20th Anniversary Gig on Dec 15th!

Twenty years
Twenty years of solo shows
Twenty years of explaining that no, I don’t have a band, and no, none of it is pre-recorded
Twenty years of curious sonic adventures
Twenty years of playing all over the world, in all kinds of venues, to all kinds of people
Twenty years of refinement – of getting better, of going deeper, of exploring the edges
Twenty years of wondering when I’ll run out of inspiration and do something else…
Twenty years of recording and releasing music – 71 albums so far!
Twenty years – a milestone worth celebrating! 

December 15th 2019 will be a really special show for me, here in Birmingham. I’d love for you to join me. Here’s why: 

December 15th 1999 was my first proper solo gig. I’d played solo before that, but never a whole set to an audience coming to see me. I’d done product demos at Guitar Shows, and solo tunes in gigs with Ragatal, but a whole gig? That was the first.

Twenty years often feels like an impossibly long time in music. When I went to music college aged 18, anyone with a 20 year career would’ve started in 1971, and been at it for longer than I’d been alive. 20 years in music is inconceivable from the start, but feels like the blink of an eye from the other end… I still feel like I’m just getting started with my creative path, I feel like there’s so much more I want to do, so many more ways to explore what the bass can do, the kinds of music that I can make within this set of constraints that were set in motion at that first gig – everything is live, everything is me and it’s all based on improvisation.

At that first gig, I had start points. A handful of loop ideas that I could play and then see what happens… The versions of the tracks that became my first album that were played at that first gig had completely different melodies – the only fixed part was the chord progression. Over the years I went back and forth between playing tunes from the records like that, and playing all-improvised music.

The point where I stopped playing those tunes was after my tours with Daniel Berkman, listening back to the recordings of our first 10 shows, which became the FingerPainting set – the low point of every single gig was my solo tune. Because it was the one thing that was set in stone before the gig, and wasn’t made FOR that moment. It existed so I could let people know I had new music out and maybe encourage them to buy it. That’s not a terrible motive, but it really stands at odds with the kind of dangerous, in the moment music making that Daniel and I were up to for the rest of the gig. Everything else that was happening was about what was happening. Our conversations were the score, the audience were the score, the room was the score. And we played to that. Across the 10 albums of the FingerPainting set, there’s a massive range of musical territory that we got to explore. It all sounds like US, but it sounds like us in all those different spaces to all those different people.

So, soon after that, I gave up on revisiting old tunes. I was just much better at playing new music rather than recreating old music. And that was the origin of all of this – those ‘starter loops’ that were present in the first couple of shows and eventually had fixed melodies and were given names were just launchpads for improvisation. Training wheels for this fledgling improvisor.

It’s a tough sell to promote a gig where none of the music that you’re playing has names that relate to the music that’s gone before. But weirdly this improvised work is perhaps more connected to the journey because it contains EVERYTHING – everything I’ve played and loved is in the toolbox. Everything I’ve played and failed at is there as a cautionary tale. Sometimes I revisit old ideas thinking I may have a new take on them, sometimes the spirit of those ideas is manifest in whatever it is that I’m excited about right now.

Five years ago after a week of jamming and experimenting with Divinity Roxx I added a MIDI controller and a laptop to my live set up and started playing percussion and keyboard sounds along with the bass stuff. Still there were no pre-recorded loops, no beats that I could just trigger at the same tempo and feel every night. Everything was played FOR the event, every sound was made with tonight in mind. On one level it felt like a transformative step – ‘SoloBassSteve’ had been a brand identity for a long time, and I guess this wasn’t strictly solo bass anymore, right? But on another it made perfect sense. The all live all-for-now constraint was way more central to the musical ideology than the all-bass bit. Bass is my voice, my language, my vernacular. What I’ve chosen to avoid isn’t a character, it’s a script. The story begins anew and builds on the last episode.

So this 20th anniversary gig will be a celebration of that journey, of the evolving newness that includes its own story in every note. Where the names of tunes are not the locus of familiarity, but the sound and the adventure offers a point of remembrance, of revisitation. A space to hear sounds and ideas that are woven through 20 years of live and recorded music, are embedded in my head and that of my longer term audience.

