WHEN was the last time a white van man drew a round of applause?
Step forward Sebastian Rochford, the crazy-haired jazz drummer from Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear, who spent yesterday in the back of a Ford box van, bashing away on his drums with the doors shut, in 20-minute spells in Leeds, York, Malton, Pickering, Kirkbymoorside and Helmsley.
Simon Thackray, impresario of all things unconventional at The Shed in Ryedale, had invited Rochford to take to the road for another of his Art Event specialities. This time you could hear the musician, although you could not see him, but put your head against the side of the van, or slide underneath, and you could certainly feel it.
Bootham School teacher Richard Barnes and his art class sixth-formers were among those drawn to the noise emanating from the parked van by the fountain in Exhibition Square in York at 11am. “Seeing the van shaking and then seeing people putting their ear to it…when I did that, it became incredibly exciting and rather than being an observer, you became part of it,” said Richard. “You could feel your heart suddenly pumping faster.”
Sebastian has played with everyone from David Bowie to Herbie Hancock, but his Van Gig was a first for him, his solo debut. “I trust Simon. I’ve always enjoyed everything I’ve done with him at The Shed, and I just thought it sounded like a fun idea. I thought, ‘yeah, why not?’” he said.
So it proved. “It’s a quite a strange feeling, not knowing if there’s anyone outside but it’s nice just playing the drums anyway as that’s what I enjoy doing,” he said.
Tonight, Rochford will join theramin player Pamelia Kurstin for an 8pm gig at The Shed at Brawby Village Hall. Box office: 01653 668494.