stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Press Quotes…

May 11th, 2008 · No Comments

choice quotes

“Steve’s complex array of sound and rare, intimate
touch are rapidy turning him into one of the most
influential bassists in the world”
– bass guitar magazine

“Lawson’s writing and his phenomenal command of the possibilities of looping creates a compelling and surprising variety of sounds one would never imagine the bass capable of producing.” – JazzWise

“Steve Lawson is a brilliant musician. I’ve known about him and listened to him for many years. He may not be one of the most famous bassists but he is definitely one of the most talented.” – Victor Wooten

“Steve..I look at you as one of the best innovators in the bass community. The path you have chosen to follow is special and deep. If anyone has any issues with this, I feel for them and they should not be paying any attention the what you do. Just move on to a more mundane approach to the instrument and be happy. You are a gift and I love your playing and concept.” – Leland Sklar

“one of the most gifted solo bass players on the planet” – Ian Peel, Record Collector Magazine

“sensuous melodies intertwine and fall away with the intimacy of Talk Talk?s Spirit of Eden and the cinematic production values of Brian Eno” – Sid Smith

“Lawson’s solo bass compositions include palettes of lush sonic soundscapes and layers of ambient textures which have helped to redefine the art of looping and live performance as a solo bassist.” – The International Insitute Of Bass

“one of today’s most inventive and original sounding voices on the
electric bass. He is a pioneering innovator in the art of looping.”
– cliff engel, www.bassically.net

“a one man cosmic symphony” – Jerry Kranitz, www.aural-innovations.com

“Taking you from new-age jazz to Starsky and Hutch, this solo bassist is a must-see for anyone who’s ever
harboured dreams of being a professional musician. Catch him while he’s hot!” (4/5)
– ThreeWeeks

“Lawson is a master of a whole universe of sounds…a truly original talent” – JazzWise

“Steve Lawson is better than good… …[his] sheer virtuosity communicates an infectious love for the music.” – Good Times Santa Cruz.

“the life affirming stuff of dreams” Sue Edwards, Royal Festival Hall.

About the cds –

“What a beautiful recording! This is perhaps the best argument yet that the bass is a versatile, deeply expressive instrument and in the hands of a brilliant and visionary artist like Steve, is capable of making music of enormous emotional and musical depth. Please buy a copy and share it with your friends and family. I think they’ll thank you for it!” – Michael Manring.

“beautifully performed throughout” – Guitarist Magazine (uk)

“From the opening trills of ‘Flutter’ it’s clear that this is going to be an extraordinary album…
…Steve’s complex array of sound and rare, intimate touch are rapidly turning him into one of the most influential bassists in
the world.” – Bass Guitar Magazine (uk)

“one of the most refreshing, listenable and unpretentious albums i have heard in one long time!” – warren murchie, global bass magazine (Canada)

“i encourage the rest of the world to get this album and find out just how versatile a bass guitar can be – 10/10 “- cross rhythms magazine (uk)

“A excellent set of truly inspired improvisational music.” – aural innovations e-zine. (US)

“Frisell, Fripp and Garbarek revisited in unique ways.” – JazzUK Magazine. (UK)

“steve has something all his own, and with it a bright future as a solo bass performer and likely anything else he chooses along the way. pick it up now so you can say you know of him from the beginning.” – bass frontiers magazine (us)

“I highly recommend this CD! As Steve’s playing and concept grow he makes ever more gorgeous and engaging music that really demonstrates the expressive depth of the bass. The richness of this music makes for a rewarding listening experience on all levels and I think Steve’s approach represents a real step forward for the art of solo bass.” – Michael Manring.

“All in all, “and nothing but the bass”, is a most delectable and auspicious debut release from a very talented artist with the vision and ability to think and play outside the box. Definitely recommended listening” – www.ambientvisions.com (US)

“Take the playing expertise of Phil Keaggy mix in a healthy dose of the solo work of Robert Fripp and transfer that to a six string fretless bass guitar. What you have as a result of the best of both is a gentleman known as Steve Lawson.” – www.tollbooth.org (US)

“On technical terms alone, Lawson holds his end up alongside American stars of the lyrical bass suchas 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.” – Misfit City E-zine (UK)

“Using only a couple basses and a handful of electronic gadgets, Lawson skillfully paints sonic textures of ambient soundscapes with adventurous soloing and masterful layering.” – www.bassically.net (US)

