Can't get started.

Just got back (well, ‘just’ meaning late Saturday night) from a lovely week in the south of france. Enjoyable holiday, and a chance to brush up on my v. rusty french. Really ought to go there more.

The problem with holidays is getting started again when you get back. It’s especially tricky this time as on Saturday afternoon, just before we got the plane back, I tripped over on Nice beach, grazed my shin and have strained the muscles in my arms and shoulders. So I’m aching lots, and tired from the journey, and out of sync with what I was doing before I went away.

Sunday was a Soul Space service at St Luke’s, which was lots of fun – more ambient noodling, which is always a creative pursuit. Ambient church services are a great place for trying stuff out like that as it gives that elusive musical element – context. Playing ambient music in my stupidly untidy office is pretty tough, so I need to tap into other things to inspire whatever I’m working on. In a space like the chancel at St Luke’s, with cool projections, low lighting, candles and a theme (this week was the road to Emmaus), there’s something to play for, something to soundtrack, something to be inspired by. I had planned to record it, but the lead that connects my mixing desk to the minidisc player was needed to plug a laptop into my set up in order to play a couple of tracks off CD.

So now I’m trying to get working. I’ve got normal stuff to do, like buying birthday cards (seems almost everyone I know was born in April), and some food shopping, as well as things to do with next week’s gigs and other stuff.

WAKE UP STEVE!!

SoundtrackSteve Lucas, ‘Gamma Jazz’; Muriel Anderson, ‘Heart Strings’; Andrew Cronshaw, ‘Ochre’.

Third interview finished…

I’ve just finished my third interview of the last couple of weeks… that’s me being interviewed for magazines, rather than me doing the interviewing or applying for jobs.

The interesting thing has been that each one has been via a different medium – the first one was a phone interview for magazine, which was so much fun we had to do it on two days to get all the stuff in.

The second was a prospective interview for – a magical and unique magazine/compilation CD, that works to a theme each issue. That interview was conducted by a friend of mine, Julian, and was done face to face, after a lovely dinner, and was chock full of fascinating questions (and hopefully interesting answers!) – what could be better than sitting down with intellegent interesting people talking about music?? Thanks Jules!

Tonight’s was with magazine in the US, and was conducted via MSN Messenger! I’ve done this before, for a promotional article for a tour, but not for a mag, and it seemed to work really well. Again, a very interesting set of questions, different from the other two mags, and a lot of fun.

I do like this job!

Soundtrack, ‘Heartstrings’; Tony Scherr, ‘Come Around’.

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…

Holiday/tour recap, Pt III – Nashville

Right, so we’re four days in, and are in our fourth state (Started in Illinois, and drove through Indiana and Kentucky on our way to Tennesee – not sure how many Es Ns and Ss there are in that…)

And we arrive in Nashville, where we’re staying with Elron for a week. Elron is the unofficial Sheriff of Nashville, and a very nice man.

Tuesday, I gave a Masterclass at Belmont University, as arranged by my good friend Roy Vogt – Roy used to play bass for Englebert Humperdink but quit that and is now doing rather well for himself as a Nashville session dude and teaching at Belmont in their music dept. A great guy, and a fantastic bassist, who sat in with me on a couple of tunes during the session. Sadly it was only an hour, so I couldn’t do as much playing or talking as I’d like, but it went well.

During the rest of the week, I had a couple of little Coffee-shop gigs, the first one was at The Sherlock Holmes pub, an English-style pub in Nashville, and I was joined by two special guests, Muriel Anderson, who’s wonderful and I’ve played with before, and Stan Lassiter, who’s wonderful but I hadn’t played with before. Much fun was had, and it was nice to meet up with some people that I’d beein emailing for a while but never met – Dan Borsos from Churchbass, and Sarita Stewart (Sarita organised the gigs – hurrah for Sarita!)

After the gig, we went off to see HREF=”http://www.davepomeroy.com” TARGET=”NEW”>Dave Pomeroy’s trio, with Rob Ickes and Andyt Leftwich at Douglas Corner – one of the many gorgeous little music clubs in Nashville. An unbelieveable band. Seriously, some of the most amazing instrumental music I’ve ever heard live. If you’re anywhere near Nashville, you’ve got to go and see these guys live. Their combined CVs mark them out as Nashville session royalty, so catch them live and see what all the fuss is about. And say hi to Dave from me.

The second of the gigs was at Caffeine, a cool little coffee shop, which again was a lot of fun, and again more chums turned up, namely Josh Doyle and Dave Pomeroy, along with the group of friends that we’d gone to Nashville to visit in the first place – Elron, Julie Lee, Julie’s dad Larry, Anne, Gail… lovely people one and all.

