30 somehow…

So here I am, 30 years and two days old. And feeling every bit of those two days over 30…

Anyway, the rest of my birthday was fine – went to a party at Hoda’s in the evening (Hoda = lovely chap who works for Ashdown, throws good parties, and is a top chum), which was great fun, especially as Oroh was there (Oroh = fab bass-playing talkathon, and top chum). I hadn’t seen Oroh in ages, so it was great to be able to catch up.

The rest of the last few days at home has been split between sleeping (I’m heading towards an almost aged-felinesque sleep pattern – today, got up at 1!!), watching episodes of ‘Phoenix Nights’ on video, and sitting up very late watching the current late night trinity of The Office, Buzzcocks and I Love The 80s – all fine viewing, though it does mean we’ve been going to be after 2 each night, and The Small Person is working today… it’s fine for me sleeping in til 1pm, but not when she has to be up at 8…

Anyway, the office tidying has begun, finally – so far that means I’ve put away some CDs, and thrown out a couple of boxes of old flyers from past gigs. Oh, and taken lots of cups to be washed into the kitchen (next jobs – tidy kitchen and check cat tray).

The California gig list is just about complete – promoter-Dan has done the most amazing job on getting all these gigs, in such varied places and with varied lineups. It’s going to be so much fun!

So what’s on for the rest of the week? Some teaching, more tidying, sort out my tax return thingie, arranging the specifics of my trip to the states (accomodation, travel in and around CA, getting money changed up, etc…), and sending out more copies of ‘Not Dancing’ for review and radio – it’s been kind of slow, due to the CD coming out in the middle of the Level 42 tour, but I need to kick it into gear now…

right, off to do some tidying!

Soundtrack – lots more ‘Bright Sized Life’, India Arie ‘Acoustic Soul’, some unreleased Andre LaFosse MP3s (very good indeed), and ‘Southern Hummingbird’ by Tweet (Missy Elliott protege who’s quite good, if a little rude at times!)

Christmas taste bypass effect…

What on earth happens to people at Christmas? Yesterday I went out for
lunch with my mum and Babs (known as ‘aunti Babs, but no idea what
relation she really is to me… distant, I think, but one of our grooviest
relations and great fun..). We went to Crew’s Hill, north of Enfield, which is
the garden centre capital of the world… But also, for the next couple of
weeks, home to the most hideous ‘Christmas Wonderland’ shop that I’ve
ever come across! Millions of shiny santas, singing Bing Crosby’s dressed
as Santa, gaudy decorations, cheap plastic christmas trees, crass nativity
scenes devoid of all realism. It was horrible!!!! Scary thing was it was full! on
a monday afternoon, full of families, with kids (er, aren’t they meant to be
in school???) buying cheap nasty tat. No wonder the country’s going down
the pan when parents prioritise bad taste christmas junk over an education…
very sad…

On the up side, I did manage to find a squirrel-proof bird-feeder. Our last
one got eaten by the squirrels (not just the nuts, but the base of the feeder
as well!!) This one is built like a brick s**t house – try to get into that, you
furry terrorists!!!!

soundtrack – yesterday, I got sent a CD by John Lester, a singing
solo bassist living in Paris, but from San Fransisco. Very good it is too, well
worth looking out for (there’ll be a link to his site on the Solo Bass Network
site as soon as I find one…) This morning, I got Cupid and Psyche by Scritti
Politti through from 101CD.com. What a fantastic album!!! This is an absolute
blinder… great stuff.

Got lots of teaching on today, and will hopefully get round to adding
some photos or MP3s or both from the Level 42 tour to the site…

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!