Roerich

And We Are Trying By Nicholas Roerich

A tribute to Nicholas Roerich

Inspiration from a past generation

Roerich is known for his paintings, but a little research reveals the man was so much more.

An inspiring figure, he was an explorer, anthropologist, mystic and philosopher.

Nicholas Roerich

Born in Russia in 1874 he left during the revolution and followed his heart, right across Asia, documenting what he found and always seeking Shambala, a magical home.

He may never have found Shambala, but the observations that he made of people and countries on his many journeys gives an insight into life so close to nature that it feels shamanistic.

Roerich encountered Buddhism, a door leading to inner and outer spiritual worlds, and he reflected such mysterious imagery in his startlingly colourful paintings.

Roerich

Roerich’s life is well documented and his writings are available, yet nothing can beat a trip to the house where he lived the last years of his life in the Kulu Valley in India. Like a modern day pilgrimage, arriving at Roerich’s home village, Naggar, is thrilling. The sense of place is hard to beat as the village sits in the mountainous region below the Himalayas.

Roerich’s home on the mountainside above Naggar village has been preserved as a mark of respect for a man who sought to protect culture during wartime and who documented his encounters with remote people.

Banner of hte Future 1925 by N Roerich

On his quests for the mysterious, he painted many pictures and wrote diaries, airing his opinions and sharing his observations. For a man of privilege in an age of cruelty and misunderstanding, his intelligence and benevolence is evident. This was brought home to me by Shamu, a lad in his twenties who rented out his father’s house in Naggar, a village surrounded by apple tree orchards.

It was a thrill to meet Shamu’s father who was a young boy when Roerich lived in the village. (Roerich died in 1947.) Now an old man, Shamu’s father told me that the apple tree orchards were introduced by Roerich. When the painter encountered poverty in Naggar he imported apple trees which he gave to the villagers to improve their lives. This fact is undocumented but was told by Mr Sham Lal, an elder in the village of Naggar when I visited in the 1990s. In those days the apples were harvested and taken by truck to the nearest towns to be sent on to further Indian markets, so that Roerich’s legacy continues today.

Roerich wrote, “Such grandeur is ahead! Such a great steps awaits it’s fiery affirmation! Our Teaching and the affirmation of the Higher Principles will reveal so much that is great to humanity! A great period is drawing near. Thus do We create together.” (Angi Yoga, Fiery World III)

Ghengis Khan by Nicholas Roerich 1945

Without Roerich there would be no Diamond Seeds Music, for every journey must have a beginning, and it was my discovery of Nicholas Roerich that inspired travel, poetry and music. Like the great apple orchards of Naggar, I hope, that with Roerich’s influence, Diamond Seeds will bear fruit and contribute to music and culture around the world, forever.

Ella Jo co-founder of Diamond Seeds Music Project

For more information about Roerich in the Kullu Valley http://irmtkullu.com/

Handfasting Ceremony Dunstable 19th May 2018

A Beautiful May Wedding!

With the trees in blossom and the sun shining brightly, a hand fasting took place in the early afternoon.

Unsure whether I could control the camera, I made an effort, mindful that even with today’s technology, short bursts of film are easier to deal with than filming over long periods.

For those who want to watch, hit play, then pause, to wait for the white bar to load up.  WARNING! playing these videos the way it is currently setup will take 400 meg so make sure you have enough data before playing!

 

All the family held hands in a large circle to begin with. When they were told they didn’t need to hold hands, they didn’t let go straight away. I think it shows how happy they were to be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends and Family who followed different lifestyles and religions all  came together to witness the special moment of Neila and Maura’s handfasting.

To be wed among the blossom on such a beautiful day was very special!

 

It gladdened my heart to see such emotion and joy.

It was very uplifting to be part of this wonderful occasion.

 

A moment of synchronicity when the bells of The Priory pealed at the end!

Learn more about handfasting here : http://www.handfastings.org/abouthandfastings.htm

 The Passing Of Gregg Herbert

GREG WEB 2

We were saddened by the news that Gregg Herbert passed away. The only consolation is that he went peacefully in his sleep.

That a man who could happily admit to go sliding into the grave screaming ‘what a ride!’ should be so peaceful about it gives us all hope.
Gregg’s funeral was almost like an anti funeral. Sure we cried, but by god we had a good laugh too. We know that is what he would have wanted. So we heard about his life that was over all too soon and the packed crowd that came to see him off listened respectfully. (Although when the lady orator whilst relating an anecdote about Gregg’s life admitted that she had never woken up in the morning on the dining room table with someone hoovering beneath, there was a quip from the crowd of ‘well there’s always tomorrow’ which gave us a high comedy moment, and we knew Gregg was laughing wherever he may be).

