Tuesday, June 28, 2022


Rather late in the day, The Generalist has become aware of  Thích Nhất Hạnh, considered the Father of Mindfulness who died on January 22nd this year aged 95. He founded a new form of Buddhism and founded monastic communities in the West and in Hong Kong, Thailand and many other countries including Vietnam where he was born and suffered the effects of the war before escaping to create a retreat in France. 

He visited America three times and persuaded Martin Luther King to come out against the war which he knew would change the tide of public opinion. MLK's speech began: "Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now, Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct". 

He nominated Nhất Hạnh for a Nobel Peace Prize which he won: 'His ideas for peace if applied would build a monument to ecumenism [a movement within Christianity toward the recovery of unity among all Christians], to world brotherhood, to humanity'.

The following material is from the soundtrack of a wonderful documentary 'A Cloud Never Dies' which is available on YouTube.

"I am not inclined to be a politician. My vocation is as a monk. But as a monk you have to have the courage to speak out against social injustice and the violation of human rights."

He developed walking meditation. "You should do it as if you are the most happiest person in the world.. Do not set yourself a goal for a particular destination. So we don't have to hurry because there's nothing up there to get. Therefore walking is not a means but an end by itself."

These are some of his messages: 'we need to overcome violence and fanaticism by coming  together as brothers and sisters in the human family and learn the art of cultivating peace to help transform the alienation and the loneliness of the modern world'.

'The way out is in, to go back to oneself and take care of oneself, learning how to generate a feeling of joy, learning how to generate happiness, learning how to handle a painful emotion. Listening to suffering allows understanding and compassion to be born and we suffer less.'

'It's my conviction that we cannot change the world if we are not capable of changing our way of thinking, our consciousness. That is why awakening, collective awakening, collective change in our way of thinking, our way of seeing things, is very crucial. All of us can help promote that.

'Our task is to come together and produce that kind of collective awakening. There are many ways in order to bring about the kind of collective awakening. There are many ways in order to bring about that kind of collective awakening and change. That is the way to change our way of daily life so that there is more mindfulness, more peace, more love which is a very urgent thing. And we can do that beginning now, today.

'When you wake up you see that the earth is not just the environment. The earth is in you and you are the Earth. You touch the nature of interbeing. At that moment you can have real communication with the earth.'

'We know that many civilisations in the past have vanished and this civilisation of ours can vanish also. We need a real awakening. A real enlightenment. We have to change our way of thinking and seeing things and this is possible. Our century should be a century of spirituality. Whether we can survive or not depends on it'

See 10 best books: https://nerdycreator.com/bookclub/thich-nhat-hanh-books/

Tuesday, June 21, 2022


To come across two new art magazines in the same week is a rare and delightful event. To complicate matters somewhat STATE and f22 are two different magazines in one. To quote 'Totally free, STATE is about new manoeuvres in painting and the visual arts - combined with f22, a supplement on developments in the fusion of art & photography. It is not a review magazine. It's about PEOPLE  worth serious consideration; PLACES that are hot and happening; and PROJECTS developing in the art world'. STATE is 83pp and f22 is 4Opp. Yes its free. First published in January 2011, this bi-monthly is distributed to art schools, galleries, libraries and museums across the UK. You can get copies posted to you free if you pay for the postage. See state-media.com

Its the brain child of  Mike von Joel who has been working in publishing for 40 years and has a long track record of producing magazines. His first was The New Style (1976-1980)  which promised readers ''the disgusting inside stories'' about fashion and the news media. A string of art magazines followed  - Art Line (1982-1997) Artissues and artBooknews (both founded in 1990), State of Art (a free newspaper 2005-2007). He also edited Photoicon, a Norwegian-based magazine focused on international photography. Von Joel is the Creative Director of 'Art Bermondsey Project Space', a not for profit contemporary art gallery founded in 2015. Their blurb reads:

'Project Space presents art, photography and moving image from across the UK, offering a flagship venue for both emerging and established artists. This, combined with our visionary educational and early learning programs, promotes freedom of creative expression through the visual arts. The converted Victorian Paper Factory (hence name The Vellum Building) provides three exhibition rooms and our proximity to the world-famous White Cube gallery establishes interest from all levels of the contemporary art world'.

