Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Off Kilter TV: Where Horror Rears its Ugly Head on Family Television

(Here we discuss TV shows that do not fit the mold of the themes and topics usually associated with a particular series; that off kilter story that questions darker subjects within the framework of family television).

Now onto our episode for today: The Andy Griffith Show: Mr. McBeevee (1962)

The Andy Griffith Show

Season Three, Episode One (1962).
Episode: Mr. McBeevee.
Director: Bob Sweeney

Discussed by Anthony Servante

Fans of The Andy Griffith Show are familiar with the characters Andy, the sheriff of the small town of Mayberry, Barney Fife, the loveable but awkward pseudo-intellectual and aesthete, Aunt Bee, the mother figure, and Opie, Andy’s young son. We, as I am one of the show’s biggest fans, are also acquainted with the themes often addressed on the series: Friendship, bravery, trust, family, and honesty, family friendly subjects that can be addressed with humor and compassion. Our episode for discussion is Mr. McBeevee (1962), where the theme of existential truth pits fact against faith. We shall explain.

Let’s summarize the episode first.

SPOILERS!!!                                      SPOILERS!!!                                      SPOILERS!!!

If you haven’t seen the episode before and would like to watch it first before reading further, scroll down to find the video. However, if you prefer to read the piece first and watch the show later, then read on.

Opie & McBeevee 

Opie’s new friend whom he meets in the woods dresses in a shiny hat, a tool-belt that jingles, and climbs on the treetops; that's because he's a phone line repairman. Andy and Barney believe that the person known as Mr McBeevee is a figment of the boy’s imagination, so when Opie begins coming home with gifts from McBeevee (a hatchet and a quarter--a huge amount of money for a boy of this year), Andy decides to “spank” his son if he does not admit to McBeevee’s nonexistence. Opie refuses reluctantly, knowing he’d be lying if he denied his forest friend’s existence. Andy takes a leap of faith in his son’s belief although he still does not accept the jingling man as real. He faith is rewarded as he runs into the telephone wire repair man and realizes that Opie was telling the truth all along.

From the beginning of this episode, the “truth” is fodder for a game of the imagination. Both Andy and Opie pretend to have a horse. Barney asks to see the horse and later realizes that it does not exist. At their office, the sheriff and his deputy discuss the dangers inherent when playing with the truth. Andy apologizes for misleading his deputy on the matter of the pony.

Opie enters the courthouse and mentions his friend McBeevee for the first time. With the imaginary horse incident only a day old, both Andy and Barney believe that Opie is making up the man in the woods. He sees his son as a liar and a thief and plans to spank the boy for a crime he didn’t commit.

The truth up to this point is subject to the whims of Andy’s humor with Barney and his humoring Opie by going along with the imaginary horse. For the first time, the usually savvy Andy seems uninformed and lost when the truth is right in front of him. What he found funny with his joke on Barney (that it is okay to stretch the truth) has now come back to punish him.

Opie is sent to his room to await his spanking. Andy gives him one last shot to avoid the beating (yes, beating, because that’s what it is), and that is for Opie to admit that Mr. McBeevee doesn’t exist. Opie cannot lie and faces his punishment, but not before asking, “Don’t you believe me Pa?” After a moment of clarity, Andy says he does believe his son, though he clearly does not.

Andy asks Opie to deny Mr McBeevee's existence

So what happened here? We should take a moment to distinguish reason from revelation. Reason works from evidence and empirical data, mental processes as well as emotional (instinct, for instance) to gather the “truth”; revelation gathers the truth by supernatural faith, factless belief.

Barney exemplifies the former by believing in Mr. McBeevee and even questions Opie for evidence of the jingle man’s existence, but the boy’s outlandish descriptions of the phone wire repairman (he has 12 hands, for example) soon has Barney backpedaling from his data gathering investigation. In a second, Opie is found guilty. Andy exemplifies the later; he gathers evidence from “things unseen”. Andy chooses to believe that the impossible is possible because his son accepts it, and father accepts son, the tangible, as a truth-teller and chooses not to punish the boy, as opposed to accepting that his son is a liar and punishing Opie.

Opie looks up to McBeevee

Andy summarizes his leap of faith, There comes a time “when you’re asked to believe something that just don’t seem possible; that’s the moment that decides whether you got faith in somebody or not.”

When Andy returns to the woods to contemplate the mystery of his faith, he murmurs aloud, “Mr. McBeevee, who climbs down from the tree with his jingly belt and shiny hat. It may as well have been a real fairy who materialized. Andy realizes, through empirical proof, that the phone man is a fact. But his leap of faith kept him from making the mistake of punishing his son because he believed in the unbelievable. Even if it were true.

