NO MUSIC DAY – 2020

November 22, 2020
Photograph of the Angel of Užupis taken through the door of Coffee1, in Angel Square, Republic of Užupis.

No Music Day 2020, was marked and celebrated in two European locations.

One was in The Republic of Užupis, where Gleb Divov, the Minister for Culture and Innovations, positioned posters around the Republic to announce their marking of No Music Day. These posters were in both English and Lithuanian. Lithuanian being the mother tongue of those living in The Republic of Užupis.

The other location was in Tabakfabrik in Linz, where the short film My Name Is Art Not Innovation by Scharmien Zandi was screened.


No Music Day 2021 is to be marked by The Republic of Užupis building international bridges.

And…

By Scharmien Zandi staging her Silent Opera.

Further information about The Repulic of Užupis building international bridges and the staging of Schamrmien Zandi’s Silent Opera will be made known via the Penkiln Burn site in the early days of November 2021.

Photograph of central Vilnius taken from the White Bridge.

A MUSIC FREE LIFE

November 17, 2020

On each 21st of November for five years between 2005 and 2009, Bill Drummond promoted and celebrated No Music Day. After that he let it lie. But he did not switch off the No Music Day website, he had decided that should remain as a museum piece.

Since 21st of November 2009 and early in November 2020, he did not think about No Music Day once. Then he received an email from someone in Vienna, who announced to him that they were going to be celebrating No Music Day this coming 21st of November.

This someone is called Scharmien Zandie.

And this is their website

Although Bill Drummond no longer marks No Music Day, he has in his private world established a music free life.

To document this fact Tenzing Scott Brown has written one of his Forty Second Plays. It is entitled A Music Free Life. It features two characters. They are Music and the other is Bill. This is it:

Music:

What the fuck?

Bill:

What do you mean?

Music:

A Music Free Life?

I mean do you attend Music Lovers Anonymous?

Bill:

No, but…

Music:

For a start, I caught you listening to Gram Parsons on your Spotify app only last night, when you thought no one was in the house.

Bill:

Yeah but…

Music:

‘Yeah but’ nothing. I know you listen to more music now than ever.

Bill:

Yeah, but that is because everywhere I go there is a Spotify Play List playing. And…

Music:

And that is a good thing.

Makes the world a better place – something to be applauded.

Bill:

No!

Music only exists to make you do things you don’t want to do.

Music:

Wrong!

Very wrong!

I exist to make you do things that you didn’t know you wanted to do.

Anyway get the kettle on.

The End

And that is the end of that particular Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Brown. For further research explore the question ‘What is Music for?’

And…

Find out which way Scharmien Zandie is celebrating No Music Day this coming 21st of November in a world riddled with the global pandemic of social media. A pandemic that did not exist back in 2005. And one we as yet have not found a vaccine for.

RAGWORT WEEK 2020

October 11, 2020

Ragwort Week 2020 is being held between Monday the 12th and Sunday the 18th of October.

To mark Ragwort Week 2020 the very short film The Great North Road Ragworts has been made:

As with the previous eight Ragwort Weeks, 100 copies of the book RAGWORTS by Bill Drummond are being made available from Alimentation. Click HERE to buy. Or at least know more.

SOFA

October 8, 2020

SOFA is the name of a Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Brown.

SOFA was written in response to Bill Drummond being invited onto the Thursday afternoon show on  BBC 6 Music, to discuss the film BEST BEFORE DEATH.

SOFA was written while Tenzing Scott Brown sat on the sofa in The Best Gent Hair Saloon on Albion Parade, N16.

Bill Drummond performed a version of the play, but the version lasted over nine minutes, much longer than the forty seconds as proclaimed, thus way too long to be broadcast on a music radio station.

Listen to SOFA as performed by Bill Drummond:

Recorded and edited by Kenny Atkin @ VaVa Recordings

Paul Duane, the director of BEST BEFORE DEATH was interviewed by Matt Everett for the said Thursday afternoon show for BBC 6 Music.

To know more about or buy a copy of the blu-ray version of BEST BEFORE DEATH click HERE.

POST SCRIPT

October 7, 2020

Below is the Post Script to the play FORGIVE ME NOT by Tenzing Scott Brown.

