David Byrne is to curate this year’s Meltdown Festival which is great news, he seems the perfect choice from where I’m sitting. It was a good few years ago during the rise of Freak Folk that I first discovered he had a a monthly radio show. The playlist of the first show I heard made an instant impression and I ended up re-visiting his website to see what other themed delights he had on offer. This month it features short instrumental pieces although his January Music for Resolutions was a gem kicking-off with Ivor Cutler and Canned Heat:
His musical knowledge is vast and if you share my thirst for such things then you should certainly check his book “How Music Works” in which it is plainly clear from the first few pages that this is a subject he has been thinking about all his musical life – “from how music is shaped by its time and place (including the venues it’s held in), and how the advent of recording technology forever changed our relationship to playing, performing, and listening to music.”
So, yes, he’s the ideal candidate although I’m not so sure his vast knowledge will make his choices for Meltdown any the easier. Talking about the event he said “This is going to be exciting! I plan to invite performers I’ve seen – and I do get out – and others I’ve missed or have dreamed of seeing. It’s going to be a bit of fun puzzle-solving I imagine – seeing who’s interested, who is available and what venues at Southbank Centre are appropriate. I really hope to find things that take this beyond sit-down concerts as well – but of course I’m speaking way too early as I’m still working on my wish list.”
He wasn’t exagerating when he said he gets about, he does, and mainly by bike. It’s been his main form of transport since the early ’80s restricted to New York until he discovered folding bikes after which he started taking them abroad on his travels. This prompted him to write Bicycle Diaries in which he recounts the unique view he gets of urban life from the saddle in London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Manila, New York, Detroit and San Francisco.
The Meltdown Festival runs from August 17 – 28 at London’s Southbank Centre. He did quip that hoped “to stay in the Room For London, on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof, for the whole time, but suspect that might expecting too much.” Nice idea, but you’d need to compose a piece while your there to keep in the spirit..dare say he’d find that a doddle.