” This is such a special album that a short review like this can hardly do it justice. The moody melody of ‘Need You Now’, the funky slap and pop of ‘Channel Surfing’, the atmospheric ‘Jimmy James’, all these and every other track are worthy of careful examination and I only have 200 words! ‘Chicken’ is an album that invites you to sit back,
close your eyes and get involved in it’s shimmering melodic beauty for an hour.” – Euphoria Magazine (UK)

“The marvelously musical result on Lawson’s second [solo] album, which tends toward a mellow, ambient vibe that sometimes recalls new age
music and ’80s art-rock, has as much to do with Lawson’s melodic sense as it does to do with his technical mastery.” – Bass Player Magazine.

“Folk music, Frippertronics, fretless Jaco Pastorius flights, country melodies and world-music trance epics mingle here, plus a few hints of past effects-pedal kings like Dean Carter or Pat Orchard. And it’s utterly inclusive music, lacking the smugness and self-love that blight many solo instrumental jaunts, and more interested in raising a happy smile rather than pulling an anguished ‘guitar face’ ” – Organ Magazine (UK)

“In summary, Lawson succeeds in showcasing the range of his instruments’ possibilities while also creating enjoyable and interesting music. The album’s real strength
lies in it’s variety, from Frippoid soundscapes, to jazz, and ambient space. – www.aural-innovations.com (US)

“On the last piece – “Pillow Mountain” – Lawson shows that, with a few electronic gizmos, even very “unbasslike” sounds can be produced. A
wonderfully melancholic fretless solo is played over an underlying mood reminiscent of Brian Eno. Beautiful.” – Jazz Dimensions Magazine (Germany)

“Only a musician with great talent and sensitivity can provoke such emotions, giving us these 52 minutes of pathos from solo bass and effects.” – No Warning e-zine (Italy)

“Steve Lawson [is an] innovative bassist dedicated to stretching the boundaries of bass. On Lawson’s And Nothing but the Bass album,
the simple boom-di-boom we know as bass is transformed into a spray of chords, arpeggios, hammer-ons and rangy melodic runs, flecked in harmonics and reinvented by effects.” – San Jose Metro (US)

“Lawson and Carr alternate playing Jekyl to the other’s Hyde. Dreamy pastoral visions interrupted by an invasion of drunk Martians. Steve’s sonic pallette allows him to blend beautifully, or create havoc, a dichotomy he clearly enjoys. A fascinating listen. A Little Nitrous Music anyone?”
– Ed Friedland, Bass Player Magazine (US)

“The music Steve and Jez make is reflective, intimate and powerful. It takes you on a journey that is
simultaneously familiar and exotic, engaging and serene.” – Michael Manring

” ‘Conversations’ finds pianist Jez Carr and bassist/loopist Steve Lawson deftly walking a fine line between
new age and avant-garde, drifting from meditative serenity to angular abstraction so smoothly that the seams
barely show. With its extended and often reflective feel, the highly-attuned duo improvisations allude to the
vintage eras of record labels like ECM or Windham Hill.” – Andre LaFosse (guitar looping genius)

“This is subtle music that demands your undivided attention.” – www.aural-innovations.com

“Close to perfection… …Magnificent” – No Warning (Italian e-zine)

“I can’t say enough to recommend this CD adequately. Just do yourself a favor and get it if you haven’t already.”- Ted Killian, Loopers Delight.

” There’s music here to appeal to a diverse crowd… from space ambient to jazz fans to prog fans. And I can’t imagine any musician who wouldn’t appreciate the results of what are actually solo performances. Recommended.” – www.aural-innovations.com

About Steve’s gigs…

“Most bass players settle for one distinctive tone and make it their own, yet solo loop guru Lawson is a master
of a whole universe of sounds all conjured from his fretless six-string bass. It’s a feat equivalent to juggling
half-a-dozen lit torches that not only he makes look and sound effortless, but his sense of otherworldly narratives
makes his a truly original talent.” – JazzWise magazine.