Ironically, Barney does not believe that Andy met McBeevee and calls the doctor to examine the sheriff. Andy teases Barney as he did at the beginning of the episode. Even though the truth won out in this episode, there were dark themes at work. Imagine that Andy had punished Opie. The truth for both of them would have been gone. The dynamics of the father/son bond would have crumbled. 

Barney makes the call.

Similarly, Andy's relationship with his deputy, based on humor, (even as Andy is relieved to find the real Mr. McBeevee), reverts to his playful ways with the facts and fragile beliefs of his deputy, the naive Barney, teasing him about having dinner with the phone linesman while the deputy sincerely believes that the sheriff may be suffering a break-down. But Andy’s invitation to Barney to join the phone repair man and the Taylor family for dinner that evening is sincere. With the horse at the beginning of the episode, the joke led Barney to a lie, whereas, at the end of the show, Andy’s jest on Barney will lead him to the truth about Mr. McBeevee. 

Andy has learned to play with the truth while leaning toward fact and discovery. By denying his own dark thoughts about beating Opie for lying, he discovered that the truth can be found in ridiculous circumstances or absurdities. We all must face Mr. McBeevee at one time or another in life . All it takes is a leap of faith over darkness.

Scene where Andy takes a leap of faith. Click the link below to watch. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators: Tortured Soul (2013)
Reviewed by Anthony Servante

In 2005, Nicole Willis joined the Soul Investigators for the Keep Reachin’ Up CD. This collaboration was followed by a series of live shows, critical and popular response, and led to their new CD Tortured Soul (2013). 

A throw-back to the Motown sound of the 60s, Tortured Soul boasts a horn section that is part funk and part Count Basie. The Hammond organ common to the songs here also exemplifies the 60s Rock sound often associated with bands like Procol Harum. The guitar work is sassy and concludes most of the tracks with just the right amount of free-style—although I felt the guitar solos should have been freed up and let loose, fading out rather than ending abruptly, but I’m a critic, not a producer.

Still, I enjoyed the totality of the LP enough to recommend it. I’ve included a few of my favorite songs that I found on youtube. Enjoy.

 It’s all because of you.

 Light years ahead

Monday, May 13, 2013

Poetry Today: Trends and Traditions
Edited by Anthony Servante

Let’s discuss the premise before looking at the words. It is an axiom in academic writing that poetry must speak for itself. A writer cannot interpret meaning for the reader, giving insight to his own words as if they required his presence to clarify the work’s intents. The poem must stand up to the scrutiny of the reader alone. 

With this axiom in mind, we proceed to our poetry for today; we have works by Linda D. Addison, Stephen M. Wilson, Heather L. Nelson, and Jimmy Pudge.

Let’s begin with the duel who has brought us DARK DUET: Ms. Addison and Mr. Wilson. Ladies first.

— lda Linda D. Addison

The dragon of eternity
dreams fire, returning
from ashes, eating its
own skin, leaving
pink open wounds
or cherry trees in bloom
i want a new Myth
to become infinite
good and renewed
unconsumed by desire
it wants to suck my bones
wait for the last breath
the last beat of my heart,
mistaking hunger for lust
it dreams me in slick arms
newborn, first breath held
i want to crawl back
feel my shoulders slipping
into the womb, rejecting
shoes, milk, blankets
sin and redemption leaves
much to be desired, it
calls me Callisto, pulling
something dark and
beautiful from my soul,
the mirror is cracked, still
reflecting many versions
Life penetrating Life.

Linda has captured the style of English Renaissance poetry. Fraught with allusions, color, and classical references, the selection from Dark Duet bears the symbol of two serpents swallowing one another, forming a circle, in bracelet fashion. Questions of life and death arise, and replacing heaven is rebirth, thus motherhood becomes immortality. Familiar features often associated with the antiquated genre seem unfamiliar for a modern approach to the wordcraft of metaphor and simile as our author seeks a “new Myth” to build her poem around. As such, it is a personal venture with the reader on the outside looking in. A stylized triumph but a bit detached and technically clinical. However, fans of Renaissance poetry should take to Linda’s creative use of poetic forms and stanza divisions.

