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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



House Concerts, and More New Youtube Video.

April 25th, 2009 · 6 Comments

photo of Steve Lawson and Lobelia playing at a house concert in EdinburghLast Friday (April 17th) Lobelia and I played our first house concert in a couple of months in Leith, Edinburgh.

It was a great demonstration of everything that’s cool about house concerts:

  • It was organised very much at the last minute (wasn’t even advertised at all until 2 weeks before the gig),
  • It was booked by someone who’d seen me give a masterclass a few years ago and couldn’t be bothered to wait for a ‘proper’ venue to get round to booking Lo and I, so got on and did it himself.
  • It was populated by friends and family of Paddy who booked it, most of whom had little idea who we were beyond Paddy raving about it.
  • It was marvellous. [Read more →]

Tags: Music News · New Music Strategies

More new music – Youtube video of a brand new tune.

April 12th, 2009 · Comments Off on More new music – Youtube video of a brand new tune.

photo of the bed of the thames, taken from a pothole in a boat near Tower BridgeAfter the new tune I posted on Audioboo a few days ago, I’ve got the bug for uploading new tunes. Hopefully it’ll finally kick me into action to make some decisions about the kind of record (or whatever passes for a ‘record’ these days 🙂 ) I want to make.
[Read more →]

Tags: bass ideas · Gig stuff · looping · Music News · Musing on Music

Interview with me from Bass Guitar Magazine.

January 28th, 2009 · Comments Off on Interview with me from Bass Guitar Magazine.

Bass Guitar Magazine article photo, cropped from the web page.I’ve been hoping this interview would surface online for a quite a while – Adrian asked a really smart set of questions and, crucially, came back with questions relating to them. Email interviews can be really dull if it’s just a questionnaire (unless it’s MEANT to be a ’20 questions’ type deal…) – because there’s no conversational flow. So as a tip for those of you interviewing online, send 2 or three questions to start with at most, preferably unrelated ones, and then develop each one with questions that follow on…

But I digress, this is about me 🙂 – anyway, it’s a great interview, and I was kinda surprised at the quote in the sell that says,

The unexpected popularity of bass looping in the UK can largely be attributed to Steve Lawson‘,

but I guess there’s some truth in that. It’s probably just that I’m more aware of my own influences than my influence.

So, either click on the photo above, or click here to read the interview

Tags: bass ideas · journalism · Music News · tips for musicians

More House Concert Adventures.

January 15th, 2009 · Comments Off on More House Concert Adventures.

Steve Lawson with Owen Biddle at a house concert in PhiladelphiaOne of the magical things about house concerts is just how quickly they can be put together. Because there’s no ‘press’ involved, no promotional deadlines to hit, emails can be sent out to friends as soon as the gig is decided on, and an audience can be rustled up in about 2-3 weeks.

Which is exactly what happened to us for Philadelphia. Linda Mills sent me a message on Twitter just before Christmas saying ‘what would it take for you to come to Philadelphia?’ – we swapped Tweets, then emails, and it was booked! Because of Philly’s proximity to New York and New Jersey, a lot of the other twitter and social media friends in the area were up for making the trip, some musician friends were emailed, and a plot was hatched.

The date was picked because it was the day before Lo and I were going to be giving a looping masterclass at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh anyway, so we’d be out and about, and needed to have a car rented for that weekend anyway.

And once again, we were in the now-familiar situation of turning online friends into real friends, getting guided tours of cool cities, and introducing another room full of lovely people on to the delights of house concerts. (and posing for bizarre pics with lovely audience members/friends at the end, like the one above)

The gig went so well – the PA was put together from bits borrowed from Lo’s brother and from the drummer from her old band, Kevin Quickle. So the sound was fab. And Linda’s house has a through-lounge, meaning that we could do the fairly common L-shape set up, with a lovely assortment of sofas and chairs and cushions for people to sit on.

