A Saturday doing not much

I so rarely get a saturday off! I’m really relishing this one – it’s nearly 3pm and I’m still not dressed, just sat here faffing about online in my dressing gown. Actually, does uploading gig dates to MySpace.com count as work? If it does, i’ve been working, but it certainly doesn’t feel like work compared to my usual 5/6/7 hours of teaching.

The reason for the day off was that there was a possibility that I was going to be flying out to Verona to play at a bass-day gig there, but it didn’t come off, so I’m here and happy and mellow and enjoying the rest.

Especially as yesterday was a bit of a frantic day flyering (echoes of Edinburgh in that sentence). Headed into town late morning to meet Dweez from the forum for lunch and to give him a big pile of flyers to dish out (gotta love them street-team lovelies!), and then off up Upper Street in Islington putting flyers and posters in all the little cafes along there that have flyer racks and walls devoted to posters for local events. The split between the corporate and the family-run couldn’t be more stark. All those places where decisions are purely made on their financial efficacy wouldn’t be seen dead allowing flyers for events not associated with the brand to be put in them. All the little funky family-owned cafes/bars/restaurants etc. are more than happy to help promote events in their local community. Good peoples, one and all.

After that, it was up to the Gallery in Camden to deliver more posters and flyers, and to see Alex who works there. A fun visit, for sure.

Where else for flyers? Ah, there’s Mole Jazz in King’s Cross. Back on the tube (via my lovely new Oyster Card) and head off to King’s Cross. Who’s this coming towards me carrying more camera equipment than your average hollywood film set? Why, it’s Steve Brown, photographer extraordinaire, and carrier of much photo-gear. Serendipity like this definitely calls for a coffee break. So we head off in search of Mole Jazz, which no long exists and is now a ‘Subway’ sandwich shop, so we find nearby little cafe and stop for lovely chat. It’s coincidences like this that make London special – bumping into your friends when you all live in a village of 30 people isn’t a surprise, it’s just called ‘going outdoors’. In a city of 11 million people, it’s a bit less likely, and therefor to be treasured.

It occurs to me while chatting to Steve that the commuter jazz series at the QEH (where it has transplanted from the RFH while the renovations are taking place) would be a great place to hand out some flyers, as well as to see some of the old RFH commuter jazz peoples. So i head down there, only to discover that it’s not every week, and this is an off-week. Ah well, at least I got to see the new shops ‘n’ cafes development on the Riverside bit of the RFH – it’s lovely, and I’ll have to investigate there further.

So, where next with flyers? Darbucka, of course! Posters and flyers delivered, time to head home. A knackering day, and one that earns me a mellow Saturday, fo shizzle.

Soundtrack – Sam Phillips, ‘Fan Dance’; Renaud Garcia-Fons, ‘Entremundo’; Prefab Sprout, ‘Steve McQueen’.

Me in Bassics magazine

I posted a thing about this on my NewsFeed page a while ago, but I finally got a copy of Bassics Magazine through today, with the interview with me in it. It’s the biggest interview I’ve done in print (there are a couple of big ones on the net with various e-mags), and looks great. The questions were pretty good so it’s well worth a read if you should see a copy in your local newsagent/borders/barnes and noble/wherever you buy mags.

The cover star of the issue is Michael Manring, so it’s a fine solo bass filled issue. There’s also a track of mine on the cover CD, as well as some video footage, which I’m looking forward to seeing again – the Cheat and I filmed it at St Luke’s at the start of the year. We wanted to do it at St Luke’s cos we could do it in front of the big purple curtains in the main church, but the day we booked it they were installing a new PA, so we had to film it in the back hall, which means the backdrop is a yellow-painted brick wall. It looks like I’m filming it in prison! Hopefully my wikkid skillz will obscure any reservations people might have about learning from a convicted felon serving time at her majesty’s pleasure.

I’ve been a busy boy this morning, putting together the press release for the John Peel Day gig with Riseclick here for the PDF. That’s now been mailed to all the relevant media peoples so now we wait for some coverage and a huge crowd!

Soundtrack – Michael Franti and Spearhead, ‘Everyone Deserves Music’.