The magazine is stuffed with interesting material leading with a lengthy interview with Frank Stella, now aged 85 and still working hard at his studio complex at Rock Tavern, New York. Another long piece is about Lynn Barber the journalist and the interviews she  conducted with Tracy Emin (who became a good friend), Damien Hirst, Mark Quinn and the Chapman brothers, one of whom threatened to kill her. 

There's News and Money sections, Art books reviewed by von Joel and a DOCUMENTS section with nine essays by different authors on 'Art in Theory and Practice'. These include a leading piece on Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable and an interesting essay on food and art featuring Joseph Beuys and  a shop in Scotland called Narture - Baking Bread to fund arts projects'.

If you now turn the magazine over f22 has some interesting material - the collage work of Penny Slinger, the amazing photojournalism of David Taggart under the theme Republic of Humanity. His photos of people all over the world are extraordinary and deeply moving as well as being technically amazing. I also got fascinated by the piece called The Lost Faust, an art film by Philipp Humm, starring Steven Berkoff, which took three years to make. It is set in the future but based on Goethe's famous tragedy about this medieval necromancer and alchemist. The film is part of a wider project, what Hamm calls a Gesamtkunstwerk which means a 'total work of art'. Humm also is producing an illustrated novella, drawings, sculptures, fine art photos and paintings.

  ROSA [The Review of Sussex Arts] is a complete newby  quarterly magazine put together by Jessica Wood as publisher with Alec Leith as Editor (formerly of the local magazine Viva Lewes. now defunct) with Rowena Easton as Art Director. 

The opening Editorial suggests that apart from visual arts which make up the entire contents of this first issue (106 pages/£9), they will, in the future, also include musicians, live performers and writers. In contrast to STATE the design has lots of white space and big headlines. They have managed to get 14 pages of advertising which suggests there is a healthy future for the project

It begins with a roundup of summer festivals, events and exhibitions followed by a seven page feature on their chosen cover artist Fergus Hare, a Portslade based painter. This set of pictures with beaches, sea, clouds and anonymous figures have been  compared to Edward Hopper which perturbs him. He tells Leith that they are all connected with his mother who died when he was 18. "I am trying to contact her with what I do as if she were alive. Not in subject necessarily, but emotionally."

Next we have an artistic duo of Ben Langlands & Nikki Bell who have staged three exhibitions Utopia, Absent Artists and Near Heaven at Charleston. The latter refers to Vanessa Bell's attic studio which for many years had been unused and was chock-full of an  abandoned objects and dusty files. The artists cleared it out because, says Nikki, "We want you to stand in the physical space where Vanessa stood". Her daughter referred to her mother's studio as Near Heaven.

There's a great presentation of the late Robert Tavener's sketchbooks whose archive is being carefully managed by Emma Mason. Tavener  taught at Eastbourne art college and his beautiful work has gained an international reputation.

Alex Grey's article features the pictures and story of a church mural that Grey helped save from destruction. Grey has been compiling a list of works of art in Sussex streets, parks, churches and other public places
Alexandra Loske, a curator at the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museums, is the author of Colour: A Visual History. Her piece focuses on the colour blue.

Next is a profile of Glyn Philpot (1884-1937) to initially made his reputation for his portraiture but then switched his style to Modernism. The  Pallant House Gallery is staging a retrospective of his work entitled Flesh and Spirit which will run until October.

'Who Am I Today' deals with  Katie Sollohub's oeuvre and her unusual daily routine which involves swimming in the sea no matter what the weather conditions are and then painting  a head-and-shoulders self-portrait straight after.

This summer Glyndebourne will stage an exhibition that highlights 70 years of programme covers. which includes work by Hockney and Grayson  Perry. 

There's more on Charleston with an article on Vanessa Bell's Garden,  an architectural piece on the Bayside tower in Worthing, a day out in St Leonards, works of art for sale, cartoons by Harry Venning' 

 Luciana Hill's 3D recreation of Magnus Volk's strange and wonderful Daddy Long Legs which offered a 'Sea Voyage on Wheels' from 1897 to 1901 is made possible by an app made by creative technologist Alex May [my son!!]

