This past 10 days or so, have been ruthlessly dominated, by the need to submit our emergency grant application to the Arts Council. It's been a difficult process, with a limiting approach (300 words per section, 1,800 characters...including spaces and line breaks), that has had the sad effect of almost completely draining my desire to sit and write. Indeed, I've been thrust back to my essay writing years, constantly editing and re-editing until I've been made to feel quite ill. Combined with the house arrest situation, it's been a maddening experience. The good news, is that it's finished and in the hands of the Arts Council. I've no idea if we'll get the grant or not, but it would certainly be very welcome and would obviously massively help to get back on track, with some very exciting plans we've had for The Peer Hat in 2020.
If the money doesn't come our way, then so be it. We at least had to try. Without it, we will find a way to persevere: my faith in this community runs extremely deep. From the very beginning, the idea of cultivating such a far out notion as community, was challenged repeatedly, not least when representatives of a popular cash cow band, informed us of all the ways in which we were fucking up and that I should withdraw my head from the clouds. Why, if we buckled down, we could resemble another local venue and make real money! Just a tweak here and there... It was a galling experience, a Sunday night early in our foray, and they were pretty much our only customers, slamming away craft beer and top shelf whiskey, a veritable financial godsend in the dark days of 2017. I guess we had the last laugh, but I've never thought of it in those terms. Every step, is another riddle, another opportunity to lose oneself in the Labyrinth.
But the prize is great, the Minotaur to be slain in this case, being the strangely bereft noughties, when Manchester troubled to erase it's cultural heritage, blurring into a vaguely up mobile wasteland (Salford of course, enjoyed a rich blossoming with Islington Mill and The King's Arms from whence it sprang). I know those years intimately; I've been making music a long time and had to come to terms with the tombstone epitaph, that stated, etched into psychic marble, that I was never going to amount to anything in the rock n roll world and nor were my erstwhile band-mates. And nor...were any of our peers, with whom we'd enjoyably feuded, silhouettes on the walls of venues now closed forever. I had my crisis, but I did not cease to create music. In fact, I found a much better reason to do it than money, fame or even the recognition that every artist craves. Strangely, The Peer Hat came out of all that, but that's a story that I'm sure many of you have heard on the pub floor. That's where it belongs.
To continue with my stretched metaphor, we must take that rock n roll bull by the horns and bring it to the ground. Elevate us all to the status of artist... yes artist, take no shame in that. Tell the stories, feel the energy moving around us, make good for Her, just like Big Time Charlie Potatoes, who exists both as a tragic warning and a neon god, the blind rocker, a curiously modern archetype. Rock n' roll, that big lie, has seen it's day, we have enjoyed front seats watching it die. But strip away the outer layers to the flesh within and we find that, even if the trappings and accoutrements are not worth saving, the art exists and it's beauty is cosmic, it's light obscured by the adornments of material capitalism. The blood stained truth, carved into the black mountain, says this: the rock n' roll we love, is a concept fully strapped in service to the Demiurge. Baal Amon. Moloch, the Eater of Children.
But the awareness is growing swiftly...and we're starting to see, through a truer lense, perhaps described as punk, perhaps better thought of as something older or newer, that there's a beautiful and hidden path through the forest. A way of respecting the artist in terms beyond what might be defined by the phrase 'functional music industry'. Do you wonder what kind of world is waiting for you when you're finally allowed to leave the confines of your home? However you feel regarding the politics of lock-down, if you support it, can you continue to support the world as it was? A world where such draconian measures may be enforced over and over in an effort to stymie the spread of the virus? What do we get in return? The gift of material normality? The gift of a literally pointless job? The offerings of hand to mouth living, time swallowed by bullshit, hoping your next break is going to be the big one? We're conditioned to think of ourselves as lucky compared to some times, some places, some peoples. But what do we know of what we have lost, cowering, dreading the nullification of life? What worth a concrete street, an asphalt drive, the sight of a glass Tesco? What is the true psychic cost? What about the skills we no longer possess? And what is 'luck', if it means having the fortune to be born into a rapacious, late term empire, built on a foundation of skulls?
