Words and music, words on music — they combine in a short series of talks, masterclasses and performances at Vinyl Head cafeé, one of the hubs of Ramsgate’s music and creative scene, and the venue for the Ramsgate Festival’s first series of literature and poetry performances in 2015.
The series opens with Dave Randall — guitarist with Faithless, Dido and Sinead O’Connor and a political activist in the Middle East, as well as composing the music for the Jeremy Corbyn Labour Leader campaign video — seen here performing at Glastonbury. He’ll be talking about the insights from his new book Sound System: the Political Power of Music, a wide-ranging analysis of the role that music can play in social change as well as a critical guide for musicians on how to align their careers with their beliefs. Tom Robinson, who knows a thing or two about music and politics, describes Sound System as “A passionate first-hand exploration of the propaganda value of culture — and the ways in which music and politics have always been inextricably linked… It should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the state of the world — and in the essential, life-affirming role music can play in changing it for the better.” Details. Tickets.
There are two masterclasses in the series by music practitioners who are internationally renowned in their fields. In the first we learn about the hurdy-gurdy, a rare and unusual musical instrument that — unlike the vast majority of instruments that are struck, picked, bowed, bellowed or blown — is driven by a rotating handle. The hurdy-gurdy may never have been mainstream, but, perhaps as a consequence, it has a colourful history going back centuries and across the world, from the Byzantine empire to Japanese psychedelic noise music, and from Irish folk to contemporary British composition. Over more than 20 years of instrument making, Claire Dugué has established herself as a key player and innovator among the small global community of hurdy-gurdy makers. She will give us an insight into how tradition is being continually transformed in the fertile margins of music making. Details. Tickets.
In the second masterclass, Mike McEvoy will talk us through just one of the many strings to his bow: composing film soundtracks. Mike has recorded with household names from Steve Winwood to Scritti Politti, and currently plays keyboards in Push, described by Craig Charles as “The best funk and soul band this side of the Atlantic.” In a solo career stretching over more than two decades, Mike has explored a range of instrumental textures and enlisted some of the UK’s finest jazz musicians to realise his compositions. But at the festival, he’ll be talking about his work composing for film and TV, from Hollywood movies to cult TV series The Wire. Then he’ll be introducing a screening of Richard Linklater’s film Me and Orson Welles for which Mike wrote the soundtrack, featuring big band jazz and orchestra, as well as making a cameo appearance. Details. Tickets.
In case those options aren’t challenging enough for our festival audiences, the fourth event in the series invites you to leave the audience and participate in an exploration of the crossovers between writing and performance. Led by actor, performance maker, and poet Megan Garrett-Jones, the Things with Words series — in which this is the fourth event — maps the space where music meets with words via a focus on lyrics. There will be a range of performers: some invited, but other slots are open for you to put yourself forward. Interested? But a little anxious? Megan is organising a workshop on the Monday of the festival to lay some groundwork for Tuesday’s performance. Details. Tickets.
Listen to the beginning of Things with Words radio, above. Is that something from the era of dada and futurist manifestos? When music and words mixed with radical politics. We follow the muse and it brings us full circle. [Update 20 July: a new radio show has been recorded to coincide with this performance and is available on the event page.]
All events take place at the wonderful Vinyl Head café (watch the video at the top of this page, if you haven’t already, to find out more about why you might want to arrive early at this super-friendly venue).
Admission is free, but is ticketed to manage numbers, and there are a limited number of seats. Click the Tickets links above to book online.
A few special £3 tickets are available which offer £5 off your food-and-drink order on the night. A booking fee applies online for the combined food-and-drink offer, but there is no fee if you pre-book in person at Vinyl Head.
Tell your friends that you are coming! All these events are also listed on Vinyl Head’s events page.