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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Review – And Nothing But The Bass (Misfit City)

May 7th, 2008 · No Comments

“This music is apparently what Steve Lawson makes to entertain friends. Friends who make themself known as such simply by showing up to one of his intimate gigs in London. Or in Lincoln, Watford, France, California… or wherever Lawson and his little bundle of bass guitars, E-Bow sustainers and looping devices pitch camp for an evening of playing. And, having asserted your friendship by wandering in and sitting down, you can smile to yourself about the way his lush, demonstrative instrumental music manages to cross-reference Frippertronics, Pete Seeger, Jaco Pastorius and Joe Satriani (for starters) without them crashing into each other or crowding him off his own playing stool.

You can also smile – with genuine enjoyment – at the sheer guilelessness of his music. The gauche jokiness of “And Nothing But The Bass”‘s title is accurate: Steve Lawson’s ‘And Nothing But The Bass’ with one exception, this really is all One Man And His Loops live in front of a small, polite but audibly happy audience. But it shouldn’t be dismissed as cutesy novelty, or as circus tricks with effects pedals: that isn’t the half of it. In London, we’re used to anxiety. Self-exposure from tortured musical artists, cool-by-numbers checklists, spotlight-grabbing attitude flexers; obvious-state-of-minders stapled to credible trends and sinking with them. Hearing Steve Lawson duck this, focussing quietly instead on the way music connects across generations and between person and person, is a sweet shock.

On technical terms alone, Lawson holds his end up alongside American stars of the lyrical bass such as Victor Wooten or Michael Manring. But his work showcases not only prodigious playing talent but also a thorough lack of self-consciousness about engaging with his listeners. Maybe it’s from playing pop with the elfin, equally guileless Howard Jones; but when you hear Lawson duetting with himself on sprightly children’s-song tunes like “The Inner Game” and “The New Country” (wrapping joyously squishy melodies around his looped, nodding, double-stopped riffs) you know you’re not hearing someone who’s concerned about his agenda fitting anyone’s T-shirt. Or with the solemn rules at jazz school.

All right, perhaps an over-mellow conflation of those lovable old chestnuts “Chopsticks” and “Blue Moon” (on “Blue Sticks”) is a step too far in this direction. All taste and no meat; too close to a musical life that’s one long function room. Lawson dispatches it with impeccable skill, which is all very nice but a little worrying. Far better to hear him feeding twanging threads of Celtic American folk song and bluegrass into “The Virtue Of The Small”, Flecktones-style; then splitting off to layer on luxuriously glutinous improvisations via serenely wandering fretless and classic metal distortion. Or to spot momentary nods to other bassists (Chris Squire, Steve Swallow, Alphonso Johnson, Stuart Hamm) who’ve let melodies rumble up from the basement. Or just to put the notebook down and enjoy tunes like “Bittersweet”, a fretless-bass-and-piano duet owing a little to both Pachelbel’s Canon and Weather Report’s “A Remark You Made”. Jez Carr’s strums of high, cautiously sweet piano haze this one lightly with blue. Perhaps it’s over-aligned with the fastidious, earnestly white, New Age end of jazz, but Lawson’s head-bowed cadences are beautifully poised – natural and regretful.

So far, so immaculate, so “Bassist Magazine”. What really opens doors, though, are three pieces in which Lawson ventures into process music, chance-and-hazard and ambient music: closer to Fripp Soundscapes and post-rock than to John Patitucci. …and again… The moonlit ostinato foundations and skirling skybound melodies of “Drifting” give way to smears of trembling Frippertronical treble passes, like wheelmarks on cloud, and to trance-techno bubble echoes Lawson somehow wrings out of his bass. “Chance” clings on – just – to the right side of disassembly; the sharp attack or mother-beast rumble of Lawson’s fretless stepping in and around his frigidly emotional ECM bass figure, ghosted with minimal traceries. And the lapping sounds, heartbeat sub-aqua bass and shimmering harmonic nudges of the gorgeous “Pillow Mountain” are closer to Mouse On Mars than any bass guitarring this side of Rothko, as Lawson E-Bows strange Chinese string calls out of the beautiful murk. It’s with these pieces that we hear Steve Lawson’s audience returning a favour, moving away from bobbing their heads to the happy melodies and simply listening instead.

