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Music Plans for 2010

January 27th, 2010 · 3 Comments

2009 was a fairly easy-going year, music-wise for Lobelia and I. We played a load of US shows in January, and a handful of other shows across the year, but it was mainly pretty low-key stuff.

Gigs:

2010 is already shaping up to be a much more musically-focussed year. I’m in the process of booking some solo house-concerts for the end of March/Beginning of April – the open dates are

  • March 29th (near Birmingham),
  • 31st (near Exeter) and
  • April 1st (near Swindon) –
  • the 30th already has a gig booked in Southampton (more details ASAP).

If you want to host a house-gig on any of those dates, and are near (or between) those places, please drop me a line.

Then Lo and I are doing some duo shows at the beginning of May – on the 6th we’re in Leeds and the 8th in Surrey (more deets soon) – if you’re anywhere between those two, we’d be happy to come and play on the 7th, or either side of those dates. Do drop us a line.

And at the end of May we go out to the US, mainly to take Flapjack to meet the family, but we’ll be doing some house concerts and ‘house consulting’ as well – if you’re interested in hosting something (or putting us in touch with a music school/university) please drop us a line.

Recording:

It’s now nearly 4 years since I released Behind Every Word, and while it’s currently selling REALLY well thanks to Bandcamp’s wonderful download sales platform, it really is time for a new album. So I’ll be working on that very soon – just need to get the tech side worked out. Hopefully will have that available for the US shows.

In a couple of weeks time, I’m going into a studio for a day with Mike Outram – guitar-monkey extraordinaire. No idea what we’ll come up with, but if its releasable, that’ll be out sometime soonish as well.

And then there’s the archive – I’ve got a whole load of fascinating music languishing on hard-drives. There’s a duo album with Italian guitarist Luca Formentini, a strange-yet-beautiful experimental duo album with free improv trumpeter Jeff Kaiser, a quartet live recording with Jeff, saxophonist Andrew Pask and bassist Steuart Liebig. (that last one is really interesting cos I thought the gig had gone pretty badly, then listened to the recording and really liked it 🙂 )

And there’s also a double album’s worth of live stuff with Theo Travis, recorded on the tour we did after For The Love Of Open Spaces came out. That really needs to be heard. So maybe I should work on that first.

Suffice to say, there’ll be lots of cool music from me this year, if something else doesn’t get in the way.

For now, here’s the album with Theo Travis – have a listen, and then pay whatever you like for it if you want to download it.

Tags: gig dates · Gig stuff · Music News

Open Letter To the UK Jazz Community, Pt II – do more recordings!

April 21st, 2009 · Comments Off on Open Letter To the UK Jazz Community, Pt II – do more recordings!

photo of John Lester and Theo Travis live at the 606 jazz clubSo, as I said in Part 1, the UK jazz scene is producing some outstanding music, but

  • Doesn’t seem to appreciate itself and
  • Doesn’t seem to have done much thinking about its future or even its place in the ‘present of music’.

I suppose I ought to define what I mean by ‘the UK jazz scene’ (should’ve done this in the first post, but still) – my thoughts here are based on conversations with a wide range of musicians, interactions with venue bookers, reading the jazz press here and talking to the people who run the labels. It’s all anecdotal, in that I’ve done no quantitative research, but the trends within my observations are pretty conclusive – the exceptions to them are there, but very rare…
[Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Collaborating super-heroes part II

September 24th, 2008 · Comments Off on Collaborating super-heroes part II

super-hero tools. Capes not includedSo, following up my thoughts about the ‘future of business‘, where I touched on this idea of collaboration between groups of experts as the way forward, where everyone has an investment in what goes on, everyone has a say within their group etc…

The first example I talked about was the Lawson/Dodds/Wood trio – 3 musicians, 3 different approaches and skill sets, lots of great skills to throw into the mix (and far too many toys to fit on the stage at Darbucka!)

The second is JFDI (our soon-to-be web-home is www.socialtakeaway.com) – this is a collective of social media thinkers and practitioners, looking at ways of pooling our skills and resources to provide social media-led solutions to whoever wants to hire our expertise. The four amigos are me, Nik Butler aka LoudMouthMan, Mike Atherton aka Sizemore and Christian Payne aka Documentally. Each of us brings different skills and spheres of expertise to the mix, but all have done a serious amount of thinking and doing in the whole area of social media, of communicating honestly and effectively with one’s audience/clients/customers/friends/competitors via the wonders of conversation-based internet tools.

