Making A Fool’s Leap

Sometimes you share in an extra-special gathering that, even just a few days later, leaves you wondering ‘did that really happen?’ Such was the case with the Super Weird Substance Record Store Day event that was held at Dry Bar in Manchester last Saturday.

It did happen – a magical coming together of people in a significant space and on a significant day, where we paid our respects to the vinyl record, and how this has helped shape the lives of so many. Whilst looking back on the one hand, to those behind it the whole event was all about moving forward – onwards and upwards into our new Super Weird adventure (Kermit Leveridge & EVM128’s Blind Arcade providing our flagship project).

The Blind Arcade live dates will come later down the line, the focus of the Dry event being a poem Kermit had written that harked back to his heroin addiction, which nearly led to his mortal demise in the ’90s when, as a member of the chart-topping group Black Grape (including Shaun Ryder & Bez, formerly of the Happy Mondays), he injected himself with a dirty needle and ended up at death’s door with septicemia. As I wrote in the recent pre-event blog post, ‘Looking Back Moving On’;

the infection causing serious damage when a ball of bacteria ripped off one of his heart valves, resulting in a major operation a few years ago, which, thankfully, was successful in repairing the damage, giving him a new lease of life. Back from the brink, Kermit’s is a tale of redemption – his life now completely turned around with the birth of his daughter, Xian, just a few weeks ago.

'Lies And Other Fools' Artwork

The poem, ‘Lies And Other Fools’, was narrated by Kermit’s friend, the author and former international dope smuggler, Howard Marks. It’s a powerful cathartic statement that draws a line under this grimy past, enabling Kermit to move on with the positive life-affirming approach of Blind Arcade. With artist Mal Earl onboard to illustrate the poem for a comic book version, which we hope will be published later in the year, we decided to press ‘Lies And Other Fools’ onto a one-sided 7” vinyl release for the annual Record Store Day celebrations, complete with Mal’s artwork.

The whole thing was rich with symbolism. Pressing a poem onto a single sided limited run 7” wasn’t what you might call a commercial decision – there was no money to be made out of this foolishness, in fact the opposite, there was a toll to be paid. But this was as it should be, for the whole point was to mark a moment in time, from where we can collectively celebrate what went before, whilst, at the same time, setting sail on a whole new odyssey.

The original idea was to have Howard and Kermit make a personal appearance on RSD at Piccadilly Records, one of the UK’s best-loved vinyl stockists, with Howard giving a reading. However, we were a bit late in approaching them, and they weren’t able to accommodate our plan. We thought of other record shop options in other cities, and discussed the possibilities with the record’s distributer, Prime Direct, but that just didn’t feel right given that Manchester is Kermit’s hometown.

Another plan was required, and what transpired was so much more than we ever hoped for, taking the whole idea onto a new plateau. It occurred to me that Dry Bar was literally across the road from Piccadilly Records, and that this would provide the perfect setting for an event on RSD in Manchester (or as we’d later refer to it, using the old ’60s jargon, a Happening).

Dry connects directly back to The Haçienda, for it was the owners of the hallowed Manchester club (who also owned Factory Records) who opened the bar in 1989 (its 25th anniversary just happening to fall this year). Dry was even assigned a Factory Records catalogue number, FAC201 (The Hacienda itself being FAC51). It was somewhere Kermit spent a lot of time, as I did myself in the early 1990s when my Murdertone office, set up to look after the Ruthless Rap Assassins (of which Kermit was then a member) was located in Manchester.

So, as you see, for both Kermit and I, Dry has a deep historical context, providing a ideal space to play out our aim of re-connecting with the past – ‘Lies And Other Fools’ our ‘offering to the vinyl ancestors’.

What I didn’t realize until the actual day was that Howard has a hugely significant personal connection to Dry. During our taxi ride from the train station to venue we chatted about his previous associations with the city, and I was taken aback to hear that, after his release from US custody, following a 7 year incarceration, and the 1997 publication of his soon-to-be bestseller, ‘Mr Nice’, Howard presented his first book reading session at, you guessed it, Dry. Uncanny!