Please join us on Dec 15th…

Birmingham Gig on November 25th!

Right, this one is a little last minute, but I’ve got a gig on November 25th, with the properly brilliant Pete Fraser:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/solobasssteve/45632670572/sizes/m/

Look how smiley we are! We’d just recorded an album when this was taken, on the same day we met… therein lies a tale, that involves mutual friends and lots of chatting about stuff on Twitter. But the point is, we made this: 

It’s a properly lovely album, I’m sure you’ll agree. And now we’re finally – two years after recording it – going to do a gig. So I guess this is the album launch gig. And we’ll record it, so you’ll also get to be there at the birth of album number 2… Which is exciting. 

Putting on gigs in 2018 is hard. Long gone are the days when social media was a delicious free-for-all where interesting music had a currency that meant people would see it and share it around for all to discover. That happened a LOT from 2008-2012, but then all the filters and algorithms kicked in and they made it harder for us. I’ll run a couple of FB ads for this, but really, we just need you who are reading this to tell a friend or two about the gig, and if you’re coming to grab some other friends. 

Tickets are only £8, and they include a download of the album! …in fact, if you’re a Student, or unwaged or in the MU (musician’s union), it’s only £4. And you still get the free album. 

Here’s the link to the info and tickets: https://music.stevelawson.net/merch/steve-lawson-and-pete-fraser-gig-birmingham-25-11-18 

See you there, OK? x 

Big News: Two New Albums, October Tour with Jonas Hellborg

Right, It’s shaping up to be a very active autumn and winter in Steve-World. The new album I’ve been working on for a while has turned into two new albums! I recorded about 3 hours of new music for it, intending to put out one album of it. Having asked producer/promoter/manager/music maven Sue Edwards to help sequence the album, she came up with a beautifully coherent record, that only had two tracks overlapping with my shortlist of eight for my version… So we’ll release both. The second album took some rejigging to tell the right story, but it’s there, and I love them both.

The titles are A Crack Where The Light Gets In and The Way Home. You’ll recognise The Way Home, as the title track was released as a single last week. listen to/download it here: http://music.stevelawson.net/track/the-way-home

News Part Two is VERY exciting – in October, I have three live dates with one of my favourite bassists in the world, Jonas Hellborg. Jonas’ music has been a constant source of inspiration throughout my solo career, both as a solo bassist and a collaborative improviser looking to stretch the role of the bass guitar beyond the expected confines. We’ve been friends for years, but this’ll be the first time we’ve played shows together.

The dates are:

Sunday Oct 4th: Birmingham, Tower Of Song (ticket link)
Monday Oct 5th: London, The Vortex
Tuesday Oct 6th: Leeds, Left Bank (ticket link)

Here’s the press bit: 

Two of the world’s leading solo bass guitarists together on one stage.

Crossing musical boundaries and blowing listeners’ minds for over 30 years, Jonas Hellborg is one of the great innovators of the bass guitar. From the pyrotechnic flamboyance of his early solo electric albums, to his unique exploration of the richness and depth of the acoustic bass guitar, Jonas has changed the way people think about – and play – the bass.

Whether as a solo artist, or collaborating with many of the most respected names in music, from John McLaughlin to PiL, Ginger Baker to Shawn Lane, Jonas’ signature sound and uncompromising creative philosophy have produced an unparalleled body of work, mostly on his own Bardo label. Lauded by press and public alike, this is a rare opportunity to hear Jonas up close in the UK.

Steve Lawson is one of the most celebrated solo bassists in British music history – early in his career, he opened for Level 42 on their first Greatest Hits comeback tour, placing his unique take on melodic looping-based live performance in front of tens of thousands of bass aficionados. 15 years of regular gigging across the UK, Europe and the US solidified his place as a leading exponent of solo bass. Steve’s sound-world borrows liberally from electronica, jazz, pop, rock, ambient and experimental music, to form a sonic fingerprint as compelling as it is unique.

Following on from two years of wide-ranging collaboration, playing alongside musicians as diverse as Reeves Gabrels and Beardyman, Andy Gangadeen and Divinity, Steve is back with a fresh exploration of what the bass can be in the 21st Century.  With the imminent release of his 12th and 13th all-solo albums (on the same day!) Steve is set to push the notion of what the bass guitar can be in 21st Century further still.

