Tour diary vol II

So, we were up to the Espresso Garden gig, which was lots of fun. The following night (Thursday) was another gig with Michael Manring, this time at The Brookdale Lodge – this place has a heck of a lot of weird mythology around it, involving mobsters, prostitutes, ghosts and god-knows-what-else. Very odd place.

As a gig venue, however, it rules. Firstly because dinner is served in the restaurant, which has a river running through the middle of it (I kid you not), and secondly because the music room has a great PA, a marvellous soundman, and a nice stage to play on.

Thanks to a borrowed mixer, I was able to do my ‘proper’ setup for the first time on the tour, with the Echoplexes in an auxiliary channel and the MPX-G2 in stereo. The sound was fantastic. Accugroove had lent me two identical cabinets to the ones I use at home, and a poweramp, so I was pretty much rocking.

The gig went well, though the big storm outside meant the audience wasn’t huge (brookdale is up in the Santa Cruz mountains, a pretty hazardous drive in the rain!)

So we’re up to Friday – Friday I set off from Santa Cruz, called in at the new AccuGroove world HQ (very nice it is too!) on my way up to meet Jeremy Cohen in Berkley. Jeremy and I have been chatting online for years, and have met up at past NAMM shows and last year in London when he and his wife were visiting. Now it was my turn to hang out on their turf, and then take Jeremy to see Kaki King at Freight and Salvage, a fantastic acoustic music club, with a lot of history, great sound and a fab view from everywhere in the room.

Saturday was masterclass day in San Jose – after Bob the original host falling ill, Mark Wright at AccuGroove became Mr Fixit and organised for the clinic to move to the Koinonia coffee shop, which was where the AccuParty in the evening was going to be anyway.

The day was a big success, the guys who came all asked lots of great questions, played well, and seemed to take lots away from it (if you were there, don’t forget to keep the discussions going over at the forum).

The clinic was followed by the AccuParty – a fun little hang out, time for people to try out the AccuGroove cabinets, and a chance for me to play some cool duets with Edo Castro.

Sunday – breakfast with the Turners, then left their lovely home and headed north to Novato to see more of my favourite people in California, Anderson Page, who works for Modulus and has been a good friend for many years, and Laura. After all the driving around gigging and teaching of the previous week, an evening in watching Pink Floyd live at Pompeii, drinking gorgeous wine (a present from Jim at the masterclass – future masterclass attendees take note!) and catching up was just what the doctor ordered. A marvellous evening on every level.

Monday morning I took my basses into Modulus – Joe Perman, who used to work there, has come back, and in the interim, my carved top fretted 6 was built, so he wanted a look at that, and while there sorted out the set up and intonation for me (thanks Joe!).

From there, I drove up to Sacramento to see Mike Roe. Mike’s the singer/guitarist in the 77s, who I’ve opened for in Sacramento before, and also in Orbis, an ambient side-project who opened for Michael Manring and I a couple of times. Dinner with Mike and Devon followed by watching about half of ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Motown’ made for another great evening.

Tuesday following breakfast I set off back to the Bay Area, calling in to see Michael Manring on the way, to discuss the next step in our plan for solo bass world domination. And then it was back to AccuGroove-land, for dinner with Mark Wright and family, and talking long into the night before flying home Wednesday.

All in all, a great trip – meeting up with so many great people in such a short space of time give me faith in the world. It often seems like a crappy place with the good people few and far between, but there are loads of ’em around. Much fine music was made, and much fun had.

Soundtrack – the CDs I took with me included – Talking Heads, ‘Stop Making Sense’; Athlete, ‘Vehicles and Animals’; Iain Archer, ‘Flood The Tanks’; Peter Gabriel, ‘Greatest Hits’; The Cure, ‘Greatest Hits’; Jing Chi, ‘3D’; Prefab Sprout, ‘Steve McQueen’; Julie Lee, ‘Stillhouse Road’; Pierce Pettis, ‘Everything Matters’; The Dum Dums, ‘It Goes Without Saying’; John Scofield, ‘Up All Night’; Bruce Cockburn, ‘Live’.

