Mammoth tour blog

Right, I said in the mini-post that it looked like things were going to be rough, but that was an understatement… please try to keep in mind as you read this that Ned and I aren’t Spinal Tap, and this shit actually happened…

So, the back story is that the promoter – Blooz Promoz, run by a guy called Nigel in Leeds – was someone that Ned had worked with last year, he’d organised a few gigs that had gone OK, so it seemed like a good idea to go there again. I’d not had any dealings with him, but as a proven entity, was more than happy to just let Ned take it from there. We had two gigs booked on a £250 promise for each gig, and a clinic at Sound Control in Leeds.

We drive to Wakefield, get to the gig, and the venue owner says he hasn’t heard from the promoter for weeks (at this point it’s worth pointing out that he was booked as ‘promoter’ not just ‘booking agent’…), but we assume he’ll be turning up.

It gets to gig time, still no promoter, punters start to show up, in small numbers, all via my mailouts and friends of those people. Not one from any contact with the promoter, and he wasn’t there to collect the money on the door, so WE DIDN’T GET PAID. Not a penny. The people that were there loved it, and we sold a lot of CDs and t-shirts etc, but still nowhere close to the £250, and anyway, merch money wasn’t in anyway factored into that figure.

So we head to where we’re staying (with Nicola from Greenbelt – thank God we weren’t in a hotel as well!) and crash.

Friday morning we head into Leeds for a wander around, and serendipitously Ned recognises in the market the area where Nigel promoter-monkey has his stall. We head down there, and some dodgy mate of his is looking after it, who clearly not knowing where we were playing, let it slip that the venue was ‘shite’ telling us that Nigel wasn’t booking there anymore… uh-huh.

Nigel eventually appears, and after some chasing around and half-made apologies, claims he’s been ill (an email or two telling us that if it was true would have gone a very long way) gives us £100 for the previous night’s gig (hmmm – £100? what happened to the other £150?) – I’m in a rather strange position at this point as I’ve had no contact with him up to this point, so can’t argue from any real knowledge of what has been said/agreed/emailed, but Ned does a sterling job, and Nigel assures us that the Oceans Eleven gig is going to be fine, and he’ll have someone there to meet us at 8ish, and we’re on at 9. We then say ‘so we’re all fine for Sound Control this afternoon then?’ – er, apparently not. That’s not going to happen. WTF? excuses blah blah bullshit blah blah fucking nonsense etc. etc. Cancelled. Not happening. Let’s face it, almost certainly not booked in the first place.

So we head off back into Leeds city centre in search of wifi, and notice that there is NO mention of the gig anywhere (remember, promoter not booking agent) – no posters up in the music shops, no nothing. The guys in one of the guitar shops haven’t even heard of the venue…

Out for a much needed and much appreciated curry, then down to the venue. Which is closed. And by ‘closed’ I mean closed as in ‘in receivership’. Notes on the door saying ‘this property has been purchased by ************, please phone *************** for details’. So our fuckwit promoter has added barefaced lies to his catalogue of fuck ups (remember, this is Blooz Promoz in Leeds).

So grand totals for Leeds area leg of the tour –

  • gigs ‘booked’ – 3
  • total guarantees agreed prior to this leg of the ‘tour’ – £600 (£250 for each gig, £100 for Sound Control – all of which are low figures anyway, but you figure when a promoter is planning to give the band £250, there’s going to be an audience, and therefor decent merch-ops, and the chance to make it all worthwhile…)
  • gigs played – 1
  • total income – £100
  • petrol costs – about £30
  • curries eaten – 2 (each)
  • venues no longer in existence – 1
  • effect of stench of bullshit from the catalogue of lies and misinformation – overwhelming.

Now, at this point we meet up with Greenbelt chum Steve Thackray – lovely bloke, very friendly and helpful, who in 10 minutes (10 minutes!!!), gets us closer to having a gig than Blooz promo buffoon does in four months. Given 24 hours, Steve could have given us a range of venues, and found us an audience. Next time I go to Leeds, I’m talking to Steve first – he’s a man with his finger on a pulse or two…

So Saturday we get up and head to Stockport for masterclass at Riffs Guitar School, which was much fun, but underpaid. But hey, it actually existed so we’re already ahead on Leeds, and we met lovely people, sold lots of CDs, had a great time, and we had a gig in the evening anyway, so all in a fab way to spend an afternoon.

