Great gig with a sting in the tale

Had a very bizarre night last night. The gig was at the top of ‘The Gherkin’ – marvellous building in the heart of London (which isn’t officially called the Gherkin, and if you’re hiring it you’re not allowed to refer to it as such, but do any of you know what it’s really called without using Google? Thought not…)

Anyway, it was a corporate do, with Theo and I providing cool jazz inflected soundscapes while people in suits talked about money and made use of the free bar and munchies. The venue is spectacular – possibly the best view of central london that there is (it’s even higher than the top of the London Eye), and it was a great place to play – the fact that we had no direct monitor meant that we were listening to what everyone else was listening to, and it all felt all the more integrated, and lead to some marvellous music. Good response.

The evening got weird when it came time to leave… when I’d arrived I’d borrowed a trolley, come up the building in the service lift, and made my way painlessly to the venue, and no-one had left any perculiar instructions for later, so I assumed the get-out would be the same… not so.

Firstly, I go looking for the service lift, but there’s no button to call it, so I go back to the restaurant and am told to head down to the lobby where security will direct me to the basement. I go down (40 floors), and security say the only access point is on floor 37 (back at the service lift), and I have to go back to the very top to get it sorted. I complain loudly, and eventually go back, this time I’m sent back to the service lift which aparently has to be phoned for. We stand by the service lift for about 25 minutes, before a friendly soundman rescues us, by telling us there’s another service lift, and that one arrives as we get there. All this time we’re carrying my rack and flight cases around, as no trolley was ever forthcoming.

We eventually leave the building one and a half hours after we finish playing!!!!

A shitty end to what was otherwise a spectacular gig (Theo was particularly spectacular on this one – he’s always brilliant, but did play some sublime stuff. I’m very lucky to get to collaborate with people who play that well and are such damn nice people!)

Soundtrack – Prince, ‘Purple Rain’; Gillian Welsh, ‘Time (The Revelator)’; Green Day, ‘Dookie’; Andy Thornton, ‘Things You Never Say’; Del Amitri, ‘Twisted’; Steve Lawson, ‘Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt II’ (now available as a paid download from the e-shop on my site)

A big clearout…

…of old emails.

I got one of those pesky Windows windows that tells you things you generally don’t want to know on my screen yesterday, only this one told me I only had about 100meg of space left on my harddrive… time for a clearout. As I’d just been trialling a new email client, I thought I’d check how many emails were on my harddrive… about two gigabytes worth is how many – somewhere in excess of 30,000!!!!!!! Shit, I’m a worse hoarder than I thought… Anyway, what proceeded was an email cull that resulted in the untimely demise of over 12,000 emails. We’ll see how many more get the chop over the next day or so.

Now I’m just trying to get it into shape so I can make the transfer to the new client smoothly. Been wanting to get rid of Outlook Express for a while, so I downloaded Mozilla Thunderbird – I’ve been using the Mozilla browser, Firefox, for about a year now, and it’s way way better than IE. So thought it was time to switch my email as well…

What else has been going on? Lots of promo related stuff for the gigs next week, as well as some teaching and admin-type things.

The Small Person and I have watched a few films over the last week or so – Zoolander, Shrek II, and School Of Rock were all marvellous, top films.

SoundtrackShow Of Hands, ‘Country Life’, Gin Blossoms, ‘New Miserable Experience’; Chic, ‘C’est Chic’; Steve Lawson, ‘Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt I’; Stevie Ray Vaughn, ‘Texas Flood’.

ay up boys, we've got competition…

…looks like there’s another Steve Lawson getting in on the blog thang – this one’s a humanities librarian, but judging by his name, is bound to be the world’s coolest Humanities Librarian…

…can’t seem to find an RSS feed from his blog though, so can’t get daily updates in sharpreader… :o(

Still, support the steves, that’s what I say!

