Tag Archives: Leaving the comfort zone

September with Rain

September and its cooler finally.  Here it’s mostly business as usual. Music and more music in various forms. Trying to sort out a few financial concerns and stuff.
Also though I am beginning to wonder about my health and if there is something brewing up that I have not been aware of. So I am thinking maybe I should tie up a few loose ends just in case?  Well you never know what fate might have in store one way or the other.  Luck does not last forever. 

Diana Working Out
Diana Working Out

So hey, remember me this way. And don’t take it all too seriously.


Nerd days and September Stuff

Another weekend and a couple of fairly well received gigs, both in Reading by coincidence.

On Friday we were at the Global Cafe and on Sunday we were the closing act at a mini Blues festival held at the Ukrainian club. The festival was organized by the couple that run one of our favorite pubs in Reading The Retreat, They are going to be moving out in January next year, no doubt so that it can be turned into another gastro pub or something similar. Its a real shame as it has lots of live music, world to jazz to folk and almost every bear you can imagine, and has a fantastic atmosphere, but being in a side street and not exactly huge, it will not make any new tenants a fortune.

So a pleasant enough weekend on the whole. Also an opportunity to do some networking as well.

I am making an effort to try and stay engaged with stuff as to a point the more I do the better I feel. Last night I slept slightly better than I have for a while, without waking up in the middle of the night or vivid dreams that have made me feel tired on waking. The air has a distinct whiff of Autumn in it now, though its still mostly pleasant and sunny down in the deep south at the time of typing. Still doing the stretching which is helping a lot with the back related problems. I am not looking forward to winter though, so I shall have to make sure I have plenty going on by then.

Music wise we may be adding a traditional Hungarian tune to the act and possibly a tango or two, which will make it fairly eclectic but still no Oasis covers.

Its really quiet here again, and you can almost hear a pin drop though I have been breaking the silence with sporadic outbursts of piano playing during the day. Lately I seem to be meeting some every interesting people and perhaps some of those connections will be useful in time.

We are starting to get a few dates in the book for 2013 now, which is quite reassuring. We are still a bit of a novelty in some places of course, but that keeps us in work I suppose.

I should have been out in the wilds today enjoying a bit of country air, but I was too knackered to go. I did a few useful things to fill up the time though.

Last night before was another trip to the Vortex to listen to Nigerian vocalist Ayinke Martins and British pianist Sara McGuinness (who I am sure I have seen somewhere before) playing Latin and African stuff with a brilliant band of musicians around the world. Loads of folks up and dancing by the end of the gig too. Very enjoyable indeed and the 3rd week running that I have been to the Vortex.

I feel at present I am living in my head a lot, perhaps rather more than is usual even for me. I have had fair amount of low level anxiety but its manageable at present. The aches and pains grind on in the background which is tiring, so the trick is enough exercise but not too much. The vivid dreaming is still a problem as it feels like I have been awake half the night.

Typing is a bit a bit painful too even one fingered. I can go pretty fast with one digit now though

I have a song lyric that I am trying to set to music, but it keeps eluding me as every time I get around to trying to sort it out I end up writing something else. I have done a couple of slightly impressionistic jazzy Piano pieces, but just can’t crack a suitable setting for those words at the moment.It maybe the way to go is to try writing on guitar instead to find something that fits.

We have a fair number of gigs coming up until Christmas and we are hopefully going to relaunch the slightly re-branded Elephant Shelf in the New Year, we have a few band gigs, but most of the gigs are Delta Ladies gigs so a lot of duo stuff but also the odd extended line up one mixed in among them.

I am investing in a slightly better Electric Violin as at present I have a very nice but very old Acoustic Violin that sounds great but is difficult to amplify in some situations and can make playing some gigs a bit too much of a workout. Its also rather delicate so it gives me a few nervous moments in the rather unsophisticated environs I often frequent. My other Electric has served me well but is rather crude tonally and I have out grown it in some respects.

I wish I could get all angst ridden about gender issues but I far too neurotic to worry about that sort of stuff.

