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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Review on iTunes…

December 21st, 2006 · Comments Off on Review on iTunes…

Just got my first review posted on iTunes since the albums went up there last week –

“For anyone who is skeptical about the solo bass genre, this album is a fine example of a bassist who gets it right. Rather than simply riffing or playing fast and high, Lawson approaches the genre as a composer first, and this is what makes this work so satisfying to listen to. Highly recommended. 5 stars.”

Which is nice! If you’re an iTunes user, why not go and post a review yourself? In your iTunes program, click on ‘store’ do a search on ‘Steve Lawson’ and then click on either Grace and Gratitude or Behind Every Word, and post lovely things about them, please! It’d be a most satisfactory christmas present… ;o)

Tags: Music News

Redheaded Stevie

December 20th, 2006 · Comments Off on Redheaded Stevie




Redheaded Stevie

Originally uploaded by solobasssteve.

Finally Henna’d my hair last night – my grey roots were about 4 inches long, which was looking v. uncool. It was almost long enough to consider the henna ‘grown out, and just cut it shorter, keeping the grey, going for that distinguished look. But I like being the nearly-ginger hotness (or should that be the ginger nearly-hotness?)

And what’s more, it matches the collar on my fleece… whether it matches the cuffs would require a whole other photo…

Note the reactalight specs going dark – it’s v. cold here today, but v sunny. A good day to be stuck in doors working out 18 months worth of tax accounts and receipts. :o(

Tags: Random Catchup

When Climate Change starts to sting…

December 19th, 2006 · Comments Off on When Climate Change starts to sting…

Ok, this is a tough one to write, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, to echo the words of Hugo Schwyzer in his post about this subject, I love flying. I love travel, I love the feeling of limitless possibility that one has in airports. It’s my one major concession to hyper-modernity – the sleek lines, shiny metal and monorails make me feel like I’m in the Jetsons. I’m a travel junky, and I’ve benefitted hugely from my experiences when traveling.

However, it’s quite clear that aviation is one of the biggest – if not THE biggest – factor in the climate change disaster in which we currently find ourselves. So what do we do? Hugo, in his post above says, basically ‘nothing’ – flying’s great, travel’s great, so fuck it, we’ll just have to go on feeling guilty and hope guilt soaks up some carbon (that’s a fairly unfair paraphrase, but that’s the gist…)

OK – firstly, full disclosure – I’ve got two transatlantic flights coming up – I’m flying to NYC in Jan, then to LA and then home from SF. That’s a lot of flying. It pretty much uses up my carbon allocation for the next year. So what have I done to change things? Well, I’ve pretty much sworn off short-haul flights (I say ‘pretty much’ – I haven’t been faced with a really good paying gig that I’d be required to fly to in order to accept it.. I’ve no idea what I’ll do if that comes up, to be honest) – but I’ve completely changed the way I do gigs on the continent – it’s now all about doing a month at a time, and doing it all on the train. And as my October trip proved, it works. Well, even as a solo artist. As a duo, it’d be a cinch.

So – I really need to think hard about how the transatlantic thing works. I’ve looked into boats, honestly, but it doesn’t seem possible for less than a couple of grand… So where do I draw the line? Allow myself a couple of transatlantic flights a year? I dunno, I’m struggling here, but I am going to get the train and boat to Belfast over new year, so that’s one short haul flight I’ve foresworn… it’s much cheaper on the train/boat anyway!

For now, though, go and read what George Monbiot is writing about this – Monbiot is without doubt one of the most important thinkers on climate change, and the things we need to do to combat it. A lot of people are desperately trying to discredit him, but it’s not working. And while you’re there, check out TurnUpTheHeat.org – and why not write to Gordon Brown about taxation of aviation, or Douglas Alexander about the airport expansion policy? And how about signing up to the year of living generously, in order to look at the myriad ways we can cut back our global footprint…

Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

Christmas tunes that won't make you want to puke…

December 17th, 2006 · Comments Off on Christmas tunes that won't make you want to puke…

Christmas albums are, for the most part, shit. It’s a fact, and it’s a testimony to the amount of romantic slushy good-will in the air that people releasing them aren’t marched through the streets, tarred, feathered and dumped in a municipal waste disposal skip.

Every now and again, a genius christmas record happens. Fairytale Of New York, for example – possibly the greatest christmas record of all time. Another contender for that title is ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell, also a front-runner in the ‘most miserable christmas song of all time’, it’s a really really beautiful song, and one of the few JM songs that don’t sound really daft when someone else has a go at them.

As indeed James Taylor has! Yay – click here to download his version of River – I might have to get the rest of his Christmas record – if anyone can do unashamed sentimentality without it being mawkish, it’s JT.

