Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Monday 29th March 2004

My son's nursery school trip to Folly Farm today and most magnificent it was. I always feel iffy about zoo type animals so I didn't really know what to expect but apart from some psychotic chipmunks and an overly aggressive iguana the animals seemed to be happy. Saw ring tailed lemurs chasing and leaping round (they would have to be a contender for favourite animal), zebra's skipping and some immensely cute baby goats - these were the highlights you understand. Fair, tractors, ball pit - the usual suspects.
F* (my son) began vomiting just as the trip was coming to an end and didn't stop for about 5 days. M* and Colin got the bug too...

Tune of the day

Sick Man Blues
by The Goodies

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Saturday 27th March 2004

Got given a bit of money by my Mum so went to try and spend some of it in Carmarthen.
I am such a crap shopper - managed to spend £13.
Do any other women out there find trawling round looking at stuff you might buy as time wastingly mind numbingly dull as I do?
Went on Amazon when I got back home and bought "Ghostbusters" "Being There" "Harold and Maude" and "Grey Gardens" on DVD. All totally brilliant...

Tune of the Day

Any tune that slags off shopping
by Crass

Friday, March 26, 2004

Thursday 25th March 2004

A day of family celebration marred only by the abysmal performance of Liverpool Football club who went out of the UEFA cup to Marseilles. Don't like to say it but I think Houllier has got to go.

Went to Cardigan and had chips and mushy peas in a cafe. Got some Finding Nemo bubble bath for the kids - how good is that film? Love it. I think the rant on the exploitation of children by the capitalist entertainment industry must come another day after all we are celebrating here.

On returning home drank far too much cava, had a lovely social with David and Victoria (the posh and becks of Zion Train) then more or less passed out by 10.30. Oops.

Tune of the day

She Wants to Move
by N.E.R.D.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Wednesday 24th March 2004

Went to the beach at Tenby with my children and a picnic. Spent hours building sandcastles, walking in the sea, exploring rockpools and eating crisps cheese and sand sandwiches while the seagulls hassled us for food. Bliss.

Tune of the day

Sea breeze and rolling waves by Mother Nature! Twee but what beautiful sounds in reality.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Tuesday 23rd March 2004

There's so much to tell on tour and so many thoughts to get my head round but when I get home it's constant doing...

Bed at 3am then awake with the children at 8am.
Catching up on office stuff.
Shopping - by this I mean for food really, I am a non girl when it comes to trawling round shops looking at stuff, I only shop with a purpose.
Playing with, dancing with, creating with and chilling with my children
Creating and music and web stuff - mainly with Colin Cod.
These are the things that my life at home is made up with. Very domestic but mainly great. I really enjoy the contrast between chilling in the countryside and partying in the towns and cities on tour.

Today I have been mostly dancing and playing with my children. Wonderful.

Tune of the day

U Mojej Matecki
by Kapela Ze Wsi Warszawa (Warsaw Village Band)
This tune is actually one of my favourite all time tunes and can bring tears to my eyes and a tingle down my spine everytime I hear it.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Monday 22nd March 2004

Got up to the news that Israel has killed the leader of Hammas. This doesn't bode well for the peace process or stability of the Middle East. I am not anti-semitic but I am stunned by what the Israeli nation gets away with - no other country in the world could do this... (except perhaps the Americans). Anyway more on that subject another time.

Set off with the lads to Koln - home of DJ Perch. Sun shining, weather sweet - there's nothing like the first warm sun of the year to lift the spirits and make you feel happy to be alive.

Once in Koln chilled at DJ Perch studio, went to the supermarket to stock up on bread and mustard and got some lovely honey for the love three from a Turkish shop. Had my first demonstration of Bigga's culinary skills (good!) before heading for the airport with Hakey to get our flight to Stansted.

I am not the best when it comes to flying - I used to have to get drunk! But hundreds of flights to and from Zion Train gigs have forced me to get used to it so I can keep my cool, even during turbulence. I'm still always relieved to be back on land again...

