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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



The finest weekend of the year is over

August 29th, 2006 · Comments Off on The finest weekend of the year is over

For another year.

Another magic Greenbelt has come to a close, and we’re home. We drove back late last night, which was pretty hair-raising given how tired we were, but I’ve got a gig today at the National Theatre Foyer with Theo so couldn’t really have stayed over and partied til 4am like so many others…

The last day of GB was a fab one – starting with an organic vegan breakfast, and progressing via a panel discussion on Norther Ireland featuring Assembly members from the DUP and Sinn Fein along with two peace activists, one of whom had had his wife murdered by the IRA. The session was incredible, and what was said was so remarkable, that I doubt they’ll release the tape of the session… A big step forward. Maximum kudos to the most wonderful Gareth Higgins| for chairing the session so well.

After that, I was back into compere mode, to introduce Lleuwen Steffan, Huw Warren and Owen Evans – definitely one of my musical highlights of the festival (that’s their gig, not my introduction, which was good, but hardly a highlight). Amazing music, great performance, very well received.

After that it was full-on Recycle gig logistics – collecting keyboards for Huw to play, getting my gear up to the venue, missing lots of things I really wanted to see… Anyway, got all the gear up to the venue, and set up. Lovely audience comes in along with my co-conspirators.

The gig started with a me-solo set – (Grace and Gratitude, Behind Every Word, MMFSOG, Scott Peck, FRHU, Deep Deep Down and Deeper Still, for those keeping notes), then Julie joined me for some New Standard-ing – Video Killed The Radio Star, I Don’t Wanna Know and Running Up That Hill. Then we went into One Step from the album, and about three quarters of the way through, I gave Huw a nod and he joined in on the baby grand piano that was in the corner of the room, which worked an absolute treat.

After that, he came up to the stage on Keys and laptop, and he Julie and I did a couple of improv things, with them doing a duo version of ‘The Water Is Wide’ in the middle that was exquisite.

All change after that, and Andrea Hazell joined in on voice for our version of Dido’s Lament, which was gorgeous as always.

The wonderful Juliet Turner then got her first taste of Recycling with Harry Napier and I. Most lovely.

And finally, Huw and I played a gentle duet to send the lovely crowd off into the night. All in all, a fab Recycle night. Don’t miss Sept 20th at Darbucka!

Then it was all systems go to get all the stuff packed up before Spearhead started on mainstage. We missed the very beginning of the set, but it must be said that standing in a field at Greenbelt with TSP listening to Spearhead is as close to utter bliss as I can imagine. Really really great way to end a stunning weekend of great music, me-gigs, new friends, old friends, brain food, organic food, camping, chatting, hugging and kissing, laughing, sharing etc. etc. etc. All good nothing bad. Everything was wonderful in this best of all possible worlds.

See you there next year?

Tags: Random Catchup

Paul Simon – Surprise

June 5th, 2006 · 2 Comments

Just got this through today, and am on my second listen. Paul Simon is in that very tiny group of people who’ve never done a bad album (caveat, I’ve never heard ‘Capeman’, the soundtrack to his ill-fated musical) – most people of his era (Joni Mitchell, Jackson Brown, Neil Young etc.) mad some fairly duff albums in the 80s, but Paul, like Tom Waits and Bruce Cockburn, has remained pretty consistent all along. Which is why it always amazes me when this album is described as a return to form – his last album, ‘You’re The One’ is outstanding! It’s a really great record, with a couple of tracks that would be in my all time Paul Simon top 10, and not a duff track on it.

It was the same when James Taylor brought out ‘Hourglass’ – ‘return to form’ says the press. Huh? His previous two albums before that were ‘Live’ (possibly the greatest live album ever recorded) and ‘New Moon Shine’, a truly beautiful album.

The problem is that critics always want a hook to hang a story on. ‘It’s brilliant, like all his other albums’ isn’t as dramatic as stories about emerging from a creative wilderness or doing your best album for 15 years… maybe I should just pretend that everything else I’ve done has been completely eclipsed by my new album… :o) I mean, I do genuinely think it’s the best thing I’ve done (I wouldn’t release it if I didn’t…), but it doesn’t make Grace And Gratitude look like an amateurish work…

So, my review – the new Paul Simon album is magic. Full of great songs, great playing, and some fantastic sonic treatments from Brian Eno. For the bass geeks amongst you, Pino’s on it, Abe Laboriel Snr’s on it, Alex Al is on it and Leo Abrahams (from the RC gig before last) is on fretless bass on one tune! That’s the kind of calibre of player we get at the RC.

