One More Kiss…

Just been watching the first 20 minutes of a film on BBC1 called ‘One More Kiss’ – of interest because it’s set and filmed in Berwick on Tweed, where I grew up, and where my mum and brother still live.

Our high hopes of seeing a quality film made in a town that I know just about every inch of were dashed within a few minutes as the dreadful dialogue and lifeless acting more than negated the benefits of seeing lovely shots of the beach I spent almost every lunch hour on during high school.

There was one particularly funny moment when the main woman in it and her dad were driving down a road in Berwick – which was a dead-end street about 100 yards from where they are supposed to live (their house is about four doors down from where Giles used to live, and they were driving towards Martin’s house, just in case you’re one of the four people in the world who’d understand what that meant) – no-one from where they live would drive where they were driving.

But, far more shocking and sad that all of this is WHERE ON EARTH ARE THE BERWICK ACCENTS??? Not a single person with a Berwick accent. The main woman meets a 24 year old bloke with a London accent at a Cancer sufferers group – the first question anyone would ask in that setting would be ‘what the hell are you doing in Berwick?’ – no-one of 24 moves to Berwick. It just doesn’t happen. If it did, it’d be conversation point number 1. No, all the main characters have Edinburgh accents, and even the dude running the market stall had some kind of generic accent.

Come to think of it, they might’ve tried it with Berwick locals and struggled to make it understandable to anyone who lives south of Morpeth… it’s a pretty strange accent/dialect, for sure…

The moral of the story is, don’t watch films shot in your home town, it’ll only wind you up.

…however, if you’re a pedant and you fancy a laugh, check out the various online reviews that claim it’s shot in scotland… doh!

more on hunting

So tonight’s episode of holiday showdown had a gun toting military family from Lincolnshire going on a holiday-swap with a bisexual anarchist ouple of video artists.

The military monkeys took the anarchists to Texas on a holiday of shooting guns, trying to shoot boar and roping cattle.

then the bi people took the Lincolnshire rednecks to San Francisco for a week of hanging out with trannies, filming the streets of SF for a VJ gig.

What was startling was seeing a bloke, who thought nothing of whooping his teenage son into a testosterone fueled frenzy over a huge gun, describe two men kissing as disgusting and something that no decent person would let their children see… but aiming a Magnum at a human-shaped target (or boar, or deer) was fine.

We’re back to the topic of moral equivalence. OK, so it was intentionally car-crash TV, but the juxtaposition of gun-toting misogyny with anarchist sexual liberalism was a really interesting one, given that bigotry, intolerance and downright nastiness of the Lincolnshire smiling militia.

Shooting good, lovin’ bad. Very odd equation, that one.

As Michael Franti sang – ‘it’s not about who you love, it’s all about do you love’.

As it happens, the wife of trigger happy dan (with his remarkably gay moustache, that made him v. popular in SF!) actually took to the VJ gig really well, but she also couldn’t deal with transgendered dancers in a club. That I’d have had a problem with as well – not because they were transgendered, but just from a human rights angle, I’m not into exploitation at all, and I don’t think transgendered people should be objectified in that way any more than I think women should be. There were a few things in the SF scenes that I’d have issues with, but none of it because it was ‘sick’ or because they were ‘woofters’, more that that level of sexual-obsession tends to stem from either hurt, poor self image or narcissism, none of which need celebrating, just understanding.

But of the two holidays, I’d take a week with the lovely freaky drag-queens of San Fran over a week with the gun totin’, wife subjugatin’ rednecks any day… All the freaky people make the beauty of the world, to quote the lovely Franti again…

Gorgeous Guitars on Video

Rick Turner just sent me a link to this video clip – it’s a trailer to a film called ‘Gourmet Guitars’ – it’s vol 2 in a DVD series looking at great guitar makers, and of course Rick’s in there. The clip itself makes for interesting viewing, but is even more interesting for the inclusion of Bill Walker demoing one of Rick’s guitars through the Mama Bear processor. Bill’s a fantastic guitar player, lovely bloke, and really ought to be a big star.

It’s also nice to see Rick and his son Elias on the video – the transition back to London life is made easier by seeing my friends on film when I get back here.

