Some MySpace Props…

as they say in the hood.

A few MySpace links to various coconspirators –

BJ Cole – genius of the pedal steel, plays on one track on my new album.
Cleveland Watkiss – Recycle Collective regular, one of the greatest singers I’ve ever heard, let alone worked with.
Calamateur – Scottish singer/songwriter and found-sound experimentalist. Writes really beautiful songs, and we’ve got a duet album coming out some time in the next few months.
Theo Travis – Saxophonist… you know who Theo is by now, right?
Leo Abrahams – guitarist at the last Recycle Collective gig. Bloomin’ marvellous.
Orphy Robinson – vibes/percussion/trumpet/weirdness. An amazing musician and composer.
Trip Wamsley – solo bassist, composer, player and writer of gorgeous music. New album coming out soon.
Jeff Taylor – played at the first Recycle Collective gig. Great singer/songwriter.

There you go, I’ll add some more soon. Click on those, have a listen, if you’re on myspace already then leave a comment, buy the CDs of the stuff you like, and check out their gig lists!

Just what I need – another place to blog!

I was recently invited to start contributing to a bass news/info/reportage blog called ‘Big Bottom’, which is at – there a whole host of bass writers and bloggers involved.

Here’s the first bit that I’ve written for it, headed ‘You Can’t Do That On A Bass’ –

The strangest – and perhaps most surprising – factor in being a solo bassist is that your main critics are other bassists. General music listeners are more than happy to assess how your music sits with them as music, making the same stylistic and emotional responses they would to a record by Coldplay, Cradle of Filth or the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Some bassists, on the other hand, tend to do two things – firstly, there are the shredders who listen with their eyes, measuring the validity of what you do by how clever it looks and whether or not they could play the piece in question. If it’s too hard for them, it must be cool. If it looks too hard to work out, that’s great. The music becomes some kind of athletic challenge, or like some kind of break-dance move, where musicians are supposed to out-do each other in the complexity and freakery of their playing.

the other response is to say ‘you can’t do that on a bass’ – those players who take it upon themselves to be the arbiters of acceptability for this beloved instrument of ours, as though the decision to play melodies and chords on a bass, or to process the signal so it no longer resembles the tradition sound of a bass guitar, is somehow sacrilegious and insulting to ‘the greats’.

I’ve had hilarious emails and responses from people in both camps – fortunately the ones who bother to contact me are few and far between – telling me that I’m either ‘not fully exploring the potential of the bass guitar’ or that I’m ‘not a real bassist, it doesn’t sound like a bass, you might as well be playing guitar’ etc. etc.

The nonsense here is that the title ‘bass guitar’ is a projection, a label, not an absolute. It helps us to define the thinking behind the design of a particular lump of wood and metal and graphite, but ultimately it’s just a plank with some strings on it. The role of ‘bass player’ is one that is perhaps best fulfilled with a bass guitar, but the possible applications of the sound produced by an instrument made with that heritage go way, way beyond anything that could be constrained by the term ‘bass playing’.

I’ve often considered relabeling the instrument I play. Calling it Baritone Guitar or something, just to get away from the weight of expectation that’s there amongst bassists that you’re either going to be ‘laying it down’ or slapping and tapping like some kind of circus performer. But I have resisted such a shift for two reasons – firstly, I love the bass. I love the heritage, I love playing bass. I chose this instrument because I love the role it plays in a most contemporary music. I’m drawn to the visceral, emotive quality that it injects into music – one listen to the White Stripes shows what happens when you leave it out! And I’m interested in taking that forward. I’m drawn to the work of a lot of the people who are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on instruments from the bass family – Michael Manring, Jonas Hellborg, Matthew Garrison, Trip Wamsley, Abraham Laboriel, Victor Wooten… I like being part of that process, part of the musical dialogue with players around the world looking to further the body of work produced from within the bass community.

I’m pleased to say that those two groups – the circus fans and the luddites – don’t occupy that big a place within the bass world, and I meet a lot of bassists who are just as interested as I in the music that’s playing, who remember that whatever else happens, ‘it’s all about what comes out of the speakers’.