A very funny man

the downside of being out with the film-taste-challenged foursome last night was that I missed all but the last 10 minutes of Dara O’Briain on Jack Dee’s Live At The Apollo. Now I didn’t know it was a downside until I found myself nearly pissing myself after just 10 minutes of standup. Even in that 10 minutes he was one of the funniest people I’ve seen in a very long time. Now I understand why he pulls such huge crowds at Edinburgh each year. Must head off and try and find a DVD of him…

More fun with last.fm

the more time I spend on the last.fm site, the more I like it. I’ve started posting a series of thoughts on albums I love in the journal section over there. Not strictly reviews (so far I haven’t given a track by track breakdown or anything) – more some stuff about how I discovered it and what it has meant to me.

The first two are Hejira by Joni Mitchell, and Plumb by Jonatha Brooke – both remarkable albums that I came across in interesting circumstances that have stayed part of my aural landscape for a decade or so. I’m listening to Plumb at the moment, and it’s no less wonderful than the day I first bought it.

in other news, last night was a curry night with Sarda, Kari, Matt and Claire – Sarda and Kari being over from the US is always cause for curry, even if Sarda does seem to be in London more now than when he living in Reading… hmmm. Much fun was had by all (and much lovely spicey food), though my opinion of all of them was diminished by them being part of that damaged social grouping comprised of peopl who thought Lost In Translation was any good. Let me clarify, Lost In Translation was shit. Implausible, plotless nonsense. Yes, it was ‘beautifully shot’ but if you want beautiful camera work watch ‘The Blue Planet’ or ‘Secret Life Of Plants’ – thingie Coppola can’t get close to David Attenborough and his team for lovely camera-work, and you don’t have to put up with a load of unbelieveable nonsense about two people with nothing in common meeting in a hotel and suddenly feeling ‘a connection’. No, it’s bollocks, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just wrong.

Now, Matt and Claire, go and get Whale Rider and Team America, and watch some proper films.

SoundtrackJonatha Brooke, ‘Plumb’.

Me in a magazine.

Here you go, there’s an interview with me in the new issue of Bassics magazine – and on the CD there’s a track (shizzle) and a bit of video with me explaining looping and performing a tune (can’t remember what the tune is, maybe Grace and Gratitude). Filming the video was lots of fun – The Cheat acted as video monkey, and did a fine job. I recorded the audio to Minidisc and then chopped up the different video angles to fit the soundtrack. The only problem is that we did it at St Luke’s hoping to be able to use one of the groovy burgandy curtains as a backdrop, but they were installing a new PA in the main bit of the church, so we were through in the back hall, with a yellow brick background that makes it look like I’m in prison… niiice.

SoundtrackMo Foster, ‘live’ (an advanced copy of an upcoming album by Mo – as with everything Mo does, it’s lovely, and of course I’ll report here when it’s released); Cathy Burton, ‘Speed Your Love’ (Cath was singing BVs at Greenbelt for Ricky Ross, and her album is lovely); Julie Lee, ‘Stillhouse Road’ (a fantastic record that I never get tired of hearing).

Italy post no. 8

(written 24/7/05 17.18)

Well, despite starting almost an hour late, my gig went very well, thankfully. Another fabulously receptive Italian crowd, some of whom spoke good enough english to laugh at some of the bollocks I was talking between songs (cut down from the usual 40% of the set to just a short intro to each song).

The challenge was doing an entire set of songs on the fretless, something I haven’t done for a while (not counting the film gig on Friday). So the set list went

Grace And Gratitude
Amo Amatis Amare
Kindness Of Strangers segued into What A Wonderful World
No More Us And Them
Despite My Worst Intentions

Nice long versions of Kindness Of Strangers and No More Us And Them, and more succinct versions of the others. The Seque into What A Wonderful World fits better with the theme of Kindness… than the bastardised version of ‘What’s Going On’ did – will have to feed that back into the set as a stand-alone track, as I do like it, and the fact that very few people ever recognise it. :o)

So now I’m waiting to be involved in a larger ensemble improv, title ‘Jam For Klaus’ – Klaus is a local bassist who was killed in a car accident last year, so everyone is playing a piece together for him. It’s a really nice idea, and I hope it works and doesn’t descend into bass wankery.

Other than that, my work here is done – oh no, I’m lying, I’m doing a little AccuGrooveA/Modulus demo slot later on. The distributors of AccuGroove and Modulus here are lovely peoples, who hopefully I’ll get to work with again some time soon.

Anyway, time to get back to hawking my wares to the receptive CD buying Italian public. We like it here.