Failing that, I’ll do what I’ve done for about the last 10 christmases and let Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Christmas’ album be my only Christmas CD, along with an MP3 of ‘Fairytale…’ – if you can get it, the greatest ever performance of a Christmas song is the version of ‘Cry Of A Tiny Babe’ by Bruce Cockburn, recorded live on the Columbia Radio Hour, with Roseanne Cash and Lou Reed guesting. Lou completely ignores the tune, the meter, everything, and Bruce nearly pisses himself laughing, but holds it together to sing. It’s magique! Yes, Paul, it’s even better than that Wombles christmas record you posted on the forum. It’s that good ;o)

I used to own the GRP christmas album, but you can refer to my first sentence on this blog for my opinion on that one…

Tags: Musing on Music

When a gig takes you by surprise…

December 16th, 2006 · Comments Off on When a gig takes you by surprise…

A few months back, I did a gig at a venue called ‘The Loft’ in Crouch End – I was booked to open for a band featuring Rowland Sutherland, and the gig turned out to be a really really lovely house concert, put on by a woman called Jenni Roditi – the audience were warm and friendly, the atmosphere one of acute listening, and it was an all round positive experience.

So when Jenni emailed round a circular letter a couple of weeks back, asking for people who were interested to play at an ‘open salon’ night, I thought it sounded like fun. The theme was ‘blank canvas’ and the last gig had been a positive experience, so why not.

As it turns out, tonight’s gig was one of the best night’s music I’ve heard in ages – about 10 acts performed all in, ranging from singer/songwriters to story-tellers, instrument builders demonstrating their amazing inventions to arias by Gluck. And, of course, solo bassists. :o)

A quick run down of what was on, if I can remember it all…!

Stella Dickenson started off demonstrating and talking about her wooden Sounding Bowl with strings – looks like a fruit bowl with strings attached, is actually a remarkably resonant instrument, that apparently works incredibly well in therapeutic settings. Fascinating stuff.

Sarah Warwick: singer/songwriter (former dance-chart-topping singer) – really really beautiful song and beautiful voice.

Jarmila Xymena Gorna: wordless singing, gorgeous piano playing, some lovely pre-recorded harmonies. Great stuff.

Fran Zipang: story from ancient Iraq – really great to hear a damn good story-teller, it’s easy to forget what a fantastic performance art story-telling is.

Mohini Chatlani: Mezzo Soprano, on show tune, one aria by Gluck – particularly liked the show tune (can’t remember the name of it now!) but both really well done.

Belinda Braggins: possibly the most nervous performer I’ve seen in years, but a writer of really really great solo piano music. A couple of things where she comped chords with her right hand, and all the melody stuff was happening in the bass, so we like that!

Bheki Mseleku: South African legend of spiritual jazz piano, apparently – lots of people there had heard of him, and he was very good.

then food and chats with all sorts of delightful people.

Second set –

Malka Rosenberg: singer/songwriter with a voice a lot like Julia Fordham – really beautiful song. Apparently this was her first ever gig, which, if true, was without a doubt the best debut performance I’ve ever witnessed. really great stuff.

James D’Angelo: Blue Monk variations, deconstructed and mashed up. Very good, very funny, very clever.

Jenni Roditi: our amazing host, performing extracts from her opera The Descent of Inanna. Somehow Jenni has managed to channel the harmony of ‘Lame Lies Down…’ era Genesis and ‘Once Around The World’-era It Bites into an opera, without ever hearing either band. Really great writing.

And then me, on last – because the theme was blank canvas, I just took my headrush pedal along, and my fretless, and started out with an improv piece, based on a similar idea to ‘chance’ off of ‘And Nothing But The Bass’, but with a much shorter loop (if you want to overdub on the headrush, you’ve got a maximum of 11 seconds…) – which came out really well. I then did What A Wonderful World, and got people to sing along, and finished off with Grace And Gratitude. I was then really shocked by the demand for CDs – i’d only taken 10 or so with me, but sold all the solo ones I had in about a minute, and only came home with one copy of Conversations. Everything else went. An amazing gig, perhaps it was the inspiration of so much other amazing music, and the great atmosphere that Jenni creates that did it.

Hat’s off to Jenni for hosting such a great gig – it’s a strong reflection of her personality (I guess in a similar way to how the Recycle Collective reflects mine), and she’s built up a fantastic audience and vibe for these gigs. Long may it continue!

Tags: Music News

Stefan Redtenbacher's Funkestra at the 606

December 16th, 2006 · Comments Off on Stefan Redtenbacher's Funkestra at the 606

Went to another great gig last night (that’s Friday night, just in case the timing on the blog is weird) – Stefan Redtenbacher’s Funkestra at the 606 in Chelsea. Went with Jude Simpson, cos she had much to celebrate, and what better way than with extreme funkiness from Stef and his merry band of funkateers.

