stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



playing for other people

May 5th, 2008 · 1 Comment

As much as I love playing solo, collaborating with other people is a huge part of my musical life. If you’re interested in hiring me for a project, or have a collaboration to suggest, please do get in touch!

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people I’ve played with/for – Aaron Gibson, Airstar, Alex Douglas, Alex Legg, Al Swainger, Alvin Stardust, Amy Kohn, Andre LaFosse, Andrea Hazell, Andrew Buckton, Andrew Gouche, Andrew Pask, Andy Edwards, Andy Gangadeen, Andy Hamill, Andy Thornton, Andy Williamson, Artemis, Beardyman, Ben Castle, Ben Okafor, Black Feathers, Boo Hewerdine, Briana Corrigan, Bryan Beller, Bryan Corbett, Calamateur, Carrie Melbourne, Charlie Moreno, Chris Bowater, Claudio Zanghieri, Cleveland Watkiss, Cole Moreton, Commonwealth, Corey Mwamba, Daniel Berkman, Dave Bainbridge, Davey Spillane, David and Carrie Grant, David Lyon, Deborah Jordan, Divinity, Dudley Philips, Duncan Senyatso, Elvin Jones, Emily Baker, Emre Ramazanoglu, Estelle Kokot, Filomena Campus, Fiona Clifton-Welker, Franck Vigroux, Gary Lucas, Geert Doldersum, Guy Jackson, Guy Pratt, Gwyn Jay Allen, Harry Napier, Hossam Ramsay, Howard Jones, Huw Warren, Iain Archer, Ian MacGowan, Ivan Hussey, Jason Carter, Jason Cooper, Jason Rubenstein, Jean Toussaint, Jeff Kaiser, Jem Godfrey, Jerome Cury, Jez Carr, John Lester, John Perry, Johnny Markin, Jonas Hellborg, Jon Thorne, Josh Seurkamp, Jude Simpson, Julie Lee, Julie McKee, Julie Slick, Juliet Turner, Kaffe Matthews, Kerry Getz, Kira Small, Leo Abrahams, Lobelia, Lorenzo Feliciati, Luca Formentini, Luca Sirianni, Mano Ventura, Mark Kelly, Mark Lockheart, Matthew Garrison, Matthias Grob, Michael Manring, Mike Flynn, Mike Haughton, Mike Outram, Mike Sturgis, Miriam Jones, Muriel Anderson, Murphy McCaleb, Neil Alexander, Orphy Robinson, Oteil Burbridge, Otto Fischer, Patrick Wood, Pete Fraser, Peter Chilvers, Peter Katz, Phi Yaan-Zek, Pierce Pettis, Ray Russell, Reeves Gabrels, Ric Hordinski, Richard Lewis, Rick Walker, Rise Kagona, Roger Eno, Robert Logan, Robert Mitchell, Rob Turner, Rowland Sutherland, Roy Dodds, Ruth Goller, Sammy Horner, Sanju Sahai, Sarah Masen, Seb Rochford, Shlomo, She Makes War, Sonya Kaye, Stephen Bingham, Stephenson & Samuel, Steuart Liebig, Steve Apirana, Steve Beresford, Steve Gregory, Steve Jolliffe, Steve Lockwood, Steve Noble, Steve Thompson, Steve Uccello, Stuart Ryan, Susan Enan, Tanya Donelly, Terl Bryant, Theo Travis, Thomas Leeb, Tiger Darrow, Tim Bowness, Tony Buck, Torycore, Trip Wamsley, Todd Reynolds, Tunde Jegede, Vicki Genfan, Yolanda Charles, Yvonne Lyon and more…

discography

2017 – Steve Lawson/Bryan Corbett – Beautifully Disturbed
Steve Lawson/Corey Mwamba – Surprise
Yvonne Lyon – Metanoia
Steve Lawson – Small Is Beautiful
Steve Lawson – PS, You Are Brilliant
Steve Lawson/Poppy Porter – Illuminated Loops
John Lester – Fathers And Sons
Steve Lawson/Andy Edwards – Over Time
Steve Lawson – If They Had Won
Steve Lawson/Pete Fraser – Oven Spring
Steve Lawson/Pete Fraser – Intersect
Lobelia – Love Or Something Like It
Steve Lawson – Towards A Better Question