We’re good at it on our own, and we’re even better when we can call on each other to fill in the blanks. No-one is the ‘boss’, no-one is calling the shots, it’s not a sealed group, in as much as we all have huge extended circles of talented people to draw on when we need other skills – it’s just that four people is a nice number for this kind of venture, and we seem to have a lot of bases (and basses) covered.

It feels slightly A-team-ish (only, this is probably a whole team of Murdochs), in that we’re for hire, we’ll make a splash and bizarrely no-one will die no matter how many pyros we set off… uhm, not sure about that last bit. (well, I’m sure we won’t kill anyone, but I’m not sure we’ll be using pyrotechnics… though with Christian involved, anything’s possible)

But still, it’s a loose collective, one that I feel pretty good about being a part of – I really like the guys I’m working with, like the things they do, and enjoy bouncing ideas and strategies around with them. We’re all still doing things on our own (it’s not like the bands and solo artists that I talk to about how to use social media to communicate with their audience are going to be able to afford to bring the four of us in), and I’ve got other collaborators in other fields, but that’s the beauty of this kind of working. I feel deeply invested in it without being chained to it. I’m there because of what I have to give, and because these are people I want to work with… Much like being in a band, really 🙂

Tags: Geek · tips for musicians

Nokia Open Labs Pt 4 – The Future of Business

September 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Nokia Open Labs Pt 4 – The Future of Business

CT struts his stuff - photo by meAnd the last session was Join and Collaborate – CT did a nice job of setting it up with his facilitator bit, but this was where the Nokia-ness of the session first impressed itself upon the kind of discussion we had.

Everyone immediately assumed we were talking about the corporate world. About using social media in big corporations. And proceeded in that manner (something CT expressed some frustration at in his summing up). It was so pervasive that my attempts to suggest that any model/metaphor for running a big business that is predicated on an essentially organic/benign model is flawed in its conception due to it assuming the ‘right to life’ – Corporations can be entirely predatory, more like sci-fi monsters than corrupted humans… If your metaphor is that of a ‘business is just like a person’, then you assume they have an innate right to life, and that our job is to enable them to function. If they are a sci-fi monster, a different morality is at work, and they may be entirely malignant and need to be got rid of…

Such is the clumsiness of over-used metaphors, and while some good thoughts came up about the nature of business, It was largely a frustrating discussion (the root of the frustration goes back to my point yesterday about extroverts getting more airtime than they really deserved…)

But, it has since sparked off in me an idea about a mash-up of Schumacher’s ‘Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered’ and the principles involved in running an information-age corporation… running it as though the people mattered, given them some investment in the process and the product, allowing departments to run as semi-autonomous collectives…

And this is how the indie side of the music biz has run for years – most indie record labels can’t afford big staff – they can’t afford PO Boxes let alone post-rooms. There’s little space for anonymous drones in the indie world, given that everyone really needs to earn their salary, and those salaries are probably tiny. As a result, everyone is there for the love of it, and brings in whatever skills they have to make it better.

I’m in two situations like this work-wise at the moment – small teams of ‘super heroes‘, pooling their skills as a collective, rather than as employees. The first, as you’ll have seen if you’ve watched the last two videos I posted, is Lawson/Dodds/Wood – my trio with Roy Dodds and Patrick Wood. We each have different skill sets, both musician-ly and para-musically – when we’re playing, Patrick and I can easily swap roles, I can do melody while he does texture/groove and vice versa. Roy can be very much a rhythm section player or entirely self-contained, happy to play beautiful percussion without any obvious bassline to ‘lock in’ to. It’s gorgeous free-flowing music.

And outside of playing, our skills are different too – Roy got us the most amazing drum sounds in the studio – great experience at ‘ad hoc’ recording – we had no separation for mics etc, just a tiny room that sounded great. So his experience in recording live bands in his own home studio was HUGELY helpful.

Then Patrick took over on editing it – with Roy and I offering support, advice, opinions (more Roy than me, as for a lot of the editing time, I was away in the US) – Patrick produced the record, sorted out the sax/vocal additions to our trio improvs, edited them down. Really really amazing skills. (there’ll be more about this on the video).

And what’s beautiful about it is that it’s all done in an atmosphere of mutual fandom and gratitude – Patrick and I are Roy’s biggest fans. He’s our favourite drummer, and are both hugely grateful to work with him. Likewise, Patrick’s editing and recording skills are something I’m happy to pimp out to anyone looking for that kind of world class expertise. There’s no boss, no focus group, no board of investors. Just three skills people pooling their resources for the greater advancement of the whole.

The second project is JFDI/The Social Takeaway, but I’ll write more about that later, as I really have to go and teach!

Tags: Geek · New Music Strategies · Uncategorized