3 gig reviews (not mine!)

That’s not my gigs, not not my reviews. Of course these are my reviews.

For some reason I completely forgot to blog about the two gigs I went to last thursday – Buddy Miller at Bush Hall followed by Ursula Rucker at The Jazz Cafe.

Buddy’s gig was put on by the lovely people at Greenbelt, so they were hosting a bit of a reception upstairs (if you ever want to do a gig with VIP stuff going on, Bush Hall is ideal – really nice little bar upstairs…) – so that was nice, to catch up with lots of GB-related friends, and Hoda from Fender who I’d not really had the chance to chat to for a long time. All good.

Opening the show was the marvellous Brian Houston – who just gets better every time I see him play. Don’t miss him if he plays near you.

After that was some other bloke who didn’t really do it for me, then Buddy. Part of the interest in the gig for me was that the rhythm section for the gig were Paul and Phil Wilkinson from The Amazing Pilots (I say ‘from’… they ARE the amazing pilots…) who are without doubt one of the finest roots rock rhythm sections in the UK. I’ve seen them before playing both as their own gig (where Paul plays guitar not bass) and backing up Iain Archer, and they are just fantastic. As a trio with Buddy, they were amazing (though there was no evidence of them being actual pilots). Alternately rocking out and acoustic balladeering, the evening was just magic.

Sadly I had to bail out about four tracks from the end of their set to get over to see Ursula Rucker. A gig that I really didn’t know much about other than a) Andy Hamill was on bass and had put me on the guest list and b) it involved, in some way, looping and poetry. Sounded promising. Lived up to the promise – Ursula is kind of a female Michael Franti – political poet, to eloquent and erudite to just be simply a ‘rapper’, she’s a soul singer/poet/thinker/activist, and puts on a slamming show. Her core band was Tim Motzer, looping and processing an acoustic guitar, and a drummer (whose name I can’t find just now), and they were augmented for a couple of tunes by Andy on bass and Julian on violin. All in all, a crackin’ gig.

And then, leaping forward to last night, Gary Husband was playing at St Cyprians. Well, was meant to be playing at St Cyprians, but there’s no heating in there, and the piano wasn’t tuned, so it was moved over the road to a school, a Yamaha C3 was hired in, and all was well.

Gary, for those who don’t know about such jazz-related things, is in the rather unique position of being pretty much at the top of his game worldwide as both a drummer AND a piano player. Last night was a solo piano gig (augmented at times by some extra layers of piano and percussion on multitrack), and was mind-blowing. It’s SO rare to hear that level of instrumental virtuosity without it either being smug, sterile or both. This was neither. Which was all the more remarkable given that the two sets were inspired by, and consisted of pieces written by or based on – Alan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin, both of whom are often seen as being monster technicians over and above their contribution to the world of jazz composition.

The playing, the arrangements, the performance and the banter were all top class, leaving no-one there in any doubt at all as to Gary’s standing in the world of piano players. I can’t think of many players who could have done anything even close to what he achieved. A hugely inspiring gig.

Poorly Aged Feline/Remember James/NASA and The Great Glass Elevator…

Buna has an injured foot, poor thing… :o( Neither the small person or I
are sure how he did it, or what exactly is wrong but he’s limping quite a
lot, as though putting pressure on his front left paw is painful… it’s tragic
to watch cos we can’t fix it… a very helpless feeling. He’s not yowling or
showing any other signs of distress, so we’re not rushing him to the vets
straight away, but if he’s not noticeably better by Saturday, we’ll take him
then…

Took the small person to the doctors very early this morning, then came
home and fell asleep on the floor with our ill-of-foot eldery furry family
member for an hour or so!

Was teaching today – it’s been a moderately busy teaching week – lots of
people take some time out at Christmas (largely, I guess, due to
increased spending options around this time…), which is no bad thing for
me, as I’m still a bit knackered after the tour, and am still sorting out stuff
for the US dates – lots more dates are currently 80% there, and will be
added the the site early next week.

Haven’t yet encoded the new Steve/Jez duo track, but will do so ASAP, as
it’s very good indeed….

On an entirely more serious note, today is the anniversary of the death of
my friend James Holland – James was killed in a car accident two years ago.
I’m not sure if anyone still knows how it happened. Came off a straight
road and his the base of an old bridge… I still really struggle to get my
head round the randomness of that one. I guess it’s just ‘shit happens’ taken
to it’s earth shattering conclusion. Weird things happen all the time, it’s just
that most of them don’t end in fatalities. The track ‘Jimmy James’ was written
for James (for some unknown reason, if I rang him he’d go ‘Stevie Steve!’
and I’d go ‘Jimmy James!’ – there was probably some bit of Hendrix trivia
in there too at some point. Lots of things remind me of James. Whenever
I listen to any of the CD that he brought back from the States for me
(including three Jonatha Brooke albums…), Whenever I hear rubbish
heavy metal from the late 80s (both of us had grown out of listening to
Cinderella and Ratt by the time we met, but the memory lives on… :o),
any news item relating to Boris Becker (James looked remarkably similar to
the tennis star – we once hitched to Greenbelt, and after waiting for an hour,
I shouted at him ‘I knew you should have worn tennis gear, we’d have been
there by now!!!’ And most of all, the song that was played at his
funeral ‘Shining Star’ by Gabriel. Occasionally it comes on the radio and
really takes me by surprise. It came on during dinner on the L42 tour one
night… very strange one, that… Anyway, today is the anniversary, so have
a toast to James, and pray nothing like that ever happens to anyone you
know…

Back on more mundane and trivial blog-related thoughts, I must remember
to switch off comments section on here, Evil Harv has proved once again
why having them switch on would be a very bad idea… Though, to his
credit, he did sort me out with a ticket to see Buddy Miller tonight, which
I had to turn down in the end, sadly…

Listened to very bizarre radio thing this afternoon (on my new best friend,
radio 4), about building an elevator into space… hello? have I missed
something? a 38,000 mile long lift???? WTF???? Has someone been spiking
the water at NASA? It was very surreal listening, hearing academics
talking about stuff that Arthur C Clarke would dismiss as too implausible…
There you go, academics, failing to stop and ask ‘…er, why?’

Soundtrack – Listened to a bit of Fripp/Sylvian, ‘The First Day’
earlier on, but mainly just had the radio on… :o)

Plans for the rest of the evening involve tidying and cuddling the cat… a
taxing one, for sure…

Tomorrow is the gig in Norwich, which looks to be a
fascinating event. I’m really looking forward to that one.