2016 – Lawson/Edwards/Yaan-Zek – Ley Lines II
Steve Lawson – Hark/Winter
Tanya Donelly – Swan Song Series
Steve Lawson – The Surrender Of Time
Steve Lawson – Colony Collapse Disorder
Steve Lawson – Hands Music
Steve Lawson – Referendum
Steve Lawson – Well Say Hello Then…
Alberto Rigoni – Bassorama
Kiama – Sign Of Four (Bonus CD)
Steve Lawson/Phi Yaan-Zek – The Quiet After The Drums
Steve Lawson and Michael Manring – Language Is A Music

2015 – Steve Lawson – You Guys! Let’s Just Talk About Nail Varnish!
Steve Lawson, Andy Edwards, Bryan Corbett – Winter Song
Steve Lawson, Andy Edwards, Jem Godfrey – Live At Tower Of Song
Steve Lawson – A Crack Where The Light Gets In/The Way Home/Closing In
Airstar – Retrospect
Steve Lawson, Andy Edwards, Phi Yaan-Zek –
Ley Lines
Steve Lawson (with Ruth Goller) – Explore

2014 – Steve Lawson and Julie Slick – Marinate
Steve Lawson with Jon Thorne – Diversion
Steve Lawson – What The Mind Thinks, The Heart Transmits

2013 – Artemis – Triptych II (Nine For A Kiss) (bass and mastering)
Artemis – Triptych I (Eight For A Wish) (bass and mastering)
Artemis, Steve Lawson & Daniel Berkman – For Now
Black Feathers – Strangers We Meet
Steve Lawson and Daniel Berkman – FingerPainting Complete (10 albums + 2 album best of)
Steve Lawson and Daniel Berkman – Accidentally (On Purpose)

2012 – Steve Lawson and Andy Williamson – Nothing Can Prepare
Steve Lawson and Mike Outram – Invenzioni
Lawson/Alexander – Hidden Windows
Artemis – Sephyra
Steve Uccello  – Fire Times
Steve Lawson – Believe In Peace

2011 -Lobelia – Beautifully Undone (Songs I Wish I’d Written)
Steve Lawson – 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything

2010 – Steve Lawson – Ten Years On – Live In London
Trip Wamsley and Steve Lawson – Infrablab
Steve Lawson and Trip Wamsley – Slow Food
Steve Lawson and Lobelia – Live So Far (featuring Todd Reynolds and Neil Alexander)

2008 -Lawson/Dodds/Wood – Numbers on Better Late records.

2007Luca Formentini; Tacet (bass and loopage on one tune), on Extreme Records.
Calamateur vs Steve Lawson; Calamateur vs Steve Lawson, on Autoclave Records.

2006Steve Lawson; Behind Every Word.
– Steve Lawson; Lessons Learned From The Fairly Aged Felines.

2005Various Artists; European Bass Day 2004 – compilation CD, featuring tracks by John Lester, Lorenzo Feliciati, Jan-Olof Strandberg and others.
Various Artists; As One (charity CD featuring one of Steve’s tracks alongside tracks by Jimmy Haslip, the Poogie Bell Band, Steve Jenkins, Mo Foster, Peter Muller, Janek Gwizdala, Stevie Williams, Lorenzo Feliciati, David Dyson, Laurence Cottle & Dean Brown, in aid of SOS Children‘s work in the aftermath of the Tsunami)

2004Steve Lawson; Grace And Gratitude.
Steve Lawson; Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt II.

2003Steve Lawson; Jaco’s ‘Portrait Of Tracy‘, for Total Guitar Magazine, Bass Special.
– Steve Lawson/Theo Travis; For The Love Of Open Spaces.
– Steve Lawson/Theo Travis; It’s Not Gonna Happen.
Andrew Buckton; Rocket Ship on Blue Carpet Records.
– Chris Bowater; Still on db studios.

2002Steve Lawson; Not Dancing For Chicken.
Steve Lawson; Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt 1 on Pillow Mountain
Susan Enan; Moonlight (EP)
– Commonwealth; That’s the Way It Goes (OD Hunte single remix)
– Steve Lawson/Jez Carr; Conversations.