Soundtrack – right now I’m listing to an NPR recording of an interview/performance by KT Tunstall – KT’s just about the best thing to happen to pop music in the UK in years – in a year that gave us the rancid whinging loser that is James Blunt and a load more Pop Idol one hit wonders, KT has the skills and the songs to be in it for the long haul. Hurrah!

California catch-up

So what have I missed from NAMM?

Well, I posted about Thursday night – that was fun.

Friday – er, can’t remember much about during the day, other than doing some Looperlative demos, and playing on the Accugroove stand. Oh, and did a set at Modulus as well, though where Modulus is stationed, it’s all but impossible to play anything due to them being flanked by hair-metal amp companies and opposite the Taylor booth who have a stage set up with acoustic bands playing all the time. Accugroove and Looperlative are both down in Hall E where the noise level is much lower, so more people could stop and listen to what’s being played. And on both those stands I had AccuGroove speakers to play through, which made all the difference. I just don’t like using regular bass amps any more. The only bass cabinet company that comes close to AccuGroove is Glokenklang – they make some really lovely uncoloured speaker cabs. Great stuff.

Anyway, what else? Ah, Friday evening, Sabian had a big show, featuring some celeb drummers – Dave Weckl, Terry Bozzio and Joey Heredia. Terry being the interest, not just because he’s already more interesting than the others, but because he had the wonderful Doug Lunn on bass. Doug’s one of my closest american friends, and him playing also meant that his wife Vida was at the show on Friday, so we had lunch – that’s what NAMM’s pretty much all about for me, catching up with the lovely people here that I only get to see once a year.

The gig itself started and was unintentionally funny – I was there with three lovely bass people – Peter Murray, Jeff Schmidt and Janek Gwizdala – Weckl came on and it took us a while to work out what it sounded like, but we hit the name on the head with ‘game show themes’ – not my bag at all, I’m just not into clever twiddly fusion like that…

So we wandered outside, and hung out, chatted, laughed a lot – all good.

Back inside for the Bozzio band, which was a whole different proposition. Some seriously dark, difficult music, that owed more to Pierre Boulez or Edgar Varese than to the usual guitar trio reference points. Alex Machacacek who wrote most of the material is a remarkable guitarist, writing incredibly dense structured music, with multiple time and tempo changes each bar. Scary stuff. Doug acquitted himself admirably, playing this scary mathematical music with a serious amount of groove and flair.

Saturday at NAMM is mayhem – way too many people there, lots of celebs showing up (eg Gene Simmons shows up with film crew in tow – I saw him there up close last year and he looks like a pile of offal from a butchers floor that someone has mushed together and re-animated. Not a good advert for ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ living.) So I stayed down in Hall E for a lot of the time, and escaped over to Subway for lunch. Didn’t even think about playing on the Modulus booth, but did a fair amount of stuff down at Looperlative, including some fun duets with Tal Wilkenfeld – a fab Australian bassist living in NYC – I blogged about seeing her play last year.

Saturday night at NAMM means ‘Muriel Anderson’s All Star Guitar Night’ – one of the best gigs of the show. Sadly this year, I missed a lot of it due to heading up to Hollywood to see Bozzio’s trio again at the Baked Potato. But not before I’d gone in to meet Patti Larkin – Patti’s a huge favourite of mine, a stunning singer/songwriter who has worked a lot with Michael Manring over the years and I’ve been wanting to meet for years. A few connections were used, and I got a chance to say hello and briefly discuss the possibility of her coming over to play in the UK – that’d be great!

then off up to Hollywood for more Bozzio/Lunn/Machacek craziness. top stuff, but a very late drive back to Bob and Alison’s in Costa Mesa.

And then Sunday – the quiet day, I arrived late at the show, and left early, but not before filming the Looperlative demo and saying goodbye to some lovely friends for another year. And I headed off into Hollywood again to see another old friend, Tanya, who I’d not seen for three years, feeling dried out and exhausted (me, not Tanni) by four days of vicious air conditioning and walking miles.

Soundtrack – in the car here, I’ve been listening to lots of music by friends of mine, to keep me from feeling homesick – Juliet Turner, BJ Cole, Mark Lockheart, Thomas Leeb… it works.

Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire

believe it or not, I didn’t actually go to the cinema once in the whole of 2005. We saw a few films on DVD, but not one trip to the big screen. The last time I went was to see the 3rd Harry Potter film.

