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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Entries Tagged as 'Random Catchup'

Post-greenbelt. How Was It For You?

August 27th, 2008 · Comments Off on Post-greenbelt. How Was It For You?

We’re home from Greenbelt. Will do a proper blow by blow account soon, but for now, a few thoughts on a Qik video (I am as tired as I look in the vid 🙂 )

Please post links to your own Greenbelt blogs, videos & photos in the comments below…

Tags: Geek · Musing on Music · Random Catchup

What Is Greenbelt?

August 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on What Is Greenbelt?

Here’s my attempt to answer the question, ‘What Is Greenbelt?’, for those of you that have been wondering. 🙂

Tags: Geek · Random Catchup

A new blog post and another QIK vid…

August 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on A new blog post and another QIK vid…

It’s only friday afternoon, the Greenbelt site isn’t even open yet, and I’m already working like crazy.

I’ve been posting loads of videos at www.qik.com/solobasssteve (damn, I’m going to HAVE to get myself a Nokia N95 after I give this trial one back. It’s WAY to useful!) and have just written another post for Creative Choices, entitled Creative Copying – have a read, and feel free to comment there.

If you follow my twitter feed, whenever a link appears that says I’m Qiking, you can log in and chat with me on the live stream… please drop in and say hi!

Here’s another qik post from this morning –

Tags: Geek · Random Catchup

New glasses! (trivial nonsense alert…)

July 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on New glasses! (trivial nonsense alert…)

Here’s a video I just posted over on Phreadz, showing off my new spex 🙂

Tags: Random Catchup

Taking Care of Business (new post on Creative-Choices.co.uk)

July 17th, 2008 · Comments Off on Taking Care of Business (new post on Creative-Choices.co.uk)

I posted a new article up on the Creative Choices site. It’s a few lessons learned from last week’s tour… I’ll write more extensively about the tour here once we’ve debriefed it properly as a band, but the tour just provided the impetus for a post about the need to make creative ventures financially viable if you want to do more of them.

You can read the post by clicking here – and if you sign in once you get there, you can comment. There are a few really interesting comments already.

Also generating loads of great comments is part for of my teaching thoughts series here. Thanks so much for all your comments there!

Enjoy!

Tags: Musing on Music · Random Catchup

Quick catch up… normal blogging will be resumed shortly.

July 15th, 2008 · Comments Off on Quick catch up… normal blogging will be resumed shortly.

Illness+tour+grandad’s funeral= not much blogging from Steve. Sorry ’bout that.

So the last 10 days have involved 3 days mostly in bed ill, 4 gigs, 2 days of rehearsing learning mad prog tunes with multiple time signatures (and in one case, an impossibly difficult line in 7/8 that I just had to ditch and make up as I went along!). The four gigs broke down into two gigs in churches, and two at the Eisteddfod in Llangollen, North Wales, where we were told as we arrived that we couldn’t go over 75db… nice.

Sunday was spent travelling – it took 7.5 hours to get from North Lincolnshire to London, in which time I could’ve got to New York, and yesterday (Monday) was the toughest gig of my life, as I had to speak at my Grandad’s funeral. Did I hold it together? Yeah, right, of course I did.

In the meantime, the illness that had me in bed for 3 days hasn’t really got much better – I just couldn’t stay in bed, so didn’t…

There’s going to be a whole series of posts, I suspect, about the tour, but I’ll debrief with the rest of the musicians, before posting my thoughts on it here, it’s only fair 🙂

So there you have it. More Teaching ideas, more Creative Choices posts, more other stuff coming v. soon.

And of course, Lo. and I have a gig coming up at Darbucka on July 29th, with the magical Roy Dodds on drums and percussion, and a return visit by the amazing Lloyd Davis on ukelele. So put that in your diaries NOW, and we’ll update you further ASAP.

Tags: Random Catchup

RIP Grandad…

July 1st, 2008 · Comments Off on RIP Grandad…




DSC00474.JPG

Originally uploaded by solobasssteve

This pic was taken two years ago. Yesterday, my grandad, 98 years old, passed away. My nan was with him.

There are mixed emotions when someone of such advanced years dies. It’s not like he was cut off in his prime… He was ill and in hospital. We saw him last week, and my comment after was ‘well, he could get over this illness and last another few years, or die in his sleep tonight, you just can’t tell’… as it turns out the latter prediction was much closer.