Super Weird Substance 03

Whilst the initial plan revolved purely around presenting ‘Lies And Other Fools’ at Piccadilly via perhaps a 10 minute long personal appearance by Howard & Kermit, followed by some record signings, doing something at Dry would need to be more substantial in its scope. I’m currently in the process of setting up Super Weird Substance, a multi-media label that will release music by, and coordinate live appearances for Blind Arcade, amongst others. The name lent itself perfectly to a vinyl celebration, and RSD seemed an auspicious day on which to launch a new music company – that past / future balance once again in harmony.

The stars also seemed to be aligning. The following is taken from Michelle Karen’s Astrology Report for April 2014:

April is an eclipse month. Eclipse months are always exciting in that they bring major changes, often irrevocable. They are stepping stones into a new reality that will, within a month, completely replace the old one, leading to new tracks operational for the following 19 years. A sense of acceleration and intensity accompanies these dates on which nothing we don’t fully mean, should be said.

Record Store Day also fell during Easter, with its themes of birth, death and resurrection. Synchronicity was running riot, whichever way I looked at things.

I decided to approach Neil Scott, a Manchester DJ / promoter who has booked me for his El Diablo’s parties on numerous occasions, to see if he’d be up for getting involved and lending his expertise, which, thankfully, he was. We set on 2pm until 8pm as our timeframe, and approached Dry with the idea. Again, thankfully, they were into it too. It was all-systems go!

The event would be built around the DJs, all of whom are associated with what we’re doing in one way or another. As is only right on such a day, they’d be playing strictly vinyl. These were, in order of appearance Organic Gav, EVM128, Walter Ego, Derek Kaye and myself. Organic Gav would also return between Derek and I as selector to Kermit’s MC. They all would come to play their roles impeccably, the first half of the event chilled and full of good vibes, the second half bouncing and full of good vibes. We had the full yin yang going on.

Although the DJs underpinned the day, what enabled us to present this as a ‘Happening’ were the other things taking place in the room.

As you walked into Dry, to your left hand side the artist SLM (aka Sarah Lynn Mayhew) was painting portraits of Kermit and Howard (of which she’ll be offering up prints later down the line). Near the DJ booth Ross & Harri from Loco had come across from Leeds to muck in, projecting and manipulating moving images I’d compiled for Reels Of Steel with Tim Collins (I’m looking forward to working with Ross & Harri at the 2020 party in London, when we’ll be presenting Reels Of Steel as a full cubic visual spectacular). Moving past the DJ booth, through to the back of the room, Tim was manning a 2nd projector, whilst a listening area had been set up with Elspeth Moore, Lois Meads and Liam Atherton taking shots throughout the day of people checking out ‘Lies And Other Fools’ over headphones, played from the 7” vinyl, of course.

These were the unsung heroes and heroines of the day, not least Elspeth, Kermit’s sometimes collaborator and muse, who brought her red and white polka dot vibes into play in superfine style, constantly being in 2 places at once, be it offering you cake, badges, key rings, photos, or behind the lens of her camera, capturing the moment in her own perspicacious style.

It was a proper team effort – taking his Organic hat off, Gavin Kendrick also played a vital role in both the organization on the day and in the run-up. Scott Harcourt Whiting and James ‘Windy’ Millar provided a couple of much-needed extra pairs of hands, whilst Tracey Carmen and Nyasha Mangera-Lakew were enjoying the day, having helped during the build-up. Unable to make the event, Dan Smith and Dominic Mandrell went beyond the call of duty on the design front, whilst John McCready helped us get the word out, and provided the literary inspiration via his recommendation of the 2012 John Higgs book ‘The KLF: Chaos, Magic And The Band Who Burned A Million Pounds’ (which has since been eagerly devoured by a number of us).