Simian Soliloquy
— smw Stephen M. Wilson

Ibid or not Ibidem? This is our quest:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to snuff
The slangs and accents of our genus for a tune,
Or to type reams and gain status for our troubles,
And with opposable thumbs, rend them. To type, to please—
No murk, and by an ape to say we rend
The he-ape/ace and the thousand natural Shakespeares
That our flesh is heir too; ‘tis a calm summation
Devour be wish’d, too dare to slue—
Too deep a Passion, enhanced to dream—ay, who’s the Son,
For in that deep of cave what Neanderthals may come,
When upon a tree they serv’d that oaf—evolution’s foil,
Must make us pawns; where’s the Christos erectus
That makes parody of our solo grief:
For who will read the leaves and pages of our tome?
Her oppressor’s, wooing the proud man’s platypus,
The fangs of despis’d love, the claw’s display,
Or the insane orifice and her spawns?
That patent marriage of man’s unworldly fakes,
When his isms must us apes quietus make
With a bare brooding; in our feral lair,
To grunt and sweat at Underwood, away life,
But that the dread of something after data,
The Beagle discover’d a mutant country, with form of homo noir
Know typeset, return, margins and become the Will,
What makes us rather bear this radioactive glow?
Crook’d beaked finches fly; others that we know not of?
Thus coincidence does make bards [of us all],
Man, the naive hue of evolution?
he sick lied o’er with the pale cast of we, Darwin’s children?
Though we dance on the head of a pin to a manic mantra
Something is rotten in America, awry,
Loose tongues speak no names, just captions. —A Madrigal you know,
This fair Opus. Rhyme, in theme—an Aria; a Dirge
May all our songs rememb’red!

Stephen actually employs the same Renaissance style as Linda but to different effect: he uses the poetic form to mock the poetic form, not unlike Alexander Pope himself, who used the Epic Poem format to mock the Epic Poem themes (see Rape of the Lock). The poem begins with a play on the Hamlet line, “To be or not to be”, thus setting the tone right off that his allusions, references, and metaphors will play against expectations—and our poet doesn’t let us down. Shakespeare is compared to apes and Neanderthals in a Shakespearean tone worthy of his sonnets, but played for laughs, and it works. Just as Pope mocked “mankind” in his satiric heroic couplets, Stephen satirizes man’s accomplishments and evolution as a high-toned put-down. “Thus coincidence does make bards [of us all],/Man, the naive hue of evolution?” Indeed.

Linda and Stephen

Linda Addison born in Philadelphia, PA is an American poet and writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Addison is the first African-American winner of the Bram Stoker Award, which she won three times for her poetry collections Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes (2001)[1] and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial (2007) and How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend (2011.)

Stephen M. Wilson is Poetry Editor for Abyss & Apex and also edits the spec poetry Twitterzine microcosms (@microcosms) and San Joaquin Delta College’s literary magazine Artifact. Wilson spent 3+ years as Poetry Editor for Doorways Magazine and co editor of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s annual Dwarf Stars Award anthology. He’s had several poems nominated for the Rhysling Award and a handful for the Dwarf Stars Award (including a win in 2011). He lives in Stockton, CA where he occasionally also writes short fiction. More at:

Now let’s welcome Heather L. Nelson.

flash ... without the wank

by h.l. nelson Heather L. Nelson

His hand on her breast,
the outside
of an oreo enveloping
her creamy center.
She wondered if it
would taste sweet
and stuck his finger
in her mouth.
He thought she
was being sexy.
It was like
woodsmoked chopped beef
from the meat market
where he worked.
He courted her
over cold cuts, chicken thighs,
and pork loin,
seduced her with
muscle fibers and sinew,
and fed her pieces
of his raw meat
while they cleaved
on the cutting board.
The cow’s blood
and cum mixed,
a saltwater taffy pink
that congealed
on her thigh
and absolved her
of all sin
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Meditation on MS
by h.l. nelson Heather L. Nelson                                                                              

For Che

My mom is a hoarder. We have to weave and bob our way through her livingroom. Boxes piled higher than my baby sister is tall. A hair dryer that overheats, faded plastic flower wreaths, letters from an artist lover who moved to Italy. Remnants of mom’s life in the 70’s and 80’s.
She has MS and she can’t throw anything out. She screamed so loud once when I tried to sneak a beige pair of 80’s pants and a digital thermometer that wouldn’t beep into the trash that the neighbors heard and ran to check on us. The neighbors know how sick she is. They’re just waiting.

We’re all just waiting.

Everything my mom owns reminds her of the time before the disease. A broken, dusty fondue pot with the original forks makes her smile and sigh, but smile, nonetheless. She is always tired. And her leg, arm, or a side of her face is numb at any given moment.

