Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond

Best Christmas records….

December 24th, 2005 · 3 Comments

Robert Elms phone-in this morning on BBC London was top three christmas records. So I texted mine in which are –

1 – Cry Of A Tiny Babe by Bruce Cockburn
2 – River by Joni Mitchell
3 – Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty McCall (not the dreadful new version with Katie Melua which is only available as a download, the original which has just been re-released for a fantastic cause – – the Justice For Kirsty campaign)

there you go – post your top three in the comments.

Tags: Musing on Music

Happy Christmas!

December 24th, 2005 · Comments Off on Happy Christmas!

It’s Christmas Eve, the christmas shopping is done, lots of videos rented to watch over the next couple of days, a Looperlative to play with – we’re all set.

All that’s left is to wish all you lovely bloglings an exceedingly happy christmas. It’s a bit late to say it now, but I really hope you haven’t overspent on pressies and trimmings – as I say every year, the best present you can give your family is a debt-free new year (even if they tell you it’s an X-Box).

Take it easy, enjoy it, enjoy the time you have off from work, think through all the things you have to be grateful for, and chill.

We’re doing absolutely nothing – just me, TSP and the Fairly Aged Felines, relaxin’ eating some cool veggie food (well, me and TSP – I don’t think the cats are going to be wanting sprouts and sweet potato!), watching some festive TV, and enjoying some time off, before getting stuck into last year’s tax accounts early next week…

Tonight we’ll go to midnight mass, and tomorrow we’ll probably go to church in the morning, but other than that it’s lots of slobbing out in front of the TV and a bit of bass playing in between.

And if you’re celebrating something other than Christmas, enjoy it, and please sign into the forum and tell us all about it – I’m not that up on the specifics of most of the other celebrations that take place around this time that the Americans group together as just ‘holidays’.


Tags: Random Catchup

2005 – the year of the blog.

December 23rd, 2005 · Comments Off on 2005 – the year of the blog.

At least, it has been for me. This, believe it or not, is my 507th blog post of the year (not including the ones I’ve posted on myspace,, big bottom etc.) – out of the total blog count on this version of my blog of 780-something, that makes it my bloggingest year yet by quite some huge margin.

And I’m not done yet! Still got all those end of year blogs and more festive blogging and birthday blogging to come… yay!

Tags: Random Catchup

Looperlative is back again!

December 23rd, 2005 · Comments Off on Looperlative is back again!

My Looperlative arrived back today, fixed from my having ballsed it up last time, and with a software upgrade.

So I’ve been experimenting, and used it while teaching. I’m getting the hang of the way it operates, and am still compiling my list of things I’d like it to do – the great thing about it having the ethernet port on the back is that bob can keep the list, implement the list in order of how important the modification is or how easy it is (I think some of the things I’ve suggested are going to be very easy indeed for a man with Bob’s wikkid skillz, while others are going to take some more complex programming…) I’ve also not hit on any bugs in the software as it stands, which is a great sign. I’m still getting used to the specific things that it can/can’t do at the moment, and what the workarounds are for the things I’m used to doing on the EDP.

It’s interesting how different bits of musical equipment reflect both the personality and preferences of their inventor – the Echoplex is very much Matthias Grob’s vision, and the way it operates is clearly derived from his musical world-view. The looperlative reflects Bob’s background, which thankfully looping-wise features a lot of me. :o) So the controls and way it works makes loads of sense to me already. The feeling of this only being the tip of the looperlative iceberg is pretty big though. The possibilities are enormous.

Anyway, enough blogging, more looping! This looping in stereo lark is amazing – just been playing a version ‘Highway 1’ from Not Dancing For Chicken, and for the first time ever I’m able to loop the sparkly bit at the beginning in stereo, so that ping-pong delay keeps ping-ponging all the way through… :o)

Tags: Musing on Music

Happy blandness, everyone!

December 22nd, 2005 · Comments Off on Happy blandness, everyone!

What’s with this ‘happy holidays’ nonsense? Who decided that to wish a jewish person happy christmas was offensive, or to send a Hanukkah card to a protestant was somehow taboo?

Please, if you don’t celebrate christmas, feel free to wish me a happy Eid/Diwali/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter solstice. Whatever, I really don’t mind, just please do whatever you do with some conviction! To suggest that it’s offensive to mention one festival to the practitioner of another is tacet fundamentalism, because it suggests that we should be offended, it says that it’s OK to be offended by Christmas. That’s balls, clearly.

Celebrate life and love and winter and new birth and forgiveness and light and all those other lovely things that are flagged up in the many distinct festivals that happen around this time of year, and invite others to celebrate them with you. Diversity is a wonderful thing, it really is.

Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

Health update…

December 22nd, 2005 · Comments Off on Health update…

I feeling much better now, thanks for asking. TSP is still in a bad way – had two days of work, not feeling well at all, back today but still not right… poor thing. And one of the fairly aged felines was being sick today too! Not a good house for such things.

I was almost sick today, when some crazed bint rant into the back of my car! Fortunately it didn’t do any damage (I got her phone number and licence plate number just in case something shows itself later), but it was pain in the arse.

Ah well, it’s christmas. or something.

Tags: Random Catchup

The privilege of making gorgeous music for a living.

December 22nd, 2005 · Comments Off on The privilege of making gorgeous music for a living.

Had a fantastic studio session today – overdubbing bass parts on some new tunes by BJ Cole and Davy Spillane. The tracks so far feature BJ on pedal steel, Davy on a collection of low whistles and pipes, and Guy Jackson on piano and keys. The combination of just these three is pretty intoxicating – gorgeous evocative sounds whirling around each other, both Davy and BJ embellishing all the tunes so they weave in and out of each other’s space even when they are playing in ‘unison’.

It was really nice to have such a full canvass on which to put what I do – so many recording jobs are bass and drums first, so there’s no knowing what’s going to happen on top. Here, the arrangements are pretty fixed, so the spaces that I had to play in were already in place. I did some stuff where I was playing one note in a bar, just playing the roots deep down on the B string of my Renaissance fretless, and other places where I was playing melodic fills and nice twiddly stuff up the top end of my Modulus fretless 6. Much fun. Now I’m looking forward to the gigs, when they happen!

Soundtrack – The Cure, ‘Greatest Hits’.

Tags: Musing on Music

Strike a blow for the indies

December 22nd, 2005 · 1 Comment

That’s indie musicians, not the west or east indies. I mean, anything you can do for those indies would probably be much appreciated too, but I haven’t got time to get into that.

This week something marvellous occurred – the current number one single in the pop charts in the UK is ‘The JCB Song’ by Nizlopi (listen to it on their myspace page. They run their own label, have been gigging doggedly on the acoustic folky singer/songwriter scene in the UK for years, and write songs about childhood experiences, not getting jiggy or bling or whatever other nonsense usually populates the upper reaches of the chart.

And for months, there’s been this rumour going round the net that The JCB Song could be christmas number one. I can’t remember where I first heard it – a whisper from here or there. They had a page done with the video on it, which is a hand-drawn childish cartoon of a kid riding in a JCB with his dad (for the US readers, a JCB is a big mechanical digger). It’s beautiful. They’ve done an amazing job of evoking childhood with both the song and the video, and they’ve somehow got it to number one.

Like Show Of Hands managing to fill The Albert Hall, this is one of the most magical moments when real music invades the world of the shallow money-driven reality-tv horse-shit that populates the charts for the rest of the year. When some genuine talent sticks it’s head over the parapet and says ‘here’s a song you might really like, even without some godawful backstory told by the X-Factor to try and convince you that I’m just a roofer done good, living out his dreams, as opposed to a third rate karaoke singer with a dreadful backing track, lining Simon Cowell’s pockets.’

So, the big news is that yesterday I bought a song while it’s at number one for the first time since 1986! the last one was I think ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ by Falco, though it might have been Spitting Image’s ‘The Chicken Song’ – either way, I’ve still got them both. :o)

If Shane from X-Factor does make it to number one, it’ll be another one of those ‘Fairytale Of New York’ moments – a song that gets played everywhere every christmas due to it being one of the finest christmas songs ever written. But can you remember what was the christmas number on the year it was released? Fairytale was number two…

It’ll be the same with this – years to come, people will talk about Nizlopi, they’ll play the song and cry cos it’s gorgeous, and they’ll rue the day that some loser who ended up playing butlins within a year was at number one instead. UNLESS YOU BUY IT. Go on, it’s 79p on iTunes, or the other download services. Go and get it, strike a blow, enjoy the song, and feel like you’ve done something worthwhile.

Tags: Musing on Music

A Native American Christmas

December 19th, 2005 · Comments Off on A Native American Christmas

*A Native American Christmas
*by Looks for Buffalo

European Christmas for Native Americans actually started when the Europeans came over to America. They taught the Indian about Christianity, gift-giving , and St. Nicholas. There are actually two
religious types of Indian people in existence. One of these is the Traditionalist, usually full-blooded Indians that grew up on the reservations. The second type is the Contemporary Indian that grew up in
an urban area, usually of mixed blood, and brought up with Christian philosophy.

Traditionalists are raised to respect the Christian Star and the birth of the first Indian Spiritual Leader. He was a Star Person and Avatar. His name was Jesus. He was a Hebrew, a Red Man. He received his
education from the wilderness. John the Baptist, Moses, and other excellent teachers that came before Jesus provided an educational foundation with the Holistic Method.

