Today marks the 10th anniversary of this blog! Or at least, the point at which I stopped posting long updates about what I’d been upto on my ‘news’ page on my site, and put in a dedicated blog section.
From the February 2001 issue of Bass Player Magazine – the strapline on the cover was “The Future Of Bass – Fearless Forecasts From 40 Pros” – of which I was one.
Here’s the last paragraph of what I wrote: “As the major labels focus their attention on an increasingly vapid and temporal bunch of faceless clothes horses, the Net will open up more and more channels for heartfelt independent original music”. [Read more →]
Well, I’m now well over twelve thousand words into my NaNoWriMo novel, which is called ‘Rock And Roll Is Dead’.
As I said in my last post, I’m setting up twitter accounts for the characters as I go along, and two of them are now on there: @Drum_Monkey_ and @TheDistanceMeg. They’ve been chatting to each other and with other twitterers, and some of those tweets are ending up either in or influencing the story. Drum Monkey even got a string of really smart direct messages giving him some advice on a guerilla marketing campaign! It’s turning into all kinds of fun. [Read more →]
So this afternoon, on a whim, I thought ‘I wonder if I can write a novel about some musicians who in some imaginary world start a cultural revolution, accidentally’ – I realised that it would be fun to have a go at writing a long-form hypothetical case study on how the world of music might work out. After all, it’s how a lot of novels work – either romantic or dystopic visions of an imaginary future for people and planet. [Read more →]
I’ve mentioned before how fortunate I feel to have got to meet so many of my musical heroes early on in my music career. Back when I was writing for Bassist magazine – and then Guitarist magazine when they were merged – I had the opportunity to hang out with and chat to so many players whose music had meant a lot to me. In some cases, they were pleasant interviews, and the players now say hi if see them at trade shows. Others are people I now class as good friends, and some I’ve had the chance to play with. After this interview with Abraham Laboriel, we played together for over an hour. (I’ve got a minidisc of it somewhere, though given that it was only a few months after I first got my 6 string fretless, I’m guessing my intonation wouldn’t be quite what it is today!) [Read more →]
A few months back, I was asked to put together a list of 10 of my favourite basslines by Bass Guitar Magazine. I sent them a list of 10, and a little note about each one, but the article is now out without the little blurb. So here’s the blurb. They also numbered them, as though there’s an order to them, which there clearly isn’t. Music doesn’t work like that. and If I wrote the list again today, it’d be different.
But anyway, here’s the list, with links where possible, and a little bit about each one…
Le Freak – Chic : one of the funkiest lines ever from the Beatles Of Disco. I could’ve picked just about any of their hits. Bernard’s tone and feel are a thing of wonder. Refuge Of The Roads – Joni Mitchell : My favourite bassline from my favourite album ever. Every note Jaco plays on the whole Hejira album is sublime. Maxwell Murder – Rancid : carrying the ‘punks that can really play’ torch forward, Matt Freeman manages to be full of energy, inventive and a chops-monster at the same time. Orphans – Deacon Blue : one of the first pop songs I ever heard with chords on a 6 string bass. This is almost all just bass, voice and tambourine. Beautiful Chicken Grease - D’Angelo : Pino was The Man in the 80s, and he’s still The Man now, only instead of slide-y fretless and a curly mullet he’s the cool king of hip-hop. My whole understanding of rhythm changed when I heard this album. Selene – Michael Manring : not exactly a ‘bass line’ but without a doubt one of the most beautiful pieces of solo bass music ever recorded. I Keep Forgettin’ – Michael McDonald : what locking in with a kick drum is all about. Louis Johnson shows restraint, digs deep and has a bass tone to die for. Forget Me Nots – Patrice Rushen : My favourite ever slap line. Freddie Washington probably even has a funky heartbeat. I’m In Love - Frank Dunnery : Matt Pegg, son of Dave, basically soloing through most of this tune, in a way that sounds neither wanky nor out of place. Exceptional playing and writing. Spirits In A Material World – The Police : again, could have picked one of about 15 Police lines. Something magical happens when Sting gets with Stuart Copeland, even though they both play ‘out of time’ most of the time. Proof if ever it were needed that you don’t need protools to make incredible music.
Feel free to post your lists in the comments. Would be interested to read them. But please, don’t bother with the ‘what??? how could you miss out ********** (insert bassist here)’ – there are only 10, it’s not a definitive list, as I said it’d change now, and it’ll be different again tomorrow. So relax, and gimme a list of great lines.
I’ve been hoping this interview would surface online for a quite a while - Adrian asked a really smart set of questions and, crucially, came back with questions relating to them. Email interviews can be really dull if it’s just a questionnaire (unless it’s MEANT to be a ’20 questions’ type deal…) – because there’s no conversational flow. So as a tip for those of you interviewing online, send 2 or three questions to start with at most, preferably unrelated ones, and then develop each one with questions that follow on…
But I digress, this is about me – anyway, it’s a great interview, and I was kinda surprised at the quote in the sell that says,
‘The unexpected popularity of bass looping in the UK can largely be attributed to Steve Lawson‘,
but I guess there’s some truth in that. It’s probably just that I’m more aware of my own influences than my influence.
One of the highlights of my year was the great weekend I got to spend in Helsinki as part of the Nokia Open Lab 08. It was a weekend in which social media practitioners – most with an emphasis on mobile usage – brought together for a series of discussions, workshops and presentations on the future of mobile social media, with a focus on Nokia’s hardware, obviously.
I met some amazing people there, many of whom have become really good friends over the ensuing months (particularly Phil Campbell and Ilicco Elia).
When I got back, I wrote a series of blog posts, encapsulating a lot of the things that the weekend covered, and my thoughts on them. Looking back on them now, I’m really grateful for the brain-food I got over the weekend.
There were a couple of other big writing things I got up to online (as well as my column in Bass Guitar Magazine, which ended this year after a couple of years…) - I was invited to write for a blog on a government website called Creative Choices which aside from being an appallingly badly designed site (front and back end), was a great project to be a part of given that I had the remit to write about the creative life, and got paid for it! Here’s a link to all my posts there.
The other site I’ve been writing for is an ongoing project, writing for MusicThinkTank.com – as you’ll see if you look at the list of my co-authors over there, I’m in insanely good company writing for them, sharing the web space with some of the best thinkers I’ve ever come across.
I’ve posted a couple of articles to MTT in the last few weeks – this one I posted today:
I was recently invited to contribute to a blog on a site called Creative Choices – the focus of the site is resourcing and encouraging people either in or looking to transition to employment in the creative sector. So a few us social media monkeys have been co-opted to blog about creative things. It’s a fantastic remit, and I rather like the look of the site. I’m also in great company, as the other contributors include some of my favourite thinkers in the social media world – Christian Payne, Lloyd Davis and Mike Atherton, amongst others.
Anyway, it’s just gone live Here, and you can read my first post over there, entitled Employ Yourself. It’s one idea that I’ve used in the past to try and get round the feeling that I’m not up to the job of managing the non-bass-playing part of my career… You may find it useful, and there’s a question at the end you can answer in the comments, if you like