We then head into Manchester to Iguana – it’s funny how after the nonsense of the previous two days, normal treatment suddenly feels luxurious. We get there, one of the bar men comes to help us with gear and there are lots of staff there to advice, provide drinks, and the venue has many posters up advertising the gig (OK, so their own adverts say that I’m an ex-member of King Crimson and Level 42, but you can’t get everything right).

Once set up, we head to the MEN Arena, where Ned’s buddy Curtis Stigers (yes he of the mullets and power ballads in the late 80s) is opening for George Benson, and we’ve got time to catch his set before we play. Yes, you read that right, I’ve got a free ticket for a George Benson gig, and I’m leaving before he comes on. I’m crying as I type this. No, really, it hurts. A lot. George frickin’ Benson – one of the greatest human beings ever to pick up a guitar. I’ve half a mind to blow our gig and stay to watch. But we don’t, we watch Curtis, who is actually not bad at all, perfect for the audience, does a rather cool little beatbox thing in one tune, and scats a hilarious and very impressive upright bass solo in another, and while not being world-class jazz singer material by any means, does a pretty fine job and was worth going to see.

Back to the venue and lots of lovely friends have arrived – students of mine, web buddies, greenbelt friends, and people from MySpace. A proper gig with a proper audience that actually know where the gig is, and a venue that’s real, open, and has a cheque waiting for us when we finish.

We play well, sell CDs, chat to all the lovely people (special treat to see L1z there – yay!), and eventually head off home at about 12.30. Without the cheque. It’s made out to Ned. Doh! It will be sorted, no problem. Iguana’s a lovely place, and I really hope to play there again.

And we drive home through the night. Laughing about the fuck-ups of the last few days, glad to have had the last fine gig, and wondering what on earth can be done to get the dismal promoter to pay up. Believe me, if he does, I’ll amend this blog so it’s less likely to be the top hit on Google should you go looking for info on Blooz Promoz in Leeds. But right now, they’re on my black-list, shit-list and every other list that says don’t even think about working with them in a million years. We’re down £500 on a tour, Ned’s had to fly from Boise Idaho for this!!!

Next on the tour list is either Saucy Jack or Jazz Odyssey.

What’s wrong with being Sexy?

homeless shelters and tax returns

Catching up – three very very busy teaching days Thurs/Fri/Saturday – much fun. Busy days like those are a great confirmation of how much I enjoy teaching, I love getting to the end of a day, feeling that I’ve worked hard, and the students have all taken away lots of good quality stuff to work on, hopefully been inspired and are beavering away at their practice!

Saturday after teaching was a visit to see my dad – really ought to see him more as he only lives half an hour away. A most enjoyable few hours.

Had to leave fairly early as I was doing an overnight shift in the St Luke’s homeless shelter – long-time blog readers will remember said shelter from previous years – this is i think my fifth or sixth year of helping out. It’s hardly a huge commitment – I tend to do every other saturday night from january to march, excluding saturdays when I’m not actually in the country…

this was the first night of the new year for the shelter, and was utterly without incident. But it did give me a chance to finish one of my christmas present books – ‘Serious’ by John McEnroe. A good read, for sure, clearly aimed at tennis fans (a fair few play by play dissections of big games, big sets big matches). He didn’t turn out to be quite the sage I’d assumed he was from his commentary skills – he’s one of the best sports commentators I’ve ever encountered (and, to be fair, that’s not many, given my general antipathy to all sport except tennis), but his wisdom in commentating on the psyche of the players doesn’t really seem to have come from having lived a sage life. Maybe he’s just learned from having got it all wrong in his own life. Definitely a worthwhile read though.

So not much sleep last night, which meant two things – a) I missed church by not waking up til 1pm after getting to bed at 6.45, and b) I missed most of the Soil Association organic market thingie happening down by the Barbican. It was organised by the lovely Ruthie, and featured some lovely live music from the lovely Andy Buzzard and Jonny Gee. Great to see them play, if only for one number. Also gave me a chance to meet lots of cuddly musos and invite them along to Thursday’s Recycle Collective gig, which I’m getting more and more excited about the closer it gets – the potential musical marvellousness in a trio of me, Cleveland and BJ is pretty huge, methinks. We’ve played together before, when I did a gig at Darbucka last year that both of them guested on, and it was magical. Don’t miss it!

So, after getting back from the organic thingie, I’ve just finished, submitted and paid my tax return/bill for 2004-2005. Fortunately, I only had about £50 to pay over and above what I’d already paid on account for last year… well, fortunately for now, unfortunate if you think that it means I earned less than the previous year (main reason for that is that in 2004 I was still receiving HUGE PRS cheques for the Level 42 tour…) Good news is, online CD sales were higher in 04-05 than ever before, which is great news.