He was a lovely bloke, who mellowed hugely with age. My ‘nan’ is actually my step-nan – he had two 30+ years marriages in his 98 years. Amazing.

When we were kids he’d get very stressed about us breaking nana’s stuff, and we thought he was being gruff and miserable. Actually, he just adored nana and was genuinely really concerned that if we knocked over a vase or something, it would deeply upset her. Truth was, she wouldn’t have cared much. She just loved being around the family – and the two sides of the family have integrated better than almost any step-family situation I’ve ever come across.

The most striking thing about my grandad’s younger years is that he was a music-nut. He never played an instrument seriously, but for a quite a few years, he’d go into Foyles on Charing Cross Road in his lunch hour (this is back in the 40s/50s), listen to ALL the new releases that week, and buy whatever he liked. No real concern for a particular style, just whatever took his fancy. And he sang. Right up until we saw him last week, in hospital on a drip, unable to keep his false teeth in unaided, he was singing, remembering the words to songs when he forgot just about all else. He knew more of the words to Moon River than I did. He had the deepest voice I’ve ever heard. Made Barry White sound like Barry Gibb.

…so my huge and varied music taste, and the thousands of pounds I’ve spend on CDs, records, tapes and gig-going are probably somewhere down the line his fault. I will be eternally grateful. It’s one obsession I’m more than happy to have inherited from John Barker.

A lovely old bloke, who adored his family and food and real ale and a good laugh and traveling (oops, there’s another inherited obsession!) and cars and friends and walks in the country. He was full of crazy stories, having worked loads of jobs and lived through two world wars (born in 1910!). Stories I haven’t got recorded. I really wish I’d got his stories recorded years ago, before his memory started to slip. If you’ve got elderly grandparents, go and document their stories – they won’t be around for ever!

See ya, grandad – this is how I’ll remember you, smiling out the window.

Tags: Random Catchup

possible new business card design?

June 30th, 2008 · Comments Off on possible new business card design?

This might be fun… 🙂

ipod-esque business card

Whaddya think?

Tags: Random Catchup · Uncategorized

[real life] – no more car?

May 24th, 2008 · 7 Comments

Question: could you live without a car? (DO you live without a car?)
Ancillary Question: could you live without a car as a gigging musician?

This blog may end up being the ongoing forum for me answering those two questions after my car died this morning… It’s been problematic for a while (frustratingly, only last week I spent £130 on a new exhaust!), but today I took it in for an oil change and saw that the head gasket has gone. Water in the engine. For the second time. I’ll call my garage who did the repair last time and see if there’s any warrantee on the parts, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s a known issue with Rover cars.

Anyway, I REALLY can’t afford to either get it fixed or replace it right now, so unless something magical happens, it looks like for a while we’re going to be car-less. Will be interesting to see how that works, given that we’ve got a few gigs coming up that look like they’ll need a car for sure… or will they? We’ll find out. This part of London isn’t a-wash with decent cheap car hire firms, but there are car-clubs springing up all over the place, so that might be an option…

Either way, I now need to find out where I can sell my car for scrap – it still just about drives (though it did cut out four times on the way home yesterday from a gig at the design museum – more on that later…)

So, sans-car in London. How’s that going to work?

Tags: Random Catchup · travel

Managing information streams (Pt 1)

March 7th, 2008 · 7 Comments

This will (I think) be the first in a series of posts about this, mainly because it’s an ongoing struggle and area of conceptual development.

So, I’ll start by saying where my problem lies – a lot of the stuff online about being overwhelmed by email starts by talking about spam. Apart from when I’ve had my domain-name spoofed by spammers and suddenly had 3000 ‘user not known’ replies, spam has never been a big problem for me. If you’ve got your email on a dedicated server, then there are various very effective and ‘teachable’ spam filters out there. the Gmail one seems pretty damned good too. (if you’re still using Hotmail as your primary email interface, you’re probably sorting through spam now and not reading this…)

So, what is my problem with email? it’s largely two fold – one, it’s filtering the mass of information I get on a subject so that I get only the best information, and two, it’s how to process info as it comes in.

I’m on a few different email discussion lists, which are seeming increasingly anachronistic as a way of doing group interaction. With the web forums I read, I tend to browse via keywords in the search box on the really busy ones, and glance at the recent posts every few days on the less busy ones. That doesn’t take long, and means I can track where the things I’m interested in are being mentioned. I also have google alerts, and technorati alerts for certain words cropping up in other places. But the email ones still take time to filter.