Gigs Update – London Bass Guitar Show, Moffat Bass Bash, #TORYCORE…

Right, if you’re the kind of person who keeps tabs on my gigs page, you’ll have seen a bit of an update happen… Here’s the next few:

March 7th, 10:30am – London Bass Guitar Show. Aguilar and MXR/Dunlop present… me! Pedals/effects/processing masterclass at this most wonderful of london events – details on the LBGS site. Line-up also features Divinity, Doug Wimbish and Jah Wobble… lots of greatness going on 🙂

March 15th – the Moffat Bass Bash! Yay, Scotland! I don’t get to play up there anywhere nearly enough. It’s 10am-4pm, with me as special guest. All the deets are at www.moffatbassbash.co.uk

April 10/11th – #TORYCORE is back. Two nights of the words of our evil overlords in the appropriately evil setting of some tortuous avant-metal. We’re at Battersea Arts Centre in London, and all the details are on their website.

More gigs coming very soon…

Birmingham solo gig, with Vicki Genfan, Sept 28th!

Right, after months of awesome collaborative playing, with Andy Edwards, Julie Slick, Briana Corrigan, Jem Godfrey et al, I’ve finally got another solo gig in Birmingham, on a double bill with one of my favourite guitarists in the world, Vicki Genfan:

You’re familiar with Vicki, right? Wait, what? Some of you aren’t?? Wow, OK. Try this:

Yeah, she’s amazing. Oh, and she sings:

Vicki and I have played on the same bill a few times over the last decade, and hung out whenever we can. She’s a great friend, musical inspiration, and YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS. Trust me.

Click here to buy tickets from Bandcamp.

A Month of Sundays (3 Gigs in Birmingham)

Following on from last week’s lovely gig with Julie Slick and Andy Edwards, I’ve got TWO more Sunday night gigs at Tower Of Song in Birmingham coming up:

August 10th : Jem Godfrey, Steve Lawson, Andy Edwards – Jem’s band is Frost* (which Andy used to be in), he’s also played keyboards with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. If that wasn’t enough, he’s an Ivor Novello award winning songwriter, writing massive hits for Shane Ward, Atomic Kitten, Holly Vallance… He’s very, very good at whatever area of music he turns his hand to, so expect amazingness. [Ticket Link] -0- [Facebook link]

August 17th : Lobelia’s Lazy Sundays presents Briana Corrigan + Steve Lawson – Briana was the original vocalist in the Beautiful South, sang on all the early hits. Since then, she’s released two wonderful solo albums, written and performed in plays and a one woman show called ‘Mum’s The Word’. She’s properly brilliant, and I’m VERY excited to see what we come up with together… the plan is to write/arrange/rehearse/plan a show in 3 days. There’ll definitely be songs, music, maybe some spoken word stuff, story-telling, poetry… who knows. It’s going to be lovely, and you need to be there. [Ticket Link] -0- [Facebook Link]

So, two in a row. Very different, but equally magical, I promise.

And if you’re wondering what you missed last Sunday, here’s some lovely video of the opening 12 minutes of the show (it’s shot in HD so choose the 1080p option and watch it full-screen!) :

See? Loveliness. 🙂

Three Unmissable Gigs (Julie Slick, Jem Godfrey, Briana Corrigan)

Right, gig news! Some REALLY exciting collaborations coming up – here are the three I can tell you about now. All of them are at Tower Of Song, in Birmingham, UK, and all will, of course, be recorded:

  • July 27th – with Julie Slick and Andy Edwards :: [tickets] after the fun we had with our last gigs together in April, Julie ‘s back for another show, between legs of the Crimson ProjeKct world tour, with Andy and I. Here’s some of the last session on Soundcloud. We’re REALLY looking forward to playing together as a trio again!
  • August 10th – with Jem Godfrey and Andy Edwards :: [tickets] Jem is a true musical genius and original. There’s pretty much no-one else who fronts a massive and widely respected prog band AND writes world-traversing ginormous pop hits for the likes of Atomic Kitten and Holly Valance! Jem’s band is Frost*, who Andy used to drum for, and we’re SO excited to be playing an evening of improvised music with him. Don’t miss this!