2001Jason Carter with Ragatal, and Hossam Ramsay; Elements (Fragments Of Grace re-released with some percussion overdubs from Hossam) on ARC
Andrew Buckton; Now… But Not Yet on Bluecarpet Records.
– Pauline Wright; Come Closer (Private Release)

2000Steve Lawson; And Nothing But The Bass, Live @ The Troubadour
Andy Thornton; The Things You Never Say (CD single) on EIS
– Steve Lawson; Guitarist mag cover CD Aug 2000 (1 track – ‘The New Country’)

1999Andy Thornton; The Things You Never Say on EIS
– Chris Bowater; Heritage And Hope on Word

1998 – Various Artists; New Songs for 98 on Word
Jason Carter With Ragatal; Fragments Of Grace on ARC
– Chris Bowater; All About You on Word

1997 – Trish Morgan; Spring Harvest Live Vol 1 & 2 on ICC
– Various Artists; Together For Christmas (live) on dB Studios

1996 – Various Artists; Power Of Your Love (Grapevine Live) on ICC
Johnny Markin; See With Your Eyes on ICC
– Geert Doldersum; With All Of My Heart on Spark
– David Lyon; Precious Little Things(private recording)

1995Johnny Markin; Between Two Worlds on ICC

1994 – Chris Bowater; A New Day on ICC

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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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Ahhh, nashville…

June 5th, 2007 · Comments Off on Ahhh, nashville…

So we’s here in Nashville, and it’s fab. Last night we went over to see TAFKASB at Sarah and David’s, saw the lovely Anne too, good times were had. Then today we had breftist with S, D, SB and Jenna, then off to Target to get SB a new phone, and who do we run into by the most marvellous and lovely Julie Lee! Lunch is then had, and now we’re in Portland Brew emailing peoples about our lovely house concert on Thursday, in Sarah and David’s front garden… it’s going to be fab. email me for the address if you’re in Nashville and want to come.

coming up – two days of chillin’, drinking lots of coffee, seeing loads of lovely friends and getting ready for a fun fun gig.

Also booked – house concert in Dallas TX on the 12th June – email for address for that one too!

Tags: Music News

You're watching Captain video…

January 25th, 2006 · Comments Off on You're watching Captain video…

On Sunday morning at NAMM, I was called upon to do a video demo of the Looperlative for SonicState.com – a music techie-geek site of some considerable repute.

and here it is – the first bit is me playing then explaining it, and the second half is Bob Amstadt the inventor of the box. It’s pretty fun to watch, and the music is a nice little improv piece too!

SoundtrackJulie Lee, ‘Stillhouse Road’.

Tags: Music News

Emotional music day…

November 4th, 2005 · 4 Comments

I’m having an emotional music day… well, two days, actually.

It started last night, with a song called ‘Freedom’ by a band that I think are called ‘The Wrest’ – I’ve just got this one MP3 that I was sent, cos it features the marvellous Julie Lee on vocals. It sounds just like something that would’ve cropped up on a mid-80s Fleetwood Mac album, like a lost last track from Tango In The Night. And it really moves me. It’s eminently hummable, though I’ve not really listened to the words in any great detail. Part of it is just Julie’s voice – she’s in that category with singers like Michael McDonald and Joanne Hogg where it doesn’t matter what they sing, it works for me.

After that I was listening to Kris Delmhorst’s ‘Songs For A Hurricane’ album, which is just perfect. It just gets better with every listen. Some amazing lyrics, beautiful metaphors, and another really great moving voice.

Today I ratcheted up the emotional content, and in the car on the way to Birmingham was listening to ‘Diesel and Dust’ by Midnight Oil. Now, the Oils are from that brand of serious 80s rockers who had a message and no sex appeal – a combination that would see them disappear without trace were they to emerge now, but as a reaction to the rancidness of yuppy life in the 80s, such bands appeared all over the place (remember U2 before the Anton Corbijn make-over?)

‘Beds Are Burning’ by Midnight Oil is one of the most spine-tinglingest top 10 hits ever – can you imagine a song about paying reparations to Australia’s aboriginal people making it into the charts now? Pete Garratt sang like a cross between Mick Jagger and Henry’s Cat, but packed his odd croaky/whiny voice with so much intent and meaning that it moves me to tears. The rest of the album packs a punch too – ‘Sell My Soul’, ‘Bull-roarer’ – stunning stuff.

And after that, James Taylor Live – it’s hardly news-worthy ‘man moved by James Taylor’ – I guess the only surprise was that I wasn’t wearing a nice wooly jumper at the time. Particularly noticed the lyrics to ‘Slap Leather’ from his ‘New Moon Shine’ album, which are a stab at the materialism of US government policy in the early 90s – not what you’d expect from the writer of some of the greatest relationship songs of all time…

And now, back at home, I’m listening to ‘Now, But Not Yet’ by Andrew Buckton – the launch gig for this album was, I think, the only time I’ve actually cried during a song on stage – Buck’s songs are all about people he knows going through all manner of crises, and some of them were in the crowd for the gig. Hearing him sing these beautiful, poignant, painful songs to the people they were written for was too much for me. It’s time like that that I’m glad I’ve got enough hair to hide behind – I must’ve looked like cousin-it from the Addams Family for the duration of that song.

