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jamie catto road-journal -- the second world tour after "1 giant leap" -- this time it's "2sides 2everything"

Friday, February 18, 2005


Paul Smith reports

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ron's Report VIII

Thursday 27 January 2005

Monday, January 24, 2005

Ron's Report VII

Monday 24 January 2005

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Ron's Report VI

Sunday, 23 January 2005

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Ron's Report V

Saturday, 22 January 2005

Friday, January 21, 2005

Ron's Report IV

Friday, 21 January 2005

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Ron's Report III

Thursday, 20 January 2005 New Orleans, LA

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Ron's Report II

Wednesday, 19 January 2005 New Orleans, LA

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ron Hudson fills in

Tuesday, 18 January 2005, Durham, North Carolina to New Orleans, Louisiana

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Dance of Opposites That Drives The Universe

Now I don’t want to make too big a deal of this Capoeira thing, it’s just that the working title of our film is ‘The Dance of Opposites That Drives The Universe’ and there can’t be very many more perfect examples of that dance than Capoeira, so when we planned to come to Brasil, I had visions of these guys acrobatically doing their thing, telling us their version of the dance of opposites, and basically handing me the metaphorical version of our theme on a silver platter. I’m not saying I had high expectations or anything.

After another scintillating battle with the infuriating cashpoint machines of Brasil, I arrived at the beach where we were to shoot the ‘other’ Capoeira players. They were not hard to find, just park up next to the gleaming, muscle-bound hunks of male perfection in their white tracksuit bottoms who were whirling and swooping by the sea. Hurrah! Now this was what we wanted! They guys were awesome. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect either. Old, rickety fishing boats lining the shoreline, and dusty café with old Bahian gentlemen hanging out smoking, little kids watching from atop shiny rocks, and glorious unspoiled beach complete with picturesque foaming waves. I had just one word to say ‘ACTION!’

We set the first camera up on top of the van to get a cool arial view, and rolled all four cameras at different angles to capture their ‘playing’. The two ‘leaders’ of the gang were just astounding. They could leap and land in an upside-down pose, they could whir their legs over each other’s heads back and forth til they were a blur. At one point, Ben took the place of one of them with the camera so it looked like they were sparring with the viewer. He cart wheeled the lens as they did the same, he turned back anti-clockwise or clockwise depending on their move and all the while the ‘player’ kept eye contact into the camera. It’s going to look mindblowing, especially on the big screen.

We really milked it, trying every kind of set-up we could think of, in two’s, on their own, above, below, silhouetted. I think we got it. They seemed genuinely delighted that we were so delighted and we parted on really cool terms. The whole thing only took an hour but I felt I got a real taste, albeit only one mouthful, of what the Brasilian Capoeira dance can deliver. It did make my body hurt just watching them bend and twist. My own back goes out if I reach for a banana unconsciously in my kitchen so seeing this display of strength and flexibility made me uplifted and a bit regretful in equal measure.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

All we really wanted was the acrobatic, crazy stuff

So now the gang’s all here. First Jessica and Lola Mae arrived Monday night from a marathon journey, Sydney to Salvador. I’m not even going to attempt to calculate how many hours Jessica must have been sitting in a cramped economy seat with Lola squirming and wriggling on her lap. Have done flights with Lola Mae before I know what a nightmare it can be just trying to eat for five minutes, let alone get any sleep. The concept of pins and needles in various limbs reaches a new dimension. Jessica still looked in good spirits and utterly beautiful as she approached from the baggage carousel, and Lola looked enormous perched in the handbag cradle of the trolley. When I picked her out of it she gazed at me half blankly, half remembering (I hadn’t seen her for nearly a month which amounts to about 10% of her whole life) and she continued to do so all the way to the house we were staying in. When we got there at midnight and were hanging out on the bed before lights out, she suddenly became hugely animated and hilarious, showing me all her new tricks like standing up and falling down, clapping, and throwing herself around. It was a real headache trying to get her to sleep. Where her body clock must be at right now is a mystery, London – Sydney – Brasil…

And yesterday India Rose arrived from London with a T-shirt on that said ‘Headfuck’ and dyed red hair. She’s nine by the way and it was a formal invitation to freak out and scold her mother long-distance, but I’ve matured over the years and these attempts to get my attention, I’ve learnt, are best ignored. It was a truly emotional reunion though and it reminded me of when her Mum had taken her to live in New Zealand when we split up and refused to come back. I only got to see her once or twice a year in those days and it was heavily charged meeting her in all those airports, running into each other’s arms and so on…I’ll spare you the scene.