The manuscript to this play was first made public via the Twitter feed of Rob Manuel. But without a Post Script.

To read FORGIVE ME NOT on Rob Manuel’s Twitter feed click HERE.

To read the missing Post Script read on:

Post Script:

It is now two days since I typed up the above Forty Second Play and hit send on it to Rob Manuel.  He has already pushed it out there to begin its life in the world. But re-reading it now there are a couple of points that I feel the need to clarify – they are:

I don’t think the Presbyterian outlook on the Universe, to be better than any other outlook, and I’m aware that as an outlook it has brought much friction into the affairs of mankind. It was just the one that my childhood was drenched in.

Also I am one of those Guardian readers, whose only experience of the confession box is what is presented to us in certain films. And it was the Young Man who stated that the confession box was used as a  “cliché” in a certain strand of American films. This was prompted by me (the Old Man) asking him, if he thought confession box scenes were a trope? He explained that trope was the wrong word but these clichéd scenes were used to get into the thoughts and fears of the protagonist mind, in a way that that regular dialogue would not reveal. He then gave me a number of examples where these confession box scenes had been used in films he had watched.

THE NEW RIVER FOUR

September 29, 2020

At times Bill Drummond is asked to pass comment.

At times Bill Drummond responds to being asked to pass comment by instigating one of his other selves to write a Forty Second Play.

One of these other selves takes the name Tenzing Scott Brown.

Four of these Forty Second Plays were written at the corner table of the New River Café, N16.

They were written over a period of four days in early September 2020.

The titles of these four plays are:

The Glorified Walking Stick

There Is An After Life

The Public Execution of Pop Stars

and

The Nik Kershaw Minifig

But…

In March 2020, Bill Drummond wrote a Forty Second Play, entitled Questions, Questions, Questions.

Questions, Questions, Questions was written as the introduction for a book entitled questions.

questions was written by Andrew Shaw.

questions was published by The Silent Academy in Port Townsend, Jefferson County in the state of Washington, USA. For further information about questions or to order online click HERE.

THE GLORIFIED WALKING STICK

September 29, 2020

The Glorified Walking Stick is a forty second play by Bill Drummond.

The Glorified Walking Stick is set on a blue skied Monday morning sometime between the spring of 1968 and the autumn of 2020.

The Glorified Walking Stick features two characters, Tenzing Scott Brown and Kristina Bruuk.

Tenzing Scott Brown is one of Bill Drummond’s other selves trying to break free.

Kristina Bruuk is an imagined poet and artist. She has been imagined by several generations of loner women scattered across Europe.

Kristina Bruuk is originally from Helsinki in Finland.

Each of these loner women are unaware that there are other loner women imagining her.

Kristina Bruuk and Tenzing Scott Brown have been friends over several decades and various continents. But they have never been lovers.

Kristina Bruuk once recorded an album of her own songs. It was titled Between Heaven & Helsinki. The record company never released it.

Some say that Kristina Bruuk ended her life with an overdose of heroin. Others think she is now an aged lady living out her life in a two-roomed apartment in Naples.

But for the purposes of this play, she is of an uncertain age and is walking down a tree-lined boulevard in Paris, taking in what the day has to offer. And wondering why she burnt the hand written memoir she had spent the past seven months writing.

As for Tenzing Scott Brown, he is sitting at one of the outside tables of a street café, taking the last sip from his second café-au-lait of the morning. There is a white plate on the table. On the plate is a scattering of crumbs. The crumbs are those of a fresh croissant that Tenzing has just eaten. As usual he had spread the freshly baked croissant with Normandy butter and blackcurrant jam. This is what he has every morning, at the same table, at the same café, on the same street, in the same French city. Or has done since…

There are some pigeons on the ground close by, hoping for these crumbs to fall to the ground. There is a lone crow flying across the Parisian sky, surveying the scene. Tenzing is also imagining a lone red balloon drifting across the same Parisian sky – but there isn’t. He imagines this most mornings.

In his hand Tenzing is holding a copy of Should We Meet At The Crossroads, Keep Walking by someone calling himself The Perambulator. It had arrived in the post earlier this morning, it was addressed to him personally. There was no covering note inside the package – thus no explanation why this book had been sent to him. The postage stamps on the package were Finnish, the postmark said Helsinki.