As a reference for how well house concerts work, we sold more than one album-per-person at the gig, including Lo’s first foray into selling her entire back catalogue + rarities on a 1gig memory stick. Definitely something we’ll be exploring further in the near future!

Being an audience largely drawn from the world of social media, the amount of fab technology on show was amazing, from great cameras, to Macs streaming the gig live to Ustream, two Nokia N95s taking pics and video, iPhones tweeting and twit-picking… Welcome to the future; blink and we’ll be onto something new.

We now can’t WAIT for the 3 more house concerts we’ve got in Northern California on the 22nd,23rd and 24th January – it’s going to be a LOT of fun. 🙂

..But before that, it’s NAMM, which starts tomorrow. Except for the ‘social media for musicians‘ session that I’m doing tonight. If that counts as NAMM for me, we start in about 2 hours!

…Oh, and one more thing – if you want the definitive explanation on how looping works, just watch the video below, from the Philly show:

Tags: Gig stuff · Music News

My House Concert Looping Rig.

December 25th, 2008 · Comments Off on My House Concert Looping Rig.

OK, so it’s christmas day, and I’m blogging, what of it? 🙂 Happy Christmas, y’all. Hope you’re having a fun day. We certainly are here in Ohio.

Anyway, thought I’d do a quick post about my touring looping rig. Here’s the picture:

from the top we have:

Samson S-Mix (mixer)
ART TubeMP Preamp
(next to it is the…)
Lexicon LXP1 reverb.
Looperlative LP1 looper
Lexicon MPX-G2
processor

and on top of the LXP1 we have my Ebow, G7 Capo, Slide, Sennheiser Mic and currently-missing rubbish cell phone (if you see it around, let me know, I can’t find it anywhere). The JBL speakers were provided for the house concert in Milwaukee. We don’t generally travel with speakers in the US, just find people locally to lend us things.

The signal flow is really simple – bass goes into Lexicon MPX-G2, which goes into the S-Mix, and has the ART preamp in the FX loop. Lobelia’s loop mic goes into the LXP1, and that also goes into the S-Mix, which then goes into the Looperlative. The Looperlative then goes out to the desk/PA/Speakers/whatever.

And here’s what’s happening on the floor –

The big pedal, rocked back, is the Visual Volume Pedal.
then an M-Audio expression pedal, which controls the loop volume.
Then a Rolls Midi Wizard that controls the looperlative.
then Another M-Audio expression pedal, for the MPX-G2 (sometimes wah, sometimes volume, sometimes pitch etc.)
then a Roland EV-5, for Loop feedback.
Then a Lexicon footswitch for different stuff on the G2
and finally another EV-5 for track speed on the looperlative.

Meanwhile, Lobelia is using a Roland RC-20 for much of her looping, unless I’m looping her or she’s doing improv stuff through my rig, in which case she just plugs a mic into the volume pedal and uses my bass set-up exactly as-is.

So there you go, a Christmas present in the form of some gear geekness. Post a comment with any specific questions you may have about how it all works 🙂

(the second photo is by the lovely Tracy Apps )

Tags: bass ideas · Geek · Gig stuff · looping · tips for musicians

…and another video with Michael Manring!

November 3rd, 2008 · Comments Off on …and another video with Michael Manring!

Here’s a second video from 2005, with Michael Manring – this one was filmed the day after the last one, at the Brookdale Lodge, a rather freaky venue in the Santa-Cruz mountains that actually as a creek running through it… and a swimming pool with all kinds of weird tales attached to it – apparently the place was a Mobster hang-out back in the 20s.

Anyway, they now have duelling-bassists to add to their list of weird events, and here’s the video evidence!

Tags: Music News

Heads Up – Looperlative fall sale…

November 1st, 2008 · 4 Comments

As you’ll know if you’ve read anything about the gear I use for music-making, I’m a HUGE fan of the Looperlative. It’s something I’m very proud of that it was after a gig of mine that Bob Amstadt who invented it decided to build it, and that he asked me to be the first tester and co-developer of the software (I didn’t write any of the code, I was just sent an ’empty’ box and asked him for the features I wanted. He’d code them, I’d test them, and thus it was born, a looping device that did pretty much everything I could ever imagine wanting from a looping device!