Soundtrack – I’m having a Seth-centric evening – firstly, more of Seth Lakeman , followed by Seth Horan – both very fine. I shall have to search for more Seths to listen to. Seth Armstrong maybe???

only 20 minutes left of my birthday…

31 today. A good age to be. 30 was a slightly daunting birthday, but now I’m affirmed in being a grumpy old git by watching the tv series ‘grumpy old men’. The basic idea is that lots of famous not so old guys like Will Self, Rick Wakeman, Tony Hawkes and Arthur Smith complain about everything that’s crap in the world, from speed bumps to tossers who talk too loudly on their mobile phones. And I find myself agreeing with them 9 times out of 10. So being 31 is fine by me – bring on middle age!

Presents, you ask? Lots of books, very fine books like ‘Mastering Music’ by Barry Greene and Thinking In Jazz by whoever it was who wrote it (it’s next door and I can’t be bothered to go and get it). Also got the new Peter Gabriel double best-of ‘Hits’, which is just brilliant. As I’ve said before, I’m in awe of people who produce awesome best ofs, as a testemony to a fantastic career – Paul Simon, The Cure, The Smiths, Prefab Sprout, Bruce Cockburn – all got best ofs that reveal a remarkable hit-rate when it comes to writing near-perfect music.

And what have I spent the last two days doing? Sorting out my bleedin’ tax for ’02-’03, that’s what! It’s a huge task, given that I’ve got boxes of receipts that need logging and have to get all my teaching info from my diary into an excel spreadsheet. A fine way to spend one’s birthday… :o)

Much finer than that was the curry we just went out for, but I shan’t bore you with that…

Soundtrack – Peter Gabriel, ‘Hits’; Steve Lawson, ‘Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline, Pt 1’ (this is REALLY good, even though it’s me, so I’m not really meant to say stuff like that…), Mogwai, ‘Ten Rapid’.

Call me The Accugroover… :o)

So, as I mentioned back on Nov 25th, I’ve changed my amp endorsement deal, and now I’m officially working with Accugroove on the design of a new powered cabinet!

I’ve known about Accugroove stuff for a few years, and have tried their cabs out at NAMM over the last couple of years – loved the sound, but at the time I was enjoying a slightly more low-fi, ‘stressed-speaker’ sound. Now, with my ever increasingly complex rig and the desire to go stereo, I really need to be using powered cabinets, and that’s what Accugroove has agreed to design for me, which is great!

Mark Wright, the owner of Accugroove has been a friend for ages – he’s been to my gigs, and Dan and I stayed at his house on my tour in CA last year. He and David (the other partner at Accugroove) are great guys, and make amazing bass cabs, so despite a few tempting offers from other places, Accugroove was really the only choice.

So now I’m REALLY looking forward to the NAMM show where the prototype ‘Steve Lawson Solo 110’ or whatever it’ll end up being called is going to be first available to try. How excited am I? Very. very very. this is roughly what it will look like (actually, it’s almost certainly exactly what it will look like…)

So there’s a press release that’s up on the news page on my website, and a bit about me on the front page of the Accugroove site, and I’ll obviously be playing on their stand at NAMM, and taking the prototype cab around with me for any other dates I do in California (at the moment I’m working on getting some dates with Trip Wamsley, which would be great. Trip’s a fantastic bass player, very fine songwriter, as mad as a box of frogs and anglophile to the point of actually wanting to live here (someone has to), and his latest CD, ‘It’s Better This Way’ is bleedin’ marvellous.

So anyway, go and have a look at the lovely Accugroove stuff on their website – www.accugroove.com, and if you email them, say hi from me.

