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 bassworld.co.uk.

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!

Gigs over the next few days

Tomorrow night (Thursday) is this month’s Recycle Collective gig, featuring me with BJ Cole and Theo Travis – this is going to be a fantastic night for me, given that they are two of my favourite musicians to both listen to and play with. Theo, as you know, I’ve been playing with for years, and you’ve probably already got For The Love Of Open Spaces (if you haven’t, click the link to order it! :o) ) – he’s effortlessly inventive and melodic, and just gets better and better every time I hear him.

BJ is the most regular recycle guest, and keeps coming back cos he’s so much fun to play with! There’s something so unique about playing alongside pedal steel guitar, as harmony seems to work in a very different way on it to guitar, or a keyboard harmony instrument, so when BJ is laying down chords, the effect is to create a completely different kind of harmonic backdrop to what’s going on that you’d get anywhere else. He’s a fabulously creative musician, a lovely bloke, and well worth you coming out to listen to!

So that’s Thursday. Then on Saturday, I’ve got a rare ‘side man’ gig, playing for Estelle Kokot – fab piano playing jazz singer and songwriter, and ever so slightly nuts, in a good way. It’ll be a trio with her and Richard Spaven on drums, at The Octave in Covent Garden, and music starts at 9. I think it’s a fiver to get in. The songs are great, and it’ll of course be one of those rare chances to hear me playing normal bass, though I get a few solos in the set too, just no looping.

So go on, come to both, I dare you.

click here for the full details (venue address, ticket deets etc.) for Thursday’s Recycle gig.

Album review…

The new issue of Bass Guitar Magazine has a nice review of ‘Behind Every Word’ in it, written by Stuart Clayton. Here it is, reprinted for your pleasure –

“Behind Every Word is the fourth studio outing for acclaimed solo bassist Steve Lawson. With the intention of combing [I think that’s meant to be combining – steve] the ambient soundscapes of his previous efforts with a more structurally composed approach, Lawson had created a solo bass album that sounds… nothing like a solo bass album. The opening trafck, ‘Blue Planet’ offers up a silky smooth fretless groove which Steve punctuates with ghost notes in order to provide a rhythmic accompaniment. This line is them looped and becomes the foundation for the entire piece. Over it Steve adds piano like chordal parts, and a lilting ‘guitar’ solo. The diversity of sounds that Lawson coaxes from his bass and armory of gadgets is truly impressive here and indeed throughout the album. In fact, almost two minutes of ‘Jimmy James’ go by before anything that is recognizable as a bass guitar surfaces through the ambient, swelling sounds! Lawson has invited two guest musicians to join him on this record. Pedal steel guitar legend BJ COle guests on the track ‘Scott Peck’, his slide guitar playing being the perfect understated accompaniment to Steve’s chordal bass work. Julie McKee’s vocals add variety to the ‘One Step’, which in all honesty, at almost fifteen minutes in length is slightly over indulgent. Behind Every Word is unlike any solo bass album you will have heard before and is all the more fascinating because of it. I quickly forgot that it was a solo bass record and found myself enjoying it in the same way that I would enjoy a ‘chill-out’ album. It is in this way that Lawson has succeeded where many have failed – to make a solo bass record where the music truly comes first. Check it out – but keep your mind open.”

There you go – that’s rather nice. Clearly, I don’t think ‘One Step’ is over-indugent. I’m not even sure there is such a thing as ‘over-indulgence’, just good or bad music (and that was the shortest of the three takes that we did of the track! :o), but it’s nice to read. Thanks, Stuart!

More recycle bookings…

Been busy over the last couple of weeks lining up the musicians for the new few RC gigs – lots of the people have had on my wish-list for ages are now booked! Yay!

August 23rdSebastian Rochford, Andy Hamill and me. This is a bit of a dream line-up. Seb’s one of my favourite drummers I’ve ever played with. We did one gig together in Brighton a couple of years ago, and he listened so well to the loop stuff, and played beautifully. An immensely creative chap, and Mercury Prize nominee last year, no less! He’s in Polar Bear and Acoustic LadyLand and plays with lots of people in the F-IRE collective.

And Andy Hamill. As well as officially being of the nicest people in jazz ever, Andy’s also one of my favourite double bassists anywhere. If you’ve heard either of Theo’s last couple of albums, he’s the low end on there, but has also played with 4 Hero, Carleen Anderson, Shea Seger, Theo Travis, Mark Murphy, Nitin Sawhney, Chris Bowden, Boris Grebenshikov, Cara Dillon, Tracey Thorn, Kylie Minogue, Ben Castle, Ursula Rucker and Harry Hill!

I’ve been wanting to try a trio with drums and double bass for ages, and feel so lucky that the first time I get to try it is with two musicians of this kind of quality. Wow.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, on Sept 20th, we’ve got saxophonist Jason Yarde, one of the most celebrated young british jazzers of recent times. An outstanding performer, composer, improvisor – a really really interesting musician, who will add something completely new to the RC vibe, for sure. Another huge talent.

