Conservatory and Music High School who might come to see this as the Wigmore Hall of Corfu. I am sure that they would love the opportunity to perform in this intimate space with its wonderful acoustic.

Spiros Soueref lifted the roof with his magnificent delivery of arias from Tosca, Turandot and I Pagliacci. What a voice!


Bravo Costa, Spiro, Marilena! Standing ovations all round!

The talented performers in the first half, Francesca Metalinou (cello), Kostas Keontaris (violin) and Rania Rosopoulou (flute) were also warmly received and made the most favourable impression before they had to rush to perform at another concert at St George’s Church (the former British barracks church).

Holy Trinity Church had been beautifully decorated for the Summer Festival, and there was a feast for the eyes as well as the ears (not forgetting the stomach).


Outstanding paintings by Mary Gulland, and beautiful quilts by members of the Corfu Quilters group will remain on display until Wednesday. The painting that I liked best by Mary Gulland was of two beer drinkers, apparently Poles, but it reminded me very vividly of people I knew in the Czech Republic! I could almost taste the beer. Mary’s Corfiot scenes were also much admired by all the visitors to the exhibition.

I wasn’t able to attend the opening concert by Duo Armande, but everyone says the Duo was a great success, with a fascinating repertoire played with a combination of clarinet and violin and clarinet and viola.

The second night featured very different genres of music, a mixture of blues, jazzed-up gospel blues and some bluegrass.

Apologies for image quality

The sound engineering by Rob Sherratt ensured a well-mixed sound for the amplified instruments, two guitars, bass and blues harmonica.

The multi-talented Raul Scacchi played the guitar solos with great virtuosity; he is a consummate musician. A big thank you to Raul! Several of his own lyrical compositions and arrangements were given a welcome airing, interpreted with soul and subtle shades of  feeling by Corina Hamilton (who also played electric bass with considerable skill).


21-year-old Corina was undoubtedly the great hit of the evening; she won many new admirers when she sang with passion, conviction and great maturity two of Blind Willie Johnson’s gospel blues (Soul of a Man, and Nobody’s Fault But Mine, as well as more contemporary songs.

With her stirring, beautiful (and gutsy) voice, she revealed a deep understanding of both the blues and gospel music, but also of bluegrass and Appalachian songs like “Rank Strangers” and “Down in the Valley to Pray”, a late addition to the programme, which proved a moving and uplifting way to end the evening.

Corfucius was clearly (and rightly) impressed by Corina Hamilton. He even made a few comments on his blog (carefully selected) which I take to be mild approval of some of the efforts of the elder bluesman in the group:

"Peace in the Valley - brave of Jim to come up against the King and if El had been there he'd've nodded approval, as would the Bobster have curled a gravely lip of grudging approval at 'Got to serve somebody' whose lyrics became suddenly clearer and poignanter last night…"

I'm sorry we didn't get to hear Corfucius sing and play on this occasion.

The Revd. John Gulland and Mary Gulland, and the Church Committee and volunteers are to be warmly and sincerely congratulated for organising this memorable Summer Festival, which has brought many more people into contact with a historical institution which has played such an important part in the religious and cultural life of Corfu, but which needs support if it is to continue to serve the community. The Festival has certainly succeeded in making the church feel more accessible to people who tend to come to Corfu for a short holiday, in order to relax or escape.

Apart from the art exhibition there were also painting and quilting demonstrations, a bazaar offering various products, organic food, plants, home produce, crafts and refreshments.

The food provided by a team of volunteers was consistently varied and delicious and the marquees in the church courtyard made for a magical environment, a real oasis of calm and relaxed conviviality in the heart of Corfu.


PS 


For the record, here are a few more selected and slightly edited extracts from the (revised) Corfucius review of the Gospel Blues night, and of Corina Hamilton's voice in particular:

04 June 2011

More than meets the Strum - Jim Potts is a performer who always catches me off guard by playing better than I remember. Not that he isn't good - and I have his albums constantly on the system to remind me - but 'live' [to use a fashionable word] he gets a better sound, wails a wailier harp, sings a throatier blues than I remembered.

He gets a true Sun studios whipcrack from his Epiphone and has one of the very few Brit accents that can pull off a twang without getting all pseudy like those Mancunian DJs or ghastly C&W jamborees in deepest Wolverhampton where 'dudes' walk round all hat 'n' no cattle and call each other pard'ner and sing in strangled tones that they think are très Hank...

