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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Review – solo show, Croydon Fairfield Halls (No Warning e-zine)

May 7th, 2008 · No Comments

“The job of opening the concerts of the 21st Century Schizoid Band on their British tour was given to Steve Lawson and it proved to be an excellent coupling. Lawson served as a rival attraction, with his innovative soundscaping for solo bass, to the older sounds of the former Crimson members, even though, in the course of the concert, Steve underlined the connection that linked his musical offerings with the music of King Crimson, making reference to Frippertronics.

Steve Lawson opened his short set with No More Us And Them, a piece that will be included on his forthcoming new album, in which he immediately displayed his technique of layering loops created in real time, without any pre-recorded foundation.

From the album And Nothing But the Bass he then performed the wonderful The Inner Game, followed by another new composition from his new album, entitled MMFSOG. Between the pieces, all played with a great mastery of various devices, pedals and e-bow, Steve entertained the audience with great charm.

What a shame that his opening act lasted such a short time, less than half an hour. Highway One was followed by a short improvisation, after which Steve Lawson bade farewell to the audience with a beautiful version of the classic Fly Me To The Moon.

Later in the evening, Steve informed me that he would soon be undertaking a tour, including Italy, with Michael Manring. I hope to be able to confirm the dates as soon as possible. Try not to miss the opportunity to hear live a young man who is a phenomenal bassist and who will certainly be attracting the attention of the wider public before long.”

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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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Me over at DGMlive.com

October 8th, 2006 · Comments Off on Me over at DGMlive.com

DGMlive.com run occasional series of Q and A things with Crim-related artists. My Crim-Credentials are that I opened for 21st Century Schizoid band back in 2002, and the they’ve just published two Q and As with me – desert island crim and the last book I read.

The desert island crim I wrote ages ago, and I think my list would’ve changed by now, as I’ve listened to Red a few times of late, and Larks Tongues In Aspic… But it’s still a good list, and reflects that my favourite Crimson period is definitely the early 80s period.

Tags: Music News

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’;

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A week in the life of…

December 11th, 2003 · Comments Off on A week in the life of…

me. what a surprise.

When did I last blog (quick check…), Ah yes, Sunday – right since then? I’ve done some teaching, we’ve scrapped the small person’s car, and on Monday night I went to a ‘Bob Harris presents’ gig at The Stables in Wavendon. The lineup was great – Heather Myles (Mary Chapin Carpenter sings Buddy Holly sort of vibe), Nick Harper and Thea Gilmore.

Nick Harper was the main attraction for me – having seen him play at Greenbelt, after having been introduced to his music by Catherine Streetteam (thanks!), I’ve been looking for a chance to see him play again, and as the marvellous JJ aka mini-harv is promoting the series of shows.

Nick’s live shows have to see seen to be believed. He sings and plays acoustic guitar, but the twist is that he takes two processors with him, one for voice and one for guitar, distorts his guitar to sound like an electric on occasion, puts big delays on his voice, and tunes his guitar down a fourth from usual so gets an insane amount of low end out of it anyway. A genuine one man band, with more on stage energy than most four piece bands and zero gimmick factor – just an amazing show with some great songs. His new album, blood songs, is excellent.

Thea’s set was good, though a bit of the guitar and nearly all the bass parts were on backing tracks, which – call me old fashioned – just doesn’t work for a ‘rootsy’ show – at some points there were three guitars and keyboards going – surely one of them could have actually played a bass line??? Her songs were fine, and he voice is lovely, but the canned part of the show really didn’t do it for me. When she dropped it back to a more acoustic sound, she was really really good, and if she was doing a solo tour, I’d go and see her again in a heartbeat. But the tracks have to go.

The other bizarre highlight of the evening was being recognised by some people who had seen me play at the Stables with the Schizoid Band, and came up to say hi – which I was doing the merch table for Nick… not often that one gets spotted doing merch, but it made for an interesting diversion from selling CDs!

Other than that, it’s been a week of buying christmas cards, writing a christmas newsletter and then today finding out that my new bass will be shipped over from the states this week!!!! HOW EXCITING IS THAT????? I can’t wait. Anderson, the artist relations guy at Modulus, reckons it’s incredible – and despite working in artist relations, he’s not usually given to hyperbole, so I’m even more excited than I would have been!!!