Today was our first outing en mass since we were recording in Africa earlier this year. In the bustling downtown area of Salvador was a shabby building where the ‘more serious’ Capoeira school practiced. We had to weave Lola’s buggy through a really hectic market and honking, smoky streets to find it and then climb staircase after staircase before we heard the twanging birambau’s of the Capoeira musicians. We entered the gymnasium which had their posters all over the walls and instruments hanging up, and there was Duncan already miking them all up in different combinations as they sang and played. Capoeira is a kind of half dance, half martial art. They say they ‘play’ Capoeira. Indy was quite fascinated and I thought she was going to have a go. As we’re home-schooling her for this trip (she’s missing a term of school) we have to keep giving her tasks to find things out and educate her at every stop alongside her two hours a day actual ‘lesson’ time. So she was sent off to find out what their instruments were called, how you spelled them, and one or two things about Capoeira.

Meanwhile, we set up the shot over the grid-like floor to shoot them from above. When they got started, Duncan and I looked at each other and telepathically had the same moment. ‘These guys aren’t what we’re looking for’. I hesitate to say they weren’t very good. I mean, I’m certainly no judge of what constitutes good and bad Capoeira, but this seemed to look pretty tame and they didn’t seem to be really getting into it. Duncan was opting for packing it in right there and then and admitting to ourselves that we were as shallow as this school thought the beach Capoeira players were. All we really wanted was the acrobatic, crazy stuff, not the technical, more boring looking dancing. We persevered for a while, and who knows, maybe if we slowit down, or speed it up, it might get used (ungrateful?), but we did leave feeling disappointed and our fingers are firmly crossed for tomorrow’s beach session.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Capoeira and the family

I spent the whole of yesterday logging a six hour interview with Christopher Titmus, British meditation teacher, and every hour that went by I kept saying to myself, ‘OK, at the end of this tape I’ll stop and get something to eat’ but I just kept on going compulsively, tape after tape, never really glancing at the clock, and suddenly it was dark outside and I could hear the phone in my room faintly through my headphones. I got up, feeling a bit sick and it was Duncan wondering what we should do for dinner. Suddenly I felt starving and light-headed.

Today, however, I got myself together. Jessica and Lola were arriving tonight, and I was totally over-excited all day. We had a few production dilemmas like a choice between a very serious and high brow Capoeira group who were all about technique, and the more muscle bound acrobatic guys who did their thing on the beach. The former seemed to definitely look down on the latter, I think they said they thought they were show-offs who didn’t really embody the true spirit of Capoeira. I find that kind of nonsense really off-putting if I’m honest. Purists have got a lot to answer for in my book. Anyway, we decided to work with both.

We left for the airport early evening to pick up Jessica and our baby girl Lola Mae,

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Dona Flozinha and crazy tunes

Today, as we were flying to Salvador early evening, we were only scheduled to do one session. A favourite all girl band who sing and play percussion called Dona Flozinha. Once again, they’d found us a small theatre (or was it a rehearsal room?) to record in and we set up upstairs on a sumptuous, though tiny, powder blue balcony. I was really looking forward to sitting back and enjoying their crystal clear voices joining our tracks and that excited ‘this is going to sound amazing on the album’ look Duncan and I would give each other at such times. But once again, just as we were getting into it, Anna came up trumps again. Apparently there were some far out indigenous Indians from miles away who were doing a performance at the local museum. She had been on the phone to their representative and they had agreed to give us an interview and if there was time, a short performance of their music. There was quite a lot of umming and ahhing about whether we were really going to get anything usable as shooting an indigenous tribe in a modern museum would look…well…exactly like what it was, not particularly natural, and a bit ‘something for the tourists’, and there was also the factor that they were (rightly) asking a healthy sum of money.

