The Cork Board, World Music

Reflections from London

Last weekend was special in so many ways. I passed another anniversary and was royally treated by Mrs. Monkey. We joke how I have become accustomed to the life into which I have become accustomed. But it is a joke – our joke – we never take any of it for granted.

A three day, well, two and a half day, trip to the capital to see some art and entertainment and partake of a little Christmas shopping was planned and duly executed with aplomb.

Rather than relate the whole tale I will focus purely on Sunday. Sunday evening found me warmed and reflective………………. We had headed off to Brick Lane market for breakfast.


If you’ve never done it then you must. It is a vibrant a wonderful exploration through all walks of life. Heading for the food hall we found stalls of every international variety -Brazilian; Cuban; Italian; Lithuanian; Jamaican; Bangladeshi; Indian; Spanish; English. I felt proud of our multi-cultural society. I ordered an Assam tea from a young guy covered in tattoos who was playing old Stax vinyl on a turntable on his tea bar. Cool.

Over in the distance I could hear someone playing a bamboo sax. He was good. (Yes, you read that right, a bamboo sax.) A few minutes later and wandering through one of the covered yards I was engaged by an artist Faizal Lulat, promoting his project “The Art of Conversation”, which is based around stories told to him by total strangers.

The atmosphere is so chilled out. The reggae busker shuffles you along past the bric-a-brac where, if you look closely, you just might find a gem.

Trace....  (photo:metro)
Trace…. (photo:metro)

Post-lunch was a hike to The White Cube to view Tracey Emin’s show “The Last Great Adventure is You” . We were drawn by her nude sketches “9x9x9” , which are free, expressive and powerful. A side room hung fabric “sketches” several metres high and wide which from a distance look like bigger versions of the line drawings. They are. However, look closely and you will see that they are actually embroidered wool. Colossal work.

There’s the obligatory shock stuff too. Yawn. Yawn. Yeah, seen that. Move on.

I like Tracey Emin. I think of all the Britart gang she is the one with real talent and the one who will endure. So I shall ignore the “fuck” drawings – it’s so “yesterday”, darling – and recognise that the real work is elsewhere.

Sam Amidon (
Sam Amidon (

Evening to The Barbican for a Jazz Festival gig with Sam Amidon and Bill Frisell. Both highly enjoyable performances.

Bill Frisell ... one of the greats ...
Bill Frisell … one of the greats …

I detect that Sam Amidon may still be learning his stage craft but Bill has been around a while. Not always easy to read, (Mrs. Monkey walked out once), he has taken jazz guitar in a different direction. In fact, almost always a different direction with every release. Who knows what will come after the Space Age ?

It was during Bill Frisell’s set that I paused for reflection. It had been an extraordinary day. They don’t always set up like this. I had experienced the joys of diversity at Brick Lane, the unusual talent of Tracey Emin, the exploratory work of two gifted musicians – and realised a common thread – all these people are ploughing their own furrow, refusing to tow the line, determined to find their own path, their own voice.

The thought didn’t need any more examination. A light had come on.

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