I complain about pickles on my burger or a scratch on my car and she can’t fucking feel her face. My mom puts up with the fact that I’m 21 with a tight, satiny stripper’s body and that I repeatedly call people who are 40+ “old fucks.” I still think of her as 36.

She won’t cut her hair either because eleven years ago she had chemo treatments and all of it fell out. Now, it’s as long as her pain is deep
and twice as beautiful. 

published 12 April 2013 

The visceral Absolution is a throw-back to the Beat Generation, as metaphoric as Ginsburg at his best. Heather’s hardcore feminism has a soft center. In the poem, she is treated like “meat”, but in her narrative voice, she is looking for “love” somewhere in the obscene overtures of her faceless male companion/mate. We do not meet him or see him. He is described through the narrator’s “absolution”, her surrender to sex. Its simplicity makes it all the more haunting. I look forward to more of Ms. Nelson’s poetry.

MS utilizes a Victorian voice common to the Purple Reign, when Oscar Wilde was the toast of society, but its theme is pure modern ethos. Heather employs a prose style here that allows her narrator to speak poetically within a paragraph structure, much like Henry James, also from the Fin de Siecle period of the Victorian Age. Inanimate objects (pots and forks) carry memories that only her mother can see, but the narrator sees her mother “seeing” the memories, and that the “pain” of remembering renders her beautiful to her daughter. Just as Oscar Wilde stopped Dorian Gray from aging, the memories of her mother keep her at age “36”, locked in a moment of time before the pain began.

Ms. Nelson has a fine writing voice that is strong beyond her “flash” writings. I shiver in anticipation should the day come when she develops the patience to create an ode or a prose novella utilizing the same poetic voice she displays with flashes of genius in these two works.

Heather L. Nelson

h. l. nelson is Fiction Editor for Black Heart Magazine, a Raymond Carver lover, call center survivor, and former sidewalk mannequin. (Yes, that happened.) She has been published or is forthcoming at Gutter Eloquence, DOGZPLOT, The Fat City Review, GlassFire, Black-Listed, and Screaming Orgasms of Bizarro Love. Tell her your favorite planet:

Time for Jimmy M.F. Pudge.

Jimmy Pudge is a character and you get it or you don't, but that character is a damn good writer and poet. I rarely spew inappropriate quotes; however, here it is necessary: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” First off, when a poetry reading can incite the kinds of emotions Jimmy had to face, something is wrong with the drama queen aesthetes who censured his reading. I’ll let Mr. Pudge tell it in his words.

Hey, Jimmy,
Can you tell me the story about your reading of these poems and the audience response to it. I want to use it to intro your poems. Thx.

Jimmy Pudge
Sure, Anthony.I went to a poetry slam at the Ramada Inn Bar several nights ago and decided to read those two poems. I got on stage and started with You Never Realize How Lonely You Are. A girl had gone before me, and she had read a poem about empowering the vagina, so this was in stark contrast, man. The crowd seemed bored because I didn't throw my hands up in the air and shout like the girl did and the other guests did. My poetry also didn't rhyme as well as any of the other readers. The first one didn't really draw a response from the crowd, and I got kind of pissed off because the girl's poem about her pussy had garnered all kinds of cheers and woots. So I spoke up during my second poem Melinda, shouting when it says BANG BANG and received tons of boos. So much, they cut my reading short. Those two poems were completely the opposite of the other poems read that night. These folks were mainly college kids or hipsters, and they had a message to their poetry that transcended the simple shit my stuff talked about like isolation and heartbreak. They were speaking for empowerment and movement and change. i was talking about my home being worse than a prison and a bitch i used to date cheating on me and putting me down and out. I understand their hatred for the poetry, my shit certainly won;t win any awards, but I felt the spirit guiding me to that goddamn mike and I read for as long as they allowed me to, and I put all of my fucked up heart into those readings, man. Hope you enjoyed them better than they did.

Here are the poems that Jimmy Pudge read that night.

Number 1.

You never realize how lonely you are
You never truly realize how lonely you are
Until you buy a cell phone
And have no one to call
But 1-800-Titty numbers
And the woman won't talk until she has your card number.
You never realize how lonely you are
Until you go on Facebook, check your wall and email
And find both as barren as the dessert.
Then you check out your 1,000 friends
And realize you don't personally know anyone.
You never realize how lonely you are
Until you spend all day thinking of something funny to say
To your best friend on Skype who you've never met
And you log on, happy as hell to have something witty
And he's not even there to hear it.
You never realize how lonely you are
Until you're looking out the window of your trailer
And you realize how much you miss prison.

