I Don't Know What You Did Last Summer

right, I’m getting complaints that I haven’t done any top 5s for a while… so, in the spirit of the pathetic suppliment that came with this month’s Q magazine entitled ‘things to do this summer’ or something like that (that included stuff like dressing up as famous people and ‘buy these trainers’ – yeah, right….), I shall give you my alternative top 5 things to do this summer…

  • spend as much time as you can outdoors, but don’t get sunburnt.
  • go and see at least one gig a month by an artist you’ve never heard
  • read. lots.
  • If you’re going to go to festival, ignore all the crappy ones listed in Q that involve having your tent stolen and getting showered with piss whilst watching soem bunch of half-assed stoned clothes-horses play poorly, and instead, go to greenbelt
  • watch all the cartoons at www.homestarrunner.com.

a much better way to spend your time.

And if you want something to do now, email 3 friends telling them about the new MP3 on this site, and suggesting that they check it out before buying all of my CDs… ;o)

Soundtrack – today, it’s been King’s X, ‘Black Like Sunday’ – new album, got it through the post this morning. v. good indeed.

Right my saaaan, you're nicked!!!!

My what an eventful last 48 hours I’ve had.

Wednesday evening, after spending a lot of the day on Wednesday practicing, I went off into central London to meet up with Evil Harv, as he was in town for a Greenbelt festival planning meeting. Got there, meeting was overrunning, so I sat in (strange feeling, as I was on the plannin group for the last three years…). When it had ended it was too late to go to a gig as we’d planned, but instead went off for a coffee, with Jude as well… So far so uneventful.

Heading back to the car, Jude and I see two of her majesty’s constabulary officers standing next to my car writing stuff… mmm, I was certainly legally parked, so initially assumed they were just making routine notes, what with the heightened threat of terrorism or whatever… sadly, I was wrong. I was in fact FIVE MONTHS OUT OF DATE on my car tax – steve, dear boy, you’ve taken absent-mindedness to a whole new level. How can I have not seen that for 5 months?? Anyway, was obviously very polite to the lovely officers doing their job – I was clearly in the wrong, so just chatted nicely with them while they took all the details, confirmed my address, date of birth, height (??), and all that jazz, had a bit of a laugh with them, and they then said they were letting me off the ticket they could have issued!! How nice is that?? ..I would however, still face a

Weapon Of Mouse Destruction

Just been up to see my mum for a few days – very nice it was too. My mum’s cat is called Gizmo. Well, technically, he’s my brother’s cat, but he’s moved out, and the cat stayed… anyway, Gizzy is the cutest friendliest cuddliest little beasty on the planet… so long as you’re human. If you happen to be any kind of warm blooded furry or feathered thing, and smaller than a tiger, she views you as potential dinner. Mice, rats, voles, moles, rabbits, hares, pheasants, and all manner of garden birds. She’s lethal. A one-feline environmental disaster area. How can one so seemingly cute be such a cold-blooded killer?? Guess the various smiling faces telling us about how they plan to rid the world of evil, whilst perpetrating muchos evil of their own have been taking lessons… Indeed, she’s a veritable Weapon Of Mouse Destruction…

(BTW, Tonight there’s a round-the-world candle-lit vigil for Peace, called for by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Check and see if a church near you is involved and head along there…)

Anyway, whilst in Berwick, managed to catch up with Heath – first known as ‘the boy next door’ when we first moved to Berwick (1986), soon became the drummer in the first band I was in (called various things, I think Mother’s Legs was the longest lasting name, though we never did a gig.) Heath then went to the same college as me, and now works in a theatre just north of London. He’s a very nice bloke, and it was a lovely surprise that he was ‘home’ at the same time as me…

Got a couple of days in the studio this week, with Chris Bowater (gospel singer/worship leader guy from Lincoln that I used to do loads of gigs with) – very much looking forward to that. Playing with Chris was always a fun challenge – he’s got an amazing sense of harmony, and is a great piano player. Other than that, it’s lots of teaching, and getting to grips with Fruity Loops – been programming drum beats, and learning how to automate effects changes and mutes etc… all good stuff…

