Show Me Heaven…

…Maria McKee’s biggest hit by quite a substantial margin, was not in evidence tonight… there can’t be many artists who’ve had world-wide #1 hits that they completely ignore when they play live (does Jeff Beck still play Hi-Ho Silver Lining? probably not…) Anyway, it was a fine gig – Maria’s got one heck of a pair of lungs on her, which can be slightly overpowering at times, but she’s a fine performer – when she straps on a guitar, it’s like seeing Neil Young channelling Maria Calas – huge voice, chaotic squealing guitar. a highly compelling combination.

It’s not often I go to a gig when I only recognise one song that the artist does – in this case it was the title track from ‘Life Is Sweet’, Maria’s mid-90s solo album, which was very fine. Would have liked more Lone Justice stuff (Maria’s pre-‘Days Of Thunder’ band with Bentmont Tench – who was, I think her husband?)

Maria famously wrote ‘A Good Heart’ for Fergal Sharkey, allegedly about the breakup of her marriage. Her ex-hubbie (Bentmont Tench I think, but could be wrong) also wrote a hit for Fergus The Shark, about the same subject matter, called ‘You Little Thief’ – differerent perspectives on the same event…

…I might be wrong about that, and it wouldn’t be the first time this week. On Saturday night at the Kashmir Klub, I managed to successfully confuse singer/songwriter Geoffrey Williams with former Shalamar front man and inventor of Michael Jackson’s BAD-era persona, Geoffrey Daniels… an easy mistake to make… ;o) I just hope that Kathy didn’t go bowling up to him making some bizarre reference to ‘making this a night to remember’ – he might have completely misunderstood where she was coming from!!!!

soundtrack – been listening to some stuff from Andy West’s forthcoming project, fwap, which is very good, and also more of the dum dums.

lots of interesting musical things…

…but first, I must tell you that there are 453 deleted emails in my outlook express right now – I’ve just gone through my inbox, which had near 600 emails in it, and replied to or filed all but 24 of them!! yippee, what a liberating feeling. NOTE TO SELF – must try to stay on top of email from now on…

anyway, music stuff – lots of exciting things. Saturday night was a sad event, the last night of the Kashmir Klub. so I went along with evil harv, sarda and cap’n-birdseye-pirate-ben. we were promised lots of special guests, but no-one was expecting Rick Astley to play. Yup, 80s pop legend, who quit music years ago, was there playing guitar for a friend of his, and was talked into doing a song. So he did ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, just him and an acoustic guitar, and it was GREAT! His voice sounded marvellous, and the song, stripped of the cheesey late 80s SAW production stood up remarkably well, sounding every bit the multi-million seller it was… For an 80s obsessed pop-fiend like myself, it was a real treat. Also in attendance for the evening – Lewis Taylor, Keith Emerson, Kiki Dee, and a few other celebs…

Then Monday night I went round to see BJ Cole – awesome pedal steel player. Pedal Steel is such an evocative sound anyway, but in the hands of someone with BJ’s skill, it soars. We had a bit of a jam, and listened to lots of tunes, and are getting together again next week – how exciting!

And last night was the best of the lot – went to see alex cook singing ‘The Pirates Of Penzance’. Alex is a drummer I toured with for a few years in the mid 80s, and a very good friend, so the thought of him dressed as a pirate singing light opera was too tempting to turn down. Sad thing was, he was actually really really good. Far too good to be funny. I was hoping for classic am-dram silliness – people falling off the stage, kids crying, out of tune oboes. But alas the singers were great, the band very good, the staging excellent. Far too good for an amateur production. Next time, rehearse less!

So tonight, I’m off to see Maria McKee at Shepherd’s Bush Empire with Evil Harv and Radar. Should be lots of fun.

Soundtrack – Prefab Sprout, ‘From Langley Park To Memphis’; Pat Metheny, ‘Imaginary Day’; Marc Johnson, ‘Sound Of Summer Running’; Rain Tree Crow; The Dum Dums, ‘It Goes Without Saying’; Theo Travis, ‘Heart Of The Sun’; Stevie Ray Vaughn, ‘Texas Flood’ and some forthcoming tracks from BJ Cole’s next album, which are fabulous!

