Talking 'bout a Resolution

(sounds like a whisper)

It’s that time of year again, when we realise that we kept very few of our resolutions from last year (though I did set myself one goal of doing 30 solo gigs, and I did over 60, so that was good… :o)

anyway for this year, here’s a few muddled up ideas for what I’m planning/aiming for/wishing for/etc.

  • read more (and therefor, travel more on the tube, as that’s where I get most of my reading done
  • eat more vegan food (should be easy as the small person is on a dairy free diet at the moment anyway…)
  • cook more (I’m on a roll at the moment, so need to keep it up)
  • keep office tidy (yeah, right – need to get it tidy in the first place. Having said that, made a start today on my desk… it’s getting there)
  • practice more (bass that is, not medicine or law or anything – at the end of the two tours with Level 42 and the Schizoid band, my playing was probably the best it’s ever been, need to work on maintaining that…)
  • spend less time just mucking about on line (opening the chat room at thedudepit.com hasn’t helped…)
  • get my tax sorted out, and then stay on top of it (fairly short term aim, but it needs to be done in the next few days!)
  • do at least 50 solo gigs (with 20 or so already booked, this one shouldn’t be too tricky to acheive…)
  • release another duo CD (plans are already afoot)
  • start work on at least one book (either method, theory, looping concepts or general musical-based musings… still haven’t decided – suggestions to the usual address…)

So there you go – that’s my year mapped out… a bit.

what are yours?

The Small Person and I had a lovely quiet new year – watched ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ yesterday, and ‘Monsters Inc’ today – both highly recommended, fine fine films. Went for a drive up to Crews Hill today – lots of garden centres there – but the whole world was aparently under about three feet of water – blocked roads ‘n’ everything…

Soundtrack – I’ve spent a lot of time these last couple of days listening to a couple of improv sessions that I did with keyboardist Patrick Wood during the first half of 2002 – one extract from that is now up on the site, as the new version of Highway 1, though I’m not sure it was even called Highway 1 back then… It’s an interesting comparison to listen to it alongside the version on ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’ (which of course, you have already?), and the live version from the Bartok gig that’s also on the MP3 page. Go on, you know you want to…

Other than that, I’ve been listening to ‘Free’ by Peter Chilvers, which is, as it says on the tin a ‘free’ album – you burn a copy, and your only commitment is to make sure you burn two more copies and pass it on! It’s a fascinating experiment in the pure power of exposure – loads of people will have the CD, and hopefully lots of them will go and buy other CDs by Peter (his first solo album ‘He Wrote This’ is excellent, and available from burningshed.com) – there’s been a lot of discussion of late on the whole merits of ‘free’ music, whether it be CDR copying or MP3 downloading. Singer/Songwriter Janis Ian wrote this article for Performing Songwriter magazine last year, and it’s brilliant – she’s my new hero! Read the article and her follow up – both very good. Then, download the MP3s, and if you like what she’s doing, buy the CDs, and prove it works…

Anyway, what else have I been listening to? oh, Anita Baker ‘Rapture’ – often when I get something out to play to a student during a lesson, it stays in the play for a few days, and this did.

30 somehow…

So here I am, 30 years and two days old. And feeling every bit of those two days over 30…

Anyway, the rest of my birthday was fine – went to a party at Hoda’s in the evening (Hoda = lovely chap who works for Ashdown, throws good parties, and is a top chum), which was great fun, especially as Oroh was there (Oroh = fab bass-playing talkathon, and top chum). I hadn’t seen Oroh in ages, so it was great to be able to catch up.

The rest of the last few days at home has been split between sleeping (I’m heading towards an almost aged-felinesque sleep pattern – today, got up at 1!!), watching episodes of ‘Phoenix Nights’ on video, and sitting up very late watching the current late night trinity of The Office, Buzzcocks and I Love The 80s – all fine viewing, though it does mean we’ve been going to be after 2 each night, and The Small Person is working today… it’s fine for me sleeping in til 1pm, but not when she has to be up at 8…

Anyway, the office tidying has begun, finally – so far that means I’ve put away some CDs, and thrown out a couple of boxes of old flyers from past gigs. Oh, and taken lots of cups to be washed into the kitchen (next jobs – tidy kitchen and check cat tray).

The California gig list is just about complete – promoter-Dan has done the most amazing job on getting all these gigs, in such varied places and with varied lineups. It’s going to be so much fun!

So what’s on for the rest of the week? Some teaching, more tidying, sort out my tax return thingie, arranging the specifics of my trip to the states (accomodation, travel in and around CA, getting money changed up, etc…), and sending out more copies of ‘Not Dancing’ for review and radio – it’s been kind of slow, due to the CD coming out in the middle of the Level 42 tour, but I need to kick it into gear now…

right, off to do some tidying!