And all without the man breaking much of a sweat, either. Anyone who’s been to one of Lawson’s recent concerts can testify that this CD’s a mere dry run compared to the music he’s now growing into. For any instrumentalist, this album would be charming; for Steve Lawson, it’s a showcase punched open at one end. His friends are watching him grow – I suggest that you join them.

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Review – Vigroux/Cury/Lawson trio, Marvejols, France (Midi Libre)

May 7th, 2008 · No Comments

1 February 2002

“A weird, convincing trio”

“Caption: The audience allowed themselves to be carried along during an astonishing experimental performance, which was ultimately conclusive.”

“Last Saturday, the Regional Arts Development Association invited music lovers to come and hear a bold master class at the Théâtre de la Mauvaise Tête.

The performers were a guitar, bass and percussion trio composed of musicians with different backgrounds and inspirations, a trio characterised by its improvisational playing, each member being carried along as his inspiration took him, in response to the offerings of the others.

Franck Vigroux, highly focussed on his guitar, Steve Lawson, conjuring weird sounds from his bass, and Jérôme Cury, attacking a strange arsenal of percussion, gave an astonishing experimental performance for the audience from the music college and Marvejols music lovers. The three musicians, from diverse backgrounds (modern jazz, ambient and classical music) performed their pieces as “stories to tell”. The audience allowed themselves to be quietly carried along by their innovations and their musical risk-taking during the concert which, although weird, never became impenetrable.

The concert came at the end of a day which began when the trio met with students at the music college.”

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Timeline and Trivia

May 3rd, 2008 · Comments Off on Timeline and Trivia

Musical Equipment Used

Elrick Gold Series SLC 6 String fretted and fretless basses, Modulus Basses (6 string fretted and fretless and 4 string fretted), a Rick Turner 5 String Renaissance ‘Amplicoustic’ fretless bass, two Aguilar SL112 cabinets and 2 Aguilar Tonehammer 350 amp heads, A Jule Monique Preampthe Looperlative LP1 for looping, Keith McMillen SoftStep controller and Quneo controller, MODDevices MOD Duo for processing, MXR, Darkglass, and Markbass overdrive pedals, a TC Electronics HOF mini Reverb and Flashback delay, Aguilar Overdrive, Fuzz, Compressor, Octave, Chorus, Filter and Preamp pedals, MXR Reverb, Sub Octave Bass Fuzz, Bass Distortion, Bass Chorus Deluxe, Bass Envelope Filter, Bass Preamp & Bass Fuzz Deluxe, Subdecay Vitruvian Mod ring modulator, Pedal Train pedal board an E-Bow+, Latch Lake and Dunlop slides, Dunlop Super Bright strings, East-UK preamps, Evidence Audio cables, GoGo tuners, 2 Korg Mini Kaoss Pad s and a MOTU Ultralite Mk III Hybrid. And I carry my basses around in SlickBag gig-bags.