Much of the rest of our time in Nashville was taken up with our favourite holiday past-time; browsing CD shops. With the dollar being pretty weak, it’s a prime time to buy CDs, so we made the most of it.

Saturday afternoon was The first of three Julie Lee gigs that we got to see. Julie’s a bluegrass/americana singer/songwriter that I’ve played with over here in the past, and she’s amazing. Destined for super-stardom for sure (she’s already got Alison Krauss, Vince Gill and Colin Linden on her new album, which is in the Americana airplay top 30 in the states!). This gig was an in-store at Tower Records, and she was sounding mighty fine.

Sunday morning was church at Downtown Pres, preceded by a visit to their book-club/discussion group, which was much fun (though the minister at the church looks kind of like an albino Bin Laden, without the bombs, which was slightly disconcerting). Downtown Pres is an amazing place – a beautiful bit of architecture (check out the photos on the website), and also hosts numerous artist’s workshop spaces and runs a feed the homeless programme as well as all kinds of other cool stuff. A good bunch of people (we suspect also run by Elron, ultimately).

And that’s where we’ll leave it for now, as Monday/Tuesday were spent adding a couple of other states to our holiday stats, and visiting more friends… stay tuned!

soundtrack – Jan Gabarek, ‘It’s OK To Listen To The Gray Voice; Talk Talk, ‘Laughing Stock’; Kris Delmhorst, ‘Songs For A Hurricane’.

Happy Birthday to the Aged Feline!

So, today is The Aged Feline’s 19th birthday!! That’s pretty close to 100 in human years, so he’s doing remarkably well. Especially given that we didn’t think he’d make it to Christmas last year. He’s got chronic renal insufficiency (as you already know), but a combination of good diet, and much TLC seems to have it under control for the moment, and he lives a full a varied life… well, sleeping, eating and snugglin’, with the occasional wander round the garden. Today he took a birthday walk, and here he is –

looking remarkably sprightly!

So raise your glasses in a toast to The Aged Feline, and feel free to post birthday wishes in the forum…

Steve

Soundtrack – right now, David Sylvian and Holgar Czukay, ‘Flux and Mutablility’; recently – Muriel Anderson, ‘HeartStrings’; James Taylor, ‘Hourglass’; Nic Paton, ‘The Middle Of It All’ – Nic was in a south african band in the 80s called ‘Friend’s First’, whose album ‘We See A New Africa’ is in my most played albums of all time list. I loved it and played it non-stop for ages. I met Nic recently, and he’s just released this solo CD, which sounds nothing like Friends First at all, but is an interesting mix of acoustic and electronic singer/songwriter stuff, like a more low-fi edgy version of David Grey, or a less agressive The The. There’s a touch of mid-80s Edwin Collins in his voice too. Good stuff, well worth giving a listen to!

Too long in the wasteland…

…out of blog-dom. So let’s catch up.

When did I blog last? er, 25th, so let’s start from there…

Friday 25th was Rob’s leaving do – Rob’s a friend from church, moving away from London down to Devon (wise man, methinks), and it was lovely to see so many friends turn out to give him a good send off. He’ll be missed…

Saturday 26th – Masterclass at Colchester Academy Of Modern Music‘s Bass Day. Lesson number one in the Steve-makes-mistakes-so-you-can-learn-from-them book is always check the address of the venue – I got an address off the website for what I assumed was the college venue, but was actually the home of the organiser. Got there, rang him, and was fortunately only 5 minutes away. Lesson two is not to trust the RAC website’s directions to anywhere – very shoddy indeed, and resulted in a 45 minute detour on a journey that should’ve taken less than 2 hours anyway…

However, the masterclass went really well – seems like a great little set up at CAMM, run by good people. The questions asked were good, and we were able to talk a lot about the process of learning an instrument and how to apply practice material to real music… A fine day.

This week I’ve been to a couple of gigs – the first was G3 at The Albert Hall – G3 on this tour is Robert Fripp, Steve Vai and Satch. Fripp was up first, and was, as expected, remarkable, playing a beautiful beguiling, deep, rich soundscape, to an audience half captivated, half disinterested. Breathtaking stuff, but pearls before swine methinks for much of the audience. Then Vai came on – did a solo intro on a triple-necked guitar, before getting his band up on stage. Now I had high expectations of Vai’s set – I know he’s an incredibly gifted technician on the guitar and have heard some stuff by him that I really liked, but tonight was a bit of a disappointment. Actually a huge disappointment. Not helped by possibly the worst mix I’ve ever heard in a major concert hall – no drums, very little bass, a tiny bit of keys and second guitar and then Steve’s guitar ripping your face off. And it’s not like I had some weird seats up in the gods – I was not far behind the sounddesk, so apparently in a good aural vantage point. Anyway, the material didn’t grab me at all either, and the shredding got tired very quickly. Especially following Fripp, it seemed unbelieveably dated and teenage. It’s a shame, cos I really wanted to like it, but it so didn’t happen for me. That coupled with the fan on the front of the stage blowing Steve’s hair back… oops.