Italy post no. 5

(written 23/7/05 14.37)

So I’m now in Bollate, near Milan – today is the clinic day of the Noi Bassisti bass event, with me, Michael Manring, Lorenzo Feliciati …. and others doing clinics. What I always forget is that doing a clinic with a translator means you can only say half as much. The hour flew by, but people seemed to be into it. We’ll see if I get any more feedback as the weekend goes on.

It’s great to see Michael again – after touring with someone as much as Michael and I have, it’s very tempting and easy to slip into your own homegrown language, particularly in a foreign country… …so we’ve succumbed, but are trying to explain the things we’re laughing at to the people around; an occasionally fruitless task given that no-one seems to laugh at the same stuff as us.

The journey from Brescia to Bollate was made very easy by Andrea and Marco from the film gig last night offering to drive me here, and drop me off. The Italians are such lovely people! I’ve not met one I don’t like. Italian audiences have all been very up for new music, and effusive in their feedback, and the promoters have – contrary to the reputation – been fantastic. I like it here!

Still haven’t had a chance to log on for long enough to see what’s going on in the world – given the amount of time I normally spend reading online news and blogs, it feels very odd to be cut off from the net here. I had a chance to log on briefly this morning, which is when I uploaded the other blog posts, but for the most part, I’ve been netless.

Italy post no. 4 – first gig of the trip

(written 23/7/05 1.10)

Well, tonight was probably the hardest solo gig I’ve ever done, but was pretty rewarding for it.

The gig was providing an improvised soundtrack to a silent film from the 20’s called L’Inhumaine, directed by M. L’Herbier – a part surreal/part narrative film that was OVER TWO HOURS LONG!! This last bit I wasn’t told til about an hour before the gig.

The venue was beautiful – a cloistered court yard, with an art exhibition hanging in the cloisters, and chairs laid out in the courtyard facing a huge screen that was projected onto, with me sat in front of it, slightly off to the left, watching the film and reacting to what went on on screen.

There were two major problems that I hadn’t really forseen – the first was not having a light – the organisers had offered me one, but I thought there’d be enough ambient light to see what I was doing. i was wrong. And number two, the bits on the film where words come up on screen to help you follow the story, Harold Lloyd stylee, were in Italian. The film was French, and if the bits between had been french I’d have been fine, as I’d have been able to follow the story a lot more clearly. As it was, it took me quite a while to work out who was who in the story, and who was a good guy and who was a bad guy, and who was just some weirdness thrown in for Avant Garde effect.

As it is, it was a qualified success – the second half was a lot better than the first, as I had worked out what I was doing by then, and started to use the loops in much more sophisticated ways, keeping some loops and fading them in and out as leitmotifs for different bits of the story, I also had stopped trying to add to many literal ideas and near-sound-effects – I tried this a few times, and it was largely a bad idea (worked for a couple of driving scenes, but not so well for crowd noise etc.)

Thankfully, the audience loved it – it got loads of applause, for a v. long time, and lots of lovely compliments afterwards.

The other fun angle on the gig was that about a third of the way through, we started to see lightning in the sky, obviously from a fair way away, but there was always the possibility that it was heading our way. As the film went on, we had the occasional moment of gusty wind, which made the screen flap about, but cooled me down a little.

The actual rain held off until less than a minute after I’d finished – people were still clapping when the first drop of rain hit me, and within another minute from then, the rain was torrential – fortunately, we got my gear under cover before that bit happened. The rain then turned to hail – huge great mint imperial-sized hail stones, accompanied by lightning that lit up the sky like an apocalyptic hollywood special effects team who’d be asked to go really OTT on the lightning.

So all in, a fun, worthwhile evening that was very well appreciated by the lovely Italian crowd (are Italian crowds ever anything less than lovely? I think not.), and a great learning experience for me.

A fine review of Live8

from Alexis Petridis in the Guardian – for a jaded old cynic like Alexis, this is very good indeed.

However, one correction, from the video footage. Alexis wrote –

“Martin leaves the stage with an announcement about the importance of the film that’s about to follow. The video screens immediately show jowly old Duran Duran at the Rome concert. Either there’s been a technical error, or the gravity of the occasion has sent Martin bonkers.”

I’ve just watched the Coldplay set on AOL streamed archive of the gig, and it went from Coldplay to a video about the G8, just as Chris Martin intimated. The Duran clip came after Elton’s duet with Pete Doherty (which wasn’t half as bad as I expected, but maybe I’ve just got low expectations of the hyped-up-talentless-smack-head (that’s Pete, not Elton – Elton’s a pub-singer).

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