Number 2.

a fucking pistol
you can't tame 
a wild bitch
You whip out 
that dick
and she'll 
suck it
Give that
Your heart
And she'll
Fuck it
Like a pro
Give that
Your soul
And she'll 
Drink it.

The poetry works on its own terms. During the Victorian Age, there was a magazine called The Pearl, "a collection of erotic tales, rhymes, songs and parodies in magazine form that were published in London between 1879 to 1880, when they were forced to shut down by the authorities for publishing rude and obscene literature" (Wiki). The mag went underground, publishing out of France, where it was legal, and shipping via the Black Market to its readers, reportedly to have included many of the top writers of the Fin de Siecle. At the end of the Roaring Twenties, Henry Miller shocked the censors with his novel Tropic of Cancer, which had sexual descriptions that were tame compared to those of Britain’s The Pearl, but obscene to the American critics and anal-retentive readers of the time just before the Great Depression. Just when I think we’ve moved past opinionated censorship, something like the Jimmy Pudge incident happens.

As we’ve seen with Heather L. Nelson’s writings, a sexual element carries dramatic weight for getting the message across to readers. Jimmy’s poems bear the same message, only from a male’s point of view. Poem Number 1 decries the solitude of a man seeking a second chance and actually missing “prison” because people either ignore him or just won’t trust him with a second opportunity to join “their” society. Here is alienation and sexual gratification to avoid solitude. In Poem Number 2, the same “lonely” narrator seeks out female companionship (possibly a prostitute? or a “girlfriend” within a prostitute metaphor) and loses his dignity in the act of giving himself to the “man-eater” (so to speak).

Jimmy Pudge carries on the tradition of sparking the anger of prurient hypocrites projecting their own sexual frustrations on the author and his writings. I will wrap up my opinion of such censorship by quoting from Monty Python:

“…here are some completely gratuitous pictures of penises to annoy the censors and to hopefully spark some sort of controversy, which, it seems, is the only way, these days, to get the jaded, video-sated public off their fucking arses and back in the sodding cinema. Family entertainment? Bollocks. What they want is filth: people doing things to each other with chainsaws during tupperware parties, babysitters being stabbed with knitting needles by gay presidential candidates, vigilante groups strangling chickens, armed bands of theatre critics exterminating mutant goats. Where's the fun in pictures? Oh, well, there we are” (Monty Python’s Meaning of Life).

Jimmy Pudge

Jimmy James "M.F." Pudge was born into this world on 6-9-1979 in a truck stop toilet at a TA Travel Center in the backwoods of South Georgia. An honest and conscientious man, Jimmy served several prison sentences because he refused to give in to the federal laws that impose independent spirits' rights to be entrepreneurs. An expert in the art of pruno, shank construction, and paper dart blow guns, Jimmy briefly served as a leader in his dorm room before being released early for good behavior.

Thanks, dear readers, for joining us for our second outing with Poetry Today. Visit us again soon as we welcome more poets from the modern age. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bridget Wishart Interview: The First Lady of Psychedelic Rock
Conducted by Anthony Servante

I’d like to welcome Bridget Wishart to the Darkness for a discussion on music and performance art. But first, let’s meet this artistic talent:

Bridget Wishart; Singer/Songwriter

Bridget Wishart might be best known for the many talents which she brought to legendary space rockers Hawkwind during her tenure with the band in the early 1990s, providing her vocals, poetry, mime and dance, and playing a major part in rejuvenating their sound and vision for a whole new generation of fans, but that’s only a small part of her story.

When Bridget joined the Hawks, she was already well-known to the free festival crowds as having been the singer for The Demented Stoats and, mostly notably, with the all-girl punksters The Hippy Slags. Although those alliances were, sadly, never committed to vinyl, her time in Hawkwind (for which she left her job teaching ceramics at Bath’s Prior Park College) delivered up albums such as Space Bandits and Palace Springs, an appearance on the television music show Bedrock and a number of DVD releases. The epic magnum opus, ‘Images’, which she co-wrote and provided lead vocals on, is still a live favourite for the Hawkwind faithful, whilst her evocative vocals on the Native American-influenced ‘Black Elk Speaks’ is a high-point in 90s Hawkwind output.

Leaving Hawkwind in 1991, she moved on to contribute dance and choreography with Techno Pagan and then in 1995, along with Tim Carroll, formed the UV design company, Temple Decor, who, amongst their credits, provided backdrops for the WOMAD festival.

