stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Evil Corporate Monstrousities…

December 2nd, 2002 · 3 Comments

With the release of the new CD, and the fact that I’ve played to over 40,000
people in the couple of months, I’ve been looking for new outlets for the
CDs… I’ve posted them for sale at www.gemm.com, which is working out really
well, and was looking today at www.amazon.co.uk – their zsounds shops
thingie looked really good, so I started reading the info… First up, it seems
I couldn’t be a ‘normal’ seller, as they aren’t already stocking my CDs,
and would therefor have to become a pro-merchant… no probs, thinks me,
I’ll pay the

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Miscellany (have I spelt that right, evil harv?)

December 1st, 2002 · 4 Comments

Missed church this morning – woke up feeling rather rough, like I’ve got a
cold coming on or something… bugger…

eventually woke up sometime after 12 (!)

Last night the small person and I watched ‘The King Of Comedy’ – one of
those films I’ve had recommended to me on many an occasion, but never
got round to watching… WHAT A GREAT FILM!! Deniro is fantastic, and the
rather unexpected ending (well, I didn’t expect it anyway) really leaves
you thinking over the whole film, completely reassessing what you thought
of Rupert Pupnik throughout the rest of the film. Superbly written, beautifully
acted, great story! Shame it took me 20 years to get round to seeing it…
maybe sometime in the next 17 years I’ll get round to watching the Matrix
or it’ll be 2022 before I see Donnie Darko… who knows…

Been practicing a lot over the last couple of days – having my full rig set up
at home is always inspiring, as I only have to switch it on to start getting
strange noises… Need to work out what I’m going to play in Norwich next
Friday

My mum arrives back here this afternoo, which’ll be nice…

Just had emails from Dan Elliot (my manager/booking guy in the US), and
Michael Manring trying to firm up some more dates for January – if you’re
in LA, feel free to call the Baked Potato or the
Rocco and suggest that they book us!

soundtrack last night, listened to Trip Wamsley’s CD a lot,
this morning woke up to Radio London, and now am listening to Three Blind
Mice – a trio that features Lydon Conner (from L42 and 64 Spoons – think
he’s got a thing about band names with numbers in them???) It’s just a CDR
as it’s not released yet, but it is fantastic. Really really good songwriting in
the Crowded House/Squeeze/Rembrandts/Jellyfish kind of direction… Hope
they get to release some of this stuff soon…

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Adventures in Solo Bass

November 30th, 2002 · Comments Off on Adventures in Solo Bass

A couple of years ago, I started a website… not my own, I already had that
one, but another one – The Solo Bass Network – designed as a links and info
page for anyone interested in solo bass stuff, and a portal to finding all the
solo bassists around…

Just after starting to site, I got way to busy to actually collect the info needed
to keep the mailing list happening, so it has lain dormant for the best part of
18 months.

Finally, today, I got round to switching the list format to ‘anyone on the list
can post’, so that people can post their own news (like, that was a
revelation!) – so I’ve updated the site a bit, and hopefully, the possibilities
for spreading the word about solo bass related stuff will expand…

If you’re interested in solo bass, do check out the site – the directory has
got tonnes of links to solo bassist’s websites, and an ickle write up on each
of them…

soundtrack – on a solo bass theme, I’ve been listening to Trip
Wamsley’s as-yet-unreleased new album, and very fine it is too.. you can
find trip’s site via the Solo Bass Network! :o)

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Poll Dancing…

November 30th, 2002 · Comments Off on Poll Dancing…

The Evo E-Zine – which I posted about a couple of days ago when they added
a coulple of reviews of my gigs, also has a poll of who their readers would
most like to see interviewed/featured/reviewed – bizarrely enough, as of last
night, I was in third place! If you feel like heading over there and voting for
me, that would be lots of fun! :o) At the moment, I’m just behind Jon Anderson,
and just ahead of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel! Very bizarre…

Currently listening to Mel and Sue on Radio London – the only justification
of celebrity Big Brother is that it’s given them more comedy ammo… Sue
was by far the most interesting person in the house, and is even better
deconstructing it from the outside…

Soundtrack – been listening to King’s X – ‘Manic Moonlight’, Prince
– ‘Sign Of The Times’ and a Nick Harper compilation from Catherine-from-
the-street-team. Also been playing a lot in the last couple of days, so
whenever I get a groovy loop going, I leave it running for half an hour to
get the idea into my head… My new Gibson Echoplex is amazing
– been experimenting with a lot of the extended functions in the software
revision, like some of the quantize functions, different replace/substitute/insert
modes and the double/half speed thing… lots of fun to be had by all! Should
manifest itself in an MP3 or two before christmas…

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Long Distance Runaround…

November 29th, 2002 · Comments Off on Long Distance Runaround…

Well, what an eventful evening…

Yesterday afternoon went well – met up with Jam-comedy-bloke for coffee,
all well and good, got tube out to Wembley to meet the evil one, fine. Queued
up for g’list tickets… ‘your name’s not down, you’re not getting in’… bugger.
Forgotten, but not gone.

