stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Delayed Gratification…

December 15th, 2002 · Comments Off on Delayed Gratification…

…one of the central themes of Scott Peck’s ‘The Road Less Travelled’, also part of the theme of today’s sermon in church (can anything that Malcom Doney says be regarded as a sermon? more dry standup routine with a message, I guess…)… anyway, good stuff, reminded me to stop twatting about, and I came home and managed to clear the backlog of 616 emails that had been sat in my inbox since the L42 tour!!!!

Went to an outstanding gig last night (saturday night) – Ben Castle Quartet at the 606 club – Mark Edwards on Piano, Tim Harries on Bass, and Winston Clifford on drums… breath-taking, energising life-affirming stuff. And what’s more, Tim was playing a BC Rich ‘Beast’ bass – like he was straight out of Spinal Tap or Slipnot – and it rocked!! I’ve not been so ‘involved’ in watching a band for a long time. simply amazing. If this band are playing anywhere within 100 miles of you, you miss them at your peril. Ben’s a stunning, and extremely confident sax player, and there’s no weak link in the band – the rhythm section were storming, driving everything forward like the over-used metaphorical juggernaught. ooh, almost too good!! Makes me want to play…

On a much less positive note, the aged feline had a fit this evening – we’re not sure if it was a stroke or what, but it was clearly terrifying for him, and pretty damned frightening for us too. He was back to as close to normal as can be expected in an hour or so, but is still a little shakey on his pins… please pray for the little fella…

Soundtrack – in the car, I’ve been listening to a great compliation called ‘Our Friends Electric’, which is all early 80s synth stuff, from Ultravox to Belouis Some to The Buggles. Marvellous. And here at home, I’ve had Ben Castle’s ‘Four From The Madding Crowd’, which is excellent, followed by Fleetwood Mac ‘Rumours’ – which, I’m perhaps a little ashamed to say, is one of my guilty pleasures – what a great album! It’s amazing what two divorces and an adulterous affair can do for the creativity of a band! Go Your Own Way really does send shivers down my spine…

right, to bed…

Tags: Uncategorized

Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me…

December 14th, 2002 · 1 Comment

…or if you’re like me, just do nothing! Find it very hard to get motivate to
do all the work that needs doing… what with the central heating being bust and
me feeling like I’m fighting off some sort of cold thingie… Anyway, must get
my self assessment tax stuff sorted this week, as I don’t want to be doing it
on Christmas day, and in the new year, I’ll be sorting out stuff for the States…

Anyway, today I’ve done some updates on the website – just tinkering really,
and probably a diversionary tactic away from what I really should be doing…
grrr…

tonight’s looking a bit better – first Grace (alternative worship thingie in
Ealing – all very groovy and ambient…), followed by Ben Castle
at the 606 club – should be fantastic!

And then tomorrow… hopefully some work… after church…

Soundtrack – today, just Rain Tree Crow, which was a sort of
Japan reformation in the late 80s early 90s, did one album, which is brilliant,
and then vanished again… I’ve listened to it four times in a row!

Right, I’m off to put some jacket potatos in the oven…

Tags: Uncategorized

How Much?????

December 13th, 2002 · Comments Off on How Much?????

Tags: Uncategorized

Take These Broken Things…

December 12th, 2002 · Comments Off on Take These Broken Things…

…as Mr Mister would have sung if they lived in my house…

A quick inventory for the last few days –

1 – Car – repair cost in excess of

Tags: Uncategorized

The Not-So-Well Hidden Cost Of Car Ownership

December 11th, 2002 · 1 Comment

Well, it looks like my broken Cam belt is going to cost me a small fortune…
not only are all the valves broken but the cilinder head is cracked (and
before you say ‘you’re being fleeced by your garage’ – no I’m not, they
are extremely trust-worthy, and have often done work for less than the
original quote etc…) anyway, at the moment I’m looking at around

Tags: Uncategorized

Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Men…

December 8th, 2002 · Comments Off on Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Men…

…aft gan aglay… and that’s two nights of serious aglayness in a row! I’m
beginning to think that asking some mice to sort out my gigs for me was
not particularly a good idea…

After blogging yesterday, I went out and spoke to the workman, who said
they’d get the driveway entrance clear by 6… fine, I’ll go with that. Load
up the car, set off in small person’s small-person-car. No petrol. warning
light on. Think ‘oh, I’ll go to the second service station, it near enough’.
Car stalls going up hill… bugger. Restarts fine. Stalls again. twice. get’s to
petrol station, thankfully.