The rain is still coming down after what seems like about 24 hours worth almost under a fairly uniform gray sky in Battersea right now. There’s a bit of a wind moaning through the air vents and making slightly spooky muttering noises (I will be fine as long as I don’t start talking back to it) but the sky is just beginning to lighten a little now. Last night was a better nights sleep but the rather vivid dreams are still continuing and have been so the last week or so, and they mean I don’t awake refreshed. Often in my dreams I pursued or trying to escape some captor, I am sure this is deeply significant on some level, but paradoxically I do have a fair amount of freedom and don’t feel that I am either oppressed, repressed or subjugated but I don’t think there is too much point in dwelling on that. I am still having some significantly painful days but getting more exercise has helped a lot, though it seems paradoxical to be stretching and stuff when your in pain. I think that the sleep disturbances are related though.

This morning I have been murdering some Cole Porter on the piano, and feel the sudden need for a decent cup of tea. Funny how Cole Porter can do that for you? I still have those song lyrics that I can’t find a home for as well.

I have had a fairly decent weekend with two good Delta Ladies gigs. The Friday night one at the Hare in Linslade near Leighton Buzzard was particularly enthusiastically received which is always a boost to the spirits. On Saturday we were down in Wandsworth at the Armoury which was also a fairly good vibe. Two Classic quotes this week as well, the first being “Next time I hope to see you in a dress from one enthusiastic punter at The Hare and on Saturday night in WandsworthMy mate told I me I must come and see you and to be honest I though it was going to be crap, but its brilliant. Better than the other way round I suppose! On Sunday we had a rehearsal with Jessie Pie as we will be resurrecting theCleavage of Death” for some special gigs in the future. It will be fun though perhaps not terribly subtle! One of the tunes we did was On a clear daywhich we all fairly pleased with. Having not played with Jess for about 4 years or so it all came together rather well. We have decided to keep Elephant Shelf going as our new drummer Lee seems to have helped us turn a corner. It will be a slightly different sound.

We do seem to have a capacity to entertain that makes it a fairly warm experience at many of the gigs we do. We take our music fairly seriously but not ourselves as being 2 transfolk out in a world where you see that kind of thing on the box but not in your local. Vicky also has a running gag which goes For those of you that watch the X factor this is a Violin and the opening to a gig is sometimes We are the people your mother told you about orWe are Delta Ladies, if you don’t like it we are going home at 11pm. There is a whiff of unconscious vaudeville about it I guess and maybe a distant echo of Laurel and Hardy.

I had to do something vaguely practical today, replacing an internal lithium cell on an old work station keyboard (Korg W1fd) which has been in faithful use on various recordings I have made since 1998. It still sounds good today even though its mid 90’s tech, the sound samples are very good. Last week it started showing a low battery warning light so a quick Google told me it needed the equivalent of the cmos cell replaced. So I opened it up and got it sorted in just under an hour. There were about 30 screws to undo before getting the base plate off but it only needs doing about once every 10 years or so. Its very heavy to shift though.

I also put a new glass on my wing mirror that got busted a couple of weeks back.

Then I had a go at at learning a bit of Ruby (another coding language used quite a bit on the web). A bit of piano practice and a bit of violin scraping as well. Yesterday (Tuesday) was spent in part at a band rehearsal which was pretty useful and I also tried out my new Electric Violin which should see service on the gig this Saturday all being well. In the evening we went to the Lytton Arms for a meal and to sort out some gig dates. A pint and a half of real ale and a relatively early night for a change (in bed by 12:30) though I did watch the box a bit.





 – a breath of fresh air for arts & music –

North London – that’s Crouch End, Haringey, Hornsey, Stroud Green and the surrounding area was once home to a thriving music & arts scene – famous names from the arts who lived and worked in the area abound – they include -The Kinks, Pete Brown of ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ & Cream fame, Mick Kidd (Biff of the Guardian), Anthony Minghella, Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) Laurie Morgan (legendary Jazz drummer) , Tim Healy, Denise Welch, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth; Bob Dylan – yes he resided in Crouch End for a while. In recent years some of the area’s best loved venues, theatre, cinemas and arts centres have gone – recession, corporate Gastro Pubs and the like have taken over. A once thriving area feels like a cultural wasteland.

But not any more if entrepreneur Jonny Rogers has anything to do with it. Jonny’s vision of a community arts & music centre based in Stroud Green and serving North London’s creative community is gathering momentum – read on…




A home for community arts and music in North London

With recession devastating the arts & music scene, a single individual has come up with an exciting plan to launch a creative complex within the community.