The wake was like Luton’s punk reunion with members of Gregg’s past bands there and friends from gigs and the alternative Luton music scene. He was a drummer, and a mighty good one too.

GREG WEB 1

His drums sat on the stage at the wake, surrounded by photos and posters. There were a lot of happy memories and a good piss up by the bar to see him off.

Gregg last played drums with the Flexy Boys, a dynamic Luton band featuring the Stevens brothers. However, Gregg had been in other bands over the years. Irritant springs to mind, and Spon mixed the CD they made a few years ago, collecting the material together and bringing this heavy heavy stuff to the masses. It was not for the faint hearted!

Gregg was also in The Twitch, described as a ‘noisy Luton pub rock band’ some members going on to form Alice’s Orb. My personal favourite band featuring Gregg was The Rattlesnakes. Everything was right about this band…from the name to the attitude which was cheeky punk of course. I never saw them live – they were a few years before my time, but footage and material that survives shows a vibrant, powerful enactment of all that was punk, from the hair styles to the swearing and the talent of keeping it together to perform when most people would probably be on the floor.

The Rattlesnakes were a golden moment in the Luton Punk Scene, and it seemed appropriate for their version of ‘Tough Shit Wilson’ to end Gregg’s funeral. It WAS tough shit and we had to get through it and say goodbye to a bloke who had made such an impression on so many people. It really was incredible that he had brought everyone together from Luton’s alternative community, and beyond. Many who have left came back to pay their respects. The bonds of comradeship of this community held together by its love for what makes Luton great – its alternative music scene – was really touching. The strangest thing was that it felt like he was going to come through the door at any moment.

At the end of that day distant friends had been found, and a few new friends had been made. We lost Gregg but will not forget him. We have the music, and the memories, and have inherited a backdrop which is too big for the house.

Thanks Gregg.  RIP

GREG WEB 0

Children’s Audio Books #2

Format and Supply

I am looking at creating my audiobooks on Compact Disc Format.
My reasons for this is that I personally like a product that I can handle. Looking back to the days of LP covers, my opinion is based on the same principle. As a kid I loved to look at the pictures on my LP covers. Also this is a platform which enables me to include information like the production credits. CD labels promote this website which connects the reader to other stories and information available.

I want to supply this product myself. I am not interested in dealing with Amazon for reasons of ethics and quality.
In my opinion Amazon have ethically failed with their working practices. I have already avoided them because of their unfair policies towards authors, (especially their exclusivity deals). Authors get a hard deal with Amazon. Their staff get a bad deal. And I think the customer is in a hit or miss situation with this company. Yes people only write feedback to complain when things go wrong – but there are too many complaints.

Firstly I picked up that customers are sometimes confused by the selling pages and can buy the wrong product because it is unclear whether they were buying a book or a CD version of a story. Amongst other things the packaging has also been described as terrible.
Unforgivable guffs are box sets with CD’s missing, or being in the wrong order.

I already have a reasonable supplier who can fulfill small orders effectively. This is perfectly adequate for my needs at the moment.

New Interview with Ella Jo

Almost Anglo Saxon CD front cover1Starting 2015 – An Interview with Ella Jo about her New Album Almost Anglo Saxon

This year Ella Jo finished the long awaited album ‘Almost Anglo Saxon’ – this is what she said to Diamond Seeds:

“It was a very enjoyable project and a fantastic challenge to learn history, write songs relating to that history and produce an album that is musically credible as well as educational. History has never been so much fun and the research turned up some interesting facts. Choosing subjects like King Ethelred the Unready and the folk tale of Wayland Smithy, I wanted to tell the stories as the Anglo Saxons may have told them.

Reflecting on the material I realize that I was trying to stand in the shoes of those who witnessed historical moments in Anglo Saxon History, like a woman watching the ships land when the Vikings invaded in the song ‘Dragon Ships’. There was also moments when I allowed A modern point of view such as ‘The Hidden Hoard’. In ‘The Minstrel’s Song’ I wanted to embrace the place of music in culture and show how highly it was valued in the past.”

Who is this album for?