Musical History

1986 – got a bass and joined first band
1988 – broke arm, kicked out of first band, formed second band (EARS) – played first gigs
1989 – GCSE Music, Grade C
1991 – AS Level Music, failed – fine at composition, not so hot on history… :o) Somehow got into music college in Perth, Scotland. Teaching as head of bass at West Lothian Rock School.
1993 – left college, moved to Lincoln, tour with Canadian singer/songwriter Johnny Markin. Gigs all over Europe, played on three albums.
1994-96 – working as a pro in Lincoln, teaching, studio and live session work.
1996 – moved to London, more session work, including TV, Radio and theatre work, more teaching.
1997-99 – teaching at Drumtech and Basstech, West London.
1997-2000 – freelance reviewer/interviewer/columnist/gadget guru for Bassist magazine in the UK.
1999 – Toured Europe with Howard Jones. First completely solo gigs in London.
2000 – Released And Nothing But The Bass on Pillow Mountain Records. More solo gigs around England.
2001 – 2 Solo tours of California, including headlining the world’s first solo bass looping festival, and tour with Michael Manring and Rick Walker. Clinics for Ashdown Amps and Modulus Basses. Solo gigs in France.
2002 – Another tour in California, Released Conversations, duo CD with Jez Carr, on Pillow Mountain Records, 2 Major tours of UK Theatres and concert halls supporting first the 21st Century Schizoid Band then Level 42. Two shows at the London Guitar Festival. National TV and local radio appearances in the UK. Featured in the Sunday Times Culture Section. Released second completely solo CD, Not Dancing For Chicken. NDFC picked as one of the best CDs of the year by Aural Innovations
2003 – four week solo tour of California, gigs with Michael Manring and David Friesen, including the Anaheim Bass Bash, featured interview in Euphoria magazine, and review of NDFC in Bass Player (Feb issue). New recordings with Theo Travis, BJ Cole and Patrick Wood for future release. Duo gigs with Theo Travis. Gig at the barbican with orphy robinson. Recording in France with Vigroux/Cury/Rives for upcoming release. first italian solo gig and recording session in august. Duo CD with Theo TravisThe Arts Show, alongside Jenny Eclair and Barry Cryer. Acclaimed appearances at The Detroit Bass Fest and European Bass Day. Gigs in US and UK with Muriel Anderson. A second tour in England with Michael Manring in November.
2005 – another year another NAMM show, followed by a few promo gigs with Michael Manring in California. Dates with pedal steel guitarist, BJ Cole, and recording and gigs with singer Cleveland Watkiss, as well as more UK dates, the Edinburgh Festival and a trip to Italy. Started monthly music night, Recycle Collective.
2006 – back to California, NAMM again and some more dates and another day-long masterclass, Recycle Collective continues to be one of the best live music nights out in London, and features musicians such as BJ Cole, Cleveland Watkiss, Orphy Robinson, Seb Rochford, Todd Reynolds, Jason Yarde, Andy Hamill, Patrick Wood, Leo Abrahams, Julie McKee, Andrea Hazell. UK tours with Theo Travis, Muriel Anderson and Ned Evett. 4th solo album, Behind Every Word, released on Pillow Mountain Records. Recording in Italy with guitarist Luca Formentini. New duo formed with singer Julie McKee, for the Edinburgh Fringe. European tour in October, including EuroBass Day and European Bass Day, as well as an electronica festival in Italy. Behind Every Word makes a number of end of year ‘best of 2006’ lists.
2007 – guess where it started? Yay, NAMM!! Bass-Bash, two days of masterclasses, Modulus clinics and gigs both solo and with Muriel Anderson and Vicki Genfan. Much fun. First New York show too. European tour with Lobelia, including first time visit to Frankfurt Musik Messe and gigs in Italy, Spain, Germany and Denmark, 7 week tour of the US, 24 states, 7000 miles. Gigs at Greenbelt festival with Lobelia, Sarah Masen and Ric Hordinski. Recycle Collective relaunched in September. Playing on one track on Luca Formentini’s album, Tacet. First Amsterdam and Geneva gigs in November. Released live EP with Lobelia in December. Recorded improv album with Patrick Wood and Roy Dodds.
2008 – NAMM again, with Lobelia this time, playing the bass-bash and for Looperlative and Modulus. More California shows. Back to England, playing lots of ‘acoustic’ shows with Lobelia, London Solo Bass Night in March with Todd Johnson and Yolanda Charles, . Year ended with Lawson/Wood/Dodds album ‘Numbers’ released, and some LDW gig dates round London, followed by a whole string of house concert shows in England and the US with Lobelia. 2008 was also the year of social media – 10 years of running my music career online turning into a 2nd career teaching and consulting on how it all works, including Nokia flying me to Helsinki for their Open Lab, and working on the launch of Ucreative.tv at UCA in Rochester. Finished the year with a series of house concerts in the UK and the US with Lobelia..
2009 – …which continued into the new year on a trip that included a trip to NAMM, a masterclass at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and a series of masterclasses in bass, looping and ‘social media for musicians’ in various people’s houses. But I did miss the bass-bash for the first time ever. Back to the UK for more bass masterclasses and other University-based projects around the future of the internet… look out for a new solo album at some point this year!