BRAND NEW START (BNS) envisages the realisation of an ongoing ‘creative village life’ in the heart of North London. BNS would enable a multifunction network channelling independent creative practice into the community and vice-versa. It would harness music, visual & performing arts, film-making, fashion, craft and other disciplines, with particular care taken to accommodate the disadvantaged. All this would be in the confines of a 10,000ft² live-work complex.

BNS seeks those with an interest in this project, investors or donors, who possess material assets that they are willing to contribute. Financial investments will go into a co-operative fund held in trust to facilitate the instigation and day to day running of the centre.

At a time when one of North London’s iconic buildings – Church Studios in Crouch End is in imminent danger of conversion to flats – BNS offers those with a vision a brand new oasis in the present cultural desert.

Initial enquiries to jonny-rogers@hotmail.co.uk




Jonny is an established successful  professional antique & furniture restorer who specialises in prestige period property renovations. He has wide experience and connections with the local creative and charitable community and previous experience of involvement with creative premises. Further information on application to jonny-rogers@hotmail.co.uk



BNS envisages offering space, support services and facilities to those believing in developing local creativity. Its core principles would be justice, community, equal opportunity and creative expression, as well as creating a level playing-field for individuals coming from vulnerable or under-privileged circumstances and who are in a position to benefit dramatically from its services. With music as one of its core creative areas, BNS would provide stage, recording and rehearsal settings, as well as a touchstone for shared musical contact, dialogue and interaction.

BRAND NEW START will consist in self-sustaining and community-dependent artists, musicians, tradespersons and other people of relevant profession, who will occupy live-work space and help to run the continual flow of workshops and events that make up the BNS scheme.

THE SITE The project is presently is pitching for is a 10,000ft², A1-status premises in Stroud Green, N4. This would be occupied by project contributors and sub-let to other artists. Work has been done to secure a series of pre-let guarantees for the property.


August 22, 2012

Diana Stone, London N14, UK July 2012

What we keep and what we throw away

I have been clearing out loads of old papers, you know the sort of thing. Electricity bills from 6 years ago, or credit card staments and that sort of stuff. I shred most of it and it goes in to our rather efficent recycling system that we have in Battersea for the last few years. On thing which I kept was a notice of the first domain name that I registered and that was way back in 1997. I first built a one page website in 1996 which came as a shock as I had not realised how long I have been using this internet thingy.
Almost makes you feel nostaligic for the days of 33k modems(unless your out in the countryside using dial-up as one or two poor souls still are). I also just hooved the inside of my number 1 PC as they are very efficient dust magnets and it makes the fans work very hard, this one has 3 pumping away and it must be about 6 years old now. I have still got my first decent spec pc which is about 10 years old and on a new power supply, runing linux dual boot with windows 98 me.
I have lots of notebooks with old song lyrics and bits of tunes, some of which got recorded and some which never actualy got to see the light of day as well, just so much stuff. No wonder the flat is feeling a little crowded. I used to write songs with people all over the place getting them to send me lyrics by snail mail and then eventually sending a cassette back. The pace of life seemd a lot slower then, so was it more fun or less? the fact that everything is instant or nearly so to me seems to have taken soem of the colour out of life, as we seem to need more and more stimulation.
On with the tidy-up operation now before its either the end of the world or time to watch Dr Who.

eden ahbez A thought for this time of year

eden ahbez

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
eden ahbez

1960 album cover
Background information
Birth name George Alexander Aberle
Also known as eden ahbez
George McGrew
Born 15 April 1908(1908-04-15)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Origin Brooklyn, New York
Died 4 March 1995(1995-03-04) (aged 86)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Exotica
Years active 1940–1995

Eden ahbez (born George Alexander Aberle; April 15, 1908 – March 4, 1995) was an American songwriter and recording artist of the 1940s-1960s, whose lifestyle in California was influential on the hippie movement. He was known to friends simply as ahbe.

Ahbez composed the song “Nature Boy,” which became a #1 hit for eight weeks in 1948 for Nat “King” Cole and has since become a pop and jazz standard.