I encourage you to experiment, to see how your bass can fill the gaps in your band, how you can exploit those other registers that the bass does so well – melodies on bass don’t sound like guitar, they sound like melodies on bass, a whole different colour and texture.

Just make it musical.

wise and learned ones, I salute your solo bassness…

Just taken a big-ass pile of CD and t-shirt orders over to the post-office. Seems like solo bass goodies are this year’s must have christmas pressie! I salute your musical taste and sartorial discernment!

For those of you still stuck for what to buy your Gran, head over to my online shop – if she’s already got all my CDs (highly likely), then a Michael Manring or Trip Wamsley CD, coupled with a ‘bass: the final frontier’ skinny tee should keep her happy well into the new year.

Go on, shop til you drop. 😉

Soundtrack – John Martyn, ‘Solid Air’.

too much bass?

Is there such a thing as too much bass? Let’s explore…

Sunday started at 6am – get up, load the car, get on the road. If you’re thinking of driving to Manchester, I highly recommend 6am on a Sunday as a time to go – v. easy drive, no traffic, bit frosty and a frozen window washer, but a breeze.

Trip and I arrived at the Life Cafe, unloaded our gear into the venue which was already full of lovely bassists and big PA stuffs. Park car, come back, chill out.

The running order was marvellous – started with John Lester (saving the best ’til first?), who won over the entire crowd within about 5 minutes, as he always does. Marvellous start to the day.
the breakdown – Bass solos? Yes, lots. slapping and tapping? yes but minimal and tasteful. Great tunes? oh yes. vocals/other instruments? All vocal tunes.

next up, Trip Wamsley – Trip and I have been playing together for the last week, so I caught the beginning of his set then headed off to have a shave and a wash so as not to go on stage looking like a slightly camp homeless dude. But anyway, Trip did his thing, sang a couple of things, played some lovely fretless.
the breakdown – Bass solos? Yes, all bass solos! slapping and tapping? mucho both. Great tunes? again, in abundance. vocals/other instruments? All solo bass, but a couple of vocal tunes.

and after Trip, Jon Reshard – Jon’s a phenomenally gifted player for his slender age – at just 20, he’s already playing beautifully and writing some fabulous compositions. There’s more than a small amount of Victor Wooten in his playing, but each time I hear him play he’s adding more of his own sound to the mix, and is on his way to being a truly outstanding musician.
the breakdown – Bass solos? all bass solo! slapping and tapping? yes, and just about every other imaginable technique. great tunes? some v. cool tunes, and some other more groove-oriented rhythm experiments. vocals/other instruments? no, except a little bit of audience sing along which worked beautifully.

Then me – my set was the usual affair, set list was Grace And Gratitude, Kindness Of Strangers, MMFSOG, Despite My Worst Intentions, Shizzle, then a bit of a Q&A before finishing with People Get Ready. Response seemed to be great (CD and t-shirt sales were amazing, so clearly lots of people were digging it), audience very attentive and supportive. All in all v. happy with my set.

After me was Stevie Williams – fantastic Manchester local, highly respected jazzer and occasional solo bassist, this time Stevie was playing with a quintet, playing some exceedingly funky stuff – the perfect balance to all the solo bass stuff that had opened the show. At this point I realised that I’d been treating the day more like a proper gig than any bass-day i’d been to before – lots of great music, an audience that really seemed to be listening, it all added up to being a fine day thus far…
the breakdown – Bass solos? a few, but shorter and tasteful. slapping and tapping? Some slap, I think, but didn’t see any tapping at all. Mainly solid fingerstyle grooving. great tunes? yup, lots. vocals/other instruments? yup, full band, drums/keys/guitar/trumpet/bass.

Who was next? Er, ah, yes, Jan-Olof Strandberg, a Finnish bassist that I’ve known for quite a few years. Lovely guy, and fantastic bassist. Started out with some solo stuff on acoustic bass guitar which was beautifully played, but sounded a bit harsh through the PA to really do it justice. Having heard Jan play solo ABG before, I know how good he can sound, so it was a shame that it wasn’t quite what it could have been, but still very good, and very well received. He then assembled a scratch band, his band not having been able to get there, including Dave Marks on guitar. Dave’s usually a bassist, but is clearly also a very fine guitarist. The bastard.
the breakdown – Bass solos? lots, but some grooving as well. slapping and tapping? plenty. great tunes? some cool tunes, some more meandering technical things. vocals/other instruments? quartet stuff was very good.