Soundtrack – Moondog, ‘Sax Pax for Sax’; John Mayal’s Bluesbreakers, ’70th Birthday Concert’.

orders come flooding in…

…big thanks to everyone who’s bought the CD so far – lots of orders are in already, well on the way to covering cost before the CD comes out, which is always nice – it’s a slightly precarious thing this releasing your own CDs. Modern computer recording has made that side of it a lot easier, but without the funds to do blanket advertising etc. we rely on word of mouth more than anything, so please let your chums know about it…

Anyway – what’s been happening over the last few days? Well, Saturday was the Stop The War march in London – somewhere between 20 and 100 thousand folks out (usually split the difference is close – so say 50thousand), marching from Hyde Park to Trafalger Square. Much was made of it not being as big as February’s march, which is quite honestly shabby journalism – since when did marches protesting the complexity of requests to withdraw troups and playing poodle to Bush ever gather the same emotive response from the general populace as stopping the government going into a war that was at that point still avoidable?? Nonsense. It was a huge display of public unrest, with lots of the banners calling for an end to lies and spin, sick of Blair’s failure to engage with public opinion or even his own party. With the Labour conference going on at the moment, he’s getting a bit more of a battering, but still not enough. The party are refusing to allow a debate on Iraq at the conference – knowing obviously that Tony’s position is completely out of step with just about every labour supporter in the country. So much for living in a democracy.

Anyway, the march was good – it’s always nice to know that you’re not alone in finding the actions of the leaders of the west dispicable. Nice to stand alongside lots of very normal, but very pissed off people. The most moving group I saw was the ex-servicemen against the war group – decorated servicemen from the second world war saying enough’s enough…

So on Monday I went down to Eastbourne – firstly to fix Tess’ Echoplex, which wasn’t broken at all, and then to check the chromalin artwork for the new album, which was approved and sent off, with the delivery date set at the 13th october! how exciting – get those orders in now! :o)

Came back and headed over to have a play with BJ Cole and Orphy Robinson – our new trio of Pedal Steel, Bass and Steel Pans is really exciting – it’s cool because we haven’t taken written tunes in at this stage, just jamming to find the sound of the band, what works, what doesn’t, and lots of what we did on Monday worked. Hopefully we’ll be gigging soon

and talking of gigs, I’ve got a few dates coming up, it seems. Lots of unconfirmed but highly likely stuff. Just need to sort out logisitics to firm them up. And now I need to sort out a date or two with theo over the coming months…

Oh, and talking of Theo, there’s a new MP3 up from the extra disc – ‘It’s Not Gonna Happen’. The track’s called ‘As Long As My Arm’ and the MP3 is a 6 minute edit from a 15 minute track!

enjoy.

SoundtrackJoni Mitchell, ‘Hejira’; Jughead, ‘Jughead’; Prefab Sprout, ‘Jordan The Comeback’; Steve Lawson and Theo Travis, ‘For The Love Of Open Spaces’.

Yet More Lessons Learned From The Aged Feline…

So The Aged Feline came home on Saturday, after two days in the vets, on a saline drip to try and flush out his rapidly failing kidneys. We were a little concerned about both his health and him coming home resenting us leaving him there for two days (though we did visit him both days he was in), but no such fears – health-wise he seems fine (he goes back in this thursday for a blood test), and as for how he is with us – if anything he’s even more cuddly than usual. In a world of grudge-bearing, point-scoring and all the political crap that’s going on, The Aged Feline models the kind of forgiveness that we all need to learn from. He has no idea that what we are doing is for his good, and yet he still bears us no ill will. Amazing. So much for our claims to intellectual supremecy…

Finished off the artwork for ‘For The Love Of Open Spaces’ today – just need to fill out the MCPS AFL form and we’re there – should have advanced ordering up in a day or so!

SoundtrackJohn Lester, ‘Big Dreams And The Bottom Line’; Unamerican, ‘Unamerican’; Andre Lafosse, ‘Normalise’; Steve Lawson, ‘Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt 1’.

We've been had…

Just watched John Pilger’s latest documentary on ITV. The damning evidence that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were just a sham driving by a desire for dominance in an oil rich region, rather than any genuine concern about ‘terrorism’ or WMDs, is very strong and very frightening.

Read about the program here

and more specifically, have a read about both Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice commenting in interviews in 2001 (before Sept, obviously) that Iraq posed no threat, had no WMDs and had no access to them.

