Spoke too soon…

While tidying up today (more on that in a later blog) I found a load of copies of Grace and Gratitude! Yay!!

So it’s back being orderable from the shop, if you want a copy. Or, let’s make this easy, you can just click the ordering button here and get it for just £9 inc. worldwide P+P!





Grace And Gratitude Sold Out!

Grace And Gratitude is, I think, sold out on CD. I’ll have a look and see if I can find any more copies, but at the moment, it looks like the ones I’ve just put in envelopes to send out to people who’ve ordered them are the last ones I’ve got! How bizarre… I’m sure I’ll find a load of copies under someone’s bed somewhere in the world at some point, and be able to sell those on, but for now, I’ve taken it down from the online shop.

Of course, it’s still available as a download, and also from iTunes, should you want it! And hopefully I’ll repress soon enough – I like it too much not to have it available on CD. Oh, there are probably a couple of copies available via Cd Baby if you want one…

All four solo albums up on iTunes

Finally, I’ve succumbed to the digital revolution and all of my four solo albums are now available on itunes. The following links work if you’ve got itunes already installed on your computer –

this goes to my artist page there, with links to all four album downloads

And Nothing But The Bass
Not Dancing For Chicken
Grace And Gratitude
Behind Every Word

I also found a handful of copies of And Nothing But The Bass on CD while I was in the US – if you want one of those, email me and we’ll sort it out. They are £10 each including worldwide P+P.

Review on iTunes…

Just got my first review posted on iTunes since the albums went up there last week –

“For anyone who is skeptical about the solo bass genre, this album is a fine example of a bassist who gets it right. Rather than simply riffing or playing fast and high, Lawson approaches the genre as a composer first, and this is what makes this work so satisfying to listen to. Highly recommended. 5 stars.”

Which is nice! If you’re an iTunes user, why not go and post a review yourself? In your iTunes program, click on ‘store’ do a search on ‘Steve Lawson’ and then click on either Grace and Gratitude or Behind Every Word, and post lovely things about them, please! It’d be a most satisfactory christmas present… ;o)

When a gig takes you by surprise…

A few months back, I did a gig at a venue called ‘The Loft’ in Crouch End – I was booked to open for a band featuring Rowland Sutherland, and the gig turned out to be a really really lovely house concert, put on by a woman called Jenni Roditi – the audience were warm and friendly, the atmosphere one of acute listening, and it was an all round positive experience.

So when Jenni emailed round a circular letter a couple of weeks back, asking for people who were interested to play at an ‘open salon’ night, I thought it sounded like fun. The theme was ‘blank canvas’ and the last gig had been a positive experience, so why not.

As it turns out, tonight’s gig was one of the best night’s music I’ve heard in ages – about 10 acts performed all in, ranging from singer/songwriters to story-tellers, instrument builders demonstrating their amazing inventions to arias by Gluck. And, of course, solo bassists. :o)

A quick run down of what was on, if I can remember it all…!

Stella Dickenson started off demonstrating and talking about her wooden Sounding Bowl with strings – looks like a fruit bowl with strings attached, is actually a remarkably resonant instrument, that apparently works incredibly well in therapeutic settings. Fascinating stuff.

Sarah Warwick: singer/songwriter (former dance-chart-topping singer) – really really beautiful song and beautiful voice.

Jarmila Xymena Gorna: wordless singing, gorgeous piano playing, some lovely pre-recorded harmonies. Great stuff.

Fran Zipang: story from ancient Iraq – really great to hear a damn good story-teller, it’s easy to forget what a fantastic performance art story-telling is.

Mohini Chatlani: Mezzo Soprano, on show tune, one aria by Gluck – particularly liked the show tune (can’t remember the name of it now!) but both really well done.

Belinda Braggins: possibly the most nervous performer I’ve seen in years, but a writer of really really great solo piano music. A couple of things where she comped chords with her right hand, and all the melody stuff was happening in the bass, so we like that!

Bheki Mseleku: South African legend of spiritual jazz piano, apparently – lots of people there had heard of him, and he was very good.

then food and chats with all sorts of delightful people.

Second set –

Malka Rosenberg: singer/songwriter with a voice a lot like Julia Fordham – really beautiful song. Apparently this was her first ever gig, which, if true, was without a doubt the best debut performance I’ve ever witnessed. really great stuff.

James D’Angelo: Blue Monk variations, deconstructed and mashed up. Very good, very funny, very clever.

Jenni Roditi: our amazing host, performing extracts from her opera The Descent of Inanna. Somehow Jenni has managed to channel the harmony of ‘Lame Lies Down…’ era Genesis and ‘Once Around The World’-era It Bites into an opera, without ever hearing either band. Really great writing.