One of my resolutions for next year is not to leave it til Jan 2006 to submit my tax return. I’d LOVE to actually get it done in April for the first time ever, and then have all year to pay a figure that I actually know. In order to do that, I’ll have to get my financial records for this year up to date in the next week, so I can stay on top of it from here on in… here’s hoping.

As an aside, I submitted my tax return online – what a breeze! It does all the calculating for you, tells you the boxes you’ve missed, makes sure your sums all add up, and gives you a print out at the end. Couldn’t be easier.

And now I’ve done the taxation bit, I feel inspired to write some letters to my MP to do something about the representation bit. I’m a fan of tax, in principle, I’m happy to pay my way, and to pay more to help those who haven’t got enough. But I do wish we had more say over how it was spent, and a less wasteful exchequer – Government spending is a disaster, which while not doing away with the need for taxation, certainly makes most people’s loathing of it a lot easier to understand.

a Last.fm experiment

So, while I’m waiting for the washing machine (newly fixed) to finish its cycle so I can hang the washing, I thought I’d try skipping through 20 tracks on the ‘similar artists’ radio station for me on Last.fm – here’s the list:

1. Mike Watt – Heartbeat (Ball Hog or Tugboat?)
2. Ginger Baker Trio – Rambler (Going Back Home)
3. Roy Budd – No Co-Operation (Buddism)
4. Haden/Metheny – Two For The Road (Beyond The Missouri Sky
5. Randy Crawford – Secret Combination (The Very Best)
6. Elza Soares – Deixa a Negra Gingar
7. Sheila Chandra – Nana/The Dreaming (Weaving My Ancestors Voices)
8. Marcus Miller – The Blues (Tales)
9. Bob Mould – Megamanic (the Last Dog And Pony Show)
10. Show Of Hands – Yankee Clipper (Live)
11. Truby Trio – New Music (Elevator Music)
12 (someone chinese, in chinese writing)??
13. Denison Witmer – These Days (Recovered)
14. Level 42 – Talking In Your Sleep (Forever Now)
15. Terry Callier – 4 Miles (Lifetime)
16. Zakir Hussain – Tabal Solo In Teentaal (Festival Of Indian Music: Roma)
17. Incognito – Listen To the Music (Nortern Jazz – Southern Soul)
18. Goodbye Mr Mackenzie – Goodwill City (Love Child EP)
19. Lies Damned Lies – Only You (Lonely Together)
20. Senser – Return To Zombie Island (Schematic)

Is that close? it’s definitely swayed by who has uploaded music and who hasn’t (every time a Level 42 track comes up, it’s always from ‘Forever Now’, so that’s obviously the only album of their up there) – hopefully this will be an incentive to indie peoples to get their music uploaded there for the radio listeners to get familiar with (Andrew H, Trip, Buck, Manthing, Big Buzzard and any of you other indie peoples reading this – get your music uploaded! Email me if you need a hand…)

Right, washing machine has finished…

More great live music in England

…and I don’t just mean my upcoming gigs! :o)

is probably best known as drummer extraordinaire with Level 42, Alan Holdsworth and a whole bunch of other people. He’s also a stunning piano player, and has assembled a remarkable band under the name , featuring one of the finest bassist on the planet, , along with Jim Beard, Randy Brecker, Elliot Mason, Jerry Goodman and other top level fusion cats.

I saw them play last year at Turner Simms theatre in Southampton, and the gig was outstanding – very challenging complex music, but marvellous and uplifting too.

They are back on tour starting this Saturday in Milton Keynes, and I urge you to go check them out – click here for the tour dates, which include a week at Ronnie Scott’s in London, and gigs in Manchester, Gainsborough and Gateshead.

Chances to hear music this great outside of the major London concert halls doesn’t come along to often, so please support it. There’s been a thread on the forum about great bassists often bypassing the UK on their European tour dates – if tours like this don’t get supported, it just proves why we’re so often overlooked.

even more gigs!

Oh yes, mine and other people’s.

Saturday night I had a gig in Hoddeston (have I spelt it right this time??) – anyway, the gig was at St Cuthbert’s church (great name for a church – St Cuthbert was a monastic dude who lived on Holy Island, and even had his own Island, a photo of which will probably be the cover of my next CD….) – they do a music night a couple of times a year, where the first hour is an open mic slot for local musicians, then the second half is an invited performer. this time, it was me. The church itself was a great place to play, a lovely building. Gig went really well. It was a great chance to try out both my new bass cabs and the new preamp in my 6 string fretted bass, and both sounded incredible.

Then Sunday night I drove down to Southampton to see Gary Husband’s ‘Force Majeure’ project, with a line up that included the wonderful Matthew Garrison on bass, and Jerry Goodman on Violin. Shit, what a gig!! It was incredible. Gary’s an outstanding drummer and pianist – we all knew that, but we can now add stellar composer to the list. Amazing exhilerating music, at times insanely dissonant and nasty but still with an internal logic and a link to whatever the theme of the piece was. Gary gave little explanatory talks before each track – seems like Architecture features highly on his list of inspirations, and they tied in superbly with the music that followed. I can’t wait for the live DVD! ‘Twas also nice to catch up with friends at the gig – gary and matt, obviously, but also Shaun Freeman, the sax-dude from Level 42 and Nick Fyffe, ex-Jamiroquai bassist. Well worth the 200 mile round trip to see it.

Saturday was also Deep To Deep – a gathering of bassists from the Churchbass list, which was a lot of fun.

Ticket sales are going really well for the tour – I’m very excited about these upcoming dates! Please come out and see one of the shows if you can…

SoundtrackBill Mallonee, ‘Perfumed Letter’ (fantastic new CD from Vigilantes Of Love frontman. His best since Audible Sigh), Morphine, ‘B-Sides And Otherwise’; Dum Dums, ‘It Goes Without Saying’; Chris Potter, ‘Gratitude’; loads of my duets with BJ Cole.

Happy New Year!

Oh yes, it’s 2004. Another year over a new one just begun, as a songwriter no longer at the top of his game and desparately in need of his old writing partner once wrote.

So out with the old and in the new, hopefully. Or maybe it’ll just be ‘what goes around comes around’. Who knows.

I’m hoping for the usual crap – more time to read, more gigs, more CD sales, less big countries blowing up small countries, less reality TV, more properly researched documentaries, more decent comedies on TV, more going to the cinema, more exercise (!!), more journies on public transport, less using the car, more bass practice, less time wasted online… yeah yeah, right.

So this afternoon, I had a listen to an album I’ve not heard for a while – ‘Beyond These Shores’ by Iona. This is an album that when I first got it blew my mind, but as I’ve only got it on tape, and the tape is just about worn out, I hadn’t listened to it in ages. However, the small person has got it on CD, I remembered this afternoon. So put it on. and. wow. Unbelievable. Still as good if not better than I remember it. Great songs, amazing playing, fantastic production, moving lyrics (it’s a sort of concept album on the legend of St Brendan sailing from Ireland to America a few hundred years before Columbus…) – truly wonderful. Seriously, it’s great, get it.

It’s kind of apt at the start of a new year to be listening to an album about a journey into the unknown – not that stepping over into 2004 is like sailing the atlantic in medieval times – after all it’s just another day in ‘actual’ terms – but new year is a rite of passage, giving us a chance to pause, take stock, rethink, set some goals, change the way we do things, and also chops the past into convenient chunks for us to assess whether they were good or bad.

2003 was very different for me musically than 2002 – ’02 was the year I did the two big tours with Level 42 and The Schizoid Band, but ’03 was a year of fewer gigs but a lot of musical experimenting – loads of new improv settings, gigs with Orphy Robinson, Tess Garraway, Corey Mwamba, Filomena Campus, Josh Peach, Seb Rochford, Theo Travis, Mano Ventura, Michael Manring, Jez Carr, Harvey Jessop; I’ve also recorded loads of improv stuff this year – most importantly the new album with Theo Travis, but also material with quartets in France and Spain, duets with Matthias Grob, Luca Formentini, BJ Cole and Patrick Wood. Loads of space to develop new ideas, much of which will be launched on anyone who wants to hear it in 2004.

So, here’s to the new year – may all your gigs be well paid and your audiences attentive.

Soundtrack – The Smiths; ‘Louder Than Bombs’; Bill Frisell, ‘The Willies’; Rob Jackson, ‘Wire Wood and Magnets’; Iona, ‘Beyond These Shores’;

A trip back in time…

Saturday night, The Cheat and I went to see Level 42 in Guildford, which was obviously a very different trip down memory lane than it was for the people who’d just come to hear some great pop tunes from their childhood… It was great to catch up with the guys in the band and crew, and to say hi to a few people in the audience who remembered me from the support slot last year (and to be refered to as ‘Chicken Man’… which was slightly unnerving and flattering at the same time… perhaps I need a feathered coat instead of the furry one… :o)

Anyway, it all brought back lots of fine memories, and the band played really well – slightly different set list from last year, with some really nice unexpected additions to the set list. Didn’t get home til the early hours of sunday morning.

Sunday was fun – one of the tunes from ‘Open Spaces’ was used as a musical interlude in part of the St Luke’s service, and then last night I spent a few fun hours catching up with David Torn – a very busy chap, and astonishing musician who’s playing around England this week with Tim Berne, so I’m going to three of the gigs – London, OXford and Birmingham.

And today, the new dyson arrived… :o) Ahh, domestic bliss. Took me a while to figure out how to get it working properly (what? programming effects units and operating four loopers at once I can handle, using a vacuum cleaner is a whole other world…) but once I did, we were away!

And now I’m waiting for a BT engineer to arrive, and while I’m doing that I’m listening to The Late Junction on BBC Radio 3, who last week played Flutter from ‘For The Love Of Open Spaces’ – fantastic! The Late Junction is a very very cool and very eclectic show, which I listen to a lot anyway, so getting airplay there is marvellous. you can hear an archive of the show – it’s the wednesday show in the ‘listen on demand’ archive, and you can see the playlist here – if you do listen to it, please email them and tell them how much you enjoyed hearing us on the radio!

so now I’m going to get on with mixing some of hte tracks from the Italian sessions of a few months ago…

Soundtrack – right now, The Late Junction. before that more of Rob Jackson, and John McLaughlin, ‘Que Alegria’.

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’.

California III – this time it's serious

…or maybe not…

So anyway, 26th was the Echoplex Clinic at Bananas At Large in San Raphael, just north of San Francisco. Nice town, great shop. The clinic went really well, and I stole loads of ideas from Andre LaFosse’s tips on using the Echoplex – if you’re interested in the EDP at all, you HAVE to check out his site with the Echoplex tips page on it, and all his MP3s…

Anyway, the curry after the clinic was lovely, Scott Drengsen (solo bassist from the Bay Area) came along to the clinic, which was great, and Dan and I stayed with Anderson and Laura – very good friends who live in San Raphael. A lovely time was had by all!

Couple of days off spent with Billy-Bob and Mavis which was lovely, then onto the dates with Michael Manring along with the trio – the first of which was at Henflings in Ben Lomond (sounds Scottish, actually just outside Santa Cruz) – great venue, good turn out, lots of very cool music, and a bizarre moment when Rick Walker jumped on stage to join in with Michael Manring’s set…

the Next day we were up in Sacramento (this was a mucho-driving tour). Started out with a radio interview that Michael and I did for KVMR – very very cool station, we did a duo piece and then Michael did Red Right Returning (as featured, uncredited on the new Royksopp CD).

The gig was great – loads of people there, lots of CD sales, the line up was Michael and I (solo and duo) and Orbis (Mike Roe, Mark Harmon and Nick Willow). What a fun evening. It was also the venue owner’s birthday, and his name turned out to be Tim Looper – what a fine coincidence… :o)

Couple more days off, spent in Sacramento, then the gig at the Little Fox Theatre, with Michael and David Friesen. The three of us works really well as a show, so that was very cool. Lots of good people there, etc. etc.

The next show was probably the low-light of the tour – Cafe Du Nord, nice venue in San Francisco, had been looking forward to this. Got there, and noticed in the local paper that it was billed as a singer/songwriter night, with David Friesen and I listed as acoustic singer/songwriters! Huh? Turns out it was double booked, the guy who organised the acoustic night got really annoyed about it all, tried the cancel the night, it ended up with David and I playing truncated sets, and then the acoustic thing happening afterwards. All a bit miserable and a bit of a let down… Oh well.

Stayed in a motel 6 that night, then off to Santa Barbara – very nice town, had a wander round the farmer’s market. Clinic at Instrumental Music (is this beginning to read like bullet points???), which was great fun – the store manager is a friend from last year, Jamie Faletti, so it was great to see him, lots of great questions at the clinic, loads of CDs sold, all good fun.