We decided to split up and go for it. Me and Ben to the Museum, and Duncan and Joshua to stay where they were.

As we arrived at the museum, it was made clear to us that they had heavy restrictions about where we were allowed to film. The place was beautiful, full of a mixture of indigenous photos and exhibits, and bizarre pieces of modern art. Before we’d been there very long, the Indian who were doing a performance organised by some local anthropologists rolled up and began painting each others scarecly clothed bodies in various open places around the halls. It was quite an incongruous image, full on dangling ear lobes, red painted feet and chins, black hair matted down onto brows, all wandering around an ultra modern public bathroom covered in various hues of natural ochre and earth tones.

When they began they ritual singing performance in the hall where all the white people were waiting it was heartening to see the place so packed. If I wanted to be cynical I would say that the applause felt more like ‘well done for still existing’ more than ‘we’re really getting off on your crazy tunes’, but everyone seemed happy and respectful, and the kids were clearly fascinated.

Meanwhile, Duncan and Josh had arrived from the other session and were settingup on the auditorium stage next door. First we were going to interview their ‘vhief’ or spokesman, and then record and film a couple of chants with them. I was p;articularly looking forward to the guy with the elongated gourd which boomed a thick bass note all around. Strangely, halfway through the interview, which, by the way, was incredible and the guy was so expressive with his hands and eyes I almost don’t want to translate it, soon one of the anthropologists, a stiff, middle class white woman in over-neat attire and hair-do started interrupting from behind, telling us in Portugese that we had to interview her and her colleague about how it was them who really understood this culture and how their work was what had resulted in the tribe being here today. Unbelievable vanity. At the end of the interview, when we were about to shoot the chants and were all set up and ready, with only 15 minutes before the museum was closing, the other anthropologist, a very similar woman, told us that the tribe were now unavailable as she needed them to be in the hall selling their necklaces. It was about to get heated. Somehow, by promising to interview them at the end they seemed to get faintly more flexible.

The Indian guy we spoke to spoke no English but his twinkling and gesturing was intense and almost communication enough. He seemed to be half playing and laughing and half deadly serious. It wasn’t only the language barrier than made him hard to work out.

In true Jamie and Duncan style we raced to the airport straight from the session, screeching to a halt as we pulled out of the museum when someone noticed one of the camera bags still sitting on the tarmac in the car park.

We were met by our cool young film-maker fixer, Dani, in Salvador airport, and we got to the hotel to find it a booming party place where you could barely hear the receptionist at check in for the thumping bass and distorted microphone where the mc was getting a party going. I admit I was feeling a bit frazzled and somehow got it into my head that I had to get online that very minute. The connection in my room didn’t work (even though it turned out later that I’d been plugging it in wrong, surprise surprise!) and I ended up at 3am in the dusty little office behind the reception desk using their computer and wondering what on earth I thought I was doing.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Brahma Kumaris

We were a merry crew setting off for the airport to fly to Sao Paolo this morning. There was no doubt that Rio had been more than victorious and we even managed to slip I one extra interview with our driver on the way to the airport. He used to be a drug cop here in Brasil but was dismissed after he shot four people and one of them was just a bystander. He told us how he’d become totally immune to death. He kept a loaded gun with him at all times and said it wasn’t until he had grandchildren that his heart opened again and he felt love. Jessica had had amazing chats with a driver in Australia this week and had told me that we have to interview all our drivers on this trip. It’s true that they do seem to have the most amazing stories. Driving and being a roady seems to be the modern version of the Foreign Legion. You know what they say; ‘roady to forget’.

At the airport we were taking bets again for how hard they were going to sting us for our bags. Including Junno, Shanti and Anna there were countless bags going through and I thought the guy wasn’t adding it up. I was wrong. Once again we were 50 or 60kg over and we braced ourselves for the bad news. Shanti was smiling sweetly at him in a transparent attempt to win him over. He hit us for 50R which about £10. Caramaba!

