Busy musical friends…

Thought a quick update on what various musical chums are up to would be pertinent –

First up, Theo Travis is on tour with his quartet at the moment. He’s got a new CD out that’s fantastic, and the tour is playing lots of tunes from that – click here for tour dates – he’s all over the UK.

Singer, songwriter and Burning Shed records main-man, Tim Bowness has got a gig in London on Monday – he’s very good! Click here for details of that.

Solo bass singer-songwriter, John Lester is on tour in the UK over the next couple of weeks – Click here for his gig details – one not to be missed, for sure.

Singer/songwriter Martyn Joseph is on tour throughout November and December – Click here for the dates – Martyn’s a hugely compelling performer, and well worth seeing.

And before he comes over here for the tour with me in a couple of weeks, Michael Manring is playing at a festival in France. So if you’re in France, go see him! check out his gig list here…

SoundtrackMatthew Garrison, ‘Shapeshifter’; Miranda Sykes, ‘Don’t Look Down’; Show Of Hands, ‘Dark Fields’.

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’.

a gigful week

so that’s two down, one to go of this week’s gigs… actually three down if you count the Masterclass on Tuesday afternoon as a gig. Anyway, Tuesday, yes – set off early to pick up Rob Jackson from Cambridge, nice lunch, drive to Leicester. The masterclass was at Leicester College, arranged by access to music – marvellous organisation who put on clinics, tours, resource music colleges and run courses of their own. Great people to be working with.

So Rob and I did a clinic for a bunch of bassists and guitarists, talking about technique and looping and the industry and running your own business as a musician and all that stuff. Seemed to be very well received.

Off to the venue – The Looking Glass – in Leicester. Unloaded into a really groovy little cellar venue room. Out for a bite to eat with Jono from Access To Music, back to set up for gig. sometime around now, a piano player started playing in the bar upstairs, clearly audible in the venue downstairs… uh-oh.

Rob went on, played beautifully, did valiant job of ignoring piano-monkey upstairs (who, to be fair, was only doing his job…) A request to the barman to ask him to turn down didn’t appear to make any difference to the sound level, and it proved to be a big distraction during my whole set. At least for me, if not for the audience, especially when play-me-the-song-I’m-the-piano-man started banging his foot out of time with me and himself… not ideal conditions for a gig, and as a result, I didn’t play particularly well. Still, very warm response from the audience (which was not a bad size considering the gig was booked at the weekend…)

Very nice to see a friendly face or two there (thanks Phil)

Wednesday – Rob dashed home to tend to Rob-things, Kerry Getz arrived back, nice lunch, then learn Kerry’s tunes for gig that night. Kerry’s tunes, it has to be said, involve more key changes than this bassist is used to – I do all that repetitive looping nonsense, I’m not used to four or five key-changes in a tune! Still, I’m a pro, so it’s not hard, just a novelty, like combining the mindset of a jazz gig with music of a top-class singersongwriter gig. Anyway, Kerry’s songs are marvellous, so the songs weren’t hard to pick up – they make sense, which helps.

Drive down to The Bedford, in Balham, meet The Small Person and a rather drunk The Cheat there. Also on the bill are Cathy Burton and Dan Wheeler – good chums of long-standing – and it turns out the Johnny Berliner (his real name, not some obtuse JFK/donut reference) was on in the same venue as me at Edinburgh, in a children’s show, and gigging in the late night cabaret venue too! It’s always nice when someone wanders up back-stage and says ‘I was listening to your CD yesterday!’ – don’t happen all that often, mind you, but when it does, it improves that particular day by about 7 or 8 happiness/smugness points on the Saint and Grievesy happiness/smugness scale.

Acoustix at The Bedford is run by one Tony Moore – Tony used to run the Kashmir Klub, near Baker Street, which was in its time one of the most important and influential venues in London, due in no small part to Tony’s passion and enthusiasm for making top quality acoustic music available in nice venues to appreciative audiences. He’s tireless in his support for such things, and one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. A good man, for sure.

Kerry and I are on first (after Tony’s own song opens the show), we play Ocean In A Bottle, and Suspended in December (as an insight into the way my brain works, I wondered quite how the theme of the song would change if the title were suspenders in December, imagining that to be a rather cold and impractical clothing choice for such a time of year…) All goes well.

After us, Cathy and Dan, play, followed by Johnny Donut, Sarah Slean (fab canadian piano playing singer/songwriter person – at the Borderline tomorrow night), and a couple of others (sorry, didn’t write down names…). All good stuff.