Arrive at St Luke’s, and notice that there’s no space to set up all my stuff…
Ring Justin-the-MD. he arrives back, and says that the – ehem – ‘ambient’
music at the beginning will be some jazz stuff – me, him and some sax
playing friend, playing off some charts from a rather ropey buskers fake
book. Guess I won’t be needing my amp or rack stuff… all of which is now
in my car outside the church (not really the kind of area you want to be
leaving musical equipment in the car in…) Also looks like the rest of the
evening is pretty much planned out… So I leave all the stuff in the car,
play the opening set through the amp that’s there (a really piss poor
sounding Peavey thingie…), and go home again…

Seems like they had a great night, but I’m not about to risk having the
small person’s small-person-transporter trashed and my music gear nicked
for anything…

And I missed out on a good gig in Norwich to be available. What bollocks.

Anyway, today, went to church this morning, which was nice, came home,
and have just spent the last few hours trying to fix the small person’s
iMac, which started doing that folder/?-symbol flashing thing, but then
when I booted it off the startup disk, didn’t even have the hard drive listed
as being on the computer. So it’s shagged, basically… not sure what to do.
Will have to go out and see Greenbelt-Britlinks-James who knows lots about
computers cos he’s dead clever, and see if he knows what to do…
Meanwhile small person will be working on this machine… See, more
plans gan algay – maybe she should stop letting mice plan the servicing of
her computer…

Soundtrack – me and Jez, David Sylvian’s ‘Secrets Of The Beehive’
(featuring the magical Danny Thompson on bass and David Torn on guitar),
and also Theo Travis, ‘Heart Of The Sun’ – proof that brits can do
contemporary jazz as well as anyone… quality stuff.

Tags: Uncategorized

Taking the Rough With The Smooth…

December 7th, 2002 · 1 Comment

Ah, what an eventful day yesterday was…

Started out teaching – all good so far. The no-at-all-evil-Dann arrived, we
packed up my amps/basses/toys etc. loaded them into the car and headed
of for Norwich, in good time. Hit traffic first on the M25 – so headed off up
the A10 instead of M11 – then again, very badly, on the A11 towards Norwich.
Got to the gig halfway through the collective soundcheck, unloaded my stuff,
then it took me 10 minutes to find a parking space (10 minutes we didn’t
have). Fortunately I wasn’t going through the PA (the joys of having an
Ashdown that sounds better than most PAs…), so soundcheck took
about 8 seconds once the gear was set up…

The gig itself was marvellous – started off with Darkroom, playing ambient
soundscape-y processed noise stuff (very good noise), I then joined in
over the top, they faded out, and I went from that improv into ‘No More Us
And Them’. From a very look bleepy version of that, I went into Highway 1,
at which point, fellow solo bassist Peter Chilvers joined in, played some
e-bow over the intro, and we were then joined by Roger Eno and Theo Travis on
acoustic guitar and sax respectively. What a
fantastic version of Highway 1!! I’m so glad it was recorded and can’t wait
to hear it. If the mix is anywhere close to OK, It’ll be magic… Roger was
playing some lovely arpeggiated stuff on acoustic guitar, while Theo and
I traded lines off each other, me with my Fripp-meets-Satch lead sound,
while Peter Chilvers kept the whole ambient side of it shifting and changing.
LovelyLovely.

I then faded out, and that trio continued, and then each act overlapped with
the last – Centrazoon, Andy Butler, GP Hall, Theo Travis. And after Theo’s
set, loads of us piled onto the stage for a remarkably coherent loop-jam,
with Tim Bowness, Theo and I trading melodies over some pretty marvellous
ambient waffle from Peter, Andy, Dave Montague, GP and the Darkroom
guys! All in all, a very fine evening’s music. The audience wasn’t huge, but
hey, that’s what happens when you go for quality over pop-credibility…

Getting the car back to the venue was a fun experience – Norwich has an
insane one-way system… Anyway, arrived back, and we all went off for a
drink and a chat. Very nice it was too, and many collaborations were
discussed and plans are afoot.

About 12.50, I jump in the car to come home. All is well, til I reach
Cockfosters (about two miles from home) and the engine cuts out and the
oil light comes on… fortunately I can roll the car most of the way to the
nearest Jet petrol station, and push it the last few feet. Put some oil in.
Still won’t start. Making odd noises. ring AA. 1.5 hours later, man arrives
with truck, ‘your cam belt’s broken’. Bugger. Big expense. Anyway, car
gets towed home, I unload the gear, and get to bed just after 4.30am!

Supposed to be teaching at 10am. Small person rings them at 9 to cancel.

