We’re getting all christmasy tonight at sank•tuary... so the music is all coming from “The Reindeer Room” series… with mixes by the likes of Jon Kennedy, dj Trax, Tetsumi Nagaka and Billy Paul Williams... some quality Christmas chill-out! (Check out Zigo's "Sleigh Ride" on Vol 1 and Cortex Cure's "I wonder as I wander" on Vol 2)
The first night went well... we certainly enjoyed ourselves and the response we got was good, though of course there are many things we need to work on to get "right".
The set up and staff briefing went well and we where ready to open in plenty of time. It wasn’t heaving but we made a good start. All of those who came in asked when we would be open again and told us that they wanted to come back, all said they valued the facility and wanted to see it continue. Special mention for the Kitchen team (Tam, Bev and Kate) who produced superb Smoothies, Flap-jacks and Brownies amongst other things!
The Police, Environmental Health and the Safer Communities partnership came through for us… providing us, amongst other things, with a Radio which meant we could speak directly with the mobile Police unit and the Officers posted outside both Pussycats and the Station. We where even visited by a Council members including one high ranking cabinet member and of course our regular Radio 4 producer/journalist!
A number of Team members also spent some time outside the gates of Pussycats talking to clubbers, Police and Door staff - something we want to develop - Anne and I where invited into Pussycats by the head of the Door Staff to visit the VIP lounge and to have a chat with the Club Owner, which we did… unfortunately, though invited we didn’t feel we could stay and join the party! The opening night closed at 3.30am when the Police came to tell us it had all gone quite and to collect the Radio
Many lessons learned and much work to do! To keep abreast of the sank•tuary project visit the blog/website including regular chill-out/ambient music recommendations & links.
Todd Fadel has launched 'Love is Concrete' - a kind of art, activism, creative network on Ning... worth checking out... and to tempt you further they have a free download of the Welcome Wagons album (produced and featuring Sufjan Stevens)...
The debut album by The Welcome Wagon unveils a ramshackle sing-a-long enterprise of a Presbyterian pastor (the Rev. Vito Aiuto) and his wife (Monique) wrestling out the influences of folk music, religion, popular culture, and church tradition in a collection of songs that is as soulful as it is good-humored. This gorgeous brew is reflected in the group's repertoire, which unflinchingly consolidates a vast history of "sacred" song traditions: from Old Testament psalms, to Presbyterian Psalters of the 17th century, to iconoclastic pop innovators of the 1960s (The Velvet Underground), to charismatic Catholics of the 1970s (Lenny Smith), and into the melancholy lovelorn pop of the 1980s (The Smiths). There are even a few originals. Armed with a particleboard parlor guitar and a plastic glockenspiel, pastor and wife stumble their way through an arresting catalog of hymns-hallowed and unholy-with the simple desire to know their Maker-and to know each other-more intimately. The result-due, in part, to producer/arranger Sufjan Stevens-is an awe-inspiring collection of hymns, pop covers, and originals that render soulful stunts from quiet skirmishes of home recordings.
The CD Times review...
Digging deep into the vast and rich ore of American Gospel and Spirituals, the Welcome Wagon have produced a unique nugget of musical brilliance, mixing blues riffs, horn blasts, and lush orchestral arrangements into an album full of surprises. The two members of the Welcome Wagon are married couple Vito and Monique Aiuto who with America's musical wunderkind, Sufjan Stevens, have been recording songs together over near a decade and are only now releasing them as an album.
The material itself is unashamedly spiritual material, in a similar vein to Sufjan's own Seven Swans, but that should not put anyone off buying the album. Quite far from being pious but boring renditions of traditional hymns, each arrangement appears to be a heartfelt exploration of the lyrics. A few covers also appear such as Lou Reed's Jesus and the Smiths, Half a person as well as Danielson's Sold... (mp3 here). Surprisingly, these renditions work admirably well with a Tori Amos like knack to make the covers their own. Sincerity can only take you so far but the Aiutos' sense of decorum crossed with a large dose of self-deprecation avoids the pitfalls that beckons any project of this kind.
Songs like "But For You Who Fear My Name" or "Unless the Lord the house shall build" conjure up the majesty of sacred music with the Mammas and Pappas flair for pop harmony. Although Sufjanesque is not (yet) an adjective, it most certainly applies to this release. His fingerprints are all over the production from his trademark soft voices to the choral harmonies and intricate arrangements. Despite this, his presence does not drown out the unique personality of the Aiutos. Their musical style may be unlikely to find a mainstream audience, but this remains a deft record that manages to remain honest, genuine and appealing without submerging itself in schmaltz. A complete nightmare to market I would imagine but a delight to listen to.
Having just had to sit through the X factor final (Lou as been following it) I'd just like to say congratulations to Leona Lewis for winning for the 2nd time... if she wins in next year does she get to keep the trophy?
Things have been pretty quiet here for the past couple of months... that has been mainly been a result of things being very busy in the "real" world!
It feels a long time since I went to Ghana, but there as been a fair chunk of work developing things at the Telford end (I will be speaking about it on Radio Shropshire tomorrow (Tuesday) evening from 8pm (you can listen on line here).
Obviously we have been working hard on the Sanktuary project... which has taken us all by surprise the last couple of weeks! More on that as it develops this week. Several of safespace (including myself) are part of the leadership team for the Shropshire Mission Shaped Ministry Course and I have had my 18month review with Chris Neal and Bishop Alan. (I will post my report straight after this post!)
And... I have been very busy with other things at the Football Club... including putting on a big Christmas Raffle and the book project, to say nothing of all the Cup games we've had and the Trust AGM!
We also have Radio 4 making a programme centred on us due to be broadcast early in the New Year... of an Nathan has had a couple of months of Chest infection!
Oh well, hopefully things will get back to normal after Christmas... although we do have a couple of other projects planned with the Football club!