Having left the music scene in 1997, little was heard from Bridget until she was, thankfully, lured out of musical retirement in 2003 by American composer/musician Don Falcone. Since then, she’s worked with Don and his space rock collective, Spirits Burning, on two full-length CDs, Earth Born and Bloodlines (both released by Gonzo Records). Their third CD Make Believe It Real is due for completion in 2013. She has recorded for many other bands, including Astralfish (Far Corners) Mooch, Space seed, Omenopus (Portents ,Time Flies, The Plague), Hola One (Moments) and Djinn, with Alan Davey (Last Wish).

She is co-author, alongside Ian Abrahams, of the long awaited book, Festivalized, which recounts the rise and fall of the free festival scene as told by those who were there.

Bridget’s latest live project is Chumley Warner Bros, which consists of Bridget on vocals and EWI, alongside Martin Plumley on guitar and vocals. They describe themselves as having a ‘semi-acoustic fireside sound’, harkening back to the festivals campfires of yesteryear. Catch them where you can!

The Interview

Anthony: Thank you for joining us today, Bridget.
Bridget: My pleasure J thanks for the invite.

Anthony: What influences led you as a child to follow a career in music and performance art?
Bridget: I loved art, acting, singing, choral speaking, playing recorder and clowning as a child. As I grew older I was torn between acting and art but decided to follow art. When I went to Art College I was lucky to be accepted by Newport Art College (Gwent College of Higher Education) Roy Ascot was running a new course entitled The Gentle Touch (Hah! a more inaccurate title I have yet to come across J ) Unlike most art courses there were no barriers between media, if you wanted to paint with mud in a home made swimming pool on top of a mountain you could, if you wanted to make cardboard replica tanks you could, if you fancied hanging upside down in a cocoon on the ceiling to a sound track of  vocal cries you could, if you wanted run your own project you could, the stranger and more weird the better…in that environment you sank or swam…I bubbled under for a bit but ended up flying…hmmm, well, hanging from a ceiling. J

Anthony: What defines “performance art” for you?
Bridget: Performance Art first and foremost is art using your body and anything it can do. All else, like soundtracks, smells, installations, images, machines and lighting might be an integral part of the show but is extra.  Performance Art, when you see it, happens ‘Now’, it’s art in creation, communication, in front of your eyes, it’s personal, it’s never the same, no one ever sees or experiences it from the same view point… You can’t bottle it or sell it. Some performance artists are pretentious oiks and just want to be weird (IMHO!); others like Richard Lazell are genuine people, talented artists, presenting life and all its parts in fresh and illuminating ways.

Anthony: Can you tell us about your career before Hawkwind?
Bridget: My first band was the Demented Stoats; we lived in a squat called Stoat Hall, we practiced in the basement, we played a mix of space rock and punk; our influences were Hawkwind and Nina Hagen. Richard Chadwick, Hawkwind’s current drummer played drums and Steve Bemand (TOSH, Timelords, Hawkwind) played bass and guitar. We played the free festivals. The band split and in 1981 I moved to Wales and went to Art College in Newport getting into video and Performance Art. When I came back to Bath I formed a band with Pete and Lol called Next Year’s Big Thing. We played festivals and gigged in the South West. I moved to Reading to do a Masters Degree and kept the band going for a while with the addition of Huw on bass and Marion on flute and keys with a succession of drummers. The band folded just before I graduated and when I returned from Tewkesbury after doing a Sculpture Fellowship at Cheltenham I had the chance to join the Hippy Slags. I had also found a great job as a sculpture tutor at Prior Park College in Bath.

Anthony: And how was it that Hawkwind was graced with your talents? Can you share some favorite experiences? I loved the costumes you wore in concert.
Bridget: The Hippy Slags were a festival band, our drummer was Richard’s girlfriend, we knew members of Hawkwind from way back. When they did the Travellers Aid Trust album they invited us to do a couple of tracks on it and to support them on a few dates on the tour. At one of the gigs they invited us to sing on a jam called Back In The Box. I was the only one who did, I continued to sing the track if we were playing the same festivals as them. Then when they recorded the track for Palace Springs they invited me to sing it. That was my first recording for Hawkwind, though it came out after Space Bandits. As I became more involved in the band and recorded songs at Rockfield: Wings, Black Elk Speaks and Images; I realized I couldn’t be a teacher and tour with Hawkwind. I chose Hawkwind. I chose and designed my costumes for the tours, working within a limited budget, but unlimited imagination J I listened to the songs, worked on dance moves that expressed the words. I learned semaphore, I wore layers of costumes for quick changes and had many accidents because I couldn’t see where the hell I was going in a mask, in the dark with the smoke and the strobes! 