I can’t wait for everyone to see the next session we did. After an endless drive through Sao Paolo Airport to the theatre where we were meeting the ‘body percussion group’, and I mean endless, miles and miles of identical, downtown-L.A. looking metropolis, unrelentingly grey and muggy, we finally unloaded in the small modern building and the twelve artists showed us their stuff. The squeaked, thumped, croaked and were just fantastic, and of course, as usual, guess who had to leave early to get to an interview?

Anna had set up an appointment with one of Sao Paolo’s most successful advertising agency heads, a woman called Cristina who was very famous for her radical, progressive views about the media and also a great Mum. Unfortunately, without Bernardo or Joshua, Ben had tried to run Anna through the sound monitoring on the Hi Def camera for the session and the information had clearly not gone in. They showed us to a very corporate meeting room to set up and suddenly it was Anna and Shanti, the keystone cops, trying to fiddle with every switch and button to get the sound to come through the clip mike. I was tired and frustrated and had to consciously make myself get it together to be cool for when the lady arrived to be interviewed. I decided to just wait in another area of the place until they told me it was sorted and made a mental note to get Ben to teach me the sound set up on these new cameras so I don’t need to rely on anyone ever again in these situations.

They got it together pretty soon.

Then this really cool looking woman walked in and kissed us all warmly. When Anna first told me about this interview I was hoping for a really arrogant Ad Exec who could be a villain for the film, boasting about how easy it was to manipulate people into buying a whole load of shit they don’t need. But no matter how many times I’ve been asking our guys to find us dodgy people in every location, but maybe it’s just the 1 Giant Leap karma, I’m looking for villains, and all I’m getting is angels.

Everything she expressed was so heartfelt. Whether she was talking about her kids, the perversion of the media, her unhappy childhood, she was so sincere I was really moved. Then she started talking about when she used to get panic attacks after having done an Aiawasca , something that I myself have had extreme suffering through over the last 15 years, since I had a monstrously bad acid trip. She said that she’d had the experience that she didn’t dare sleep a night in a bed that wasn’t her own, couldn’t travel without her husband being with her, and once again, it was an exact mirror of my own experience in my twenties. For me it had become a very real problem to go off touring with the various bands I’d played with, as I would melt down when I’d awake in the middle of the night, racing and wired, and find myself somewhere alien. She said that she received a random email from an organisation called the Brahma Kumaris, an Indian group of nuns who had centres all over the world, and they’d invited her to come and be part of a conference there. Somehow, even though she had been routinely turning down requests to even talk in Rio, 40 minutes away, she felt she wanted to accept this invitation and she was rewarded by finding God there, who loved her, and who she finally realised she deserved to be in the company of. The hair on my arms was standing on end. Not only because she was so vulnerable and beautiful as she spoke, but though the Brahma Kumaris are quite an obscure group, not particularly well known, I myself have a particular connection to them through my Mother-in-law, Lynne. Jess’s Mum has been an periphery member of the sect for years and I’ve even talked at a couple of their conferences. When I asked if Dadi Jankti was there, the ‘Mother Superior’ of the organisation, her eyes nearly popped out of her head. When I asked if she’d met a woman called Lynne there who used to be in PR, she nearly fell off her chair, and raced to her office to bring me Lynne’s book, ‘SEED’ about the ethical way to do business. Apparently it had been a conversation with Lynne in India that had spurred her on to cut her ties with the old-school of media and advertising and now only take clients who were promoting healthy values.

There had been so much synchronicity with her that I was flying and she took me to her other conference room to meet her staff and show me a really moving video about parents of slain soldiers and kids in Israel and Palestine who had got together to begin a renewed peace movement. Her P.A. brought out chocolates and soft drinks, and it was only when I got a phone call to tell me Joshua was stranded at the Airport two hours away that we had to reluctantly take our leave. That and the splitting headache I had from having forgotten to eat today (oops).