Then British-born-of-Polish-descent-New-York-residen Janek Gwizdala was on. Another player stricken by fallen band members, Janek’s guitar player is currently in hospital in London with unknown scary ailments. So Janek and his drummer improvised a set, starting out playing to a drum ‘n’ bass thing Janek had programmed in Ableton Live, which sounded great, lots of v. creative bassing and drumming. They played a few more improv things, Janek looping on a DL4, and shredding over the top in a jazz stylee. I’d have really liked to heard the trio, having heard the CD, but the duet set was still good, especially for an impromptu thang (even most improv gigs are planned as improv gigs, so this was double-improv!), Janek’s another player who is developing his own thing away from a strong Matthew Garrison influence. He’s already great, and could well end up world-beating…

The last two acts of the day switched order due to travel problems. So second last on was Lorenzo Feliciati, a good friend and very fine bassist from Italy. He had his band with him, and they played incredibly tight, funky and beautifully arranged fusion. Great compositions, fantastic playing, great sounds. By this time my ears were beginning to fatigue from bass overload, but Lorenzo was just marvellous. Great stuff.

And last up, Linley Marthe – bassist with the Zawinul Syndicate, fantastic player, some killer ideas, and an amazing array of sounds from a really simple set-up (about four stomp boxes and a wah pedal). His improvised set was a bit meandering in places, but contained enough moments of brilliance to keep me interested. Just the range of sounds he was squeezing from the bass was amazing enough, and add to that some great musical ideas, and I was with him most of the way (though he did slip into ‘Tears In Heaven’ which seems to have become something of a solo bass staple… I dunno, I’m not sure about performing songs that someone else wrote about their child dying… but maybe that’s just me.)

Anyway, that was the music – except Linley, I’d met all these guys before, and it was great to catch up with so many old friends, to make some news ones, meet people from my street team that I’d emailed a lot and who’d been so supportive for years without us ever having met, and just to get a chance to chat with lots of people who were into what I was doing. We like that a lot.

A great day all round, the best lineup I’ve heard at a bass day, a very cool venue, well organised, great audience. What’s not to love?

And now I’m knackered, having done nearly 500 miles in two days, had v. little sleep the last two nights, and needing some rest. g’night.

SoundtrackCathy Burton, ‘Speed Your Love’ (I love this album more every time I listen to it).

Gig week is underway

This morning was the first of a few gigs ‘n’ stuff this week. Trip Wamsley arrived yesterday afternoon, and last night we headed into town to flyer outside Bill Frisell’s gig, which finished earlier than expected, so we went round to spitz to flyer outside another gig, which was more successful, and also bumped into the lovely Sebastian Merrick, promoter extraordinaire (booked me for my first ever solo gig at the Troubadour!), who in turn introduced me to two people I’ve been a fan of for a while and have wanted to say hello to – John Walters, jazz writer for the Guardian and Unknown Public amongst others, and Fiona Talkington, one of the presenters of the world’s finest music radio show, Late Junction. So that was a good night!

Then, this morning, Trip and I were giving a clinic/masterclass thingie at the Access To Music ‘British Academy Of New Music’ in East London, which went really well – a class of mixed musicians, we talked a lot about the thinking behind taking your instrument outside of its formal context, and Trip pulled apart the technical side of one of his tunes. Most entertaining it was too. Looks like I’ll be back at the college before long…

And then onto tonight’s gig. I’m really looking forward to this – playing with Theo is always a treat, watching Trip is always a treat. No idea how many people will be there, but it’s listed in Time Out, and there are flyers and posters up all over the place so there could be a few people come down!

Time to get ready to leave… see you there!

how does this happen?