Coming back to the idea of skills, I feel our lack of connection to the soil and earth, reflects our reliance upon outside authority to make decisions for us, take care of our hours,our diet and our health... our very immune systems. We need to rectify that and peculiarly enough, we had to demonstrate to the Arts Council a commitment to tackling the environmental challenges of the coming years. In a very real way, a community like ours, can go some distance towards reducing it's reliance upon fossil fuels and in the process re-learn some important and neglected skills. Greening our community can be accomplished in a myriad of fashions, though to begin with, we'd very much like to know what you are good at. We need to get a solid picture of people's skills, because those things need sharing right now. Obviously we're super interested in growing and planting vibes, but it needn't end there.
In a way, we can green rock n' roll, not as some naff New Age thing, but as a brand new energy, that belongs, resolutely to the community which gives it birth and acts as an ambassador to other communities when say, artists go on tour. The future is, as ever, uncertain, but we have something, like a plan. Get involved, comment below (or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me what you think you're good at in life. Or tell me how I'm way off base....it's good to hear your thoughts either way. We'll talk about it next time if there's enough interest.
Meanwhile, in your homes, things have been stirring, a wide variety of very interesting and peculiar activities. I must admit, that I'm incredibly curious to see what forms art takes as the lockdown continues. Beyond the lamentations of imprisonment, loneliness and fear (though those things have their place), I'm noting a vein of high strangeness emerging and enough artists willing and crazed enough to mine it.
Sarah Green As Rosa Luxemburg
As the spectacle of our imprisonment becomes the primary form of entertainment, treason is defined as a day spent too long in walking, cut off from the visual representation of the confined. Rebellion against the lock-down is seen by the masses as a violating act, the freedom of the wide open space now rendered as the artefact of the saboteur. However, this collective fetishisation of our incarceration, has no defence against the adoption of persona. Suddenly, the prison walls are not measured in bricks and mortar, but in our own personalities, rendered as mere spectators to our own dimisnishment, ripe for the assassin's bullet, if we're brave or crazed enough to pull the trigger.
Sarah Green knows no such fear as she adopts the role of socialist icon, Rosa Luxemburg, dredged from the canal and resurrected before us, considering the question of revolution, it's failure and it's ultimate victory. This is an amazing feat of mediumship from Ms Green; I think you'll find Luxemburg's final written words, nourishing food for thought in these exceptional times. Turning inwards, are we, the masses, ready for that much vaunted 'revolution in the head'? Kudos Sarah, let's go forwards from here, redefining what we are and what we can become.
Another Example Of Charlie's Paradise...
Can be found here, via the which ways of the web. I do not speak about Charlie lightly, and yet I would be remiss to leave him unmentioned. The riddle of rock n' roll, it's ugly face and the ghosts of Manchester, past present and future, are contained within him. Respect him. Note his sacrifice. Learn the lesson.
My good friend, Ian 'Moet' Moss, is probably well known to many of you for his relentless presence over the years from the Free Trade Hall, to his recent book launch at The Peer Hat for his page turner, '100 Unhip Albums: That We Should Learn To Love'. He's also one of the forces behind German Shepherd Records, a local label with an admirable devotion to the un-commercial and the strange. Now Ian has a podcast, which you can catch up with at your leisure...check it out, the man is fascinating...this represents a trek through his life and times. Never dull and more importantly, an example of that psychic geography that we're all slowly coming to terms with.
Peace Pipers Single Alert
Ravishingly psychedelic folk wizards, The Peace Pipers, have released a new single! We've hosted them on more than one occasion upon The Black Stage, and they strike a determinedly original note, amidst a sea of mediocrity. Travel down the garden path with them below:
Music To Stay At Home To
Many a Peer Hat musical regular appears upon this charity compilation album. Full shebang regarding it, can be found on their Bandcamp, but naturally, you're going to have to click on the link first. Where is it? Below of course...
Drum Roll...THE JUNGFRAUS NEW ALBUM
Finally, the accursed Jungfraus have released a third album, entitled Where The Eye Cannot Follow. As many of you must know, lead singer Mike, is both my brother, business partner and fierce rival. I'm currently stung by the brilliance of this latest recording, since it's been a while since I last released anything to the public. This spurs me on, however, as it's such a scintillating offering and deserves all of your love and attention. The Jungfraus story requires a blog entry, well, half a blog entry...so I'll save the full tale of that psychic war for a few entries hence. Needless to say, their story is intrinsically woven into the fabric of The Peer Hat's history...and now represents a great time to get into them and their curious, original and brilliant back catalogue
How was I to end this? I fell asleep and my big conclusion now eludes me. Maybe it'a for the best and limits me to saying only this: keep heart.
Akin predicts the future.