But every Paul Simon album is magic. You really ought to have the set. He’s got a way with phrasing a line that make it feel like a conversation. The melody never gets in the way of the words. Like Joni Mitchell and a handful of other singers, it’s as much story-telling as it is singing.

Tags: Musing on Music

Good times, bad times..

May 19th, 2006 · 1 Comment

My what a mixed up week!

Starting with the screwed up car – bad times.

Then Tuesday I had a rehearsal with Julie for our gig at the National Theatre on the 31st – got lots of songs done, including songs by Green Day and The Cure. It’s going to be a fab gig. – good times.

Wednesday was another great rehearsal, this time with Andrea Hazell – Andrea’s only improv experience before this was onstage at Greenbelt last year with me, so she came round for a run through before thursday’s RC gig. Working through various ideas we found that Dido’s Lament by Purcell worked beautifully when looped and layered over ambient mush! – good times.

Which leads us to Thursday and the RC gig. The day started with renting a car – Enterprise do a scheme where they pick you up for free as well, which was nice. I then set off to pick up Todd from Peckham. When, after an hour and a half I hadn’t reached the river, I had to admit defeat to the traffic and head back home, leaving Todd to get the bus to the gig! – bad times, but at least I got to have a listen to the whole of the new album on the in-car CD player and check out what it sounds like in another situation. it’s pretty damned fine sitting in traffic music!

Anyway, came home, loaded the rental car, with gear and TSP, and headed down to Darbucka. Got there nice ‘n’ early, got set up and sound-checked, and even the sound check was sounding lovely. It’s safe to say, that this Recycle gig was one of my all time favourite gigs. Y’all know by now the the RC is ALWAYS stunning, but this perhaps even eclipsed the others. I started solo, with a glitch-free version of ‘Behind Every Word’ (first time that my opening tune at the RC has gone off without a hitch)… However, the loop gremlins just hid until my second track – some weirdness going on in ‘FRHU’ but it was still fun. Followed that with ‘Grace And Gratitude’, then got Andrea up to join me. We did two long pieces – the first a wordless improv, and the second was the Purcell – the purity, clarity and power of Andrea’s voice makes for a completely unique duo experience. Like so many people, the harshness of bad opera has left a bad impression on me, but working with Andrea shows just how good operatic vocals can be when performed by a world class singer. A total joy.

After the break, Todd Reynolds was on. I already knew Todd was amazing, world-class. I wasn’t quite prepared for just how awe-inspiringly amazing he would be as a solo performer. This was, without a doubt, one of the greatest virtuoso performances I’ve ever seen – it’s hugely inspiring to watch someone play who has obviously dedicated such a super-human amount of time, energy and love to being right at the top of their game. I can count on one hand the performers I’ve ever seen of equivalent levels of skill and beauty in their playing – Gary Husband, Show Of Hands, Antonio Forcione, Michael Manring… it’s a tiny tiny select group that serve as a wake-up-call to the rest of us to up our game considerably. I don’t think I’ve ever heard violin played like that live, even on video. It was a fairly small crowd for the RC, but every single one of the people there got a major treat checking out Todd’s magic.

And then the improv bit at the end, the musical equivalent of a 70s wrestling ‘royal rumble’, only a bit more gentle and considered. For this, the three of us were joined half way through by Julie, and the transition from the layers and layers of Andreas’ huge expansive voice fading across to the intimate exquisite layers of humming from Julie was definitely one of my favourite improv moments ever.

How lucky am I? Definitely Good Times.

And then today. I took the rental car back, they found a stone-dent in the back door (was it there when I got it yesterday? I didn’t see it…) and charged me £75 for it, making a grand total of £105 for the day’s car rental. Bollocks. Bad times. Then, just as I arrive home, the garage calls and tells me my car’s ready – £666,69. I’m not sure if the number’s significant, but it’s certainly an evil amount of money. Still, they are a fantastic and trustworthy bunch of guys, and it was really nice to get back in our car. It’s the first time ever that the switch from rental car to own-car hasn’t been a disappointment. This is one lovely car, and even with the blown gasket, I’m still hugely grateful to the lovely G and J for selling it to us for a solo-bass-wages sized sum. So bad times on the cost, good times on getting it back.

Then I come home and finally start to tackle the monumental task of tidying my office. – scary times. The problem is, I’m halfway through and need to somehow make it so I can teach in it tomorrow! arrrrggghhh!

