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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



2010 – The Year That Was.

December 31st, 2010 | 6 Comments | Categories: Random Catchup |

Here’s a month-by-month breakdown. As if such a thing were neccessary :)

January – Flapjack enters 2010 barely a month old, Lo and I still reeling from becoming parents, so January is a slow-ish month of ongoing adjustments to parentalism. But it does see two new ventures start – First, my work with the department of Social Computing at Imperial College began its first tentative steps, planning a new music discovery/sharing/listening app, that we’ve been working on all year, that’s proved to be all kinds of fun and a great chance to apply the knowledge I’ve gained about the changes in the world of music to a real-world project.

The other launch was the rebirth of ‘New Music Strategies’ – Andrew Dubber wanted to take the ideas that he’d developed on his blog, team up with some ninjas and see where it would go. We met up in Holland to talk over what it might end up being, and came up with all kinds of ideas. It’s quite a remarkable group of people, and NMS promises all kinds of great things going forwards…

February saw me back in full Amplified action, and our work grew from strength to strength through the year. Working with Toby Moores and Lucy Windmill to plan it and steer it has been one of the most rewarding teams I’ve ever been a part of. Two truly remarkable people. Add to that the incredible group of people we’re able to call on to ‘Amplify’ the events we get asked to cover, and you’ve got yourself a dream job. At least, you have if you’re me. It was a magical year for Amplified, and certainly a year in which novelty social media usage in many sectors gave way to a far more grown-up approach to harnessing the real time disseminating and democratising potential of social tech to change the way events are done. I’m glad to have been a part of that transition in the events we’ve been a part of.

Musically, February was when Mike Outram and I did our mammoth recording session in Leicester. Which STILL isn’t out. It was so much fun – to discover just how well our ideas gelled, while actually recording it (we’d never played together before the virtual-tape was actually rolling) was a delight. He’s a remarkable musician, and the album will be out v. soon, followed by as many gigs as we can get :)

I also recorded another album with Andrew Buckton, and played my first solo show of the year, at the Islwyn Guitar Club in South Wales. Good things.

Microgigs was launched in Feb too (wow, busy month!) – we hosted one with Miriam Jones in our tiny living room at our flat in Catford, and it was a resounding success. And it seems like lots more people were enthused about the whole house concert idea as a result… win!

March began with me headlining the Antwerp Festival Of Live Looping – a really enjoyable gig. The rest of the month was quiet, but ended with a masterclass tour for The Academy Of Music And Sound – a now annual (or in the case of 2010, twice-yearly!) masterclass tour that I do for them, and have come to really look forward to.

April’s big event was the Digital Economy Bill, which resulted in me watching hours and hours of live parliament online, and tweeting various MPs with thoughts, opinions, facts and figures relating to this most ham fisted piece of legislation. It passed, but not without enough of a fuss to lead to a judicial review, as well as the forming of an All Party Working Group which I was invited to address later in the year. The whole process galvanized a lot of thoughts and ideas I’d had about the shaping of the ongoing music industries, and the increasingly pernicious influence of the existing trade structures, copyright legislation and particularly the deeply damaging influence of regressive lobby groups like the BPI.

The end of April into May disappeared in a blur of Amplified work and bass teaching, but half way through May, Lobelia and I dipped our toes back into gig-world, eager to find out how Flapjack would take to house concerts. Initial results were NOT good (he screamed his way through our gig in Leeds!), but by the end of our UK Mini-tour, he was loving it, and all set for us to head out to the US at the end of the month.

June and most of July were spent traveling in the US, playing house concerts, visiting friends and family, and discovering just how much Flapjack loves the gigging life! As the tour went on, we released a live album of recordings culled from the tour itself, and in Louisiana, I recorded two albums with Trip Wamsley. It was a magical trip in so many ways, though ended up being a week or so too long, as Lo and I burned out before the trip home… Still, we got to spend lots of time with friends old and new (at this point I started listing them… way too many to list… fail.)

At the end of July, the marvellous Kristin Hersh was visiting London, and some fine twitter-serendipity transpired that ended up with me helping her and Billy organise a free gig in London, at Round Midnight – a night that was one of the musical highlights of the year. Amazing show, gorgeous people.

August saw the last of my ‘normal’ bass teaching for the year, when living in a one-bed flat soon showed its limitations in terms of teaching-space vs baby-space. Baby won. But Lobelia was able to play her first solo gig since Flapjack’s birth, and she even played a superbly well received last minute set at Greenbelt.