American Tales pt 1

So I’m currently in Santa Cruz, having survived NAMM, and the drive north, and one gig with Michael Manring.

Got in last Tuesday, and was staying with the wonderful Doug, Vida and Dani for the first couple of days – it’s great to come out here and immediately feel at home. It just serves to reinforce my dislike of hotels.

Two days with the Lunns, then off down to NAMM. NAMM, for those new to the game, is a HUGE music equipment trade fair. The connection with the music industry means there are a fair few lovely people around. The commercial side of it means there are also a lot of losers on the make there. I tend to view NAMM as an archepelego (spelling, harv?) of lovely people in a sea of turd. you just run from one booth of nice people to the next, hoping not get hijacked by some moron trying to sell MIDI leiderhosen or the keyboard the doubles as a trouser press for musicians on the move…

All in all, it was a fab experience – I played at and compered the BassQuake event on Thursday night, which was much fun – Dan Elliot, the BassQuake founder, does an amazing job of putting together a great show every year.

On the show floor, I did one short set a day each for Modulus and AccuGroove, and spent lots of time just milling around catching up with people I rarely get to see. Some great friends where there – Anderson from Modulus, Mark and David from AccuGroove, Peter Murray, Michael Manring, Doug Lunn (again), Warren from Fodera, Wally and Lady Bo, Carl at Lakland, Eric Roche, Steve and Jill Azola, Rick and Jessica Turner, Dave Swift, Muriel Anderson, Sarita Stewart, John East, John Fearrante, Otiel Burbridge, Jeff Campatelli, Bill Walker, Bob Amstadt, Lowell, Dude. etc. etc. etc. loads and loads of great people, many of whom I only get to see once a year. Eating is a sacrament at NAMM – for me, I break bread with the Subway people every day – a foot long veggie delight, being my element of choice. Getting to eat with friends at NAMM is great, time away from the convention centre. Friday it was with Doug, Vida, Dani and Vinnie, Saturday with Peter Murray, Lunch was with Bob Amstadt on Saturday, and Tal Wilkenfeld on Sunday (fantastic young bassist from Australia working in NYC – you’re going to be hearing much more from her, I guarantee it).

So NAMM was lots of fun once again, and by not writing for a mag this year, I had a lot more time for just hanging out and enjoying the show.

During NAMM I was staying with Bob (QSC Bob from all the bass forums) and Alison – great people, who made me very welcome. The best thing about travelling is the people. The worst is missing the small person and the cats, but emailing whenever possible, and the occasional snatched phone call is having to do for now…

Sunday night after NAMM, Doug Lunn and I headed off the the Knitting Factory in LA to see Kaki King play – Kaki’s a killer guitarist, produced by the wonderful David Torn. She’s from that post-Hedges school, with a few twists of her own, and a great line in on-stage patter. A killer gig.

Tuesday was the long drive north, up here to Santa Cruz, staying with Rick and Jessica Turner. Rick and I could be stuck in a room together for months and not run out of things to talk about. They are both two of the most interesting and marvellous people I know, so coming here is my Northern California home, in the way that staying with the Lunns is in SoCal.

which brings us up to last night’s gig, back at the Espresso Garden in San Jose with Michael Manring. playing with Michael is, as you know from my raving after the UK gigs, the most enjoyable and fullfilling musical enviroment i’ve ever found myself in, and last night was great. Thanks to everyone who turned out.

And now I’m off out for lunch with Rick Walker, another great friend and fab percussionist.

more later…

uplateupdate

So I was just getting over my jetlag from LA when I did a shift at the St Luke’s homeless shelter overnight on Saturday, got to bed just before 4, slept til gone 3 on Sunday afternoon, and couldn’t sleep last night til 4am… sod it, back to square one.

Well, the latest on Paul is that I saw him on thursday in hospital, and he’s doing really really well considering what he’s been through. Amazing really.