Good times, bad times, you know I had my share…

Tags: Random Catchup

Two gigs

May 13th, 2006 · Comments Off on Two gigs

one mine, one not mine.

Thursday morning I get an email from Todd Reynolds – the amazing violinist who’s doing the RC gig next week – asking if I wanted to go and see him playing at the QEH with the Michael Gordon band that evening. Of course I did!

Got to the gig slightly late due to lack of parking spaces, but walked in to the lovely sound of Max De Wardener and his band. The fact that he was playing Cloud Chamber bowls (a Harry Partch-invented instrument) warmed me to the group anyway, but the music was sublime. Really gorgeous ambient, occasionally minimalist contemporary classical stuff, but with a kit drummer which gave it a post-rock feel at times. Magical stuff.

And Michael Gordon’s band similarly occupied a space between chamber music and post rock, but way more to the RAWK end. I was actually quite surprised as how conventional the assignment of the roles in the band was – bass playing low notes, drums playing typical kit rhythms, keyboards playing pads and ostinatos, guitar doing big guitar and twiddling and violin as the dominant solo voice… not much swapping around within that, but I guess those are the parameters that Michael has set himself to work within, and the music was fantastic. At times majestic, scary, subtle, gentle, bombastic and very clever. A most enjoyable gig. Definitely the kind of thing that would appeal just as much to fans of God Speed You Black Emperor or Sigur Ros as to those of Michael Nyman, Philip Glass etc.

Friday was the me-gig. Well, not just me – it was a duo gig with lovely saxophonist, Andy Williamson. The gig was at Merton College in Oxford, where Andy had studied some time in the late 17th century, and was part of their arts festival.

Merton College is a gorgeous place, though it definitely looks more like Hogwarts than a place to learn modern stuff. I was half expecting to see Prof. Sprout or someone wander out of one of the ancient doorways. The big strangeness was being around students again – the thought that they’re almost young enough to legally be my kids was very strange, particularly when Andy and I nipped into the bar (£2.10 for a G&T and an orange juice???? how do they make any money at all??)

Anyway, the gig went very well – we only had half an hour to play, and the set list was –

Grace And Gratitude (me solo)
Amo Amatis Amare – (andy joined in, doing a fab job on this)
Scott Peck – (a rather different version with extended sax ending with lots of loopage that faded out and left Andy to wander up the venue playing a GORGEOUS unaccompanied sax solo, using the natural ambience of the room to mesmeric effect.)
Lovely – (Andy learnt Theo’s sax line note for note, only played on tenor instead of soprano. Another great job.
and to finish, we did People Get Ready, which we’d played together at the Edinburgh Festival last year.

All in all a top gig – Andy acquitted himself admirably, played a blinder, and the audience seemed to enjoy it. Much fun, hopefully to be repeated fairly soon!

Tags: Music News

Album deadlines – it's all suddenly very real!

April 22nd, 2006 · 3 Comments

The recording part of the album is just about finished (still might do another version of the tune for Eric… watch this space), and I’m onto mixing now. Not only that, but it’s booked in to be mastered on May 10th. The mastering will be handled by the genius that is Denis Blackham – Denis mastered Grace And Gratitude, and he got that gig because he’d mastered Theo‘s albums, as well as Talk Talk’s Spirit Of Eden. He’s good. Very good. So he gets the repeat gig.

The album now has a name – it’s called Behind Every Word. The title is taken from an interview I heard on Front Row with Guillermo Arriaga. At the moment I’m mixing the title track (which got an airing at the Recycle Collective on Wednesday, but thanks to my having pulled one channel of the Looperlative out, it wasn’t sounding its best…)

It’s amazing to think now that Not Dancing For Chicken was all recorded to stereo! that explains why some of it is rather noisy (so noisy in the case of Jimmy James that I’ve rerecorded it for this album). With being able to separate out the loops from the direct signal from the extra weirdness process is a real treat, and means that I can get better separation between the tracks, less noise, and clearer stereo imaging. I can’t wait to get a production model Looperlative and start doing this stuff with the loops going to 6 separate outs!!! that’s going to be amazing…

Anyway, From today onwards, for the next couple of weeks, there’s going to be a lot of mixing happening. next week I’ll be mixing each morning, and gigging each evening (with a little bit of teaching on Tuesday). All very exciting.

Gimme a day or two, and I’ll get a couple of tracks up on MySpace for you to hear.

