Dialektos in the Far East

Back from another great trip to the East including Indonesia, Vietnam and Hong Kong. Really interesting time, and great concerts with Maria Pia de Vito. Audiences seem to be intrigued by me playing inside the piano (first comment was always “I’ve never seen anyone do that, before”!) but in general really seemed to relate to the music (especially the high energy stuff)

As ever, some great food en route, and met a lot of interesting people. First impressions were Jakarta (Traffic!) Hanoi (Traffic, but creative!) Ho Chi Minh City (buzzy) and Hong Kong (western style consumerism gone crazy….)

Jakarta from the hotel

Indonesian food Sumatran style

Crossing the street in Hanoi was a particular pleasure all of its own that seemed to contradict several rules of science….The guide book said “Walk slowly but with purpose” and that pretty much summed it up! if you stood still you suddenly had scooters, rickshaws coming at you from all directions. A lot of life there seemed to centre around the pavements as well – eating, drinking, selling of all kinds….Most entertaining!

Hanoi

Wiring Vietnamese style!

a brave man selling ceramics from his bicycle....

Hong Kong in comparison seemed a mix of Zurich (airport) and Manhattan (buildings and streets) All great, but I’m not sure I wanted to travel that far to shop in Gucci and Armani shops (apparently at higher prices than Europe even!) Tourist highlight was definitely the ferry to Hong Kong island

Maria Pia being interviewed for TV whilst I look on from the poster!

Hong Kong island from the ferry

Hong Kong - Interesting sign, turned out to be a restaurant!!

Parc

Also started work this week on a commission/collaboration much closer to home. Closure is a new project documenting the potential closure of a tiny school in Parc (near Bala) in rural North Wales with film (greg byatt) pictures (david woodfall) and music. An ACW funded project we hope to look at the village school in terms of both its past, present  and future and examine the effects of losing a school in a small local welsh community.

The initial part of the process will involve asking members of the community to share archive material, photos, stories etc, which will be woven into the the fabric of the piece, culminating in a live performance and a travelling exhibition next july. I’ll be making regular updates here as a way of documenting the process of both the subject and the collaboration and interaction between the three artists….

The first event is on jan 6th 2012 in the village with a showing of the 1950’s film Noson Lawen (filmed in Parc) and a short performance from my self – but I’m also hoping to attend a Plygain over the Christmas period.

More on this next year – in the meantime if anyone is from Parc or nearaby, please feel free to get in touch!

Far East (1) Malaysia

Just made my first trip to the far east to play at the contemporary music festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. What an incredible place! Reunited with my old friend, the saxophonist Greg Lyons, we performed on the 26th November at UCSI University on a hot, humid and steamy night. A great band included bassist (and houseplant) Dudley Phillips and drummer Nic France. As you can see below, we looked pretty wiped out after playing in such high humidity. The parts and pretty much everything else was hot and soggy…… Even the cymbals had a sheen of moisture over them!

A positively surreal soundcheck had us set up in a slightly rock and roll configuration (including drum riser)and  the strange sight of a 9ft Kawai grand warapped in clingfilm to protect it from the moisture! Definitely a night to remember, and great to play with these guys again.

Music was only part of the experience out there. Some of the best food on the planet – and super cheap at that. Incredible chinese food, thai food and southern indian food (served authentically on a banana leaf) One of the advantages of being with a local who loves his food was that we completely stayed away from any of the tourist traps and ate at real local places. I don’t think we saw a single menu all the time we were there – and every meal seemed to be one the best we had ever eaten. Our favourite places were:

Zin Sin – a modest looking but absolutely incredible chinese, full of locals and their families

Jimmy’s Thai Sea Food Barbecue – so many great dishes including chilli crab and an amazing sea bass…..

and Rajou (southern Indian) Roti and Fish curry!

and also this mega fresh chilli noodle below; made by a guy in a small cafe in literally seconds (including rolling out the noodles from a pasta machine!)

All in all an amazing time – I even got used to drinking beer with ice (and out of small glasses) which is pretty sensible when the temperature is around 32. Massive and heartfelt thanks to Greg and June for looking after us in such a royal manner!

Now looking forward to the next batch of gigs in Indonesia,Vietnam, and China with Maria Pia de Vito next week……Full details here: