Sleep perchance to… wake up again at 4 in the morning…

Jetlag!

never had it this bad before – three days in a row I’ve woken up at 4.30am, and usually I can sleep wherever and whenever I want… not good. In fact, have spent loads of time asleep since I got back – combination of jetlag, exhaustion from touring, and some sort of cold/throat infection thing I seem to have picked up somewhere along the way. Not dying, but not exactly on tip top form either…

So what have I been up to? not much, to be honest. Still trying to catch up on emails etc. Working on some more gigs for later in the year – newcastle in may, and a london one quite soon, I Think… more on that ASAP…

Saturday, if I’m well enough, I’ll be going on the stop the war demo in London – could be huge, should be huge. The more of the news I see, the more insane it all seems to get. Colin Powell trying to suggest the french are just getting their UN-kicks by stalling? er, no, I think you’ll find they’ve thought you were mad since day one for suggesting this war… Anyway, I’ll be there, infecting everyone with my viral stuff, but hopefully helping to let Blair know we think he’s a dickhead.

Today will be a tidying day – my mum’s arriving later on (coming down for the demo), and the house is a tip.

Soundtrack – yesterday, I just listened to ‘Lessons Learned…’ about six times in a row – definitely my favourite of my albums at the moment, and possibly destined for a CDR release before too long, maybe with another CD of ambient noodlings… we’ll see… Other than that, been listening to ‘The Willies’ by Bill Frisell (excellent as always), ‘Kakusei’ by DJ Krush (down tempo IDM – very cool indeed), and ‘this sentence is true (the previous sentence is false)’ by Sheila Chandra, which, as with all her stuff, is stunning. what else. Oh yes, the new album from Theo Travis, an album of solo alto flute looping called ‘Slow Life’, it’s lovely, naturally, as is all of theo’s music. And lastly, the new album from Michael Franti – ‘Sounds From The Front Porch’, which is just what the doctor ordered as the world heads towards more rich people bombing poor people.

And one last site to check out – www.axisofjustice.org – great site, run by Tom Morello I think, from Audioslave – is the audioslave album any good? been meaning to check it out… very good site anyway. go there and get informed!

oh and by the way, I posted a link to Todd Johnson, the bassist’s, site the other day as www.toddjohnson.com which turns out to be a hocket player or something… anyway, Todd’s real web address is www.toddjohnsonmusic.com – go pay him a visit, and ask him sports related questions… :o)

They say it's your birthday…

…it’s my birthday too, yeah!!!

HappybirthdaytomeHappybirthdaytome
HappybirthdaydearmeHappybirthdaytome!

Thanks very much for the birthday emails – very nice, even those of you that thought it was yesterday, for some reason… :o)

It’s been a very fine day thus far – got up about 10 past 1pm, opened my pressies (loads of books and the Phoenix Nights video) – watched Phoenix Nights (very very very funny indeed. Peter Kay is a genius), then…. tidied the house!! That classic birthday celebratory tradition… :o)

So, I’m 30, and loving it. I no longer trust anything I’m told by mere children in their 20s, people obviously without the experience required to offer advice on anything. People who are 30, however, are brimming with the perfect balance of wisdom, whilst still retaining so much youthful vitality and energy. Which reminds me, it’s time for my nap…

What were those books, I hear you ask… Frank Skinner by Frank Skinner, The Benn Diaries by Tony Benn, Radical Then, Radical Now by Jonathan Sacks (the chief rabbi), Like Water On A Stone (the story of Amnesty International) by Jonathan Power, Some Luck by John Bird (the story of the Big Issue)… I’ve got so much fantastic reading material for this year, it’s fantastic! Along with the ones I got for Christmas, I’ve got about a years worth of great books… all those things I’ve been meaning to read for ages are going back on the shelf, I’m afraid…

Found out the other day that I share my birthday with none other than the lovely Sid Smith, King Crimson Biographer, on-line diarist, and delightful geordie chap. Must’ve been a good day to be born, though I suspect Sid was born a couple of years before me… If you know Sid as well, do wish him a happy birthday – we’ve exchanged birthday emails, which was nice… :o)

Just had a look at the main forum’s page of talkbass.com which lists all of today’s birthdays of the members – lots of birthdays, but no-one else who’s 30.

So for the rest of the day? Well, I’ve just watched one of the heats of World’s Strongest Man – back when I was a kid, it was seriously one of the highlights of the TV year for my brother and I to sit down and watch Geoff Capes competing in this most bizarre of competitions. It all comes flooding back, so I think I’ll watch the next heat in about half an hour… Geoff Capes, incidentally, now keeps budgies and lives in Lincolnshire… so there you go – stay of the weights, kids, they’ll only lead down to a dark (yet brightly coloured and feathered) place…

Soundtrack – for the last couple of days, I’ve been listening to Prefab Sprout’s ‘Steve McQueen’, Patrice Rushen’s ‘Straight From The Heart’, Theo Travis’ ‘Heart Of The Sun’ and Pat Metheny’s ‘Bright Sized Life’ – marvellous music all round.

Right, off to catch the next heat of World’s Strongest Man… grrrrrrr

Christmas time, no mistletoe, no wine

…just a very relaxed day, watching TV and videos, cooking and eating nice food and not doing very much at all!!

Went to church in the morning, which was fun and chaotic in the usual style of Christmas day services, came home and started our now traditional pattern of eating one course every three hours throughout the day. Started off with soup and garlic bread. That was after opening the pressies – I got a couple of books (Rich Hall’s autobiography, and Vanishing Footprints, subtitled ‘native voices speak’ it’s a book of gorgeous photos of indigenous people from around the world, telling their own story. Beautiful), the new Eddie Izzard video , Circle, which is very good, especially the hour and half of his Paris show, in French. The set from New York is very funny, but he comes across as slightly out of practice with standup, having spent so long in hollywood… and some other bits ‘n’ bobs.

Dinner was nut roast with a homemade spicey tomato, red pepper, mushroom and onion sauce, steamed veg and jacket potato (mmmm, delish!!), followed by watching the Izzard vid…

Oh, we watched Christmas top of the pops – was it worse than usual or am I just nearly 30??? 80% of the stuff on there seemed to be teenage girls dressed as hollywood hookers, singing out of tune. What on earth has happened to the record buying public??? On ‘I love 1984’ last night, there was a bit about the soul/jazz revival of ’84, with some talking head or other mentioning that it was a backlash to the rubbishness of pop at the time. Here’s hoping that something similar happens to end the reality TV horse-shit that seems to be taking over the charts. for the two biggest selling singles of the year to be Will Young and Gareth Gates is just nonsense. It’s not even like they sold because they were lowest-common-denominator catchy pop tunes – I’d rather see some PWL pre-fab crap there – they are there purely because of the exposure and media manipulation of the Pop Idol TV show. The songs themselves are sub-Barry Manilow bland MOR holiday camp bollocks. Grrrrrr.

Here I am listening to Theo Travis – outstanding saxophonist, playing original, moving, music, beautifully written and played and selling a few thousand copies, as opposed to the millions shifted by the losers. No, I’m not expecting Theo to start selling millions (he’d have to bland-out for that to happen), but it’d be nice if radio in particular, and TV programmers started to give some air time to quality music regardless of formatting and dull stylistic constraints…

Right, rant over.

I’m knackered at the moment, thanks to having taken the small persons car out of the drive with the intention of getting it valeted as an extra christmas pressie, only to have it stall on the road, and then have to try and push it back onto the drive, failing miserably but pulling lots of muscles in the process, then having to tow it back up with my car (which didn’t like that at all – I’m lucky I didn’t wreck the chassis!!). My muscles are aching like anything, and my shoulder is bruised from trying to push it.

Now it sounds like I’ve had a pain-filled misery-christmas, complaining about pop-nonsense. Not true. I’ve had a marvellous time, very relaxing. The Office is being repeated nightly at the moment, and is outstanding – Ricky Gervais is one of the most talented comics to emmerge in this country for quite a while…

Soundtrack – currently Theo’s album (see above), I’ve also been playing the MINIDISC of Theo and I playing together from Monday a lotl; I bought ‘Acoustic Soul’ by India.Arie for the Small Person for Christmas, and that’s excellent, really enjoying that, and I finally bought ‘Steve McQueen’ by Prefab Sprout on CD (very cheap from www.101cd.com ) – one of my all time faves…

BTW, Evil Harv can now be reached at evilharv@evilharv.com should you have any questions about all things eville… his evil blog will no doubt emmerge soon… :o)

Festive Felicitations

….Not being quite as creative as the Aged Feline, I’ve just posted an end of year round-up thingie in the news section on my site, read it there if you want to and if you haven’t received it by email already…

Aged Feline says thanks for all the emails (and I’m wondering what kind of people I’m writing for, who would email Christmas wishes to a cat… :o)

Soundtrack – Joni Mitchell – ‘Travelogue’, Duke Ellington/Ray Brown – ‘This One’s For Blanton’ (Ray Brown’s death was one of the saddest days in the bass world this year – a true, bona-fide 110% legend of the instrument), Bruce Cockburn – ‘Nothing But A Burning Light’, Incognito – ‘Positivity’, and the minidisc of me and Theo Travis from yesterday, which is fab…

Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Men…

…aft gan aglay… and that’s two nights of serious aglayness in a row! I’m
beginning to think that asking some mice to sort out my gigs for me was
not particularly a good idea…

After blogging yesterday, I went out and spoke to the workman, who said
they’d get the driveway entrance clear by 6… fine, I’ll go with that. Load
up the car, set off in small person’s small-person-car. No petrol. warning
light on. Think ‘oh, I’ll go to the second service station, it near enough’.
Car stalls going up hill… bugger. Restarts fine. Stalls again. twice. get’s to
petrol station, thankfully.

Arrive at St Luke’s, and notice that there’s no space to set up all my stuff…
Ring Justin-the-MD. he arrives back, and says that the – ehem – ‘ambient’
music at the beginning will be some jazz stuff – me, him and some sax
playing friend, playing off some charts from a rather ropey buskers fake
book. Guess I won’t be needing my amp or rack stuff… all of which is now
in my car outside the church (not really the kind of area you want to be
leaving musical equipment in the car in…) Also looks like the rest of the
evening is pretty much planned out… So I leave all the stuff in the car,
play the opening set through the amp that’s there (a really piss poor
sounding Peavey thingie…), and go home again…

Seems like they had a great night, but I’m not about to risk having the
small person’s small-person-transporter trashed and my music gear nicked
for anything…

And I missed out on a good gig in Norwich to be available. What bollocks.

Anyway, today, went to church this morning, which was nice, came home,
and have just spent the last few hours trying to fix the small person’s
iMac, which started doing that folder/?-symbol flashing thing, but then
when I booted it off the startup disk, didn’t even have the hard drive listed
as being on the computer. So it’s shagged, basically… not sure what to do.
Will have to go out and see Greenbelt-Britlinks-James who knows lots about
computers cos he’s dead clever, and see if he knows what to do…
Meanwhile small person will be working on this machine… See, more
plans gan algay – maybe she should stop letting mice plan the servicing of
her computer…

Soundtrack – me and Jez, David Sylvian’s ‘Secrets Of The Beehive’
(featuring the magical Danny Thompson on bass and David Torn on guitar),
and also Theo Travis, ‘Heart Of The Sun’ – proof that brits can do
contemporary jazz as well as anyone… quality stuff.