Strongbad the good

Ok, if you’re on broadband (and perhaps even if you’re not, I’ve not tried it on dial-up), get thee to www.homestarrunner.com – some very bizarre and surreal cartoons, but totally addictive, especially strongbad’s emails – one of the characters answers emails from the public… Truly brilliant.

What else? Had another gig last night with Tess Garraway and Joss Peach in Brighton, which was fun. Due to a misunderstanding with the venue, it was a shorter gig that had been planned, but was much fun nontheless, especially as I had a line from Tess’ voice into my loop set up, so could layer up loads of vocal stuff…

Yesterday I received a copy of Andrew Buckton’s new album, Rocket Ship, which is marvellous. It was recorded at the tail-end of last year, with me on bass, jez carr on piano and buck on guitar and voice. Tom Hooper then added some drums and percussion. There’s a fair bit of E-bow and looping from me, providing lots of atmospherics, including one tune where I do loads of looping and SFX, while Jez plays the actual bass line (as has been noted before, Jez is not only a mighty fine pianist, but a stellar bassist too…) The album is fantastic. Really great songs, very personal moving lyrics, and I don’t sound bad on it either… 😉

Hopefully it’ll be available online somewhere before too long.

What else has been happening? Ah yes, yesterday before the gig with Tess, I was recording more stuff with Patrick Wood – if you have a look at the MP3s page, you see there’s a duet track with Patrick. He’s very good, very very good, and we get together every few weeks to make a good noise. More mad loopy stuff, as you’d expect. Will no doubt be releasing a duo album with Patrick at some point. Still editing the stuff I’ve recorded with Theo… there really ought to be lots of this stuff online, but at the moment, I maxxed out on my webspace, so really need to change servers before I get to add any more. Was all set to move to a new host when sarda said he was planning to get a server. So now I’m waiting for that…

Anyway, when it finally happens, you’ll get to hear lots of what I’ve been up to.

Oh, and on the subject of me and Theo, we’ve got a gig at the National Theatre in London on Tuesday 17th from 6-7.30pm. And then on the same day at 9pm, Rick Walker – the percussions that I play with in California – has got a solo gig at The Klinker, so it’s a fine evening for music – well worth coming to see us, grabbing some food, and heading over to Rick’s gigs. I’ll be at both, anyway!

Er, what else? ah yes, Matthias Grob came to stay. Who’s Matthias? He’s the inventor the Echoplex, that rather amazing looping tool that I’ve got four of. And a great musician in his own right. And an all round top bloke. We’d arranged to meet for lunch with a friend of his up town, but he was late, so I had a very nice lunch with Jenny at the ICA, and then Matthias turned up at my place a bit later on. We went for curry. and he gave me a copy of his brand new CD, which is coming out on my label! Yup, Matthias is the first non-me Pillow Mountain Records release. How does that work? for someone who doesn’t like record companies… well, he’s using the name. Doing all the leg-work himself, but using the Pillow Mountain name out of recognition for the fact that our music bears a similar meditative quality I guess. The looping connection, and just that he’s a top bloke. I’m sure people who like what I do will like what he does. So he’s on PMR. It’ll all be official soon, and on the website etc…

Soundtrack – right now, it’s Andrew Buckton’s album ‘Rocket Ship’ (see above) which has been on all day. It’s great. you need to get it when it’s available. Yesterday I was listening to the new album from Andy Sheppard and John Parricelli, ‘PS’, which is great – guitar and sax duets, some looping/processing from John. All good. Recommended.

A week in the life of…

…yep, sorry evil harv, I’m just going to write about what I’ve been up to again… ;o)

Main event of the week was another recording session with Theo Travis – I’d invested in a few new studio toys (a pair of powered monitors which make mixing a lot easier, and a new mic for recording flute/percussion etc…) so the session was better than ever, with some rather groovy results. The album’s really coming along – we’ve got loads of recordings to choose from already, but are in no hurry to just release anything. We’ll keep recording until we get a full album of stuff we love with no fillers. It’s slightly different to the way I normally work, in that we’re allowing ourselves to edit some of what we do (on one of the tracks we recorded on Thursday I removed an entire solo that I’d played, cos it was a bit dull…) but what you end up with at any one time is still just the two of us playing and looping in real time, with no additional overdubs… Theo was playing Soprano Sax as well on this session, which added a lot to what we were doing. It is, I guarantee, going to be a stellar album.