4-5 hours driving and rocking to quality music and Man City v Leeds United match on 5-live (radio) got back knackered to the remote retreat in West Wales where I live with the love three.

Tune of the day

Ring My Bell
by Blood Sisters (a killer heavyweight roots reggae version)

Sunday 21st March 2004

Weh hey it's spring!
Still freezing and windy but the sun shone.

Time for a last kaassoufle with chips satay sauce and mayonnaise before heading off to Bruxelles.

Got lost as usual trying to fing the venue - the legendary VK in the heart of Arab Bruxelles.

I think Belgian gigs for Zion Train are invariably good. It's almost like there's a little piece of Eastern Europe in the heart of Western Europe, the response is so open, celebratory and positive. The difference for me is that we have been spoilt for music and culture in Western Europe for as long as I can remember, whereas some of my peers in Eastern europe were locked in police cells for their hair do's or clothes, nevermind the music they attempted to get hold of! The Eastern response is therefore more intense, appreciative and expressive...

Anyway maximum respect to all at VK who are welcoming, organised and very nice.
One love to all who turned up and helped the vibes reach. A really enjoyable gig.
At one point I sang the lyric to "Do Your Thing" by The Chosen Few over a rhythm, and when I got to the verse;
"If you feel like you wanna scream
coz that's your way to let off steam
scream on, scream on"
and lots of people screamed and shouted. Rock on!

After the gig, a bloke who at one point had jumped onto the stage for a bout of wild dancing, came back stage and said;
"My girlfriend came 8 times because of the bass - I mean she CAME!"
At this point I was doubled up on my knees with laughter, clinging to a cupboard for support as DJ Perch managed to keep a relatively straight face and continue the conversation.

Tune of the day

Bass Adds Bass
by Family Fodder

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Saturday 20th March 2004

Due to high levels of thc resulting from copious consumption of nederweed, the lads communication skills are getting increasingly eccentric. (I personally don't smoke but would defend the right of anyone to have access to a plant which grows naturally on the planet on which we live). Bigga seems to be communicating predominantly using an impersonation of the cry of a peacock. Fear and Loathing in Los Netherlands.

Got an e-mail from my "partner" (baby father would make it sound like he wasn't the fantastic parent he is; we are not married so husband doesn't sound right either; he's clearly more than a boyfriend and partner sounds like we run a bookshop together - we need a new word, any suggestions?) this morning telling me he'd been playing the children old glam rock videos. My 1 and a half year old daughter loved and would only dance to Marc Bolan. My 3 and a half year old son loved Suzi Quattro but thought Gary Glitter was the best - running round the room shouting "Barry Glitter! Bally Blitter! Sally Shitter!", appropriate under the circumstances, how the mighty have fallen.
Sparks and Alice Cooper scared them both...

After a very relaxed Vera breakfast with Nynke we said our goodbyes and headed off to Amsterdam in gale force winds and lashing rain.

Once there I headed off on foot to see the head of Universal Egg's (Zion Train record label) Dutch distributor Konkurrent, not work but a social with the family.
I played peek-a-boo with her one year old daughter and discussed the merits of Thomas the Tank Engine , Bob the Builder and Miffy - in Dutch, with her soon to be 3 year old son. Am I sounding twee? It's always lovely (especially as a parent) to get a blast of domesticity and kids world when on tour, before heading off to party!

In complete contrast, then headed off to do some porn shopping. Found the centre of Amsterdam less comfortable and more seedy - drug pushers and crack pipes on the street. Shame. It never used to be like that.