Last on was Joe Satriani – This is the fourth time I’ve seen satch, and the third time in 18 months, and by far the best. His current band of Matt Bissonette on Bass, Jeff Campitelli on drums and Gaylan Henson on second guitar is, IMO, his strongest ever, the tunes were there, the shredding was well placed, the mix was better, the interplay between the musicians was great, and Fripp joined in on some numbers towards the end of the set. The playing was a bit freer than before, with Joe giving Jeff and Matt a fair bit of space to play, deservedly so, as they are definitely one of the finest old school heavy rock rhythm sections I’ve ever heard.

The encore was matt and jeff with all three guitarists doing Ice Nice, Red (a King Crimson number) and Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World – apart from the obviously surreal experience of seeing Fripp and the Shredders takling Neil Young, it was a great choice of tunes, and Free World an inspired choice of closing number. The aftershow was fun too, with a chance to catch up with Jeff and Matt and Matt’s wife, and see Jakko, Clive and a few other old friends too…

Wednesday night was an altogether more satisfying musical experience, watching Spearhead at the Jazz Cafe (thanks to Deb and Alice for the ticket!) – one of the finest live bands on the planet, they were well on form tonight, if a little loud. A heavier reggae content than the last couple of gigs I’ve seen, they were nonetheless as groovalicious as ever, with Franti’s tales of his recent trip to Iraq an inspiration to everyone there. Very late finish though – why on earth did they start at 9.30 if they wanted to play for three hours? surely starting an hour earlier would have made sense…

Which brings us to last night’s gig, an improv sesh with Filomena, Orphy, Dudley, Roger and Roland, along with some improv theatre and dance stuff. A slightly shakey start before the gig got underway due to a couple of misunderstandings about the nature of the gig, but the gig itself was fantastic – great players, lovely people, some marvellous music and surprisingly engaging dance and theatre stuff. All in all, a marvellous night. It’s always great to catch up with the lovely musicians on these gigs, and Fil gave me space to play a solo tune from the new album, which was a great plug (and I sold a few CDs afterwards too… :o)

anyway, in between all those events, I’ve spent the last week doing album/tour/promo stuff – emailing radio, sending out CDRs, ringing venues etc. all trying to get this bass-show on the road! Things are looking good!

SoundtrackCathy Burton, ‘Speed Your Love’; Muriel Anderson, ‘Heartstrings’; me, ‘Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt 1’ and of course more of the new album.

mini-tour report.

Dropped Muriel Anderson off at Stansted airport this afternoon, after three gigs with her over the weekend, and three very fine gigs they were.

First up was Lauderdale House in Highgate, part of the acousticmasters.com summer concert series – it was especially nice to catch up with Mo Foster who dropped in to say hi before the gig, and to meet Terry and Hugh who organised the concert series. Performers on the small club venue level rely on a select group of dedicated, generous magic people who put lots of effort into making great music available to concert goers, and Hugh and Terry fit that category. Hugh’s a marvellous guitarist in his own right, and you can catch his at one of the future concerts at Lauderdale… Anyway, the gig went well to a ‘select’ audience, who were very generous in their CD and DVD buying :o)

Saturday was a day off, and a chance for Muriel to see a bit of London (after I dragged her down to Brick Lane for Sarda‘s leaving curry) – the small person and I took Muriel to see Trafalgar Square, Downing Street , The Houses of Parliment Big Ben, Westminster Abbey etc. before walking back along the south bank of the Thames for coffee in the National Theatre…

Sunday was the second of our gigs, this one was at the Ship Theatre, Sevenoaks in Kent, and was part of the Sevenoaks guitar festival, organised by another one of these marvellous promoter people, John Levett. The Ship is a gorgeous theatre, part of a private school, with tremendous acoustics and a lovely listening audience. Muriel and I got to do more duet stuff, experiment with a few improv things as well as playing on eachother’s tunes, and much fun was had by all!