I’ve seen the band play a couple of times now, and they never cease to impress – Stef’s an outstanding bassist, really really funky, and a great writer too – I guess it helps when you have musicians of the quality of Mike Sturgis, Hannah Vasanth, Jim Hunt and Eran Kendler.

So a great night out – top company, and magic music. who could ask for more?

Tags: Musing on Music

myTunes on iTunes…

December 16th, 2006 · Comments Off on myTunes on iTunes…

Yay! You can now get both Behind Every Word and Grace And Gratitude on iTunes! hurrah! So if you’re a download buyer, and for some reason haven’t bought the downloads from my site, you can head over to iTunes and get them there.

Go on, you know you want to.

If on the other hand, you listen to the 30 second previews on iTunes and decide you want the CDs instead of downloads, click here to order them!

xx

Tags: Music News

Duke Special and BJ Cole live at the Purcell Room.

December 14th, 2006 · Comments Off on Duke Special and BJ Cole live at the Purcell Room.




Duke Special live at the Purcell Room.

Originally uploaded by solobasssteve.

Great gig last night – Duke Special and BJ Cole at the Purcell Room. I’ve known Pete Wilson, AKA Duke Special, for years – he’s a lovely bloke, hugely talented, and is finally getting the acclaim he deserves.

Last night’s gig was part of a ‘Cool Yule’ pair of gigs – the next one being the Juliet Turner gig next week, and I felt in some way proudly responsible for this one as the lovely promoter JJ met BJ at the gig BJ and I did together at the Half Moon a few months back.

The gig started with BJ’s set, with his ‘Trouble In Paradise’ trio, featuring Ben Bayliss on laptop monkeyness and Eddie Sayer as percussion hobbit – it’s a really great trio, with Eddie in particular adding a crazy human element to all the looped and programmed beats etc. The steel was a little too quiet on the gig, frustratingly so at first, but still ’twas a great set.

Then Duke’s set – it’s the first time I’ve heard Duke Special with a full band – tonight featuring the ever present Chip Bailey on percussion, Paul Wilkinson on fantastic bass and guitar, Ben Hales from Aqualung on guitar, bass, keys, BVs, percussion etc. Ben Castle on sax and clarinet, and then David Ford and BJ Cole guesting on three tunes. ‘Twas a great gig – moving, funny, beautifully played, all good nothing bad. Duke Special is going to be huge in the new year, so go and see him/them as soon as you can…

the aftershow party was magic – a room full of really lovely people, 80% of whom I already knew, and a load of other lovelies that I didn’t previously know.

Yay for Duke!

Tags: Musing on Music

Pre-christmas must-see gig

December 11th, 2006 · Comments Off on Pre-christmas must-see gig

I’m a huge huge fan of Juliet Turner, an amazing Irish singer/songwriter, who is a bit of a huge star across the water there, and has a pretty big following here too. I’ve just seen that she’s doing a gig at the Purcell Room as part of the Cool Yule series on Dec 22nd. You SO shouldn’t miss this. Head over there now (click that link above) and get tickets. Go on!! She’s got Boo Hewerdine doing the gig as well, who’s great, and her guitarist, Brian Grace is amazing too.

Go on! I’ll see you there…

I would mention the other Purcell Room Cool Yule gig i’m going to this wednesday with BJ Cole and Duke Special, but it’s sold out and I don’t want to rub your nose in it :o)

x

Tags: Musing on Music

MamaYo gig

December 9th, 2006 · Comments Off on MamaYo gig




MamaYo live in London

Originally uploaded by solobasssteve.

Went to a fab gig this evening – MamaYo at Jerusalem, on Rathbone Place in London. Cool venue. Had arranged to meet Yo and Miles before the gig, but thanks to their phone being on vibrate and in the wrong pocket it took 20 minutes to find them… Anyway, once I did, dinner was had, and then back to the venue. I very much doubt there are two nicer people on the planet – both utterly lovely, and as tonight’s gig more than ably proved, awesome musicians. Yolanda is without doubt one of the best funk bassists in the country. That she’s now getting to grips with playing like that AND singing at the same time is too much. Tonight’s gig was a trio gig – they were a quartet last time I saw them play in Manchester at Bass Day, but I think I prefer the more open trio sound – all three are such great players that it just gives everyone more room to shine.

Anyway, a fab night. In fact, my second fab night out in a row, cos last night was Seth Horan at which a very, er, ‘select’ audience were treated to some amazing playing and singing from the man himself. Seth’s definitely one of my favourite bassist/singers, and deserved a bigger crowd (don’t we all), but put on a great show, as did his guitar monkey for the evening, Peter Fisher – a really talent germany guitarist. Very nice to see Seth as always, and looking forward to seeing him again at NAMM in January.

Those of you that missed it, shame on you! Make sure you go see him next time he’s in London…

Tags: Musing on Music