A rich mixture by any account. More details on subscriptions and stockists here. https://rosamagazine.co.uk/

Saturday, June 11, 2022


You can buy all these items from the Ealing Club Community Interest Company
The DVD paints a good picture of why this venue is considered to be the epicentre of the Blues Boom through extensive interviews with key players. 'The A-Z of Ealing Rock' provides short profiles of many musicians who were attached to Ealing and the club. The tea towel is a map and chart of those people 


This third piece about the birth of blues in Britain links to my two previous posts about Ricky-Tick clubs and  Eel Pie Island which, when taken all together, give a good picture of how things developed in the the 1960s.  

The story of this remarkable venue began when Fery Asgari, an Iranian student who had come to study English at the Ealing Technical College got involved with some bands in the art school of the college. He told a BBC interviewer: "The art school at the college could boast various bands, many in love with the blues. I found myself helping to promote the music nights but it was hard to find a venue because the music was so loud.

"Then I was walking near Ealing Broadway station and I heard jazz and I followed it down the steps… and I found this little basement music club. Within a few weeks I was running the place. To start with we had jazz on Thursdays and Fridays and R&B on Saturday."

The two most important figures in R&B at the time were the pioneering Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies who had been running the acoustic London Blues and Barrelhouse Club from the Roundhouse pub at Wardour Street in Soho had recently been ejected for playing electric music. They relocated to the Ealing Club and played their first gig there on 17th March 1962 - a night now celebrated with a blue plaque.

Korner recalled: “The club held only 200 when you packed them all in. There were only about 100 people in all of London that were into the blues and all of them showed up at the club that first night” All the musicians remember it as a sweaty moist place.

In the coming months everybody met everybody. Alexis and Davies ran Blues Incorporated which had a constantly changing line-up. Amongst the players were Eric Burdon, Paul Jones, Long John Baldry, Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton. It was a place where new bands were hatched and many musicians cut their teeth and learned their riffs.

On the evening of 7 April 1962 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards visited the Ealing Club to see Blues Incorporated for the first time. The club was the place where they later met Brian Jones for the first time. On the 12th January 1963 the classic Rolling Stones line-up played its first gig to an audience of about five people! In the Ealing Club documentary Pete Townshend  says that the Stones played 400 shows in 1963, many of which were at Ealing. Ronnie Wood also played the club with his band The Birds.

When Alexis parted ways with Cyril, the latter got his All Stars band together featuring Ginger Baker,  Jack Bruce, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Graham Bond,

Just down the road from the club was a music shop run by Jim Marshall whose amps were much more    powerful than others. Working there as a Saturday boy was Mitch Michell who learnt to drum there. He played at the club in a band called Soul Messengers, toured with many others, played with Georgie Fame before gaining stardom with Jimi Hendrix. Other musicians who came to the club were John Mayall, Rod Stewart and Dick Taylor.

In 1964-1965 the Mods started arriving at the Club and The Who did many gigs there and when Psychedelic culture arrived the Pink Floyd played there. Later came soul and reggae artists followed by a disco scene and house music.

Sadly the huge Crossrail project will reach Ealing and the Ealing club building is to be demolished. The end of an era.

Thursday, June 09, 2022



Following on from Andrew Humphreys' 'Raving Upon Thames'  - a Richmond/Eel Pie Island musical history my friend Chris Lewis tipped me off to 'As You Were': The true adventures of the Ricky-Tick club. The book has been written by John Mansfield (with the help of younger brother Colin). The photo above shows John (right) with Philip Hayward (left) who he met when they were both doing national service in Germany after the war. 

John's life was changed when, as a teenager, he came across a wind-up gramophone and a box full of 78's. He became hooked on jazz and studied it. In 1952 he joined the newly-formed Slough Town Military Band for a couple of years and learnt to play the saxophone. When he was called up he used this musical experience to try and sign up as a Military Bandsman for the 13th/18th Hussars. When Philip turned up as a new recruit an instant rapport was established between them and for the next ten years they were a virtually inseparable double act except for a period from 1958 when Philip was posted to Malaya whilst John was discharged and returned to Britain.

Their mutual interest in music was first piqued in Hamburg when they met and hung out with The Crane River Jazz Band, a seminal outfit who first came together in 1949 and which for two years featured the cornetist Ken Colyer who was to make a great impact on the jazz and blues scene.

