Sunday, 28 June 2020

Spec-ulation

Here's an update of sorts. If you follow me on Twitter, you're likely to know this already, but I wanted to put something up on the blog itself for anyone who might have missed it, or who makes their way here by another route.

I always call the Specs blog my 'cultural diary'. Because of my enthusiasm for all matters musical, write-ups of concerts, operas and CDs dominate - overwhelmingly so, I would say - with occasional playlists thrown in to reflect my current listening obsessions. But seasoned visitors (thank you, darlings, thank you) may also recall those posts recording my responses to art exhibitions rather than gigs, or where I 'show' some of my own photography. I freely admit it's a bit all over the place, but then so am I.

Along the way, I've had the privilege of meeting and befriending fellow bloggers, and contributing to their own sites. I had a few articles published on the Rocking Vicar website, and contributed to two of the Thirty-three and a Nerd podcasts (both now, I believe, on hiatus or laid to rest). More recently, I've appeared on Jon Jacob's superb Thoroughly Good podcast, and my most consistent online 'holiday homes' have been Frances Wilson's ace websites, the Cross-Eyed Pianist and ArtMuseLondon.

So here is my bit of news: after a number of these guest appearances, Fran invited me to join the writing team at ArtMuseLondon. I was delighted to accept, and - let me be honest - be accepted. 'Acceptance' is a big part of this for me, as writing an amateur blog, however pleasurable, is quite an insular, solitary occupation. It makes a world of difference to me that I will be one of a proper crew, made up of other writers whose work I've enjoyed and admired for some time. I'm thrilled to be in their company.


My first post on ArtMuseLondon as a 'staffer' is a feature about the sublime online concert given by classical guitarist Xuefei Yang as part of the Melbourne Guitar Festival, and how it encapsulated the 'lockdown listening' experience. If you'd like to check that out directly, it's here - and please stay on the site and have a good look round. I hope to see you there regularly.

While the practicalities may still be similar - I write a piece and it appears on website A instead of website B - the move means a great deal: the opportunity to be read more widely; to grow as a writer through more direct inspiration from colleagues; to keep my individuality while contributing to a greater whole. Wonderful.

It's also prompted a period of reflection for me about Specs. Certainly, it's staying put for the foreseeable future. Ultimately, it's my archive: my ArtMuseLondon articles will arrive here after a decent interval, for the research student pursuing a topic so unimaginably niche, they need to find all my stuff in one place. And I will still be posting playlists and photography (once lockdown is fully lifted and I can take a portrait from less than 2 metres away...). But I imagine it will mutate a little over time and become something even looser and more random than it is already. Perhaps lighter on text and more focused on sound and vision: who knows?

And finally...

Please don't forget my other blog, Support Action. If you haven't come across this already, please take a look here. When it became apparent that so many artists would be without live work during the outbreak, I set up a site posting recordings by musicians (all genres) affected by cancellations. It's deliberately low-key - hardly any chatter from me, so people can flit around it quickly and easily without distraction. For every entry, I give a description of two lines or so, an image, a video snapshot of some content, and a link to buy the disc or download from the closest source: so, not *ahem*azon or *cough*ify, but the record label, artists themselves, or a recommended independent retailer. I update it when I can - not as often as I'd like - but what I mention is of course affected by what's on my radar. So if you are a musician with a recording I can add, or a friend, fan or agent of someone in that position, please get in touch - ideally on Twitter. Many thanks!

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