Should've blogged this a week ago…

It’s normally the first thing I do when Time Out arrives around the time of a Recycle Collective gig – check the entry. But I only got round to looking today, and it’s been in for a week. This is what it says –

*Cleveland Watkiss/Leo
Abrahams/Steve Lawson
Collective at Darbucka, EC1: 7pm; £7 concs
Superb monthly concert series that
explores the relationship between live
improv and live looping (ie recycling the
song as it unfolds and using the created loop
as part of the unfolding piece). Tonight with
superb singer Watkiss, Brian Eno sidekick
Abrahams and bassist Lawson.

that’s rather nice isn’t it? No reason for you not to come along now. :o)

another fine day's recording

Managed to get another couple of tracks recorded for the album today – a new version of one that I’ve done 7 versions of so far, and I think this is ‘the one’… remains to be seen. The other is a re-recording of ‘Jimmy James’ from Not Dancing For Chicken. It’s always been one of my favourite of my own tunes, but the version of the CD didn’t really get close to doing it justice. And as it was inspired by the memory of a dear friend, it really deserved to be done properly. So that’s done. Sounds great.

Also did some more work on the sleeve, started getting the sleeve notes together, the front cover is done, it’s all beginning to feel like a proper CD that’s actually going to happen! I’ve also found another place that does the same kind of packaging as I have, but does it a lot cheaper than my usual source, which is v. exciting!

So tomorrow will be another heavy recording day – I still need to get good takes of the tune for Eric Roche (working title – Deeper Still), and the two covers, People Get Ready and What A Wonderful World. It remains to be seen if a) they work on the album and b) I can be bothered to sort out the copyright stuff to be able to release them. sounds like faff to me.

Anyway, I’m probably only a week away from being able to start mixing in earnest… guess I’d better get my mastering plans sorted out…

Easter Improv

just had a great fun gig at St Luke’s. Every Easter, the church is turned into an art gallery, housing various ‘stations’ – works of art based on bits of the easter story in varying levels of abstraction, dotted around the church, and used as a focal point for meditation/prayer. There’s a launch on Good Friday lunchtime and then the art is left up for the next week or so.

This year, Julie McKee and I were approached by a woman in the church to provide a soundtraack to her piece. She’d originally wanted something that ‘sounded like Handel’ i think was the request… clearly not going to happen, but mellow ambient loopy improv goo we can do. And we did.

So we set up in an inconspicuous place in the corner of the church, and improv’d to our hearts content. The words were taken partly from some stuff that Judy the artist has sent as being her inspiration, and partly from a prayer/poem written by the ever-wonderful Martin Wroe, taken from his book, When You Haven’t Got A Prayer – here’s the prayer in question;


underground and overground
everywhere and nowhere
always and never
sometimes and all times



That’s it – very simple, and easy to sing. Strangely enough, it’s the second time I’ve played on a musical setting of these words, the last time being on a demo by Steve McEwan… but anyway.

So I was looping and layering my own ambient loveliness and Julie’s voice, so the words were tumbling over one another in and out of layers of bass goo. Sounds pretty damned fine listening back to it.

Oh yes, I finally got round to recording an improv gig – yay for me! I recorded it direct into ProTools M-Powered, and am now bouncing it down so I can export it to my PC and edit it in Adobe Audition. Much as ProTools is proving useful for this kind of recording, it is a total pain in the arse to use. For one, it saves the stereo audio as two mono files rather than one stereo one, so I can’t just drag the raw data across. Secondly, in order for the program to even start up, I have to have both my M-Audio soundcard and the iKey plugged in! I had hoped that I’d be able to export multitrack sessions to my laptop from the PC and mix things in ProTools, but that’s clearly not going to happen… I definitely prefer Adobe Audition.. and when I eventually get an Intel-Powered MacBook Pro, I’ll be running Audition on that for sure…

For now, I’m currently bouncing down the audio from the two mono files to a stereo file (which happens in real time so is taking a full half an hour!!! what a pain!! grrr), and will then do all the loveliness that needs doing in Audition on the PC.

Anyway, depending on how good it gets when I’ve tweaked it, it may end up being available for download via the shop. It is rather lovely…

More recording

Doing more recording for the new album today – Since tuesday, my days have been too full of teaching to get any recording done! It’s great to have the teaching work, but I do wonder whether I’m going to need to empty my diary for a couple of weeks at some point before the middle of May to get this finished… Maybe I’ll be able to do it in the few hours here and there that I’m able to grab to work on it. I can’t remember if I was blocking out whole days for doing Grace And Gratitude…

Got a couple more fun things recorded today. Another slice of melancholic optimism just now, that sounds lovely. There are a few string squeaks and scrapes through the piece that I need to decide about – are they characterful or undesirable?? It’s a tough call…

Anyway, back to it – while I’m doing this, those of you using Mac OSX can check out check out this rather fantastic addition to iTunes

Looperlative news

A few of you loopsters are on the Looperlative forum anyway, but for those of you with a loopacious predilection who aren’t on there, Bob’s now taking orders for the second run of Looperlatives. $1499 + shipping. For UK peoples that works out to about a grand inc. shipping and import duty. Pretty damn good, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, I’m recording tracks here with mine for the new album – mine’s only a prototype (should be getting a production model soon enough), and even that is streets ahead of anything else I’ve ever used.

Yay for Bob!