I’m back teaching again now, after leaving a few days blank when I got back in order to get over the jetlag. I really miss teaching when I’m away (it was great to do the masterclass in San Jose as a chance to do some teaching while in the US). And the promo for the gig with Michael Manring are in full swing – emailing radio and magazines, doing up flyers and posters to stick up and handout… all good fun.

i’m also working on getting some gigs for/with Muriel Anderson – wonderful guitarist, and lovely person, that I saw play in London last year, and who is back here in May – so been talking to promotion people about that too, hoping that we can get some stuff together. And then there’s the ongoing work of getting solo gigs and duo gigs with Theo! It never stops. Fortunately I’ve not got a couple of promoters who are helping out – Iain at Stiff Promotions is doing a marvellous job, and Richard Ravenhill who is putting on the Brighton gig is a superstar too!

Got an email at the weekend saying that my AccuGroove cabinets should be shipped out to me this week – I’m rather excited about getting them, having played through them in the States for the tour, and loving the sound. We still don’t know if these ones will be the prototypes of my signature powered cabs, or just passive ones, requiring a poweramp separately for now, but either way, the sound is the nutz, and I’m rather excited! :o)

The combination of my new bass, new cabs, and some groovy new sounds on my Lexicon MPX-G2 has given me a great renewed impetus for writing – as soon as it all arrives, I’m going to start work on the next solo album. I’ve got lots of ideas and concepts to work on, and am finding the right kind of music for the fretted 6 string. It won’t be out til the end of the summer at the earliest, and depending on what happens with distribution deals, I may have to repress ‘And Nothing But The Bass’ before then (as it’s just about sold out), but I’m really looking foward to working on it!

There are also plans to head back out to Italy soon, and do some more recording with Luca Formentini – Luca’s new solo album, ‘Subterranea’ is out now, and is excellent – a really inspired collage of guitar-originated sounds that for the most part sound very little like a guitar, along with some found-sound samples and lots of processing. CDs like that stand or fall on the ambience, and Luca’s Cd is beautifully recorded and put together, and has been spinning a lot in my CD player over the weekend. I’m really looking forward to making some more music with him.

Soundtrack – right now, Prefab Sprout, ‘Life Of Surprises’ (am in a Prefab Sprout obsessional phase at the moment). before that, The Ben Taylor Band, ‘Famous Among The Barns’; Luca Formentini, ‘Subterranea’; Kofi Bakerk, ‘Karisma’; John Lester, ‘Big Dreams And The Bottom Line’; Daft Punk, ‘Homework’; and Vida Vierra, ‘Woman Of The Waters’ – Vida – along with her husband Doug and daughter Dani – is one of my favourite people in the world, and is a marvellous singer/songwriter, dancer, choreographer and activist. Most of my favourite memories of this most recent trip to California aren’t of gigs (though the gigs were great), but are of spending time with Vida Doug and Dani, and with Rick and Jessica Turner – lovely people one and all.

Road Tales Pt 1.

As you may be able to tell by the time this is posted, I’m jetlagged. very jetlagged. Two hours sleep, then wide awake. It’s 4.38am, and I’m trying to think of things to do, listening to Muriel Anderson’s ‘A Journey Through Time’ (Muriel’s great, and will hopefully be coming to the UK in April…), and chatting to Trip on MSN.

So California stories – flew in on Sat 10th, and got the SuperShuttle to Anaheim, where I was recording a record with Kofi Baker and Ned Evett. Got set up and crashed out.

The next three days were a mix of hanging with Ned while Kofi taught, and then recording all evening – as late as my jetlag going that way would allow us. the material was largely improvs, most of which we then played again in some sort of structured way to see what came out. It’s now all in the editing – some great material was certainly recorded, but the wheat and chaff need separating! Kofi and Ned are both marvellous musicians, so it was a lot of fun to do, and a bit of a challenge to be back playing complex rythmic twiddly stuff after lots of ambient noodling…

then, NAMM – huge trade show in Anaheim, music gear manufacturers, dealers, distributors, journos and players descend on the convention centre, in a desparate attempt to do business. the makers are trying to hawk their wares – some by just making good stuff, others by getting porn stars to stand around on their booths, or lame 80s has-been rock stars doing signings… normally means the product isn’t worth looking at.

