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Another Folk Week, when our little town is crammed from dawn ‘till dawn, with musicians and their mobile audiences. Where people can drink out of plastic glasses all day and grown men wear long socks and skip in public. It is the Broadstairs equivalent of Kumbh Mela, only with more music and less people. And every year I choose to weave amongst the throng and draw the musicians, live and on-the-spot, often craning my neck on tiptoe or wedged in front of a speaker. It feels like extreme drawing, being jostled by the crowd, trying to pin down a moving subject, in sweaty, loud and unpredictable circumstances. It is also exciting and when it all comes together there is nothing else like it.
1. I began with Tundra an exciting sort of all-weather disco, fusion band about as far from Folk as you can get. People were pogoing around me touching the ceiling and shaking the floor and my pencil-brilliant.
2. While drawing two artists from The Maccaferri Club, I was enclosed by and impaled on, a large yucca, which also obscured my view. Not surprisingly this affected the drawing quality, weak and superficial, even though I was excited by the music, especially the girl on the recorder, she made sounds out of it that I could never have imagined.
3. The performance of Two Man Ting, was in a darkened, comfortable, and chilled setting. The guy with the Djembe talked poetically about his country, Sierra Leone and how people only ever ask him about the war and so he wrote a song asking people to ask him about his mother or the mountains instead, it was very touching. The drawing went well-especially pleased with marks on the djembe guy’s face but ran out of time.
4. Bluesy-Rock band Nicozz performance gave me almost too much time to over-finish this drawing, and my pencil broke, never-the-less the design of the figures reminds me of a dark old painting of an interior and group of figures. Can’t place it yet.
5. Drawings 5, , 6, 7, 8 and 9, are of a band of three brothers, called Rudy Warman and the Heavy Weather, as they are relatively local, I have drawn them several times, in usually favourable conditions. They are special. The lead singer, Rudy, has an extraordinary voice with a warbly, piercing, emotive quality, the effect of which makes me think of Edith Piaf, but only the effect, there is no similarity otherwise. At Folk Week their gig was packed out and I was pushed forward, almost on top of them. It was incredibly exciting until a woman started to nudge me and kept telling me to, “Make his nose longer.” When I asked her not to comment she replied, “Look love, if you want to do this in public, then you must put up with criticism.” Fair enough really, except that this exchange left me shaky and incompetent and I am ashamed to say that I temporarily abandoned the drawings. As my daughter advised, I think I need to “Grow a pair.” Drawing this group feels weirdly like channelling. As if something else is coming through and getting in the way, perhaps that is why I am compelled to keep drawing them.
10. and 11. This band Jumbo Gumbo, absolutely delightful, Zydeco, Cajun, feverishly, infectious, swamp-dirty and charming, I jigged about whilst drawing and the drawings drew themselves.
12, 13, 14 and 15. The last band, Cut the Funk, are a Funk, Soul and Jazz conglomeration. Brilliantly together and competent musicians who so obviously enjoy what they do. I think these are the most successful drawings, in that I managed to go a bit further than in the others. The parallel, simultaneous, expressions of art and music overwhelmed me, I felt like I was riffing with them. Till next year…

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