“Steve’s style is to look like he never knows what he’s doing in the first place,
he talks nonsense to distract you from how frighteningly good he is at what he does.” – www.bassworld.co.uk

“steve plays with a wonderful fluidity. his fingers glide lovingly, effortlessly over the fretless, the chording and intonation never less than perfect. whether a simple, relaxed glissade or a line demanding
huge control and dexterity, his fingers did the talking.” – michael cowton, journalist and author of ‘level 42 – the definitive biography’ (UK)

“[steve is] very much his own musician, and one capable of taking on any of the american virtuosi on equal terms… his improvised melodies…make for an assertive and individual new voice.”- dann chinn, misfit city e-zine (uk)

“…an evening of technological wonder and musical psychadelisizing.” – Santa Cruz Sentinel

About Steve…

“a gifted and imaginative bassist, whose melodic ideas and encyclopedic chordal knowledge are at least equal to many (currently) more well known artists.”- www.globalbass.com online magazine. (Canada)

“Bottom Line: Virtuoso technique + imagination + a vision + improvisation chops to burn = Steve Lawson.”- www.bassically.net (US)

“At last! Steve Lawson – a bassist with a commanding technique that doesn’t mean more notes,
but a truly good sound and great time, with melody a priority. Finally, lots of notes when needed.
How refreshing! Now all we need is a Steve Lawson that plays double bass – are you out there?” – Danny Thompson (double bass legend)

“Steve Lawson has got to be one of the most tasteful bassists I’ve heard in a long time and is certainly a creative
player who focuses on sound and the quality of individual notes, not to mention different ways of speaking with his
instrument.” – Jerry Kranitz, www.aural-innovations.com

“Somehow I had never heard of Steve Lawson before and while at the recent NAMM show a friend of mine dragged me
to a booth to check him out. When I heard Steve play doing a live solo with self accompaniment I was instantly
transported to somewhere beautiful inside, even though we were in Anaheim of all places. The CD does the same
thing for me…I listened to it driving through the desert and again at home…lovely,
wonderful stuff…I’m a fan” – Andy West

(solo artist, bassist with The Dixie Dregs)

“When I first heard Steve Lawson it made me go home and practice my bass again, it was inspiring to hear his use of bass loops with great melodies.
He doesn’t play like a bass player, he plays like a musician. I am going to rip off every idea he has ever had!!” –
Matt Bissonette (bassist to the stars!)

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Review – solo show, Traders, Petersfield (Petersfield Post)

May 7th, 2008 · No Comments

‘Guitar Gig Captivated Audience’

“It’s a gig, not a prison sentence,” quipped celebrated bass guitarist Steve Lawson during his recent intimate performance in Petersfield.

Steve’s comic aside was strictly unnecessary. His fears that an evening’s entertainment provided solely by a man and his bass guitar would send people scurrying to the bar were unfounded.

His Petersfield audience, upstairs at the Traders Club, were captivated by the groundbreaking music coaxed from a bewildering array of bass guitars, effects pedals and blinking electronic gizmos.

With his long curly hair and bookish spectacles, Steve may have the charming stage presence of an eccentric professor, but there is nothing scatterbrained about his compositions or performance.

His incredibly accomplished and instantly accessible playing, which won him many converts on his recent support slots with funk-pop act, Level 42, was clearly on full display.

His ‘bass looping’ technique, where melodies are repeated and layered in real time by his electronic arsenal, may sound a touch avante-garde, but the overal effect is breathtaking.

In Steve’s dextrous hands, the bass guitar is gracefully put through its paces, sounding Latin tinged one minute, and like a fleet of flying saucers the next, but always anchored to memorable tunes.

Mainly improvising around instrumentals from his latest [solo] CD ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’ (Pillow Mountain Records), Steve led the Petersfield audience on a captivating melodic journey, grinning with unrestrained glee at the end of each song.

It’s the combination of the man and his music that make two hours in Steve Lawson’s company effortlessly enjoyable.

Steve’s wry humour shines through, bantering between songs, cultivating a real rapport with the audience.

The traders Club crowd, long having abandoned preconceptions about a solo bass performance, encouraged Steve into a rare encore, no doubt anticipating his next visit in March.

Petersfield witnessed a real guitar alchemist at work, turning bass metals into gold.”
– Simon Berkovitch

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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

Loading Quotes...

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

[quick quotes page]

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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Mammoth tour blog

June 25th, 2006 · 4 Comments

Right, I said in the mini-post that it looked like things were going to be rough, but that was an understatement… please try to keep in mind as you read this that Ned and I aren’t Spinal Tap, and this shit actually happened…

So, the back story is that the promoter – Blooz Promoz, run by a guy called Nigel in Leeds – was someone that Ned had worked with last year, he’d organised a few gigs that had gone OK, so it seemed like a good idea to go there again. I’d not had any dealings with him, but as a proven entity, was more than happy to just let Ned take it from there. We had two gigs booked on a £250 promise for each gig, and a clinic at Sound Control in Leeds.

