Do Lectures: the people and the music

I’ve already published my Do Lectures 2011 notes over on the NixonMcInnes blog.

Something was missing from that, though. The missing part was about the people and the music of Do.

On the first afternoon, after driving for 5 odd hours, the idea of the afternoon was to get settled, find yer tent, meet some people and have a cup of tea, with a meal and booze later in the evening. Sounds good, non?

That evening, though, we were treated to an enjoyable and challenging set from comedian Josie Long. Challenging is a word that wankers probably use when they really mean ‘shit and horrifically awkward’. But I mean challenging GOOD. What I loved about Josie’s set – apart from lots of funny bits, especially the Bronte sisters piece – was how flipping angry she is about how the Tories are behaving, and how I just let that float right past me, comfortable in my little bubble. It’s not overstating it to say that Josie’s ranting has got me feeling pissed off and political again :)

A bit of Josie’s stuff.

Then, hours later (I think) after beers and chats, we found ourselves round a lovely campfire, under a kinda-teepee roof, listening to Chailo Sim playing their first ever unplugged acoustic set. AMAZING. Totally magical. These guys have huuuuge talent, and being that close to the creation of such good sounds. Unforgettable.

We made them play this song at least 3 times during the course of the night. So so so good.

On the second night, we sang together as a Feral Choir with Phil Minton. I cannot describe how weird this was and capture the fullness of it, but imagine a large group of adults being coaxed into ‘singing’ very strange, indeed feral, noises in layers, in sub-groups and all together in a way that left you exhilerated, terrified and tired in muscles you didn’t know existed!

Like this….!

Then a local lad played another acoustic set which was – again – really good and the guy had incredible guitar and singing skills. In awe, really.

On the Friday night a mesmerising girl called Cate Le Bon played a mixture of English and Welsh-language songs in a barn up near the fforest kitchen gardens. Another wicked setting, and the music was melancholy, captivating, different.

But it was the Saturday night that blew my mind.

I’d heard from a colleague that Gruff Rhys was going to be good, and that her husband had thought Gruff – the ex-frontman of Super Furry Animals – was excellent at Green Man.

What we saw was a genius one-man-show from Gruff, bending musical boundaries and doing crazy shit with vocoders, kids electronic keyboards and little 45s of Finnish bird song.

It was, truly, a jaw-droppingly piss-takingly brilliant piece of musical mastery, and one I hope I will never forget.

This track was wicked:

Also check out Documentally’s storify of the Do Lectures. Audio-visual-niceness.

That’s the music bit.

Then I just feel like I need to say thank you to some of the people that made Do happen. I don’t know many of them, and so will inevitably miss people out, but especially:

- Andy Middleton

- David Hieatt

- Jon Heslop and Alex Heslop

- Anna

- Anya and her team of delicious food creating wizards

- James & Sian fforest and their boys

- All of the many other people that helped make it happen

The effort and thought and character that goes into the Do Lectures is astonishing. As author Les Mckeown put it: The Do Lectures was hands-down the best event I’ve attended in around…oh…30 years or so.

Reaching that standard is no accident. It is a triumph of careful though put into action and an amazing committed group of people working together.

So that’s it. I’m done now on Do eulogising. At least in writing. So soo so brilliant. Thank you.

One comment

  1. ade

    Welcome to the club :)

    The feral choir sounds a bit like my Do experience of Bill Drummond’s talk (KLF, K Foundation, The17 etc): http://www.dolectures.com/lectures/has-the-ipod-changed-our-relationship-with-music/

    For reasons that become obvious when you watch it, the actual singing is cut out of the recording, but believe me – it was an almost out-of-body experience.

    We had the fantastic Gareth Bonello (The Gentle Good) singing his songs around the campfire on our first night. If that wasn’t special enough, I realised I was sitting on a straw bale next to Tim Berners-Lee :)

    Around the campfire with The Gentle Good

    Oh, and Fionn Regan (one of my favourite artists of recent years) played an hour long live set 6′ in front of me:

    Fionn Regan plays the bothy

    Mental, memorable times. I dreamt about them last night.

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