Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why The Long Face?

Regular readers of the Skirky blogspot, gripped and entranced by both the published versions of these accounts and the regular updates here, will doubtless have pored over the minutae of the sidebar just over there to the right and often wondered what this radio show malarkey is all about. Well, to summarise, the joy of Community Radio is that by its very definition anyone can have a go at it and so my friend Neale and I get together every Thursday at ten o'clock at night to curate two hours of chat, music and filleted highlights from the week's media in what is best described as a loosely-scripted fashion. The genesis of the whole thing can be read about in the introduction to Philip Bryer's book which is a compendium of pieces he's contributed to the show over the past couple of years in his weekly feature None of Your Business. We also have a regular section entitled Celebrity Death Watch, Neale usually reports some important Chinese News, we conduct Why The Long Quiz? (one week we played "Arr or Narrr?" - wherein I attempted to cleave truth from fiction in working out whether he was naming actual Pirates from history or mere figments of his imagination - we've done similar things with Barbara Cartland novels and James Last album titles in the past) and for a while progenitor Wadey Wade did a weekly soup review for us. We have regular input from and share badinage with correspondents such as Lord Tilkey, The Mystery Txtr, Daron - The King of South East Minnesota and My Wife Kelly Brook, and we play some of our favourite music to listeners in as far flung places as Barcelona, New Zealand, North Wales and Framlingham. There's even a Facebook group. It really is what community broadcasting was designed for, and the very existence of ICRFM is a continuing tribute to the hard work and long hours put in by countless volunteers from it's very inception as part of the Venue for Ipswich Campaign in the nineteen eighties. It's also jolly handy indeed for me personally, as it gives me a convenient global platform to explain why I think a bloke called Dave, who sent me a message earlier this week calling me "a ***t", is a fucking wanker.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chris Jarvis

Was it really seven years ago? We were in the middle of recording a bunch of songs which eventually emerged as Songs from The Blue House's 'Too' and amongst the fiddles, banjoleles, dobros and a Fisher Price activity set included on the overdubs we had decided that what we really needed for one song was a Parisian-sounding accordian. As you do. La Mulley recalled an old folk club friend of her Dad's and calls were made, directions given, and vague “We want a sort of Parisian-sounding accordian” noises were made in his direction. To the studio came one Chris Jarvis (in the company of his very jolly partner) who unpacked a massive squeezy thing that had lots of keys and buttons which he strapped himself into before settling down in the recording booth surrounded by mics of various elevations and patiently bellowing back and forth while engineer Steve Tsoi tweaked various buttons and faders, grimaced at flashing lights, and grunted in the way that only studio boffins in advanced states of concentration can. After about twenty minutes of puzzlement and eyebrow raising on our side of the glass Chris helpfully pointed out that accordians are prone to be very slightly off key over the course of three octaves and we should probably stop worrying about the fine tuning we striving to achieve at our end.
With the barest explanation of what we were after he then listened carefully to what we'd already done and rattled off a couple of takes. We made some more suggestions, he nodded patiently, and tried to make happen with his fingers what we were trying to hum, sing and, in lieu of any real knowledge about the mechanics of this fiendish (and rather cumbersome) instrument, mime. The procedure was repeated, we got three songs down, he seemed very happy to have helped and toddled off into the wan and unseasonal Essex sunshine. That was the only time I met him and, until today, I must confess that he'd pretty much dropped off my radar. He didn't, as a number of our sessioneer waifs and strays do, join up full time or come out to gig with us on special occasions, and he became a virtual footnote in the accounts of our musical (folk) odyssey. Sadly, Chris passed on recently after a long illness, and so, belatedly - far too belatedly - I'd like to say thanks for one fun day, and to ask anyone who has enjoyed that swirling, fairground sound on “Forever” to raise a glass and toast Chris, who played for the fun of it, shared his talent without reservation, and who still brings a little unseasonal sunshine into the room whenever that musical snapshot of one afternoon in Essex moves some air through speakers around the world.