Quick call to Jude – Radio 1 producer chum, Greenbelt planning group person
and Moby stalker. No probs says Jude, two spare tix… excellent, when do
you get here… an hour later, having missed Lamb, Jude and Aussie-Liz
arrive with said tix. Evil Harv and Grateful me accompany them into gig.

The gig itself was certainly, as the mighty Ron Atkinson might say, a game
of two halves – first half didn’t engage me at all on any level, heavily
sequenced, very little that looked like live playing at all etc. etc… second
half rather different, sounded more live, looked more live, better choice
of tunes. We’re All Made Of Stars given the full on pop magic workout that
the single really needed. It is a very fine song indeed. There’s even a
bizarre Moby-does-the-big-guitar-playout-from-All-I-Want-Is-You moment
– U2 song segments? shurely shum mishtake?

Anyway, all in all, a lot better than last time I saw him play (and RJ the DJ
on decks was outstanding)

So now to blag backstage. I wasn’t wearing the ‘walk anywhere coat’ –
long black fake fur number that says ‘I’m either famous or a dick-head’,
and fortunately nobody realises that my sartorial faux-pas is due to the
latter rather than the former…

Small blue furry jacket (from the L42 tour) does get lots of ‘am I meant
to recognise him?’ looks (see reasoning above), but doesn’t bestow
walk-anywhere status on its wearer. Clearly it does however reach level
2 ‘stand anywhere coat’ – we’re waiting by the door to the aftershow long
after all other waifs and strays have been ushered out…

Jude manages to wangle VIP pass, goes and gets stickies for EH and me,
back to aftershow party. Unual aftershow nonsense, though low celeb
count (only Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and Morwenna Banks are in
evidence)…

about 45 minutes later, Greta arrives, finally, appologising profusely
and offering champagne… lovely to see her, much chatting/catching up
ensues. The aftershow becomes the after-aftershow, and since mum had
already arrived home, Evil-Gear-Monkey and I beat a hasty retreat,
stopping to say hi to Tony-The-Bus-Driver on the way, who had hotfooted
it from driving the Level 42 band bus to ferrying Lamb around the country
(that’s the band Lamb, rather than him taking a job with a meat-hauliers…)

home, bed 2am. Greta owes me one… :o)

Soundtrack – on the tube yesterday, I was listening to my sets from
the Albert Hall, Plymouth and Folkstone on the L42 tour, for possible
web-inclusion. much good stuff to be gleaned. This morning, I’ve been
listening to Huron Street by Don Ross (follow up to Passion Session, very
nice), and Larks Tongues In Aspic by King Crimson fines stuff. Oh, and
yesterday morning I was listening to Michael Franti Live At the Baobab –
marvellous performance poety/accapella rap/hip hop/political polemic,
life affirming stuff!

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Poetry on the web…

November 28th, 2002 · Comments Off on Poetry on the web…

Via the usual route of multiple links, just now I ended up at boomeranguk.com
– an online poetry, prose and multimedia site.

Pleasepleaseplease go there and have a look in the ‘flash’ section at a
piece called Panhandle – the story of where it comes from is all there, but
I’ll just say that it relates to the devestating dust storms in Oklahoma in
the early part of the last century, and is brilliant… someone (evil harv?)
send this link to Bill Mallonee – my appreciation of it was much higher
having heard ‘Resplendent’ by Vigilantes Of Love, about the same situation…

the rest of the site is pretty darn amazing too!

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Some interesting recent listening

November 28th, 2002 · Comments Off on Some interesting recent listening

Back when I was in school (late 80s), we had a small group of friends
who would all head down to fat george’s record shop on Bridge Street in
Berwick on a Saturday morning to order records… any old records… the
more obscure the better.

In those pre-internet times, the source of all knowledge about what was
available was the Music Maker Publications big red book of records, which
listed just about everything that was on general release.

I bought some great stuff through that, and some total bollocks. Great
stuff, like Steve Berry – ‘Trio’, John Zorn – ‘Spillane’, the best of Weather
Report etc. etc… and some rubbish like ‘Electric Storm in Hell’ by White
Noise…

One record that we all really wanted to get but could never find was
‘Ladies Don’t Have Willies’ by a band called 64 Spoons. It seemed like the
most preposterous title for a single – add to that the daft band name, and
we had to know what it sounded like. But sadly, week after week, George
couldn’t find it, it was out of print… whatever, it never turned up.

Fast forward 15 years, and in the last two tours I’ve done, with the
Schizoid Band and Level 42, I’ve been touring with two ex-members of
said Spoons! Jakko Jakszyk (guitar/vox with Schizoids) and Lyndon
Conner (keys/vox with L42) were both in 64 Spoons!

Enter not-at-all-evil Dann, delving deep into his extensive CD collection
to provide an early 90s compilation of Spoonerisms from the late
70s/early 80s… and bizarrely enough, it’s pretty good. Very good in
places. Very silly and self conscious in other places, but sort of Squeeze
meets Cat-Food era Crimson, meets Joe Jackson with a touch of
Blockheads-funk… The kind of thing, that were it more widely known,
would now be forcing people onto the dance floor at schooldisco.com
events.