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Dreaming of waterfalls

There’s a peculiar kind of anxiety I’m experiencing when my daily 40 emails start downloading. I’ve been having so much correspondence with America, trying to get through the armies of agents, publicists and management that surround everyone we want to interview or make music with, that when those emails start arriving I’m anxious we’re going to get bad news. Not today though! Two timely victories arrived in my inbox this morning. A ‘Yes’ and a date and time from both Noam Chomsky and Neale Donald Walsh.

We had an acoustic guitar session this morning and our long awaited string section this afternoon, but what I want to talk about are the interviews.

First, I was taken to see a Shaman woman who lived in a very poor neighbourhood in a simple little flat down an alleyway with the loudest barking dogs you ever heard. As I walked by their side door it was as if they were laying in wait for me and the explosion of barking made me jump out of my skin, much to the amusement of Anna, who by the way, has been coming up trumps again and again with her interview suggestions and escorting me everywhere to translate. I should perhaps also mention that she’s the most flagrantly dangerous driver in Brasil. She calls it multi-tasking with the phone in one hand, her diary in the other, drifting from lane to lane unconsciously as horns blare and constantly jerking us back into the correct lane just in time to avoid flattening some poor kid selling street-wares. Our second camera Bernardo and I have often exchanged frightened looks as another poor soul barely escapes with his life, let alone our own precious skins.

So we were admitted to the Shaman lady’s house which was half inside and half outside, up on the steep hill that the famous Jesus statue stands on, and she emerged from the stairway, a little round lady with a heart-melting grin and eyes which looked in opposite directions. I had thought about trying to cancel this interview as I’m finding it exhausting doing these chats with a translator. The whole point of the exercise for me is the one on one vibe I get on with these people, the energy exchange, eye to eye. But with a translator I often feel I’m just reeling off a bunch of pre-set questions, just like the kinds of journalists I hate being interviewed by myself, and the process even gets quite boring at times. But not this time.

The interview itself was interesting. She comes from yet another strand of the Candomble religion, from Santo Diyme Church, where Duncan drank the hallucinogenic tea last time he was here. The mad thing is, which is one of the main things I wanted to interview her about, that they even give it to the kids of their communities. I asked her why. I said that people in London would be quite shocked that kids were given what Londoners would see as a heavy drug. She didn’t elucidate much on it though. She just said the tea is there to bind the body and spirit closer and stronger, so it’s good for kids. And that was it. Fair enough. I couldn’t think of anything else to ask about it after she said that so we moved on. The interview was all from a spiritual perspective, very pure answers. She certainly wouldn’t be drawn on what was wrong with society or anything. There wasn’t a judgemental bone in her body, she just kept bringing it back to spirit. Then out of the blue she started talking directly to me and Anna had to keep up to translate. She said our project was very important for the world and that even though we didn’t realise it we were doing God’s work. She said many people were going to feel healing and clarity when we saw our work and that now she understood why she felt she had to do this interview where before she’d always refused to do any. This was her first one.

We got back to the final questions.

Then at the end she started to talk directly to me again. I say directly because I really felt a directness. I don’t usually feel much fro spiritual types, something that’s always been a bit disappointing in my line of work, but she was really moving. She told me that in a past life I used to be a deeply suffering little child. That I was diseased and abused and experienced terrible suffering. I was nearly in tears when she was telling me this. Then half way through a sentence she shook her head strangely and stopped. The guides, she said, had told her not to tell me any more, to stop there. She told me to take off my clothes and lie down on her bench. She rubbed oil into me and pinched me and chatted away in Portuguese. She told me, through Anna, that I had a strong spirit and a beautiful soul and all kinds of positive stuff. Then she said I needed to be more patient and when I go to sleep I should think about waterfalls.

I totally tranced out when she was working on me and came round feeling very chilled like I had been asleep for a whole night.