I was playing for Modulus and AccuGroove, and doing a show report for Bass Guitar Magazine, and catching up with lots of old friends – it’s one of the downsides of being a bassist is that there are rarely more than one of us on a gig, so we only meet up in airports and at NAMM… Also got to meet up with lots of friends from talkbass, the dudepit, churchbass, TBL, the lowdown, and my street-team! the now annual tradition of dinner with David Torn, Doug Lunn and Vida Vierra was as marvellous as ever, and playing at the Bass Bash was a blast, as was my gig in the lobby of the Marriott next to the show (ah yes, solo bass goes loung-core…)

NAMM ended sunday, on monday trip and I drove to Costa Mesa for a coffee house gig lined up for us by Bob Lee – nice little coffee shop, played outside, Seth Horan turned up and did a couple of tunes and was wonderful. Trip’s set was marvellous too, and his ‘did I suck?’ question at the end was so laughable it almost warranted a kick in the plums. Lots of friendly faces turned up, including Fred Hodson from Talkbass (thanks Fred!), Kerry Getz and Jason Feddy. Crashed at Kerry’s house, and on Tuesday morning Bob Lee showed Trip and I round QSC, and they lent me a poweramp for the tour (the AccuGroove powered cabs weren’t finished in time for the tour, so I took a pair of passive ones, and used the QSC amp, which sounded great.

Tuesday afternoon was the gig at CalArts with Andre LaFosse, which went well, and included a marvellous duo version of MMFSOG. Then off to see Vida and Dani for a few days. I’ve probably spent 3 months total in California now over the last 5 years, and this was the first time I’ve been to the beach! Took a walk along Venice beach, wandered around book shops and record shops, and soaked up the atmosphere. Also took a walk round the Yogananda peace garden in Santa Monica which is a beautiful inspiring place, where I’d be spending a lot of time were I living nearby…

Wednesday night went to see Abe Laboriel playing with 3 Prime at the Baked Potato – a trip to LA wouldn’t be complete without either seeing Abe or going to the BP, and as always the band were amazing.

Friday started with breakfast with Jimmy Haslip, and was followed by the long drive to Santa Cruz, which was even longer due to it taking two hours to get out of LA! But got to Rick and Jessica Turner’s place late evening, and talked for hours. Some tours are all about heavy gig schedules and travellings. Others are all about the people you meet. This was a people tour – the gigs were great, but it was the friendships, talking long into the night, eating lovely food, plotting world domination that made this trip special. I travel half way round the world and get treated like family, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Saturday (24th Jan we’re up to), was dudepit clinic day, at Bob Streetteam’s house – 11 guys, lots of a basses, and a day of talking and thinking about music, and playing some stuff to demonstrate a few concepts which will hopefully keep the guys going til next year. Bob did a sterling job of organising and hosting the event – well above and beyond any expected level of support from a street-teamer. I’m constantly amazed at people’s generousity. There’s plenty of dark stuff going on in the world, and while governments are going about their f-ed up evil business, nice people are running counter to it, demostrating friendship and grace that makes you smile at the world, and gives you hope.

Sunday was KPIG day – Michael Manring and I playing solo and duo on this most wonderful of radio stations.

Next couple of days are spent shuttling backwards and forwards between AccuGroove world HQ (Mark’s house) in Cupertino, and Santa Cruz, catching up with more old friends and hanging out with the Turners and Muriel Anderson.

Then the ‘big’ gigs – three dates with Michael Manring and Trip Wamsley. All three gigs went really really well – loads of friends turned up, Trip and Michael both played really really well, we all sold CDs, had a blast, played some very cool trios and a tasty cover of Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Pacing The Cage’ each night. Each gig afforded us more time to see friends – staying with Bob Streetteam, and Mike Roe was great – and to play lots of fine music to lovely people. The Espresso Garden show was sold out, with lots of people unable to get in (fortunately they were able to stand by the door and listen, but still…)

Then, the long drive back to LA, introducing Trip to the delights of Prefab Sprout on the way, back to see Doug, Vida and Dani, out for Doug’s birthday, a trip round socal delivering gear back to its rightful owners, and a deep sleep.

