All work and no play…

…would be a highly inaccurate way to describe my life.

However, the work content is now increasing once again, after a fairly relaxed easing into it after the exhausting tour of CA…

This morning so far has involved sending out lots of CDs – shipping a new box-load to CD Baby – probably the best online indie music store – well worth checking out. And also shipping out some other ‘normal’ orders that arrive via evinsol. There are now loads of different ways of buying my CDs – still very few shops, but it’s not really an angle I’ve been chasing, as unless there’s a demand, they just sit on the shelves and do nothing, and just the admin of keeping track of where they are would do my head in. So instead I stick, predominantly, with web and gig-sales – web-wise, most still come through evinsol, the main CD order link on my site, and the Pillow Mountain Records site, but I also sell a few through CD Baby, and GEMM.COM – the primary usefulness of those are that they are both heavily searched sites, so people can find out about me without me telling them, and also their pricing is in dollars, so it’s less confusing for all you lovely americans parting with your hard earned green-stuff.

the nice thing is that with the increase in reviews, interviews and radio airplay, the promotional process gets a momentum of its own – a google search on my name throws up tonnes of stuff, and there are now quite a lot of bass sites that link back to my site… Add to that you lovely people helping to spread the word, and playing the CDs to your friends (word of mouth is still the most powerful tool an independent musician has, so thanks!), and it all starts to look a little more viable, and less like I was mad to go the indie route in the first place. The problem of late has more been that the touring side of things has been too successful, and I’ve had very little time for promo! It’s fine, cos the sales of CDs at gigs are better than they are through magazine reviews and radio airplay anyway, but it still has to be done…

Add to that my teaching schedule (currently busier than it’s ever been!), and I have less and less time for play… which is no bad thing. I’ve stored up so much play-related-mellowness (recognised medical phenomena), that I can probably cope with doing a respectable amount of work finally. After all, I’m 30 and have a mortgage and a small hungry feline mouth to feed – responsibilities!

So the rest of the day will be spent trying to get details on my upcoming gigs (I’m meant to have one in Brighton next week, but know nothing about it yet!!), sending out some radio copies of Not Dancing, teaching (starting in 15 minutes), practicing (been working on some of the EDP stuff that I saw Andre do at the clinic we did together – he’s very good…)

And maybe a few minutes just mucking about on line in between… :o)

Soundtrack – this morning I’ve been listening to Attention Deficit’s ‘The Idiot King’, and Jughead’s self-titled CD – both very very good. Attention Deficit is Michael Manring’s trio with Tim Alexander from Primus and Alex Skolnik on guitar. Jughead is Ty Tabor from King’s X with Greg and Matt Bissonette. Yesterday, I was listening to ‘Contemplating The Engine Room’ by Mike Watt for most of the day – Mike’s amazing, his CDs are amazing, his indie-thinking is amazing and he’s a very sound chap – check out his forum at on talkbass.

Normal Service Has Been Resumed

Apart from a slight residual sore throat, it seems life is back to normal… or maybe touring is normal, I’m just not used to normal yet…. who knows. Whichever, I’m settled back in at home. The last couple of days have involved a fair amount of teaching, some tidying, though not much, lots of cuddling the aged feline, who appears to have pretty refined taste in vegan food – mushroom pate, Quorn sausages and vegan bacon to be precise!! Today I’ve been sending out CD orders, which keep rolling in, reassuringly, then went down to the Gallery, originally to see Martin Peterson who makes the Sei basses, but he’s away, so I spent some time chatting to Alex, who now runs the shop there – very nice chap, who used to work at the Bass Centre. Nice to see that they’ve got a Lexicon MPX-G2 in the shop (the same effects processor that I use, in case you were wondering) – so if you’re looking for one, that’s the place to look!

My E-Bow has broken! I mean, it still works, but the catch on the battery compartment has gone, so I’ll have to keep the battery in place with an elastic band. What with that and my mobile phone, which has the battery gaffer taped in place, it’s a bit of a heath robinson life I lead…

It’s nice to be back playing a four string bass again – on the US tour, I borrowed a 6 string fretted bass from Modulus, and has my own 6 string fretless with me, so coming home and playing my four string is like picking up a toy – it’s so easy… and what’s more, I’ve been doing loads of tapping stuff since I got home – a technique I almost completely dropped about five years ago, but one that I’ve been showing to a couple of students recently, and which has been presenting some fun musical options… watch this space to see where that ends up!