When, having already acquired Kermit and Howard’s autographs, somebody came up to me on the day and asked me to sign a copy of a record he’d just picked up down the road in Vinyl Exchange, you can imagine my shock (although, given the amount of coincidences that had been stacking up it was hardly a surprise) when, rather than pulling a copy of ‘Lies And Other Fools’ from his bag, he asked me, without explanation, to put my scribe across a record sleeve I haven’t seen in 20 years, The KLF’s 1991 single, ‘Justified And Ancient’. Also (for those who’ve read the John Higgs book), Echo made a brief appearance outside of Dry at the end of the night, and we locked eyes for a few seconds before he hopped off into the Manchester night (it was Easter though, so nobody else noticed anything unusual).

There turned out to be another major point of interest at the far end of venue, Kermit’s beautiful baby girl Xian, not even a month old, who’d been brought along by mum, Amanda Moonbeam. Needless to say she caused quite a stir by her very presence.

From the laid back good time feel of the afternoon, proceedings gained pace as the evening drew in. After Kermit and OG had roused the room, Howard got up to say a few words, telling the story of his Dry connection. Just to have Howard there with us was enough – he was so gracious throughout the day, happily chatting to people and signing whatever was put in front of him – Nice by name nice by nature.

I’m blown away by the fact that Howard experienced one of the key British countercultural moments, almost half a century ago, in June 1965, when, as a young man in his late teens he attended The International Poetry Incarnation at London’s Royal Albert Hall (featuring the great Allen Ginsberg, the highlight being Adrian Mitchell’s pointed comment on the then escalating Vietnam War, ‘To Whom It May Concern’). Now, here he was, stepping into our world via his narration of a poem, and thus evoking, at least in me, the spirit of a different age – an increasingly lost age in this corporate world, but not on that Easter Saturday in Manchester. The possibilities are still there – it’s all a case of being open to them.

The day was all about connections and re-connections, spanning from the ’60s through to now, with particular emphasis on Manchester’s golden years of the ’80s. There was pure history in that room, from major players to cult figures – all around me people who hadn’t seen each other in years, even decades, were reunited under the banner of Super Weird Substance. When we asked for the blessings of the ancestors it was exactly this type of congregation we’d have hoped might gather. The fact they did feeds our belief that we’re on the right track, and that we’ve made a propitious start to our journey – the wheels having been set in motion with the type of fool’s leap Alan Moore had described;

Quitting my day job and starting my life as a writer was a tremendous risk. It was a fool’s leap, a shot in the dark, but anything of any value in our lives – whether that be a career, a work of art, a relationship – will always start with such a leap. And in order to be able to make it you have to put aside the fear of failing and the desire of succeeding.

After Howard had spoken, we were treated to what for many was the highlight of the day, when Katherine & Carmel Reynolds delivered a stunning live jam, singing over the top of a handful of tracks including Derek Kaye’s edit of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’, and my edit of an old Manchester cult-classic, T-Coy’s ‘Carino’. Katherine & Carmel will make their own vinyl debut in the month ahead, featuring on my upcoming Schooled In The Classics release, soon to be made available on 12”, whilst also doing their thing on a number of Super Weird Substance / Blind Arcade recordings. These girls are, quite simply, a vocal force of nature – I’m in awe of them, as are many others judging from the reaction at Dry where they brought the house down. What some people wouldn’t have realized is that this wasn’t a meticulously rehearsed routine, as they might have expected given the quality of the performance, but something that the twins pretty much made up as they went along. All I can say is watch this space.

As I brought proceedings to an end I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to give away all the records I’d played that day (plus a few I hadn’t) – it just happened on the spare of the moment. It would be disingenuous to paint this as some grand altruistic gesture, for, being mostly my own edits or mixes, I have duplicate copies of these records at home. However, there was something, once again, symbolic in this spontaneous action, reinforcing the intention to make an offering as we take that leap of faith.