Sunday, departure day, started with a dance class – no, I didn’t dance, much as I’d have liked to – I was part of the percussion section, which was more fun than one should have on a sunday morning. Doug dropped me at the airport, and after 74 levels of security checking, got on the plane, and fortunately sat next to a fascinating woman called Gael, and chatted for most of the way home, pausing to watch ‘Whale Rider’ and ‘School Of Rock’.

A great trip – possibly my fave trip so far to the states. some great gigs, new family, catching up with old friends, fun at NAMM, great contacts for the future, and a sense that all is not lost with the world despite the crapness of so many things from Dubya to the Dean Girls.

Doug, Vida, Dani, Rick, Jessica, Elias, Trip, Michael, Kelly M, Dan, Wally, Mark, Suzy, Bob A Kelly A, Mike, Kofi, Ned, Kerry, Bob L, DT, Seth, Becca, Jimmy, Anderson, Gael, Keith, Muriel and any others who’ve slipped my mind momentarily – many marvellous friends old and new, thankyou all. (good lord, three weeks in LA and I’ve come back an unreconstructed hippie…!)

And now it’s 5.23am, I need sleep. badly.

more on Tuesday’s gig with Theo soon…

Soundtrack – Muriel Anderson, ‘A Journey Through Time’, Mike Roe, ‘Say Your Prayers’, Luca Formentini, ‘Subterranean’ – three lovely friends with three lovely albums.

Christmas arrives early

in my house, with the arrival of my new bass.

here she is –

The spec – Modulus fretted 6 string, carved top (the first bass like this that Modulus have ever made!) semi-hollow, Chechen fingerbaord and top, Mahogany body, Bartolini pickups and (I think) Aguilar circuit. I’ve already strung it up with a set of Elites Flatwounds, which sound amazing on it, and will get a U-Retro preamp put in it ASAP (same as the one in my fretless 6 string).

Suffice to say, it’s an unbelievably beautiful bass, sounds incredible, is a dream to play and I’m really excited about the musical possibilities it offers me!

Sadly my pictures don’t do the beauty of the craftsmanship proper justice – I’ll get some better pix taken ASAP…

Soundtrack – still Rob Jackson

A week in the life of…

me. what a surprise.

When did I last blog (quick check…), Ah yes, Sunday – right since then? I’ve done some teaching, we’ve scrapped the small person’s car, and on Monday night I went to a ‘Bob Harris presents’ gig at The Stables in Wavendon. The lineup was great – Heather Myles (Mary Chapin Carpenter sings Buddy Holly sort of vibe), Nick Harper and Thea Gilmore.

Nick Harper was the main attraction for me – having seen him play at Greenbelt, after having been introduced to his music by Catherine Streetteam (thanks!), I’ve been looking for a chance to see him play again, and as the marvellous JJ aka mini-harv is promoting the series of shows.

Nick’s live shows have to see seen to be believed. He sings and plays acoustic guitar, but the twist is that he takes two processors with him, one for voice and one for guitar, distorts his guitar to sound like an electric on occasion, puts big delays on his voice, and tunes his guitar down a fourth from usual so gets an insane amount of low end out of it anyway. A genuine one man band, with more on stage energy than most four piece bands and zero gimmick factor – just an amazing show with some great songs. His new album, blood songs, is excellent.

Thea’s set was good, though a bit of the guitar and nearly all the bass parts were on backing tracks, which – call me old fashioned – just doesn’t work for a ‘rootsy’ show – at some points there were three guitars and keyboards going – surely one of them could have actually played a bass line??? Her songs were fine, and he voice is lovely, but the canned part of the show really didn’t do it for me. When she dropped it back to a more acoustic sound, she was really really good, and if she was doing a solo tour, I’d go and see her again in a heartbeat. But the tracks have to go.

The other bizarre highlight of the evening was being recognised by some people who had seen me play at the Stables with the Schizoid Band, and came up to say hi – which I was doing the merch table for Nick… not often that one gets spotted doing merch, but it made for an interesting diversion from selling CDs!