Next night was another clinic at another branch of instrumental music, great turnout, the whole thing was videoed (bits of it may turn up here, who knows), some cool people there, nice curry afterwards with Jeff Kaiser (avante-garde composer and trumpeter), and some people from the shop. All good fun, good people, good food, good music. yadda yadda…

Ploughing on through busy schedule, the next day, I gave a masterclass at The College Of The Canyons, normally taught by fantastic solo bassist and jazz educator, Todd Johnson. Nice to hear from Todd afterwards that I’d just confirmed all he’d been telling them for weeks :o)

The second low-light of the tour was to follow – clinic at Jim’s music in Irvine – the shop hadn’t even put up a flyer in the shop for it, no promo, no-one knew, ergo very small number of people there. Bit of a waste of time, travelling 6000 miles to play in a shop that couldn’t care less if you were there or not. Still, kick the dust from your shoes and move on. etc.

The following night in Valencia more than made up for the Irvine balls-up. Great gig at Java and Jazz. Loads of people there, including lots of lovely Level 42 fans from the web digest. Todd Johnson, who organised the gig, played a fantastic solo set, then I did my thing, followed by some fun little jazzy duets.

The tour finished off with a nice little clinic thingie for Churchbassists in San Dimas…

All in all, a lot of fun. Well worth doing, loads of good gigs, tonnes of CDs sold, lots of good press (there’s a review of Not Dancing in the current issue of Bass Player magazine, and the loop trio gig in Santa Cruz made it onto the cover of the Santa Cruz newspaper…)

Hopefully I’ll be back in the US before long…

Talking 'bout a Resolution

(sounds like a whisper)

It’s that time of year again, when we realise that we kept very few of our resolutions from last year (though I did set myself one goal of doing 30 solo gigs, and I did over 60, so that was good… :o)

anyway for this year, here’s a few muddled up ideas for what I’m planning/aiming for/wishing for/etc.

  • read more (and therefor, travel more on the tube, as that’s where I get most of my reading done
  • eat more vegan food (should be easy as the small person is on a dairy free diet at the moment anyway…)
  • cook more (I’m on a roll at the moment, so need to keep it up)
  • keep office tidy (yeah, right – need to get it tidy in the first place. Having said that, made a start today on my desk… it’s getting there)
  • practice more (bass that is, not medicine or law or anything – at the end of the two tours with Level 42 and the Schizoid band, my playing was probably the best it’s ever been, need to work on maintaining that…)
  • spend less time just mucking about on line (opening the chat room at thedudepit.com hasn’t helped…)
  • get my tax sorted out, and then stay on top of it (fairly short term aim, but it needs to be done in the next few days!)
  • do at least 50 solo gigs (with 20 or so already booked, this one shouldn’t be too tricky to acheive…)
  • release another duo CD (plans are already afoot)
  • start work on at least one book (either method, theory, looping concepts or general musical-based musings… still haven’t decided – suggestions to the usual address…)

So there you go – that’s my year mapped out… a bit.

what are yours?

The Small Person and I had a lovely quiet new year – watched ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ yesterday, and ‘Monsters Inc’ today – both highly recommended, fine fine films. Went for a drive up to Crews Hill today – lots of garden centres there – but the whole world was aparently under about three feet of water – blocked roads ‘n’ everything…

Soundtrack – I’ve spent a lot of time these last couple of days listening to a couple of improv sessions that I did with keyboardist Patrick Wood during the first half of 2002 – one extract from that is now up on the site, as the new version of Highway 1, though I’m not sure it was even called Highway 1 back then… It’s an interesting comparison to listen to it alongside the version on ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’ (which of course, you have already?), and the live version from the Bartok gig that’s also on the MP3 page. Go on, you know you want to…

Other than that, I’ve been listening to ‘Free’ by Peter Chilvers, which is, as it says on the tin a ‘free’ album – you burn a copy, and your only commitment is to make sure you burn two more copies and pass it on! It’s a fascinating experiment in the pure power of exposure – loads of people will have the CD, and hopefully lots of them will go and buy other CDs by Peter (his first solo album ‘He Wrote This’ is excellent, and available from burningshed.com) – there’s been a lot of discussion of late on the whole merits of ‘free’ music, whether it be CDR copying or MP3 downloading. Singer/Songwriter Janis Ian wrote this article for Performing Songwriter magazine last year, and it’s brilliant – she’s my new hero! Read the article and her follow up – both very good. Then, download the MP3s, and if you like what she’s doing, buy the CDs, and prove it works…

Anyway, what else have I been listening to? oh, Anita Baker ‘Rapture’ – often when I get something out to play to a student during a lesson, it stays in the play for a few days, and this did.