Everyday is our Christmas. Every meal is our Christmas. At every meal we take a little portion of the food we are eating, and we offer it to the spirit world on behalf of the four legged, and the winged, and the two legged. We pray–not the way most Christians pray– but we thank the Grandfathers, the Spirit, and the Guardian Angel.

The Indian Culture is actually grounded in the traditions of a Roving Angel. The life-ways of Roving Angels are actually the way Indian People live. They hold out their hands and help the sick and the needy. They feed and clothe the poor. We have high respect for the avatar because we believe that it is in giving that we receive.

We are taught as Traditional children that we have abundance. The Creator has given us everything: the water, the air we breathe, the earth as our flesh, and our energy force: our heart. We are thankful
every day. We pray early in the morning, before sunrise, the morning star, and the evening star. We pray for our relatives who are in the universe that someday they will come. We also pray that the Great
Spirit’s son will live again.

To the Indian People Christmas is everyday and the don’t believe in taking without asking. Herbs are prayed over before being gathered by asking the plant for permission to take some cuttings. An offer of tobacco is made to the plant in gratitude. We do not pull the herb out by its roots, but cut the plant even with the surface of the earth, so that another generation will be born its place.

It is really important that these ways never be lost. And to this day we feed the elders, we feed the family on Christmas day, we honor Saint Nicholas. We explain to the little children that to receive a gift is to enjoy it, and when the enjoyment is gone, they are pass it on to the another child, so that they, too, can enjoy it. If a child gets a doll, that doll will change hands about eight times in a year, from one child to another.

Everyday is Christmas in Indian Country. Daily living is centered around the spirit of giving and walking the Red Road. Walking the Red Road means making everything you do a spiritual act. If your neighbor, John Running Deer, needs a potato masher; and you have one that you are not using, you offer him yours in the spirit of giving. It doesn’t matter if it is Christmas or not.

If neighbors or strangers stop over to visit at your house, we offer them dinner We bring out the T-Bone steak, not the cabbage. If we don’t have enough, we send someone in the family out to get some more and mention nothing of the inconvenience to our guests. The more one gives, the more spiritual we become. The Christ Consciousness, the same spirit of giving that is present at Christmas, is present everyday in Indian Country.

/Looks for Buffalo is an Oglala Sioux Spiritual Leader, the full-blood
Oglala grandson of Chief Red Cloud and White Cow Killer, and a Cheyenne
Oglala Leader.

article from

Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

the reality TV myth…

December 19th, 2005 · Comments Off on the reality TV myth…

The reality TV people do like to tell us that it’s all about finding talent, people with star quality, the ‘x-factor’ as the show-title goes. Which makes this quote particularly laughable –

“after last year’s winner, Steve Brookstein, sank without trace, X Factor bosses are confident they have found a real star this time around.” (from the daily record).

look, if they can’t find hugely talented people with a nation wide search, a TV budget and a captive audience of 10 million, the whole thing is a charade. I think I’ve said this before here, but the best that reality TV has thrown up so far is Will Young – an above average white-soul singer. Gareth Gates has vanished, Hearsay have vanished. Liberty X are hanging on, getting closer and closer to performing naked in the vain hope it’ll keep them an audience. If the shows had ANY validity at all they’d be finding the people who are genuinely the most mind-blowingly gifted musicians, singers and songwriters in the country. But they aren’t. They are unearthing malleable brainless pop-star wannabes that they can trap in usurious deals, make a load of money off then dispense with. No time is spent developing talent, no time is spent helping them to find a style, to practice their craft. It’s all about the ‘rags to riches’ story of someone who sings in the bath and then ends up on stage because of natural talent.

the problem with that is that that kind of ‘natural talent’ doesn’t exist. Some people have developed a musical sensibility sort of by accident, but to become a performer, to work with a band, to write songs, to communicate as a musician, you need to work hard. You need to do gigs, to spends weeks, months, years in rehearsal rooms honing your craft. That doesn’t happen in the bath.

I’ve worked with ‘naturally gifted people’ – they’re a pain in the arse. They sound great if the arrangement is exactly the same as the one they’ve been singing along with on the radio, because their skill is mimickry, not being a musician.

The reality TV shows aren’t set up to find musical depth, just one hit wonders and losers turned ‘boy dun good’ stories like Darius Dinesh and The Cheeky Girls. It’s shameful, and a blot on the music life of the UK.

All we need to remember is that it’s got nothing to do with us – we just carry on making the music that matters to us, avoid all the crappy competitions and flash-in-the-pan dancing for chicken BS. Music is worth more than that. Simon Cowell can shove it up his arse.

Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.