And finally, Monday was back at Traders in Petersfield, promoted once again by the truly marvellous Stiff Promotions – if only every small town in the UK had its own Iain Martin, I’d be touring constantly. Thanks to Iain and Jeff who owns the venue, Traders has a fantastic program of live music, this being my third visit there this year, having played solo and with Michael Manring. As with both my previous Traders gigs, this one was sold out, and Muriel and I did even more duet stuff and improv, definitely boding well for future collaborative stuff.

So a marvellous three gigs. My new mixing desk arrived on Friday morning, so this gave me a chance to try it out, and my setup of Accugroove 110 cabs, QSC poweramp and Mackie Desk worked beautifully for Muriel’s guitar. I’ve never played through another bass rig that could reproduce the sound of an acoustic guitar as faithfully as this!! Amazing stuff.

On the bad news front, Muriel and I found out just before we started the tour that our mutual friend, Eric Roche has just been diagnosed with cancer of the saliva gland. Eric is an oustanding fingerstyle acoustic guitarist, teacher and music journalist, so our careers have followed similar paths in lots of ways, Muriel and I visited Eric today, and he’s doing really well – he’s an amazing guy (his marvellous music makes even more sense when you meet him). Please pray for him, if that’s something you do. And to aid you in your prayers, you should get his latest CD, ‘With These Hands’ – I’m listening to it at the moment and it’s beautiful. He’s playing in Brighton tomorrow night, and has a few other gigs around before he goes for surgery in a couple of weeks time, so catch him live or get the CD, or both. His new CD can be bought here from Amazon (sorry, couldn’t find a small shop that had it listed…) and his site has details of his other CDs. Go get ’em.

Soundtrack – right now, Eric Roche, ‘With These Hands’. earlier on, Denison Witmer, ‘Philadelphia Songs’ (he’s playing in London this week, hoping to catch him at the Windmill in Brixton on Sunday); Nick Harper, ‘Double Life’; Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle, ‘One From The Heart’; Ralph Towner/Gary Peacock, ‘A Closer View’; Joni Mitchell, ‘Travelogue’; James Taylor, ‘October Road’.

New album on the horizon…

So work has officially started on my new album… I’m in what’s commonly called ‘pre-production’ at the moment – getting the tunes, sounds, ideas and technicalities together before starting the actual recording session. That’ll begin as soon as I get my new desk through the post (a Mackie 1402), and a soundcard that’ll handle 8 inputs, allowing me to record each of the loops and processed signals separately – the desired effect being that it’ll drop the noise floor, and allow me to make sure the levels are just right all the way through the signal chain.

The 6 tracks I’ve recorded in the last week bode well for the album – no massive departures from what I’ve been doing for the last wee while, just a better and deeper take on the same kind of ground. being able to post-process the loops is going to offer a different sound canvas, and compared to Not Dancing For Chicken, running two (or possibly 3 or 4) Echoplexes will make for a more seemless looping process.

The gigs with Muriel Anderson next weekend will give me a good chance to road test a few ideas, as well as play the newer versions of the old tunes, incorporating some of what’s possible with the new setup… Having a feedback pedal for one of the Echoplexes is really handy, though I’d like to get one that works a little more smoothly…

What else is happening? Ah yes, went to Reading last night to another Delicatessen event – that’s the people who co-promoted both of the solo bass night gigs at 21 South Street in Reading, and is co-run by The Cheat and Sarda.

Last night’s musical stars were Cathy Burton and Juliet Turner – two singer/songwriters that I really like, so seeing them on the same bill was a bit of a treat. I’ve known Juliet for a few years (she rather wisely picked out my duo with cellist Harry Napier as her favourite musical act of greenbelt a few years ago – not that she has an official published list of such things, as far as I know…), and have known Cathy for quite a while too.

Cathy was on first, playing solo with just an acoustic guitar (bit of a treat, given that she usually gigs with either a band or at least with a keyboard player) – she was great, playing songs from her first album, and her soon to be released second CD.

Juliet was on top form, playing in a duo with Brian… Grace? not sure of Brian’s surname, but he’s a top-notch guitarist, and thoroughly nice bloke. Juliet played stuff from all three of her albums, all of which are marvellous, told weird stories, chatted, took the piss out of the audience, and was generally wonderful. A most enjoyable evening was had by all.

So now, it’s a trip out to the shops to get some cat litter, then back here to maybe record another idea or two for the new CD…

anyway, here’s another webcam pic…

Soundtrack – right now, me; before that, John Scofield, ‘Up All Night’, Prince, ‘Musicology’; Jonas Hellborg, ‘Ars Moriende’; Bruce Cockburn, ‘You’ve Never Seen Everything’.

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.