And then me, on last – because the theme was blank canvas, I just took my headrush pedal along, and my fretless, and started out with an improv piece, based on a similar idea to ‘chance’ off of ‘And Nothing But The Bass’, but with a much shorter loop (if you want to overdub on the headrush, you’ve got a maximum of 11 seconds…) – which came out really well. I then did What A Wonderful World, and got people to sing along, and finished off with Grace And Gratitude. I was then really shocked by the demand for CDs – i’d only taken 10 or so with me, but sold all the solo ones I had in about a minute, and only came home with one copy of Conversations. Everything else went. An amazing gig, perhaps it was the inspiration of so much other amazing music, and the great atmosphere that Jenni creates that did it.

Hat’s off to Jenni for hosting such a great gig – it’s a strong reflection of her personality (I guess in a similar way to how the Recycle Collective reflects mine), and she’s built up a fantastic audience and vibe for these gigs. Long may it continue!

Euroblog #932

Home stretch! I’m on the train from Nijmegen to Rosendaal in Holland, having played in Kleve in Germany last night. The Kleve experience was one I won’t forget for a while…

So yesterday morning, the morning after European Bass Day, had breakfast with all the bass peoples who were at Bass Day, in the hotel, then got a lift down to Krefeld Haupt BanHof, (that’s train station to you), and got the train to Kleve. For some stupid reason I’d left it til that morning to email the owner of the theatre I was playing in, but I sent him my phone number and the email address that goes straight to my phone, and thought that the worst case scenario was that I’d end up meeting him at the venue when he got there to set up. I had the map from the venue website to be able to find the place, and was happy to have a look round Kleve and check into a hotel in the afternoon.

I get to Kleve, find a town map outside the station, and set off in the direction of the venue. I walk for about 5 minutes and a car pulls up alongside and asks me in German if I want any help. I answer in English, and the driver then guesses that I’m doing the concert at the theatre, as she’d read about it in the paper that morning (a very good sign), it turns out she knows the guy who owns it and his family, and offers to give me a lift first to the theatre, and then to the house of the owner when there’s no-one there! As a general rule, I don’t advise getting into stranger’s cars, but Oopie (I’m assuming that’s how it’s spelt) clearly did know the theatre people, and the Serendipity of the situation seemed way too go to pass up… Thank God for slightly nuts people in small-town Germany who are willing to stop and help lost looking musicians!

So we go the house of the theatre owner, Wolfgang, he’s not there, but his family take v. good care of me, speak excellent english, and prove to be utterly delightful, interesting, funny and wonderful people – just the kind of people that would make all of this worthwhile even if I didn’t enjoy the music. That I get to play music I love and meet people like this makes me a most happy and lucky bunny.

Wolfgang arrives, matches his family for friendliness and all-round wonderfulness, and we head down to the venue – xox theatre (xox is actually a word, not just X O X, which I thought it was… xox, pronounced like ‘socks’ with an x in front, was a biscuit manufacturer, and the theatre is on the top floor of the old converted factory.) It’s a gorgeous little theatre, with great lighting and 99 raked seats. Just perfect for a StevieGig.

The house PA proves most satisfactory, and I set up and soundcheck with tonnes of time to spare, and meet Theo from MySpace, the guy who set all this up in the first place.

The gig itself was pretty small (the big problem with being on the road is that’s pretty tough to keep track of all the promo stuff for each gig, and make sure everyone has everything they need), but the people there were hugely generous in their appreciation for the music, I sold a lot of CDs (on this tour I sold out of all the copies of both Behind Every Word and Grace And Gratitude that I bought with me, and have only a couple of the other two left each!), and met a whole host of utterly delightful people. Is there anyone horrible in Kleve, or are you interviewed to measure you general niceness level before moving in? All in, one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve had in a long time, and the theatre want to book me again early next year and do it again with a bigger build-up. What fun!

So I’m back on the train, heading home, via Brussels and the Eurostar, looking forward to a couple of days off before my gig in Wales on Friday. Time to regroup, send out the CD orders that have come in online while I’ve been on tour, sleep A LOT catch up on all the teaching-related email that I’ve neglected, and generally relax.

But, barring some kind of utter disaster today, this training-it round Europe thing is definitely the way to go. Book a month of gigs at a time, fill in off-nights with as much fun as possible, the more gigs you do, the cheaper the travel works out per-gig, you can play in Italy one night and Portugal the next , and all it’ll cost you is the food on the train and a cheap hotel if you don’t have someone to stay with… I can’t understand why the trains of Europe aren’t chock full of musicians on tour!

So who wants to help book a gig in Europe in March? :o)

Euro Blog 3

So, saturday and we’re onto the EuroBassDay – Verona is a city I’ve visited a few times before, and the organiser of the Bass Day, Giambattista Zerpalloni is an old friend. I get to the venue, and run into lots of Italian friends from prevous visits, and Oteil Burbridge, who I’ve met a few times at NAMM shows, and always got on very well with.