Tags: Music News

Giving Birth

April 15th, 2006 · 2 Comments

is a bit like making a new album. Well, I’m not having morning sickness, haven’t had to buy maternity wear, don’t get a seat on the tube, and haven’t at the moment got lactating mammaries, but there are bits of it that are a lot like pregnancy… There’s a fair amount of anxiety early on, not knowing how it will turn out, will everything be ok, will something go horribly wrong… early scans are a bit formless and lacking in definition – you can see a bit of a blob, and as time goes on it starts to riggle a bit, but it’ll be a while yet before you start to feel it inside you.

But when you do, and you get that feeling that things are going to be OK, you start planning. For babies, you decorate and think of names. For albums, you design the artwork and come up with a title and track names. the more you know about the forthcoming arrival, the more you are able to shape such things ahead of time. Is it a boy or a girl? Is it a mellow album or an up-tempo jolly album? etc. etc.

Well, my new album is taking shape, tracks are being added to the ‘definite’ list, the artwork is progressing, the title is at the ‘I think this is right, but we’ll wait and see’ stage, and I’m making final decisions about whether or not to have any special guests on the album (at the moment it looks like there’ll be one for one track… more on that at a later date).

Every now and then I flick across to another window on this computer and have a look at the proposed front cover. Does it work? I try to catch myself by surprise and see if I’m pleasantly surprised or not.

I love this process. As I said a few days ago, I’m slightly apprehensive due to how much I love Grace And Gratitude, but these tracks are taking on their own identity, such that I’ll be able to play quite a few of them on the upcoming gigs (yet more reasons not to miss the gigs!)

Tags: Musing on Music

More recording

April 9th, 2006 · Comments Off on More recording

Doing more recording for the new album today – Since tuesday, my days have been too full of teaching to get any recording done! It’s great to have the teaching work, but I do wonder whether I’m going to need to empty my diary for a couple of weeks at some point before the middle of May to get this finished… Maybe I’ll be able to do it in the few hours here and there that I’m able to grab to work on it. I can’t remember if I was blocking out whole days for doing Grace And Gratitude…

Got a couple more fun things recorded today. Another slice of melancholic optimism just now, that sounds lovely. There are a few string squeaks and scrapes through the piece that I need to decide about – are they characterful or undesirable?? It’s a tough call…

Anyway, back to it – while I’m doing this, those of you using Mac OSX can check out check out this rather fantastic addition to iTunes

Tags: Music News

Expanding the possibilities of solo bass performing

February 17th, 2006 · 1 Comment

Obviously, with the way I play solo, technology has a big influence on the direction my music heads in. I feel rather pleased that I got the concept right on my first album (at least, right in the sense that I found a way of performing that let me say what I wanted to say), but the limitations at the time were the technology that I had available to me. even that was part-way along a journey that began when I got my first effects unit (a Korg A4) in 1993. Looping entered the picture in about 95 when I got an ART Nightbass, which has a 2 second sample and hold function, which piqued my interest, and which great hugely when I was sent a Lexicon JamMan to review for Bassist Magazine in 1997 (truth be told, the JamMan was already out of production by then, but having read an interview with Michael Manring in ’95, I’d been wanting one ever since, so managed to get the last one that Lexicon had in the UK, wrote a review of it, and created a demand for a product that was no longer available..!)

Anyway, the JamMan had 8 seconds of loop time when I got it – a huge jump up from the 2 seconds in my Nightbass and that provided me with ample experimentation room (if anyone remembers the very first version of my website, when it was on ‘zetnet’, before I got the steve-lawson.co.uk domain, each page had a soundtrack loop, created with the jamman, a CD player for getting drum loops, and my basses, and none of the loops were more than 8 seconds long, cos that’s all I had.

I saved up my pennies and upped the memory in the JamMan to 32 seconds in 98/99, and by the end of 99, played my first solo gig and wrote the tunes that became And Nothing But The Bass, with one looper and my Lexicon MPX-G2 processor. I managed to do some clever things with manual fadeouts (the middle of Drifting on that album has me fading out the JamMan underneath some ambient stuff, then running the ambient loop down to silence for a split second so that I could start looping again to go into the second half of the tune!)

The possibilities with a second looper soon became apparent and a DL4 was procured for another Bassist magazine article. That gave me a whole load more possibilities with backwards and double speed loops, and was used to great effect on Conversations.