Other than that, it’s been a week of buying christmas cards, writing a christmas newsletter and then today finding out that my new bass will be shipped over from the states this week!!!! HOW EXCITING IS THAT????? I can’t wait. Anderson, the artist relations guy at Modulus, reckons it’s incredible – and despite working in artist relations, he’s not usually given to hyperbole, so I’m even more excited than I would have been!!!

Soundtrack – Nick Harper, ‘Blood Songs’; Martyn Joseph, ‘Whoever It Was Who Brought Me Here Will Have To Take Me Home’ (more magic for the welsh cockburn); Mabulu, ‘Marimbo’ (Mozambique african hip-hop crossover stuff. Marvellous); Stevie Wonder, ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ (certainly in the key of my life).

Too many downloads??

One of the uber-cool things about having this new webserver is that I’ve got a really excellent stats program that tells me all about who’s been visiting which pages they’ve been looking at, and what they’ve been downloading. I had no idea I was getting so many downloads!! hundreds of MP3 downloads a week, it’s remarkable.

Which begs the question, is there too much audio on the MP3s page? Is it stopping people from buying the CDs, cos the MP3s are enough? It’s a pretty bleedin’ selfish thing to do to download all the audio, burn it to CD and never buy the proper CDs, but maybe that’s what people are doing – I’ve made it too easy for people not to buy the CDs… I mean, I’m still selling CDs, but not in the quantities you’d expect given the amount of downloaded material there is off the site…

So, here’s the challenge. If you want more downloads, you gotta start buying more CDs! Lots of CD sales = lots more MP3s being made available. If you’ve not got all the CDs yet, then shame on you – go and get them now, via the paypal links etc…

And if you have got them, er, convince someone else to buy them…

What have I been up to? Well, on the music equipment front, I’ve bought a Mindprint Envoice preamp, which is absolutely lovely – really nice clean tube sound, with a great compressor and parametric EQ as well. I’m running it in the FX loop on my MPX-G2, and it just sounds delish.

I’m also in the process of negotiating a new amp deal, after finishing my working relationship with Ashdown – I’ve been using Ashdown stuff for about 5 years, and they make great amps, but a solo player doing what I do needs a certain kind of support from a company like that, and I wasn’t getting it. They seemed to have lost interest in helping to promote what I do, so it was time to head elsewhere. A shame in some ways, given the length of my time promoting their stuff (most of my students use ashdown amps, and I get about 15-20 emails a week asking questions about ashdown related stuff – BTW, from now on, it’s probably better to direct those questions through their website…) but also an exciting time, as I’m in the process of finalising a deal for a ‘signature’ powered cabinet – I’ve been after these for years, and Ashdown never made them. Finally, it looks like I’m going to get really hi quality full range powered speakers so I can start running in stereo. It should all be finalised by the end of the week, so I’ll post more about it then…

I’ve also spoken to Modulus, and my new bass should be ready in about a week! how exciting is that?????

Soundtrack – Zakir Hussain, ‘Making Music’; Three Prime, ‘Three Prime’.

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.

There's no place like home…

So, I’m home, safe and as sound as I’ll ever be… Jetlag got me bad though – this is the longest trip I’ve had to the states, and after four weeks over there, my body had adjusted rather well to the time difference, so now my body clock is screwed up. So I slept a bit yesterday afternoon, then went to bed at 12 last night, woke up at 5.30, awake til 8.15, then was asleep on and off til 6.30pm!!!! Am up again now, ploughing through email and trying to rebuild some semblace of a life… Fortunately I don’t start teaching again til next week, So I’ve got time to sort through the mountain of post and email… Fortunately both the small person and the aged feline seemed to recognise me when I arrived home, so nothing to drastic can have happened. Still haven’t unpacked yet though… need to get some washing done…

So what happened while I was in the states? Really sorry for not keeping this thing up to speed – hopefully next year I’ll have a lap top with me and will be more concientious (spelling, harv?).