I suppose I should say something about pornography (although in many ways I feel reluctant).
Personally I like it if it involves compus mentus, consenting, well paid or doing it for enjoyment adults. I was surprised to see on a Channel 4 documentary recently that out of the top 50 turn ons for women porn was in the top 3. So often the loudest female voice you hear is that of the "rad fems" saying it's all disgusting objectification and oppression of women.
Funnily enough I have never been comfortable with the soft porn page 3 girl big D peanut type thing (which clearly objectifies womens bodies), although that does seem to be balancing out a bit with mens bodies being used in advertising/titillation mags. I also have a big problem with the pop culture of only just pubescent girls in skimpy clothes and loads of make up, and the pressure put on girls at an ever younger age to be skinny, pretty and sexy. My gut feeling is that both these things are more damaging in society than people taking pleasure in watching other people involved in sex acts.

I would like to see some research into whether porn has prevented any sex attacks. I would also like to know whether those people who commit hideous sex crimes would have acted with or without porn (which is so often described as a cause for the behaviour) ie. did the porn contribute to the desire or satiate it temporarily?
From personal experience some of the things I have fantasized about I would hate to happen in real life, but I feel that as with most people, I know the boundary between fantasy and reality.
Clearly anything involving people earning drug money, children or inflicting pain on others is sick (unless those people are masochists and want to be hurt), but I don't think the fault lies with the porn but with our society. Porn only reflects the extremities within our society in the same way that many other things do eg. on the one had a relaxing glass of wine with yer dinner, on the other a can of Tennants Super in the street of a morning. The alcohol is not to blame, it's how different elements in society use it.

We are not giving people the inspiration or creative expression which would make them not want to do drugs as a form of escapism, and we are not successfully protecting our children (more often than not from members of their own families).
I very much wish to cause no offense to anyone who has suffered, but my feeling is that as a society we need to learn as much as we can from those who commit crimes which cause suffering/death to others, in order to collectively work out why and what it is that pushes a person over the edge, to try and prevent it.
Pointing the finger, calling them "monsters" and locking them up feels like an abdication of responsibility - don't get me wrong, they must be locked up but ut's what we do with them while they are locked up...

I don't believe this, 4 days into the diary and I am tackling religion, porn and the ills of society as I see them!

Where was I?
The Melkweg Amsterdam.
A venue where some really classic Zion train shows have taken place - always nice to return to. A great combination of Dutch efficiency and positive vibes. Lovely to meet up with old friends and to see Zion Train fans new and old in the crowd.
As always there was a Polish contingent > jedna milosc!
One love and peace to all who attended.

Tune of the day

Kalakuta Show
by Mix Master Mike and Mario Caldato

Friday, March 19, 2004

Friday 19th March 2004

Headed out of Utrecht to Groningen with the lads in the Perch mobile.
Once in Groningen we went straight to the venue - Vera.

How to describe Vera?
It´s about as perfect as a venue can get. Firstly the people who run it are lovely (special shout of one love to Peter, Nynke and Miranda). Secondly they have four quiet (nicer than most hotel) rooms out back where you sleep so you only have to stagger up the stairs in whatever state at the end of the night.
The showers are hot the drinks are cold and the food delicious. There´s unlimited internet access, satellite telly. Poster designs are outstanding, lights and sound good - are you convinced yet?!

The chill out room is an amazing historical artefact. The walls are covered with pictures and dedications from all the bands who have played there over the years which is just about every non-mainstream artist in the world and some who went on to make it mega. From Junior Walker to Killing Joke; No Means No to Bo Diddly; Mud Honey to The Gladiators; Robert Crumb to John Cale. There are personal dedications from U2, The Pixies, The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev to name but a few few few.