Still haven’t heard Ladies Don’t Have Willies though…

After that, the next CD I listened to couldn’t be more different Juldeh
Camara is a West African singer/composer and player of the one string
fiddle! I first heard his stuff on Charlie Gillett’s show on BBC London, but
then met up with Duncan Noble – a bassist who has assembled a touring
project with Juldeh, playing in the UK early next year.

It’s amazing how Juldeh manages to keep your attention… even mesmerise
you with just fiddle and voice. And judging by the range of material on the
CDR that Duncan gave me, he’s more than happy to recontextualise his
playing and writing into whatever setting is around, from acoustic blues
to funk/soul stuff… I really hope that their tour doesn’t clash with my dates
in California next year, as I’d love to see this live…

Finally got stuck into the last chapter of Derek Bailey’s ‘Improvisation –
its nature and practice in music’ book last night. It’s an amazing book, but
I do have a habit of dropping books somewhere in or around the last
chapter… seems to be a theme running through my life (do half the
washing up, write half a song, tidy half my office, etc. etc…)

Anyway, the last chapter is all about the Musicians Improvisors Collective
(MIC – I think that’s what it stands for…), and is very interesting indeed.
The whole book is very highly recommended for anyone interested in
improv and its relationship to music making as a whole…

Busy day today – meeting Jam-comedy-writer this afternoon, and going
to see Moby play tonight… well, going to meet up with Greta Brinkman,
who happens to be playing with Moby. Evil Harv’s coming as well, so that’ll
be my dose of eville for the week sorted then…

before that, need to tidy up here, as my mum arrives for a short stay
later on. Always nice to see my mum, cos she’s great!

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The perils of releasing music by yourself!

November 27th, 2002 · Comments Off on The perils of releasing music by yourself!

Just been sorting stuff out with the MCPS – Mechanical Copyright
Protection Society – who have just billed me for

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So much to do…

November 27th, 2002 · Comments Off on So much to do…

Teaching Schedule is now filling up, which is good… I asked my
students to get back in touch in early December, so the eager ones
are on it already and my diary is taking shape, which is nice…

Still feeling jet-lagged from the tour, sleeping late, sitting up late…
need to get back round the right way by the weekend.

Just found the site of a band called Dapp Theory
– jazz outfit based in NYC who have collaborated with Bruce
Cockburn on their album that’s out in January… very interesting
stuff. have a listen to the track Trickle Down on their website…

Right what now? need to go and post CD orders (mail order
ones, CC orders from evinsol.co.uk and from gemm.com
– it’s getting harder to keep track of what’s happening where!
Gemm seems like a very good set up though. I’ve only had the
stuff listed there a day or two and am already getting orders
daily from them, so I guess people must be looking for it! That’s
heartening… :o)

Also need to mail out all the review copies that I bagged up yesterday
– it’s going to be a fun trip to the post office with 40 jiffy bags or
something this afternoon!

Oh, and at some point soon I need to take the flight case back to
the Bass Centre that they so kindly lent to me for the L42
tour – this little Ashdown rig of mine, with the 4×8,
1×10 and 500W head, all fits into one normal 4×10 cabinet flight
case!! A whole rig in one medium sized case.. how cool is that?

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Not Dancing For Chicken????

November 26th, 2002 · Comments Off on Not Dancing For Chicken????

This was posted in the old blog format, but I thought I’d
repost it here as you may well have come looking for it now…
Here’s the explanation of where the ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’
album title came from…

Back in about 1992, MC Hammer was attempting a comeback,
and was doing the rounds in the press claiming to be from the
street, down with the kids etc. etc. Meanwhile, he was also
doing ads for KFC, and they were sponsoring the tour. At a
New York press conference it all got too much, and one young
journo asked Hammer what on earth he was doing. Hammer
replied ‘Hey, I’m just dancing for money’, to which the journo
replied ‘No, you’re dancing for chicken’.

Fast forward best part of a decade, and british comedian Mark
Lamarr is doing an interview with London listings magazine,
Time Out, and he recounts the story before explaining that for
him, ‘Dancing For Chicken’ has become the perfect metaphor
for all those corporate gigs that musicians/comedians/actors/etc.
have to do just to pay the bills, and the ones where the money
is so insane that all but the most ethically-minded of performers
will take them (like TV ads for a fast food giant with a dubious
health and safety record…).

At the time the phrase struck a chord with me as the antithesis
of everything that I’m trying to do with my solo career – I haven’t
chased a record deal, I haven’t made a smooth jazz CD in a bid
for radio airplay, I haven’t done a completely ambient recording
in a bid for new age stardom. I just do what I do, and if people
like it, great, if they don’t, fair enough… As it is, the last couple
of months of big tours and great CD sales have been vindication
of this route, but the business plan still stands intact. If it all falls
apart, I need to have music that I’m proud of, that represents
me. So I’ll continue to soundtrack the inside of my head, and
avoid Dancing For Chicken if I can in anyway steer clear of it… :o)

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