Favourite experiences…Uhmmmm…not fav experiences but some unforgettable memories … I loved the American tour of winter 1990. We were in Grateful Dead’s old greyhound tour bus, it had winged horses painted on it…the bunks were small and snug, the windows opened, the driver was bonkers J the scenery was unbelievable, the crew were fantastic and the audiences were great. Lemmy came on the bus to say hi; we drove across the Rockies through the night in a blizzard with only the passenger windscreen wiper working, Harv sat there, directing the driver from one bollard to the next…the cliff edge was just on the other side of those bollards! I remember being backstage after doing the vocals for Golden Void listening to Dave play his guitar solo with tears running down my cheeks, it was so moving. When we did the European Tour the following year, it was a real mixed bag of chaos and disorder with moments of hysterical hilarity. The gold taps with dolphins and naked little boys in Rome were totally bizarre as was the parrot in Greece, I wanted to free it. The German audiences were brilliant, they clapped they cheered they shouted and stomped; it was really heart warming. The soldiers in Yugoslavia were a bit worrying and war broke out just after we left.

Anthony: “Images” and “Wings” were two of my favorite songs on the Space Bandits lp. How do you view your contribution to the music of this psychedelic mood piece?
Bridget: Images is a great song, I was lucky they were writing it when they did and that I had lyrics that fit it perfectly.J This was the first song I recorded at Rockfield, my first in a professional studio, I was nervous and the band worried me when they all sat around in the room and I thought I’d have to sing in front of them…Paul (Cobbold) chucked them out…even so I had got jittery and promptly ‘lost’ my voice after singing it through once. Luckily it returned and after a grueling five hour session we had then vocals done to Paul’s exacting standards. I remember later in the week listening back to it on the huge wall speakers in the studio…it was jaw droppingly magnificent! Recording Wings was altogether a more painless process, Paul liked the strange harmony I had selected and got Alan and me to sing both the top and bottom harmonies, when we did the song live I did the low harmony which was hard to do as my voice was quiet that far down my range.

Anthony: How has your career changed after Hawkwind?
Bridget: I felt pretty low after leaving Hawkwind, it was all a bit confusing. I formed a band with Danny Smith (guitarist from 2000DS) we called ourselves Daze, wrote a set, did a few gigs but Dan had personal issues to deal with so it didn’t go any further. I then decided to focus on getting a job and did a TEFL course. Just as I finished and got some work Klive (Farhead) invited me to be part of Techno Pagan. I became a dancer and choreographer for them. The music was hard core dance and our dance was UV and on the edge with sculptures, masks, stilts, and costumes of jellyfish, robots, androids etc. Klive and I are both quite opinionated strong headed folk and sadly we fell out so I went my way. Jumping straight into another project, that of UV Décor. I met Tim Carroll (RIP) doing a gig at a Temple Ball (rave); he was putting up some drapes that were good but I could sense how much better they could be. We formed an Ultra Violet Décor Company called Temple Décor. I designed the drapes for big scale raves and festivals, we made and painted the drapes and hung them at the venues. We made the venues look like giant psychedelic temples We worked for WOMAD, Pukkelpop, Glastonbury and many others. I became overworked, underpaid and totally stressed. In 96 I resigned and suffered a serious breakdown. After 4 months in hospital I got a job as a care worker looking after children with special needs in a respite home, after two years moving on to a home for young adults with profound special needs. At this time in my life I had nothing to do with music or art; I couldn’t bear the thought of it. Luckily I met Martin and we fell in love. In 2002 we had our daughter Hannah and the following year we got married. I was lured out of ‘musical retirement’ by Don Falcone of Spirits Burning, in around 2004, I have worked with him ever since. I also work and release music with Astralfish, Mooch, Spaceseed, Omenopus, Djinn and Hola One and have recently contributed to CD’s with Sky Burial and Melodic Energy Comission.

Plus, the latest Mooch collaboration...the ep Beltane To Samhain was released on May 1st... Download from or available from Stephen "Steve" Palmer in a handprinted cover. I haven’t stopped doing live gigs but they aren’t as easy to do with a family and a job. Martin and I form the acoustic duo, the Chumley Warner Brothers and we play a few favored festivals (e.g., Sonic Rock Solstice and Kozz Fest) plus a few  local gigs every year.

Anthony: Can’t help but notice we have a mutual friend in Dave Cousins, founder of the Strawbs. I could see you contributing to their folk rock style. What do you think?
Bridget: I’d love to. J Some of the Chumley’s music falls into this category. We do covers as well as our own material so maybe we’ll learn a Strawbs song next.