“After a three-year investigation, a grand jury in Philadelphia reported yesterday that two leading figures in the U.S. Roman Catholic hierarchy, Cardinals John Krol and Anthony Bevilacqua, deliberately concealed the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by at least 63 priests in that city from 1967 to 2002.”

Have a read of the rest of the article. How can anyone, of any faith or no faith, feel that there is anything worth protecting over and above the kids that were being abused? Was it just an old boys network of fellow abusers? A misplaced faith in the church to sort out its own problems? Pressure from church heirarchy to not blacken the name of the church? All of those are so insignificantly tiny when compared with the irrepairable damage that the abuse these 63 (63??????) priests inflicted on so many children.

It is so far beyond me that anyone would ever go out of their way to protect a paedophile that part of me believes there must be more to the story – were the Cardinals being threatened? Did they really not know? Surely no-one is that rancid, least of all those who preach in the name of the ‘prince of peace’.

I guess the ones I feel most sorry for (after the abused kids, of course) are ordinary Catholics, who must be torn between turning their back on a church institution that has allowed this to go on, and sticking with the church that has nurtured their faith thus far. thinking about it, there are certainly things that go on in the Anglican church that sicken me (the rabid homophobia of some of the bishops in the international synod – and I don’t just mean the opposition of the ordination of Gay clergy, I mean the vile hatred that is preached by some of the more extreme characters), and other things that I just disagree with. Maybe it’s just that as a late joinee of the C of E, I don’t feel that much of a bond with the worldwide Anglican communion. I certainly don’t feel any affinity with those who preach homophobia, mysoginy and racism in the name of God!

It’s an eternal struggle for people of any faith, I guess – do you stick with the institution with all its faults, aware that you may be tarnished by your association with those unsavoury types, or do you form your own little cuddly club of likeminded people… Having spent many many years in a cuddly club of likeminded people, I’ll give that one a miss. Surrounding yourself with people who all believe the same thing is really really hazardous to one’s critical faculties. I know too many fundementalists of all stripes – be they religious fundies, athiestic fundies, football fundies or musical zealots – who constantly seek the company of those who serve to uncritically affirm their beliefs, which just leads to ever more entrenched levels of unchallengeable belief. I once spent almost two years surrounded by people who thought roughly the same things as me – towards the end it started to feel like some sort of benign cult.

Since then I’ve tried to vary my circles of influence, to bring my beliefs under question when possible, and to work on the assumption in what I believe that ‘I might be wrong’ – seems really obvious when you say it, but I went for a very long time being closed to the idea that someone might prove me wrong about any of my deeply held convictions about the life the universe and bass playing.

I still have a support network – when you’re feeling down, the last thing you want is some muppet tearing at the things you hold dear – but I try to broaden things out where I can.

SoundtrackTrip Wamsley, ‘It’s Better This Way’.

Stay Safe, Tripster

With the impending attack of the hurricane named after a Liverpudlian traffic warden, Trip Wamsley and his lovely family are having to evacuate.

Once again it brings it home just how ‘real’ all this stuff is – Trip’s coming over here for some gigs with me in November, when he’ll be post-hurricane, and dealing with what will hopefully be some minor disturbance in his home town, not the wholesale destruction that NOLA saw.

So for now, stay safe, Tripster – see you in a couple of months!

Soundtrack – Earth, Wind And Fire, ‘Greatest Hits’.

Is anyone listening to the bassists?

So, I was just fiddling around on, wondering who people were listening to, and ended up searching on a whole load of bassist’s names, to see who people were actually listening to.

As I’ve mentioned before, The Scrob is a really interesting chart in that it’s not what people are buying, or what they own but what they are actually listening to – what it is that people are taking down from the CD shelf, or dialing up on their ipod and choosing to listen to. The membership is, I think, a couple of hundred thousand, and largely, I guess, a young, tech-savvy slightly geeky bunch, on the whole…

So here are the bassists I searched on, in order.