Tenzing Scott Brown has been reading it without a break for over two hours at his table at this street café in Paris. He is captivated by the words, the flow, the atmosphere. It’s as if the book had been written for him. He had just read the last sentence of page 211, the one that reads “I catch Rena’s eye and look down to my feet” when he stops to look up at the sky to see if there might be a red balloon floating across it – there isn’t.

But…

Instead he sees Kristina Bruuk approaching.

Kristina Bruuk is always approaching even when she is almost disappearing.

Thus…

This is where the actual Forty Second Play begins.

Kristina Bruuk:

Hey Tenzing, what are you reading?

Tenzing Scott Brown:

I think it is a novel, but maybe a memoir.

Hard to tell these days.

Set in Helsinki and it seems to feature you.

Kristina Bruuk sits down on one of the chairs across the table from Tenzing Scott Brown

Kristina Bruuk:

They all feature me, even when they don’t know it.

Any good?

Tenzing Scott Brown:

Twisted.

Kristina Bruuk:

Twisted?

Tenzing Scott Brown:

Yeah, like any great book set in Helsinki should be.

Kristina Bruuk:

And the walking stick?

Kristina Bruuk is referring to the hazel walking stick with the honeysuckle spiral, leaning against the table.

Tenzing Scott Brown:

It is my version of The Glorified Walking Stick.

Kristina Bruuk:

Is that supposed to mean something?

Tenzing Scott Brown:

If you read the book…

Anyway, any news on the release of your Between Heaven & Helsinki album.

Kristina Bruuk:

Not until after I am dead. 

The End

Although that is the official end of this Forty Second Play called The Glorified Walking Stick, Kristina Bruuk orders a café-au-lait from an unseen waiter

Picks up the copy of Should We Meet At The Crossroads, Keep Walking

Flicks through the pages

Puts it down

Picks up the glorified walking stick

Admires its honeysuckle spiral.

And while this is happening we the audience – whoever and wherever we are – hear Pleasant Valley Sunday as performed and recorded by Kristina Bruuk playing on a Spotify playlist for the lost and the lonely.

Fade to grey…

Post Script:

Should We Meet At The Crossroads, Keep Walking by The Perambulator is to be published by Hesterglock Press in late 2020.

Between Heaven & Helsinki by Kristina Bruuk was recorded in Helsinki in 1997 for Kalevala Recordings, it might never be released.

THERE IS AN AFTER LIFE

September 29, 2020

There Is An After Life is a Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Brown.

There Is An After Life has been written in response to BBC Scotland wanting to interview Bill Drummond about the eponymous Strawberry Switchblade LP, for the second series of Classic Scottish Albums.

The Strawberry Switchblade LP was originally released in April 1985.

There Is An After Life has two characters and a narrator. The two characters are an actor playing Tam Dean Burn playing Bill Drummond and an actor playing Kirsty Wark playing The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop. The narrator is an actor playing Laura Kuenssberg, who will be reading this. But this is not the Forty Second Play. The Forty Second Play does not begin until the dialogue between the actor playing Tam Dean Burn playing Bill Drummond and the actor playing Kirsty Wark playing The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop, begins.

The narration proper begins now:

There is an after life, or there was in the head of the “real” Bill Drummond when he woke from his dream at 1:27am this morning – as in a Tuesday morning in early September 2020. He was awake but he was still dreaming  he had left this life, but had not yet reached the After Life proper.

The gates were not pearly.

He was sitting at a table of a street café in Naples.

He was being questioned by Laura Kuenssberg.

You know who Laura Kuenssberg is?

Laura Kuenssberg was wanting to know the history of his sex life in the life he had lived before he had died.

Laua Kuenssberg was wanting to know if the sex life he had, had always been consensual. She needed to know the details before she could allow him to get to the next level towards the After Life.

He told her that there were times he had sex out of duty, even though he did not want to have sex. 

Laura Kuenssberg told him that was consensual.

He told her there were times he had sex, even though he knew his sexual partner was having sex because she hoped to get pregnant, but he would make sure he would withdraw before he came.

Laura Kuenssberg told him this was still consensual, but it was getting grey.