Second set, order changes, we’re on second last, first song is duo – Julianne – another fine song. Second one Kerry does on her own, and half way through a recurring problem with the battery compartment on her guitar kicks in and the guitar cuts out. Cue me getting back on stage to hold the battery in place for the rest of the song… very odd, but funny nonetheless.

Tonight Rob and I are in Colchester at The Headgate Theatre. I’m looking forward to this one, as it’s a lovely venue – I’ve no idea how many people are going to be there, but whatever, it should be fun.

Before that, I’m trying to sort out final details for a couple of gigs in the US at the end of October (I’m heading over for a wedding, and taking a bass with me), and also the last couple of gigs with Michael Manring.

SoundtrackJuliet Turner, ‘Burn The Black Suit’; Nick Harper, ‘Blood Songs’; Andy Thornton, ‘Victims And Criminals’; Micheal Manring, ‘Thonk’; Joni Mitchell, ‘Both Sides Now’.

Recent new CD roundup.

Got a few new fab CDs lately, so here’s a quick summary –

The Low Country – The Dark Road. The Low Country is Rob Jackson‘s band with singer/songwriter Emily Barker. Coupled with a sensitive understated rhythm section, that make downbeat miserable alt.country as though they’d been born and bred in rural Tennessee, not Newcastle and Australia respectively. Rob’s one of my favourite guitarists around, and the marriage of his gorgeous tone and open tuning with Emily’s moving songs and emotive voice is magical.

Julie Lee – Stillhouse Road – more country stylings. I played a load of gigs with Julie a few years ago, and have seen her play loads of times, and enjoyed her self-produced Cds for ages. Now she’s released her debut big-budget album, with a bunch of friends from Nashville… friends that include Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Colin Linden, Dave Pomeroy… Nashville A-listers one and all. It’s beautiful as you’d expect. Perfectly played, though I do miss Julie’s fantastic srawling rambling guitar playing – if you’ve ever seen her live, you’ll know what an original sounding guitarist she is and sadly there’s not much of her playing on here, but if you’re going to replace her with anyone, it might as well be Colin Linden! A gorgeous CD.

Pierce Pettis – Great Big World. Another long term fave chez Stevie, and someone else I’ve played with in the past. One of Nashville’s finest and most respected songwriters, and a stunning singer and virtuoso guitarist to boot. Pierce was on Windham Hill back in the 80s, and has more recently released a string of fabulous CDs on Compass. This one’s as good as the others, with the added bonus for bass-heads of Danny Thompson appearing on a few tracks on upright. Particularly on the song ‘Leonardo’, the pairing of Pettis and Thompson is inspired.

A Marble Calm – Surfacing. A Marble Calm is a project assemled and revolving around Peter Chilvers, gentlemanly bassist and piano/keyboards whiz from Norwich, and part of the Burning Shed family of artists. Peter and I have duetted a Norwich looping/improv gig and he opened for Rob Jackson and I in Cambridge recently with a lovely ambient piano ‘n’ sampled strings looped improv thingie. This album is in a similar vein, only with some fantastic special guests adding to Pete’s own ambient wash – Rob Jackson, Theo Travis, Tim Bowness and Sandra O’Neil all make fabulous contributions to this haunting and engaging ambient singer/songwriter CD.

Todd Johnson/Kristin Korb Trio – Get Happy. Todd’s been one of my favourite bassists ever since I first saw him playing with Jimmy Haslip in a two basses + drums trio at NAMM a few years ago. Gifted with a remarkable chordal vocabulary and a technical facility that allows him to simultaneously comp chords and play swinging bass lines on his six string bass, he’s worth at least two players to any band he’s in. And this is him in a trio with double bassist/vocalist Kristin Korb, and drummer Kendal Kaye. How Kristin manages to sing and swing at the same time, I’ll never know – her vocal phrasing is amazing, and she plays walking lines like Ray Brown. The CD is a collection of a great vocal standards, with a couple of originals thrown in. Lovely lovely stuff.

So there you go, get shopping!

Soundtrack – all of the above.

General Update

…please salute the general…

Anyway, what’s been going on? On the 16th (the day of my last blog post) was my gig at the Troubadour with Andy Thornton. Andy’s very very good indeed, singer/songwriter bloke, and all-round top man. That was lots of fun except for one thing – one of my MPX-G2s decided to stop working before the show – the Lithium battery that keeps the sounds in the memory had run out. Badly Drawn Boyo dropped into Sound Control to pick up a MIDI cable so I could copy all my sounds across from the other machine, but there’s some weird machine ID thing that I couldn’t work out on the gig, so I had to do the gig with one G2.. bugger.

Further investigation reveals that the battery is SOLDERED to the circuit board inside – WHAT ON EARTH IS THE REASONING BEHIND THAT??? That makes no sense at all – why on earth not spend the extra 2p that it would cost to fit a little housing for it (like you get on Computer motherboards) so that it was changable. No, instead, they solder it there. So much for pro-level gear. What balls. Grrrrrr. For that matter, why on earth isn’t it rechargeable anyway??? what’s with having batteries running out in stuff that spends most of its life plugged in???

Alright, calm down, deep breath – I know you’re just as irate as I am about all this…

Day after Troubadour gig was the Greenbelt workers party – that’s not like the Polish Workers Party, not political, it was an actual party – lots of drink and nibbles etc. Except that I got lost on my way there and missed the nibbles. ah well. Much fun was had, and the curry afterwards made of for the lack of nibbles.

Day after that (saturday) was Paul and Angus’ birthday party – Paul was thirty-something, Angus was one. So clearly what they wanted to get out of a party was very similar… :o) Angus being my God-son, I provided the music for the evening, by playing an extended duo improv set with Harry the Cellist – I’d not played properly with Harry for a long long time, so that was a real treat.

On Monday Kerry Getz arrived – Kerry’s a fab singer/songwriter from California that I met at the Kashmir Klub a couple of years ago, and who has helped arrange gigs for me in the US before now. She’s over here for a few days doing some gigs, so she came to stay chez Steve/Small Person. Tuesday was sightseeing with Kerry, followed by a trip to see Ross Noble… again! The Small Person and I went the previous week to see him, and despite tickets being £25, it was worth the return visit – yes, he’s that good. Possibly the funniest 2.5 hours of my life.

Yesterday, BJ Cole came round for more jamming/recording/musical exploration – BJ, as has been said here many times, is an incredible musician, and a very nice bloke indeed, so lunch and noodling with Mr Cole is a very fine way to spend a day. We got some top stuff recorded, so hopefully I’ll stick some up in the Street Team Stash before too long…

And last night The Small Person and I went over to Rickmansworth to see Jenny Eclair’s one woman show, ‘The Andy Warhol Syndrome’ At The WatersMeet Theatre. We saw this at Edinburgh, and it was very very good, so went to see it again. Was very nice to see Jenny again, after meeting up a couple of times at Edinburgh. I’ll not say too much about the trip to the pub after, other than to say that a copy of a certain ex-mrs Peter Powell’s ill-fated autobiography, which was previously on the shelf of said pub, is no longer there, and may or may not be on the shelf of a considerably more successful writer… A book that flops that badly is a rare prize indeed… ;o)

Onto the weekend, and tomorrow I’m up to Edinburgh for the day to record the music from the Greenbelt Festival communion service – the music that we played live was all just bass and drums, but I’m expecting they’ll be adding a little more for the recording… I could be wrong though.

soundtrack – Kerry Getz, ‘Little Victories’; Pierce Pettis, ‘Great Big World’; Joni Mitchell, ‘Both Sides Now’; Todd Johnson/Kristen Korb, ‘Get Happy’.

Emotion before style.

I get given or sent an alarming number of CDs. Most weeks a couple will drop through the letter box, some with me having been emailed beforehand, others just sent to the p.o. box address on the website. Most of them because people think what they do is stylistically close to what I do, and I might dig it. Some just because people like what I do and assume (reasonably often correctly) that if they connect with my music, it might work the other way round. Some just because they feature loads of bass.

NAMM is the worst place for the ‘loads of bass’ CDs – ‘you love this, steve, it’s got tonnes of great bass playing on it’, or ‘it’s solo bass, you’ll love it’… etc. etc. Same with Cds featuring looping…

What this doesn’t take into consideration is that I’m rarely drawn to music because it stylistically gels with me. More often than not, it’s the emotional content and connection that overrides whatever style the person is working in, and I get the feeling that I’d love it whatever style they’d chosen as a vehicle for their muse.

I don’t like most of the solo bass music I’ve heard – there are some fairly obvious exceptions – Michael Manring, Trip Wamsley, John Lester, Arild Andersen, Jonas Hellborg and a handful of others are solo bassists that make music that really hits the spot for me. Most of it does nothing for me. Why? Because most music does nothing for me. Most music does nothing for you. The amount of music in any one style that any of us connect with is pretty small, even if we’re fanatical about metal/punk/electronica/folk/whatever. So the chances are that I’m not going to enjoy most of what people do on solo bass. The law of averages suggests that most of the music made by one person and a bass is going to miss me. Some of it I’ll enjoy on an athletic/cerebral level but still not get as ‘art’, others will just really annoy me.

I listen to very little solo bass music, other than my own (it’ll come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following my Audioscrobbler page that I listen to a lot of me – hey, I like it, I’m the target audience!) My CD collection gets some surprised looks once in a while – ‘I didn’t know you were into indie’, ‘I’m not, I just really like [insert indie band from cd collection here]’… I do have a dispensation towards certain musical styles – singer/songwriters tend to get a fair bit of airtime here, as do interesting instrumental soloists and duets (currently playing is the Cuong Vu trio – ‘Come Play With Me’, which is trumpet, bass and drums).

So, feel free to send or give me your CDs, but only on the understanding that I’ll listen to it as music, and may not even get round to that for quite a few months, and then probably won’t have time to write you a review (I still haven’t had the chance to listen to a lot of the stuff I was given at NAMM in January!) – I do still buy a fair few CDs, and get sent some hotly-anticipated stuff by friends, which often ends up getting a few spins in a row. The latest of those is the new album by The Low Country, ‘The Dark Road’ – they’re Rob Jackson’s band, and the CD is fantastic. You really ought to check it out, it’s just marvellous, engaging, emotive beautiful, mellow music.

Anyway, back to you sending me music – if I don’t get back to you, please don’t be offended – it may be that I’ve just been busy, or it got lost in the huge piles of CDs on my desk, or it may be that I don’t like it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like you. I’ve got plenty of friends who aren’t really into my music, and I don’t hold their appalling lack of aesthetic judgement against them. I just pity them. Pity me.

On a slightly different note, a huge thanks from both the small person and myself to everyone who’s sent messages about The Aged Feline – your well wishes and sympathy is massively appreciated and very comforting.

Soundtrack – Cuong Vu, ‘Come Play With Me’; Kelly Joe Phelps, ‘Shiny Eyed Mr Zen’.

radio days

Last night was big fun! not Big Fun – they were a crap 80s pop group – no, big fun for me, on four different BBC radio stations simultaneously! The Sue Dougan show is broadcast on BBC Radio Kent / Solent / Southern Counties and Berkshire, 7-10pm, monday to friday, from Tunbridge Wells. I was down in Sussex visiting my grandparents yesterday anyway, so it timed well.

We’d planned for me to go in and play live, but due to (perfectly reasonable) concerns about the possibility of tripping the power circuit with all my music gear, it ended up not being possible – so I’d carried all my stuff in for nothing. Still, it didn’t matter, as it meant that Sue just played tracks from Grace and Gratitude and For The Love Of Open Spaces instead, and chatted for ages about my whole process, purpose and inspiration for doing music. Sue asked a lot of very interesting questions, and not being a bassist, passed on the ‘what strings do you use?’ question. All in all, much fun was had – big thanks to Sue and her producer Steve.

What else of late? Central heating boiler started leaking a week ago, so we got John the plummer round, and a very fine plumber he is too. Yesterday and today he replaced the boiler and swapped over our totally-useless-70s-style skirting board radiators for normal ones. As I was away visiting my grandparents, The Small Person was left with the job of moving all my stuff in my office/studio to give John The Plumber access. No mean feat, given the amount of crap I’ve accumulated. Still, it’s a great excuse to actually tidy up… yeah, riiiight…

Other than that, I’ve been sorting out flyers and press releases for my edinburgh festival dates – the venue people are incredibly pedantic when it comes to style, but it’s probably a good thing, and I’m pretty nifty with Quark and Photoshop so it’s not taking me long to make the changes.

oh, and on Sunday, my mum, The Small Person and I went up to the Otter Trust in Norfolk for a day out – TSP and I had been there before, mum hadn’t. It’s such a cool place – otters are exceedingly groovy animals anyway, but the trust also has deer and wallabies and millions of ducks ‘n’ geese. A fine day out. ‘Twas also nice to find out that the captive breeding and releasing programme of the otter trust has brought the wild otter levels back to where they were about 50 years ago, to the point where they can’t release any more without upsetting the balance. Very good!

Stuart Maconie played ‘Shizzle’ from the new album on his Freak Zone show on the other night, and describe it as ‘if david lynch directed Seinfeld, this would be the theme tune’ – very nice! :o) 6 music is a fantastic station – I listen to Jane Gazzo’s Dream Ticket in the evenings, and stream Bob Harris and Tom Robinson‘s shows during the week from the archive.

In other music news, much of last week was spent recording with Calamateur, AKA Andrew Howie. I’ve known andrew for over a decade, he even bought my old bass off me when I left college, and he’s since become a fantastic singer/songwriter. His latest album, The Old Fox Of ’45, is wonderful, and we were working on some new stuff, some of it was me putting bass and strangeness onto tracks he’d already been working on, one of the tracks was just a vocal and guitar that I then messed around with a bit and added some bass and strangeness to, and the last one we did from scratch, using varisped samples of a crappy old nylon acoustic guitar I’ve got here, some weirdness from the Kaoss Pad and Andrew’s voice. All fine stuff! Sadly, most of it is pretty much unplayable live, or we’d do the new tune on the upcoming gig dates we’ve got together…

Soundtrack – Lewis Taylor, ‘Lewis Taylor’; Billy Bragg, ‘Talking With The Taxman About Poetry’; SplatterCell, ‘OAH’; David Torn, ‘What Means Sold, Traveller?”; Talking Heads, ‘Sand In The Vaseline’; me.

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…


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!

Like a Rolling Stone… With a Rolling Stone

So I’m sat listening through the lastest set of tiny tweaks on the new album, and the phone rings. It’s Harry Cellist offering me a ticket to see Bob Dylan at the Fleadh in Finsbury Park in 25 minutes! Quick chat to the small person to postpone prearranged domestic chores to a later hour, and I’m on the tube on my way to Finsbury Park to see his Bobness.

Bob has been on my list of ‘artists I really need to see before the drop dead’ for a long time, so I’ve very glad I saw him. There’s something very bizarre about Dylan – no-one else on earth would get away with singing simple blues tunes in the style of a punch drunk tramp impersonating Marge Simpson, and yet there’s something utterly compelling about his performance. Add to that the presence of the mighty Ron Wood on Stage (you can say what you want about jumped up rock stars, Ron Wood is one hell of a guitarist…) and it made for a pretty fine gig.

However, it was a gig in front of about 30,000 people, in a damp field in North London with the sound changing whenever the wind changed direction, not being able to see much and being bumped into by drunk people every couple of minutes.

Contrast that with Friday night’s entertainment, sat in a beautiful old church building in Reading listening to Brian Houston and Sarah Masen sing and play. Both exquisite singer-songwriters, Brian sounding not unlike Bob Dylan in his younger days at times, but with a Van Morrison accent. There were probably 35-40 people there, it was warm, dry, no drunks that I spotted, the sound was close to perfect, the drinks were cheap and the music of an arguably higher quality than most of what goes on on big stages round the country at all the festivals over the summer.

And you missed it.

The good news is that Brian and Sarah are playing in London tomorrow night at Bush Hall in Shepherd’s Bush, along with two other fantastic singer/songwriters, Cathy Burton and Duke Special. Shit, that’s four really really really great acts on one bill. In a lovely venue. In-doors. for about

two fine gigs and a stolen phone

So Sunday, the small person and I headed off to the west country and wales. Firstly to call in and see my sister and niece for a day out in Cheddar Gorge (very nice it was too), and then off to Cardiff Coal Exchange to a WarChild benefit gig. On the bill were Stuart Henderson, Ben Okafor, Martyn Joseph and Bruce Cockburn. How good is that lineup???? unbelieveable. believe me.

First up was Stewart, an incredibly gifted performance poet, whose work I’ve been reading for years, and who has written a lot of songs with Martyn Joseph through the years, including one of Martyn’s ‘hits’ from the early 90s, ‘Working Mother’.

He was followed by Ben, who I’ve played with in the past, and whose albums I’ve had since the late 80s. A fantastic performer, he was also a boy soldier in the Biafran war in Nigeria, so his connection to tonight’s cause added gravity to the evening.

Martyn’s a favourite of mine and the small person’s, both having been fans for many many years. He’s a hugely compelling performer, fantastic guitarist, great songwriter and very engaging between songs. Highly highly recommended on CD and live. Truly a ‘hidden gem’ of the UK music scene.

And Bruce – it’s the fourth time I’ve seen bruce in the last few months, and the second time in a week, and he was as magic as ever. A genius in the truest sense, one of the finest guitar playing singer/songwriters to ever grace the planet.

A remarkable evening.

So back home monday for more recording, more recording all day today (see next blog entry for studio tales…), and then this evening off to the Borderline to see Amy Wadge (pronounced Woj), with the added bonus of catching the majestic Brian Houston on the same bill.

However, my evening’s enjoyment was spoilt by the bastard on the train who stole my phone. His behaviour was a little shifty – changing seats, apparently to read the tube map. I’d covered my pockets to make sure I wasn’t being pickpocketed, but the phone had already fallen from my jacket, I found out afterwards, which he must’ve picked up and run off with, the shitbag.

So once I realised (after we were in the venue) I rang Orange and got the phone and the number blocked and ordered a new phone. Given that the phone is now basically useless to the piece of crap that stole it, it’s a pain in the arse that it’s cost me

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