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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Video From Wednesday's gig with Michael Manring

October 9th, 2009 · 1 Comment

The first bit of video from me, and a lovely little trailer for the gig (and therefor future gigs!) from BenjaminEllis of BassGuitarBlog.com:

Here’s The trailer:

And here’s the first of the duo improvs that Michael and I played, with my introduction to it (about 2 minutes of talking – I’ll probably put the music-only version of this on youtube!) More audio and video coming soon:

Steve Lawson and Michael Manring, live improv in London. from Steve Lawson on Vimeo.

Tags: looping · Music News

Photos From Wednesdays Gig With Michael Manring

October 9th, 2009 · Comments Off on Photos From Wednesdays Gig With Michael Manring

I’ll blog more about it – and the rest of this week’s musical activity – as soon as possible, but for now, here’s some amazing photos from the gig with Michael Manring taken by the lovely and talented Benjamin Ellis:

Tags: Gig stuff · Music News

New Live EP: Releasing Music 2.0

September 14th, 2009 · Comments Off on New Live EP: Releasing Music 2.0

So, if you read my last blog post about the gig on Oct 7th with Michael Manring, you may have seen that I embedded in that post a widget containing a free-to-download live EP of Michael and I playing together in California.

The EP happened because while blogging about the gig, I remembered that after that show (which at the time felt like a particularly good set of music) someone had sent me a recording of it… I’d been meaning ever since then to put up the rest of the improv that made sense of this video on youtube, and when I dug out the recording (which was sat on my incredibly messy desktop), I found that the entire improv set was worth putting out. [Read more →]

Tags: Gig stuff · Music News · New Music Strategies

More New Music: Video of a Looperlative Glitchy Bluesy Electronica Experiment

May 6th, 2009 · Comments Off on More New Music: Video of a Looperlative Glitchy Bluesy Electronica Experiment

screen grab of the Vimeo page for the video embedded in this blog post at stevelawson.netHere’s another new ‘public beta’ video – this time, I’m experimenting with some new functions that’ve just been added to the Looperlative LP1. (that’s the looping device I use…)

The new tricks are around the idea of ‘replacing‘ bits of a loop, with other audio, giving it a chopped up, glitchy feel. The main effect I’m using is a ‘quantise replace‘ function, that replaces bits, but switches on on and off on the beat, so when I hit the button it waits for the next exact subdivision of the loop (in this case, 1/96th of the whole loop time) before doing anything, and again to switch off again. [Read more →]

Tags: looping · Music News

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

Press contact and booking info.

February 3rd, 2009 · 1 Comment

Welcome! Whether you want to

  • book me (or Illuminated Loops, LEYlines, the Steve & Lobelia duo, or any of the other collaborations I’m involved in, or have a collab of your own to suggest) for a gig,
  • get me to speak at your college/university,
  • ask me to play on or produce your record,
  • ask me to open for you on tour,
  • interview me for your mag/site/newspaper,
  • ask me to write for your mag/site/newspaper…

whatever it is, email me via the form over here.

That’s by far the best way to get in touch. It comes straight to me, no intermediaries, and I can then email or call you back when I’ve got my diary in front of me!

For gigs, it’s probably cheaper and easier than you’d think to organise, and I’d love to come and play, so please do drop me a line. I’m sure we’ll work something out. For house concerts, I can put you in touch with people who’ve organised them before so you can get the low-down on what works best, if you so wish.

For now, most things you might want to know can be found on this site – stick around 🙂

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Pillow Mountain Records

February 3rd, 2009 · 5 Comments

Pillow Mountain Records - how the site used to look...Pillow Mountain Records is a label that only exists to release music involving me. It’s not that I don’t like other people’s music, it’s just that they’d do a better job of selling it than I would.

It only really exists in name, as a brand that sort of lets you in on what to expect, both in terms of the music and the ethos behind it. It’s a back-bedroom-of-a-cottage industry. Fortunately, there’s no size-of-room to greatness-of-music coefficient. Small enterprises are responsible for most of my favourite music 🙂

It is the mechanism by which I put out my solo CDs, as well as the duo CDs I’ve made with Theo Travis, Jez Carr, Lobelia and Calamateur, all of which I’m immensely proud of.

Anyway, all that’s to say is that Pillow Mountain is me, I am it, so please don’t email me requesting to be signed by the label. No-one’s ‘signed’ to it. Not even me.

I’ve even removed the Pillow Mountain Records website (pictured), as all it did was duplicate info that can be had here.

You can expect more great music on PMR soon – for now, check out all of the releases so far in the SteveLawson.net Shop

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2008 in review – Blog posts for musicians, Pt 1

December 31st, 2008 · 1 Comment

Photo by Christian Payne AKA DocumentallyIt’s been an amazing year for me – a proper round-up of the year will be coming soon. But I thought that first I’d pull together some of the things I’ve blogged about this year. So this is part 1 of a compilation of links to my blog posts for musicians this year –

Back in May/June, I did a series of posts about Social Media for Musicians:

…ah, clearly i didn’t finish that last one… 🙂

Then in July, I did a series on my thoughts on bass teaching, and music teaching in general:

These had some really great comments off the back of them…

And here, in roughly chronological order, are my favourite posts from Jan – August:

There you go, that lot would make a pretty good e-book, if I ever get round to editing out the typos, and shortening some of my more overly-verbose entries 🙂

Next entry will cover Sept – Dec, and then the rest of what’s happened this year! If I don’t get to it til tomorrow, have a great new year, see you in ’09!

If you particularly like any of the posts, please share the links around, either via the ‘share this’ option below, or just by forwarding the URL to people who think might like to read them.

