9 September 2012

The Bamboo Pearl Orchestra

 The Bamboo Pearl Orchestra

 Standing l-r: Ai Zaini, Ismet Ruchimat, Abdullah Mufa, Martyn Barker, Colin Bass, Phousa Thirapouth, Rita Tila, Julian Poulsen, Srey Channthy, Tong and Nenni. Front: Ben Mandelson, Kim Burton, Great Lekakul


The highlight of the summer for me was the opportunity to put together a glittering array of singers, musicians and dancers for the BT River of Music Festival, part of the Olympic Culture programme which took place in London a week before the opening of the games. The commission was to make a one-hour performance including artists from six Southeast Asian countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Brunei. First step was getting in my long-time collaborator Ismet Ruchimat and fabulous singing lady Rita Tila from Indonesia, both of the dynamic urban gamelan collective from Bandung, Sambasunda. Then came the idea of putting them together with Srey Channthy and Julien Poulsen of the amazing psychedelic combo from Phnom Phen, the Cambodian Space Project. 
That used up all the budget for long-distance flights so further research and recruitment was confined to artists already in the UK. Which was totally ok, as fellow producer, tireless liaison and coordination and concept development and realisation expert Katerina Pavlakis and I were able to bring together the young 

1 January 2012

Prince Robinson

Prince Robinson was born in Glendale, California in 1953 and grew up listening to the jazz records in his father’s collection as avidly as the pop music he heard on the radio. At the age of ten he was given his first guitar – an early model Fender Stratocaster direct from the factory, handed over by Leo Fender himself – which he kept all his life. Throughout his teens he soaked up the new music of the 60s: Hendrix, Coltrane, Zappa, Cream and all; and at the age of twenty he formed his own blues band and opened shows
for Robben Ford, Little Feat, John Mayall and Yellowjackets, amongst others, before getting into some serious dues-paying as a member of Ike Turner’s band. He went on to establish himself on the LA session scene, playing with such diverse artists as Thelma Houston, Kenny Loggins and Dizzy Gillespie, while as a member of keyboardist David Garfield’s acclaimed Karizma band he played alongside such luminaries as bassist John Patittucci and drummer Greg Bissonette.

But darkness intervened as a predilection for alcohol turned into an addiction and he began the long slide down to the bottom, leaving his promising career behind. By the mid-90s he had kicked the habit, thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous, but he was living in his van, making deliveries to survive. In 2000 he got a tip from a musician friend in Berlin that there was a guitarist job available in the orchestra pit for the musical Falco, so with nothing to lose, he spontaneously gave away his van and bought a one-way ticket to Germany, arriving with one guitar and a bag.