2010 – the first half was spent looking after our new born baby, but at the age of 6 months, we took him to the US for a 7 week, 6500 mile tour of house concerts, that took us from Brooklyn to Milwaukee, Massachusetts to Lake Charles Louisiana, via Texas, Tennessee and Ohio. Lo and I recorded a live album on the tour, featuring Todd Reynolds and Neil Alexander, and while in Louisiana I recorded TWO duo albums with Trip Wamsley, released in September. The end of the year featured a sold out London gig with Michael Manring, and speaking engagements in the UK and Berlin at grass roots music industry conferences. I also released another live album, celebrating the 10th anniversary of my debut album coming out.
2011 – first half of the year was focussed on getting my first new studio album in 5 years finished. 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything was released and followed by a 2 month, 8000 mile US tour, which included shows with Julie Slick, Trip Wamsley, Tiger Darrow, Steven Guerrero, Darren Michaels, Neil Alexander, Trevor Exter and Catherine Marie Charlton. The trip also included me guest-performing at Victor Wooten’s Music-Nature Camp, teaching a bass masterclass in Virginia, and Lobelia and I being the only overseas musicians to be booked to play at the first Wild Goose festival. Oh, and  I also co-produced, mixed and mastered Lobelia’s new record, Beautifully Undone. We started selling our music on USB Stick, which has proved v. popular. A move to Birmingham in the late summer promises all kinds of new opportunities.
2012 – the year started with the release of Believe In Peace, an all-improv solo record, recorded in Minneapolis. January continued with a return visit to NAMM, 12 shows in 12 days including duo shows with Julie Slick, Michael Manring and Daniel Berkman, a recording session with Steve Uccello and a playing-and-speaking gig at Stanford uni, as well as a masterclass at LA Music Academy. The shows with Julie, Michael and Daniel were all recorded, so mixing and mastering work on those took up a lot of the following months, as well as recording for Californian singer/songwriter Artemis. May saw the relaunch of Beyond Bass Camp, and the remastering of 11 Reasons… 2012 also saw the formation of #ToryCore – a project that coupled the evil words of the Tory govt with twisted avant garde metal. One of my favourite ever musical projects.
2013 – started with NAMM and another 8 shows with Daniel Berkman, and this time Artemis joined us on vocals at every gig. It was one of the most amazing musical experiences of my life to play with them both. Which is why a large chunk of the year was taken up mixing, mastering and releasing EVERY show we’d done up to that point. All 10 of ‘em. Went out to Frankfurt to the Musikmesse, more ToryCore shows & a few more gigs with Alvin Stardust depping for his regular bassist. Started teaching at Kidderminster College, and ended the year with a lovely joint tour with one of my favourite bassists – Yolanda Charles, and with a duo show with Andy Edwards on drums.
2014 – Another NAMM trip, 11 wonderful shows with Daniel and Artemis (part of a run of 14 shows in 13 days for me!). Just before NAMM I was invited to speak at the Microsoft Social Research Symposium in NYC, which was one of the most brilliant few days of my life. The duo project with Andy Edwards expanded to become ‘Andy, Steve + 1’ and we played a couple of gigs with Julie Slick, made an album with Murphy McCaleb and gigged with Jem Godfrey and Bryan Corbett – we have further projects planned. Played a super-lovely duo show with Briana Corrigan, ex-of The Beautiful South, whose solo work I’ve been a fan of for 20 years. I released a new solo album – What The Mind Thinks, The Heart Transmits. Playing at the London Bass Guitar Show and inviting Jon Thorne to join me on my set led to the release of that as a new album – Diversion. Towards the end of the year, I launched a new subscription service via Bandcamp, with the aim of finding a useful home for the epic amounts of music that I record and want to release…
2015 – NAMM in January, of course, plus a handful of lovely house concert shows with guitar genius Thomas Leeb. Released LEY Lines with Andy Edwards and Phi Yaan-Zek, the first new thing that my subscribers got, which Phi released for everyone else. Did the London Bass Guitar Show again, and had another of my bass heroes Ruth Goller agree to play with me. That was fun. Formed a duo with Divinity Roxx – hip hop, improv, songs, stories, all rolled in. We had a week of playing and did a first gig in Kidderminster. The duo with Jon Thorne was expanded to a trio with Rob Turner, of GoGo Penguin, that band sounds amazing! In September, I release two new solo albums – my first proper solo album releases since 11 Reasons in 2011. A Crack Where The Light Gets In and The Way Home were really well recieved, and got played on Late Junction. In October, I was the cover star on Bass Guitar Magazine, almost certainly the only self-managed, self-releasing, self-everything solo bassist to ever get there without an association with any other artist. Still can’t quite believe it. The mag cover coincided with a mini-tour with Jonas Hellborg – we had a wonderful time playing in Birmingham, London and Leeds, and hope to do a bigger tour ASAP. By the end of the year, I’d released 7 albums for Subscribers, all of which I’m immensely proud of! The year ended with the recording of a second album with Phi and Andy, to be released early in 2016. The year also featured a few more Torycore gigs – a thing that gets better every time we do it, and more vital, sadly.