Supposed to have a gig at St Luke’s tonight. Due to driveway restructuring,
small person’s small-person-car is inaccessible. Ring Justin (St Luke’s MD),
and leave message saying can’t make 2.30 rehearsal, maybe can’t get there
at all… Justin calls back says get a cab… maybe…

And here we are. Good gig, broken car. As The New Fast Automatic Daffodils
once wisely sang ‘Every silver lining has its cloud’…

Soundtrack – in the car, not-at-all-evil-Dann and I were listening to
all manner of stuff – Jane Siberry, Sigur Ros, Don Ross, SadHappy, Defeat
The Young, etc. etc. Then got sick of good music and put on ‘Long Cold
Winter’ by Cinderella, which I’m ashamed to say, stayed in the player for
about an hour… :o) After that, on the way home, I stuck in a No-Man
compilation (Tim Bowness’s rather wonderful band – think Prefab Sprout,
late-ear Talk Talk mixed with the best of Marillion and something else poppy
and deep…), and now am listening to Cipher, Theo Travis’ side project
of fascinating spacey stuff. Theo’s a fantastic musician that I look forward
to working with again very soon, hopefully…

Meanwhile, this morning, while I still slept, Small person took aged feline to
the vets, only to have him stop limping for the vet, but choose instead to
deposit a huge great steaming turd on the vets examination table. A choice
comment on vetinary science in general, methinks, from the perspective of
a small furry vetinary science consumer, wishing for an easy life.

Tags: Uncategorized

Poorly Aged Feline/Remember James/NASA and The Great Glass Elevator…

December 5th, 2002 · Comments Off on Poorly Aged Feline/Remember James/NASA and The Great Glass Elevator…

Buna has an injured foot, poor thing… :o( Neither the small person or I
are sure how he did it, or what exactly is wrong but he’s limping quite a
lot, as though putting pressure on his front left paw is painful… it’s tragic
to watch cos we can’t fix it… a very helpless feeling. He’s not yowling or
showing any other signs of distress, so we’re not rushing him to the vets
straight away, but if he’s not noticeably better by Saturday, we’ll take him
then…

Took the small person to the doctors very early this morning, then came
home and fell asleep on the floor with our ill-of-foot eldery furry family
member for an hour or so!

Was teaching today – it’s been a moderately busy teaching week – lots of
people take some time out at Christmas (largely, I guess, due to
increased spending options around this time…), which is no bad thing for
me, as I’m still a bit knackered after the tour, and am still sorting out stuff
for the US dates – lots more dates are currently 80% there, and will be
added the the site early next week.

Haven’t yet encoded the new Steve/Jez duo track, but will do so ASAP, as
it’s very good indeed….

On an entirely more serious note, today is the anniversary of the death of
my friend James Holland – James was killed in a car accident two years ago.
I’m not sure if anyone still knows how it happened. Came off a straight
road and his the base of an old bridge… I still really struggle to get my
head round the randomness of that one. I guess it’s just ‘shit happens’ taken
to it’s earth shattering conclusion. Weird things happen all the time, it’s just
that most of them don’t end in fatalities. The track ‘Jimmy James’ was written
for James (for some unknown reason, if I rang him he’d go ‘Stevie Steve!’
and I’d go ‘Jimmy James!’ – there was probably some bit of Hendrix trivia
in there too at some point. Lots of things remind me of James. Whenever
I listen to any of the CD that he brought back from the States for me
(including three Jonatha Brooke albums…), Whenever I hear rubbish
heavy metal from the late 80s (both of us had grown out of listening to
Cinderella and Ratt by the time we met, but the memory lives on… :o),
any news item relating to Boris Becker (James looked remarkably similar to
the tennis star – we once hitched to Greenbelt, and after waiting for an hour,
I shouted at him ‘I knew you should have worn tennis gear, we’d have been
there by now!!!’ And most of all, the song that was played at his
funeral ‘Shining Star’ by Gabriel. Occasionally it comes on the radio and
really takes me by surprise. It came on during dinner on the L42 tour one
night… very strange one, that… Anyway, today is the anniversary, so have
a toast to James, and pray nothing like that ever happens to anyone you
know…

Back on more mundane and trivial blog-related thoughts, I must remember
to switch off comments section on here, Evil Harv has proved once again
why having them switch on would be a very bad idea… Though, to his
credit, he did sort me out with a ticket to see Buddy Miller tonight, which
I had to turn down in the end, sadly…

Listened to very bizarre radio thing this afternoon (on my new best friend,
radio 4), about building an elevator into space… hello? have I missed
something? a 38,000 mile long lift???? WTF???? Has someone been spiking
the water at NASA? It was very surreal listening, hearing academics
talking about stuff that Arthur C Clarke would dismiss as too implausible…
There you go, academics, failing to stop and ask ‘…er, why?’

Soundtrack – Listened to a bit of Fripp/Sylvian, ‘The First Day’
earlier on, but mainly just had the radio on… :o)

Plans for the rest of the evening involve tidying and cuddling the cat… a
taxing one, for sure…

Tomorrow is the gig in Norwich, which looks to be a
fascinating event. I’m really looking forward to that one.