Thursday night, Evil Harv, Jimbob (AKA Sarda) and a couple of other chums went down to the Kashmir Klub – possibly London’s most important music venue, in that it costs nowt to get in, no-one gets paid, but the quality of the acts on is (usually) very high, (I played there with Susan Enan once) with occasional high profile people there (Lewis Taylor played there a lot earlier this year, and I’ve seen Nick Kershaw, Imogen Heap, The Dum Dums, Nerina Pallot and Doctor Robert (from the Blow Monkeys) play there). Anyway, Thursday wasn’t a great line up (better than most acoustic nights around, but not really up to The Kashmir’s usual standard) so we went off for coffee instead. The sad news is that the Kashmir is closing, at least for a time – the guy who owns the venue is doing something else with it, and despite them filling it night after night, he’s kicking them out. They are looking for a new venue, but who knows how long that will be. Please visit the website, and if you can sign petitions, write letters or just offer moral support to Tony Moore who’s been running it for 5 years, please do. It’s a great club, he’s a great bloke and London needs it.

Today, Evil Harv and I went to the London Guitar Show, at Wembley Conference Centre. It was fun, though alongside the NAMM show, it feels a little small and parochial. As most of the people there hadn’t been to NAMM, it was fine (I remember loving shows like that when I was a kid), and it was great to catch up with some friends I’d not seen for a while – Nick Beggs was playing on the Bass Guitar Magazine stand, doing his rather fabulous stick thang. It was fun to see the rest of the guys from BGM too. I had a nice chat and a coffee with John East, who makes the U-Retro preamp that I’ve got in my 6 string fretless, and bumped into Svetlana, who used to teach at BassTech, and is now playing bass for Moby! Also saw the Ashdown people, Nick Owen from the Bass Centre, lovely Hoda who now works for SWR and The Bass Centre, and all manner of other people that I only ever see at trade shows!

Another bizarre coincidence – was chatting to Barry Moorhouse from the Bass Centre about wanting to do more support slots. ‘You know who you should support’ says Barry, ‘The 21st Century Schizoid Band!’ – ‘I already have’ says me, and as I’m saying it, up comes Jakko Jakszyk, guitars from the Schizoids. which was a lovely surprise, as I’ve not seen Jakko since I did the tour with the them at the tail end of last year… We caught up on news and then I came home.

soundtrack – yesterday was the St Luke’s May Fayre, so I’ve got the usual haul of CDs, though it’s rather fewer than some years… Right now I’m listening to Lucious Jackson, ‘Fever In Fever Out’, which is rather good. Yesterday it was John McLaughlin, ‘Que Alegria’, which is also rather good, if a little note-heavy in places. Theo leant me a marvellous album – Arild Andersen, ‘The Molde Concert’, feature Bill Frisell on guitar – gonna have to buy that one. And in the car I’ve had Talk Talk, ‘Laughing Stock’ on regular rotation. And of course, in between all that, lots of the duo stuff with Theo…

two weeks of theatre, gigs and puke…

Blimey – it’s ages since I last got to write anything! I’ve now got a broadband connection, so hopefully it won’t be quite so long before I blog again (not that it’s any quicker with BB, as it doesn’t take long to connect anyway, but I’m online more than I was so may be able to get 5 mins here and there to talk rubbish on here…)

So what’s been going on? Potted history of life since the 15th (last blog date) –

went to the theatre to see The Madness Of George Dubya again, which was marvellous again – it’s transfered to the West End (The Arts Theatre in Leicester Square), and is being rewritten daily to keep abreast of current events, so it’s more topical than ever. Vital viewing, especially as there seems to be a lot that’s going unsaid about what’s now going on in Iraq – more shootings were reported this morning, that american guy who’s been put ‘in charge’ doesn’t seem to have much of a clue, and the looting still goes on…

Then it was easter weekend, which was surprisingly un-churchified – an unusual easter for me in that sense, partly cos I was just busy and didn’t plan anything in time, and partly cos I was at a wedding on Easter Saturday. Made it to church Easter Sunday morning, but it’s a while since I last missed a good friday service – anyone would thing that easter was when a rabbit got nailed to a cross, but was a nice rabbit who rose again and gave everyone chocolate eggs… I know that the timing of easter is a hi-jacked ancient solstice or something, but it does seem odd for it to have kind of stuck with some sort of christian significance in the media, but mainly it’s all about eggs and bunnies… the world is a might strange place…