Special Offer:

Tickets for the Julie AND Jem gigs for just £14 (£3 off)

[Click Here To Buy Tickets]

 

Then, the week after the gig with Jem, something else VERY special:

  • August 17th – with Briana Corrigan :: Briana is probably best known for her time as vocalist with The Beautiful South – she sang their only UK no. 1, A Little Time. But she’s an exceptional songwriter in her own right, and after a couple of years of talking about it, we’re finally getting our duo project happening. This will be an evening of my music, her music and some really special never-before-heard collaborations that will be the beginnings of something wonderful. Go buy her solo albums on Bandcamp.

Gig with Julie Slick in Birmingham, April 6th + New Video!

OK, two v exciting bits of news!

First, my next Birmingham gig is with one of the most remarkable trios I’ve ever been a part of – Julie Slick, me and Andy Edwards.

[  BUY TICKETS HERE  ]

Julie, for those who’ve been hiding for the last 8 years, has been blowing people’s minds all over the world as part of the Adrian Belew Power Trio SINCE SHE WAS A TEENAGER. Seriously. Now still in Adrian’s band, and also in the 6-headed-behemoth that is the Crimson ProjeKct, she gets to swap bass duties with Tony Levin every night. Also a remarkable solo artist, her two solo albums feature her brilliant compositions, bass work and production alongside guests such as Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, David Torn, Marco Minneman, Pat Mastelotto… A cast of geniuses, with her at the top of the bill. She’s that good. Listen:

Andy Edwards is something of a drum legend – from Robert Plant’s band, he went on to play with many of the UK’s top prog bands: Frost*, IQ, Magenta, and is greatly in demand as a clinician.

I’ve played in duos with both of them, and am excited to see what alchemy takes place with this new band. It’ll be amazing. I promise. here’s the ticket link if you missed it above.

Exciting news part 2!

it’s not often that I get to announce a new video that’s already reached 10,000 views. In fact, it’s never. Until now. this was filmed at the Frankfurt Musikmesse, by Gregor Fris of BassTheWorld.com, who asked me to ‘just play’. No looping, no processing, just bass. However I wanted for as long as I wanted. This is what came out. It sounds and looks lovely, I think. The internet seems to agree. Please do share it around if you dig it:

I’ll write more about the making of the video later… but for now, go buy gig tickets! 🙂

Gig at The London Bass Guitar Show, On The Cover Of Bass Guitar Magazine!

Exciting News! I’m playing at the London Bass Guitar Show on March 2nd.

Want proof? OK, all the mainstage artists are pictured on the cover of this month’s Bass Guitar Magazine, with me right in the middle. Oh yes. Good times, eh?

I’ll be on at 11:15am on Sunday 2nd March, though I may actually be on a little earlier than that in the masterclass room, talking to one of my heroes and friends, Leland Sklar… the two sessions overlap, so we’ll have to see how the planning works out!  Continue reading “Gig at The London Bass Guitar Show, On The Cover Of Bass Guitar Magazine!”

A Gig. On My Birthday. And You’re Invited!

Right, here’s something I’ve never done before – a solo gig on my birthday.

That’s December 28th, for those that don’t know.

The gig will be at Tower Of Song, my favourite venue in the Birmingham area.

The ticket price is ‘pay what you can afford’, and if you buy tickets in advance, [ click here to buy tickets ] there’s a lovely new exclusive download track of a thing I recorded living in London a couple of weeks ago, opening for Yolanda Charles. You’ll get that, whatever you pay, but if you pay over £10, you’ll also get a download copy of my NEXT solo album, called ‘What The Mind Thinks, The Heart Transmits’ – it won’t be out til next year, but you can have a copy now. It’s a single 45 minute track, and is very lovely indeed. I promise. So you may want to buy that even if you can’t be there… 🙂

But Wait! There’s MORE!

The gig will also feature the debut of my excellent new duo with drum-legend Andy Edwards. Andy and I recently got together to record some promo stuff for a new Tama drumkit. None of it was what you’d call ‘songs’ – no beginnings/middles/endings, just fun jams to show off the kit, but they’ll give you an idea of where we’re heading 🙂