He told her that his favourite colour was grey.

He then told her that there had been times that he knew his sexual partner was hoping the sex might lead to a proper relationship, when he knew that he hoped that after sex, he could disappear into the night. Not because the sex was not good, but because disappearing into the night was better.

Laura Kuenssberg then asked him if he had seen I May Destroy You.

He said “Yes”.

He then asked Laura Kuenssberg if he should go to his wall under Spaghetti Junction and write the words “I DON’T THINK I HAVE EVER RAPED ANYONE BUT…”

Laura Kuenssberg said “No”

Laura Kuenssberg then told him, he had now passed through this level, the Sex Life level.

Only one more level to go.

The most important one.

The Pop Life one.

Laura Kuenssberg then got up from the chair at the table of a street café in Naples and disappeared.

He felt relieved that he did not have to go to his wall underneath Spaghetti Junction and write the words “I DON’T THINK I HAVE EVER RAPED ANYONE BUT…”

Then the actor playing Kirsty Wark playing The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop arrived.

You know who Kirsty Wark is?

And this is where The Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Brown begins proper.

The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop is dressed in a black and white polka-dot dress and her hair is tied up with red ribbons. In her arms she is carrying another black and white polka-dot dress and red ribbons.

The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop sits down at the table on the chair Laura Kuenssberg had been sitting on.

And she looks at Bill Drummond – or the actor playing Tam Dean Burn playing Bill Drummond. And this is where The Forty Second Play begins proper proper.

The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop:

Bill Drummond, have you ever had a non consensual relationship with Pop Music?

Bill Drummond:

Yes.

The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop:

Explain.

Bill Drummond:

I failed Strawberry Switchblade.

The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop:

Explain.

Bill Drummond:

I should have never been party to Strawberry Switchblade signing to a major record label when they did.  Thus, the pressure to create a hit single and a cash in album that then failed both creatively and commercially, and follow up singles that were shit and even shittier. And then watched as Strawberry Switchblade were thrown on the dust heap of failed pop careers when it should never have been a career in the first place – but an adventure.

The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop:

Was there an alternative?

Bill Drummond:

Yes.

The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop:

Explain.

Bill Drummond:

After the release of the single Trees & Flowers on Will Sergeant’s 92 Happy Customers record label, Strawberry Switchblade should have been encouraged to evolve at their own pace. In that way they may have evolved into something wonderful and glorious and beautiful. Instead they dissolved into a forgotten one hit wonder.

The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop:

Bill Drummond you may enter into the After Life proper. But because of your crimes against the highest of all art forms – Pop Music, you will be obliged to wear this black and white polka dot dress and red ribbons, that I will leave for you on this table, for as long as this After Life exists.

The End

Or the end of the dialogue of this Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Brown.

What happens next is the actor playing Kirsty Wark playing The Fairy Bad Mother of Pop gets up from the chair she has been sitting on at the table in the street café in Naples and disappears.

Then…

While Trees & Flowers by Strawberry Switchblade is playing over the Spotify playlist for the After Life, the actor playing Tam Dean Burn playing Bill Drummond, stands up and takes off his pale blue Stanley workshirt and walking boots and his Levi Strauss, 501, red tab, button fly, shrink-to-fit, blue denim jeans. And puts on the black and white polka dot dress and ties the red ribbons around his head. He is now ready to enter the final door into whatever the After Life might be.

THE END

At this point the “real” Bill Drummond falls back to sleep.

Some hours later, the “real” Bill Drummond is sitting at his table at the corner of The New River Café in N16. The empty page of his Black n’ Red notebook in front of him, his green Pentel pen in hand. He writes.

Now go and listen to Trees & Flowers by Strawberry Switchblade and weep.

There is no End

THE PUBLIC EXECUTION OF POP STARS

September 29, 2020

The Public Execution of Pop Stars is a Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Brown.

The Public Execution of Pop Stars has been written in response to the writer Nick Duerden requesting an interview with Bill Drummond for a proposed book. A book about “how singers and musicians navigate their life after the first flush of fame; how they endure, reinvent themselves, and keep life interesting for themselves.”

This request came in late April 2020, at the height of the first wave of the global pandemic. This request sparked off a brief flurry of emails between Nick Duerden and Bill Drummond.

