California III – this time it's serious

…or maybe not…

So anyway, 26th was the Echoplex Clinic at Bananas At Large in San Raphael, just north of San Francisco. Nice town, great shop. The clinic went really well, and I stole loads of ideas from Andre LaFosse’s tips on using the Echoplex – if you’re interested in the EDP at all, you HAVE to check out his site with the Echoplex tips page on it, and all his MP3s…

Anyway, the curry after the clinic was lovely, Scott Drengsen (solo bassist from the Bay Area) came along to the clinic, which was great, and Dan and I stayed with Anderson and Laura – very good friends who live in San Raphael. A lovely time was had by all!

Couple of days off spent with Billy-Bob and Mavis which was lovely, then onto the dates with Michael Manring along with the trio – the first of which was at Henflings in Ben Lomond (sounds Scottish, actually just outside Santa Cruz) – great venue, good turn out, lots of very cool music, and a bizarre moment when Rick Walker jumped on stage to join in with Michael Manring’s set…

the Next day we were up in Sacramento (this was a mucho-driving tour). Started out with a radio interview that Michael and I did for KVMR – very very cool station, we did a duo piece and then Michael did Red Right Returning (as featured, uncredited on the new Royksopp CD).

The gig was great – loads of people there, lots of CD sales, the line up was Michael and I (solo and duo) and Orbis (Mike Roe, Mark Harmon and Nick Willow). What a fun evening. It was also the venue owner’s birthday, and his name turned out to be Tim Looper – what a fine coincidence… :o)

Couple more days off, spent in Sacramento, then the gig at the Little Fox Theatre, with Michael and David Friesen. The three of us works really well as a show, so that was very cool. Lots of good people there, etc. etc.

The next show was probably the low-light of the tour – Cafe Du Nord, nice venue in San Francisco, had been looking forward to this. Got there, and noticed in the local paper that it was billed as a singer/songwriter night, with David Friesen and I listed as acoustic singer/songwriters! Huh? Turns out it was double booked, the guy who organised the acoustic night got really annoyed about it all, tried the cancel the night, it ended up with David and I playing truncated sets, and then the acoustic thing happening afterwards. All a bit miserable and a bit of a let down… Oh well.

Stayed in a motel 6 that night, then off to Santa Barbara – very nice town, had a wander round the farmer’s market. Clinic at Instrumental Music (is this beginning to read like bullet points???), which was great fun – the store manager is a friend from last year, Jamie Faletti, so it was great to see him, lots of great questions at the clinic, loads of CDs sold, all good fun.

Next night was another clinic at another branch of instrumental music, great turnout, the whole thing was videoed (bits of it may turn up here, who knows), some cool people there, nice curry afterwards with Jeff Kaiser (avante-garde composer and trumpeter), and some people from the shop. All good fun, good people, good food, good music. yadda yadda…

Ploughing on through busy schedule, the next day, I gave a masterclass at The College Of The Canyons, normally taught by fantastic solo bassist and jazz educator, Todd Johnson. Nice to hear from Todd afterwards that I’d just confirmed all he’d been telling them for weeks :o)

The second low-light of the tour was to follow – clinic at Jim’s music in Irvine – the shop hadn’t even put up a flyer in the shop for it, no promo, no-one knew, ergo very small number of people there. Bit of a waste of time, travelling 6000 miles to play in a shop that couldn’t care less if you were there or not. Still, kick the dust from your shoes and move on. etc.

The following night in Valencia more than made up for the Irvine balls-up. Great gig at Java and Jazz. Loads of people there, including lots of lovely Level 42 fans from the web digest. Todd Johnson, who organised the gig, played a fantastic solo set, then I did my thing, followed by some fun little jazzy duets.

The tour finished off with a nice little clinic thingie for Churchbassists in San Dimas…

All in all, a lot of fun. Well worth doing, loads of good gigs, tonnes of CDs sold, lots of good press (there’s a review of Not Dancing in the current issue of Bass Player magazine, and the loop trio gig in Santa Cruz made it onto the cover of the Santa Cruz newspaper…)

Hopefully I’ll be back in the US before long…

Hotel California!

sorry for the delay posting – I’ve not had that much computer access while I’ve been here.

anyway, the flight was fine, if a little long. and I arrived with all my gear intact (it’s always a little hairy flying with two Echoplexes and my Lexicon MPX-G2 as well as having my bass on the plane as hand luggage!) – anyway, I arrived, and Dan (tour promoter) picked me up at the airport, and took me back here, to where we’re staying. The weather is lovely (sorry for rubbing it in) – it’s hot even by southern californian standards. I could quite easily go outside and get sunburnt in a hour or so…

so what have we done so far? well, we picked up the amp stuff that I need for the tour from Ashdown, I had lunch with my chum Tanya, who lives here but is from Essex and used to write for Bassist. We went to the Baked Potato last night (we being Dan, me and Gene – a veteran chum of all my trips to the States – I stayed wtih Gene and his wife Linda for my first three or four visits to the states, and they’ve become really good friends over the years…)

Today Dan was off doing his gear rep bit, while Gene and I went to SWR to pick up some gear for Dan for the Bass Bash that is happening on Friday night (see gigs page for details), and then went shopping for CDs (now there’s a rare one for me…)

so haven’t done any gigs yet, but have just been getting aclimatised – I fell asleep on Monday evening at 5pm, and didn’t wake til 5am the next day – the worst case of jetlag I’ve ever had coming out here.

needless to say, I’m missing the small person and aged feline loads, but such is the peril of being a touring musician I guess – there has to be a down side somewhere, I ‘spose, and that’s it for me. It’d be great if I could bring them both with me… :o)

Soundtrack – I bought a few Cds with me – Jonatha Brooke ‘Steady Pull’, Joni Mitchell, ‘Travelogue’, Prefab Sprout, ‘Jordan’ and ‘From Langley Park To Memphis’, Unamerican ‘Unamerican’, Kelly Joe Phelps, ‘Sky Like A Broken Clock’, Phil Keaggy ‘Acoustic Sketches’, David Sylvian ‘Secrets Of The Beehive’ Gary Peacock and Ralph Towner ‘A Closer View’… right now I’m listening to one of the CDs I just bought – ‘Stanley Climbfall’ by Lifehouse.

Talking 'bout a Resolution

(sounds like a whisper)

It’s that time of year again, when we realise that we kept very few of our resolutions from last year (though I did set myself one goal of doing 30 solo gigs, and I did over 60, so that was good… :o)

anyway for this year, here’s a few muddled up ideas for what I’m planning/aiming for/wishing for/etc.

  • read more (and therefor, travel more on the tube, as that’s where I get most of my reading done
  • eat more vegan food (should be easy as the small person is on a dairy free diet at the moment anyway…)
  • cook more (I’m on a roll at the moment, so need to keep it up)
  • keep office tidy (yeah, right – need to get it tidy in the first place. Having said that, made a start today on my desk… it’s getting there)
  • practice more (bass that is, not medicine or law or anything – at the end of the two tours with Level 42 and the Schizoid band, my playing was probably the best it’s ever been, need to work on maintaining that…)
  • spend less time just mucking about on line (opening the chat room at thedudepit.com hasn’t helped…)
  • get my tax sorted out, and then stay on top of it (fairly short term aim, but it needs to be done in the next few days!)
  • do at least 50 solo gigs (with 20 or so already booked, this one shouldn’t be too tricky to acheive…)
  • release another duo CD (plans are already afoot)
  • start work on at least one book (either method, theory, looping concepts or general musical-based musings… still haven’t decided – suggestions to the usual address…)

So there you go – that’s my year mapped out… a bit.

what are yours?

The Small Person and I had a lovely quiet new year – watched ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ yesterday, and ‘Monsters Inc’ today – both highly recommended, fine fine films. Went for a drive up to Crews Hill today – lots of garden centres there – but the whole world was aparently under about three feet of water – blocked roads ‘n’ everything…

Soundtrack – I’ve spent a lot of time these last couple of days listening to a couple of improv sessions that I did with keyboardist Patrick Wood during the first half of 2002 – one extract from that is now up on the site, as the new version of Highway 1, though I’m not sure it was even called Highway 1 back then… It’s an interesting comparison to listen to it alongside the version on ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’ (which of course, you have already?), and the live version from the Bartok gig that’s also on the MP3 page. Go on, you know you want to…

Other than that, I’ve been listening to ‘Free’ by Peter Chilvers, which is, as it says on the tin a ‘free’ album – you burn a copy, and your only commitment is to make sure you burn two more copies and pass it on! It’s a fascinating experiment in the pure power of exposure – loads of people will have the CD, and hopefully lots of them will go and buy other CDs by Peter (his first solo album ‘He Wrote This’ is excellent, and available from burningshed.com) – there’s been a lot of discussion of late on the whole merits of ‘free’ music, whether it be CDR copying or MP3 downloading. Singer/Songwriter Janis Ian wrote this article for Performing Songwriter magazine last year, and it’s brilliant – she’s my new hero! Read the article and her follow up – both very good. Then, download the MP3s, and if you like what she’s doing, buy the CDs, and prove it works…

Anyway, what else have I been listening to? oh, Anita Baker ‘Rapture’ – often when I get something out to play to a student during a lesson, it stays in the play for a few days, and this did.

30 somehow…

So here I am, 30 years and two days old. And feeling every bit of those two days over 30…

Anyway, the rest of my birthday was fine – went to a party at Hoda’s in the evening (Hoda = lovely chap who works for Ashdown, throws good parties, and is a top chum), which was great fun, especially as Oroh was there (Oroh = fab bass-playing talkathon, and top chum). I hadn’t seen Oroh in ages, so it was great to be able to catch up.

The rest of the last few days at home has been split between sleeping (I’m heading towards an almost aged-felinesque sleep pattern – today, got up at 1!!), watching episodes of ‘Phoenix Nights’ on video, and sitting up very late watching the current late night trinity of The Office, Buzzcocks and I Love The 80s – all fine viewing, though it does mean we’ve been going to be after 2 each night, and The Small Person is working today… it’s fine for me sleeping in til 1pm, but not when she has to be up at 8…

Anyway, the office tidying has begun, finally – so far that means I’ve put away some CDs, and thrown out a couple of boxes of old flyers from past gigs. Oh, and taken lots of cups to be washed into the kitchen (next jobs – tidy kitchen and check cat tray).

The California gig list is just about complete – promoter-Dan has done the most amazing job on getting all these gigs, in such varied places and with varied lineups. It’s going to be so much fun!

So what’s on for the rest of the week? Some teaching, more tidying, sort out my tax return thingie, arranging the specifics of my trip to the states (accomodation, travel in and around CA, getting money changed up, etc…), and sending out more copies of ‘Not Dancing’ for review and radio – it’s been kind of slow, due to the CD coming out in the middle of the Level 42 tour, but I need to kick it into gear now…

right, off to do some tidying!

Soundtrack – lots more ‘Bright Sized Life’, India Arie ‘Acoustic Soul’, some unreleased Andre LaFosse MP3s (very good indeed), and ‘Southern Hummingbird’ by Tweet (Missy Elliott protege who’s quite good, if a little rude at times!)

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…

Curry, Theatre and the run up to Christmas

The Deep 2 Deep curry was great fun – organised by Wulf (and yes, he has brothers called Magnus and Leofrick…), 6 of us went out for curry. a fine time. Is having curry ever not a fine time? Wulf also had a CD of his bootleg of the Bass Centre clinic that I did with Michael Manring last month – not bad quality, so I’ll see if I can clean it up in Soundforge and put some of it on the website… We’ll see…

Anyway, Saturday was a great day too – not-at-all-evil-Dann proved his not-at-all-evilness by inviting me to the theatre to see The Play Wot I Wrote, at the Wyndhams theatre near Leicester Square (has evil harv ever taken me to the theatre? I think not… proving his evility) Anyway, the play was brilliant – lots of marvellous physical comedy, top gags, Morcambe and Wise routines (that’s the major theme of the play)… all great stuff. Why don’t I go to the theatre more often? It’s great! I really ought to… there’s new year’s resolution number 3 (the rest will be revealed at new year…)

Anyway, theatre followed by dinner with Dann and his not-at-all-evil family. Then home.

