Monday, March 30, 2009

Manchester Festivals: Spring 2009

You'd have to be some kind of dreary misanthrope to own up to not liking festivals. Why, the very word conjures a kaleidoscopic vision of dizzily cavorting through the streets while brightly-clad revelers play joyful melodies upon pipes and pan flutes.

No? Well, maybe that's just me.

Manchester's spring festival season is about to get underway, and as a public service I like to put all the relevant info together in one place, because there's a lot of it. Don't say I never did anything for you. And don't forget your pan flute. If you become disoriented, please consult the special pan flute instructions above, (courtesy of Eating Sandwiches.)

Chorlton's Big Green Festival
Sat 4 April, St. Clement's Church

A right-on riot of sustainability and folkin' madness. A surprisingly huge amount of stuff on for one day including film, music, art and dance, bike parades, ceilidhs, organic food, crafts.

Moves Festival
23-28 April, venues around the city

The theme of year's movement on screen festival is narrative. Highlights include a screening of Lotte Reiniger's shadowbox Arabic fairy-tale from 1926, The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Carte Blanche to Comma Press features 12 new films adapted from poems and short stories published independently in the region - based on work by John Cooper Clarke, Hanif Kureishi, Tony Walsh, David Constantine and Brian Patten, among others. And the ever-popular moves lab gets people together to make short films in six days with a screening at the end (they need writers, so get your stories and ideas in.)

Sounds from the Other City.
Bank Holiday Sunday May 3, 3pm-late, venues around Salford.

A chance to while away an afternoon and evening listening to arty bands in various Sallywood boozers, offices and churches in the company of fuzzily inebriated but mainly happy people. The acts are curated by an eclectic bunch of local promoters. Good fun. Tickets on sale now. It usually sells out.

Hungry Pigeon
May 22-25, venues around the Northern Quarter

Last year's MAPS festival has returned with an interesting new name. This year, we're promised a large outdoor stage in a secret location for "up to 5000 people." Who's playing? Mostly a bunch of local bands. Some of them probably have a big following, but I can't get too excited about them (because I don't know who they are. Mostly.)

May 24-25, New Wakefield Street (that's the one off Oxford Rd right by the train bridge, where Font and The Thirsty Scholar are.)

This festival has been going for quite a while and I always hear good things about it but I never manage to make it down. Maybe I will this year. The splendid Nouvelle Vague are coming, along with a lot of bands/djs from Europe and, um, Manchester. Plus some live art too.

Mad Ferret Festival
June 12-13, Platt Fields Park

Oh dear, looks like someone forgot to renew their domain, so I'll have to direct you to their facebook page. Not much up at the minute, though.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Blogs: The Painterly Edition

Anthony and Diarmud run a blog called Paint my Album. It's all about replicating classic album covers using the challengingly blunt instrument of Microsoft Paint. So far they've have had 802 sent in from all over the world and are trying to get 2,000 by December. Okay, that all seems fairly straightforward, but they've ratcheted things up another level with video podcasts in which they introduce the new submissions, and, well, get a bit silly. I strongly recommend you go check it out.

The Art of Noise album cover above, #452, is by Mike Daye from Bristol. Very impressive.

Oooh, and look at all the other pretty new blogs:

Manchester Climate Fortnightly does a blog which is updated more than fortnightly.

Words and Fixtures is a blog by the lovely Clare, a veritable goddess of subediting, which is "mostly about words, but also about other things that pique my interest or irk my irkness." And it is a most formidable irkness. You can totally vent to her about any misplaced apostrophe's you encounter because she feels your pain.

Rev Porl says this is "a blog of musings, things that happen, things that I see and hear, and stuff. Nothing in particular. Just some bits."

Tomato Sauce is a new writerly blog.

I'm told Filling the Space is the blog of a Chorlton-based auntie.

Th'Arctic is a live art project from Rebecca McKnight. "During April 2009, Rebecca will attempt to become one of the first British people to ski up to 300 miles pulling a pulk (sledge) from Resolute Bay to Grise Fiord, the most northerly Inuit community in the Canadian Arctic. Throughout the journey she'll be posting about her experiences on this blog. Th'Arctic blog 'stations' and photographic updates from Rebecca's journey will be on show at Cornerhouse as part of Cornerhouse Projects, BBC Radio Lancashire and on the BBC Big Screen in Manchester's Exchange Square."

