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…

Poll Dancing…

The Evo E-Zine – which I posted about a couple of days ago when they added
a coulple of reviews of my gigs, also has a poll of who their readers would
most like to see interviewed/featured/reviewed – bizarrely enough, as of last
night, I was in third place! If you feel like heading over there and voting for
me, that would be lots of fun! :o) At the moment, I’m just behind Jon Anderson,
and just ahead of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel! Very bizarre…

Currently listening to Mel and Sue on Radio London – the only justification
of celebrity Big Brother is that it’s given them more comedy ammo… Sue
was by far the most interesting person in the house, and is even better
deconstructing it from the outside…

Soundtrack – been listening to King’s X – ‘Manic Moonlight’, Prince
– ‘Sign Of The Times’ and a Nick Harper compilation from Catherine-from-
the-street-team. Also been playing a lot in the last couple of days, so
whenever I get a groovy loop going, I leave it running for half an hour to
get the idea into my head… My new Gibson Echoplex is amazing
– been experimenting with a lot of the extended functions in the software
revision, like some of the quantize functions, different replace/substitute/insert
modes and the double/half speed thing… lots of fun to be had by all! Should
manifest itself in an MP3 or two before christmas…

Not Dancing For Chicken????

This was posted in the old blog format, but I thought I’d
repost it here as you may well have come looking for it now…
Here’s the explanation of where the ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’
album title came from…

Back in about 1992, MC Hammer was attempting a comeback,
and was doing the rounds in the press claiming to be from the
street, down with the kids etc. etc. Meanwhile, he was also
doing ads for KFC, and they were sponsoring the tour. At a
New York press conference it all got too much, and one young
journo asked Hammer what on earth he was doing. Hammer
replied ‘Hey, I’m just dancing for money’, to which the journo
replied ‘No, you’re dancing for chicken’.

Fast forward best part of a decade, and british comedian Mark
Lamarr is doing an interview with London listings magazine,
Time Out, and he recounts the story before explaining that for
him, ‘Dancing For Chicken’ has become the perfect metaphor
for all those corporate gigs that musicians/comedians/actors/etc.
have to do just to pay the bills, and the ones where the money
is so insane that all but the most ethically-minded of performers
will take them (like TV ads for a fast food giant with a dubious
health and safety record…).

At the time the phrase struck a chord with me as the antithesis
of everything that I’m trying to do with my solo career – I haven’t
chased a record deal, I haven’t made a smooth jazz CD in a bid
for radio airplay, I haven’t done a completely ambient recording
in a bid for new age stardom. I just do what I do, and if people
like it, great, if they don’t, fair enough… As it is, the last couple
of months of big tours and great CD sales have been vindication
of this route, but the business plan still stands intact. If it all falls
apart, I need to have music that I’m proud of, that represents
me. So I’ll continue to soundtrack the inside of my head, and
avoid Dancing For Chicken if I can in anyway steer clear of it… :o)