Folk Farming in Cardiff

To Cardiff last weekend for a DJ gig at the wonderfully-named GWDIHW (pronounced goodyhoo) which got fairly rowdy in the best possible way. We then had a good look around the city centre the next day, finding some great old Victorian arcades with lots of independent shops, plenty of vintage clothes and records.

One place I’d been particularly looking out for is Folk Farm, run by Chris and Judi Brick.  I first met Chris at their store SMYLONYON in New York in the mid 90s. Like Folk Farm, this place was piled to the rafters with second-hand clothes, although back then their speciality was leisure-wear from the 50s/60s/70s – mountains of turquoise slacks and loud shirts.  It’s almost a universal law that trousers from that era have at least a 36″ inch waist and 28″ leg – completely unsuitable for the modern lanky gentleman.  But still great for a rummage (the store, not the trousers).

The new shop is equally stuffed with fascinating things, but has a more rustic feel with old clogs and fire buckets jostling for position with dolls in fishing nets, old tin baths, farm equipment and an enormous amount of vinyl (as far as I could tell mostly rare American folk music). Good to meet Judi too and hear about her musical exploits as Linda Lamb. It was a real shame Chris wasn’t around that day.

Have a look at Amy Davies’ excellent photoset from the recent Cardiff Arcades Project here.

Chris Brick has also had an interesting musical career.  Back in the 90s he was producing (with Alex Gloor of In Flagranti) and selling compilation cassettes, “Uneasy Listening” by Smylonylon or Tinynyny.  I still have a few of these – amazing mixes of lounge, easy, moog and library music and exotica – but was delighted to find that someone has been posting them on a blog – that someone being the Dalston Shopper (“Once a week high quality digital recordings of cassette tapes purchased at the Dalston Oxfam Shop in East London.”) – and you can check at least one of these tapes here.

cover of smylonylon tape 1

Also well worth a look is the Brick Channel on Youtube – featuring lots of very interesting short films and whacked-out edits of 60s public information films put together by son Sam Brick, often using Chris’ Family of God tunes as the soundtrack.  Here’s their version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”:

from their eponymous album released in 1996.

Finally – here’s a new mix for the merry merry month of May, reflecting my current love of old school hip hop, the Stones Throw label and twisted beats.  Hope you enjoy.

Circling over the library…

…still on the Library Music theme I wanted to post this track from a KPM album, “Flamboyant Themes Vol 3” – which I was sent on vinyl in the early 1980s whilst working at the Triangle Arts Centre in Birmingham, England.  The LP also contains the classic “Gala Performance”, better known as the theme for “This Is Your Life”.  It’s amazing to think that a piece which was written as a piece of library music then became synonymous with the programme for about 30 years.

This one, “Little Boy Blue” by Syd Dale is one of my faves, full of blasting horns, cool double bass breakdowns and lush alto flute runs.

KPM generic album cover

Also on a library tip, I found a great track by the Library Vultures, appropriately called “Library Vultures Theme” on Turbotrax that fuses some of the urgency and propulsive nature of the best library music with hard hitting beats.  More please.

This big band/library sound was to have quite an influence over a band I formed in the mid-80s, BIG MOMENTS, with PK CHOWN (now of the Blue Planet Sound).  Styling ourselves “the Late 80s Big Band” we were clearly a Thatcher-era austerity big band as we only ever reached about 11 members, with four brass, piano, double-bass, drums, percussion and PK and myself taking lead vocal duties.  Here’s our one and only promo, shot on Super-8 at Birmingham’s Faces Night Club: