To loop or not…

To Loop – have a read of this article by david torn, archived on the loopers delight website, it’s very good.

To Not Loop – well, to loop a tiny bit – have a listen to the new MP3 of me and Theo Travis that I’ve just added to the MP3s section on the site. It’s very good, and involves very little looping.

One gig I went to that I forgot to mention was Iain Archer, last thursday at Delicatessen in Reading – Deli, you’ll remember is the club that hosted me and Michael Manring and David Friesen, as well as being where I’ve played with Airstar, Julie Lee and Pierce Pettis, and is run by Evil Harv aka The Cheat, and Jimbob aka Sarda aka TAFKA-The-Man-Who-Knows. Anyway, Iain was brilliant – I’ve seen him play countless times before, and recorded and gigged with him as part of Andy Thornton’s band. His new single and album are out very soon, and are certainly eagerly awaited in this house (The Small Person and The Agen Feline are both Archie fans as well….) Also on the bill on Thursday were Electric Gaudi (used to be called Gaudi, but got threatened with legals by la famile de Gaudi the artiste…) featuring my student howard on bass, and a fine job he did too!

Soundtrack – just been listening to ‘In A Silent Way’ by Miles Davis, streamed from launch.yahoo.com – what an amazing bit of music! must buy the album v. soon. before that, was listening to Lucious Jackson, ‘Fever In Fever Out’ and Muriel Anderson, ‘Theme For Two Friends’ – both very fine albums.

The Not So Lonesome Troubadour

Great gig last night at the Troubadour. Troubadour? where have I heard that name before? ah, yes it’s where I recorded my first solo album! It wasn’t me playing last night, but Muriel Anderson, fingerstyle guitarist from Nashville. She was very very fine indeed. Great playing, marvellous between song banter, a couple of lovely vocal tunes to vary the set. All in all a great night. Also of interest, the Troubadour have completely redone their basement venue area – they’ve taken over the next door building, knocked the two cellars through, and now have a bar, a sound booth a built in PA, and a gorgeous little stage in there. I CAN’T WAIT to play there next month (30th March – put it in your diaries now!) It’s going to be very fine indeed.

Today, I’ve been trying to get through a big long list of things to do. Firstly, I’ve been trawling through the hundreds of unanswered emails in my inbox – I’ve deleted about 150, and answered about 80 so far – another 200 and something to go! After that, I’ve got to send out loads of promo copies of Not Dancing (no sales today…), and phone a load of people about gigs, send out a newsletter with the info about my upcoming gigs and radio appearance, and tidy my office and the kitchen, which is a tip…

Soundtrack Last night and this morning it was ‘Theme For Two Friends’ by Muriel Anderson – guitar and cello duets, absolutely gorgeous. This one is goign to be spending a lot of time in my CD player over the next few weeks, that’s for sure. Now, I’m listening to the recording from the
Burning Shed Loop Night in Norwich last December – Darkroom, me, Theo Travis, Roger Eno, Peter Chilvers and Centrazoon. Some great stuff on there. Sadly, there’s a dirty great earth hum coming off my bass rig all the way through, but I’m going to try and eq some of it out for an MP3 before too long…

A Play What He Wrote

Last night I went to the theatre (er, beginning to sound like a 12 year old writing his summer project – “we went on holidays and it was really good and then we went to the beach and it was really good and my dad fell in the sea and we all laughed and then my mum laughed so much she dropped her ice-cream and we all laughed but she wasn’t laughing any more because she said she had ice-cream on her best clothes and if daddy thought that was so funny…’ etc. etc. or, er, something like that)

Anyway, as I said. Theatre, Last night. Brilliant. Genius. Speechless.

The play in question was called ‘The Madness Of George Dubya’, and is apparently an update on Dr Strangelove (or at least that’s what the review in the Guardian said – I’ve never seen Dr Strangelove, so can’t really comment on the veracity of that… but I digress) – anyway, if it is an update, it’s an incredibly topical one. It was, in fact, written in three days in January, and rehearsed in 6, before beginning a sold out run at Theatro Technis in London, then moved on to The Pleasance Theatre in Holloway, London.