So tonight we went to see the 4th one! We usually go to Barnet Odeon – fairly nice old school cinema, though the sweets ‘n’ stuff are still massively overpriced. But they didn’t have Harry Potter on in the evenings, so we went to the Vue complex at Finchley Lido.

What a shit place! The design is like some really unimaginative 70s version of ‘the future’, with nowhere nice to sit down, and just stupid prices for munchables. Given that the two tickets booked online came to over £15, and the snacks came to over £6, I think it’ll be a while before we bother going there again, given that we could hire three films and get a rather nice curry for that at home. Those mail-order DVD clubs are looking ever more tempting…

Anyway, enough of the shitness of Vue, onto the film, which was fab! I’m a sucker for all the Harry Potter films(them being the only film series that I’ve ever been to all of them at the cinema… hang on, that’s really bad grammar… ah, well, it’s never stopped me before). As the kids grow up, the acting gets better and the plots get darker – this one had some genuine shocker moments, and some horror-type effects around Voldemort. Rupert Grint in particular is shaping up to be a fine lil’ actor.

I’m not sure if it was quite as good as Prisoner Of Azkerban, but definitely at least the second best of the HP films so far. And one of these days I’ll get round to reading the books!

Talking of books, I started one of my Christmas pressies today – ‘Serious’ by John McEnroe. I’m a bit of a tennis fan anyway, and particularly like Mac’s commentary, so thought his take on the world would be worth reading… interesting stuff so far!

2005 – a year in review

Good year? Bad year? not sure…

Musically, not a bad year – didn’t release any albums, but I guess that means that the last one is still doing OK, so didn’t feel any major pressure to get something new happening. Now I’m glad I waited due to all the new musical ideas offered up by the Looperlative.

Some great gigs – bassday, bassfest thing in Italy in July, Edinburgh festival (where staying with Jane and Gareth was also a year highlight – much fun). Gig with Ned Evett in Petersfield was much fun, as was recording with Ned. Finished an albums worth of material with Calamateur, AKA Andrew Howie, and there’s a lot of great stuff on there – I’m excited about what we might be able to do with that. Recycle Collective started – was v. small, but musically one of the best gigs I’ve been involved with.

Teaching’s been great – lots of very fine students, lots of beginners making progress, and meeting lots of lovely new people. also started a new column for Bass Guitar Magazine – good to be back writing again (which reminds me, I’ve got one to finish ASAP!)

Personally, it’s been a fairly good year – one big scare with the ginger fairly aged feline, who was given roughly two weeks to live, but with chemo got rid of a satsuma sized tumor IN A WEEK!!!! – we’re still amazed by that, and he’s going great. Life with both the fairly aged felines has been lots of fun (I really feel sorry for all those of you with cat allergies who have to lavish your attention on human offspring as a replacement…) seeing them both take over the house and garden and settle in.

another year of doing no work on the house… hmmm, maybe I should start by just TIDYING MY OFFICE!!! lazy bastard…

World events – both the best and worst things that happened this year were the same – the Make Poverty History campaign was such a monumental success at getting poverty reduction and the plight of people living in extreme poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America into the minds of every day people, it felt like there were really a chance to make a proper change. millions of people signing petitions, emailing MPs and congressmen, documentaries being made, and of course Live8 and the march in Edinburgh.

And then the worst thing – the gargantuan fuck-up that the G8 leaders made of the opportunity to do something for the world’s poor. Never before in the history of the world had there been such a wellspring of popular support for governments making decisions in favour of the poor, diverting cash and resources to help those in need, changing trade laws to balance things out. Millions upon millions of people around the world were calling for it, huge numbers of politicians were calling for it. Even mad right wing american jihadists like Pat Robertson were on-side (!!), but still those sad twisted old men of the G8 sat round the table in Gleneagles, in their opulence and grandeur and bollocksed the whole thing up. Their pledges fell woefully short, and then they even undid a lot of that. It was disgusting, sickening and saddening that such an opportunity had been wasted. Bono and Bob Geldof had done an amazing job of getting the campaign off the ground, from their involvement in the commission for Africa, and DATA, through to organising Live8, but they bottled it when the announcement was made, took the encouraging words one step too far and declared the Gleneagles bullshit to be a triumph. I’m guessing they aren’t too happy with where it’s gone. The follow up at the World Trade Talks in November was equally shit. A tragedy on a scale that all the terrorists in the world couldn’t hope to achieve.

