So Thursday – started out with a seminar/workshop/clinic/masterclass (I really out to work out different definitions for each of these so I know what it is we do) at the British Academy Of New Music – run by Access To Music. The National Events Co-Ordinator for ATM is Jono Heale – a fantastically resourceful guy, and a bassist, who has all manner of wonderful ideas for getting interesting bass playing out there to the public, and ideas on interesting bass playing out there to bassists.
The seminar/workshop thingie went really well – at the beginning, for whatever reason, no-one spoke at all. Just sat there, which was slightly un-nerving. But as the students loosened up and started asking questions, it was great. Some really good questions coming up.
So we set off from the school in Bromley-By-Bow and headed over to Petersfield for my fifth (fifth!) visit to Traders this year, and second one with Michael. This was another gig organised by Stiff Promotions – Iain Martin, who runs Stiff is one of those people who if there’s any justice in the world, will be the next Harvey Goldsmith. He books great music, looks after artists, does great promo, loves what he does and has developed a bit of a reputation in Hampshire for only booking quality stuff. Exactly what a promoter should be like. If you’re in that area, you should get on his mailing list, and support the gigs – he promotes shows in Southampton, Petersfield, Portsmouth, Brighton, Winchester – all over that bit of the South of England. support the shows, take your friends, and help it grow!
Anyway, the gig went really well as always at Traders, though there were a couple of flies in the ointment – first was that they’ve installed a pole-dancing pole on the stage at the venue… now, even putting moral and feminist considerations aside (which we didn’t), it made it impossible to play on the stage, and we set up in front of it. Add to that just the fact that it’s a pole-dancing pole, not some root support, and it becomes a real problem in what is otherwise a great venue. I really hope that at the very least make it removeable. I’d hate to see a band try and set up around it.
The other thing was that on the way out of the venue, somebody stole a framed, signed poster of Michael and I that belonged to the venue. Geoff and Patch who run Traders are big supporters of live music, really enjoy it, and have a collection of signed posters from all the shows that they’ve had at the venue, so having one of them stolen off the wall is particularly shitty for them. Please, if it was you, or you know who it was, send it back. It’s signed to someone else! All you had to do was ask and we’d be able to find a poster to sign for you. Please, take it back.
Friday was a day off, so we did what any self repecting bassist does on a day off in London – went to the Gallery – as I’ve said many times before, we’re really really lucky in London to have the two finest bass shops in the world in the one city, with The Gallery and The Bass Centre. Michael had been to the Bass Centre before, when we did our clinic there a couple of years ago, but this time we visited Martin Peterson at his Camden hide-out. It’s a real Aladdin’s cave (particularly apposite in Pantomime season… maybe Martin and Alex should dress as Widow Twanky and Aladdin??) So we spent a good few hours talking bass and trying out toys there.
Saturday, I was playing at The Captain and Tenille’s wedding, which was great fun. The rest of the band was Cathy Burton‘s band. Sadly, my Neuralgia kicked in just before the service, so I had to rush off at the end, to get a Vit B fix before my vision started to go… which was a downer, as the reception would have been cool too.
And Sunday was the gig at The Headgate Theatre in Colchester. The Headgate is a fantastic amateur run charitable venue, with the best acoustics of just about any venue I’ve ever played. Everything sounds great in there.
This was the second of the gigs where we added a Q&A/Masterclass to the beginning of the gig. We did this for Petersfield and Colchester for a number of reasons – firstly, so that we could have a chance to explain a bit about what we do; inevitably, after a gig there are a thousand questions from people about how the hipshots and detunable bridge work on Michael’s bass, about the Ebow, about looping, about my processing, about what strings we use etc… So the chance to answer those in a more structured way proved very helpful. It also meant that we could make the gigs slightly more economically viable. It’s great to be able to play gigs like the Headgate and Traders and make it pay, and this is one way to make it a bit easier on everyone. For both venues, money taken over the bar is a big factor in it working for them, so people arriving early is good for the venue too.
The live music economy is a tricky balance, given that venues need to make money on food and drink, so artists and promoters need to think of ways to give a gigging audience ample time for ordering at the bar! That way everyone wins.
So that was that. Tour over, some great gigs, some fab new friends, great clinics, CDs sold, and the mortgage paid for another couple of months :o)
Then, today, Michael left, about 10 minutes before the postman delivered a box of CDs for him to sell on the tour… DOH!!
Soundtrack – Iona, ‘Book Of Kells'; Cuong Vu, ‘Come Play With Me'; Nick Harper, ‘Double Life'; Patrice Rushen, ‘Straight From The Heart’.by