I get a fair bit of info that relates to gigs and teaching that tends to get lost as I put it to one side while I consider what to do with it, or juggle my diary so I can fit it all in… then someone emails me and says ‘are we still on for tomorrow’s lesson?’ and I panic as I try to make it all fit… so I need a new system there, for sure. the Search box in Macmail helps a lot, as I can just do a search for ‘lessons’ or ‘tuition’ to find all the bass lesson related stuff… Maybe I should try the ‘smart mailbox’ thing.

My other big problem with email is that replying quickly creates an expectation that this is your norm, so people use email for things that are urgent. I REALLY need to get away from that… Tim Ferris has written some really useful stuff on this topic here

Anyway, I’ve not got very far with managing my information, have I (though I did just go and unsub from a couple of lists I receive but never read, so that’s good…) – as my friend Karen would say ‘Land the plane, Steve!!’

It’s about filtering. I’ve written about this WRT music recently, but it applies equally to information – the problem isn’t a lack of it, it’s a lack of quality control. If I want to keep track of what’s happening in the bass-world, I could spend all day every day reading stuff on forums, blogs, email lists, digests…. And even for an info-geek like me, less than 3 or 4% of it is useful or even particularly interesting. So I need to be able to target my info. Here are a couple of suggestions for how WE can do it.

#1 – collaborate – if you want filters, be a filter. Google shared items is such an amazing way to get someone else to filter for you. I’ve read SO many great stories that I’d have missed thanks to following Jeff Schmidt and Jyoti Mishra‘s shared items. Some of the blogs I them subscribe to, often I just leave it to them to filter them for me.

Same goes for futuremusictalk.com – a GENIUS filter for stuff about the future of the industry. Not all the info, just most of the best info. And it gets better every time sarda tweaks it. He’s a genius, and lovely, and very busy, not surprisingly.

So using ready-made filters (here are my shared items for those of you who want them) – let others do the legwork.

If you have a very specific search criteria, use Google Blogsearch – put the searc term in, then grab the feed. Google rules. Technorati provide a similar service, but it’s hopelessly flakey…

So, get google reader, and start sharing – let me know when you do, and I’ll watch what you’re linking to… and then…

#2 – be ruthless. If you subscribe to a feed that you find yourself continually paging down past, delete it. Don’t clutter your reader. get rid of it, and let the google blog or news search watch it for you for keywords. (note to self, must see if google blogsearch can handle boolean commands). Don’t put up with duplicate feeds – if you subscribe to a feed that is fed straight into futuremusictalk.com, delete the feed (with some blogs, including mine, only certain posts are cross-posted. With others more specific blogs, everything is aggregated there). I did this recently with news feeds – the beeb cross post a lot of articles to world and UK news, so I deleted one of them. Same with the guardian. strip it back, get the info you need, don’t sweat about missing some stuff – if it’s that good, someone else will share it anyway (thanks Jyoti for the political filter stuff – you rule!)

#3 – set limits. This is the bit I’m worst at, and the bit that from next week is going to get experimental. Have set times for this stuff, then click ‘all read’ – use the starring thing in google reader (do you get the idea that I think Google Reader ROCKS??) to come back to things at a later date, or share it then go read your own feed… But stick to them. I’m definitely writing this for myself now, I’m terrible at this. One thing I’ve started to do is not have feeds loading in the background. Using FluidApp.com I’ve turned Google Reader into it’s own application. I read, then close it, so its not giving me alerts all the time. I read it like a newspaper in the morning or evening. I also set my email to only check once every 30 mins, so I do it in batches. Soon, I’m hoping to switch to twice a day email too… we’ll see if that works.

And here’s the clincher, and the link to the next post (later) – I’m using twitter to do a lot of my filtering. Twitter deserves its own post, but so far my online presence has gone through the roof as a result of using it (even with a fairly modest number of followers) but I actually spend LESS time on that than I used to on forums, IM and email… next post will explain how and why.

I hope that lot helps – PLEASE post suggestions – I’m still working this one out. Blog about it, and post a link in the comments, ask questions if I’m using geek terms you don’t get. This shit is important because it threatens to swamp our time to be human, creative and alive. Help me out here…

Tags: cool links · Geek · Managing Information Streams · New Music Strategies · Random Catchup · tips for musicians · website recommendations