The week of Live8 and the G8 was a busy one, given that it was also the week of two other disasters – firstly London getting the Olympics (another monumental waste of money which will leave the PPP funding bodies rubbing their grubby hands in glee), and then the London bombing. The bombing had begun to feel like an inevitability for a while – there was no way that the huge disquiet amongst the world’s muslim population about the Iraqi occupation and the continued support for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land was going to go unmarked in the UK. And finally it did, four huge bombs, three on the underground, one on a bus, quite a few people dead (though not as many as lost their lives in Iraq that weekend… that didn’t make the world news). A tragedy, but one that the government still refuse to admit was linked to the situation in the middle east. Stupid stupid fools.

But at the end of the year, some great news, perhaps the first great news in british life for a long time – registered civil partnerships for Gay couples. Finally gay people can get married (no, I really don’t care if you don’t want to call it a marriage or a wedding – it is, and that’s great.)

And the media spectacle of the year was certainly George Galloway in front of the US senate committee, absolutely ripping them apart. The most damning indictment of the Bush administrations lies and coverup in Iraq, and right there in the heart of the beast. Genius! Galloway can be a bit of a bellend, and his campaign in the General Election (ah yes, we had one of those – what a non-event that was) was horrible and divisive, but on that one day in the Senate, he ruled the world.

oh, media event of the year joint first was Harold Pinter’s nobel prize acceptance speech – another damning destruction of the history of US foreign military intervention.

What else? A few noteable partings – we lost the great Ronnie Barker, one of the finest comic actors and writers Britain has ever produced; Mo Mowlam, one of the few politicians of conviction we still had; Rosa Parks, the unwitting god-mother of the civil rights movement in the US; Andrea Dworkin feminist writer and thinker.

And on a personal level, the death of Eric Roche was a terribly sad loss – a huge talent and dear friend who has featured in this blog more than almost anyone else. Playing at the tribute gig to him on what would have been his birthday was a huge honour.

Blogwise, it’s been my most bloggingest year ever – over 510 posts this year, over 450 visitors a day (??? I’m sure there’s a mistake there somewhere…) and the demise of being able to tell people what I’ve been up to – ‘so, steve, what have you been up to?’ ‘well, I had a gig th….’ ‘yeah I read about that’ ‘oh, well I went out to see a…’ ‘ah yes, that film, read your review of that’ ‘THEN WHY DID YOU ASK???’

Thanks for reading, for emailing for commenting on the blog, and particularly thanks if you’ve been buying CDs and t-shirts, coming to gigs, spreading the word, and generally helping me pay the bills this year. Love you lots! x

Soundtrack – The The, ’45 RPM – the singles’.

four things…

OK, end of year meme, nicked from sharklady’s blog

A. Four jobs you’ve had in your life
1. waiter
2. factory worker (stitching little ‘R’s into Russel Athletic sweatshirts!)
3. Market research observer for Philips
4. solo bassist

B. Four films you could watch over and over
1. the wedding singer
2. so I married an axe murderer
3. bugsy malone
4. muppet’s treasure island

C. Four cities you’ve lived in
1. London
2. Perth
3. Lincoln
4. Berwick on Tweed (er, cities?????)

D. Four Tele programs you love to watch
1. question time
2. never mind the buzzcocks
3. newsnight review
4. family guy

E. Four favourite places you’ve been on holiday
1. Krakow
2. Lake Garda, Italy
3. North Norfolk coast
4. Nashville

F. Four websites you visit daily
1. BassWorld
3. MySpace
4. Jonatha Brooke forum

G. Four of your all-time favourite restaurants
1. Romna Gate, North London
2. Henderson’s, Edinburgh
3. Mia’s, just outside Reading (best curry I’ve had in years)
4. Ristorante Cascina Capuzza, Desenzano del Garda, Italy

H. Four of your favourite foods
1. just about any veg Curry, but Mia’s Veg balti is pretty remarkable.
2. Fajitas
3. Caprese Salad
4. fresh fruit salad.

I. Four places you’d rather be right now
1. North Norfolk
2. on the banks of Lake Garda
3. Mexico (I’ve never really been but I’d sure like to go… ;o)
4. driving across the US with TSP.