Anthony: What does Bridget Wishart have planned these days musically and artistically?
Bridget: Don and I are working on our third full length Spirits Burning & Bridget Wishart CD (to follow Earth Born and Bloodlines) It’s called Make Believe It Real; it has a sci fi/fantasy theme. I’ve just designed the cover; the tracks are plentiful, varied and in addition to the usual SB crew, feature guest appearances from Nigel Mazlin Jones, Keith Tha Bass of Here & Now, Jay Tausig of Chrome, Nick May (The Enid) and Hawk family members: Alan Davey, Dan Thompson and Simon House. Release with Gonzo Records is due around autumn of this year. This release will also include a surprise CD with unheard music written by myself and Don…I shall say no more, just that you haven’t heard us do anything like this before. J
I have just this month finished a third and fuller collaboration with Marek Orgorzalek of Hola One. The EP Moments is pretty much finished and will be available for free download.
This year I have also been working with my fav spacerockin band Spaceseed. I have contributed vocals to four tracks for their next release ‘The Fraternal Order of’. Also, Chumley plans to record a CD.

I’m also very much enjoying making psychedelic bracelets for friends and family.

Anthony: What do you recommend to young artists seeking to follow in your footsteps?
Bridget: Have a website. Make some videos, get them on You Tube, have a track or two that is well recorded that you can send to promoters and have as free downloads. Choose a good band name and good artwork will help.
Play live, write songs, write more songs, dump the bad ones, record yourself, listen to your sound, ask your friends for their honest opinions.  Just be you, learn a few covers, they’ll help you to understand other ways of building songs. Create a stage presence, if you’re shy prepare a few things to say or say nothing at all! Write more songs, and above all, have fun, if it’s not fun, do something else.

Anthony: How can fans gather more information on you and your projects?

Anthony: Can you share with my readers the Top Ten List of Songs that have influenced your career to date and tell us a little about each one?

1. Cymbeline, Pink Floyd (Soundtrack from the film More) this album was one of a pile my aunt gave me when I was 14 and she left London to join a commune in the Lake District. Melody plays such a big part in my enjoyment of a song and this is just beautiful. (Version from movie:

2. Mushroom, Can (Tago Mago) The rhythm and the pitch of Damo’s vocals is mesmerizing.

3. Broadway Hotel Al Stewart (Year of the Cat) Great melody, glorious voice, great story, great song writing and violin! 

4. Dreamer, Supertramp. I loved Roger’s unique vocals, and the piano just works! Crime of the Century was my fav album for a long time.

5. Kashmir, Led Zeppelin (Physical Graffiti) Oh that guitar riff, the drums and Plant’s searing voice…the unrelieved tension… fantastic. 

6. Shakedown Street, (Shakedown Street) Grateful Dead A good all round happy song…happy songs are HARD to write! 

7. Black or White, Michael Jackson (Dangerous) whatever you think about MJ as a person, OMG, he was a great singer, dancer and performer, so much to admire and aspire to. 

8. Psycho Killer, Talking Heads (Talking Heads 77) David Byrne is a genius, this song starts the film ‘Stop Making Sense’ you just have to watch it.

9. Peaches The Stranglers (Rattus Norvegicus) This was my first punk album. Before this I had been listening mainly to Led Zep, The Eagles, Supertramp, Pink Floyd and Peter Frampton. The change to include punk was shockingly instantaneous. 

10. Demented Man, Hawkwind (Warrior On The Edge Of Time) Not many acoustic guitar songs in the Hawkwind repertoire but this is one and it’s great and it’s deep, I saw Hawkwind play it on their recent tour and we want to cover it J 

As a bonus, Bridget has sent along six extra songs for new and old fans to hear.

11. Images—Hawkwind

12. Wonderland by Chumley Warner Bros

13. Le Chapeau Rouge, Omenopus

14. Jay Tausig - Billy Sherwood - Bridget Wishart 'Twisting The Tail’ 


16. Nick Drake: Day is Done (a wonderful and inspirational influence for me--Bridget Wishart).

Anthony: Thank you for joining us today. You are most welcome here with the Servante of Darkness anytime you’d like to promote something or simply like to share your artistic adventures. It’s been a pleasure.
Bridget: Thanks Anthony, it’s been a real pleasure to chat with you, all best to you and your readers.


Buy Make Believe It Real by Spirits Burning & Bridget Wishart CD DVD from Gonzo Multimedia