The Looperlative

It really is the most fully-featured hardware looper around. I’m not a fan of doing these things on a laptop (I know some amazing musicians who do, it just doesn’t work for me on a practical level, or a latency level).

Quite a few of my musical friends have bought them since, and others have expressed an interest in getting on, so I thought I’d point you to this post on the Looperlative forum, where Bob offers a pretty hefty (but undisclosed due to commercial sensitivity, I guess) discount…

If you’ve been considering getting one, now’s a good time. If you don’t know what the looperlative is, watch any of the videos I’ve posted in the last 3 years on Youtube – that’s the Looperlative that lets me do all the layering. All the stuff on Behind Every Word is done with the looperlative. All the layers of bass on the Lawson/Dodds/Wood album are done with the looperlative. It’s proper amazing.

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music

Video of a duet with Michael Manring

October 27th, 2008 · Comments Off on Video of a duet with Michael Manring

In the process of clearing out my CDs before moving house at the end of this week (BTW, I’m selling of a lot of CDs, if you want a copy of the list of what I’m selling, email me!) I found a few CDRs of photos from past gigs. One of those CDs contained a series of short video clips of some duets I played with Michael Manring back in 2005 – I think they were filmed by Gustaf Fjelstrom, but were possibly by Lowell… I’ll find out!

Anyway, here’s the first of them, filmed at the Espresso Garden – a lovely venue in San Jose that’s no longer there, sadly. Playing duets with Michael is one of my favourite things to do in the world of music. He’s such an intuitive, amazing and fun musician to play with, and always makes whatever I play sound better than I thought it would…

Tags: Music News

New solo tune on video – Don't Stop Believin'

September 28th, 2008 · Comments Off on New solo tune on video – Don't Stop Believin'

For last week’s Freedom Of Expression gig in Gipsy Hill, I took a mini-set-up. I couldn’t really face packing up my whole rack to take on the bus, so I took my Line 6 DL4 (thanks Mike!) and my Akai Headrush – both loop pedals, but the DL4 also has a load of Delay sounds on it. I’ve only used them in conjunction with one another a few times, so it was a chance to experiment a little.

And experiment I did – the video below starts out as ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ ‘ by Journey, then goes all spacey and ambient.. for 13 minutes. It was pretty creatively inspiring to be a) limited by what those two pedals are capable of and b) not have any kind of ‘routine’ worked out, so to be throwing sounds out there and reacting to what came back… I’m happy with the results, hence the video post!


Steve Lawson – solo bass. Don’t Stop Believin’ from Steve Lawson on Vimeo.

Given the choice, I’d still use my Looperlative/Lexicon set-up at any gig, thanks very much – but it’s great to be reminded once in a while that improv can extend to form and structure as much as to notes…

The inspiration to try this tune in the first place was two-fold – firstly, I LOVE the Petra Haden version of this tune that’s on her MySpace page – she’s a genius. And secondly, one of my students, Dan, arrived at his lesson last week playing pretty much the chordal loop that I use for the main body of the tune – same progression, slightly different rhythm and fingering, I think… anyway, we were playing around with an arrangement of this tune in his lesson, and the challenge was we’d both go away and work on it… so I did, only I did it on stage 🙂

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it half as much as I enjoyed playing i!

Tags: Uncategorized

Lawson/Dodds/Wood – the making of Numbers Pt 2

September 21st, 2008 · Comments Off on Lawson/Dodds/Wood – the making of Numbers Pt 2

And here’s part II – if part I felt like I was taking over, that was at least partly because the other two were just unsure of the format, really (it is a bit odd, filming yourself with a phone for uploading to the web, I guess!) – but by this part, they’ve started to get a bit more talkative, first Patrick talking about the editing of the album, and then Roy about improv… Some good stuff. Enjoy!

Tags: Music News