Taking the Rough With The Smooth…

Ah, what an eventful day yesterday was…

Started out teaching – all good so far. The no-at-all-evil-Dann arrived, we
packed up my amps/basses/toys etc. loaded them into the car and headed
of for Norwich, in good time. Hit traffic first on the M25 – so headed off up
the A10 instead of M11 – then again, very badly, on the A11 towards Norwich.
Got to the gig halfway through the collective soundcheck, unloaded my stuff,
then it took me 10 minutes to find a parking space (10 minutes we didn’t
have). Fortunately I wasn’t going through the PA (the joys of having an
Ashdown that sounds better than most PAs…), so soundcheck took
about 8 seconds once the gear was set up…

The gig itself was marvellous – started off with Darkroom, playing ambient
soundscape-y processed noise stuff (very good noise), I then joined in
over the top, they faded out, and I went from that improv into ‘No More Us
And Them’. From a very look bleepy version of that, I went into Highway 1,
at which point, fellow solo bassist Peter Chilvers joined in, played some
e-bow over the intro, and we were then joined by Roger Eno and Theo Travis on
acoustic guitar and sax respectively. What a
fantastic version of Highway 1!! I’m so glad it was recorded and can’t wait
to hear it. If the mix is anywhere close to OK, It’ll be magic… Roger was
playing some lovely arpeggiated stuff on acoustic guitar, while Theo and
I traded lines off each other, me with my Fripp-meets-Satch lead sound,
while Peter Chilvers kept the whole ambient side of it shifting and changing.
LovelyLovely.

I then faded out, and that trio continued, and then each act overlapped with
the last – Centrazoon, Andy Butler, GP Hall, Theo Travis. And after Theo’s
set, loads of us piled onto the stage for a remarkably coherent loop-jam,
with Tim Bowness, Theo and I trading melodies over some pretty marvellous
ambient waffle from Peter, Andy, Dave Montague, GP and the Darkroom
guys! All in all, a very fine evening’s music. The audience wasn’t huge, but
hey, that’s what happens when you go for quality over pop-credibility…

Getting the car back to the venue was a fun experience – Norwich has an
insane one-way system… Anyway, arrived back, and we all went off for a
drink and a chat. Very nice it was too, and many collaborations were
discussed and plans are afoot.

About 12.50, I jump in the car to come home. All is well, til I reach
Cockfosters (about two miles from home) and the engine cuts out and the
oil light comes on… fortunately I can roll the car most of the way to the
nearest Jet petrol station, and push it the last few feet. Put some oil in.
Still won’t start. Making odd noises. ring AA. 1.5 hours later, man arrives
with truck, ‘your cam belt’s broken’. Bugger. Big expense. Anyway, car
gets towed home, I unload the gear, and get to bed just after 4.30am!

Supposed to be teaching at 10am. Small person rings them at 9 to cancel.

Supposed to have a gig at St Luke’s tonight. Due to driveway restructuring,
small person’s small-person-car is inaccessible. Ring Justin (St Luke’s MD),
and leave message saying can’t make 2.30 rehearsal, maybe can’t get there
at all… Justin calls back says get a cab… maybe…

And here we are. Good gig, broken car. As The New Fast Automatic Daffodils
once wisely sang ‘Every silver lining has its cloud’…

Soundtrack – in the car, not-at-all-evil-Dann and I were listening to
all manner of stuff – Jane Siberry, Sigur Ros, Don Ross, SadHappy, Defeat
The Young, etc. etc. Then got sick of good music and put on ‘Long Cold
Winter’ by Cinderella, which I’m ashamed to say, stayed in the player for
about an hour… :o) After that, on the way home, I stuck in a No-Man
compilation (Tim Bowness’s rather wonderful band – think Prefab Sprout,
late-ear Talk Talk mixed with the best of Marillion and something else poppy
and deep…), and now am listening to Cipher, Theo Travis’ side project
of fascinating spacey stuff. Theo’s a fantastic musician that I look forward
to working with again very soon, hopefully…

Meanwhile, this morning, while I still slept, Small person took aged feline to
the vets, only to have him stop limping for the vet, but choose instead to
deposit a huge great steaming turd on the vets examination table. A choice
comment on vetinary science in general, methinks, from the perspective of
a small furry vetinary science consumer, wishing for an easy life.