The Foundry’s Last Gasp

June 28th, 2010

I have a nagging, niggling, pesky question that keeps me up nights – how do I sustain myself by making music in this golden glorious age of communications.  It’s a waking dream.  Je cherche the teenies version of The Manual.  You remember the glorious KLF guide to ‘…How to Have a Number One Hit The Easy Way’?  It needs an update.  Since it was 1st published in 1988, we’ve endured the mobile phone, an explosion of social networks inc YouTube, TheirSpace, Farceberk, Twatter, internet radio, GarageBand.  To counterbalance:  filesharing vs music industry backlash, the almighty video game, Big Brother & Pop Idol/X-Factor.  I’ve a hunch that, tho there’s a greater chance of upping musical profile and gaining exposure, making money or at least sustaining one’s self by making music is not any more facilitated, in fact maybe even a whole lot more difficult than it was in the late-80s.

For starters,  exposure has improved for musical creators across the board – thus flattening any previous competitive edge defined by say … talent.  It really is about how many loud mouthed friends vie for a place at your dinner table because you are marked for success.  Success has now been defined by raunch culture & reality TV.   Fine, but what has been lost in the negotiation but music that defines a generation or an era, even.  Instead it’s “Oh that music would so work for The ‘Baby’ Gap” or “Can’t you just hear that song on a Starbucks compilation?” or “That track has I-pad written all over it”  We all seem to fancy ourselves as ad execs.  The big record label players (who shall remain nameless, because they don’t deserve to be tagged and I will not be oppressed into association) play hardball, possibly because they can hear the death knell louder than the dinner bell.

Of course the music industry’s not the only culprit.  Other corporations – who feed off the fringe of musical appeal  through  say sponsorship or product placement – are operating from point of extreme privilege.  Since all corporations have been granted and aggressively flex their human given/ceded rights – grrrreat – it seems there are only so many of those rights to go around; so individual humans are to swap their human rights for the joys of commodification.  I may not be valued but at least I have a value..


Suppose an urban property, having lain fallow for so long that it threatens to generate social deprivation in its very neighborhood, has been rescued by inhabitants according to an arrangement with an owner or in fact squat the property.  The property becomes a hip hangout for a site specific community cultivating their own culture of musical, visual, spoken, written art which strengthens and integrates that neighborhood.  It then becomes a draw to outsiders thus increasing and circulating capital from the outside to within that community.   What allows a corporation to swoop in, wipe that community and its efforts aside, buy out the negligent owner and start to boss around local government to exile the people who’ve contributed to the upgrade of that community.  The idea that a corporation represents a remote group of shareholders and consumers whose desires for what to do with a space are more important than the ones who’ve saved and upgraded the neighborhood as well as actually inhabit that space, makes my blood curdle.  As if to say, move over little dog cause the big dog’s movin in.  Why do they do it?  Because they want to target an expanding new market and Capitalism is dependent on an ever expanding market/product/raw material (also the reason why it is destroying this planet since nature may overprovide but she does so consistently) and a substantial body of consumers to work for less than their market worth.  What a double whammy.   It is in big dog’s interest to deprive and displace people, pretending life is just one big game of monopoly – and they’re playin it all out on your street.

It would seem that the natural response would be to form a group and appeal to a local council for protection.  Surely that local group should have priority because the members have improved their own neighborhood and can be trusted to carry on doing so.  What exactly does this giant corporation have to offer the neighborhood?  Why is there no protection or reward in place for what has already been created?

Traffic Conch

Of course this story belongs to THE FOUNDRY in London.  It was one of the first places that I went to party in London when I first arrived 17 years ago.  A friend of mine introduced me to my (now ex) husband there.  I was also introduced to Phil Dirtbox who was hosting one of his glorious crooner cabarets – pre-pre-pre Colony Rooms.  I got some of my first gigs there as a musican.  The stewards, Tracey and Jonathan, were chucked in the most sneaky and sordid fashion – real live proof of taxation without representation.  The Foundry was banned from holding music gigs by the local council for about 2 years, and on that basis were evicted.  My Foundry was determined to be an establishment with no cultural value.  Ye olde bait & switcheroo.  The bailiffs finally homed in a coupla months ago, and guess what?  The new owner started to drag its corporate paws.  Some younger revolutionaries resquatted the space and had a party last week, during which the cops were called and fresh threats of bailiff invasion were wage, the date set for this morning at 7am.