Easter Sunday I went to a very fine gig – Three Blind Mice – featuring Lyndon Conner, the keyboardist who played with Level 42 on the Greatest Hits tour last year. The mice are a three piece – two guitar/vox and Lyndon on keys/vox, and feature some of the finest harmonies I’ve ever heard. Great songs, great delivery in a lovely venue (some pub near Paddington)… Well worth investigating. And after all that guff in the paragraph above, I did eat rather a large number of chocolate eggs at said gig.

Wed 23rd was a gig in Eastbourne with Tess Garroway and Joss Peach – more lovely improv, made even more fun by feeding both the piano and the voice into my loop setup to I could loop and tweak both of them as well… Small crowd, but cool venue.

The trip home wasn’t quite so much fun (this is where the puke in the heading comes into the story – turn away if you’re sqeamish) – I had a headache brewing through the entire gig, which got gradually worse and worse as we were packing up, bordering on migraine as I got in the car to drive home. It may have had something to do with not having eaten since about 2pm, and having had a beer when I arrived at the venue in the evening, but whatever, I wasn’t a well bunny.

Stopped once to wretch, didn’t puke. Stopped again, puked a bit. Was then doing 70mph along the M25 and vommed all over myself, the windscreen, the steering wheel, dashboard, seats, floor, everything. Tried catching it in a cardboard tissue box, but that just succeeded in funnelling said puke down both my sleeves (no, really, it is the most disgusting thing that has ever happened to me, which is why I just had to share it with you…)

One week previous to this, I’d been up to my armpit in blocked drain and thought that that was the grossest thing I’d ever done. This topped it, driving 35 miles covered in my own sick was really really nasty – the kind of thing that one usually associates with recovering smack-addicts…

The following day was a bit of a cleanup day, following my projectile experience of the day before.

Friday I was conducting an Echoplex clinic for the UK distributors, showing them a little of what’s possible (for lots more of what’s possible, see Andre’s site), which was great fun. I also picked up a couple more echoplexes, taking my tally to four – three are now in the rack, trying to work out how to wire the fourth one into the desk to give me a stereo main loop… hhhhhmmmnnnnnn

Friday evening was spent installing my broadband connection, which I’d got wrong somehow, and then Saturday required much rescuing as I’d downloaded too much stuff from Windows Update and had buggered up my machine, so with the help of evil harv, we got it going…

Last night, Jez and I went to see Carleen Anderson at the Jazz Cafe – we’re trying to get out to see more gigs, and were going to go out on Sunday, but there was bugger-all on in London. Boy, am I glad we waited til Monday – Carleen was brilliant, as were her band – Ben Castle on sax, Andy Hamill on bass, Mark Edwards on keys, Winston Clifford on drums and Jules someone on guitar – they are on again tonight and tomorrow, and if you can, you really ought to go… Carleen’s acoustic encore of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ was worth the ticket price itself (and you can stream it from her website – high res with Broadband of course…)

In between all that stuff, I’ve been mixing the tracks that I recorded with Theo Travis, which are sounding great, and may well end up being my next album… It’s time for a duo album (last one was solo, before that duo, and first one was solo), and these are just fine ‘n’ dandy. Hopefully we’ll have something to listen to v. soon…

And obviously I’ve been indulging in the download delights of broadband – fave site at the moment is launch.yahoo.com, a music videos and streaming radio site which is very cool. Go there and watch some of the Bruce Cockburn, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos and Johnny Cash vids – all great stuff. Also been listening to radio on line, including kcrw, kvmr and bbc london.

Soundtrack – other than the online stuff, been listening to lots of Ron Miles – both ‘Heaven’ and ‘Laughing Barrel’, and listening to Paul Simon, ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’, Bill Frisell, ‘Have A Little Faith’, Alex Skolnick Trio, ‘Goodbye To Romance’, Frank Gambale, ‘Resident Aliens’ and King’s X ‘Manic Moonlight’.

Can't Blog Won't Blog

…or at least, I couldn’t for most of today – bleedin’ software wasn’t working, so couldn’t access here to write anything… not that you were bothered, but still…

Sunday night’s gig at the Barbican was a lorra lorra fun – the band ended up being me, Orphy Robinson on percussion and steel pans, Mano Ventura on guitar (with a midi pickup) and filomena campus on vocals. The whole set was improv’d, and veered from some pretty ‘out’ weirdness through to more groove-based stuff. The biggest fun for me was that I was using a mixing desk for my stuff, so could a) run my own bass stuff in stereo (great for the delay effects etc.) and could also get a feed from the PA of all the percussion mics, which allowed me to loop Orphy’s percussion as well, which worked REALLY well. Some great layered percussion things ensued, and backwards steel pans sounds very fine indeed.

Monday was The Small Person’s birthday, so we went out for the day, and watched a coupla vids in the evening – no music all day, which made a nice change. then today was back to teaching, although due to a diary balls-up, I managed to double book myself, and had to cancel one of them… durrrr…

This evening, I spent an hour or so editing down the recording of my duets with Antoine Fafard from our joint radio broadcast on LCR, a month or so ago. The duets sound great, and as soon as I get them converted to MP3, I’ll try to get at least one of them online, though they are very long… perhaps I’ll find somewhere else to post them other than on my own webspace, which is a bit too full already…

I also found time to record a new tune… watch this space for more on that.

Soundtrack – in the car, it’s been more of Paul Simon’s Greatest Hits, whilst in here Norah Jones album, ‘Come Away With Me’ is on about its fifth play today, after I was doing one of the tracks with a student today. Also listened to Peter Gabriel ‘Us’, which is brilliant, and Pierce Pettis – ‘Making Light Of It’ – Pierce is amazing, and your CD collection isn’t complete without at least one of his albums…

Back to the Troubadour

Last night was the gig at the Troubadour, with Modeste Hughes. Which was great fun! As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the Troubadour has changed a fair bit since I recorded my first album there three ‘n’ a bit years ago, all for the better – the venue is really cool, the food’s good, the stage is nice. Was suffering a bit from an earth hum on my amp – couldn’t work out if it was the amp, the lighting, the system or what… a little bit annoying, but not gig-destroying… Was really nice to see lots of familiar faces there (though it’s a mixed blessing to play to an audience where lots of them have already got all your albums, as they don’t buy stuff! LOL) Still, the gig went well, and seemed to be rather well received.

Modeste Hugues was also very good – quartet of him on guitar and voice, with bass, percussion and his son on shaker. Great party music, smiling music, and some fabulous musicianship. Well worth checking out if you get the chance.

Lots of very nice feedback from the venue – the soundman and the venue manager both said they want me to go and play there again, so hopefully there’ll be some more me@thetroubadour stuff before too long… hopefully some interesting duets, and one of those increasingly rare me/jez gigs… finger’s crossed…

On a different note, church was very interesting on Sunday morning – the prayers bit of the service was arranged around a map of iraq on the floor in the middle of the church, and people were offered the opportunity to pray for peace, and light a candle, which could then be put on the map – a lovely symbolic gesture, handled without any political discussion, in deference to the messiness of the current situation and what we should do now it seems like the ‘coalition’ is, as Bono once sang, ‘Stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it’… Anyway, the symbolism of lighting candles is always such a simple yet effective focus for thoughts and prayers, and placing it directly onto a map of iraq, considering the lives of the iraqi civilians and soldiers, the UK/US military personel, the brave/foolhardy journalists, and those affected elsewhere, was a thought-provoking and moving moment.

Soundtrack – been repeatedly listening to Matt Garrison’s self titled solo debut album, which is marvellous. Also been listening to Best of EW&F, Naked City (the first album), The Pixies – Doolittle, and in the car an early Jonas Hellborg album (that someone taped for me when I was at college), and ‘Hipocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury’ by the Disposable Heros Of Hiphoprisy – there’s a track on the CD called ‘Winter Of The Long Hot Summer’, all about the first Gulf War, and it’s really really frightening how much of it could apply to what’s happening now… Also took a couple of CDs along to the gig last night to top ‘n’ tail my set – David Sylvian’s ‘Secrets Of The Beehive’ before I went on, and ‘Angel Song’ by Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell and Dave Holland to finish – ideal!

