Two Stevie-gigs this week.

OK, tomorrow night, I’m guesting at the 606 in Chelsea with John Lester – you all know who he is by now, and really ought to have bought his CDs, if my recommendation is worth anything to you at all. He’s fab. Tomorrow night is the official launch of his new album, ‘So Many Reasons’. Which is great. It’s fab. It’s magic. And I’m saying that without even playing on it, so it must be great.

We had a rehearsal today, which took all of 20 minutes. Theo Travis is on sax, Roy Dodds on drums, and basses covered me John, me on two tunes, and Andy Hamill – it’ll be great, don’t miss it. See the 606 website for more details – if you’re in the MU, you can get in free…

Then on Thursday, I’m playing a solo set at The Enterprise in Chalk Farm (opposite Chalk Farm tube station) – opening for BJ Cole and Emily Burridge. Which means it’s a gig I’d have been at even if I wasn’t playing, cos BJ and Emily are fantastic. And we’ll certainly do something together. Come on down! It’ll be great.

If this doesn't bring a smile to your face…

…you’re either dead or under the age of 30… :o)

Next time someone starts giving it all that BS about the 80s being a terrible decade for music, remember how great good honest pop was back then. Tunes, by the bucket load, great harmony, and magic hair! Yay The Blow Monkeys!

A gig and some deep listening…

Forgot to blog about last Friday’s Rodrigo Y Gabriela gig at Shepherd’s Bush. Went along with gig-buddy extraordinaire, Catster, not having heard them but having heard lots of great things from other people. And was not disappointed in them at all – flair, style, energy, incredible playing, and lots of hilarious and gratuitous swearing; they’re Mexican and have been living in Ireland, so have learned to swear with an Irish brogue… it’s very funny.

Anyway, their set is a mixture of originals and metal classics by Metallica, Slayer etc. all done on two acoustic guitars. It works brilliantly, and if it ever were possible to mosh to a gig without drums, this was it.

The big problem though, as always, was that the Bush is a Carling venue, so the music is provided as a soundtrack to drinking. And drinking goes hand in hand with talking. So there was the constant din of people get drunk and chatting through this incredible music. It’s insulting to the band, and awful for people who’ve paid £15 to hear some acoustic music! Breweries should be banned from running venues.

And then last night was Steve and Yo’s listening night – snacks, chat and piles and piles of great CDs. An evening of musical wonder and therapeutic conversation to feed the soul. Yo discovered the new Spearhead stuff, Rosie Thomas and John Lester, and I discovered early Parliament, Don Blackman, a Bill Withers album I’d never heard, and an amazing recording of some Bartok that I was unfamiliar with. A very late night, and I’m paying for it now. But today is shark day, which only comes round a couple of times a year, so is much cause for celebration. Yay!

Get well soon, Miles – your turn to pick the tunes!

me and my grandad

me and my grandad

Originally uploaded by solobasssteve.

I’ve blogged about my grandad before – he’s 96, and amazing. He shuffles around, forgets everything, but has lived a full life, and is basically a happy man. He’s happy thanks to the care and love of my step-nan – his first wife (my mum’s mum) died in the 60s, and he married again in the early 70s, after being match-made by my mum’s sister and nana’s daughter who worked together.

Up until then, he never even been in a plane. Together, they’ve been round the world three times, a life well lived. She’s in her late 80s, and nurses him like a woman half her age. An astonishing couple, and spending this weekend with them was a great time indeed.

Cheers, Grandad – here’s to your letter from the Queen in three and a half year’s time.

three line whip for london bassists… don't miss this.

OK, a few of you will have already had me bending your ear about how you HAVE to go and see Seth Horan at the Bass Centre. But for the rest of you, click on his name there and head over and have a listen – he’s an electric bass playing singer/songwriter, of extraordinary talent. Think male Ani DiFranco on a bass. It’s not wanky bass nonsense, it’s great singer/songwriter material that happens to involve some seriously great bass playing. There’ll be more details on the bass centre site soon, I hope, and there’s a thread about it over at

In fact, that week is a great bass week in london – cos on Monday 4th John Lester has his ‘So Many Reasons’ album launch at the 606 in Chelsea, and I’ll be sitting in on that gig (which will also have John on bass, and Andy Hamill on bass!), and then on Thursday 7th, I’m playing at The Enterprise in Chalk Farm, opening for BJ Cole and Emily Burridge, and will no doubt do some playing with them as well! So, set aside that as bass week, and go to all three!

Typical Muse Fans….

So yesterday afternoon, TAFKASJ IMs and says ‘do you want a ticket for Muse?’ What could I say? they’re one of the few RAWK bands I’d have much interest in seeing live, they’ve got a kick ass bassist, and their set from Glasto on the TV a few years back was one of the best I’ve ever seen from there.

And, to be fair, they delivered – huge light show, drummer inside a spaceship thing, air punching, nonsense apocalyptic lyrics, mosh pit, smoke, and a singer/guitarist who so badly wants to be Brian May he’s one flourish away from a curly mullet wig.