Soundtrack – lots more ‘Bright Sized Life’, India Arie ‘Acoustic Soul’, some unreleased Andre LaFosse MP3s (very good indeed), and ‘Southern Hummingbird’ by Tweet (Missy Elliott protege who’s quite good, if a little rude at times!)

What a day for a daydream…

Started the day taking The Aged Feline to the vets. No easy task when the Small Person’s car wouldn’t start… Anyway, got there, Aged Feline is just fine, brought him home, and discovered that he loves beef flavoured cat food more than chicken… obviously tackling whole cows has previously precluded him indulging this little love of his…

After that, was teaching, all fine, and doing some more sorting out of gigs in for California in Jan (or rather, Dan was doing all the work, emailing me to say ‘is that OK’ and I emailed back saying ‘yes, that’s fine, you’re fab’ or words to that effect. (lots more CA dates on the gigs page…)

After that, set about posting info about those dates all over the place, taking time to play the Helicopter game for 10 minutes in between…

Posted off today’s orders, cooked dinner (veggie fajitas – ingredients – 3 onions, one leek, one courgette, one green pepper, large handful of mushrooms, 4 large tomatoes, two fresh chillies, handful of fresh coriander, tumeric, cumin, mild chilli, cayenne pepper, thai spice, tomato puree and quorn pieces. Serve with salsa and plain yoghurt in a flour tortilla… :o) practiced a bit, then found a downloadable version of chuckie egg and had 10 mins playing that… It’s amazing how no matter how good computer game animation gets, Chuckie Egg or Manic Miner, or Horace Goes Skiing will always capture my imagination in a way that Lara Croft or Mortal Kombat never will… I’m so not into computer games, except for nostalgia… :o)

anyway, time for bed

Soundtrack – three CDs today, Moby ’18’ (first time I heard this I thought it was a bag of poo. Giving it a second listen, it’s much better. Played it three times today), Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ – fished this out to do a couple of the tunes with a student yesterday – recently voted best album of all time in Q. Well, that’s bollocks, but it is rather good. And finally, Lewis Taylor’s first album – a much more realistic proposition for the title of greatest album of all time. Outstanding, marvellous, cantsayenoughgoodthingsaboutit. Get it, if you haven’t already. It’s a masterpiece. He’s got a new one out, I’ve not got yet. Must investigate.

Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Men…

…aft gan aglay… and that’s two nights of serious aglayness in a row! I’m
beginning to think that asking some mice to sort out my gigs for me was
not particularly a good idea…

After blogging yesterday, I went out and spoke to the workman, who said
they’d get the driveway entrance clear by 6… fine, I’ll go with that. Load
up the car, set off in small person’s small-person-car. No petrol. warning
light on. Think ‘oh, I’ll go to the second service station, it near enough’.
Car stalls going up hill… bugger. Restarts fine. Stalls again. twice. get’s to
petrol station, thankfully.

Arrive at St Luke’s, and notice that there’s no space to set up all my stuff…
Ring Justin-the-MD. he arrives back, and says that the – ehem – ‘ambient’
music at the beginning will be some jazz stuff – me, him and some sax
playing friend, playing off some charts from a rather ropey buskers fake
book. Guess I won’t be needing my amp or rack stuff… all of which is now
in my car outside the church (not really the kind of area you want to be
leaving musical equipment in the car in…) Also looks like the rest of the
evening is pretty much planned out… So I leave all the stuff in the car,
play the opening set through the amp that’s there (a really piss poor
sounding Peavey thingie…), and go home again…

Seems like they had a great night, but I’m not about to risk having the
small person’s small-person-transporter trashed and my music gear nicked
for anything…

And I missed out on a good gig in Norwich to be available. What bollocks.

Anyway, today, went to church this morning, which was nice, came home,
and have just spent the last few hours trying to fix the small person’s
iMac, which started doing that folder/?-symbol flashing thing, but then
when I booted it off the startup disk, didn’t even have the hard drive listed
as being on the computer. So it’s shagged, basically… not sure what to do.
Will have to go out and see Greenbelt-Britlinks-James who knows lots about
computers cos he’s dead clever, and see if he knows what to do…
Meanwhile small person will be working on this machine… See, more
plans gan algay – maybe she should stop letting mice plan the servicing of
her computer…

Soundtrack – me and Jez, David Sylvian’s ‘Secrets Of The Beehive’
(featuring the magical Danny Thompson on bass and David Torn on guitar),
and also Theo Travis, ‘Heart Of The Sun’ – proof that brits can do
contemporary jazz as well as anyone… quality stuff.