Long Time No See…

Haven’t blogged in a while – what’s been going on?

Er, lots of teaching, mainly. Did have a fun recording sesh with Theo Travis on alto flute – just doing improv duets. We got some great stuff down, some of which will be on the website before too long. However, it was all recorded in Mono due to the limitations of my recording set up, so I finally bit the bullet and got a new sound card, and a miniature desk – nothing flash, just an M-Audio Delta 44 card, and a Beringher 8 channel desk – but it will allow me to record two people in stereo separately, so that I can then mix it properly afterwards, and also record at a much higher resolution than before, meaning better fidelity… All in all, I’m rather excited about the possibilities. It is amazing what can be done now with such basic technology (or at least, basic by current standards) – stuff that 20 years ago would have taken weeks of studio editing and very expensive gear is now doable at the click of a button in a bit of free software that came bundled with your soundcard. Very nice.

Anyway, I shall start recording some new solo stuff before too long as well, as I’ll be able to route the Echoplexes to different channels, and mix the whole thing afterwards. It also means I’ll have to original material on one track, so that people can remix it, which I’ve had a few requests from remixers for…

What else? Ah yes, I just added a new MP3 to the site – it’s of Michael Manring and I playing together at The Anaheim Bass Bash in January – that was a lot of fun, organised by the people behind bassquake, and at the end of my solo set, I called Michael up to do a duo tune – he was on after me anyway, so it made for a nice smooth cross over. Anyway, he came up, got a sound, and I started playing a sort of dubby percussive groove, he joined in with the E-Bow and started playing a melody/solo idea, which I looped a tremolo chordal part of the top of my initial bass/percussive stuff loop. I then pickup up the E-Bow too and added an odd atmospheric line (sounds sort of like a bowed cymbal, if you’ve ever heard that), and then a strummy funk guitar line, all under Michael’s ever evolving melody line. Eventually I switch to a distorted melody line that’s pretty fractured and spikey – lots of dissonance and nastiness. I think that’s followed by us trade melody lines (interesting to hear how our different fretless tones sound together) and at the end Michael uses the sample and hold function in his VF1 to do an ambient loop, which I follow, fading out my loops and building a more soundscape-type piece to fade. All in all, a lot of fun – hope you enjoy it too – go to the MP3 page for more on that….

Er, what else? not much. Been reading more of ‘Stupid White Men’ by Michael Moore, a very vital voice in the current world political scene (which seems to be sinking deeper and deeper into the mire, just when you thought it couldn’t get any lower… Michael’s film, Bowling For Columbine is by far the best film I’ve seen in the last couple of years, and is the biggest grossing documentary of all time (he’s got #2 as well, with ‘Roger and Me’) – it’s a must see.

Soundtrack – lots of things of late. Right now, it’s Greg Mathieson and Abe Laboriel – a CD I first heard 3 years ago, and which has finally been released – an awesome bass/piano duo record, and part of the inspiration for Conversations. What else? Madonna – ‘Something To Remember’, Ron Eschete – ‘Mo Strings Attached’ (with Todd Johnson on bass), Ornette Coleman – ‘The Shape Of Jazz To Come’, Genesis – ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, Cyndi Lauper – ‘She’s So Unusual’, Sugar – ‘Copper Blue’, The Minutemen – ‘Double Nickels On The Dime’, Donnie Hathaway – ‘Live’, Julie Lee – ‘Made From Scratch’ and the tracks that Theo and I recorded last week…

Food for the soul

Last night I went to see three stunning singer/songwriters do their thang at the 12 Bar Club in London. The 12 Bar is a really weird venue, in that it’s got a tiny downstairs, and a tiny balcony, and the stage is sort of half way between the two – too high for downstairs to see properly and too low for upstairs… bit odd, but kind of fun with it…

Anyway, last night’s magical sounds came from Brian Houston, Julie Lee and Pierce Pettis, all three of whom were amazing. Like, world class, seriously. Way better than just about anything you’ll hear on the radio in the next month or so (unless you listen to Bob Harris on Radio 2, in which case you might end up hearing all three of them).

Brian Houston, native of Belfast, sort of Dylan/Buckley/bit of Neil Young but more frantic. Amazing stuff.