The story revolves around a gung-ho US general on an airbase in the UK, deciding to order an all out nuclear strike on Iraq, and being the only one who knows the code to call the order back, you’ve now got your suspence. However, the play revolves around the idiotic mumblings of the US president, and the pathetic attempts to solve the problem by our own prime ministerial buffoon, Blair. Throw into the mix Yasmina The Cleaner – an Al Quaeda operative working as a cleaner on the air-base, a couple of US pilots flying the first plane ordered to drop it’s payload (all the while discovering their long buried desires for eachother), some useless British civil servants, more US army generals and a breath-taking speech by an Iraqi Ambassador and you’ve got yourselves one of the most powerful, funny, moving, disturbing, remarkable theatrical performances I think I’ve ever seen.

Justin Butcher, the writer, has been carving a reputation for himself for a few years now – last year his play, The Seven White Masks Of Scaramouche Jones toured with Pete Possilthwaite delivering the one man show to sold out audiences round the UK. But Dubya is a whole other kind of triumph – it would have been impressive if he’d written it in 3 months. 3 days suggests some sort of pact with the devil in exchange for genius, or conversely an angelic visitation, complete with finished script. Truly unbelieveable. And on top of that, one of the most vital, vibrant and controversial comments on the current impending (pleasegoddontletithappen) war.

‘If’ they get another run at it, you would have to be stark staring mad to miss it. Already they’ve had coverage on CNN, in various US newspapers including the Chicago tribune, on MSNBC, 4 stars in the Guardian, 5 in What’s On, been in the Independent’s top 5 theatre shows in London for weeks on end. Seriously, it’s magical, you have to see it.

phew, that was exhausting. Tonight’s the last night – if you’re in London, you can catch it at either 5 or 7.30. But I’m certain it will get another run. It HAS to.

In other news, last night I was on nightshelter duty again (meant to be next week, but I swapped) – as was evil harv. He wasn’t meant to be, but while we were in the theatre, some sort of serious police ‘incident’ took place outside, and Harv’s car was in the cordoned off zone, and he was unable to move it til this morning!!! So the poor guy ended up sleeping in a freezing church hall on a couch… :o)

Came home, slept, got woken up about five times by the phone. One of the calls was telling me about the funeral details of a friend of mine who died of lukemia last week. I’m not sure what to think about that one. I didn’t even know he was ill til the day he died. 11am – a text saying was on life support. 3pm phone call saying he’d died. WTF???? What? Where? When? How? Andy was officially my land-lord when I live in Lincoln, but the house for most of that time was more like a live-in community. He was a fantastic cook, so we’d throw dinner parties fairly often, there were up to 5 of us living there at any one time – me, farmer Joe, DJ Ben, Biker Wendy… it was like some poorly scripted sit-com, with some very bizarre events. One favourite was Farmer Joe trying to make his own garlic bread, and misunderstanding the difference between a ‘clove’ of garlic and the whole bulb. So he crushed three whole bulbs of garlic, and put them on two slices of bread under the grill. The dogs were yowling for days. Ah yes, the dogs – Max and Polly. Insane and ever-present. Andy doted on them. He married Sharon just before I left Lincoln, and they’ve now got at least two kids (could be three, who knows). I can’t even begin to imagine how she must be feeling. He was only in his late 30s. Still officially a ‘youth’ (18-40). And now he’s gone. I can’t get to his funeral on Thursday – it’s in Lincoln and I’m already mad mad busy that day. But I’ll be thinking about him. About live on Richmond Road, dinner parties, mad dogs, video nights, trips to the pub, Dave Elcock at his wedding reception.

Last time I saw him was at Martin Clarke’s 40th birthday last year. he was smiling from ear to ear, telling me his news and looking remarkably pleased to see me. I wasn’t overly friendly with him (it’s always odd being back in groups of people from Lincoln – too much weirdness left there for me), but he was very eager to hear what I’d been up to and to tell me about his kids.

