Me in Bassics magazine

I posted a thing about this on my NewsFeed page a while ago, but I finally got a copy of Bassics Magazine through today, with the interview with me in it. It’s the biggest interview I’ve done in print (there are a couple of big ones on the net with various e-mags), and looks great. The questions were pretty good so it’s well worth a read if you should see a copy in your local newsagent/borders/barnes and noble/wherever you buy mags.

The cover star of the issue is Michael Manring, so it’s a fine solo bass filled issue. There’s also a track of mine on the cover CD, as well as some video footage, which I’m looking forward to seeing again – the Cheat and I filmed it at St Luke’s at the start of the year. We wanted to do it at St Luke’s cos we could do it in front of the big purple curtains in the main church, but the day we booked it they were installing a new PA, so we had to film it in the back hall, which means the backdrop is a yellow-painted brick wall. It looks like I’m filming it in prison! Hopefully my wikkid skillz will obscure any reservations people might have about learning from a convicted felon serving time at her majesty’s pleasure.

I’ve been a busy boy this morning, putting together the press release for the John Peel Day gig with Riseclick here for the PDF. That’s now been mailed to all the relevant media peoples so now we wait for some coverage and a huge crowd!

Soundtrack – Michael Franti and Spearhead, ‘Everyone Deserves Music’.

Me in a magazine.

Here you go, there’s an interview with me in the new issue of Bassics magazine – and on the CD there’s a track (shizzle) and a bit of video with me explaining looping and performing a tune (can’t remember what the tune is, maybe Grace and Gratitude). Filming the video was lots of fun – The Cheat acted as video monkey, and did a fine job. I recorded the audio to Minidisc and then chopped up the different video angles to fit the soundtrack. The only problem is that we did it at St Luke’s hoping to be able to use one of the groovy burgandy curtains as a backdrop, but they were installing a new PA in the main bit of the church, so we were through in the back hall, with a yellow brick background that makes it look like I’m in prison… niiice.

SoundtrackMo Foster, ‘live’ (an advanced copy of an upcoming album by Mo – as with everything Mo does, it’s lovely, and of course I’ll report here when it’s released); Cathy Burton, ‘Speed Your Love’ (Cath was singing BVs at Greenbelt for Ricky Ross, and her album is lovely); Julie Lee, ‘Stillhouse Road’ (a fantastic record that I never get tired of hearing).

JKR must be doing something right…

OK, so the world has gone Harry Potter mad. New book out, very exciting. At least, it would be if I’d read any of the others. Which I haven’t.

But, hidden away in this article about the press response to the book, is evidence of the world’s brightest 10 year old kid –

“Rosie Jenkins, 10, was one of the lucky winners who got to meet Rowling at the book’s launch at Edinburgh Castle.

She said the book “immediately plunges the reader into a world that is grim, chaotic and action-packed”.

She added it was “darker and more alarming than the other’s but that makes it more interesting and impossible to put down”. “

A TEN YEAR OLD said that’? What kind of kid that age talks like that?? OK, there’s the ginger kid at St Luke’s who when he was three offered to rent a van to deliver my Traidcraft shopping to try and encourage me to spend more, but he’s a bit of a one off. Methinks Rosie Jenkins parents have been scripting things for her to say, to make them look like badass parents…

Soundtrack – Scritti Politti, ‘Cupid And Psyche 85’.

and on a lighter note

Had a fun weekend, though not got as much work done as I should have.

Starting Friday lunch-time, it was yet another ‘last ever’ gig for the RFH Foyer as booked by JazzShark. It was a particularly fitting booking, as it was Rebecca Hollweg, a fabulous singer/songwriter, with a great lil’ quartet, featuring Andy Hamill on bass – one of my favourite bassists in the country. It was a lovely gig, with yet another ‘thanks, Sue!’ speech at the end, and a great rendition of ‘How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You’, with Winston Clifford changing the words to ‘How Sweet It Is To Be Booked By Sue’!

Friday night was a Soul Space meeting, planning the next service, which I won’t be at. They’re doing a Labyrinth service, which are always fun – see labyrinth.org.uk for more on what they are (and do the online version – it’s very chilled and lovely.)

Saturday started with teaching, and then in the afternoon it was Malcolm’s ordination at St Paul’s Cathedral. Malcolm (and his other half, Meryl) have been at St Luke’s for ages, and have had a pretty huge influence on the way the church looks, feels and thinks. Very lovely peoples. Malcolm has been at Vicar Hogwarts for a couple of years, and was ordained on Saturday. I got there 10 minutes before the service started and already all the seats were gone – seems there are lots of people in London who like the high-camp of some C of E pomp and ceremony on a Saturday afternoon. So I stood at the back, gave Malcolm a wave as he came in, and left after about half an hour, and headed over to The RFH, to go to the Patti Smith gig at Meltdown.

Was there very early, so was following the score in the Tennis. Murray was two sets to love up, looking good for another upset. Fell apart in the third, lost it 6-0. Was a break up in the fourth, all going v. well, but the length of the match got the better of him, and he still lost. It was a very odd experience just following the score – no news, no report, no audio. Just the score changing on my phone screen as I hit refresh… Very sad to see him lose.

Anyway, Juliet turned up, and we went in to see John Cale – who was on startling form. The opening tune was a spooky surreal monologue in the style of Velvet Underground’s ‘The Gift’, which some fantastic spacey noises.. and a very recogniseable bass sound… …which I soon recognised as being Flea from the Chili Peppers. I’m still not sure if I really dug what he was doing… it was a lot more pentatonic/obvious lick-based stuff than the rest of the band, but maybe in needed that to ground it… hmmm

Anyway, the rest of the set blended so many fantastic elements, from the spookiness of the opener, to some really straight ahead piano-playing singer-songwriter stuff through to full on Neil Young stylee guitar-rage in the last track. A sublime set. Always good to see the old guys rock out!

during the break, we realised we were sat next to Roy Harper, a genial chatty bloke, for sure, who amusingly kept throwing plastic cups at the losers in front of us who kept blocking our view by standing in stupid places.

Patti’s gig was very fine too – she played through the whole ‘Horses’ album, start to finish, and then did ‘My Generation’ as cover at the end, not wholly convincingly, with a ‘rise up and take the streets’ rant in the middle… A fine sentiment, but a tricky one to deliver in the middle of a song without looking like a raving polemicist. Discourse works better than shouting, methinks. Or am I just getting old?

Anyway, I was very pleasantly surprised by her set – most of Rock’s sacred cows have no place, in my humble opinion, being on the throne they are on, but she was entertaining, engaging, intelligent and captivating.

Sunday – church in the morning (sermon was way too long and I can’t can’t handle full-on exegesis on a Sunday morning…), followed by coffee in Highgate with Steve and Lorna, after which the three of us meet up with Harry, Karen and Juliet for more cakes. Too much cake.

And finally, last night, called round to Orphy’s to drop off a copy of Jazz Review (he does the blindfold test this month), and ended up helping him register orphyrobinson.com and getting orphyrobinson.blogspot.com set up as well, so he’s now got a news page, and an atom feed – here.

Soundtrack – Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder, ‘Talking Timbuktu’.

Congrats to Bishop John…

So John Sentamu has become Britains first black archbishop. Good news all round for the Anglican church. John was the Bishop of Stepney, and therefor our local bishop at St Luke’s for quite a few years before he moved up to become Bishop of Birmingham in 2002, so I met him a few times and always liked him. He had a habit of taking the piss out of the St Luke’s congregation which was rather endearing in a Bishop.

He seems to be very focussed on justice issues, having spoken out again Idi Amin in Uganda in the 70s, and was involved in the Damilola Taylor and Stephen Lawrence inquiries.

And it’s nice to see the white hegemony of the upper echelons of the Anglican church break down a little. Now we just need a woman or 12 in there as well.

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’.

Creative Church

tonight was a Soul Space service at – Soul Space is very much along the lines of the stuff I’ve been involved with at Grace for many years, in that it dispenses with trad ideas about service format and instead uses music/video/projection and installation to explore a theme in a more creative, left-brain, open ended artsy way than the more didactic, prescriptive right-brain version of church we’re all more familiar with.