Was reading ‘Further Along The Road Less Travelled’ by Scott Peck on the train, which is a fascinating book. Basically, it brings together psycotherapy and spirituality. Scott’s a christian, but arrived at where he is now on his journey via 20 very valuable years as a zen buddhist, and his zen thinking still informs much of his life and writing, leading to a fascinating take on where his training as a psychiatrist and his spirituality meet. Reading this follows on nicely from a great section in Frank Skinner’s Autobiography that the small person read to me the other day, where he talks about his Catholic faith, and a very very powerful experience he has at a Catholic church in Japan, which lead his to talk about the strangeness of being a person of faith in contemporary society, where most people cringe if you mention God, and also have a pretty skewed view of what it is to be a christian… I tend to avoid the label, for the most part, at least on first meeting people – primarily so that people’s experience of me will inform their thinking of what a christian is, rather than their misconceptions of what a christian is prejudicing them against me… This can be particularly a problem in the US, where much of what happens in the name of ‘the church’ is pretty seriously f-ed up, and where ‘christian’ is synonymous with a certain type of right-wing, republican, moral conservatism that doesn’t really reflect anything of what I perceive the life and teaching of Jesus to be about… always seemed a lot more radical than that to me… Anyway – the point being, it’s always interesting to read stuff -be it Scott Peck or Frank Skinner – by people who are struggling with the same questions about integrating faith and life that I, and just about every other ‘normal’ christian that I know is dealing with… It’s hard not to end up embarassed by the horse-shit that happens in the name of God – poor thing, She’s got the worst PR of anyone in history, and it’s our fault…

Er, where was I?? oh yes…

Soundtrack – been listening to Dave Pomeroy’s ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ album – all bass and voice, very good indeed. Dave was playing at the NAMM Bass Bash, and was brilliant. Also been listening to Mike Watt, another guy who played at the Bass Bash – his CD, ‘Contemplating The Engine Room’ is stunning – like a punk Tom Waits. Great story telling, some amazing guitar playing from Nels Cline, and Mike’s bass and voice doing baritone duets with eachother. outstanding.

California pt 2

…So where were we? Oh yes, gig in San Luis Obispo. Dan and I arrived nice and early, parked up, called into the venue, and promptly got a parking ticket – shabby…

Then headed off to do a radio interview with the local college station, which was fun (it was a film show, so I talked about being influenced by soundtracks… hmmmn)

Had a bit of a look round SLO (great second hand book-shop just across the square from Z-Pie where we were playing!), the Rick and Andre arrived and we started setting up. Opening for us that evening was Hans Lindauer, who had more gear than any solo act not playing stadiums that I’ve ever seen! Rack and racks of stuff, two tables covered in modules and turntables… interesting set, but boy, I couldn’t carry all that stuff around.

Once again, the trio set was very interesting – smallish crowd, but they seemed to enjoy it a lot, which is always good. Sold a few CDs, and then headed off to stay with the Z-Pie owners…

Following day we headed for San Jose, but not before calling in in Santa Cruz to see Victor Wooten – he wasn’t at NAMM, but I’d interviewed him a while ago, and it was sort of on the way and we had time to kill so we dropped in to say hi before his clinic, and he rather kindly announced our Santa Cruz gig which was happening the saturday after…

Headed off to Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto, a lovely shop with a focus on acoustic instruments that has recently started doing bass stuff, including Ashdown amps. Good staff there. Spent about 5 mins playing an upright bass and nearly ruined my hands and arms for the rest of the tour!! Boy, those things are hard to play!

Anyway, the clinic was small, but they were attentive and seemed to enjoy it (can you see a pattern emmerging here???) sold a load of CDs, which was nice, and then went to see a bit of the gig that Andre and Rick were doing with Cara Quinn and John Wagner from Loopers Delight, which was just round the corner and went really well… Stayed that evening with Mark Wright of Accugroove Cabinets – a very nice chap.

Er where next? ah yes, San Jose Museum of Art – a return gig for Rick and I, lovely place to play. Dan and I spent a lot of the day visiting music stores, handing out flyers and him talking to guys about some of the companies he reps for. Then off to the venue. Another cool gig – lots of people there from the dude pit discussion list, which was great – it’s always fun talking to people face to face that I chat with online on a daily basis. So meeting Harley and Lowell and Bob Amstadt and the others that were there was very cool indeed. The trio set was again very cool indeed, solo stuff going down well too, starting to shift a few CDs…

25th (the next day) was a busy day – started out with four sessions at the Christian Guitarist Conference in Castro Valley – one on basic bass skills and advice, one on choosing the right gear, one on more advanced techniques (mainly chordal stuff) and finally a performance set – lots of fun. Dan and I then jumped into our little bass-mobile and headed of to Santa Cruz for the next trio gig. If any gig I do is likely to be full it’s a show with Rick Walker in Santa Cruz. I guess it may have helped that the mayor declared it to be ‘international live looping day’ (your guess is as good as mine!!) but we filled Cayuga Vault and had a fine, if very dissonant and scary set. All in all a fine gig, though there’s always the trade off with playing to a crowd of people who know what you do in that a lot of them already have your CDs… :o)

On the 26th we headed north, and I’ll pick up there tomorrow…

None More Dull

Yippee – tax bill paid, tax return sent off, which for you lot means no more fist-chewingly dull stuff about my tax return! :o) Now I can lull you to sleep with Bonsai talk instead… although, as I’m off on tour tomorrow, there should be plenty to talk about for the next four weeks!