And with Jason and I, making a very welcome return, Leo Abrahams – currently out on the road playing guitar for Roxy Music, is also Brian Eno’s guitar monkey, and has worked with Imogen Heap, Nik Kershaw, Ed Harcourt, Paul Simon and a host of other great people. He was excellent last time, he’ll be just as great this time.

And at the moment, it looks like October is going to be BJ Cole and Ingrid Laubrock joining me. How lucky am I? Yay!

Friday Random 10 again

Here’s today’s random playlist…

Talking Heads – CrossEyed And Painless (Remain In The Light version, not the ‘Stop Making Sense’ version)
Steve Lawson – Behind Every Word (yay for me!)
Talking Heads – Once In a Lifetime (this time it is from Stop Making Sense)
Duran Duran – Wild Boys
King’s X – Honesty
Kate Bush – Somewhere In Between
Galactic Cowboys – Speak To Me
Window On The Deep – BJ Cole
Stevie Wonder – Knocks Me Off My Feet
Kings X – Alone

two appearances each for Talking Heads and King’s X? Is iTunes making taste-based suggestions for what I should listen to – ‘stop listening to crap 80s pop songs, and get back to listening to lots more Talking Heads and King’s X’ – as advice goes, it’s up there as some of the best I’ve received in a long time!

The New Standard…

The New Standard – that’s the name of the show that Julie McKee and I are doing at Edinburgh this year – it’s a show over unlikely cover-versions, where we take songs from all over the musical map, and treat them as though they were ‘standards’ – ie, we just take the melody, words and chord progression and do what we want with them.

We’ve ended up with songs by Stevie Wonder and Slipknot, Curtis Mayfield and The Cure, Green Day, Kate Bush, Gorillaz… etc. etc. It’s a great set, and we’ve done top notch arrangements. If you head over to thenewstandard.co.uk you’ll find yourself on our myspace page, which has four tunes on it for you to have a listen to. They’re just demo live recordings, in my studio while we were rehearsing and working out arrangements. Hope you enjoy them!

While I’m here, here are the dates for this week’s gigs – hope to see some of you there –

Tuesday 20th June – CB2, Cambridge. Doors 7.30pm, tickets £6
Wednesday 21st June – Recycle Collective at Darbucka, with Special guests BJ Cole and Emily Burridge. Doors 7pm, Tickets £6.
Thursday 22nd – Escobar, Market Street, Wakefield, Yorkshire – 01924 332000
Friday 23rd – Oceans Eleven, 1-2 Church Walk Leeds, 07906 140 294
Saturday 24th – (2pm) Riffs Guitar School, Stockport, 0161 484 5208
Saturday 24th (8pm) Iguana, Manchester,0161 881 9338 tickets £3 adv. £5 on the door.
Thursday 29th – Traders, Petersfield, 01730 233 022 £5 adv/£6 door.

Gig preparations

Just been practicing for tonight’s gig supporting BJ Cole at the Half Moon – I’m still learning the songs from Behind Every Word, trying out some new arrangement things, working out how to make the tunes as good as they can be live.

Support gigs are always interesting because the audience have certain stylistic expectations based on the headline act. Fortunately, BJ’s music background is so varied that anyone going to see him is surely going to be expecting anything from solo steel guitar arrangements of Debussy tunes to full on clubby dance stuff. Hopefully my noises will meet with appreciative ears.

See you there.

my beautifully flawed design work…

Spent a bit of time this morning updating and redesigning pillowmountainrecords.co.uk – it looks lovely, until you change the font size in your browser away from the default. Then it goes all weird. Must find out how to do scaleable boxes in CSS… the Lovely Rev. G gave me some tips, so will check them out.

Anyway, I like the look of the site, and it’s up to date. Will finish it at some point, I’m sure. :o)

Had a rather nice lunch today with BJ Cole, catching up on news, planning for the gig on Thursday at the Half Moon, and then finally letting him hear his own fine work on ‘Scott Peck’ from the new album. What a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Sales update – the new CD is selling really well, thanks so much to all those of you who’ve already ordered it. The sooner you do, the greater my peace of mind over the cost of releasing it in the first place! :o) I hope y’all are enjoying ‘Lessons Learned From The Fairly Aged Felines’ (if you’ve had any trouble with the download process, let me know and we’ll sort something out…)

New track on MySpace…

Just added a new track to my MySpace page. It’s a track called ‘Scott Peck’, which features the truly marvellous BJ Cole on pedal steel. He’s great, he is.

The bio on the page has been updated as well, to include the info about the new album, and this quote –

“Steve Lawson is a brilliant musician. I’ve known about him and listened to him for many years. He may not be one of the most famous bassists but he is definitely one of the most talented.” – Victor Wooten

Which is nice.

Enjoy the track…