My friend Annabel, whom I also first met there last Winter, invited me to last night’s vigil.  When I arrived from another gig it was about midnight and there were probs about 75 people outside, no sound system, BYOB.  They were lounging on couches and chairs.  Someone had set up a tent.  Apparently the new boss was keeping the inside space exclusive for his/her inner circle – identity not immediately obvious – with no explanation.  I found it disheartening, but perceived it marginally better than being held hostage by a global hotel chain.  I chatted, bid my beautiful friend Annabel goodnight and went home to where I’m currently camping for some beauty sleep, returning just before the scheduled eviction at 7am.  A few were up drinkin a breakfast of champions (and yes I did get panhandled by one of the youngsters), but most were crashed out cold – all in their 20s to 30s.  Some folk were singing and playing guitar.  One gent picked up a traffic cone and began to host a live chatshow, interviewing passersby on the street, beckoning applause from the awaking revolutionaries.  I was told that the CCTV cameras were defiantly covered up by The Foundry squatters and the cops soon arrived, arresting someone after a brief skuffle.  The one who claimed to have covered the device bragged and acted out how he evaded the cops, but no one had an explanation for why it was cool for someone else to take the rap (arrrf).   The cops never showed by the time I left for the mcjob, and the new elite were sleeping soundly inside, whilst the great and growing unwashed on the street drank themselves awake.

Wakey Wakey

Damn, I’m not impressed with this!  When are we going to vie for one another and reclaim this planet for peace?  How are we going to do it, whilst we are vying for commodified glory, whilst we abuse ourselves and play Animal Farm, whilst the true gangsters carve up this world like a giant enclosure and chip us up on remote control?  I’m trying to stay calm and remind myself that love is the answer.  In the meantime my waking dream seems more and more like a deluded wake.

1st July – COUNTRY DIRT support BAND OF HOLY JOY @ The Vortex Jazz Club

June 27th, 2010

Shd be a night to remember ... if you dare


“BAND OF HOLY JOY perform soul-wrenching songs…. with their folk macabre meets Burroughs/Reed like sagas of lust, desire & obsession, play songs from their NY City inspired album ‘Paramour’

Crashing on to the city streets like Jayne County, Marianne Hyatt brings her fine band of cracked musicians to town. Mixing poignant melodies w raw humour & wayward emotion, COUNTRY DIRT have what it takes to melt the heart & bend the mind of the most cynical urban slicker.

TALKING MUSICAL REVOLUTIONS is a travelling symposium of neon fire & shooting stars, of music as the life & spirit, the religion. It’s main man GAVIN MARTIN steps down from the lectern & up to the decks to give us choice blasts of Bowery sound”

The Vortex Jazz Club

11 Gillett Square
London N16 8AZ
020 7254 4097

Country Dirt’s First Press Release

June 23rd, 2010
White Boots 4 Walkin
Underneath the stripsearchlight

Look alive, City Slickers!  5 great Country swingers & Western slingers are back in the saddle, hot on the trail and kickin up some COUNTRY DIRT….. for your listenin pleasure

That’s right, COUNTRY DIRT proudly present their debut LP NICKEL & DIME to shake some stardust off that ol C&W collection and put a spitshine on your boots made for dancin.  You might just call it grab-ass bluegrass, you might say it’s Countronica, but you darn tootin well KNOW it’s only Rock-n-Roll from a different branch of the same root:   a li’l Gram, some ol Hank and a whole lotta Wanda.

Frontin up the posse is Texan twirler Marianne Hyatt (Dragstripper, Temple of Sound).  Singin from the same hymn sheet, and playin some Big Guitar to boot, is the electric Patmo Sheeran (Big Self, Stone Rangers).  Frank Brown (Clitoris Allsorts, The Hangin Ropes) put his soul on layaway to play the Devil’s banjo, but switch hits to harp & resonator guitar if the flames get too high. George Blacklock (Blacklock & Brown) cuts a rug on the mighty mandolin, but also moonlights on vocals, harp & guitar when duty calls.  Billy Bob Staunch (Jegsy Dodd & the Original Sinners) shoots from the root with some lo-down dirty bass your mother may have warned you about. 