Soundtrack – Nick Harper, ‘Blood Songs’; Martyn Joseph, ‘Whoever It Was Who Brought Me Here Will Have To Take Me Home’ (more magic for the welsh cockburn); Mabulu, ‘Marimbo’ (Mozambique african hip-hop crossover stuff. Marvellous); Stevie Wonder, ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ (certainly in the key of my life).

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A week in the life of…

May 11th, 2003 · Comments Off on A week in the life of…

…yep, sorry evil harv, I’m just going to write about what I’ve been up to again… ;o)

Main event of the week was another recording session with Theo Travis – I’d invested in a few new studio toys (a pair of powered monitors which make mixing a lot easier, and a new mic for recording flute/percussion etc…) so the session was better than ever, with some rather groovy results. The album’s really coming along – we’ve got loads of recordings to choose from already, but are in no hurry to just release anything. We’ll keep recording until we get a full album of stuff we love with no fillers. It’s slightly different to the way I normally work, in that we’re allowing ourselves to edit some of what we do (on one of the tracks we recorded on Thursday I removed an entire solo that I’d played, cos it was a bit dull…) but what you end up with at any one time is still just the two of us playing and looping in real time, with no additional overdubs… Theo was playing Soprano Sax as well on this session, which added a lot to what we were doing. It is, I guarantee, going to be a stellar album.

Thursday night, Evil Harv, Jimbob (AKA Sarda) and a couple of other chums went down to the Kashmir Klub – possibly London’s most important music venue, in that it costs nowt to get in, no-one gets paid, but the quality of the acts on is (usually) very high, (I played there with Susan Enan once) with occasional high profile people there (Lewis Taylor played there a lot earlier this year, and I’ve seen Nick Kershaw, Imogen Heap, The Dum Dums, Nerina Pallot and Doctor Robert (from the Blow Monkeys) play there). Anyway, Thursday wasn’t a great line up (better than most acoustic nights around, but not really up to The Kashmir’s usual standard) so we went off for coffee instead. The sad news is that the Kashmir is closing, at least for a time – the guy who owns the venue is doing something else with it, and despite them filling it night after night, he’s kicking them out. They are looking for a new venue, but who knows how long that will be. Please visit the website, and if you can sign petitions, write letters or just offer moral support to Tony Moore who’s been running it for 5 years, please do. It’s a great club, he’s a great bloke and London needs it.

Today, Evil Harv and I went to the London Guitar Show, at Wembley Conference Centre. It was fun, though alongside the NAMM show, it feels a little small and parochial. As most of the people there hadn’t been to NAMM, it was fine (I remember loving shows like that when I was a kid), and it was great to catch up with some friends I’d not seen for a while – Nick Beggs was playing on the Bass Guitar Magazine stand, doing his rather fabulous stick thang. It was fun to see the rest of the guys from BGM too. I had a nice chat and a coffee with John East, who makes the U-Retro preamp that I’ve got in my 6 string fretless, and bumped into Svetlana, who used to teach at BassTech, and is now playing bass for Moby! Also saw the Ashdown people, Nick Owen from the Bass Centre, lovely Hoda who now works for SWR and The Bass Centre, and all manner of other people that I only ever see at trade shows!

Another bizarre coincidence – was chatting to Barry Moorhouse from the Bass Centre about wanting to do more support slots. ‘You know who you should support’ says Barry, ‘The 21st Century Schizoid Band!’ – ‘I already have’ says me, and as I’m saying it, up comes Jakko Jakszyk, guitars from the Schizoids. which was a lovely surprise, as I’ve not seen Jakko since I did the tour with the them at the tail end of last year… We caught up on news and then I came home.

soundtrack – yesterday was the St Luke’s May Fayre, so I’ve got the usual haul of CDs, though it’s rather fewer than some years… Right now I’m listening to Lucious Jackson, ‘Fever In Fever Out’, which is rather good. Yesterday it was John McLaughlin, ‘Que Alegria’, which is also rather good, if a little note-heavy in places. Theo leant me a marvellous album – Arild Andersen, ‘The Molde Concert’, feature Bill Frisell on guitar – gonna have to buy that one. And in the car I’ve had Talk Talk, ‘Laughing Stock’ on regular rotation. And of course, in between all that, lots of the duo stuff with Theo…

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Talking 'bout a Resolution

January 1st, 2003 · Comments Off on Talking 'bout a Resolution

(sounds like a whisper)

It’s that time of year again, when we realise that we kept very few of our resolutions from last year (though I did set myself one goal of doing 30 solo gigs, and I did over 60, so that was good… :o)

anyway for this year, here’s a few muddled up ideas for what I’m planning/aiming for/wishing for/etc.