This evening’s theme was ‘Tree Of Life’ – taken from the theme for this year’s , and we were looking at the idea of connectedness – branches being connections across the world to the global community and roots being a connection with our past, ancestors, tradition etc.

My part was to provide much ambient goo to underscore the whole thing, along with Techie Dave, who provided a few basic loops for us to build the goo from, taken from the One Giant Leap DVD. We also used the two singles from One Giant Leap – Braided Hair and whatever the other one with Maxi Jazz and Robbie Williams in is called. So the loops were in the same key as the songs so we could bring them in and out…

The audio highlight of the evening was the opening 10 minutes in which a recording of Meg reading Jesus’ Genealogy (that long list of names at the beginning of the book of Matthew) which was run into my loop set up so that while I was providing goo I could also loop chunks of Meg’s reading, and feed them into the loops, reversing them, processing them, and creating a more other-worldly effect with the initial recording. It was a heck of a lot of fun and I hope I get to do much more of it! I’ll post here when the next one is in case you fancy coming along! And there may well be some photos that appear from tonight on Vicar Dave’s Blog.

Eric Roche is on the mend

a few weeks ago I blogged about my friend, Eric Roche – a fantastic guitarist, who’d be diagnosed with cancer of the saliva gland, and was going in for an op.

Well the great news is the docs say it was a complete success (so far), and he’s back home! Thank God.

Anyway, you can send him messages via the guestbook on his website, and also find out how to order his CDs from there which are amazing – I’ve got all three, and love ’em.

Last night was the Grace Barbeque, followed by ‘grill the bishop’, where Pete Broadbent, the bishop of west london (not sure what his official patch is, but it covers Ealing), was there to answer some questions. And what a remarkably cool bloke he is too. Sadly didn’t wear any weird point hats, and to be honest, I can’t imagine Pete wearing one… Must see that at some point. Lots of questions about a new book that the Church Of England has publish about the nature of church, and its relationship with churches that meet in cafes or nightclubs are are mellow and ambient like Grace is… all good stuff – seems like the C of E is waking up to church not having to happen on a sunday morning with a hymn book and a dude in a dress preaching. Though I quite like that style as well… :o)

Having said I like it, I woke up too late today to go to St Luke’s, so will do some recording today instead.

Soundtrack – yesterday, I was listening to a lot of Peter Gabriel, ‘So’ and ‘Greatest Hits’. as well as Jaco Pastorius, ‘The Birthday Concert’.

a view of CCM from the outside…

As some of you will know, my early playing career as a pro musician was spent almost exclusively within the gospel and ‘CCM’ scene. CCM stands for ‘contemporary christian music’ and largely represents slightly crap pop songs with words about Jesus… I still do the occasional gospel gig, and play at St Luke’s once in a while (one of my main reasons for choosing to attend St Luke’s when I moved back to London 7 years ago was that they didn’t have a band so I was unlikely to get asked to play bass every week, as happened at just about every church I visited around that time), but not with anything like the regularity I used to – the main reason being that Churches tend not to book instrumental acts to play at any of their gigs or functions…

So anyway, it was with much hilarity and a fair amount of surprise that I read this article from thescotsman.com, as forwarded to me by The Captain – it’s one of the few comments on Christian music I’ve ever read in the UK from outside the church; largely because, with a few exceptions, christian music in the UK is relatively poor quality, and most of the bands that are any good soon cross over into playing ‘normal’ gigs anyway (people like Cathy Burton, Beehive, Fono, Eden Burning, Airstar…) given that, unlike the US where CCM is huge business, it’d be pretty much impossible to sustain a sensible career as a musician in the UK, unless you wrote lots of worship songs as well for other people to sing in church and lived off the royalties.

Anyway, the article is pretty good, and surprisingly friendly.

Soundtrack – I’ve listened to ‘Crescent’ by John Coltrane, featuring Elvin Jones about 7 times today. Incredible stuff.

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.