September was dominated for me by a trip to Berlin for All2GetherNow – an indie music conference, organised by the brilliant Andrea Goetze from New Music Strategies. 3 days of amazing discussions about the changes and potential of the new music environment, with some remarkable thinkers, not least of all Nancy Baym, Mike Masnick, Zoe Keating, Micki Krimmel and the New Music Strategies team. The duo session with Zoe, talking about being completely solo, was a particular treat.

The rest of Sept disappeared in a blur of furious Amplified activity. Exhausting.

October began with UnConvention Salford, so more New Music Strategies goodness, as well as a chance to link music-world with Amplified-world, as Laura Kidd and I gave it the Amplified treatment, live blogging and documenting all the goings on there…

October had two other notable gigs – the first was speaking at a rape prevention conference in Glasgow about the treatment of women in the music industry – definitely a high point of my music and speaking careers so far. It was a real honour to be asked to do it.

The other was a return visit to Round Midnight with Michael Manring – we played what was probably the best improvised set we’ve ever done, and had another full house. A great venue with one of my favourite musicians on the planet, what’s not to love?

November’s big event was a surprise (to me) gig at the London Jazz Festival, at the invitation of Orphy Robinson – just a couple of weeks before the gig, he asked if I’d like to do it, and on the day I discovered I’d be playing twice, AND it was going to be broadcast on Radio 3. The first trio set with Tony Buck and Otto Fischer has already gone out, and got a really good response. The later set with Orphy, Steve Noble and Otto will go out at a later date…

We also moved house at the end of November – after a year in our tiny flat, it was time to move on, and for the time being to travel north…

December began with another remarkable Amplified Assignment, covering an ‘Artist’s research lab on the theme of memory’ with an organisation called Motiroti. I quickly ended up wearing two hats, contributing as an artist too, and having some really inspirational discussions relating memory to art, artistic practice and culture. A really special couple of days.

Following another week long tour for the Academy Of Music and Sound, and a 2nd marvellous gig at Chapter One Books in Hythe with the remarkable Emily Baker, December has brought us to the end of the year and the eve of a new one…

2010 was brought to you by

  • Twitter,
  • Facebook,
  • Bandcamp,
  • the end of Myspace,
  • New Music Strategies,
  • Amplified,
  • Looping,
  • Bassing,
  • Blogging
  • and above all, parenting an amazing lil’ dude alongside my amazing wife.

I’ve loved it.

What does 2011 hold? Well, the definite stuff is

  • the release of the album with Mike Outram,
  • a new solo album (or collection-of-tunes-that-used-to-be-thought-of-as-an-album),
  • another trip to the US to visit family, and play some house concerts,
  • more Amplified stuff,
  • a public version of the music app with the Imperial College people
  • and a return to bass teaching.

The less definite stuff all depends on how things pan out. How much time I get to spend playing music depends on how much time I can afford to spend playing music, but as things stand, music pays for itself, and the time it takes to do. It’s a sustainable part of our lives, with forward motion and a debt-free momentum. Thanks to everyone who has come to a show this year and/or voluntarily chosen to buy music or share it with people who might like it – you’re the reason all this works.

So, onward into the new year, a new start, a fresh set of possibilities and potentials. It’s quite possible that it’ll be your best year yet – don’t jinx it, OK?

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Steve thack

    Disagree with you on verdict on initial gigs with flapjack. Leeds gig was a resounding success ( or it was right up untill we turned telly on to see exit poll results from the election) the difficulty of juggling flapjack and a gig added to the charm of the evening and i think overall flapjack had a good night.

  • Steve Uccello

    wow-what a year you had! -it was cool watching it all through the computer from over here in California-but many times (like the Manring show) it was hard to not get to be there in person to hear and see. Also I’m loving Live So Far as well as the collabs w/ Trip W. Whatever it is your doing to be maintain such focus and momentum-keep it up my fiend! It’s a very inspiring life you and Lobelia lead! btw-hope Vi and Flapjack get to hang a bit in ’11! …oh yeah, and that I can jam w/ you and Lo too 😉 Best of luck-

  • Steve Uccello

    oops..I meant my ‘fRiend’ not ‘fIend’ but I guess both could apply 😉

  • Andrew

    What an amazing year you’ve had, and what a gorgeous wee boy you have. Hopefully I’ll get to see you in 2011 sometime. Thanks for the post :-)

  • Bruce Warila

    Steve,

    Congrats on the new baby.
    I have four units at my house. Lots of fun.

    Happy New Year..

    -Bruce

  • Amy Humphrey

    Whew! What a year! Gutted not to see you guys in ’10 but looking forward to tracking you down in ’11 somewhere in the world! >;-D

    2011 is gonna be AWESOME!