  • read more (and therefor, travel more on the tube, as that’s where I get most of my reading done
  • eat more vegan food (should be easy as the small person is on a dairy free diet at the moment anyway…)
  • cook more (I’m on a roll at the moment, so need to keep it up)
  • keep office tidy (yeah, right – need to get it tidy in the first place. Having said that, made a start today on my desk… it’s getting there)
  • practice more (bass that is, not medicine or law or anything – at the end of the two tours with Level 42 and the Schizoid band, my playing was probably the best it’s ever been, need to work on maintaining that…)
  • spend less time just mucking about on line (opening the chat room at thedudepit.com hasn’t helped…)
  • get my tax sorted out, and then stay on top of it (fairly short term aim, but it needs to be done in the next few days!)
  • do at least 50 solo gigs (with 20 or so already booked, this one shouldn’t be too tricky to acheive…)
  • release another duo CD (plans are already afoot)
  • start work on at least one book (either method, theory, looping concepts or general musical-based musings… still haven’t decided – suggestions to the usual address…)

So there you go – that’s my year mapped out… a bit.

what are yours?

The Small Person and I had a lovely quiet new year – watched ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ yesterday, and ‘Monsters Inc’ today – both highly recommended, fine fine films. Went for a drive up to Crews Hill today – lots of garden centres there – but the whole world was aparently under about three feet of water – blocked roads ‘n’ everything…

Soundtrack – I’ve spent a lot of time these last couple of days listening to a couple of improv sessions that I did with keyboardist Patrick Wood during the first half of 2002 – one extract from that is now up on the site, as the new version of Highway 1, though I’m not sure it was even called Highway 1 back then… It’s an interesting comparison to listen to it alongside the version on ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’ (which of course, you have already?), and the live version from the Bartok gig that’s also on the MP3 page. Go on, you know you want to…

Other than that, I’ve been listening to ‘Free’ by Peter Chilvers, which is, as it says on the tin a ‘free’ album – you burn a copy, and your only commitment is to make sure you burn two more copies and pass it on! It’s a fascinating experiment in the pure power of exposure – loads of people will have the CD, and hopefully lots of them will go and buy other CDs by Peter (his first solo album ‘He Wrote This’ is excellent, and available from burningshed.com) – there’s been a lot of discussion of late on the whole merits of ‘free’ music, whether it be CDR copying or MP3 downloading. Singer/Songwriter Janis Ian wrote this article for Performing Songwriter magazine last year, and it’s brilliant – she’s my new hero! Read the article and her follow up – both very good. Then, download the MP3s, and if you like what she’s doing, buy the CDs, and prove it works…

Anyway, what else have I been listening to? oh, Anita Baker ‘Rapture’ – often when I get something out to play to a student during a lesson, it stays in the play for a few days, and this did.

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Some interesting recent listening

November 28th, 2002 · Comments Off on Some interesting recent listening

Back when I was in school (late 80s), we had a small group of friends
who would all head down to fat george’s record shop on Bridge Street in
Berwick on a Saturday morning to order records… any old records… the
more obscure the better.

In those pre-internet times, the source of all knowledge about what was
available was the Music Maker Publications big red book of records, which
listed just about everything that was on general release.

I bought some great stuff through that, and some total bollocks. Great
stuff, like Steve Berry – ‘Trio’, John Zorn – ‘Spillane’, the best of Weather
Report etc. etc… and some rubbish like ‘Electric Storm in Hell’ by White
Noise…

One record that we all really wanted to get but could never find was
‘Ladies Don’t Have Willies’ by a band called 64 Spoons. It seemed like the
most preposterous title for a single – add to that the daft band name, and
we had to know what it sounded like. But sadly, week after week, George
couldn’t find it, it was out of print… whatever, it never turned up.