It is now the early Autumn of the same year. The second wave is threatening.

What follows is the Forty Second Play written by Tenzing Scott Brown in response to this request. As a play it has been much informed by the previous Forty Second Play, There Is An After Life.

Two women, deep into their middle years, dressed in black and white, polka-dot dresses and red ribbons in their hair enter the stage. They are carrying guitars. They face the audience – a worldwide audience. And in unison they recite the following lines:

“We are Strawberry Switchblade.

We exist to confront the world with certain truths.

It has been brought to our attention that mankind is the only life form on earth that is hardwired to destroy each other. And in turn destroy themselves.

This hardwiring must be unwired, if mankind is to survive.

Or…

We propose a departure from the tried and tested forms of self-destruction.

A departure that will celebrate Pop Music as the most vibrant and wonderful art form that has ever existed and ever will exist.

We propose that any future Pop Singer or Pop Group of any past, present or future genre, that has had a top forty record, and then follows it up with a record that fails to make the top forty will be taken to a designated public space and executed in front of the people. The failed Pop Singer or Pop Group will be given the choice of a noose hanging from a gallows or a razor sharp guillotine.

It is this course of action that will truly celebrate Pop Music as the most vibrant and wonderful art form that has ever existed and ever will exist.

Thank you.”

THE END

Strawberry Switchblade, then pick up their guitars and start to sing their song Trees & Flowers.

And the audience will then compare and contrast the beauty of this song with the power of theatre to impact social change as opposed to merely entertain. 

THE NIK KERSHAW MINIFIG

September 29, 2020

The Nik Kershaw Minifig is a Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Brown.

The Nik Kershaw Minifig has been written as an alternative to The Public Execution Of Pop Stars. As in, incase The Public Execution of Pop Stars is shite.

The Nik Kershaw Minifig has only one character – a Lego minifig of former pop star – Nik Kershaw. He addresses the audience directly.

Tenzing Scott Brown invited Prince to write a forward to this Forty Second Play. What follows is the forward:

“Hi, my name is Prince. I used to be a famous pop star in the 1980s. What made me famous was that I was a genius. It’s what got me noticed. But then I started doing stuff that made me look mad. I started to stop using my name and used a squiggle instead. And making records to annoy my record company. Records that were indulgent.

And although I was a genius, people stopped buying my records. So I changed my name back to Prince and did a world tour where I was a caricature of how I used to look during my purple patch in 1984. But this world tour was in 2007. It was as if The Beatles had reformed in 1987 and they went out touring as middle-aged men but wearing their collarless Pierre Cardin suits they wore in 1964. It was pathetic. But it is what the fans wanted. They loved me for it. So I took too many painkillers and died. I am afraid I do not know who Nik Kershaw or Minifigs are.”

That was the foreword by Prince.

This is the Forty Second Play called The Nik Kershaw Minifig:

“Hi my name is Nik Kershaw.

I used to be a famous pop star in the 1980s.

What made me famous was that I could write good pop songs and I was cute.

But then people stopped buying my records even though I could still write good pop songs and I was still cute.

It is now thirty something years later.

And I still make records.

But all my fans want to hear is my old hits from the 1980s.

So I have decided to become a Lego minifig of myself.

And using a stop motion app I have on my phone, remake all my old videos from the 1980s using Lego.

I think it is what all pop stars from the 80s should do.

Fans will love it.

And it keeps you busy.

And you never grow old.

If Prince were alive today, it is what he should be doing.

It is either that or the allotment.

I’ve got my own YouTube channel and everything.”

THE END

Post Script:

1984 meets 2020 at the New River Café is the title of the Post Script to the Forty Second Play The Nik Kershaw Minifig by Tenzing Scott Brown.

But this Post Script is written by one of Tenzing Scott Brown’s other selves – Bill Drummond

1984 meets 2020 at the New River Café

In 1984 I re-read the novel 1984 to compare and contrast.

In 1984 I was working as an A&R consultant for Warner Brothers / WEA / Warner Music. I was observing how the machinery worked.