“Everyone. The idea was to create a collection of modern day folk songs, but I am from a pop influenced background so the songs strode off into their own directions. We experimented all the way through this project wanting to create something new, but recognizable. I suppose Pink Floyd worked in a similar way when they experimented with the technology of their time. The challenge was to write good authentic songs. One way of keeping true to the idea was to turn things around. If I travelled back in time would the Anglo Saxons approve of my material? Or if I could bring Anglo Saxon musicians into a modern day recording studio would they have performed songs like mine? These ideas set the standards – and on a spiritual level there was an underlying will to please the ancestors.
So I suppose I wrote this album for the Anglo Saxons and all of their descendents and for anyone curious to know about them. All cultures could gain some insight from this album. As a songwriter I looked at the history and added human elements such as irony or joy.”

How did you write the songs?

“I really don’t know. A silent room will eventually allow words or a tune to develop. Some of this album was easy to write once I tapped into the zone – I had ‘The Anglo Saxon Chronicles’ nearby and looked up stories on the net. I didn’t try too hard to make sophisticated songs – I was concerned with telling the stories – in my view that is what folk is.

Mel on Whistle!

Mel on Whistle!

Fiddlin Flick

Fiddlin Flick on ‘Ethelred The Unready Blues’

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was supported by some wonderful musicians who helped on various songs – it was a joy to record with Mel from Tarantism on Flute, Steve Kerr on Guitar, Ed Branch from UK Decay on Bass and Fiddlin Flick on violin. There was a lot of improvisation which was awesome – I loved giving the musicians freedom to interpret the songs, and as we were recording they could do as many takes as they liked. Working with Spon I knew that he would work this way and we would pick through takes and get the best out of everyone.”

Tell us about Steve Spon

Spon recording01

Steve Spon at the controls

“Well we made three albums already, and by the second one I had grown pretty comfortable with working with him as sound engineer. Almost Anglo Saxon was brand new work for both of us and we jumped on it. Spon is senior producer, so I got to work closely with him on the production. To be honest it was stress free – he has so much experience and understood what I was trying to do. He is also interested in Anglo Saxon history so he brought ideas and creative strengths to the project.”

Almost Anglo Saxon Available NowClick Here to purchase Almost Anglo Saxon, the CD Album by Ella Jo

What is different about Almost Anglo Saxon?
“Well technically it is a concept album. Only a few bars of music survive from those times a thousand years ago, but there is evidence of the instruments that they used. We have come so far with today’s technology that once I began to imagine sounds and atmospheres Spon was able to make up versions of my ideas. We twiddled and tweaked and allowed the feelings of the songs to transpire. So while I was tapping into ideas for mead hall songs, Spon would be out trying to record our local owl. I mean this album really is a testament to the saying that your world is as big as your imagination: for example, we made sounds by throwing cutlery around the kitchen and I clog danced on a wooden staircase in my heels…

I want everybody to relate to the subjects covered in this album, its not all heavy, although I couldn’t escape the fact that there was a lot of war and invasion going on. But there is ample opportunity to dance, and sing along. There is even a love song (‘Through the Eyes of an Eagle’). I tried to keep the lyrics historically correct on this album – I think people are sick of listening to bullshit pop. So it should appeal to anyone with some musical sophistication – and I have no doubt there are many out there who love history and music. So I think the album has a broad appeal.

I enjoyed the challenge of singing what I had created. There were moments when I had to trust to improvisation during the recording process, which is how I came up with the coda of ‘Ethelred The Unready Blues’. I was immersed in a song I had not written an ending for, and just found it – some things I will never understand. So Almost Anglo Saxon is a concept album, but is not contrived like commercial pop.”

Gig-wise?

“I thought I was a bit shaky this year – finding it hot when I performed in the summer, I was very out of practice. I think my best performance was on Xmas Eve – I filled in one song when Garry and Jenny had a break at their gig at the Bedford Arms in Souldrop. I hadn’t prepared anything, so I got the audience to clap along and sung ‘The Raggle-Taggle Gypsies’ which is an old favourite. It was a jam really, but I know all the words so I trusted the flavour of the occasion and went for it! It was a lot of fun entertaining the folks in my local pub!”

Trying to remember how to play on a stage again!

Trying to remember how to play on a stage again!

The Future
“I have a lot of catching up to do on guitar. I felt so much better just singing, perhaps I will find a guitarist who can accompany me to take Almost Anglo Saxon live into the pubs and clubs – I would love to take people on a trip into history!”

Click Here to purchase Almost Anglo Saxon only £10 plus p&p – straight from the manufacturers

Click here to learn more about Anglo Saxon history and it’s music