Jaco Pastorius – 4306
Victor Wooten – 2608
Marcus Miller – 2466
Stanley Clarke – 1002
Jonas Hellborg – 499
Tony Levin – 399
John Patitucci – 388
Stuart Hamm – 342
Michael Manring – 318
Dave Holland – 275
Billy Sheehan – 274
Brian Bromberg – 244
Eberhard Weber – 233
Wayman Tisdale – 168
Avishai Cohen – 141
Renaud Garcia Fons – 126
Jimmy Haslip – 100
Adam Nitti – 100
Mark King – 94
Bass Extremes (Wooten/Bailey) – 88
Reid Anderson – 74
Alain Caron – 64
Doug Wimbish – 59
Jeff Berlin – 54
Trip Wamsley – 51
Steve Lawson – 49
Seth Horan – 47
Randy Coven – 42
Abraham Laboriel – 37
Bill Dickens – 28
Gerald Veasley – 27
Mo Foster – 26
Mark Egan – 22
Percy Jones – 18
Michael Dimin – 10
Matthew Garrison – 7
John Lester – 7
Glen Moore – 7
Laurence Cottle – 5
Fieldy – 5
Janek Gwizdala – 3

Now, bear in mind that this relies on them being entered into the iTunes/CDDB data base under their own name – some of these players maybe be listed as ‘the such and such band’ or something else. Feel free to have a browse at and see who else you can find. Lemme know, and I’ll add them to the list…

Soundtrack – John Goldie, ‘Turn And Twist’ (jazz trio, with the marvellous Ewen Vernal on bass).

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’.

Road Tales Pt 1.

As you may be able to tell by the time this is posted, I’m jetlagged. very jetlagged. Two hours sleep, then wide awake. It’s 4.38am, and I’m trying to think of things to do, listening to Muriel Anderson’s ‘A Journey Through Time’ (Muriel’s great, and will hopefully be coming to the UK in April…), and chatting to Trip on MSN.

So California stories – flew in on Sat 10th, and got the SuperShuttle to Anaheim, where I was recording a record with Kofi Baker and Ned Evett. Got set up and crashed out.

The next three days were a mix of hanging with Ned while Kofi taught, and then recording all evening – as late as my jetlag going that way would allow us. the material was largely improvs, most of which we then played again in some sort of structured way to see what came out. It’s now all in the editing – some great material was certainly recorded, but the wheat and chaff need separating! Kofi and Ned are both marvellous musicians, so it was a lot of fun to do, and a bit of a challenge to be back playing complex rythmic twiddly stuff after lots of ambient noodling…

then, NAMM – huge trade show in Anaheim, music gear manufacturers, dealers, distributors, journos and players descend on the convention centre, in a desparate attempt to do business. the makers are trying to hawk their wares – some by just making good stuff, others by getting porn stars to stand around on their booths, or lame 80s has-been rock stars doing signings… normally means the product isn’t worth looking at.

I was playing for Modulus and AccuGroove, and doing a show report for Bass Guitar Magazine, and catching up with lots of old friends – it’s one of the downsides of being a bassist is that there are rarely more than one of us on a gig, so we only meet up in airports and at NAMM… Also got to meet up with lots of friends from talkbass, the dudepit, churchbass, TBL, the lowdown, and my street-team! the now annual tradition of dinner with David Torn, Doug Lunn and Vida Vierra was as marvellous as ever, and playing at the Bass Bash was a blast, as was my gig in the lobby of the Marriott next to the show (ah yes, solo bass goes loung-core…)

NAMM ended sunday, on monday trip and I drove to Costa Mesa for a coffee house gig lined up for us by Bob Lee – nice little coffee shop, played outside, Seth Horan turned up and did a couple of tunes and was wonderful. Trip’s set was marvellous too, and his ‘did I suck?’ question at the end was so laughable it almost warranted a kick in the plums. Lots of friendly faces turned up, including Fred Hodson from Talkbass (thanks Fred!), Kerry Getz and Jason Feddy. Crashed at Kerry’s house, and on Tuesday morning Bob Lee showed Trip and I round QSC, and they lent me a poweramp for the tour (the AccuGroove powered cabs weren’t finished in time for the tour, so I took a pair of passive ones, and used the QSC amp, which sounded great.