One of the two great rivals of Warner Brothers / WEA / Warner Music was and probably still is Columbia / CBS / Sony Music. They had Michael Jackson, Warner Brothers / WEA / Warner Music only had Prince – something had to be done.

In June 1984 Purple Rain by Prince was to be released. For most of the previous twelve months Thriller by Michael Jackson had been at number one on the American album charts. By then Michael Jackson was already being talked about as the King of Pop. To my ears this sounded wrong – it did not alliterate. Elvis had been the King of Rock – that alliterated. The Prince of Pop would have alliterated but he was Michael Jackson and not Prince – so that would not work.

I was party to meetings where the marketing of the album Purple Rain was discussed. It was decided that Prince was to be marketed as a “genius”. The implication being that Prince was up there with Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, whereas Michael Jackson was only up there with Elvis and The Beatles.

In the 2020 world, informed by Black Lives Matter, how does the above paragraph read?

In the lower leagues of pop, Warner Brothers / WEA / Warner Music’s other great rival Decca / MCA / Universal were having hits with a boy called Nik Kershaw. Something had to be done, so Warner Brothers / WEA / Warner Music signed a boy called Howard Jones and started having hits with him.

Whereas I was having troubles with my own personal demons – these included the question – what to do with Echo & The Bunnymen? So I decided that their fourth album Ocean Rain should be marketed as “the greatest album ever made”. It wasn’t – that accolade belonged to Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by a rival Liverpool group.

Since Yesterday by Strawberry Switchblade was recorded and released in 1984. But that is another story belonging to the Post Script of another Forty Second Play.

On the 26th of August 1997 – when in Helsinki packaging and posting records featuring Kristina Bruuk, records released on the Kalevala label – I went to watch Michael Jackson play at the Olympiastadion. With me was one of my sons. He turned to me and told me, this was the best thing he had ever seen in his life. I did not tell him I thought it was over rehearsed, meaningless and empty. That it was not wild and uncontrollable like I want pop music to be.

One year later to the day…

On the 26th of August 1998, I went to watch Prince play at the Wembley Arena. I don’t know who I went with or why, or what they might have said to me. But I thought it was over rehearsed, meaningless and empty. That it was not wild and uncontrollable like what I want pop music to be.

Maybe it was too late in my life to know what I wanted pop music to be. Maybe like Billy Fury I should stick to the rural.

In 2020, during the lockdown months, I re-watched The Lego Movies 1 & 2 and The Lego Batman Movie. This was with my youngest son who was seven years old.

These films were made using a computer animated, stop motion technique.

These films are brilliant in so many ways.

My youngest son now has a stop motion app on his device.

He makes short stop motion films with his Lego minifigs. It’s easy – even I could do it.

As yet, he does not know who Michael Jackson or Prince were.

You do know what a Lego minifig is?

You do know what a stop motion film is?

As lockdown was being lifted one of my other sons alerted me to the fact that KLF fans were making Lego minifigs of The KLF and celebrating them via social media.

This is what they wanted.

They didn’t want Forty Second Plays.

You do know what The KLF is?

The mother of my youngest son and life partner for the past fifteen years was clearing out a cupboard. She found a scrapbook she made when she was around 10 years old. It was full of interviews with, and photographs of Nik Kershaw. Nik Kershaw was her favourite pop star at the time.

She then told me that in 1986 she took down, from her bedroom wall, a Smash Hits poster of Nik Kershaw. She was going to throw it away because now she was a teenager her tastes in pop stars had changed. But on the back of the poster she found there was a poster of Robert Smith from The Cure. She decided that Robert Smith from The Cure appealed more to her teenage taste in pop stars.

You do know what Smash Hits was?

She then told me she would rather watch a stop motion film made using Lego minifigs of Nik Kershaw’s video for The Riddle than listen to whatever his latest album might be – or watch a play written by him – even if it only lasted for 40 seconds.

On re-reading the emails from Nick Duerden I noted he referenced Nik Kershaw in passing. I also noted he did not mention Billy Fury in his farming days.

Instead of making stop motion films with Lego minifigs of all the old videos from my previous lives I write Forty Second Plays that might never be performed but only imagined. 

I wonder if a stop motion film could be made – using an app on my hand held device and my youngest son’s Lego minifigs – of the novel 1984 by George Orwell?