Also started reading Further Along The Road Less Travelled again – what a great book – a fantastic followup to ‘The Road Less Travelled’, sort of a bringing together of thinking on physcology and religion… fascinating stuff. I do like the way Scott Peck’s mind works, and will have to work my way through the rest of his stuff in the next year (Resolution #4?)

Found another cool 80s computer game on line – this time it’s Bomb Jack – not as addictive as the Helicopter Game (I’ve now got about 1760 on it, and the addictiveness of it is testified to by the thread that has been going on in the Miscillaneous forum at www.activebass.com about it!!

Today was the St Luke’s Nativity at church – always a pretty anarchic affair (particularly a couple of years ago when it was re-written to reference psycho half way through, Norman Bates having become the inn keeper!!!!) – the kiddies were on top form, and a fine time was had by all.

Then home to do the Christmas Food Shop. Asda was packed (shouldn’t have gone there…)

Soundtrack – a bit more of Gary Peacock/Ralph Towner, then the new Joni Mitchell CD, ‘Travelogue’ which is a series of orchestra + voice versions of her back catalogue. Her last album was her doing a load of standards with a couple of her own tunes thrown in which were the best tunes on the CD, heralding the way for this. It’s gorgeous, lush, sumptuous and a slight shame that there’s no new material on it at all. Very lovely indeed, and beautifully packaged, with lots of Joni’s paintings on the sleeve. And now I’m listening to Beauty And The Beast by Jez and me, which is also very good – you can download it from the MP3s page on the site, if you like, as a christmas pressie from Jez and I. It’s not available anywhere else…

Delayed Gratification…

…one of the central themes of Scott Peck’s ‘The Road Less Travelled’, also part of the theme of today’s sermon in church (can anything that Malcom Doney says be regarded as a sermon? more dry standup routine with a message, I guess…)… anyway, good stuff, reminded me to stop twatting about, and I came home and managed to clear the backlog of 616 emails that had been sat in my inbox since the L42 tour!!!!

Went to an outstanding gig last night (saturday night) – Ben Castle Quartet at the 606 club – Mark Edwards on Piano, Tim Harries on Bass, and Winston Clifford on drums… breath-taking, energising life-affirming stuff. And what’s more, Tim was playing a BC Rich ‘Beast’ bass – like he was straight out of Spinal Tap or Slipnot – and it rocked!! I’ve not been so ‘involved’ in watching a band for a long time. simply amazing. If this band are playing anywhere within 100 miles of you, you miss them at your peril. Ben’s a stunning, and extremely confident sax player, and there’s no weak link in the band – the rhythm section were storming, driving everything forward like the over-used metaphorical juggernaught. ooh, almost too good!! Makes me want to play…

On a much less positive note, the aged feline had a fit this evening – we’re not sure if it was a stroke or what, but it was clearly terrifying for him, and pretty damned frightening for us too. He was back to as close to normal as can be expected in an hour or so, but is still a little shakey on his pins… please pray for the little fella…

Soundtrack – in the car, I’ve been listening to a great compliation called ‘Our Friends Electric’, which is all early 80s synth stuff, from Ultravox to Belouis Some to The Buggles. Marvellous. And here at home, I’ve had Ben Castle’s ‘Four From The Madding Crowd’, which is excellent, followed by Fleetwood Mac ‘Rumours’ – which, I’m perhaps a little ashamed to say, is one of my guilty pleasures – what a great album! It’s amazing what two divorces and an adulterous affair can do for the creativity of a band! Go Your Own Way really does send shivers down my spine…

right, to bed…