Anyway – first up was the NAMM show – huge great music gear trade show – equal parts hideous schmooze-fest, and great chance to catch up with musical chums I’ve not seen in ages…

Good people I saw who I already knew – Peter Murray, Geoff Gould, the Modulus and Ashdown people, Ed Friedland, Lee Sklar, Joe Zon, Matt Garrison, Doug Wimbish, Michael Manring, David Torn, Doug Lunn, Vida Vierra, Steve Rabe, Steve and Jill Azola, Mike Tobias, Norm Stockton, Adrian Ashton, Dan Knowlton, Mark Wright, Frank Gambale, Rufus Philpot, Pete McCann, Mike Roe, Dave Pomeroy, Trip Wamsley, Lenny Jordon, Bill Leigh, Jamie Faletti, Dale Titus, Kerry Getz, Rick Turner, Clive Roberts, John Ferrante, Kim Flint, Richard Zvonar…

And Fine people I met for the first time – Elijah Torn, Will Calhoun, Daniella Sheppard, Derry Daugherty, Mike Dimin, Mike Watt, Kira Roessler, Charles Normal and Softcore (his band), Tedd Killian, Chris Tarry, Greg Heet, Dan and Laurie Schinder, Kevin Van Pamel… and lots more in both groups that I can’t remember in my near comatose jetlagged state…

Playing-wise, I was playing at the Ashdown Booth each day at 3pm, doing my solo stuff, and also hanging around a bit chatting to people there… Also played a little on the Modulus stand, with Leo Nobre and then with Bill Walker. Spent a lot of my time at the show just catching up with friends, putting the word around about the gigs and clinics, and checking out new stuff, of which there wasn’t all that much (though Ashdown did have a couple of gorgeous fake-suede bass cabs – very sexy indeed…)

Music at the show that was worth watching was pretty scarce – Ed Friedland was playing some great stuff at the Carvin Booth, and Michael Manring was doing his solo bass twiddling for Zon and SWR and astounding everyone as always. Bill Walker was making a fine noise at the Duncan-Turner Research booth, and that was Matt Garrison spent plenty of time playing at the Fodera booth, playing beautifully. That’s about all I saw…

Evenings were taken up with going to or playing gigs and eating dinner – Thursday was Frank Gambale at The Baked Potato (a bit of a NAMM ritual for me, catching Frank at least once during the weekend), Friday was the bass bash, organised by Dan Elliott who booked my tour, and acted as road manager for me. That was a great event – a few technical hitches (the venue wouldn’t let them start setting up the stage area til gone 7!), and the whole thing over-ran (bit of a NAMM tradition there…) but all in all it was a great night’s bassic entertainment – have a look at some of the pictures from the event at www.bassically.net. I did a couple of long solo numbers (No More Us And Them and MMFSOG) and the Michael Manring joined me for an improv thing that I’ve got on CD, so will hopefully post here before too long…

Anyway, Saturday night was dinner with David and Elijah Torn, Dani, Doug and Vida, and then Sunday was the first gig of the tour at Roccos in Hollywood.

The gig went really well, though the turnout was low (if everyone else was feeling the way I did after four days of NAMM, it’s not that surprising) – we didn’t start til late… musically, we had no idea how Rick Walker Andre LaFosse and I were going to gel, but the trio stuff turned out great. We all did solo sets (the running order was a bit of a shambles but it sort of worked out) then Michael Manring did some marvellous solo tunes, and all of us played together… The nicest thing about it was how inconspicuous the looping element of it all was – last time we did a loop tour, partly due to the limitations of the jamman, the looping defined the music in a very strong way. This time, with the extra subtleties available with the echoplex, we were able to loop in a music more transparent way – bringing loops in and out to allow ourselves to mutitrack, but without having to just build a loop then stop…

A couple of days off on Monday and Tuesday were spent visiting Ashdown, and Dan was chasing up last minute stuff for the tour (he worked really hard and did a great job…), then Wednesday we left SoCal and headed for San Luis Obispo for the second trio gig…

…and I’m going to stop there for a while, or my arms will fall off, or I’ll fall asleep, or my arms will fall off in my sleep, or something equally bad.

anyway, the rest of the story will follow ASAP…