I check in at the hotel (which is miles away from the venue, but nice), and then go back and get ready to play. First up is a half hour Looperlative demo in the main concert hall (the venue is the Palazzio Della Grande Guarda, right in the main square in Verona – a stunning location for a Bass Day!) which goes very well. the LP1 once again behaves itself, proving that it’s fixed, and the response is v. positive.

After that, it’s time to just relax. I head off out to get away from the noise of bass, run into Oteil and his lovely wife at a restaurant in the square, and have dinner with them. A hugely enjoyable meal that set the tone for the rest of the weekend – playing a bit of bass punctuated by hours and hours of hanging out with totally wonderful people.

The rest of the american contingent are Epifani endorsers – Oteil, Andrew Gauche (gospel bass legend), Lincoln Goines (stunning Latin groovemeister and lovely fretless player), Dominique DiPiazza (French solo bassist, possessed of the most terrifying flamenco skillz I’ve ever seen on bass), Nic Epifani and Joey Lauricella from Epifani and Fodera. It’d be tough to find more enjoyable company at a bass day. Hours and hours of hanging out, chatting, joking, and occasionally playing. We get back to the hotel at past 2am, and crash.

Day two of bass day, and I’m on earlier – 2.15 – and it’s a 45 minute set. Oteil agrees to come and play a duet, and in the middle of a gig that also features Grace And Gratitude, MMFSOG, Nobody Wins, Scott Peck, Deeper Still and What A Wonderful World, we do an extended improv thing that just blew my mind. Really really lovely RecycleMusic at a bass day. Totally delicious (I really want to get hold of the video of it!)

After that it’s escape time again, and this time, Oteil’s wife Barri and I head out shopping, me being the honourary girl of the group, so deemed acceptable as shoe and handbag shopping partner. I also prove to be an expert haggler and berry gets get a 45€ bag for €15.

Out for dinner with the whole Epifani crowd again for more fun and japes, and back for the final gig, which goes on far too long, features a few stunning moments (musical hero of the weekend is a harmonica player living in Holland called Tollak who really does have a musical midas touch), and ends with a fairly loose and messy 8-bass cover of Big Bottom, all of us taking solos. Dominique wisely hides and sits this one out. Fun, but hardly a stunning musical finale to the weekend.

Bass Days are a weird thing – on the one hand, there are occasional moments of great music, and some fantastic people (even moreso at this one than usual), but there’s also an awful lot of slapping and tapping and overplaying and noisy nastiness. On balance, I really enjoy it, but I could happily go another year without hearing anymore slapped or tapped demi-semi-quavers.

Another late night, and we’re up to now, sat in my hotel on Monday morning, about to go and spend the day in Verona with Oteil and Barri. Yay for the touring life!

Croydon gig

Just back from a lovely little gig in Croydon, at the Freedom Of Expression night down there. Modeled on quality acoustic nights like the Kashmir and The Bedford, Tim Eveleigh has put together a great little gig down there.

I say ‘down there’ – Croydon’s a hell of a long way away! I’m sure I saw signs just before I got there saying ‘you are now entering Mordor – heyre be dragons’ – I felt like Reapacheep in Voyage Of The DawnTreader, getting into my little boat and sailing off to the end of the world…

Anyway. The line up was fab, but the audience was even better – especially one completely nuts woman who spent her entire time there shouting in a really loud and shrill voice at her brow-beaten broken-looking husband. Oh, and at anyone who suggested she might keep her voice down during the music. A total disaster that just screamed ‘mail order bride’ – came across as one of the most obnoxious people I’ve ever seen, but had sadly left before I went on, or we’d have had some fun.

As it was, I realised just before I went on that I’d forgotten the power supply for the Looperlative!! Oh bugger. Not good at all. There goes all the tunes off the new album that I was planning to do.

Fortunately, help came in the form of the lovely Cara Winter, who had been using a DL4 for some excellent vocal loopage in her set, and offered to lend it to me. Yay! It’s a hell of a long time since I last did a gig with a DL4, that’s for sure! But it meant I could do Grace And Gratitude, Amo Amatis Amare, an improv groovy thing call ‘Mail Order Bride’, and in between I did What A Wonderful World, Deep Deep Down (the Eric Roche tune) and Deeper Still. All in all, not a bad set, which was very well received, even by the mad drunk bloke who kept giving me quite positive heckles, but didn’t seem to mind me just referring to him as ‘nutter’.

So, a fab gig – if you live in Mordor, (or even Morden) do check out Freedom Of Expression – it’s every Tuesday night, and I’m bound to be back down there soon…