Current Musical Projects

Solo gigs and recording -::- Duo with Divinity -::- trio with Jon Thorne and Rob Turner -::- trio with Andy Edwards and Phi Yaan-Zek -::- performance duo with painter Poppy Porter  -::-  Torycore.

trivia

favourite artists. – these days, it’s lots of singer/songwriters, and death metal bands. So, alternately, Bruce Cockburn, Cannibal Corpse, Jonatha Brooke, Cattle Decapitation, Joni Mitchell, Job For A Cowboy, Paul Simon, Entombed, Emily Baker, White Empress, The Blue Nile, Soulfly, Nik Kershaw, Ihsahn…

Along side that, a bunch of other things – Hope & Social, Bill Frisell, D’Angelo, David Torn, Let Spin, Michael Manring, DJ Krush, Throwing Muses, Coltrane, Kristin Hersh, 70s Miles, Beauty Pill, Janet Feder, Jon Gomm, Kenny Wheeler, Trish Clowes, Divinity Roxx, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, J Dilla, De La Soul, Terje Rypdal, KT Tunstall, The Pixies, The Cure…

top 10 (or so) favourite(ish) albums

bass influences – Current favourites are Tony Levin, Ruth Goller, Michael Manring, Julie Slick and Matthew Garrison but there are literally hundreds. I suppose, in roughly chronological order, those players that have influenced me the most would be – John Taylor (Duran), Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo/Iona), Chris Squire (Yes), Simon Gallup (The Cure), Pino Pallidino (everyone, but especially the D’Angelo stuff), Doug Pinnick (King’s X), Ewan Vernal (Deacon Blue), Steve Swallow, Abraham Laboriel, Jaco Pastorius, Scott LaFaro, Freddie Washington, Bernard Edwards (Chic), Ray Brown, Jonas Hellborg, Family Man Barratt (The Wailers), Verdine White (EW & F), Tommy Simms, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Jimmy Haslip, Danny Thompson, Eberhard Weber, Mike Rivard, Marc Johnson, Kermitt Driscoll, Mo Foster, Todd Johnson, Doug Wimbish, Yolanda Charles, Trip Wamsley, Divinity,  and loads more.

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Reviews

May 2nd, 2008 · No Comments

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I’ve had loads of great press for my solo albums and gigs – have a read of some of it below!

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Behind Every Word CD Reviews –

Grace And Gratitude CD Reviews –

For The Love Of Open Spaces CD Reviews –

Not Dancing For Chicken CD Reviews –

Conversations CD Reviews –

And Nothing But The Bass reviews –

Gig Reviews –

Interviews –

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Two gigs, too many miles…

November 12th, 2007 · Comments Off on Two gigs, too many miles…

We’ve had two lovely gigs in the last couple of days, and some stupidly early mornings.

Saturday began with me heading into town to pick up a SatNav thingie – I knew better than to try big drives across Europe with maps and google-directions. So I got us a Garmin 250, which was the cheapest one to have proper European coverage (a lot of the low-end Tom Tom ones seem to have ‘European main roads’ – which is no good if you’re trying to find someone’s house, I guess!)

Saturday night’s gig was a house concert in Deal in Kent, in a beautiful Italian-style house, perfect for a house concert. The event was part-gig, part-church social, and it took a while for it to sink in for some of the people there that it was a ‘gig’ not background music for the party, but by the time Lo. got up to sing, everybody was rapt. All in a most enjoyable evening (and one of the biggest house concerts we’ve done).

Unusually for me, the routing of these two gigs was ideal, in that on Sunday morning we had to be at Dover for a ferry at 7am, and were staying 10 minutes away (anyone who’s ever followed the gig list for any tour I’ve done will know that it usually looks like a 2 year old drew the route with a crayon!) – so we drove to Dover, slept on the ferry, then SaNav’d our way though France, Belgium and Holland up to Amsterdam to the home of the lovely John Lester, and had quite a few hours to relax before heading over to KHL for the gig.