And then there´s the vibe.
During the gig on Friday night I said off the stage "You in the Netherlands are so cool - you´ve got the weed, booze, the arts, even a government that resigns if it screws up! But here in Groningen it´s HOT!".
Because Zion Train have never rehearsed and have no set list, what we choose to sing and play is very much of the moment and audience vibes play a very important part. When the audience gives of itself then the vibe and experience of the gig is always more intense. It´s not about numbers of people (once had a really nice gig to 6 punters and the barstaff the first time we ever played Cork in Ireland) but about the response.
It´s very difficult to put into words but it´s almost like energy flows in through the tips of your toes and fingers and the soles of your feet and your palms, and then flows out through your mouth, eyes, ears and the top of your head - that´s how it is for me anyway.
In the film/documentary "Scratch" (which is totally brilliant and I recommend to anyone) the legendary Afrika Bambaata describes the break in hip hop music as "the section that lets your god self get wild". This is the best description of that feeling I´ve heard.
Whether he means by "god self" the part of you that in touch with a higher spiritual force, or a state in which you feel like a living god I don´t know but it works both ways.
I don´t believe in a god and have a big problem with organised religion, but I do believe in spirituality. Matthew Fox who I consider a hero, said "there are many roads to the river, but there is only one river", and that sums it up for me. There´s a flow of spiritual energy we can all tap into. I reach that feeling/place at some point during most gigs, but at the Vera gig it came and stayed and kept washing over me.

That´s what I call Zion.
My god self definitely got jiggy with it;-)

Tune of the day

Music is Love
by David Crosby

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Thursday 18th March 2004

Made my way to Stansted airport and on the bus from the car park to the terminal I met UK hip hop pioneer Blade and his crew. We only chatted for ten minutes but they were such nice positive vibes people we had a right laugh. They were off to Poland - here's hoping it rocked for them. (Anyone who knows me will know that Poland is about my favourite place in the world to play).

Met up with the trumpet player with more nicknames than anyone I know: Dave Cosmic, Hake, Cakey (I think only I call him this), General Hardware, Camp David, El Legendario, and he is of course a founder Love Grocer. He had coincidentally just met Nucleus Roots on their way to Oslo.

Anyway to cut a long story short we flew to Amsterdam, got a train to Utrecht and met up with DJ Perch and the trombone player who is rapidly gathering nicknames: Bigga, Bimbi, Bimbo, Huchen aka Sebastian Harzmann of Ishen Rockers.

One love and thanks to all who came down to Tivoli de Helling for a very mellow vibes Zion train gig. Respect to the lighting people as it all looked really nice and to the sound guys who also did a fantastic job. The lack of encore was down to the strict curfew at the venue - sorry.

Tune of the day

Great Britain
by Scorzayzee


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Wednesday 17th March 2004

Day one of my online diary...
Left the love three in sunny West Wales and drove to London.
Briefly saw Nicky (Culture Promotions) and the girls (her two daughters) the younger of the two's (age 10) football team had just won their league, not only that but she won the top goal scorer trophy. Respect!
This made me realise that I have to deal with my prejudice re womens football. I am proud and delighted when it's a friends daughter who is playing but slightly embarrassed when it's full grown women. Time to change my attitude...

In my early 20's I studied drama at the University of East Anglia. One of the courses we did was with a psycho something or other called Tony Hall. The premis was that if you want to act ie. portray someone elses emotions, you must first be in touch with your own. Heavy.
Anyway as a result of bearing our souls to each other my friends from those times are no bullshit talk about the weather type friends even when we haven't seen each other for years.
I'll get to the point!
About a month ago I got an e-mail from one of my best UEA mates who I hadn't heard from for 6 years - she and another good friend were doing a play together.
The play is Angel Filth by Kate Maravan and Sophie Vaughan and is on until April at the Tristan Bates Theatre, 1a Tower St. London WC2.
It was funny, eccentric, well observed and wild.
Coincidentally at the start of the week I had texted another lovely UEA mate to thank him for introducing me to John Martyn's "Solid Air" lp which I'll love forever. He and his beautiful missus came out for the night and we all talked shouted, laughed and drank together after the play.
So lovely to be with people you can be totally honest with about yourself negative and positive, mundane and outrageous and know that you won't be judged.
I've said it many times in interviews but I really do believe that life is about the people you meet and the interaction/communication you have with them through laughing, crying, dancing, talking, sharing, loving, fucking...
Rounded off the evening with some intense and lovely sex.
A fantastic night.

Tune of the day

Do Your Thing
by The Chosen Few