There was an absolutely hypnotic song given a cajun layering whose name i forget because I was somewhat distracted ... a lot, actually.

Corina Hamilton understands the lyrics and even her timbre has timbre. What a find! I tell you, if that lady chooses, she has a career ...

Spine-tingling interlude when La Hamiltonella sang a capella that show-stopper from 'Oh Brother', Down to the River to Pray.

Raul writes beautiful melodies and none gives them the treatment like the divine Callihroe but I tell you, Corina turned me fickle from the first throaty bar of 'Lysistrata'...

No applause please we're British - I am NOT one of those boors that claps and sings along on these occasions, but I will say that, sitting in the church as the HamPottSca crew wondered "Will the Circle be Unbroken", I felt a distinct desire to clap happy and grunt along.

Peace in the Valley - a wonderful rendition with throb and vibrato that would've had The King himself nodding approval and fingering a momentarily unsteadied crown.

Gotta Serve somebody - brilliant choice for a church concert and Jim gave it the underlying cynical gravely tone that Dylan clearly intended. I really need to re-add that album to my store; so many good ones left behind in Seattle.

Jim had talked of the need to rehearse because this time folks were forking out real dosh. They got their drachmas' worth, in spades. Wait, I can't say that; yes, I can, it was that sort of night.

When I walked back to the car, it had an €80 parking ticket. Tipota, vaut le prix. Now there's a compliment.

Mission Hamilton - keep tabs on that remarkable voice and catch her every gig

Corina sings

Blues and Other Music in Dorchester, June

I'm not there, but for those who are...

And some news from Tom Hopkins, of Bluesnights:


Dear Friend of Bluesnights

Sat. 18th. June sees the last Bluesnight before we take our summer break. More importantly, it marks the first visit to Dorchester for 24 Pesos, a band that has had a mercurial rise to fame nationally and internationally in just a few years. They burst on to the blues scene in 2008 with their raw and rootsy live shows and debut album “The Boogie Worm”. Their latest album “Busted, Broken and Blue” showcases the evolution of the 24Pesos sound – 11 boot stompin’ originals drawing from diverse influences such as Ray Charles, The Meters, Freddie King, and Howlin Wolf. Paul Jones chose them to headline his recent hour-long 25th anniversary Radio 2 show. A great way to finish this Bluesnights season! Tickets are already selling well, so to avoid disappointment why not get yours now!

8.00 P.M. (DOORS/BAR OPEN 7.30 P.M.)
£11/£5.50* IN ADVANCE: £12/£6* DOOR
Senior Citizens' ticket: £9 advance/£10 door.
*Under 18 or with N.U.S. Card
 
ENQUIRIES/BOOKINGS: 01305 266926
 
We look forward to seeing you at this or another Bluesnight soon. 
 

Folk Seattle Channel

Some great blues and folk singers on the Folk Seattle YouTube channel.

Check it out. Mostly from the late 1960s.

You could start with John Lee Hooker

It serves me right to suffer.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Civil Society, Corfu Style


From religious procession to political demonstration (5 June)...and a few days earlier:


Keep Talking Greece reports

Video of protest
(Corfu Press.com)

CORFU: BLUES & GOSPEL BLUES GIG, 3 JUNE







This is the set list for Friday 3 June, with some notes on the songs.

The Soul of a Man- recorded 1930 by Texas street-singing evangelist, a great gospel blues artist called Blind Willie Johnson. What IS the soul of a man? Answer if you can! Wim Wenders made a film about the blues called “The Soul of a Man”, partly inspired by this song, “the perfect song to come from heaven or from outer space”, he wrote, adding that. “The blues is a very existential medium, as it goes to the core of things”.
Lonesome Valley: probably a traditional or mid 19th century camp-meeting missionary hymn in origin, this spiritual has been recorded by many artists from the Carter Family (Memphis, 1930) to Eric Bibb. “You got to walk that lonesome valley all by yourself”.
If your nerve, deny you. A composition by Raul Scacchi from a collection of songs based on poems by Emily Dickinson: Emails to Emily
You gotta serve somebody: An evangelical and fundamentalist 1979 Bob Dylan song from “Slow Train Coming”, recorded soon after his conversion and from the beginning of his born-again Christian period. I’m not sure about the stark choice he gives us, or the authority of the theological message! A song to celebrate his recent 70th birthday.