The along came the Echoplex – I’d seen Andre LaFosse using one in California, and while not wanting to sound like him, saw what the possibilities were for all those fantastic multiply/undo/substitute and feedback functions. So I got one, and recorded Not Dancing For Chicken with an Echoplex and a DL4 (I think the JamMan was still in the rack at this point, but I didn’t use it). Then I got a second Echoplex, just in time cos my DL4 died… and eventually ended up with four, though I rarely had more than two hooked up at a time. Open Spaces was done with two Echoplexes and the Lexicon (and Theo using a DL4).

The next development stage was an important one – post-processing. With the way I’d been looping all along, the signal chain went fingers-bass-processor-looper-amp. the problem with that was that once it was in the looper, I couldn’t re-process it. I could do some fairly major restructuring of it with the Echoplex, but couldn’t put more reverb on, or delay, or whatever. So I got a second Lexicon unit, and started to be able to route my loop signal, or the signal from the first Lexicon, into it. And that’s how Grace And Gratitude was done – that string pad-like sound that comes in on the title track is me running the loop through a huge reverb and two delays (the Lexicon with my Kaoss Pad in its FX loop).

And that’s how my setup stayed until the end of last year. I started work on a new album towards the end of September, but soon stopped again, when the marvellous Bob told me about his new invention, the Looperlative – Bob had been talking about building a looper for a long time, but now he had the parts and was building his first prototype, and had a feature list, that made it clear that it would completely change the way I was able to perform. the biggest change simply being that it was stereo, so all those lovely ping-pong delays and high-res reverbs would stay intact when I looped them. Oh yes.

The story since then is fairly well documented elsewhere on this blog (just do a search on Looperlative), but the latest developments have been a string of software updates over the last four or five days, that have sent the Looperlative into overdrive. It already has 8 stereo channels, over four minutes of loop time, zero latency and an ethernet port for all those lovely updates, but now Bob has implemented a load of new features, the two best ones being the ability to program up to 8 (EIGHT!) functions to any one midi pedal to happen simultaneously (which means you can have it so that you’re in record, end the loop, reverse it, switch to the next loop, sync it, switch to half time and start recording all with one button push, for example!). The possibilities are enormous. The other great new function is ‘cue’ which arms a track for record, to start recording as soon as any other track is stopped, so if you use the synced stop, you can have it so that you start recording the moment the previous track stops playing, and you can then switch backwards and forwards between them as verse and chorus (or up to 8 different sections to switch between).

So the process of writing and arranging solo music just got way harder in one way, and way easier in another. suddenly the technology is there to do much more complex arrangements that I’ve ever done before, in stereo, with minimal button pushing, but I’ve got to conceive of what’s possible, program the box and experiment before the ideas can evolve… I’m guessing that each track will start the way they always did with me – a single loop which I start layering, and eventually realise needs another loop. And I now have a whole other range of options to start imagining as I go on. I’m rather excited about what this means for the next album!

If you’re into looping, you owe it to yourself to check out the Looperlative – there really is nothing like in on the hardware market (and if you’re like me, the temperamental nature of laptops means that hardware is the only way to go. All hail Bob of the Looperlative, granter of wishes and builder of dreams.

Tags: Musing on Music

'yeah, I listen to everything'

December 14th, 2005 · Comments Off on 'yeah, I listen to everything'

the daftest answer ever to the question ‘what music do you like?’ – it crops up a lot on MySpace – people who write under their music preferences ‘everything’ or ‘all kinds of music’. That’s rubbish.

I’ve got pretty extensive taste, but I dislike MOST music… There are literally millions of bands in the world. There are probably a few thousand that I quite like, and a few hundred that rock my world. A few dozen that have changed my life. That’s a pretty poor percentage. The thing that makes special music special is that we have to track it down. We look for it, we feel great not only because of what it is, but what it represents.

If I loved all music, it’d be like air. I don’t have favourite air. I might notice the sea air as being particularly bracing, but I don’t get bags of it shipped in, I don’t trawl ebay looking for Berwick on Tweed air just because it reminds me of my childhood. No, because all air is equally fantastic. Air is an amazing thing. It keeps me alive, I’d be very dead without it, and can’t say enough nice things about it. But it isn’t ‘special’.

Great music isn’t like air. There is a lot of great music out there, but you have to hunt for it. It’s rare that a major record label releases anything ‘great’. They often spoil potentially great things by sticking their lame-assed focus-group-led coked-up-executive-with-no-clue oar into the discussion, but they rarely let genuinely great records get through. That’s what makes Hejira so special. Or Songs In the Key Of Life, Plumb, Steve McQueen, Nothing But A Burning Light – they are amazing records on major labels. Extra kudos to Joni, Stevie, Jonatha, Prefab Sprout and Bruce for managing to get past the ‘hmm better make it a bit more shit just to make sure it gets on the radio’ moment…

So stop pretending that you’re into everything, or that you like ‘most music’ You don’t! You probably don’t even like the best of most styles of music – it takes a fairly broad set of ears to deal with the, um, idiosyncratic intonation of Chinese Opera, Tuvan throat singing, Tibetan Chanting, Ana music, or even Tom Waits at his most weird.