I, dear readers, am ALL about the SatNav – It saved us time, money, stress… it’ll pay for itself in about a month, given how many times I get lost usually on tour… You can program it to avoid toll roads, to tell you were the nearest petrol station is… it’s all good (yeah, I know, the rest of the world discovered SatNav some time in the late 90s, but like iPods and loopers with feedback control, I’m very late into the game…)

Anyway, off to KHL – a lovely venue that John had taken us to on our last visit to Amsterdam. The sunday night singer/songwriters night is booked by a local singer/songwriter Marijn Mijnands, and she was headlining the night with her band Ma Rain. It was just a half hour opening slot, but the reception was really warm, we sold a bunch of CDs, and will be back there sometime in the Spring, hopefully… All good. Ma Rain’s set was lovely too – her keyboard player Nico Brandsen is particularly fab, his choice of sounds for everything was perfect.

And now we’s chillin’ in Amsterdam. The cost of parking anywhere near the middle of the city is so high that we drove the car out to the edge to the Park ‘n’ Ride this morning, and got the tram back in, and then slept for about four hours, catching up on all the missed sleeps after the late nights and early mornings of the last few days…

Tags: Gig stuff

…did you just call me Pardner???

June 12th, 2007 · Comments Off on …did you just call me Pardner???

We’re here in Texas. Plano, just outside Dallas to be precise. It seems like a rather lovely place – still strip-mall-based, like so many american cities, but definitely a better class of strip mall than most (and a huge Whole Foods market to be explored…)

We’s here for a house concert tonight – the house is gorgeous, and the concert is going to be marvellous.

Now where did I blog from last? Ah, yes, Nashville – well the Nashville house concert at Sarah and David’s was a whole lot of fun – we set up on their front porch, blankets were laid out in the yard, and we played for lots of lovely friends, surrounded by fairy lights, candles and the sounds of crickets between songs. A most enjoyable evening was had by all, and the duo stuff between the lovely L and I just gets better and better. Her ability to ‘learn’ a loop after one listen is uncanny, and to stack harmonies on something that seems pretty random… She also bought a gorgeous new guitar – a nylon-strung takamine that sounds incredible. Really relaly lovely, and got for a fantastic bargain at Nashville Used Music, or whatever that big shop out on Nolansville road is called.

So favourite things about Nashville? the people, Fido’s, Baja Burrito, the gig, TOGH being there, The Belcourt (Sheriff ElRon and I went to see Rock The Bells – a film about delusional people putting on the last ever gig by all the members of the Wu Tang Clan (though even with ODB being dead, I’m sure they could just get Shane McGowan to fill in, and people would just think Dirty was looking a little pasty…)… Nashville is a town full of good things (and rubbish, it is the home of CCM too, and therefor plays host to much of the most mediocre nonsense ever produced in the name of popular music, as well as the occasional gem…) and certainly somewhere both L and I could live if pushed…

From there we embarked on what i think is the longest drive of my life (yup, I just checked, this was the previous winner) – 700 and something miles from Nashville to Lake Charles Louisiana. Which was, to be honest, a pretty easy drive. Freeways here are much much clearer in general than motorways in the UK, (if you’re not in or around NYC, LA, Chicago or San Francisco), so we never seem to hit much traffic, and just drive from one place to another at 70 mph all the way. In our extensive research, we’ve discovered that IHOP and Denny’s do the best options for vegetarians on the highways of the US. TGI Fridays is shit, Waffle House isn’t actually food, and the burger places are all horrible, with indie places being either non-existent, or really risky in their quality… so we’re happy for IHOP and Denny’s.

The trip to Louisiana was for a house concert at Trip Wamsley’s house – Trip, as y’all know, is one of my most favouritest solo bassists in the world, and fun to hang out with too… it was nice to witness him in his natural habitat, for sure.

The gig was really lovely – Trip played first, and played really well, as always, then L and I got to do our thing, and had much fun, sold a load of CDs, and all was good.

On Sunday, i put down a load of bass tracks for a track on Trip’s new album, and realised just what a HUGE improvement putting this ART tube preamp in the FX loop on my Lexicon has made. It sounded incredible. I can’t wait to hear what Trip does with it. The evening was spent watching Ross Noble DVDs, and hanging out. Much fun at the Trip-house with Trip, Mrs Trip and lil’ Bubba Trip.

And so on into Texas, heading from Chez Trip to Plano TX, from where I’m writing this, trying to decide whether to walk or drive to Whole Foods – how far was it again??