We drive to Wakefield, get to the gig, and the venue owner says he hasn’t heard from the promoter for weeks (at this point it’s worth pointing out that he was booked as ‘promoter’ not just ‘booking agent’…), but we assume he’ll be turning up.

It gets to gig time, still no promoter, punters start to show up, in small numbers, all via my mailouts and friends of those people. Not one from any contact with the promoter, and he wasn’t there to collect the money on the door, so WE DIDN’T GET PAID. Not a penny. The people that were there loved it, and we sold a lot of CDs and t-shirts etc, but still nowhere close to the £250, and anyway, merch money wasn’t in anyway factored into that figure.

So we head to where we’re staying (with Nicola from Greenbelt – thank God we weren’t in a hotel as well!) and crash.

Friday morning we head into Leeds for a wander around, and serendipitously Ned recognises in the market the area where Nigel promoter-monkey has his stall. We head down there, and some dodgy mate of his is looking after it, who clearly not knowing where we were playing, let it slip that the venue was ‘shite’ telling us that Nigel wasn’t booking there anymore… uh-huh.

Nigel eventually appears, and after some chasing around and half-made apologies, claims he’s been ill (an email or two telling us that if it was true would have gone a very long way) gives us £100 for the previous night’s gig (hmmm – £100? what happened to the other £150?) – I’m in a rather strange position at this point as I’ve had no contact with him up to this point, so can’t argue from any real knowledge of what has been said/agreed/emailed, but Ned does a sterling job, and Nigel assures us that the Oceans Eleven gig is going to be fine, and he’ll have someone there to meet us at 8ish, and we’re on at 9. We then say ‘so we’re all fine for Sound Control this afternoon then?’ – er, apparently not. That’s not going to happen. WTF? excuses blah blah bullshit blah blah fucking nonsense etc. etc. Cancelled. Not happening. Let’s face it, almost certainly not booked in the first place.

So we head off back into Leeds city centre in search of wifi, and notice that there is NO mention of the gig anywhere (remember, promoter not booking agent) – no posters up in the music shops, no nothing. The guys in one of the guitar shops haven’t even heard of the venue…

Out for a much needed and much appreciated curry, then down to the venue. Which is closed. And by ‘closed’ I mean closed as in ‘in receivership’. Notes on the door saying ‘this property has been purchased by ************, please phone *************** for details’. So our fuckwit promoter has added barefaced lies to his catalogue of fuck ups (remember, this is Blooz Promoz in Leeds).

So grand totals for Leeds area leg of the tour –

  • gigs ‘booked’ – 3
  • total guarantees agreed prior to this leg of the ‘tour’ – £600 (£250 for each gig, £100 for Sound Control – all of which are low figures anyway, but you figure when a promoter is planning to give the band £250, there’s going to be an audience, and therefor decent merch-ops, and the chance to make it all worthwhile…)
  • gigs played – 1
  • total income – £100
  • petrol costs – about £30
  • curries eaten – 2 (each)
  • venues no longer in existence – 1
  • effect of stench of bullshit from the catalogue of lies and misinformation – overwhelming.

Now, at this point we meet up with Greenbelt chum Steve Thackray – lovely bloke, very friendly and helpful, who in 10 minutes (10 minutes!!!), gets us closer to having a gig than Blooz promo buffoon does in four months. Given 24 hours, Steve could have given us a range of venues, and found us an audience. Next time I go to Leeds, I’m talking to Steve first – he’s a man with his finger on a pulse or two…

So Saturday we get up and head to Stockport for masterclass at Riffs Guitar School, which was much fun, but underpaid. But hey, it actually existed so we’re already ahead on Leeds, and we met lovely people, sold lots of CDs, had a great time, and we had a gig in the evening anyway, so all in a fab way to spend an afternoon.

We then head into Manchester to Iguana – it’s funny how after the nonsense of the previous two days, normal treatment suddenly feels luxurious. We get there, one of the bar men comes to help us with gear and there are lots of staff there to advice, provide drinks, and the venue has many posters up advertising the gig (OK, so their own adverts say that I’m an ex-member of King Crimson and Level 42, but you can’t get everything right).

