Taking the Rough With The Smooth…

Ah, what an eventful day yesterday was…

Started out teaching – all good so far. The no-at-all-evil-Dann arrived, we
packed up my amps/basses/toys etc. loaded them into the car and headed
of for Norwich, in good time. Hit traffic first on the M25 – so headed off up
the A10 instead of M11 – then again, very badly, on the A11 towards Norwich.
Got to the gig halfway through the collective soundcheck, unloaded my stuff,
then it took me 10 minutes to find a parking space (10 minutes we didn’t
have). Fortunately I wasn’t going through the PA (the joys of having an
Ashdown that sounds better than most PAs…), so soundcheck took
about 8 seconds once the gear was set up…

The gig itself was marvellous – started off with Darkroom, playing ambient
soundscape-y processed noise stuff (very good noise), I then joined in
over the top, they faded out, and I went from that improv into ‘No More Us
And Them’. From a very look bleepy version of that, I went into Highway 1,
at which point, fellow solo bassist Peter Chilvers joined in, played some
e-bow over the intro, and we were then joined by Roger Eno and Theo Travis on
acoustic guitar and sax respectively. What a
fantastic version of Highway 1!! I’m so glad it was recorded and can’t wait
to hear it. If the mix is anywhere close to OK, It’ll be magic… Roger was
playing some lovely arpeggiated stuff on acoustic guitar, while Theo and
I traded lines off each other, me with my Fripp-meets-Satch lead sound,
while Peter Chilvers kept the whole ambient side of it shifting and changing.
LovelyLovely.

I then faded out, and that trio continued, and then each act overlapped with
the last – Centrazoon, Andy Butler, GP Hall, Theo Travis. And after Theo’s
set, loads of us piled onto the stage for a remarkably coherent loop-jam,
with Tim Bowness, Theo and I trading melodies over some pretty marvellous
ambient waffle from Peter, Andy, Dave Montague, GP and the Darkroom
guys! All in all, a very fine evening’s music. The audience wasn’t huge, but
hey, that’s what happens when you go for quality over pop-credibility…

Getting the car back to the venue was a fun experience – Norwich has an
insane one-way system… Anyway, arrived back, and we all went off for a
drink and a chat. Very nice it was too, and many collaborations were
discussed and plans are afoot.

About 12.50, I jump in the car to come home. All is well, til I reach
Cockfosters (about two miles from home) and the engine cuts out and the
oil light comes on… fortunately I can roll the car most of the way to the
nearest Jet petrol station, and push it the last few feet. Put some oil in.
Still won’t start. Making odd noises. ring AA. 1.5 hours later, man arrives
with truck, ‘your cam belt’s broken’. Bugger. Big expense. Anyway, car
gets towed home, I unload the gear, and get to bed just after 4.30am!

Supposed to be teaching at 10am. Small person rings them at 9 to cancel.

Supposed to have a gig at St Luke’s tonight. Due to driveway restructuring,
small person’s small-person-car is inaccessible. Ring Justin (St Luke’s MD),
and leave message saying can’t make 2.30 rehearsal, maybe can’t get there
at all… Justin calls back says get a cab… maybe…

And here we are. Good gig, broken car. As The New Fast Automatic Daffodils
once wisely sang ‘Every silver lining has its cloud’…

Soundtrack – in the car, not-at-all-evil-Dann and I were listening to
all manner of stuff – Jane Siberry, Sigur Ros, Don Ross, SadHappy, Defeat
The Young, etc. etc. Then got sick of good music and put on ‘Long Cold
Winter’ by Cinderella, which I’m ashamed to say, stayed in the player for
about an hour… :o) After that, on the way home, I stuck in a No-Man
compilation (Tim Bowness’s rather wonderful band – think Prefab Sprout,
late-ear Talk Talk mixed with the best of Marillion and something else poppy
and deep…), and now am listening to Cipher, Theo Travis’ side project
of fascinating spacey stuff. Theo’s a fantastic musician that I look forward
to working with again very soon, hopefully…

Meanwhile, this morning, while I still slept, Small person took aged feline to
the vets, only to have him stop limping for the vet, but choose instead to
deposit a huge great steaming turd on the vets examination table. A choice
comment on vetinary science in general, methinks, from the perspective of
a small furry vetinary science consumer, wishing for an easy life.

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!

Some interesting recent listening

Back when I was in school (late 80s), we had a small group of friends who would all head down to fat george’s record shop on Bridge Street in Berwick on a Saturday morning to order records… any old records… the more obscure the better.

In those pre-internet times, the source of all knowledge about what was available was the Music Maker Publications big red book of records, which listed just about everything that was on general release.

I bought some great stuff through that, and some total bollocks. Great stuff, like Steve Berry – ‘Trio’, John Zorn – ‘Spillane’, the best of Weather Report etc. etc… and some rubbish like ‘Electric Storm in Hell’ by White Noise…

One record that we all really wanted to get but could never find was ‘Ladies Don’t Have Willies’ by a band called 64 Spoons. It seemed like the most preposterous title for a single – add to that the daft band name, and we had to know what it sounded like. But sadly, week after week, George couldn’t find it, it was out of print… whatever, it never turned up.

Fast forward 15 years, and in the last two tours I’ve done, with the Schizoid Band and Level 42, I’ve been touring with two ex-members of said Spoons! Jakko Jakszyk (guitar/vox with Schizoids) and Lyndon Conner (keys/vox with L42) were both in 64 Spoons!

Enter not-at-all-evil Dann, delving deep into his extensive CD collection to provide an early 90s compilation of Spoonerisms from the late 70s/early 80s… and bizarrely enough, it’s pretty good. Very good in places. Very silly and self conscious in other places, but sort of Squeeze meets Cat-Food era Crimson, meets Joe Jackson with a touch of Blockheads-funk… The kind of thing, that were it more widely known, would now be forcing people onto the dance floor at schooldisco.com events.

Still haven’t heard Ladies Don’t Have Willies though…

After that, the next CD I listened to couldn’t be more different Juldeh Camara is a West African singer/composer and player of the one string fiddle! I first heard his stuff on Charlie Gillett’s show on BBC London, but then met up with Duncan Noble – a bassist who has assembled a touring project with Juldeh, playing in the UK early next year.

It’s amazing how Juldeh manages to keep your attention… even mesmerise you with just fiddle and voice. And judging by the range of material on the CDR that Duncan gave me, he’s more than happy to recontextualise his playing and writing into whatever setting is around, from acoustic blues to funk/soul stuff… I really hope that their tour doesn’t clash with my dates in California next year, as I’d love to see this live…

Finally got stuck into the last chapter of Derek Bailey’s ‘Improvisation – its nature and practice in music’ book last night. It’s an amazing book, but I do have a habit of dropping books somewhere in or around the last chapter… seems to be a theme running through my life (do half the washing up, write half a song, tidy half my office, etc. etc…)

Anyway, the last chapter is all about the Musicians Improvisors Collective (MIC – I think that’s what it stands for…), and is very interesting indeed. The whole book is very highly recommended for anyone interested in improv and its relationship to music making as a whole…

Busy day today – meeting Jam-comedy-writer this afternoon, and going to see Moby play tonight… well, going to meet up with Greta Brinkman, who happens to be playing with Moby. Evil Harv’s coming as well, so that’ll be my dose of eville for the week sorted then…

before that, need to tidy up here, as my mum arrives for a short stay later on. Always nice to see my mum, cos she’s great!