Oh, and the title? We stopped in a auto-mart or some such place, to get directions, and the dude behind the counter actually called me ‘Pardner’ (as in Partner with a silly accent, for all you Englishes) – indeed. He sadly didn’t say ‘you ain’t from around here are you boy?’, but there’s still time for that…

Tags: Music News

InterRail travel plans pt 2…

October 9th, 2006 · Comments Off on InterRail travel plans pt 2…

OK, just booked my tickets for the first leg of my trip to Europe… Here’s how it’s working so far:

With your interrail ticket, you get cheap tickets on the Eurostar (£50 each way), so I’ve booked to Paris.

From there, because my next stint takes me out of my allocated zones, I had to pay a little more to Geneva – it should’ve been £15, but there were no standard class tickets left, so Paris to Geneva is costing me £23.

From Geneva to Milan goes through a whole load of Switzerland, so it’s costing me £26 (a ticket type for ‘journeys where your pass only covers part of the journey’) – after that, the internal Italian journeys will be free, and seat bookings for the longer TGV journeys, as long as I don’t go outside my zones, will be about £4 per journey.

So, first lesson is that if I was planning on doing loads of journeys outside my zones, it’s clearly going to be better to get the full euro-pass for £110 more. I won’t use that much (as the next bit where I go out of the country is just a jolly across the dutch/german border which won’t come to £50), but it’s worth thinking ahead… If I bought the £405 all-zones pass, it also lasts for 30 days not 22…

In other news, as per usual, TSP is using me going away as an excuse to invite her lovely friends to stay, so I once again miss out on a week of fun in London, but I’m sure sailing through the french, swiss, italian, belgian, dutch and german countryside on a train will comfort me. Maybe I can convince nice friends to stay a day or so after I get back as well, just so I get to go for curry!

So total expense for today, for Eurostar, paris-geneva, geneva-paris +booking fee + registered post – £110.

Total travel costs so far £410. Number of gigs I’ll be able to do for that amount of expenditure – 4, possibly 6 (two still waiting for confirmation in Italy, which works out to a maximum £102.50 per gig in travel so far, with three days in Geneva thrown in, and the possibility of a day out in either Rome or Venice just for fun, and the chance to take two basses with me, more CDs for sale (which=more income without having to ship them ahead – a box of 45 CDs costs about £20 to send to Italy), and no excess baggage charges at the airport (last time I flew Ryanair to France, with no CDs, one bass, and stripped down bass rig, it cost me £40 in excess baggage, £13 each way on the train to Stansted, and £45 for the ticket – £111 total…

this train thing is looking good!

Tags: Music News

InterRail ticket is booked…

October 7th, 2006 · Comments Off on InterRail ticket is booked…

I’m going to blog my travel process in some detail, given that I’m doing my Italy/Germany tour in October via an InterRail ticket – that is, I buy one ticket, and can get through all of France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Greece, Turkey and, er, Luxembourg for 22 days on the train.

I booked the ticket online – nice easy process, though you do need your passport to hand as they want your passport number. The online booking process is fairly non-specific, in that you don’t book a seat on individual trains then, you just choose the zones, your age bracket (under or over 26) and a start date. I’ll be ringing up on Monday morning to get reserved seats from London to Geneva, Geneva to Milan, Milan to Verona, and then after that Verona to Dusseldorf, which is out of my zones (as is Geneva), but I’m hoping I can just pay a coupla quid extra and cross the border, as both are v. close to the French/Dutch borders…

While in Italy, I’m going to take advantage of the free ticket and see if I can get away to Rome for a day between gigs – need to find out how long the train takes from where I’ll be staying…

If this all works out as planned, it’s definitely THE way to tour in Europe – no airplane baggage limits, no 2 hour checkin times, no hassle finding crappy airports 30 miles outside the city centre to be able to get the cheap flights, no trouble if you miss your first train, no problem if a last minute gig comes in and you have to reroute… And to cap it all, plenty of time to see the countries you’re playing in! If the gigs are really well paid and spread out, you can break the journeys over night in interesting cities on the way.

This kind of ticket scheme is available for Americans wanting to travel in Europe too – do a google search and see what y’all can find!

The only limitations I’ve come across so far are that you can’t use it in the country you live in, though you do qualify for cheap tickets to get you out of your own country (£100 return to paris in the eurostar, £80 return to Calais – I’m going to see if I can pick up the TGV in Calais…) and if you want to book a fast train, there’s a booking fee of a couple of quid for the seat. It remains to be seen if you can get on without a booked seat, and just take your chances (or end up standing in the restaurant car for 8 hours – no thanks!)

the big thing I’m hoping for are electrical sockets on the trains near the seats. You get these on British trains now, so hopefully, given that the Europeans seem to do EVERYTHING train-related better than us, they’ll have that, and free wi-fi! At least with the plug socket I’ll be able to spend some time working on transcriptions of my tunes. I’m also going to download a few greenbelt seminars and put them onto my phone to listen to, as well as this year’s Reith Lectures by Daniel Barenboim.

