Monday, July 30, 2007

Northern Lights - the song, the sight, the festival - the phenomenon

Keeping with the natural themes of this blog - from under-the-sea octopus, to high-in-the-sky Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights...

Love IS real.

Summer's here. Temperature's rising. Allison Crowe is joining a magical mystery tour that promises to be one of the coolest cultural events of this, or any, year. The internationally-acclaimed singer-songwriter will perform at the The John Lennon Northern Lights Festival this September 28 - 30 in the Scottish Highlands. This unique happening has been endorsed by Yoko Ono Lennon along with several members of the ex-Beatle John's family, including his sister, Julia Baird.

Some of Britain's greatest artists, and, now, a Canadian, too, will travel to a tiny highland village to pay homage to John Lennon. The three-day festival in Durness (pop. 356), the most north-westerly and remote village on mainland Britain, is being called "one of the most extraordinary festivals ever to be staged in the country".

"John really loved Durness and would be very pleased that his influence was being celebrated with this festival," said Julia Baird on the launch. "I am delighted to be involved in what is a high quality event which has taste and respect at its core. We are all looking forward very much to coming again to a place that meant so much to my brother."

Allison Crowe and Julia Baird met last Summer, at a Beatles celebration organized by Hal Bruce, "The Cavern's very best friend", in Halifax, Nova Scotia - at which Julia, a teacher in Cheshire, was Guest of Honour. On that occasion Allison received a standing ovation for her solo performances of the Beatles' "Let It Be" and "In My Life" (which has roots in Durness) and John's "Imagine". The opportunity to meet again, and to share inspiration is exciting says Allison: "John Lennon was an amazing, artistic, peaceful, spirit. He made a huge impact on society." And, she notes, "I love Scotland!" (Both grandparents on her Mother's side are Scottish.)

As a boy, John Lennon would be packed off on the bus from Liverpool to a croft in Durness owned by relatives. His cousin Stanley Parkes, says: "The festival is not remembering John Lennon the pop star, but John the person, the writer and the poet." During a break from recording the Abbey Road album in 1969, the then-Beatle returned to the Highlands with Yoko, son Julian, and Yoko's daughter Kyoko.

"I have a very sweet memory of Durness," Yoko said last month, in giving her blessing to festival organizer Mike Merritt's team. "I would most certainly love to lend my co-operation to this splendid venture to bring the world's attention to Scotland, the most beautiful and magical country, with John's name, his memory and a lovely one of mine, as well."

Allison Crowe, a French reviewer has observed, creates music for people who love the '60s and '70s sound ~ even if they'd not yet been born. It's a spirit of freedom and fun. Of uncompromised, singular, artistry. Honesty and innocence. She's in perfect harmony with a wildly eclectic festival line-up that includes: the original Quarrymen, (John's skiffle group which evolved into The Beatles); poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy; punk poet John Cooper Clarke; the Queen's Master of Music, composer/conductor Sir Peter Maxwell Davies; jazz singer Todd Gordon and his combo; actor/playwright Gary Bleasdale; contemporary UK chart-toppers Nizlopi; and a wide palette of artists in all sorts of disciplines. Music, painting, drama, Beatles' films (on Britain's only mobile cinema, Screen Machine), Fab Four memorabilia, an on-site astronomer, and festivities in Smoo Cave, (Britain's biggest sea cave), are among the attractions.

As are the Northern Lights... which shine on the festival's celestial banner alongside John Lennon. The whole brings to mind the truth and beauty of such songs from John's Plastic Ono Band album as "Look at Me" and "Love".

Allison Crowe has recorded, naturally, one of her newest songs, "Northern Lights". "And, yes, I stood on the other side of the world, but I took the Northern Lights home to you."

The beautiful images seen in the video come from Yukon-based David Cartier, Sr. David shares his colletion of Aurora Borealis pics and more on his flickr page

Here’s what David says about this source of inspiration:

" When Men lack a sense of awe, There will be disaster "
- - - - Lao Tzu --- The Tao Teh Ching
Awe is what THIS is all about!!
The Aurora is an experience of breathtaking beauty... the viewing makes you feel like you are connected integrally with an amazing cosmic force ..... Aurora watching is as addictive as any drug and a whole lot more satisfying. Once you become addicted, you stay out all night, lose sleep, forget about social commitments, nearly get wind burned and frostbit and it's all, deeply, worth it !!
Every human being who can manage it should make a pilgrimage to the subarctic auroral zone in order to see and feel this at least once in their life.
Many of these were taken with an amazing old Russian Kiev-19 35mm SLR. This camera , which I still use for night sky photos, NEVER freezes up or has any shutter problems in the cold, even at minus 60!! The more expensive Japanese and German cameras which I own always, or at least often, stop functioning in the deep cold.

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