In 1959 John was working on a building site in Windsor opposite a pub called the Star and Garter which had a Trad Jazz club that he began to frequent and get involved in. He was very quickly offered a chance to run the club which he made a great success of. He became the manager of a band as well and bought a Lambretta scooter to scout other other possible venues in the neighbourhood. He also joined a convoy of scooters who regularly went to Eel Pie Island as this was the jazz club to go to. Further trips to London jazz clubs followed. 

When Philip returned to the scene the two would-be entrepeneurs were scratching around to make a living as their only source of income was their Sunday night jazz club which, in the summer of 1962, they renamed the Ricky-Tick jazz club. That September John was tipped off to the fact that Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated were playing at the Ealing Club. This was his first encounter with live electric blues which he says blew him away which is not surprising considering the line-up was AK with Graham Bond, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. This got him thinking about establishing an R&B club on a Friday at the Star and Garter. The first gig on the 7th December was a great success so John was keen to book them for the next Friday. Alexis said he was booked but suggested a band called The Rolling Stones who were playing interval spots at the Ealing Club.

The Stones played the Ricky-Tick on Friday Dec 14th 1962. It was Bill Wyman's debut and their first provincial booking. Following that, Brian Jones hustled more gigs in Sutton, Richmond, Putney and Twickenham. Their second Ricky-Tick gig on 11th Jan 1963 was sold out.

The Star and Garter became a music venue seven nights a week, five of the gigs being run by other promoters. The R&B Friday nights featured the Blues Incorporated or the Stones which brought in ever larger crowds which set them off looking for other venues. On the 22nd Feb they put on Alexis Korner at the Wooden Bridge Club in Guildford and the Stones at Windsor. By the first week in March they were promoting these and other bands at Reading, Windsor, Poole, Southall and Guildford. The Stones played eight gigs for them in eight days by which time, says John. 'they had established a fantastic and fanatical following'. The crowds were getting so big that they had an external metal staircase fitted at the back of the club. Capacity there had reached 300.

Promoting gigs in those days relied on rather dull woodblock printed posters and handouts to spread the word. John was amazed when he saw a huge poster with a huge screaming negro face advertising a R&B gig featuring Hogsnort Rupert - a band  with saxes. Hogsnort turned out to be the pseudonym of Bob McGrath, a student at the Farnham School of Art. He became the designer and stencil cutter for  Ricky-Tick promotions and taught them how to be silk screen printers. That March Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames were, says John, instantly adopted as the Ricky-Tick favourite as the main band ushering in a soul-jazz version of R&B.

During 1963, the Thames Valley area became the 'Blues Delta' of Britain with Ricky-Tick promoting regularly in Windsor, Slough, Maidenhead, Reading and Guildford. They put on gigs with Cyril Davis, John Mayall and Eric Clapton for blues purists . The Animals played their first gig down south, the same week that John and Phillip put on Sonny Boy Williamson supported by the Yardbirds at Windsor. John writes that by late 1963 the entire UK were feeling the 'British Blues Boom' with over 100 groups on the R&B circuit.

Early in 1964 John and Phillip were able to get a lease on Clewer Mead, a mansion by the river which John had been interested in for three years. It consisted of a large ballroom, a host of ancillary rooms and seven large flats - all for £16 a week!! Bands and artists playing here included Georgie Fame, John Lee Hooker backed by The Groundhogs, Bill Hayley, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Jerry Lee Lewis and Howlin' Wolf. 

They had room in the mansion to establish a substantial silk-screen operation producing not only 1,000 posters a day when required but also a wide range of t-shirts. In the following months or years further landmark gigs featured The Who, Long John Baldry, Little Stevie Wonder. Jimi Hendrix, The Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and on...

Phillip died in 1993 thus ending a partnership that had made a substantial impact on the British music scene of the day through a promotion and booking business that spread to venues across the south-east bringing the best of jazz, R&B, soul and rock to a wide audience. It's a real-life account of the music scene at that time and further evidence of the intensity of 1960s culture well illustrated with the posters and handouts of the period. The book is well designed, printed and bound and is a welcome addition to the story of British music

There is a complete list of gigs at the various Ricky-Tick venues here