Hang on, forgot to mention rather fabulous and eventful gig last Tuesday night – I was playing at Delicattesen in Reading (see link on left hand side), with Julie Lee (who I played at Greenbelt with last year), and with Pierce Pettis (who I’d not played with before, but who is marvellous) – I was only doing a couple of songs with each of them… That all went well, but half way through Pierce’s set, some poor bloke collapsed, fell off his chair and had a fit! Didn’t look like Epilepsy, and he came out of it pretty quick. We sat him up, and tried to talk to him, but he was still pretty out of it, and couldn’t stand up to leave the room. So we called an ambulance which arrived in LESS THAN A MINUTE!!! – you can say what you want about the national health service, but that’s what I call speedy response!! They took him in for observation, but the medics said he was in no immediate danger. Anyway, if by some quirk of fate you’re reading this, Mr-Looks-Like-Kenny-Rogers-And-Falls-Over-At-Gigs, I hope you’re feeling much better…

Aside from that it was a stunning night’s music – same line up as the 12 Bar Club gig the week before – Julie and Pierce, with Brian Houston on before them. All three are seriously world-class headline act stock, and if you get any chance at all to see them, jump at it!

One of the best things about the evening was Pierce’s between song banter, which is excellent – very very funny indeed.

so here’s my top 5 banterers (in no particular order)

  • Pierce Pettis
  • Michael Manring
  • Ben Castle
  • Martyn Joseph
  • Mo Foster

In fact, Mo’s stories are so good, he’s written a book – 17 Watts – full of his marvellous rock ‘n’ roll anecdotes, which is required reading for anyone with an interest in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll in the UK, and the growth of the music industry here through the 60s and 70s…

Soundtrack – currently, listening to more of the stuff by me and theo (hopefully the street-teamers will have some of this to listen to soon…), and whilst away, the soundtrack was Michael Franti – ‘Songs From The Front Porch’, Scritti Politti – ‘Cupid and Psyche’, Francis Dunnery ‘Man’, Lifehouse ‘Stanley Climbfall’, ‘Pierce Pettis ‘Everything Matters’ and ‘Making Light Of It’, and Juliet Turner – ‘Burn The Black Suit’ – all very fine stuff. The drive home from Berwick was mostly soundtracked by Radio 4 (always fun to learn new stuff just by sticking the radio on – doesn’t happen too often with the TV), and then a documentary about Elvis Costello, ensuring that sometime this evening ‘Armed Forces’ will go on…

More news on the aged feline…

Well, no more fits or seizures thus far from the little fella, and we’re taking him to the vets tomorrow morning… finger’s crossed he’ll be fine.

I’m my official capacity as his administrative assistant, I’ve been tending to his material needs – following him around with bowls of food, administering snuggles when required… He seems to be rather happy with the situation, though I need to talk to him about a pay rise…

Last night I went to the Kashmir Klub – the best acoustic music venue in London. Tony Moore who runs it has done more for live music in London in the last few years than just about anyone, and the quality is usually pretty high… Last night, the attraction for us (me, James from Deli, Si and Heli Jones) was Cathy Burton, who went down a storm at Greenbelt this year. She was pretty good. I do wish that more acoustic singer/songwriters would give some thought to the arrangements of their guitar playing – why do so many people seem to be happy with just strumming obvious chord shapes all the time??? It’s like band-in-a-box in terms of the inventiveness factor. It doesn’t take much to make the guitar part sound like it’s meant to be there, rather than just being there for something to do with your hands. Listen to Martyn Joseph or Bruce Cockburn, or Jonatha Brooke and you hear some masterful guitar work that can only add to the impact of the song. So often, fine songs are delivered in a rather limp way due to the unimaginative arranging…

anyway, rant over…

Today has been a teaching/admin (on behalf of me and aged felin) and blobbing day – neuralgia attack last night is only just wearing off (nasty pain down the left side of my head and face) after taking lots of vit B12…

Also, I registered a couple of new domain names for this site – www.stevelawson.net and www.steve-lawson.com – just in case people either a) don’t know what .co.uk means, or b) type the wrong thing into their machine (I can’t get stevelawson.com, as that belongs to a man with a big hammer who sells houses…)

Teaching again at 7 tonight.

