I'm Still Waiting
Back Again, the incredible 1995
semi-Incredible String Band Convention, was held on the 12th
November in the Kennedy Suite of Camden Irish Centre, with a
bemused portrait of JFK looking down on proceedings. The seventies
brutalism of the surroundings was enlivened by some beautiful
graphics of leaping sprite musicians from Deena, who organised the
convention with Adrian Whittaker.
A smaller convention than before -
perhaps because of a decision to concentrate on the lesser-known
ISB members - attended by approximately 52 people, it had a family
atmosphere - Clive Palmer's first wife danced with his second wife
in the aisles. A relaxed and informal coming together of
The bill kicked off with the
Half-Remarkable Questionnaires (aka Kate Green and the Taproot
String Band), which did creditable cover versions of: Maya,
Empty Pocket Blues (for the first time that evening), Log
Cabin Home in the Sky, Air, Jigs & Reels and
Cold February. (can anybody remember any more?) and got
everyone into the spirit of the thing by passing round their
extensive collection of Tibetan bells, triangles and strange
tinkly things. Normal, sensible grown-ups suddenly regressed to
their "Music and Movement'" days and sang along lustily,
without too much prompting.
The Taproots are: Kate and Raymond
Green and Patrick Walker (not the dead astrologer!), based in
Sheffield, they are available for birthdays, christenings,
barmitzvahs, and - because they know their market- imbolc, sahmain
and equinox celebrations!
Malcolm Le Maistre took some time
off from his theatrical pursuits to come and perform at the
convention, much to everyone's delight. He dedicated My Father
was a Lighthouse Keeper to his recently-deceased father,
adding that his father had never worked near the sea. Always an
endearingly vulnerable performer, he took the audience into his
confidence: "I haven't done this one for ages, I'm a bit
rusty," he mumbled sheepishly, as he tripped over the
microphone cable, before launching into a poignant rendition.
Accompanied by Pete Baynes, he followed this by a selection of
animal songs by his theatrical alter-ego Victor Noberscefski, whom
he describes as a 'central European illusionist'. Also, included
in his set was Down Before Cathay.
Malcolm is currently involved with
a music-based drama group called self-explanatorily,
"Environmental Arts". Environmental Arts recently
produced A Pine and the Eagle, a dramatic environmental journey
through 8,000 years of Scottish natural history. They are hoping
to get a grant from Scottish National Heritage to perform the
drama all over Scotland. Another project which Malcolm is involved
with is Animals with Attitude which is currently being recorded.
(More details of this when we have it.)
Clive Palmer followed hot on
Malcolm's heels. Still recognisable from the original cover of the
Incredible's first album, Clive's impossibly blue eyes sparkled as
he played a selection of bluegrass banjo tunes, accompanied by his
wife Gina (she of the dancing in the aisles fame!) on the violin.
My particular favourite was Empty Pocket Blues (I know that
feeling!) and an instrumental, Niggertown, both from the
first Incredible String Band album.
Clive's well-crafted musicianship
was much appreciated by his fans, who got quite over-excitable at
the fact that they were witnessing the elusive man actually
playing live on stage!! Clive's wandering life has taken him from
London, to Scotland (Guess why!), Afghanistan, Cornwall (where he
met up with Gina) onward to deepest France. Clive and Gina live in
a lovely old house in Brittany and this was their first gig in
Britain in ages.
Since "splitting" the
Incredibles "scene", in a quaint, old fashioned sixties
way, Clive has played with various bands, including Clive's Own
Band, which has an enthusiastic hardcore of aficionados. (More
details of Clive's bands to follow in the next few months).
After the gig, Clive sat smiling
dazedly to himself, while his two wives and many old friends
chattered brightly around him. Everyone else got their instruments
out, started jamming and sang many of the same songs all over
again. Just for the fun of it.