So it’s moving songs day – join in, what are the songs that really move you? (warning, if you list anything by Whitney or Celine, I’ll be banning your IP from ever viewing this blog again. 😉 )

Soundtrack – Andrew Buckton, ‘Now But Not Yet’.

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John Lester/Gretchen Peters gig

October 2nd, 2005 · Comments Off on John Lester/Gretchen Peters gig

Regular readers or Stevie-gig-goers will already be familiar with John Lester – he’s proof if ever it were needed that being fantastic won’t necessarily make you a star (if it did, he’d be the new Sting). For the uninitiated, he’s a singer/songwriter who plays upright and electric bass to accompany himself. He’s a marvelous songwriter, and a really gifted bassist, and has released two really lovely albums.

One of his now-regular gigs is with Nashville-based singer/songwriter Gretchen Peters, both opening the show solo and playing bass for Gretchen’s trio.

It’s one of my favourite gig experiences – going to see a friend play that I know is fantastic, but the rest of the audience is pretty much unaware of, knowing that within the next half an hour, lots of people are going to have a new artist to add to their list of favourites. I remember seeing Julie Lee play at the Stables on one of the Bob Harris Presents… nights, where very few people knew who she was, and most of the audience were in love before she came off stage. A great feeling. I like offering things like that to my audience (obviously in a smaller way, as my crowds tend to be smaller than those that Gretchen or the Bob Harris gigs pull) – the gigs I’ve done with Rob Jackson, Calamateur and John Lester have offered that to the people who had come to see me play, and got to hear something else marvelous into the bargain.

Anyway, John won the audience over last night with his first song, and by the end of the set, was selling CDs like a headline act. Great to see.

I wasn’t familiar with Gretchen’s music before the gig, but am a convert now – there are hints of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sheryl Crow before she went crap, and even a bit of Joni Mitchell, but in a really mellow guitar/double bass/piano trio. Beautiful songs played to perfection. It was great seeing John just doing the bassist’s job – we solo players rarely get to see each other playing in bands (oh, if I had a fiver for every email I get saying ‘I’d love to see you playing in a band’…) so that was a real treat.

And what’s more, the early curfew at the venue meant that John and I could head off for curry and catch up on a year’s worth of news and gig stories.

The only downer on the evening at all was the choice of venue – I’ve done my rant about Carling venues before, and this one was at the Bar Academy in Islington – this was a better environment that when I saw Nick Harper here, but why have an all standing venue for an acoustic trio?? Why have a barman making loads of noise when an acoustic trio is on? The layout of the venue is rubbish, and again, the lack of chairs seems primarily aimed at keeping the beer drinking potential of the audience mobile enough to up their consumption.

I hope the promoter of the show finds a more suited venue soon…

SoundtrackVikki Clayton, ‘Looking At The Stars’.

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Alison Krauss at Hammy Odeon

September 19th, 2005 · Comments Off on Alison Krauss at Hammy Odeon

Middle of last week, an email arrives telling me that as a thankyou for helping her out over the years, Julie Lee had put me and and a few other lovelies on the guestlist for Alison Krauss – Alison and Julie are good chums, so we got tickets and passes for a ‘meet and greet’ before the show. Yippee! It all sounds marvellous – even more so given that helping out Julie is such a pleasure that it hardly requires rewards…

Anyway, TSP and I jump in the new car and head off down to Hammersmith to meet The Cheat, The producer formerly Known as Showbiz Jude and Mark, and find when we get there that a powercut has taken out the Odeon (OK, I know it’s called the Apollo and is sponsored by some crappy beer company or other, but it’ll always be the Hammersmith Odeon to anyone who actually cares).

We head off to the pub, not knowing if gig will go ahead at all. Make occasional reckies (how do you spell ‘recky’?? it’s short for reconnaissance, I think, so can’t see how you’d abbrieviate that… but I digress), the traffic lights are still out, so we know the odeon is still without power.

Meet and Greet is cancelled, and we all started to head off when ‘poomph’ (poomph???) the lights came on! ‘hurrah’ said anyone too posh to cheer in a normal way.

Following some frenetic gig preparations, we were inside and sat down (in fab seats) and the band came on.