I’ll let you know how the booking of the individual trains and the Eurostar goes on Monday…

Tags: Music News

Ned Evett Trio At The Troubadour

October 4th, 2006 · Comments Off on Ned Evett Trio At The Troubadour




Ned Evett Trio At The Troubadour

Originally uploaded by solobasssteve.

Back-pedalling to Monday night, I headed down to the Troubadour (home of my first ever solo gig) to see Ned Evett play with his trio. I’d only ever seen Ned play solo before… actually, that’s not true, i did see Ned with a couple of other musicians when I first met him at La Nuit De La Fretlesse in Mende, France, back in… 2001?

anyway, it’s a long time since I’ve seen Ned play with a band, so it was great to hear what he sounds like in that setting. The only problem was that their bags were lost on the flight over, so Ned was completely without his pedal board and two of his guitars. Yup. My. Worst. Nightmare. Well, not quite on a par with world war, or UKIP winning a general election, but still a pretty fearful thought for any musician.

Still, Ned did a fabulous job with just his one guitar, a rented amp and a delay pedal. The juxtaposition of Ned’s fretless guitar and the upright bass is an inspired combination, and Ned’s well developed dynamic control with his voice was ably supported by the rhythm section. A great night out.

If you get a chance to see them play, don’t miss it!

Tags: Uncategorized

Travelling musicians…

August 15th, 2006 · Comments Off on Travelling musicians…

The current clamp-down on carry-on rules for planes is already bollocksing things up for lots of musicians such as these orchestral musicians, destined for the Edinburgh Festival and the Proms.

What a load of balls – are these laws making us safer, or just there to let us know how serious the threat is and make us oh-so-grateful to our loser government for protecting us from a possible attack.

Andrew Collins, whose blog is one of my current faves, highlights the vagueness of the current ‘news’ in this brilliant blog post. Have a read. Let’s see if anyone ends up in court.

And this post by Bruce Schneier highlights the utter uselessness of basing security measures on what the ‘terrorists’ have already planned. Here’s a couple of choice quotes –

None of the airplane security measures implemented because of 9/11 — no-fly lists, secondary screening, prohibitions against pocket knives and corkscrews — had anything to do with last week’s arrests. And they wouldn’t have prevented the planned attacks, had the terrorists not been arrested. A national ID card wouldn’t have made a difference, either.

and

Banning box cutters since 9/11, or taking off our shoes since Richard Reid, has not made us any safer. And a long-term prohibition against liquid carry-ons won’t make us safer, either. It’s not just that there are ways around the rules, it’s that focusing on tactics is a losing proposition.

It’s easy to defend against what the terrorists planned last time, but it’s shortsighted. If we spend billions fielding liquid-analysis machines in airports and the terrorists use solid explosives, we’ve wasted our money. If they target shopping malls, we’ve wasted our money. Focusing on tactics simply forces the terrorists to make a minor modification in their plans. There are too many targets — stadiums, schools, theaters, churches, the long line of densely packed people before airport security — and too many ways to kill people.

Security measures that require us to guess correctly don’t work, because invariably we will guess wrong. It’s not security, it’s security theater: measures designed to make us feel safer but not actually safer.

And meanwhile, thousands of travellers the world over are having their livelihoods screwed up by the legislation. I’m all for getting people to stop taking short-haul flights, but not just by fucking up their travel plans. That’s hardly an integrated transport policy!

But, it looks likely that I’ll be getting the train to Italy in October – with this inter-rail ticket it looks like I’ll be able to get a 22 day ticket for £295, which’ll get me all over France, Italy, Belgium and Holland, so I’ll need to get a ticket from London to Paris, and a ticket from Holland to Viersen just over the border in Germany (if I end up playing at the European Bass Day in Germany). Which will work out OK, financially, be better for the enviroment, give me plenty of time for reading books, transcribing tunes and relaxing, and will mean I can take two basses with me, without the fear that some loser at an airport is going to try to see if my basses bounce…

Tags: Musing on Music