Katy Murr is a freelance journalist and also a feminist.

Also, have you met David?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Manchester International Festival 2009: GO

It'sManchester International Festival time again - yay! I should have been at the media launch this afternoon but the invite didn't say "please bring your squirming, restless baby" so I decided to stay home. It was like I was there, though. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology I got an up-to-the-minute MLF launch feed from the twitterrific cahoona brothers. (Sample tweet: "Good lord! They've put a donk on it! Blackout Crew are coming to town!")

Tickets are now on sale! Oh My God! And the festival programme is seriously, no shit, amazing this year, in my humble opinion. Go buy, but be prepared to be patient with Quay Tickets as the site is experiencing some wee overload problems. I've been trying to load it for about 20 minutes now.

So what to buy? If my friends are anything to go by Kraftwerk seems to be the hot ticket so far, but maybe that's just the kind of weirdos I hang out with. They're performing with Steve Reich at The Manchester Velodrome - need I say more?

It felt like a kiss, a crazy multilevel multimedia promenade about American pop music in the sixties with Damon Albarn/Adam Curtis/Punchdrunk/Kronos Quartet. The Monkey of 2009?

Sure to be popular is a double dose of hometown heroes: Elbow vs. The Halle.# Antony and The Johnsons with Manchester Camerata should be saw-weet as well. And Rufus Wainright's Prima Donna opera will probably sell a few tickets. The Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed performance (yes, The Clintons of the East Village are coming to Manchester) has got to be my pick for hipster-date-of-choice.

There's a whole host of cool art stuff incl Jeremy Deller's parade, a play about Bingo and the installation of Zaha Hadid's whole new chamber music hall in Manchester Art Gallery. Oh its all too much. It all sounds so great. But what am I, personally, most excited about? De la soul are taking us all back to the Daisy age. Apparently it was twenty years ago. Which means I'm officially old.

Anyway, more on this later, I'm sure...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Preston goings-on

So, I used to live within spitting distance of "England's newest city." For years, nothing going on, and I mean nothing. Okay, nothing besides A Free Man in Preston, an occasional exhibition at the Harris and indie movies at UCLAN. And gaping at the bus station. But really, mehsville.

So I move. And what happens? A scant few months later, my lovely friend Ruth opens up The Continental, a gorgeous pub on the banks of the Ribble with good food and serious cultural chops. Dammit.

The Continental folks have launched themselves wholeheartedly into fostering arty goings-on with They Eat Culture, an arts development company, and they've gotten last year's best writing MBA winner (and Prestonite) Jenn Ashworth to be in charge of the writing bit of it. She's just launched the Preston Writing Network, which runs writing classes, writer's groups and live lit nights. You can keep up with them on the PWN blog. So now there's lots of good stuff happening in Preston, which is now almost completely inaccessible to me.

And in case you hadn't heard, Jenn's debut novel, A Kind of Intimacy, has just been published, and is getting lots of nice things written about it. Mazel tov, Jenn.

(Photo of Preston bus station by Flickr user Tinm@an)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Manchester Blogmeet at Centro Tuesday

I've sorted things out for our blogmeet. Unfortunately Trof NQ couldn't give us a dedicated space that would be big enough, but Centro can give us their whole basement area. Centro is on Tib Street towards the northern end heading away from the city centre.

We'll be meeting there on Tuesday, March 10 from 7-9pm. Just come downstairs. They do very nice beers and drinks as well as coffees and non-alcoholic bevvies. They don't do food as far as I know, so maybe grab something nearby (Hunters BBQ?) beforehand if you're coming straight from work. I'll bring the nametags.

Centro say they have wireless there in case anyone wants to liveblog. However, anyone showing too much love to their laptop or mobile phone will be gently encouraged to extricate themselves from their devices and engage in real world interaction. That's what it's all about, folks. See Samantha Bee's behaviour in this Daily Show clip as an example of what NOT to do...

Please reply to this and say you're planning on coming so I have an idea of numbers. (Unless you already replied to the earlier post.) See you there!