Yesterday was another big teaching day – exhausting but rewarding.

Today will involve teaching from 12-2, then driving my CDs over to Chelmsford to be shipped off to LA on Monday morning. Then I’ll be packing, repacking, remembering things I’ve forgotten and repacking again, tidying up here to try and leave the house in a reasonable state for the rest of the household to inhabit for the next four weeks (not really fair to bugger off and leave the poor aged feline with all the cleaning duties – his lack of opposable thumbs makes filing a nightmare…)

I’ll be moving my ickle Bonsai tree out of the office so it’s not ignored in the plant watering ritual of the next few weeks. I’ve been unsubscribing from the myriad mailing lists and discussion lists that I’m on so as to reduce the volume of email traffic while I’m away (just the 50 bits of spam and viruses to deal with each day then…) – does anyone else get as many viruses sent to them as me? Is this intentional and malicious, or just that I’m on so many people’s email lists that whenever someone with my address gets got I get sent a copy? Norton picks them up OK, and the ones that get into my inbox without being deleted are easily recogniseable (I just delete most things with attachments unless I’m expecting them – so warn me first if you’re trying to send anything, and don’t send me unsolicited MP3s!! Nothing is more likely to put you on my email s**t-list than sending me a 10 meg file with no warning… grrrrr (evil harv!)

anyway, better get started on the tidy, before the teaching, before the CD delivering, before the packing, before the sleeping before the journey to LA, before the tour!

Soundtrack – yesterday I got ‘Jordan – The Comeback’ by Prefab Sprout. I’m increasingly convinced that Paddy McAlloon is one of the all time great British songwriters – I don’t think as yet I’ve heard a duff song by him. Right now, I’m listening to Calamateur again – this is so so beautiful and haunting, you really have to get it – the juxtaposition of FSU beats, ambient sounds, acoustic guitar and loads of samples of speech/interviews/news etc. all relating to cars, car accidents, traffic police. It’s awesome – Andrew – make sure you send a copy into The Late Junction on Radio 3, they’ll LOVE this!

BTW, I’ve just seen that the BBC Radio 3 Website has all the previous week’s Late Junction programs archived for listening on demand – GO AND LISTEN, it’s brilliant – a fascinating mix of world music, new music, eclectic pop and prog, bits of jazz, ancient music – all kinds of stuff, and now you can listen any time of the day! There really is no excuse…

Clocks go winding down…

Is it just me, or does everything just slow down in the run up to Christmas (or ‘holidays’ as most americans seem to have euphamistically rechristened it)? I’ve got lots that I really ought to be getting on with, but can’t get motivated at all… I really need to get working on my tax self-assessment (oh yeah, Steve, they really want to read about that, you loser…), and could do some other admin stuff, tidy my office, practice, learn more about the Echoplex (and there’s much to learn), but instead I cuddle the cat (OK, that’s worthwhile, I’ll give you that), surf the net (the usual suspects – talkbass.com, activebass.com, thedudepit.com, level42webdigest.com, ashdownmusic.co.uk, modulusguitars.com, krimson-news.com and other stuff from my links page…)

then I play the helicopter game (got 1768 today), followed by Chuckie Egg, followed by something to eat, followed by more cuddles with the cat, followed by some washing up (to assuage the guilt… hang on, harv, I’m I making up words again??), and here I am…

Tonight is the Deep 2 Deep Christmas curry – lots of cuddly bassists and some of their partners having curry and talking nonsense. What fun, I’m very much looking forward to it.

Before then I need to get to the vets to buy more cat food (of the renal variety), and maybe pick up a jar of coffee as well somewhere along the way (which means a trip to Asda as none of the little shops near us stock cafe-direct or clipper… question, is it worse to buy fair trade coffee from a multinational, or multinational coffee from a corner shop???? Oh, the moral maze in which we find ourselves!!!!)

Anywa, I guess even in writing this, I’ve convinced myself to get off my sorry ass and do SOMETHING – probably visit the vets, as that’s the most pressing thing…

BTW, a tip for last minute pressies – www.sendacow.com – an infinitely better idea that piling yet more crap that nobody needs into your relatives ‘presents to give away again next year’ cupboard…

Soundtrack – an interesting musical day. Started with Prince, ‘Sign Of The Times’, both discs (good stuff), followed by a CD by a group called Pocket, featuring a student of mine on bass. Interesting stuff – the guitarists are usually ‘free’ players in the LMC sense of the term, but this is their ‘tunes’ album – got a bizarre nursery rhyme quality to it that I’m not sure if I like or not, but Chris’ bass playing is very good… And now I’m listening to ‘Oracle’ by Gary Peacock/Ralph Towner; this is the first of their duo CDs, and I know the second one much better (A Closer View), but just about everyone I speak to prefers this one, so I’ll give it a few spins and see what occurs… :o)

feel free to send chivvying messages to me throughout the day, encouraging me in a polite and friendly way to do some f-ing work!!!!

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.

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.

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!