As we were driving off, Anna remembered that there was a really progressive Rabbi her Dad knew that had written all these books about the Kabala and science and stuff, and by some stroke of luck he agreed to see us right away. We drove up his guarded drive and were admitted by a very shy looking maid. We sat in his garden as it grew dark while he finished a meeting he was having about tomorrow night’s music for Friday night service, and then we set up in his office for a chat. He was great. Totally comfortable talking in sound bites. Honest and vulnerable, he had no problem when I asked him what his biggest temptation was. One thing I loved when we were talking about marriage was him saying “every man is looking to marry a woman who is exactly the right percentage his mother, and exactly the right percentage not his mother.” That’ll be in for sure!

I don’t know if it was because I was having a spiritual kind of day, which has been rare for me these days, but at the end I asked him to give us his blessing. He did so beautifully, saying as you travel out, far beyond places you know, may they all bring you back to yourself. And then he blessed us in Hebrew too and once again today, I felt quite emotional.

Said goodbye and thanks to Bernardo at the hotel, he’s been great, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him. Sao Paolo tomorrow. Four more nights before Jessica and Lola arrive, and five more before Hud and Indy. I’ll sleep well tonight I reckon. Dreaming of waterfalls.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

harmonica, flute and percussion session

Another early start. The phone rang next to my head and waking me from a sweaty dream about scrabbling to find imaginary Hotel expenses for the Company in London. A textbook anxiety dream which comes from having to account so specifically for every penny we spend. I remember clicking on file after file on my laptop but having forgotten to organize which Hotels were where in each country.

A friend of Shanti’s Mum had lent us a top floor penthouse apartment for today’s harmonica, flute and percussion session so I rolled out of bed and into yesterday’s clothes for the ride to the block where we were greeted by a maid in uniform and an over-excited dog. The place was full of the lady’s paintings, all over the walls and leaning up against each other in corners and against tables. When she arrived herself to greet us I pointed out a picture that I thought was really wonderful, and true to the charming Jamie we all know and love, I’d pointed out the one piece in the whole place which hadn’t been painted by her, but a close friend. Oops.

There were sculptures in her roof garden and we set the first shot up to frame the harmonic player through the metal arms of an elongated flautist. As we nailed the melody and framed both cameras to perfection, once again, the system kept crashing. Poor Duncan looked so perplexed. It’s enough to deal with just running these recordings and mixing and sorting as we go, but to constantly switch systems for these random, unexplainable problems, is it the RAM of the computer? the mixer? the ghost in the machine? It’s exhausting to add this continuous bug to the mix of stuff we need to get through. Finally we switched to the Roland box and were safely laying down the parts again. The track is sounding fantastic. It feels so great when you constantly get that rush of ‘this is so good’ every time it plays back, and now having joined the flute and harmonica riffs together it’s beginning to sound like a classic film score you’ve never heard before.

Shanti cooked a great lunch at the apartment with the lady who was hosting us and we all sat round a large table like a family with cameras flashing us in two’s and threes to remember the occasion. Anna arrived with her 10 yr old boy Nicki who I was to interview later, and Shanti’s Dad arrived to play some percussion too. He was on Peter Gabriel’s ‘Passion’ album and slotted right into the groove without hesitation. Shanti was very proud to say the least.

I had to leave earlier than I wanted to to do yet more interviews at Anna’s father’s house. First was little Nicki who appropriately had an inflatable planet earth on his knee. He must have been a bit intimidated by the cameras, and me too probably (fair enough) because he was reluctant to answer very many questions, even when his Mum took over the asking. The strange thing was that he gave the impression that he did actually have insights and views on the subjects, he just wasn’t ready to share them with us.

The next two interviews were kind of fun with Anna’s Dad and an old friend of his. They expressed themselves passionately but as the friend only spoke Portuguese, I’ll once again have to wait for the translations to know exactly what she said. I’m in two minds about this new development. In the last film nearly all, if not all our interviews were conducted in English and a flow happened between me and the subject that yielded something unique. Now of course I don’t want to limit our film to only English speakers, that would be silly, and there’s definitely something musical about the sonic quality of different tongues, but I still prefer the process of an intimate chat with someone that I can get to know, read and dance with as we talk, rather than just running through a list of topics like an indiscriminate scoop.