Saturday, 12 February 2011

Off The Page

I was rather excited and suprised to discover recently that my small and humble home town of Whitstable would be hosting the UK's first ever literary festival devoted to music criticism. Off The Page.

The show was opened last night by the wonderful Robert Wyatt, who played and discussed (in a typically meandering, going-off-on-tangents kind of way) five of his favourite music tracks. Particularly interesting as he talked about his childhood in Canterbury and the weekends he spent feeding coins into jukeboxes in Whitstable cafes in order to watch girls dance.

Another highlight of the weekend was an enthusiastic talk by Dave Tompkins on the history of the vocoder, which began life as a Second World War device to scramble the transatlantic conversations between Churchill and Roosevelt, (with the UK vocoder operated from the basement of Selfridges department store.) It was subsequently employed as a more creative instrument in film, tv and music, particularly hip hop. Here Dave is on Youtube talking about his favourite vocoder records.

It's been a bit tricky trying to see everything we wanted to, what with juggling Betty between us and her Aunty Joanne, and the organisers constantly changing the running order with very little notice. I think tomorrow we'll see what Betty makes of the 'performance lecture on the art of listening'. I'm hoping it will be loud enough to drown out her babbling.

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