Once set up, we head to the MEN Arena, where Ned’s buddy Curtis Stigers (yes he of the mullets and power ballads in the late 80s) is opening for George Benson, and we’ve got time to catch his set before we play. Yes, you read that right, I’ve got a free ticket for a George Benson gig, and I’m leaving before he comes on. I’m crying as I type this. No, really, it hurts. A lot. George frickin’ Benson – one of the greatest human beings ever to pick up a guitar. I’ve half a mind to blow our gig and stay to watch. But we don’t, we watch Curtis, who is actually not bad at all, perfect for the audience, does a rather cool little beatbox thing in one tune, and scats a hilarious and very impressive upright bass solo in another, and while not being world-class jazz singer material by any means, does a pretty fine job and was worth going to see.

Back to the venue and lots of lovely friends have arrived – students of mine, web buddies, greenbelt friends, and people from MySpace. A proper gig with a proper audience that actually know where the gig is, and a venue that’s real, open, and has a cheque waiting for us when we finish.

We play well, sell CDs, chat to all the lovely people (special treat to see L1z there – yay!), and eventually head off home at about 12.30. Without the cheque. It’s made out to Ned. Doh! It will be sorted, no problem. Iguana’s a lovely place, and I really hope to play there again.

And we drive home through the night. Laughing about the fuck-ups of the last few days, glad to have had the last fine gig, and wondering what on earth can be done to get the dismal promoter to pay up. Believe me, if he does, I’ll amend this blog so it’s less likely to be the top hit on Google should you go looking for info on Blooz Promoz in Leeds. But right now, they’re on my black-list, shit-list and every other list that says don’t even think about working with them in a million years. We’re down £500 on a tour, Ned’s had to fly from Boise Idaho for this!!!

Next on the tour list is either Saucy Jack or Jazz Odyssey.

What’s wrong with being Sexy?

Tags: Musing on Music

homeless shelters and tax returns

January 8th, 2006 · 1 Comment

Catching up – three very very busy teaching days Thurs/Fri/Saturday – much fun. Busy days like those are a great confirmation of how much I enjoy teaching, I love getting to the end of a day, feeling that I’ve worked hard, and the students have all taken away lots of good quality stuff to work on, hopefully been inspired and are beavering away at their practice!

Saturday after teaching was a visit to see my dad – really ought to see him more as he only lives half an hour away. A most enjoyable few hours.

Had to leave fairly early as I was doing an overnight shift in the St Luke’s homeless shelter – long-time blog readers will remember said shelter from previous years – this is i think my fifth or sixth year of helping out. It’s hardly a huge commitment – I tend to do every other saturday night from january to march, excluding saturdays when I’m not actually in the country…

this was the first night of the new year for the shelter, and was utterly without incident. But it did give me a chance to finish one of my christmas present books – ‘Serious’ by John McEnroe. A good read, for sure, clearly aimed at tennis fans (a fair few play by play dissections of big games, big sets big matches). He didn’t turn out to be quite the sage I’d assumed he was from his commentary skills – he’s one of the best sports commentators I’ve ever encountered (and, to be fair, that’s not many, given my general antipathy to all sport except tennis), but his wisdom in commentating on the psyche of the players doesn’t really seem to have come from having lived a sage life. Maybe he’s just learned from having got it all wrong in his own life. Definitely a worthwhile read though.

So not much sleep last night, which meant two things – a) I missed church by not waking up til 1pm after getting to bed at 6.45, and b) I missed most of the Soil Association organic market thingie happening down by the Barbican. It was organised by the lovely Ruthie, and featured some lovely live music from the lovely Andy Buzzard and Jonny Gee. Great to see them play, if only for one number. Also gave me a chance to meet lots of cuddly musos and invite them along to Thursday’s Recycle Collective gig, which I’m getting more and more excited about the closer it gets – the potential musical marvellousness in a trio of me, Cleveland and BJ is pretty huge, methinks. We’ve played together before, when I did a gig at Darbucka last year that both of them guested on, and it was magical. Don’t miss it!

So, after getting back from the organic thingie, I’ve just finished, submitted and paid my tax return/bill for 2004-2005. Fortunately, I only had about £50 to pay over and above what I’d already paid on account for last year… well, fortunately for now, unfortunate if you think that it means I earned less than the previous year (main reason for that is that in 2004 I was still receiving HUGE PRS cheques for the Level 42 tour…) Good news is, online CD sales were higher in 04-05 than ever before, which is great news.