COUNTRY DIRT formed in Nov 2009, and hasn’t stopped giggin since.  By New Year’s Eve of the new decade the band was invited to play Johny Brown’s Mining For Gold show on Resonance FM and Summer 2010’s booked up fast for ‘em round the UK. 

“….adding aural shooting stars and neon fire to the roadhouse vibe” – Gavin Martin

“Countrified bluegrass, banjos, sunshine…. with great titles, titles like Pussy Whip …. Country Dirt are fun, they have their tongues stuck firmly in cheek as they bring a collective smile to the face of the venue.  They have some seriously good bluegrass country rock there.”  –The Organ

“Sounding somewhere between cult favourites Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and Cowboy in Sweden-era Lee Hazelwood lays another outfit from London’s Deep South. Country Dirt is an alt. Country band of the highest order”  – Hackney Hive

Who’s the Man!

June 10th, 2010

My beau is more popular than me.  It doesn’t hurt me to admit it.  In fact it behooves me to say it like a mantra,  because that pain is superceded by the actual stepping stone routine I receive from those who have urgent and specific business with him.   Actually my chanting – “my man got the power, my man got the power” – has helped me to move on from pain to humour.  Funny how streamlined is that process as you become older and wiser.  Anyway, it’s a real study in subtext to have conversations with people on remote control, their eyes darting around in his general direction, feigning interest in my life and work.  Oh the rhapsodic choreography of said operator showing me his/her back in a glorious networkers’ square dance when my beautiful lover comes into close proximity.  Sometimes I’m lucky enough to finish a sentence.  My favourite asslickers are smooth about it though – possibly because I can almost believe in the authenticity of our exchange for a nano-second.  Even better are the ones who dangle goodies b4 me – and who am I to refuse, pets win prizes after all – and then lash out in lo-grade hysteria if I try to stake claim or when their silly fantasies don’t quite deliver according to Aaron Spelling standard. 

Pets win prizes!

Some of  these grownups in the biz have a strange habit of using talented people like talismen in their big realtime Rockstar showdown.  Incestuous doesn’t even scrape the scum off the top.   Soon enough they show me their true schizoid rainbow – charming to a fault in desired company, then derogatorily finishing my sentences with presupposed character assassinations, whilst shelling out whatever was on offer .  Earlier that evening I may have been Patti Smith, Karen Carpenter & Dusty Springfield in one composite rock goddess embodiment, but minutes later, with cash in hand I’m a junked up groupie prostitute and petty thief (throw in child molester and traitor, it’s only R&R)

Do I deserve this?  Perhaps it’s all projection, perhaps it’s just honour amongst thieves.  Maybe the true subtext is that everybody uses everybody.  Why, they’re just jockeying me in the same way that I must be riding on my partner’s coattails, right?  I should  just get down off my high horse, I’m no better than anyone else, yeah?…

I may not be better than anyone else – and frankly who wants to be – but I sure as shit don’t deserve to be blown up & shot down because of my boyfriend, who doesn’t deserve it either.  My poor long suffering beautiful  beau, what he must think of me.  I tell him everything – his very life, like anyone’s including mine, depends on it – and it pisses him right off.  Maybe some things are better left unsaid.  He thinks I’ve got paranoid delusions of inferiority.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  I’ve been writing, singing, playing, collaborating and schlepping for about 20 years now, with very little return, and it is only self belief that keeps me going.  Should I be beaten down by about now?  Well yeah – that’s what the greasy machine wants, and that’s why I will continue lopin up that hill, because this nasty system and its sad little helpers cannot win. 

Blow me down, it's Mary Read

Marketing 101 – to sell commodity one must downgrade consumers, attack us where we live – sexuality being the easiest target – so that we believe that we cannot live without said commodity and will thus use it to displace our battered self esteem.

Witness how it is ok to brutalise women in the form of cosmetic surgery so that an unrealistic, shaming standard is established and we think we need to buy firming cream – harder, faster, more SHINEY! – to be loved.  So that we may even be so deluded as to believe that if we spray ourselves with catpiss we might look like Victoria Beckham.  That Cheryl Cole is a women’s champion.  Witness the debacle of Jordan and her babymansized boobs – just the same proportion of Mommaboob to Babyhead as JordanJet to grownup PornoHound – agressively flogged to a generation actively denied the breast.  Satan’s wetdream and smackdown gavel to your downsized soul, Sucka! 