Muse have got 4 or 5 world-beatingly brilliant singles. Anthemic, catchy, original, HUGE. The rest of the set is good too, very good, just all on the same emotional level, sonically in pretty much the same area (when Matt switches to piano to become the Liberace of Emo, the uber-compressed sound of his piano is in almost exactly the same register as his guitar. The gig is like a 90 minute encore – any song could’ve been their last. I was aching for an acoustic guitar tune by the end. or a brass band, or a string section, or…

They played brilliantly, ran around like crazed munchkins, and the drummer did all the between song chat (as TAFKASJ said, ‘you’ve got worry when it’s the drummer in the band that has all the personality’ – haha!) And it was well worth going. Hysteria is still one of the most iconic basslines of the last 10 years, fo sho.

Good jeorb!

Bass Day UK

Well, yesterday was a landmark for me. The first time I’ve ever been to a bass day-style event that I haven’t been playing at! Needed to find out what kind of low-end hell we musos were inflicting on the great unwashed, after all.

So, long drive up to Manchester for Bass Day UK. LOOOONG drive. but Sunday morning’s an easy time for traffic. It was at the Life Cafe in the city, same place as last year (when I did play at it). Potentially a nice venue, but last year they ran out of food half way through the day, and this year they just didn’t even bother having any to start with! Ah well, Subway did a roaring trade.

These bass day things are all about people for me – occasionally there’s some great music, but a lot of what happens is people who don’t normally play solo doing their thing over a backing track, or some fairly rudimentary looping. Which is fine, and works well for bass-day-type crowds. It’s just not something that I’d choose to go out of the house to listen to.

So musically, the highlights for me were the delightful and wonderful Yolanda Charles and her MamaYo band, and Stefan Redtenbacher’s Funkestra. Stef I’ve known for years, and he’s a fantastic player, genuinely great person, friend and makes me laugh more than almost anyone. His band are amazing, so worth the drive to Manchester just for him. Yolanda’s band featured to wonderful and lovely Miles Bould on drums, who I’ve been listening to do for the best part of 15 years, and a couple of great guitar players. Both bands were funky, raw, danceable, fierce, fun and life-affirming. Just great.

I also enjoyed hearing Jonas Hellborg play – he was also looping in some interesting ways, changing the loop every few bars, and using a reverse delay that sounded lovely. Good stuff.

Always nice to catch up with friends too – Janek Gwizdala was playing, and did an exquisite solo version of a Mike Stern ballad. So nice to catch up with him. Same for Adam Nitti – an amazing bass player from Nashville, who sounded the best I’ve ever heard him. Great playing, great sound.

it’s all about the people – new friends like Yolanda and Miles and Lucy Shaw, and old friends like Stef and Steph, Mike Sturgis, Marco, Janek, the guys from, the organisers Stevie, Jono and Pris, and loads of other great people. All in all a v. fine day. The great music was a bonus, the not-so-great music wasn’t a distraction (when did you last see 8 or 10 acts on one day and love them all? :o) – all in, it’s great to have a UK Bass Day that seems sustainably big, is booking interesting music, and getting supported by companies and the industry. All good, nothing bad.

Got back home at gone 3.30, and had to be up at 9 to teach, so am suffering now. But was well worth it.

if you've got a cough…

Halls Soothers – completely and utter waste of time. Kiss your sore throat goodbye? Kiss my arse.

Ricola Swiss Herb Drops – much much better. Get them from a health-food-monkey near you…

is this the most gig-heavy week of my life???

So three gigs last night! Started off with Estelle Kokot at The Octave in Covent Garden. The Octave could be a great venue. could be. Sadly, being as it’s in one of the most expensive places to own a bar in London, the guy who owns it is unlikely to actually apply the kind of strictures that would be needed to mean it wasn’t about a band trying desperately to play over the din of 200 people talking loudly. The venue want it both ways, so they book credible acts and charge a door fee, but don’t ask people to STFU. You can’t charge people £7 to listen over that noise.

Anyway, aside from that, Estelle was great, as she always is, as was Neville Malcolm on bass – one of my favourite players in London. Great feel, great sound, and a lovely bloke to boot.

Then Catster, my LJF gig-buddy, and I headed off to the QEH foyer to catch a bit of Marc Ribot doing a scronking improv thing on the free stage. Bits of it were great, bits were unfocussed. Like most squeaky gigs. Seb Rochford was on drums, and was great as ever – that’s three Seb-gigs in two days. Clearly I’m stalking him.

Also ran into lots of other lovely people there – Andrew Cronshaw, whose album Ochre is one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in a long time, and I haven’t seen for quite a while, was there, so lovely to catch up with him. He’s got a new gig he’s booking called Half The World – a series at Pizza On The Park in London, that looks amazing. Check that out.

And finally, gig number 3 back to the Vortex, to see Huw Warren and Lleuwen Steffan doing their sublime hymns project, along with some new tracks from Lleuwen’s just-finished-but-not-out-for-a-while album. They were, as expected, amazing. Of course. One of my favourite gigs to see anywhere. The hymns are deeply moving and beautiful, Lleuwen’s own songs are a heady mix of classic jazz with left-field singer/songwriter stuff and a dose of pure originality. And Welsh is such a beautiful sung language. It was made for singing. More people should sing in Welsh, and less loser audiences should feel put off by it. She deserves to be the next Beth Gibbons or Madeleine Peroux. I think she’ll just continue to be the first Lleuwen, which is just fine. And Huw – lovely bloke, great player, writer of stunning music. Always a pleasure to listen to him play.

Home at some god forsaken hour, but a worthwhile late night, fo’ sho’.