Poll Dancing…

The Evo E-Zine – which I posted about a couple of days ago when they added
a coulple of reviews of my gigs, also has a poll of who their readers would
most like to see interviewed/featured/reviewed – bizarrely enough, as of last
night, I was in third place! If you feel like heading over there and voting for
me, that would be lots of fun! :o) At the moment, I’m just behind Jon Anderson,
and just ahead of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel! Very bizarre…

Currently listening to Mel and Sue on Radio London – the only justification
of celebrity Big Brother is that it’s given them more comedy ammo… Sue
was by far the most interesting person in the house, and is even better
deconstructing it from the outside…

Soundtrack – been listening to King’s X – ‘Manic Moonlight’, Prince
– ‘Sign Of The Times’ and a Nick Harper compilation from Catherine-from-
the-street-team. Also been playing a lot in the last couple of days, so
whenever I get a groovy loop going, I leave it running for half an hour to
get the idea into my head… My new Gibson Echoplex is amazing
– been experimenting with a lot of the extended functions in the software
revision, like some of the quantize functions, different replace/substitute/insert
modes and the double/half speed thing… lots of fun to be had by all! Should
manifest itself in an MP3 or two before christmas…

Not Dancing For Chicken????

This was posted in the old blog format, but I thought I’d
repost it here as you may well have come looking for it now…
Here’s the explanation of where the ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’
album title came from…

Back in about 1992, MC Hammer was attempting a comeback,
and was doing the rounds in the press claiming to be from the
street, down with the kids etc. etc. Meanwhile, he was also
doing ads for KFC, and they were sponsoring the tour. At a
New York press conference it all got too much, and one young
journo asked Hammer what on earth he was doing. Hammer
replied ‘Hey, I’m just dancing for money’, to which the journo
replied ‘No, you’re dancing for chicken’.

Fast forward best part of a decade, and british comedian Mark
Lamarr is doing an interview with London listings magazine,
Time Out, and he recounts the story before explaining that for
him, ‘Dancing For Chicken’ has become the perfect metaphor
for all those corporate gigs that musicians/comedians/actors/etc.
have to do just to pay the bills, and the ones where the money
is so insane that all but the most ethically-minded of performers
will take them (like TV ads for a fast food giant with a dubious
health and safety record…).

At the time the phrase struck a chord with me as the antithesis
of everything that I’m trying to do with my solo career – I haven’t
chased a record deal, I haven’t made a smooth jazz CD in a bid
for radio airplay, I haven’t done a completely ambient recording
in a bid for new age stardom. I just do what I do, and if people
like it, great, if they don’t, fair enough… As it is, the last couple
of months of big tours and great CD sales have been vindication
of this route, but the business plan still stands intact. If it all falls
apart, I need to have music that I’m proud of, that represents
me. So I’ll continue to soundtrack the inside of my head, and
avoid Dancing For Chicken if I can in anyway steer clear of it… :o)

Celebrity Big Brother – nonsense

Just finished watching Celeb Big Brother – what nonsense.
I know, I know – I watched it so I can’t complain… well, I
am kind of fascinated by reality TV… what is it that makes
it interesting? Why do we give a monkeys about 6 celebs
we wouldn’t turn over to watch if they were on anything
else? Sue is the only one of these I ever bother to wathc or
listen to doing anything else (her weekend lunchtime show with
Mel on Radio London is one of the finest things on radio…)

So why did I watch? I guess it’s that continued hope that it’s going
to suddenly become really interesting… like surfing the net way
beyond the point where you’ve exhausted all the things you really
wanted to look at, in the hope that you’ll find something fascinating…
which never happens…

Anyway, changing the subject entirely, this particular blog setup can
allow for a ‘comments’ function, where you blog-stalkers can post
responses to my dull ramblings… a function I’d love to use… if it
wasnt’ for evil harv’s evil schemes, and his total in ability to stop
himself from posting shit, given the chance…

soundtrack – been listening to the Best of Howard Jones
this evening, which brings back fab memories of touring with him
back in 1999, and contains some excellent songs (the definitive
versions, to my ears, of which are on his ‘Live Acoustic America’
CD, which the small person has stolen, so I couldn’t listen to
that just now…)

Also been listening to more of that new Keith Jarrett CD – good stuff.

Just got an email from not-at-all-evil Dann, who is a very fine writer,
who has just posted a couple of reviews of gigs involving me onto the
‘Evo’ site – the first one is of the 21st Century Schizoid Band and me
live in Croydon
, and the second one is of the manring/friesen/lawson gig
at Ocean in Hackney
– both well worth checking out. As is the rest
of the Evo site.