Tags: Geek · New Music Strategies · site updates · tips for musicians

Thunder and Rainbows – the heaven and hell of life on the road.

December 22nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

Thunder and Rainbows - from chrislev2001's flickr streamOK, before I start, this post is going to get VERY sad indeed. So if you’re just reading this for a light-hearted update of what’s going on in my life, during your lunch hour at work. Probably best to leave it til later. Bookmark it and come back.

So anyway, we’re 2 shows into our house-concert tour now. Currently in Milwaukee, with the very lovely Tracy Apps. we played a house concert here last night. More on that in a moment.

The night before, we were in Toledo, at the home of Steven Guerrero – an amazing solo bassist and good friend who helped us find a gig last time we were in the area, and this time offered to host the house concert. He had another solo bassist friend – Trentin Lee Manning – that they’d been planning to do a house concert with, so it seemed perfect to hook the two up and do a solo bass (+ lobelia) night. I’d not met Trentin, but had heard really good things about him and was looking forward to meeting him and hearing him play.

We got there and set up, but no sign of Trentin. We left messages on his phone, but gig time arrived and we’d heard nothing, so got on with the show – maybe he’d canceled but run out of battery on his phone. Whatever, we were sure we’d find out later.

The gig went SO well – I’d not seen Steven play before, and was genuinely floored by how good his set was. Great sounds, great playing but above all, some seriously beautiful melody playing and writing. Some of my favourite solo bass stuff I’ve heard in a long time.

Lo and I played a great gig too – really lovely audience, great connection, all good.

That is, until about an hour after the show when I checked my email to find a message from Pete Skjold, the bass builder that Trentin had been visiting on his way to see us, saying that Trentin had been killed in a car accident that afternoon. As you can imagine, the four of us (Lo, me, Steven G and his wife) were so shocked. What on earth do you do with that? Steven rang Pete, and got a few more details, but the shock was overwhelming. What a horrible, tragic, awful thing to happen. Trentin was 22 years old, Steven had met and played with him, and had been telling us how great a player he was, how much potential he had. Now we’d never get to meet him.

And for his family… Beyond words. We were shocked, upset and saddened. Their lives would never be the same again.

So we were there still feeling the warmth and friendship of our amazing hosts, glowing from such a lovely gig to such friendly people and now reeling from such a tragic and shocking piece of news.

And what’s more, we had hundreds more miles of snowy driving to do. Not really the best prospect to face after news like that.

So it was with some trepidation that we made our way back out onto the roads the next morning, still unable to properly process the news of the night before. I’m not sure there is a place to properly file all the feelings associated with such a random even, such a tragic event of someone you nearly met.

Thank God, the roads were as clear as can be all the way from Toledo up here to Milwaukee. We were late arriving, but we weren’t about to rush it.

So we walked in and the looping ideas/solo performance masterclass started as soon as I’d taken my coat off. I talked while setting up my gear about what a whole range of things relating to the possibilities, pitfalls and audience engagement ideas of looped music (and looped video). A really fascinating conversation with a lovely diverse group of musicians and performers. Great stuff.

Great stuff, followed by another really lovely gig. One in which we were able to talk a little about the tragedy of the day before. It’s one of the things I love about house concerts – it’s a conversation between performer and audience in a way that bigger gigs can’t be. You can chat, you can change things around, you can hold a conversation about things that matter. (the entire gig is archived here) – again, we played pretty well, and got to hang out with a load of lovely, interesting, engaging friendly people. In the midst of the sadness surrounding Trentin’s passing, we have two amazing shows, make lots of great new friends and find that the significance of what we do, both for us and in terms of the people it brings us into contact with, is huge. This really is the best playing environment I can imagine, especially when you have to deal with the ‘thunder and rainbows’ that life throws at us, even when on tour.

And today we got to spend the day with Tracy – we’ve known tapps for a long time in the virtual realm, but getting to sit round and chat, eat, and even play some music at her church this morning brings friendships to another level. It’s been another great day.

Tomorrow we drive to Chicago, for gig #3. Another amazing group of people no doubt await, but, God-willing, no more tragedy.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Trentin’s family and friends. Listen to him and read more about him on Myspace.

…oh, and the title? That’s from a song by Martyn Joseph (the words are, I think, by Martyn Joseph and Stewart Henderson) – I can’t find a link to the song or a paid download of it, though it may be on iTunes. here are the words:

The light or the shade, concealed or displayed
Enemies, friends, opposite ends
Bitter or sweet, ruffled or neat
Feathers or lead, silent or said
Generous or mean, corporate or green
Vagrant or lord, the dove or the sword
Distinct or obscure, prosperous or poor
Devil or saint, we are and we ain’t

Intricate mysteries
Life’s secret code
Cul-de-sac signposts
On yellow brickroads
Ambiguous answers
The question’s still “Why”
Thunder and rainbows
From the same sky

Champagne or dust, banquet or crust
Authentic or fake, angel or snake
Flower or thorn, prestine or torn
Desert or sea, the throne and the tree

Intricate mysteries
Life’s secret code
Cul-de-sac signposts
On yellow brickroads
Ambiguous answers
The question’s still “Why”
Thunder and rainbows
From the same sky

The light or the shade, concealed or displayed
Enemies, friends, opposite ends
Flower or thorn, prestine or torn
Desert or sea, the throne and the tree

Intricate mysteries
Life’s secret code
Cul-de-sac signposts
On yellow brickroads
Ambiguous answers
The question’s still “Why”
Thunder and rainbows

(and the photo at the top is by ChrisLev2001 – here’s a link to the original )

Tags: Gig stuff · Random Catchup · travel

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