After my trip to Nashville last October, I’m a convert to the delights of bluegrass anyway, and it doesn’t get much better than this – the playing was amazing, the songs beautiful, and Alison has spectacular natural comic timing. It was yet another example of the simple rule about american bands – they get to play live so many more times that any UK band does before they go in and record that they end up being much better musicians. Even when their ideas aren’t as good as ours, the playing is usually of a higher quality (there are exceptions to the rule – me, for example – but in general… )

So the meet and greet didn’t happen, but the gig was well worth waiting for til someone put some 50p coins in the Hammersmith meter.

At the end of the gig, as we were coming out, I commented to Jude that I’d like to get Alison’s live album ‘I’ve got it you can borrow mine’ says jude. ‘I’ll buy it, I’ve already got her best of’ says me, which in the hubbub was mis-heard by Jude as ‘does she get her breasts out?’ – clearly, that’s one of my main criteria when choosing a bluegrass CD – whether or not there are boobs on the cover… very odd…!

Anyway, thanks Julie – a fantastic night out, even without Alison exposing herself on a CD sleeve.

soundtrack – Rise Kagona.

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Me in a magazine.

August 31st, 2005 · Comments Off on Me in a magazine.

Here you go, there’s an interview with me in the new issue of Bassics magazine – and on the CD there’s a track (shizzle) and a bit of video with me explaining looping and performing a tune (can’t remember what the tune is, maybe Grace and Gratitude). Filming the video was lots of fun – The Cheat acted as video monkey, and did a fine job. I recorded the audio to Minidisc and then chopped up the different video angles to fit the soundtrack. The only problem is that we did it at St Luke’s hoping to be able to use one of the groovy burgandy curtains as a backdrop, but they were installing a new PA in the main bit of the church, so we were through in the back hall, with a yellow brick background that makes it look like I’m in prison… niiice.

SoundtrackMo Foster, ‘live’ (an advanced copy of an upcoming album by Mo – as with everything Mo does, it’s lovely, and of course I’ll report here when it’s released); Cathy Burton, ‘Speed Your Love’ (Cath was singing BVs at Greenbelt for Ricky Ross, and her album is lovely); Julie Lee, ‘Stillhouse Road’ (a fantastic record that I never get tired of hearing).

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So, I'm number one in the charts!

June 7th, 2005 · Comments Off on So, I'm number one in the charts!

Sadly not some kind of national sales chart, but an airplay chart for a show on WWSP in Steven’s Point, WI, hosted by BEAR – BEAR has been very supportive of my music for a long time, playing loads of it on his show over the years. Sadly you can’t stream it on line (at least, I’ve never found a stream), but it’s great to know he’s playing it!

Thanks, BEAR!

Soundtrack – Pat Metheny, ‘Bright Size Life’; Julie Lee, ‘Stillhouse Road’; Ethel, ‘Ethel’.

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Jonatha gig number… 6? 7? I've lost count

April 26th, 2005 · Comments Off on Jonatha gig number… 6? 7? I've lost count

Jonatha‘s back in the country, as the UK version of Back In The Circus came out yesterday. Last night she played one of the Bob Harris Presents… gigs that used to be at The Stables in Milton Keynes, and are now at The Brook (no E on the end, but close enough for Jonatha to feel at home) in Southampton – a nice enough venue, but nearly all standing, so doesn’t win out over The Stables for me…

Anyway, Jonatha was on first, and fab as always. It’s a great feeling when you go to see someone fantastic that most of the audience aren’t really familiar with – it’s the same feeling going to a Julie Lee gig – you just know that half an hour from now, there are going to be a whole load of Jonatha/Julie/Whoever converts in the audience.

As expected, the response was like she was the headliner. Marvellous.

Brian Houston was up next – I’ve not seen Brian play for a few months, and he was on top form – great songs, great stage show. He’s a really really engaging and entertaining performer. Great stuff.

And Finally Thea Gilmore, who was headlining. She’s good, though the stripped down simplicity of her songs didn’t really follow either the glorious complexity of Jonatha or the bouncy exuberance of Brian so well. Still, most of the audience were there specifically to see her, and she played really well, particularly the cover of The Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Falling In Love With Someone’.

Sadly, we had to leave early as the Small Person, who had been wilting all evening, got progressively iller and iller as Thea’s set went on. I was doing merch by this time (whole catalogue of disaster for Thea – her tech was in A & E with concussion, her merch dude didn’t turn up), so handed that over to Thea’s manager, and took TSP home.

So, go and buy Jonatha’s album!

SoundtrackMasse, a demo of stuff by solo looping bassist/flautist – very inventive indeed; the Works, ‘Beware Of The Dog’.

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