Living a bucolic life from at least the 1940s, he traveled in sandals and wore shoulder-length hair and beard, and white robes. He camped out below the first L in the Hollywood Sign above Los Angeles and studied Oriental mysticism. He slept outdoors with his family and ate vegetables, fruits, and nuts. He claimed to live on three dollars per week.

[edit] Biography

Though born in Brooklyn, New York to a Jewish father and a Scottish-English[clarification needed] mother, he was adopted in 1917 by a family in Chanute, Kansas and raised under the name George McGrew.[1][2]

During the 1930s, McGrew lived in Kansas City, where he performed as a pianist and dance band leader.[1] He probably also lived in New York City for some time, although little is known of that period of his life.[2] In 1941, he arrived in Los Angeles and began playing piano in the Eutropheon, a small health food store and raw food restaurant on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. The cafe was owned by John and Vera Richter, German immigrants who followed a Naturmensch and Lebensreform philosophy[3] influenced by the Wandervogel movement in Germany. Their followers, known as “Nature Boys” and who included Robert “Gypsy Boots” Bootzin, wore long hair and beards and ate only raw fruits and vegetables. During this period, he adopted the name “eden ahbez,” choosing to spell his name with lower-case letters, claiming that only the words God and Infinity were worthy of capitalization. He is also said to have desired the A and Z (alpha and omega), the beginning and the end, in his surname. During this period, he married Anna Jacobsen and had a son.

In 1947, at the prompting of radio host[4] Cowboy Jack Patton, ahbez approached Nat “King” Cole‘s manager backstage at the Lincoln Theatre in Los Angeles and handed him the music for his song, “Nature Boy.” Cole began playing the song for live audiences to much acclaim, but needed to track down its author before releasing his recording of it. Ahbez was discovered living under the Hollywood Sign and became the focus of a media frenzy when Cole’s version of “Nature Boy” shot to #1 on the Billboard charts and remained there for eight consecutive weeks during the summer of 1948. Ahbez was covered simultaneously in Life, Time and Newsweek magazines. Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan later released versions of the song. ahbez also faced legal action from Yiddish musical composer, Herman Yablokoff,[5] who claimed that the melody to “Nature Boy” came from one of his songs, “Shvayg mayn harts” (“Be Still My Heart”). Ahbez claimed to have “heard the tune in the mist of the California mountains,” but legal proceedings resulted in a substantial monetary settlement for Yablokoff.[citation needed]

Ahbez continued to supply Cole with songs, including “Land of Love (Come My Love and Live with Me)”, which was also covered by Doris Day and the Ink Spots. He also worked closely with jazz musician Herb Jeffries, and, in 1954, the pair collaborated on an album, The Singing Prophet, which included the only recording of ahbez’s four-part “Nature Boy Suite.” The album was later reissued as Echoes of Eternity on Jeffries’ United National label. In the mid 1950s, he wrote songs for Eartha Kitt, Frankie Laine, and others, as well as writing some rock-and-roll novelty songs. In 1957, his song, “Lonely Island,” was recorded by Sam Cooke, becoming the second and final ahbez composition to hit the Top 40.

In 1959, he began recording instrumental music, which combined his signature somber tones with exotic arrangements and (according to the record sleeve) “primitive rhythms”. He often performed bongo, flute, and poetry gigs at beat coffeehouses in the Los Angeles area. In 1960, he recorded his only solo LP, Eden’s Island, for Del-Fi Records. This mixed beatnik poetry with exotica arrangements.

During the 1960s, he released only three singles. Grace Slick‘s band, The Great Society, recorded a version of “Nature Boy” and ahbez was photographed in the studio in early 1967 with Brian Wilson during a session for the Smile album. Later that year, singer Donovan came across him at Joshua Tree in California, down for a reportedly “near-telepathic” conversation.

From the late 1980s until his death, he worked closely with Joe Romersa, an engineer/drummer in Los Angeles. The master tapes, photos, and final works of eden ahbez are in Romersa’s possession.[citation needed]

He died on March 4, 1995, of injuries sustained in a car accident at the age of 86.[6] Another album, Echoes from Nature Boy, was released posthumously.


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Name Ahbez, Eden
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Date of birth 15 April 1908
Place of birth
Date of death 4 March 1995
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