And now on a lighter note, tonight I’m going to see Muriel Anderson play at The Troubadour in Earl’s Court – lovely venue, I’m playing there myself at the end of March, and it’s where I recorded my first album! Muriel’s great, so I’m really looking forward to that one. If you’re going, I’ll see you there…

Soundtrack – been listening to a CD by Ollie Collins ‘Make Time Last’ – rather nice acid-jazz influenced layered bass and keys stuff, with some great sax playing. Before that, it was more of Michael Manring and I…

When work is more fun than fun…

I do feel very lucky to get to make my living playing and teaching music… the playing side of that is obvious, but the teaching side is just as much fun, just as rewarding and just as challenging. I get to meet a fascinating bunch of people, all of whom I learn things from as well, many of whom are very creative and capable musicians, I get the challenge of creating a course of study that will help them to maximise their musical potential, I try to guide them through all the psychological pit-falls that can befall anyone trying to do something creative and especially for those who need music as a release from the stress of work etc… It’s a big responsibility, and one that sadly, it seems from what I’m told, a fair few teachers don’t take seriously. Fortunately, there are enough of us left for people to be able to find a good teacher if they look hard enough, but I guess the fact that I have students who travel from all over the south and midlands of England and even Wales suggests that there are still some areas where it’s pretty hard to find a good teacher…

Anyway, as I say, I feel very lucky to get to meet all these fascinating people. I benefit from it emmensely both musically and from the friendships that develop, and obviously the feeling of watching someone that you’re teaching discover whatever it is that they were looking for in music is a great feeling – teaching them what they want to know, and even more, teaching them what they didn’t know they wanted to know but actually wanted to know more than the stuff they thought they wanted to know.. :o)

Er, what else? Well, I’m still in post-tour consolidation at the moment – catching up with all my students, finally getting round to some of the promo stuff to do with Not Dancing For Chicken that I really ought to have done when it came out but didn’t cos I was on tour, and hopefully, eventually, sorting out my office, which is still a complete tip. In between all that, I need to make sure that the aged feline gets his medicine (high blood pressure), and gets a good brushing (to prevent hair-balls), and start booking some more gigs (oh, BTW, I’ve added a couple of dates to my gig page, and will be adding another two or three in the near future…)

For those of you that are on the Street Team – don’t forget to re-sub to the new topica list. The street team was getting a little big for me to handle via email, so I’ve created a topica list, like my main mailing list, so that you can manage it yourself, and I don’t have to try and find out what your new email address is when you decide to change it without warning me!

For those of you that are musicians in bands, I heartily recommend the street team idea – it’s very reassuring to have a bunch of people who like your music and are willing to help out getting the word out about gigs and cds and everything – even a handful of willing friends can be a bonus, and if you get an international list then it can be really useful in helping to build profile.

even if you’re not on the street team, feel free to have a look at the street team ideas page, so that if you feel like helping out in an unofficial capacity, you can do!

So what’s up for the next wee while? Er, I’m working at the nightshelter again this evening (was meant to be rota’d on next weekend, but have swapped) am meeting up with evil harv this evening – he organises delicatessen (click the deli link over the the left hand side of the page there for more on deli – a great acoustic night in Reading), and I’ve got a suggestion for another weird deli night, like the solo bass one we did last year with me, Michael Manring and David Friesen… watch this space for more on that…

And tomorrow I’m going to see Muriel Anderson play at the Troubadour in Earl’s Court – she’s very good, and well worth checking out, should you want to. I’ll meet you there!

SoundtrackBeen working through some CDs borrowed from Not At All Evil Dann – some Django Bates (some of which is excellent, some didn’t do it for me), and a CD by Richard Leo Johnson, which is sort of Michael Hedges meets Oregon, and is rather lovely. After that today, I’ve been listening to a recording of Michael Manring and I, live at the Anaheim Bass Bash – I’ve got my whole set here, but haven’t been paying much attention to the other tunes in it, just this duo with Michael, which with any luck will surface here as an MP3 before too long…