Fast forward 15 years, and in the last two tours I’ve done, with the
Schizoid Band and Level 42, I’ve been touring with two ex-members of
said Spoons! Jakko Jakszyk (guitar/vox with Schizoids) and Lyndon
Conner (keys/vox with L42) were both in 64 Spoons!

Enter not-at-all-evil Dann, delving deep into his extensive CD collection
to provide an early 90s compilation of Spoonerisms from the late
70s/early 80s… and bizarrely enough, it’s pretty good. Very good in
places. Very silly and self conscious in other places, but sort of Squeeze
meets Cat-Food era Crimson, meets Joe Jackson with a touch of
Blockheads-funk… The kind of thing, that were it more widely known,
would now be forcing people onto the dance floor at schooldisco.com
events.

Still haven’t heard Ladies Don’t Have Willies though…

After that, the next CD I listened to couldn’t be more different Juldeh
Camara is a West African singer/composer and player of the one string
fiddle! I first heard his stuff on Charlie Gillett’s show on BBC London, but
then met up with Duncan Noble – a bassist who has assembled a touring
project with Juldeh, playing in the UK early next year.

It’s amazing how Juldeh manages to keep your attention… even mesmerise
you with just fiddle and voice. And judging by the range of material on the
CDR that Duncan gave me, he’s more than happy to recontextualise his
playing and writing into whatever setting is around, from acoustic blues
to funk/soul stuff… I really hope that their tour doesn’t clash with my dates
in California next year, as I’d love to see this live…

Finally got stuck into the last chapter of Derek Bailey’s ‘Improvisation –
its nature and practice in music’ book last night. It’s an amazing book, but
I do have a habit of dropping books somewhere in or around the last
chapter… seems to be a theme running through my life (do half the
washing up, write half a song, tidy half my office, etc. etc…)

Anyway, the last chapter is all about the Musicians Improvisors Collective
(MIC – I think that’s what it stands for…), and is very interesting indeed.
The whole book is very highly recommended for anyone interested in
improv and its relationship to music making as a whole…

Busy day today – meeting Jam-comedy-writer this afternoon, and going
to see Moby play tonight… well, going to meet up with Greta Brinkman,
who happens to be playing with Moby. Evil Harv’s coming as well, so that’ll
be my dose of eville for the week sorted then…

before that, need to tidy up here, as my mum arrives for a short stay
later on. Always nice to see my mum, cos she’s great!

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Celebrity Big Brother – nonsense

November 26th, 2002 · 1 Comment

Just finished watching Celeb Big Brother – what nonsense.
I know, I know – I watched it so I can’t complain… well, I
am kind of fascinated by reality TV… what is it that makes
it interesting? Why do we give a monkeys about 6 celebs
we wouldn’t turn over to watch if they were on anything
else? Sue is the only one of these I ever bother to wathc or
listen to doing anything else (her weekend lunchtime show with
Mel on Radio London is one of the finest things on radio…)

So why did I watch? I guess it’s that continued hope that it’s going
to suddenly become really interesting… like surfing the net way
beyond the point where you’ve exhausted all the things you really
wanted to look at, in the hope that you’ll find something fascinating…
which never happens…

Anyway, changing the subject entirely, this particular blog setup can
allow for a ‘comments’ function, where you blog-stalkers can post
responses to my dull ramblings… a function I’d love to use… if it
wasnt’ for evil harv’s evil schemes, and his total in ability to stop
himself from posting shit, given the chance…

soundtrack – been listening to the Best of Howard Jones
this evening, which brings back fab memories of touring with him
back in 1999, and contains some excellent songs (the definitive
versions, to my ears, of which are on his ‘Live Acoustic America’
CD, which the small person has stolen, so I couldn’t listen to
that just now…)

Also been listening to more of that new Keith Jarrett CD – good stuff.

Just got an email from not-at-all-evil Dann, who is a very fine writer,
who has just posted a couple of reviews of gigs involving me onto the
‘Evo’ site – the first one is of the 21st Century Schizoid Band and me
live in Croydon
, and the second one is of the manring/friesen/lawson gig
at Ocean in Hackney
– both well worth checking out. As is the rest
of the Evo site.

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