One of my resolutions for next year is not to leave it til Jan 2006 to submit my tax return. I’d LOVE to actually get it done in April for the first time ever, and then have all year to pay a figure that I actually know. In order to do that, I’ll have to get my financial records for this year up to date in the next week, so I can stay on top of it from here on in… here’s hoping.

As an aside, I submitted my tax return online – what a breeze! It does all the calculating for you, tells you the boxes you’ve missed, makes sure your sums all add up, and gives you a print out at the end. Couldn’t be easier.

And now I’ve done the taxation bit, I feel inspired to write some letters to my MP to do something about the representation bit. I’m a fan of tax, in principle, I’m happy to pay my way, and to pay more to help those who haven’t got enough. But I do wish we had more say over how it was spent, and a less wasteful exchequer – Government spending is a disaster, which while not doing away with the need for taxation, certainly makes most people’s loathing of it a lot easier to understand.

Tags: Random Catchup

a Last.fm experiment

September 18th, 2005 · Comments Off on a Last.fm experiment

So, while I’m waiting for the washing machine (newly fixed) to finish its cycle so I can hang the washing, I thought I’d try skipping through 20 tracks on the ‘similar artists’ radio station for me on Last.fm – here’s the list:

1. Mike Watt – Heartbeat (Ball Hog or Tugboat?)
2. Ginger Baker Trio – Rambler (Going Back Home)
3. Roy Budd – No Co-Operation (Buddism)
4. Haden/Metheny – Two For The Road (Beyond The Missouri Sky
5. Randy Crawford – Secret Combination (The Very Best)
6. Elza Soares – Deixa a Negra Gingar
7. Sheila Chandra – Nana/The Dreaming (Weaving My Ancestors Voices)
8. Marcus Miller – The Blues (Tales)
9. Bob Mould – Megamanic (the Last Dog And Pony Show)
10. Show Of Hands – Yankee Clipper (Live)
11. Truby Trio – New Music (Elevator Music)
12 (someone chinese, in chinese writing)??
13. Denison Witmer – These Days (Recovered)
14. Level 42 – Talking In Your Sleep (Forever Now)
15. Terry Callier – 4 Miles (Lifetime)
16. Zakir Hussain – Tabal Solo In Teentaal (Festival Of Indian Music: Roma)
17. Incognito – Listen To the Music (Nortern Jazz – Southern Soul)
18. Goodbye Mr Mackenzie – Goodwill City (Love Child EP)
19. Lies Damned Lies – Only You (Lonely Together)
20. Senser – Return To Zombie Island (Schematic)

Is that close? it’s definitely swayed by who has uploaded music and who hasn’t (every time a Level 42 track comes up, it’s always from ‘Forever Now’, so that’s obviously the only album of their up there) – hopefully this will be an incentive to indie peoples to get their music uploaded there for the radio listeners to get familiar with (Andrew H, Trip, Buck, Manthing, Big Buzzard and any of you other indie peoples reading this – get your music uploaded! Email me if you need a hand…)

Right, washing machine has finished…

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More great live music in England

February 24th, 2005 · Comments Off on More great live music in England

…and I don’t just mean my upcoming gigs! :o)

is probably best known as drummer extraordinaire with Level 42, Alan Holdsworth and a whole bunch of other people. He’s also a stunning piano player, and has assembled a remarkable band under the name , featuring one of the finest bassist on the planet, , along with Jim Beard, Randy Brecker, Elliot Mason, Jerry Goodman and other top level fusion cats.

I saw them play last year at Turner Simms theatre in Southampton, and the gig was outstanding – very challenging complex music, but marvellous and uplifting too.

They are back on tour starting this Saturday in Milton Keynes, and I urge you to go check them out – click here for the tour dates, which include a week at Ronnie Scott’s in London, and gigs in Manchester, Gainsborough and Gateshead.

Chances to hear music this great outside of the major London concert halls doesn’t come along to often, so please support it. There’s been a thread on the forum about great bassists often bypassing the UK on their European tour dates – if tours like this don’t get supported, it just proves why we’re so often overlooked.

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even more gigs!

March 9th, 2004 · Comments Off on even more gigs!

Oh yes, mine and other people’s.