Julie Lee – I’ve played bass for Julie before, and will be next week in Reading – she’s sort of Bluegrass/Nu-grass, with an beautiful voice and a great guitar style. And is one of the finest songwriters I’ve heard in a long time.

Pierce Pettis – has written hits for Garth Brooks, doesn’t really sound much like him though. More Bruce Cockburn/70s Tom Waits/Lyle Lovett/John Gorka sort of vibe. Great between song banter, fantastic songs, and a seven string guitar!

All in all, a night to recharge the creative batteries, and bask in the glow of songwriting genius. If you’re wise, you’ll catch them on the rest of the tour –

Tues 4 March: Birmingham – Ceol Castle – 0121 440 4278
Thurs 6 March: Belfast – The Errigle – 0289 032 2925
Sun 9 March: Southampton – The Brook – 0238 055 5366
Mon 10 March: Brighton – The Greys – 01273 680734
Tues 11 March: Reading – Delicatessen – 0118 901 5234

I’ll be playing a few tunes with Julie at the Reading gig (and maybe one or two with Pierce too, hopefully, if the Deli organisers don’t weird-out about it…)

In other news, I got a new pre-amp put in my bass on Saturday, made by John East, who makes the J-Retro preamp (if you’re a bassist, you should know what I’m talking about… if you’re not a bassist, you won’t care…) – anyway, I replaced my old Bartolini one with one of John’s and it sounds amazing – it’s really weird what a huge difference a new preamp can make – the basic sound of the bass is still the same, there’s just the option to add more sparkle without it getting harsh, or make it sound more ‘acoustic’, or make things fall off the walls. Truly an amazing addition to my bass, and one that I’ll be adding to my other bass very soon, and will be getting in all my basses from now on. Seriously, these thngs are great!

But you don’t really care do you? well, I’m sure you do if you’re a bassist. If not, probably not.

Anyway, I was chatting with evil harv this morning, who was asking why no-one had signed the guestbook in ages. Then someone did (not evil harv as I first thought, as I can actually verify that the person who signed it did indeed just buy a CD of mine, and the eville one didn’t know about it…) – but that’s still only one in ages, so if you’re reading this, go and write nice things on the guestbook (unless you’re harv, in which case, keep your evil weirdness to your self, you strange man) – go on, off you go.

Soundtrack – more of The Minutemen, followed by lots of Donny Hathaway Live (pulled it out to look at the solo from ‘Everything Is Everything’, and kept it in the player for a couple of hours after the lesson). Also been listening to State Of Grace by Pierce Pettis, which I bought last night, and is very very good.

The Not So Lonesome Troubadour

Great gig last night at the Troubadour. Troubadour? where have I heard that name before? ah, yes it’s where I recorded my first solo album! It wasn’t me playing last night, but Muriel Anderson, fingerstyle guitarist from Nashville. She was very very fine indeed. Great playing, marvellous between song banter, a couple of lovely vocal tunes to vary the set. All in all a great night. Also of interest, the Troubadour have completely redone their basement venue area – they’ve taken over the next door building, knocked the two cellars through, and now have a bar, a sound booth a built in PA, and a gorgeous little stage in there. I CAN’T WAIT to play there next month (30th March – put it in your diaries now!) It’s going to be very fine indeed.

Today, I’ve been trying to get through a big long list of things to do. Firstly, I’ve been trawling through the hundreds of unanswered emails in my inbox – I’ve deleted about 150, and answered about 80 so far – another 200 and something to go! After that, I’ve got to send out loads of promo copies of Not Dancing (no sales today…), and phone a load of people about gigs, send out a newsletter with the info about my upcoming gigs and radio appearance, and tidy my office and the kitchen, which is a tip…

Soundtrack Last night and this morning it was ‘Theme For Two Friends’ by Muriel Anderson – guitar and cello duets, absolutely gorgeous. This one is goign to be spending a lot of time in my CD player over the next few weeks, that’s for sure. Now, I’m listening to the recording from the
Burning Shed Loop Night in Norwich last December – Darkroom, me, Theo Travis, Roger Eno, Peter Chilvers and Centrazoon. Some great stuff on there. Sadly, there’s a dirty great earth hum coming off my bass rig all the way through, but I’m going to try and eq some of it out for an MP3 before too long…