Tags: Uncategorized

Lessons learned from a useless DJ pt 1

December 4th, 2002 · 1 Comment

I have to thank Jon Gaunt… I made a fine discovery today, thanks to him.

For those of you that don’t live in London, or do but don’t listen to BBC Radio
London, he’s the ill-informed, reactionary, argumentative waste of oxygen
that comprises a big turd-stain on an otherwise fabulous schedule at Radio
London, between 9 and 12am… His is a phone in show, in which anyone
who disagrees with said loser gets shouted down or cut off or insulted and
sundry equally ill-informed losers (why on earth should I give a monkey’s
what Joe-schmoe-cabby thinks about Asylum seekers?? Has he done the
research? has he worked in a camp, or a homeless shelter? does he have
any idea what it’s like to be dislocated??? of course not!!! So why on earth
are his views being broadcast across London, at the licence payer’s
expense?????????????) phone in to agree with Mr Gaunt’s ludicrous polemic…

Anyway, thanks the small person leaving the radio on to entertain the
aged feline today when she went to work (a futile exercise, given the
profound deafness of the afore-mentioned feline, but a cute attempt
anyway…), I was subjected to about 5 minutes of Gaunt’s bile-filled
ranting, and turned over to radio 4. Woman’s Hour. What great radio!!
Quality broadcasting, expert opinions, funny presenters… good lord! any
way of getting that Gaunt loser to have a listen?

Jumped in the car to drive to Oxford to see Jez, and leave the radio on –
very funny radio play, followed by fascinating docu-thingie on inner city
schools. So thanks to Gaunty’s attempts to be ‘the british Rush Limbaugh’
(yes, my US friends, he’s that useless…) I have now discovered the delights
of Radio 4… :o)

Anyway, the visit to Jez’ was highly enjoyable and resulted in another
fascinating improv track, which will probably be available from the Pillow
Mountain Records
website for download soon, as an early Christmas Pressie
for anyone that wants it… No looping on the track this time, just my bass
and his piano and some lovely noises. Same premise as the ‘Conversations’
stuff. No discussion of key/vibe/anything. Just plug in and play… a rather
invigorating way to spend the day. Jez is a very intuitive musician, and
plays some fantastic stuff on here…

Came home, listening to more Radio 4 stuff on the way. Was hassled
mercilessly by the cat when I got in, who clearly doesn’t like being left
on his own during the day anymore, even though I’d fed him and given
him maximum snuggles before I went out… There’s no pleasing some
small furry people…

Soundtrack – well, during the few moments when I’ve not
been indulging my new love affair with Radio 4, I’ve listened to Cupid
and Psyche again, Peter Gabriel’s Up, the new Keith Jarrett double live CD,
and this new track from me and Jez, which is play at the moment…

Right, off to cook dinner now…

Tags: Uncategorized

Christmas taste bypass effect…

December 3rd, 2002 · Comments Off on Christmas taste bypass effect…

What on earth happens to people at Christmas? Yesterday I went out for
lunch with my mum and Babs (known as ‘aunti Babs, but no idea what
relation she really is to me… distant, I think, but one of our grooviest
relations and great fun..). We went to Crew’s Hill, north of Enfield, which is
the garden centre capital of the world… But also, for the next couple of
weeks, home to the most hideous ‘Christmas Wonderland’ shop that I’ve
ever come across! Millions of shiny santas, singing Bing Crosby’s dressed
as Santa, gaudy decorations, cheap plastic christmas trees, crass nativity
scenes devoid of all realism. It was horrible!!!! Scary thing was it was full! on
a monday afternoon, full of families, with kids (er, aren’t they meant to be
in school???) buying cheap nasty tat. No wonder the country’s going down
the pan when parents prioritise bad taste christmas junk over an education…
very sad…

On the up side, I did manage to find a squirrel-proof bird-feeder. Our last
one got eaten by the squirrels (not just the nuts, but the base of the feeder
as well!!) This one is built like a brick s**t house – try to get into that, you
furry terrorists!!!!

soundtrack – yesterday, I got sent a CD by John Lester, a singing
solo bassist living in Paris, but from San Fransisco. Very good it is too, well
worth looking out for (there’ll be a link to his site on the Solo Bass Network
site as soon as I find one…) This morning, I got Cupid and Psyche by Scritti
Politti through from 101CD.com. What a fantastic album!!! This is an absolute
blinder… great stuff.

Got lots of teaching on today, and will hopefully get round to adding
some photos or MP3s or both from the Level 42 tour to the site…

Tags: Uncategorized