It also felt good to pass something on to this room full of people who’d decided to come and share the day with us – to come to a party we’d, in effect, thrown for ourselves, friends and family. All were invited and new friendships are already being forged between previously disconnected groups of people who met on the day – it was that type of communal vibe, and I can’t stress how precious this is when it comes along. It really marked a moment, which is exactly what we’d hoped to do – the success of this, our first Happening, surpassing all of our expectations.

The next phase, the mixtape ‘Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance In The Morphogenetic Field’, cometh soon.

Super Weird Substance:

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26 Responses to Making A Fool’s Leap

  1. Gavin Kendrick April 25, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    Brilliant day, took me most of the following week to recover… synchronicities abound and great vibes throughout!

  2. kermit leveridge April 25, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    A most excellent day and the beginning of a exciting journey …….join us…its a strange world…..lets keep it like that

  3. TC April 25, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    New beginnings shared with friends, old and new. A great day.

  4. SLM April 25, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    I had a fantastic time painting live amid such a wonderful atmosphere. An awesome day. Love, Creativity, Synchronicity permeated the air with a real buzz. I got into the flow splashing colour to the music, feeling the vibe and putting it down as part of Kermit’s and Howard’s portraits. The day was so much more – a meeting of many minds, and of many beautiful people. As for synchronicity; back in 89 as student I worked for the Hacienda. I was the machinist, making banners, the flag and funnily enough the covers for the first sofas in Dry. This was a most special day, humbled to be a part of. Thanks to all xxx Yes a great beginning

  5. NML April 25, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    It was a rich and wonderful day. The warmth and energy of the atmosphere truly reflected the spirit of the Super Weird adventure. I look forward to many more events like it in the future.

  6. Scott Harcourt Whiting April 25, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    Thanks for a fantastic day Greg and co. It was great to play a part in such an energetic event! There was o much to take in. Personally, I wish I’d spent more time watching SLM Art create her amazing portraits of Howard and Kermit
    The music was awesome, as was the venue. I myself visited Dry Bar soon after its opening in ’89 before ending up in the Hacienda.
    I look forward to Blind Arcade Mixtape Day with great anticipation

  7. Katherine Reynolds April 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    The whole day still seems so surreal to me, the vibe was electric whether sat down, dancing on the stage, or queuing up for a drink. Sun was shining inside and outside, don’t think the day could have gone any better, and I so look forward to seeing more to come!

  8. EVM128 April 25, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    WOW! What a trip! We had a blast! Vibes on that day were really on point. Thanks for all the efforts from everyone involved, and shouts to Dry Bar for having us! Already looking forward to more and can’t wait to launch Blind Arcade! p.s SLM, your artwork was out of this world!

  9. EVM128 April 25, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

    p.s Thanks for the book Greg!

  10. Mal Earl April 25, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

    If only you knew the frustration of not being able to be there, guys!
    But it was obviously a resounding success for Howard and K… And that’s the main thing – a new beginning.
    I’ve only known Kermit a short time, but he is a force of nature – a creative whirlwind that has the capacity to drag you in with its enthusiasm and drive!
    I’m not sure why, or how, I see the visions that Kermit has with such clarity… All I know is, that somewhere in the spaces between here and there, something special happens!
    It’s possibly akin to magic… Who knows – all I’ll say is…
    Get ready for something very special when Lies is completed in the Autumn…
    I sense good things from this new beginning! x

  11. Ian Tilton April 26, 2014 at 3:34 am #

    It was a wonderful day. Thanks so much, Greg xx

  12. dommandrell April 26, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    I was never born in Manchester but I consider myself an honorary Mancunian. My formative years were in the city. Even though I now live in London the culture of Manchester still resonates deeply with me and its always refreshing to come back and reconnect with the place. Luckily, having family here means I still get to do this regularly. Part of the appeal for me is just how deeply music runs through the cities DNA. People here are passionate about what they listen to and dedicate themselves to bands, record shops, club nights and artists like no other city I know. great music is a birth right, the music you listen to here helps define who you are. There is a reason this city has has produced more zeitgeist bands than any other in the UK – its uniquely talented and musically passionate people and Kermit follows in that grand tradition. So seeing your observations about how this night looked and felt is not a suprise to me Greg. Its what Manchester is so good at. Its why its a city that can build such vibrant scenes. Gutted I couldn’t make this one – but I was very much there in spirit.