J. Four things you find yourself saying
1. ‘sorry, I forgot’
2. ‘imitate, assimilate, integrate, innovate’
3. ‘anecdotally’ (way of covering myself when presenting loosely observed trends amongst my friends as scientific data)
4. ‘OK, I’ll do it, when I’ve checked my email.’

(and sharklady, note anglicised questions – you’re from here, stop typing like you’re from there!)

A taxing day

Spent most of the day sorting out last year’s tax return – finally got round to doing it, and have definitely broken the back of it. Am going to try and get it up to date to now, rather than just last April, so I don’t have this mad panic come this April…

This evening we watched Mona Lisa Smile – a rather disappointing film, given that I’m a sucker for inspirational teacher films (I even found something to like in ‘Music Of The Heart’, which was a pretty awful film all told, but sucked me in nonetheless). This one was just poorly executed – nice idea, doing a female version of Dead Poets Society, and according to the extra features on the DVD, a lot of effort was made to make it accurate, but the relationship between the Julia Roberts Character and the turd that was shagging the students was wholly unrealistic – as if an emancipated woman in the 50s wouldn’t be scandalised by a male teacher sleeping with his students. Total bollocks, which spoiled the rest of the film. Nice idea, but C- must try harder.

Now, what time is it? Ah, 1am, then let me be the first to wish myself a very happy birthday! :o)

Christmas films

no, not the films on the TV – TSP and I always rent a pile of DVDs over Christmas, to catch up on some of the films we’d wanted to see in the year but never got round to going to – I think the last thing we saw at the Cinema was the third Harry Potter film, last christmas!

Anyway, the three films we’ve watched so far are Festival, Wedding Crashers and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

Festival was one I’d wanted to see when I first heard about it – a film set at the Edinburgh festival, so one I thought I’d recognise lots in. Then it won best comedy film at the Comedy Awards last month, so we got it on DVD. It’s a good film. Pretty bleak in places, and the picture in paints of the comedy world at the festival is a grim one – I certainly didn’t encounter anyone who was quite that competitive, obsessed or insane… maybe it’s that the kinds of acts that get booked into the C-Venues venues are a bit closer to the artsy/lovies crowd that are represented in the film by the girl doing the one woman show and the Canadian drama company – their edinburgh certainly looked a little more familiar. Still, it was an enjoyable film.

Wedding Crashers – the plot held no attraction at all, but I do like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson so assumed it’d be good. And it is! Morally reprehensible, but lots of fun, a fantastic web of deceit and some slapstick moments. Owen Wilson was fab as always. Hollywood nonsense, yes, but very entertaining hollywood nonsense.

And the Hitchhiker’s Guide – the TV series is one of my all-time favourite TV series, perfectly acted and scripted, and all the visualisations have become so iconic for anyone who watched it, that it was going to be tough to see it a) reinterpreted, and b) compressed into the length of the film. That said, it was really well done – the casting was excellent, and the references to the original were really nicely done – the original Marvin appearing in the queue on Vogsphere, the original Arthur Dent giving the ‘away message’ on Magrathia. All in all, a very enjoyable film. And all three make it into my list of favourite films of the year, just by virtue of me having seen so few new films this year!


ah, now I remember what I was going to talk about WRT Springer the Opera!

It’s the news story that Woolworths and Sainsbury’s have refused to stock the DVD. How ridiculous is this?? Both shops have no ethical trading policy that I’m aware of, and as Stewart Lee pointed out on the radio, both will receive far more calls to stop stocking Nestle or Proctor And Gamble products, but won’t do that because that’s about money. It’s a marketing balls-up, and just highlights the double standards of the big chainstores…

However, what it will also do is give a whole load of publicity to the DVD release of the show. After the loons at Christian Voice protested the stage show, attendance went up, when they complained about the TV show, it broke broadcasting records, hopefully the same will happen with the DVD…

When will these minority interest groups get their heads around the notion that picketing and complaining about stuff just gives it publicity. The same thing happened with ‘the Last Temptation of Christ’ – not, I’m told, a particularly good film, but a box office smash thanks to a bunch of well meaning complainers who made it a front page news item when it came out.

Right, so my next album is going to be called ‘all religions can kiss my arse… and atheists can piss off as well.’ With track title targeting each of them in turn. Hopefully I’ll get banned and sell a million.

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