One more summer on the Royal Mile

So, after having said that I wasn’t going to do the Edinburgh Festival this year, it looks like I will be after all. Only this time, instead of doing it solo, it’ll be a duet with Julie McKee, one of my favourite singers around. Julie and I have been working on duo versions of pop tunes for a while now, everything from Earth Wind And Fire to John Martyn, The Police to Soundgarden, Kylie to Tom Waits, so we’re gonna do that stuff late night on the fringe, with a few loopy ambient things and a solo tune or two thrown in for good measure.

I’m really looking forward to it – we’re only doing 5 or 6 dates, so it’s fairly low pressure, and the upfront cost isn’t going to be as high as it was for me last year.

here’s the blurb for the festival fringe programme –

Julie McKee/Steve Lawson – The New Standard.
“A musical match made in heaven, divine jazz-influenced vocalist McKee and acclaimed solo bassist Lawson give a fresh spin to the pop canon, from Sondheim to Soundgarden. Unmissable.

(don’t bother going to the address at the moment, it currently just points back to my website, but will have all the info about the gig).

So expect a gig or two before then as we get out and try out our looping ‘n’ pop songs duo! It’s going to be lots of fun. If you’re in or around Edinburgh in the second week of August, come and see it – we’ll be at The Lot.

Third musician for the April Recycle Collective!

Well, it’s been an enouraging couple of weeks. I’ve been asking lots of lovely musicians to take part in the Recycle Collective, with a very very positive response. Those who’ve said they want to take part in the future include Seb Rochford, Byron Wallen, Andy Hamill, Rebecca Hollweg and Oroh Angiama. Lots of fantastic musicians, all lovely people too!

And what’s more, the third musician that’s playing with Cleveland Watkiss and I on April 29th is Leo Abrahams, an amazing guitarist and looper that I first saw live playing with Imogen Heap and Nik Kershaw at the Kashmir Klub about 5 years ago, and who played after me at Greenbelt last year. He’s hugely in demand, working recently with Brian Eno, Ed Harcourt, Stairstailor, David Holmes and others, and having worked in the past with Paul Simon and Nick Cave amongst others. I’m so excited about both hearing Leo’s solo set, and what he Cleveland and I will come up with as a trio!

Head over to Leo’s myspace page to hear some of his lovely solo music.

All this means that the Recycle Collective continues to be unmissable.

finally – new tunes!

…no MP3s for you, just yet though!

Been recording these last couple of days, the usual bought of improvs aimed at definining a vibe for the album. I don’t think, on the face of it, this one will be a huge departure from what’s gone before. Though, I am thinking about possibly getting some people in to do overdubs on some of the tracks when I’ve recorded my usual solo bass nonsense. And I am allowing myself some editing for brevity’s sake.

The vibe on the tunes so far is pretty downbeat (apologies to the peoples who’ve emailed saying ‘I really like Shizzle/Channel Surfing/MMFSOG*, which don’t you do a whole album of funky stuff?’ (* – delete as applicable) – sorry peoples, it’s not going to happen.) – I have got ideas for a couple of up-tempo things, but as usual they’ll be the exception rather than the rule. For now, I just have to deal with large scale melodic ambient melancholy tinged with a hopeful, redemptive edge being what I’m best at. And that’s no bad thing, methinks. Will get something up onto my MySpace Page as soon as I can. Suffice to say, the Looperlative is making itself very very useful is ways that won’t be immediately apparent – the three biggies are that all the looping is in stereo, there’s virtually no noise generated by the unit at all (less than most soundcards) and I can have multiple asychronous loops that I can mess with in any order… For the listener, it just means everything sounds a little less linear, and even the linear stuff ends in more interesting ways!

Watch this space…

fantastic ticket offer for gigs next week!

Wow – I’ve just managed to hook up a fantastic deal for anyone who wants to take advantage of it –

The night before the next Recycle Collective gig, Erkan Ogur is playing at the QEH – he’s an AMAZING guitarist, like a turkish-tinged Metheny/Frisell/Stern type player. His latest album is gorgeous, I’ve been listening to it a fair bit recently.

Thanks to a bit of negotiating, I’ve lined up a deal whereby if you get a ticket for Erkan’s gig at the QEH, you can bring the ticket stub along to the Recycle Collective gig the following night, and get in FREE! So it becomes four flavours of guitar, over two nights!

here’s the deets about Erkan’s gig – go see him play (I’ll be there, come and find me and say hi if you’re coming) and then come see us at Darbucka the following day!

Wednesday 15 MARCH 2006

” Erkan Oğur is one of those remarkable musicians who spins beguiling poetry out of his astonishing technique and passionate musicianship” Fiona Talkington, BBC Radio 3
“a player who does not waste a single note unless it is filtered through his soul; his fretless guitar playing is simply magical.” Antonio Forcione
“Erkan Oğur is a wonderful musician whose music has made an impact on my playing.” Eivind Aarset

Something like a meeting of Metheny, Gismonti and Scofield on a sometimes Quiet Night in Anatolia. Fretted, and fretless acoustic and electric guitars as well as the ancient Anatolian instrument, kopuz lute. With Ilkin Deniz (bass) and Turgut Alp Bekoglu (drums). A unique jazz project that draws on Turkish scales and melodies with Oğur’s fabulous improvisations. A UK PREMIERE. Read more. TELVIN will record a session for BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction the day before.

With support from Parisian guitarist Yan Vagh (nylon and 10-string fretless guitars).

Tickets £20 / £17.50 / £12.50
08703 800 400