If you’re in a band, the likelihood is that it’s not going to rock my world. That’s not your fault, it’s just the law of averages. It shouldn’t stop you sending your CD out to people – I send mine out to all manner of people, safe in the knowledge that it’s not going to blow all of their minds. I hope some of them dig it, and am particularly grateful when people who aren’t already friends email me to say they really dig what I do. Last night, I got a text message from the lovely Jane who was listening to Grace And Gratitude and it was helping her out at the end of a tough day. A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a soldier who said it helped him through the tough time telling his folks that he had to go to Iraq. that stuff is worth a thousand people saying ‘yeah, I quite like your CD’.

It’s OK to not be blown away by everything, and people who don’t like your music aren’t losers with no taste. But remember to cherish everyone who is touched by what you do – it’s a huge privilege to be able to help soundtrack memorable times in people’s lives, whether it’s music that helps them celebrate, or comforts them in dark times, or just fits the occasion – one of my proudest musical moments is when a friend of mine took my CD in to be played while she was giving birth!

Let people know if their music means something to you – that’s one of the great things about having a blog; being able to big up great music, to get the word out about fab stuff that’s out there, the things that move me. And more often that not, the artists will find it while vanity searching, and drop me an email, which is always fun.

Cherish great music – it’s an honour not a birth-right.

Soundtrack – Iona, ‘Beyond These Shores’.

Tags: Musing on Music

Eric Roche benefit gig…

December 5th, 2005 · Comments Off on Eric Roche benefit gig…

Today, Eric Roche would have been 38. He already had Haverhill Arts Centre booked for a gig to celebrate. Sadly, he died too soon. So instead, the venue decided to put on a Tribute gig, which would act as a benefit gig for his family, and the bookings co-ordinater at the venue, Nick Kemble, set about booking lots of Eric’s friends to come and play, and ended up with a stellar line up – Max Gilkes, Ravi, Stuart Ryan, Steve Lockwood and Chris Newman, Boo Hewerdine and me.

Max kicked things off with a solo set, followed by me – I did Grace and Gratitude, which just before I went on I decided I’d segue into ‘Deep Deep Down’ by Eric, which is usually in G and had to be in Bb, to fit over the Gminor of Grace and Gratitude. I followed that with a version of ‘Lovely’ with Steve Lockwood on harmonica, and then did People Get Ready, started solo and was joined by Steve and Chris, which was great.

However, the more keen-eyed of you will notice a glaring omission from my set list… who was the gig in honour of?: Who have I written a tune for that I’ve played at every solo gig I’ve done in the last 5 months? How on earth did I forget to play my tune for Eric???? what on earth was going on in my head when I was thinking back stage ‘hmmm, what shall I play?’ – sometimes, I amaze myself with my own sieve-brain-ness.

Anyway, I came back on during Steve and Chris’ set to play a funky blues with them, and again during Stuart Ryan’s set to play an uptempo blues with him and Steve. And then finally at the end, I sat in on the last of Boo’s tunes, and we all finished together with a version of ‘The Water Is Wide’ – a folk song that Eric played regularly, and recorded a lovely version of.

All it all, it was a magic night – everyone played well, the venue was packed, the sound was great, and they sold tonnes of Eric merch, meaning a healthy chunk of cash goes to his family.

Don’t forget to go and buy his CDs, especially ‘With These Hands’ – it’s amazing. I’ve had a few people mention with some surprise that they’d bought things on my recommendation from the blog that turned out to be amazing. Believe me, i ONLY recommend things here that I think are genuinely marvellous. I’ve got lots of lovely friends who make CDS and write books and stuff that are fine, but aren’t world-beating, so I save my recommendations here for things that are magical. Eric’s CDs are just that – magical. Do yourself a favour and get one.

It was a real privilege and an honour to be a part of the gig, to help support his family, to play with such great musicians, and to contribute my noises to a celebration of a life well lived. If you were there, thanks for coming – all of us who performed had a fantastic time.

(oh, and Nick did a great job of the compering… ;o) )

Tags: Uncategorized