I will not stand by, while I have breath in my body, and allow pathological priority to reign.  Do we know the diff b/w things and people?  Corporations have human rights but I’ve no right be my natural self.  No, I’ve gotta carve up and pump myself full o toxins to be loved or at least hired.

Top o the World, Ma!

If this horseshit is considered acceptable, if not a benchmark of success, I consider my failed career a personal and spiritual triumph.  Yeah, OK, I AM better than anyone else – HA! – I will NOT unroll my shirtsleeves until this system is chopped up fine and fed to the carrion or until it kills me off – whichever comes 1st. 

“Use me up, if you think you can…” – Joan Osborne, Right Hand Man

So twas written, so it shall be done....

Holy Embers, Spiderman! It’s THE SUMMER PAGEANT

June 4th, 2010

As part of The Borderline’s Summer Pageant,  Louis Eliot & The Embers* will grace its stage  on 7th June 2010, playing selections from their latest album ‘Kittow’s Moor’.

The evening will also feature “candlelit punk”ers (TimeOut) SONGDOG, uber-DJ GAVIN MARTIN & female Morris dancing troupe The Belles Of London City.  To celebrate further into the ever-receding nighttime, Songdog will host an  after-party right across Tottenham Court Road, down PETER PARKER’S ROCK-N-ROLL CLUB, round about 22.30-ish.  Once again, I’ll kidnap Patmo Sheeran away from ‘The Dirt’ for another awesome set, maybe Super-Siren Cheyne Pride’ll join in if I’m damn lucky…. and if the moon shines just right maybe Martin Bell will pluck up his fiddle for us, too. 

The name's Marianne... not MaryJane, SPIDERMAN!

*The Embers include: Louis Phillips – vocals, whistle and percussion, James Sneyd – accordian, Mike Polson – bass and vocals, Jim Ledbetter – drums and Martin Bell – mandolin and fiddle.

The Borderline, Orange Yard, Manette St, London, W1D 4JB Transport Tottenham Court Road, Telephone 020 7734 5547

Peter Parker’s Rock-n-Roll Club, 4 Denmark Street, London WC2H 8LP Telephone (020) 7836 1451

Brighton My Weekend – I live in Hope

June 3rd, 2010

This weekend’s gonna be so mighty I can almost taste it. Had to poach Patmo Sheeran from ‘The Dirt’ whilst they weren’t lookin, to come & accompany my solo support set for the infamous SHRAG (‘Effortless pop skill’ – Artrocker) down Da Doo Run Run: It’s Alive #3, this Saturday 5th June at The Hope Brighton.

No:ID Fest - The Others, Stoke Newington 16 April 2010

The political IS personal!

GAVIN MARTIN’s gonna fluff us up good, spinnin some choice full-frontal, female-led classics & rarities from his own personal & private record collection of musical genius. He will hypnotise your bootyshake, I guarantee!

PATMO & I are on at bout 21.30 ie dusk with my 30 minute solo set of Country-Motown-esque songs to reclaim the political as personal including a cosmetic surgical lament, wrong side o the trax romance balladry, conspiracy theory protest songs, stream of unconscious trip-hoppery & MO!

Then StormTheCharts shortlisted, darlings of this year’s London Popfest, bean-crazy grrrl & boyeee band – SHRAG – will blast up the boards with their signature post-New Wave drenched dear-diary, dirty confessionals worthy of the justified and ancient waif/naif collective that they are…

Miss it … and miss out, MISSY!

The Hope (formerly Polar Bar Central)

10-12 Queens Road


East Sussex


£5-er in advance right here (only 12 left!)

Then THEN! COUNTRY DIRT will gather together again on Sunday the 6th – 6/6/10 – to hit the mainstage for this year’s …. HOPE WEEKENDER 2010 …. in the wilds of Biggin Hill somewhere. Everything you need to know about it’s right here below including some countrified directions to this year’s new venue: Highams Hill Farm

Features Live entertainment on 2 stages and the piano + Ska-Bar; The big fire; Kids workshops and the magic show; Kids dome; Big bouncy castle; Licenced bar with draught guinness and ale; Cafe and coffee stall, burger van, ice cream

 We played the benefit gig in April, and they liked us allright. Hell yeah we’re playin this Sunday and no mistake.

Be there or blow it, Y’all! Yeeeehahahaha!

We live in Hope!