Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Jack Davies - Flea Music

Flea Circus is Jack Davies' latest small group project, inspired by Dave Douglas' Charms of the Night Sky group, the French Bal-Musette, and Ivo Papasov's incredible Bulgarian band.

In stark contrast to much of the electrified music being made today, Flea Circus is an entirely acoustic chamber group.

Drawing on the canon of European jazz and contemporary music, Flea Circus juxtaposes lyrical melodies and exuberant improvisation.

The line up

  • Jack Davies (trumpet)
  • Rob Cope (bass clarinet)
  • Aidan Shepherd (accordion)
  • James Opstad (bass)

Current current works include
  • All The Night's Adventures
  • Three Miniatures
    1. Monster
    2. So Let Us Melt
    3. Lamppost
  • La Puce
  • Zapushalka
  • Dance of the Proles

For more information visit

Thursday, 21 April 2011

How to harness a flea?

Many have wondered just how you would connect a flea to a chariot or wagon. Well the answer is simply that you tie them by forming a loop with thin wire and pulling it tight as the flea passes through. This is not an easy task and even those who are well practiced might take between 10 minutes and an hour to complete the task.

You can purchase a harnessed flea from Walt Noon.

In Episodes of insect life by Acheta Domestica 1851, people question if the fleas were glued but Bertolotto insists that his are tied.

These and all other such recorded feats have ceased to be marvels to the patrons of those "industrious fleas" who still, we believe, continue to ply their daily labours in Regent Street or the Strand; but they serve to show, that amongst the grand discoveries and inventions of this our 19th century, the art of breaking in fleas to harness is not one. Bertolotti asserts that the saddles, etc, on his flea company were really fastened by girths, not by gum, as the incredulous have thought, the corslets of the pygmy wearers being too highly polished for anything to stick upon them.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Records of real life in the palace & the cottage

Latest flea find on google books, is some Industrious fleas and also our friend Bertolotto. Given that the book is in the public domain, I'll quote the whole section.

Records of real life in the palace and the cottage, by Harriet Henriette Pigott revised by J. Galt, 1839, Page 234 - 237

Close on the steps of these royal visitors from Belgium, arrives Signor Bertolotti, in pompous terms announcing " Les puces travailleuses," and himself, as having been the charm, " the enthusiastic enjouement" of the brilliant receptions in stirring high-life, during the London season. Well I recollect these sea lions engrossing the conversation alternately with the agitating question of the Reform-bill; il Signor Bertolotti, et ses enfans cheris, following close after the reforming senatorial elders and their aspiring eleves, as they mounted to the drawing-room, from the convivial banquet below; the groom of the chambers in the rear, carrying hot Mocha coffee. The wise men from the east, north, south and west, assembled with intellectual aspects round the table, and eventually held out their hands for the fleas to crawl thereon, " with what appetite they may;"—the signal recompense awarded by il Signor for industry in actively mounting their little ladders, carrying buckets. Oh! it was a pleasant sight, to see the senators of Great Britain thus amused ; whose hands had wielded the pen that signed a reform and emancipation bill, that have placed all England, and her church, in a pleasant chaos of thoughts, actions and creed; making time pass too rapidly, fraught with inteli lectual experiments.

But this charming little caravan of amusing parvenus,—(because before the rapidity of intellect these animals were disdained, chased away by vulgar, uneducated chamber-maidens;) —are now, like many a youth, who by dint of pretending liberal principles and manoeuvres, obtains introduction into drawing-room circles, and dubbed by us conservatives " illiberals," (Oh! howunjustly !) "Parvenus."

Before the front of the Bourse of Grecian architecture, they now stand in competition with a spurious race of fleas—an opposition! But like thorough-bred tories, they valiantly face the enemy; for tories are fearless, having naught to conceal; and few of them ought to gain,—being high in their country's annals, for patriotism; rich by commerce or husbandry, or by ancestral descent; and some of them in valourous deeds, displayed in rightful causes on the battle-field. Thus, in France, we have usurpers even amongst the insect tribe. There they stand, in contact with cracked fiacres, deltas, venders of tribunal discourses, and of attempts to assassinate the reigning King of the French:—for in life, the little will imitate the great.

This classic edifice, which is of pure white stone, in the Grecian style of architecture, is a strange contrast, — a potent satire, on the ostensible purpose for which it was erected. French taste has not, in this instance, united the appropriate with the beautiful, by selecting the model of a classic Grecian temple, for the mercenary assignations of money-changers, and Jews' speculations; and amidst incongruous buildings.—They play a high game, amassing enormous riches by the credulity and ruin of others less adroit; sustaining or lowering, by false intelligence, (per telegraph,) les emprunts of revolutionary governments; their ignoble figures and hurried gait, their countenance inflated, convulsed with the avaricious agitations of their minds; while without, every adventurer is playing his game, by exhibiting his Punchinello, his industrious fleas, his games of hazard, and many inventive twopenny traffic, before the august elegance, before the pure colouring of its finely chiselled columns.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Mr Flea - Meister Floh

"Meister Floh - A fairy tale in seven adventures of two friends is a story by ETA Hoffmann. Although conceived as an art fairy tale, the first version appeared in 1822 censored and truncated to two chapters, since it satirical allusions to a case containing the Hoffman previously served as a member of the "Immediate-Commission to determine hochverräterischer compounds and other dangerous machinations" in Prussia to investigate had."


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