Bob's version

Another video

Fixin to Die, a classic and poetic Mississippi Delta bottleneck blues in Open G tuning by Bukka White, who served two years for assault in Parchman Farm Penitentiary. In 1930 he’d been known as “The Singing Preacher”, but he shot a man in 1937. Like Leadbelly, his music helped to get him out of prison. He sang gospel songs as well as blues like this one, written before he was released from Parchman Farm in 1940. Samuel Charters described it as a “strange song that seems to be almost a hymn”.

The Nights are drawing in. A song of mine- not autobiographical!- about a young man who has to work in London on a low wage while his girlfriend lives it up in Corfu. Arranged by Raul Scacchi.

Will the circle be unbroken? A sad but ultimately uplifting and hopeful spiritual sung by both black and white Americans in many different versions, blues and bluegrass. The first version of the song was written by gospel composers Ada Habershon and Charles Gabriel in 1907, and was recorded by various groups in the 1920s. The refrain was the same, but the lyrics of the verses were quite different. Our version was first recorded by the Carter Family in 1933- at around the time of the marriage break-up of AP and Sara Carter - and again in 1935, both versions with new lyrics and verses about death and bereavement grafted on to the existing chorus (note by Tony Russell in “The Carter Family”); it was melodically similar to the gospel song “When I lay my burden down”.

Peace in the Valley (c 1939), written by Revd. Thomas A Dorsey in the late 1930s, before the outbreak of World War 2. Revd. Dorsey was on a train, passing through a valley. “Horses, cows, sheep were all grazing together in this little valley. Everything seemed so peaceful…it made me wonder what’s the matter with humanity? What’s the matter with mankind? Why couldn’t man live in peace like the animals down there?” (From “Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy” by Dorothy Horstman). One of the first spiritual songs to be recorded by Elvis Presley, perhaps his most deeply-felt. Although criticised by church-leaders in the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis and his parents had attended Pentecostal services at the small wooden First Assembly of God church in Tupelo, where he would have been introduced to emotionally-charged gospel singing, which he always loved.

Midnight Special. A traditional prison blues, made famous by Leadbelly (born 1889), who served sentences for assault and murder, and who made several prison escapes. His singing and playing ultimately won him the pardon of the Governor of Texas in 1925. Leadbelly learned this song in prison and added some of his own verses: it’s about the lights of a train which flashed through the windows of prisoners’ cells; they could also hear the train whistle echo across Sugarland- the Central State Prison Farm, near Houston, Texas:a poignant reminder of life beyond the prison walls (The Life and Legend of Leadbelly, Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell). But the midnight special train was also a symbol of freedom, maybe even of salvation. But Leadbelly was soon back in Prison, at Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, for assaulting a man at a Salvation Army Band concert. This time he spent four and a half years inside. Legend has it that he sang his way out of jail, and that he was pardoned once again, this time by the Governor of Louisiana. In fact he was let out on parole. Leadbelly was a religious man, but he was also violent.

Needed Time. A moving spiritual which I first heard in recordings by gospel singer Sister Clara Hudman, “the Georgia Peach” and later by blues singer Lightnin Hopkins; more recently by Eric Bibb. The Lightnin’ Hopkins version was featured in the 1972 film called “Sounder”. Sung by a broken man or woman at the end of his or her resources, finally realising that NOW really is the NEEDED time.

There’s a Man going Round Taking Names: Leadbelly would introduce this as “an old spiritual, one of the first spiritual songs ever was sung. Before the people could sing it, they’d moan it” (The Leadbelly Songbook).

PART 2

Where’s that Good Samaritan Gone? I wrote this song in Ethiopia in the early 1970s, before the Ethiopian Revolution that deposed Emperor Haile Selassie after the “Unknown Famine” of 1973. It’s about the feudal system and the rich landlords who had once acted benignly towards the peasants, but who apparently felt no pity once the famine came and who were only to ready to exploit people rather than to act charitably. “They made them eat the desert sand”. Arranged by Raul Scacchi and sung tonight by Corina Hamilton.

Good Rockin’ Tonight: my vote for the first rock ‘n’ roll song ever recorded: in 1947 by Roy Brown and Wyonie Harris, and given the rockabilly blues treatment by Elvis Presley in 1954 at the Sun Studio in Memphis. His second record, and still one of the most exciting! My chance to use my Aboriginal sound-sticks!

Rank Stranger, a bluegrass sacred song made famous by the Stanley Brothers in 1960, written by gospel writer Albert Brumley in 1942. About a man going back to his hometown after many years, but finding no one who knows or remembers him- they’re all complete, rank strangers, except he hears the voice of another stranger- the voice of God? He understands that he will meet his old friends up in heaven where they won’t feel like strangers ever again.