Saturday night I had a gig in Hoddeston (have I spelt it right this time??) – anyway, the gig was at St Cuthbert’s church (great name for a church – St Cuthbert was a monastic dude who lived on Holy Island, and even had his own Island, a photo of which will probably be the cover of my next CD….) – they do a music night a couple of times a year, where the first hour is an open mic slot for local musicians, then the second half is an invited performer. this time, it was me. The church itself was a great place to play, a lovely building. Gig went really well. It was a great chance to try out both my new bass cabs and the new preamp in my 6 string fretted bass, and both sounded incredible.

Then Sunday night I drove down to Southampton to see Gary Husband’s ‘Force Majeure’ project, with a line up that included the wonderful Matthew Garrison on bass, and Jerry Goodman on Violin. Shit, what a gig!! It was incredible. Gary’s an outstanding drummer and pianist – we all knew that, but we can now add stellar composer to the list. Amazing exhilerating music, at times insanely dissonant and nasty but still with an internal logic and a link to whatever the theme of the piece was. Gary gave little explanatory talks before each track – seems like Architecture features highly on his list of inspirations, and they tied in superbly with the music that followed. I can’t wait for the live DVD! ‘Twas also nice to catch up with friends at the gig – gary and matt, obviously, but also Shaun Freeman, the sax-dude from Level 42 and Nick Fyffe, ex-Jamiroquai bassist. Well worth the 200 mile round trip to see it.

Saturday was also Deep To Deep – a gathering of bassists from the Churchbass list, which was a lot of fun.

Ticket sales are going really well for the tour – I’m very excited about these upcoming dates! Please come out and see one of the shows if you can…

SoundtrackBill Mallonee, ‘Perfumed Letter’ (fantastic new CD from Vigilantes Of Love frontman. His best since Audible Sigh), Morphine, ‘B-Sides And Otherwise’; Dum Dums, ‘It Goes Without Saying’; Chris Potter, ‘Gratitude’; loads of my duets with BJ Cole.

Tags: Uncategorized

Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2004 · Comments Off on Happy New Year!

Oh yes, it’s 2004. Another year over a new one just begun, as a songwriter no longer at the top of his game and desparately in need of his old writing partner once wrote.

So out with the old and in the new, hopefully. Or maybe it’ll just be ‘what goes around comes around’. Who knows.

I’m hoping for the usual crap – more time to read, more gigs, more CD sales, less big countries blowing up small countries, less reality TV, more properly researched documentaries, more decent comedies on TV, more going to the cinema, more exercise (!!), more journies on public transport, less using the car, more bass practice, less time wasted online… yeah yeah, right.

So this afternoon, I had a listen to an album I’ve not heard for a while – ‘Beyond These Shores’ by Iona. This is an album that when I first got it blew my mind, but as I’ve only got it on tape, and the tape is just about worn out, I hadn’t listened to it in ages. However, the small person has got it on CD, I remembered this afternoon. So put it on. and. wow. Unbelievable. Still as good if not better than I remember it. Great songs, amazing playing, fantastic production, moving lyrics (it’s a sort of concept album on the legend of St Brendan sailing from Ireland to America a few hundred years before Columbus…) – truly wonderful. Seriously, it’s great, get it.

It’s kind of apt at the start of a new year to be listening to an album about a journey into the unknown – not that stepping over into 2004 is like sailing the atlantic in medieval times – after all it’s just another day in ‘actual’ terms – but new year is a rite of passage, giving us a chance to pause, take stock, rethink, set some goals, change the way we do things, and also chops the past into convenient chunks for us to assess whether they were good or bad.

2003 was very different for me musically than 2002 – ’02 was the year I did the two big tours with Level 42 and The Schizoid Band, but ’03 was a year of fewer gigs but a lot of musical experimenting – loads of new improv settings, gigs with Orphy Robinson, Tess Garraway, Corey Mwamba, Filomena Campus, Josh Peach, Seb Rochford, Theo Travis, Mano Ventura, Michael Manring, Jez Carr, Harvey Jessop; I’ve also recorded loads of improv stuff this year – most importantly the new album with Theo Travis, but also material with quartets in France and Spain, duets with Matthias Grob, Luca Formentini, BJ Cole and Patrick Wood. Loads of space to develop new ideas, much of which will be launched on anyone who wants to hear it in 2004.

So, here’s to the new year – may all your gigs be well paid and your audiences attentive.

Soundtrack – The Smiths; ‘Louder Than Bombs’; Bill Frisell, ‘The Willies’; Rob Jackson, ‘Wire Wood and Magnets’; Iona, ‘Beyond These Shores’;

Tags: Uncategorized