The whole doc was full of stuff like that – stacking up against the Bush/Blair axis of bullshit. We’ve been had, people. We’ve been conned, and it’s still going on. Meanwhile an estimated 10,000 Iraqi civillians have been killed, along with loads of US troups, who are still being attacked for being in a country they shouldn’t have had to go to in the first place.

SoundtrackKelly Joe Phelps, ‘Slingshot Professionals’; Andre LaFosse, ‘Normalise’; Prefab Sprout, ‘Jordan: The Comeback’; Mike Watt, ‘Ballhog or Tugboat?’; Steve Lawson, ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’; Mark Knopfler, ‘The Ragpickers Dream’; Ron Carter/Jim Hall, ‘Alone Together’.

There ain't nothing like The Dame

Just been listening to Dame David Bowie (was it Smash Hits who christened him that?? I think so… whoever it was, it does seem to fit…) Anyway, been listening to Heathen, his album before the brand new one, released about a year or so ago. And it’s really really good! like, marvellous. What a great thing it is to be in your 50s and still producing great art, carrying yourself with dignity and exercising the kind of creative freedom that Bowie seems to wield.

Anyway, what have I been up to, I hear you ask. Well, I finished that transcription for Total Guitar, though I haven’t heard back from them, so I’m waiting to hear if it’s OK or not…! I’m sure it will be.

Been practicing a lot – got the bug again a few days ago, after a while off from feeling inspired by new solo ideas. I was still enjoying playing the tunes in my set, but wasn’t hearing anything new. Then yesterday, I started to get some more ideas. Can’t wait to get my new bass, which should be here by the end of September… hopefully. As soon as it arrives, I’ll start work on the next solo album.

Hang on! Talk of a next solo album is all too previous, given that ‘For The Love Of Open Spaces’ by Steve Lawson and Theo Travis isn’t out yet. At this moment in time, I’m listening through the extra material for the preorder CD special. IF you remember, last time I released a CD, the extra disc was ‘Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt 1’, which features some of my favourite solo work anywhere – as you can see, this extra disc thing is not just a way of farming out a load of left over rubbish, for us it’s about getting more music out there, making it available and of course creating the incentive for you lovely people to part with your hard-earned crisp ‘n’ folding before the thing is even released. The reasons for this should be fairly obvious – we don’t have an external record company with a bottomless pit of cash. It’s us, doing it for ourselves, like the sisters, so any money we can make back before the thing is even out is a huge help to the cause.

So we release additional CDs, which entice you into buying more stuff, give us the chance to get more music out there, and help to pay the bills. Everyone’s a winner, baby!

So where was I? Ah, yes, the extra tracks for the Lawson/Travis album – these are freakin’ fabulous!! Easily good enough to have made it onto the CD itself. So do make sure that as soon as the new album goes on sale, you get a copy ordered. It’ll be a strictly limited edition…

Advert over. Start of new advert… :o) – I discovered the other day that my CDs are available at www.towerrecords.com and www.hmv.co.uk – just go to either site and search on my name! Wahey, solo bass goes mainstream! I guess the HMV one means that you can also order it from any HMV shop, so please do – it’ll really help with the distrubution of future CDs if you go and get Not Dancing and Conversations there now…

Tonight, I’m off into town to see Cathy Burton play – she’s a fab singer/songwriter, and is at Sound in Leicester Square tonight, on at 9.15 if you fancy it…

The Aged Feline was at the vets again this morning – good news is his weight’s gone up a bit (been going down for months), bad news is, his kidneys are failing a little more… hoping we can fix ‘im up soon… poor darling.

Soundtrack – right now, me and theo. also, David Bowie, ‘Heathen’; Michael Manring, ‘Thonk’; Denison Witmer, ‘Recovered’; Calamateur, ‘Son Of Everyone EP’; Athlete, ‘Vehicles And Animals”; Vigroux/Cury/Rives/Lawson;