  13. andy wright April 26, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    great read!i must add it was JUSTIFIED AND ANCIENT single you signed yer bugger…..and it was from vinyl exchange…..il let you off……that steve mason remix ls wicked by the way..really good……was a lovely suprise for me and me brother bumping into you,kermit and mr marks!it all haappened so quick and coincidently….my only regret is not bringing my 10 week old daughter…as getting a photograph of the biggest drug baron in britain holding her would have just topped of the weirdnes!come play stoke again this summer?x

  14. greg wilson April 27, 2014 at 1:56 am #

    Hi andy wright: of course, it all comes flooding back – I remember signing over the ice cream van. The piece will be amended accordingly.

  15. Elspeth Mary Moore April 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    Is it really a week (and a day) since The Dry Bar experience!? It was worth every bit of planning and sticking, baking, printing, meetings and emails. Such a great vibe esp towards the end when you couldn’t move for happy dancey people.

    Watching and photographing folk listen to “Lies and Other Fools” 7″ single, such different expressions and opinions afterwards, “It scared me a bit” “WOW! I didn’t expect it to be like that!” “Well that was deep, I loved it though, where do I buy a copy?” “I’ve never really listened to poetry before, If it’s like that I’ll listen to more!”
    The next part of the adventure coming up as the Mix Tape I can’t wait for… believe me it’s going to be Blind Arcadetastic!

  16. Chebbo April 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    Great to hear the event went so well… Great article Greg

  17. gay traitor April 27, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    gutted to have missed it. glad the book is in the water. sounds like an amazing day. just read a book about deaf school in which signing to warners in america is significant for them due to the company being bankrolled by bugs bunny. echo is everywhere! signing off at 21. 31

  18. Neil Diablo April 28, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    what a great day! ace vibe and very proud to have been apart of it x

  19. Amanda Moonbeam April 28, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Xian and I had a fantastic time – we were overwhelmed with love and pride..xx

  20. John Marsden April 28, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    Was an awesome day loads of absolutely beautiful and amazing people all day long I was in awe of the tremendous people and the day was one of my favourite experiences for many many years…There aren’t enough words to describe it or how great the day was…everybody involved did a fantastic job making it an amazing brilliant unforgettable experience. .I’m so happy to say me and my brother was there and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole day
    Cannot wait for the future
    Especially Blind arcade

  21. Ross Muir April 29, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    A wicked day out all around, it was great to be apart of such a memorable and historic occasion right from the start.! Big thanks to everyone we met that day…

  22. James lee Marsden April 29, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Amazing day, so glad to have been a part of it, enjoyed the dry bar setting, the poem, the paintings etc and got to rub shoulders with some genuine celebrity’s, loved it.

    Thanks to everyone who was involved.

  23. Meeko May 1, 2014 at 12:47 am #

    What a beautiful article…….sounds like a mystical experience all round and a very special day indeed. Well done Greg and Crew

  24. EmmaB May 1, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    fab event that had everyone smiling at each other like we had all known each other for years, but then i guess thats the power of such funky tunage!!

  25. Lois Meads May 2, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    Loved every minute of being involved in such a special event. Seeing peoples reactions and being able to capture that through photography was a great experience for me. The vibe on the day was something quite special, awesome sounds, awesome people! Seeing SLM doing her thing quite literally blew me away, her artwork is out of this world.. Thanks guys, I had a blast. Much Love & respect.

  26. Adrian Luvdup May 16, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    Gutted I missed this… Really, really wanted to attend but I was in Leeds on RSD as I had a gig later on at the Warehouse. Sounds like I missed a corker…

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