Soundtrack – listening to ‘Not Dancing…’ a lot over the last couple of days, and enjoying it immensly I’m pleased to say. Also had Living Colour’s ‘Biscuits EP’ on in the car last night – must be 7 years at least since I last heard that. Very fine it was too.

Link 182

First up, a couple of sites you might want to have a look at, if you’re wanting to kill some time before doing all those things you really ought to be getting on with…

Fly The Copter – is a java game, and is rather addictive…

world’s dullest blog – you thought you were already reading it. Think again.

While we’re on the subject of ‘blogs, check out George and Gemini’s cat-blog at catchat.org – marvellous stuff!

Pacman – Ben Castle’s website, aside from having all the musical info you need about the man (which you really ought to check out), also has a java version of PacMan on it…!

What’s been happening? Well, The Aged Feline had another fit/seizure at 2.30 this morning. It’s really really traumatic to watch, as he seems to be in such pain – we’ve got a vets appt. for tomorrow, and I spoke to the vet yesterday, who said that it’s probably either blood pressure related, or to do with oxygen startvation… either way, it’s pretty worrying, and really distressing to watch, knowing that all you can do is cuddle him until it goes away (following him being sick and crapping everywhere)… weird thing is, he seems fine about an hour later… Still, I’ll be keeping a close eye on him today, checking in on him during the day… I’m hoping he’ll come and sleep down here in the office, in front of a toasty warm fire… we’ll see… I’ll have to tempt him with some quorn or red pepper (fave aged feline snacks…)

Last night was the Last Orders Christmas Curry – which was great, and all the more remarkable as Last Orders doesn’t really exist any more, and I haven’t really been involved since August 2001… It was, in its heyday, the rather groovy late night cabaret/music/comedy/nonsense show at Greenbelt, headed up by top comedy writer James Cary (Jam). Last night was me, evil harv, Jam, Jude and Andy Turner. A fine evening was had by all…

Latest news seems to be that the PPP/PFI/Part privatisation of the tube is going to cost a heck of a lot more than leaving it in the public sector… no shit, sherlock! really? what a surpirse, considering all the other PPP schemes have ended costing the government shedloads of cash for shoddy end results. Good lord, has it taken them this long to realise what a total balls up the whole PPP thing is???? Just visit any PPP hospital, and see the fine wallpaper in rooms with too few beds, and lifts that won’t fit a bed in… Why did we vote for these fools??? New Labour, Old Tory… Go on, give the Lib-Dems a go next time, I dare you…

US tour dates for January are coming along nicely – another one confirmed for San Luis Obispo this morning… I have fairly unfavourable memories of SLO from my last visit there, namely because I went through it on my way from Sacramento to Big Sur!!!! (a detour of about 250 miles!!) having been told to head down 5 to Highway 1, but not realising that I was looking for a road to connect the two, not actually the point where they met (over a hundred miles south of where I needed to me..) – I was very late for the gig, which turned out to be fine after all, but did leave me with a bit of a stigma attached to the name ‘San Luis Obispo’… :o)

Soundtrack – yesterday, was listening to Squarepusher ‘Go Plastic’, crazy drum ‘n’ bass insanity – Tom Jenkinson AKA Squarepusher is a fab bassist, although there’s no live bass on this album at all… great stuff. Since then, been listening to Drastic Measures by Michael Manring – his first ‘great’ album (his first two albums have got some fine music on them, but this is where his ‘voice’ emmerged, beautifully produced by Steve Rodby) – a very very inspiring album, which I spent some time last night playing along with…