Folsom Prison Blues. I seem to like both train and prison songs. Johnny Cash gave us this one early in his career, his second record on the Sun Record label, at the end of 1955. It was based on another song, Crescent City Blues, composed by Gordon Jenkins and sung by Beverly Mahr (1953).

The Nomad. Another of my African songs, which is partly about Ethiopia, partly about Kenya, but also a lament about how fast the world changes. It could apply to the loss of the traditional way of life of nomadic or semi-nomadic people in Africa, to the Australian Aboriginal people, or indeed to the Saraktsani or Vlachs of Epirus. The lyrics refer to wooden pillows, the thumb piano, gourds of sour milk. Arranged by Raul Scacchi and sung by Corina Hamilton.

Lysistrata, or The Last Waltz: a composition by Raul Scacchi, from his New Romantics album, Explorations of Love. Raul says this is a song against war, written during the second Iraq war. People of our generation may detect hints of Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind”. “Many white doves and blackbirds still waiting for answers lost in the wind: Making love never stopped any war”. The title alludes to Aristophanes’ Ancient Greek comedy about a “disbander of armies”, Lysistrata, and to a woman’s attempt to put an end to the Peloponnesian War by persuading Greek women to deny sexual privileges to their men, as a means of forcing them to make peace. The theme of the song is also the Dance of Death, the man with the scythe leading people away (remember Bergman's "The Seventh Seal"?).

Thirty One. I had just arrived in Nairobi when I wrote this, missing old friends, thinking that life was short and that I was already over the hill. It’s also about the fate of various friends, but also a plea for tolerance. Arranged by Raul Scacchi with something of a Cajun feel.

The Hobo. John Lee Hooker recorded various versions of this blues, but the one I like best was a live version from the Newport Folk Festival. I got to know John Lee Hooker in 1964, and he recorded the soundtrack for a student film I made at Oxford. I don’t know why I have always been fascinated by the idea of the hobo, the nomad, the wanderer: maybe because of early hitch-hiking experiences on the road, followed by a peripatetic career, living and working in many countries around the world. I really empathise with this blues song.

See That My Grave is Kept Clean: a 1927 folk blues hymn by Texas-born Blind Lemon Jefferson (born 1893), which we’ve combined with a few verses from Blind Willie Johnson’s “You Gonna Need Somebody on your Bond” (1929). One critic (C. J. Farley in “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues”) wrote that the Jefferson song “captures something timeless and existential: the fear that all people have about what will be their posthumous legacy and the wish to have it preserved”. Jefferson’s family had been active in the conservative and anti-Missionary Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church.

Roll ‘em Pete, made famous in 1938-1939 by blues shouter Big Joe Turner and boogie-woogie pianist Pete Johnson, at the Carnegie Hall concert, “From Spirituals to Swing”. This is more a shuffle boogie version, in the style of Jimmy Reed.

Help Me. I visited the grave of Sonny Boy Williamson in a small lonely churchyard at the edge of a cotton plantation near Tutwiler, Mississippi, close to where W. C. Handy heard his first blues tune in 1903, played by a guitarist using a metal slide. On Sonny Boy’s grave, people had placed mouth organs and bottles of whisky. I had met him in the early 60s. I’ve always loved this harmonica blues based on the Green Onions riff. Sonny Boy (real name Rice Miller) certainly needed help! Maybe not the sort of help that whisky and women had to offer…

Nobody’s Fault but Mine: “I have a Bible in my home: if I don’t read and my soul is lost, nobody’s fault but mine”. Classic 1927 gospel blues by Blind Willie Johnson.

If there is time, Corina will also sing the traditional Appalachian song "Down to the River to Pray" , also known as "Down to the Valley to Pray" or "The Good Old Way" (remember the scene in "O Brother, Where Art Thou"?), an unaccompanied nineteenth century field song/spiritual, said to be sung by slaves.

UPDATE: There was just enough time and Corina won the hearts of the audience with all her songs See review by Corfucius

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

GREECE, CUT IN VAT

According to Eurointelligence, it appears to have been agreed (although it's still unconfirmed) that Greece will be allowed to cut the VAT rate from 23% to 20%.

On the other hand, restaurants and tavernas will have to charge 23 percent value-added tax rather than 13 percent, according to Kathimerini.

Give a thing, take a thing. 

Good news that ferry fares will be cut by 10%.