Tuesday afternoon was the gig at CalArts with Andre LaFosse, which went well, and included a marvellous duo version of MMFSOG. Then off to see Vida and Dani for a few days. I’ve probably spent 3 months total in California now over the last 5 years, and this was the first time I’ve been to the beach! Took a walk along Venice beach, wandered around book shops and record shops, and soaked up the atmosphere. Also took a walk round the Yogananda peace garden in Santa Monica which is a beautiful inspiring place, where I’d be spending a lot of time were I living nearby…

Wednesday night went to see Abe Laboriel playing with 3 Prime at the Baked Potato – a trip to LA wouldn’t be complete without either seeing Abe or going to the BP, and as always the band were amazing.

Friday started with breakfast with Jimmy Haslip, and was followed by the long drive to Santa Cruz, which was even longer due to it taking two hours to get out of LA! But got to Rick and Jessica Turner’s place late evening, and talked for hours. Some tours are all about heavy gig schedules and travellings. Others are all about the people you meet. This was a people tour – the gigs were great, but it was the friendships, talking long into the night, eating lovely food, plotting world domination that made this trip special. I travel half way round the world and get treated like family, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Saturday (24th Jan we’re up to), was dudepit clinic day, at Bob Streetteam’s house – 11 guys, lots of a basses, and a day of talking and thinking about music, and playing some stuff to demonstrate a few concepts which will hopefully keep the guys going til next year. Bob did a sterling job of organising and hosting the event – well above and beyond any expected level of support from a street-teamer. I’m constantly amazed at people’s generousity. There’s plenty of dark stuff going on in the world, and while governments are going about their f-ed up evil business, nice people are running counter to it, demostrating friendship and grace that makes you smile at the world, and gives you hope.

Sunday was KPIG day – Michael Manring and I playing solo and duo on this most wonderful of radio stations.

Next couple of days are spent shuttling backwards and forwards between AccuGroove world HQ (Mark’s house) in Cupertino, and Santa Cruz, catching up with more old friends and hanging out with the Turners and Muriel Anderson.

Then the ‘big’ gigs – three dates with Michael Manring and Trip Wamsley. All three gigs went really really well – loads of friends turned up, Trip and Michael both played really really well, we all sold CDs, had a blast, played some very cool trios and a tasty cover of Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Pacing The Cage’ each night. Each gig afforded us more time to see friends – staying with Bob Streetteam, and Mike Roe was great – and to play lots of fine music to lovely people. The Espresso Garden show was sold out, with lots of people unable to get in (fortunately they were able to stand by the door and listen, but still…)

Then, the long drive back to LA, introducing Trip to the delights of Prefab Sprout on the way, back to see Doug, Vida and Dani, out for Doug’s birthday, a trip round socal delivering gear back to its rightful owners, and a deep sleep.

Sunday, departure day, started with a dance class – no, I didn’t dance, much as I’d have liked to – I was part of the percussion section, which was more fun than one should have on a sunday morning. Doug dropped me at the airport, and after 74 levels of security checking, got on the plane, and fortunately sat next to a fascinating woman called Gael, and chatted for most of the way home, pausing to watch ‘Whale Rider’ and ‘School Of Rock’.

A great trip – possibly my fave trip so far to the states. some great gigs, new family, catching up with old friends, fun at NAMM, great contacts for the future, and a sense that all is not lost with the world despite the crapness of so many things from Dubya to the Dean Girls.

Doug, Vida, Dani, Rick, Jessica, Elias, Trip, Michael, Kelly M, Dan, Wally, Mark, Suzy, Bob A Kelly A, Mike, Kofi, Ned, Kerry, Bob L, DT, Seth, Becca, Jimmy, Anderson, Gael, Keith, Muriel and any others who’ve slipped my mind momentarily – many marvellous friends old and new, thankyou all. (good lord, three weeks in LA and I’ve come back an unreconstructed hippie…!)

And now it’s 5.23am, I need sleep. badly.

more on Tuesday’s gig with Theo soon…

Soundtrack – Muriel Anderson, ‘A Journey Through Time’, Mike Roe, ‘Say Your Prayers’, Luca Formentini, ‘Subterranean’ – three lovely friends with three lovely albums.