In the car last night I put on ‘Steve McQueen’ by Prefab Sprout – which is always a bad move, as it means nothing else will get a look-in for weeks. What an unbelieveably perfect album in every way imagineable!!! Great songs, great lyrics, fantastic production (Thomas Dolby), remarkable sounds and arrangements. All round magic. I’m planning on doing a coupe of solo arrangements of tunes from the CD… who knows it they’ll work… Maybe I should do an all-covers CD… :o) Any suggestions for things I should do? feel free to email them, or post them to the website guestbook (Evil Harv, control yourself…)

The rest of today? some playing, some accounting, meeting Simon Jones for lunch (nice man), and er, that’s it.

Oh, nasty news from this morning – a woman tripped over outside the house and broke her nose!! Blood everywhere, I got a knock on the door asking for frozen peas, which I fetched, along with a chair for the woman to sit on before the ambulance arrived. Poor thing, hope she’s OK…

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.

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.

Long Distance Runaround…

Well, what an eventful evening…

Yesterday afternoon went well – met up with Jam-comedy-bloke for coffee,
all well and good, got tube out to Wembley to meet the evil one, fine. Queued
up for g’list tickets… ‘your name’s not down, you’re not getting in’… bugger.
Forgotten, but not gone.

Quick call to Jude – Radio 1 producer chum, Greenbelt planning group person
and Moby stalker. No probs says Jude, two spare tix… excellent, when do
you get here… an hour later, having missed Lamb, Jude and Aussie-Liz
arrive with said tix. Evil Harv and Grateful me accompany them into gig.

The gig itself was certainly, as the mighty Ron Atkinson might say, a game
of two halves – first half didn’t engage me at all on any level, heavily
sequenced, very little that looked like live playing at all etc. etc… second
half rather different, sounded more live, looked more live, better choice
of tunes. We’re All Made Of Stars given the full on pop magic workout that
the single really needed. It is a very fine song indeed. There’s even a
bizarre Moby-does-the-big-guitar-playout-from-All-I-Want-Is-You moment
– U2 song segments? shurely shum mishtake?

Anyway, all in all, a lot better than last time I saw him play (and RJ the DJ
on decks was outstanding)

So now to blag backstage. I wasn’t wearing the ‘walk anywhere coat’ –
long black fake fur number that says ‘I’m either famous or a dick-head’,
and fortunately nobody realises that my sartorial faux-pas is due to the
latter rather than the former…

Small blue furry jacket (from the L42 tour) does get lots of ‘am I meant
to recognise him?’ looks (see reasoning above), but doesn’t bestow
walk-anywhere status on its wearer. Clearly it does however reach level
2 ‘stand anywhere coat’ – we’re waiting by the door to the aftershow long
after all other waifs and strays have been ushered out…

Jude manages to wangle VIP pass, goes and gets stickies for EH and me,
back to aftershow party. Unual aftershow nonsense, though low celeb
count (only Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and Morwenna Banks are in
evidence)…

about 45 minutes later, Greta arrives, finally, appologising profusely
and offering champagne… lovely to see her, much chatting/catching up
ensues. The aftershow becomes the after-aftershow, and since mum had
already arrived home, Evil-Gear-Monkey and I beat a hasty retreat,
stopping to say hi to Tony-The-Bus-Driver on the way, who had hotfooted
it from driving the Level 42 band bus to ferrying Lamb around the country
(that’s the band Lamb, rather than him taking a job with a meat-hauliers…)

home, bed 2am. Greta owes me one… :o)

Soundtrack – on the tube yesterday, I was listening to my sets from
the Albert Hall, Plymouth and Folkstone on the L42 tour, for possible
web-inclusion. much good stuff to be gleaned. This morning, I’ve been
listening to Huron Street by Don Ross (follow up to Passion Session, very
nice), and Larks Tongues In Aspic by King Crimson fines stuff. Oh, and
yesterday morning I was listening to Michael Franti Live At the Baobab –
marvellous performance poety/accapella rap/hip hop/political polemic,
life affirming stuff!