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’.

Musical Friends…

…are keeping me happy…

so sang Bruce Cockburn in 1970, and indeed it’s true in my life too.

The latest installment in musical friendship began on Friday when I went to see Lifehouse play at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. What a fantastic band!! I’ve got both their albums, but the live experience is even better, and the new guitarist is amazing. I met Sergio, Rick and Jason a couple of years ago in LA, and have seen Sergio a few times since (he came to one of my gigs in LA), so had to go see them play when they were here. Great to hear them, great to get to hang out here in London rather than in LA this time!

part 2 of musical friends was Julian’s wedding on Saturday – Julian’s a former student of mine from Drumtech, who’s now doing big business on the session scene, and deservedly so, he’s a truly brilliant drummer (he was when I was teaching him too, so I’m not taking any of the credit for that!) – anyway, his wedding was naturally full of musos, lots of whom I hadn’t seen for ages, so it was great not only to see my friend get married, but to catch up with so many old aquaintances. Add to that the full on gospel choir hymns/worship section of the service, and some fantastic food at the reception, and you’ve got a magical day.

part 3 – meeting up for a beer on Sunday afternoon with Steve McEwan and Nick Paton. I’d not met Nick before, but he was in Friends First’ – one of the bands I’ve listened to most in my whole life (their album ‘We See A New Africa’ soundtracked about three years of my life in my mid teens). It was great to meet him, and be able to give some advice on indie promotion to someone whose music has meant so much in my life.

part 4 – Denison Witmer is a singer/songwriter from Philly who played at Greenbelt this year, and was fantastic. We chatted a bit at the festival and swapped CDs, and he was playing in Brixton on Sunday night, so The Cheat and I went down to hear another stunning gig from the man. Also gave me a chance to buy his other CDs, and go for a curry with Denison and The Cheat.

Then today, met one of my occasional students, Nick, for a coffee, and had a marvellous afternoon chatting about life, music, politics and everything in between.

So, music friends have indeed been making me happy, which got me thinking, and I came up with the notion of the Pillow Mountain Records extended family – a list of artists who are good friends, and whose music I endorse wholeheartedly, and will encourage as many people as possible to check out. So anyway, so you don’t have to go rummaging through the PMR site for the list, here are the links for you to peruse. All these peoples are amazing artists, and lovely people worthy of your patronage.

www.altruistmusic.com – Andre LaFosse
(turntablist guitar)
www.petermurray.ca – Peter Murray
(singer/songwriter)
www.denisonwitmer.com – Denison Witmer
(singer/songwriter)
www.kerry-getz.com – Kerry Getz
(singer/songwriter)
www.manthing.com – Michael Manring
(solo bassist)
www.johnlestermusic.com – John Lester
(solo bass singer/songwriter!)
www.nedevett.com – Ned Evett
(fretless guitarist)
www.tripwamsley.com – Trip Wamsley
(solo bassist)
www.unguitar.com – Luca Formentini
(unguitarist)
www.calamateur.co.uk – Calamateur aka Andrew Howie
(singer/songwriter/foundsoundist)
www.julielee.org – Julie Lee
(singer/songwriter)

there you go – check ’em out!

soundtrack – right now, Julie Lee (see above), ‘Made From Scratch’; before that, Denison Witmer (ditto), ‘Safe Away’ & ‘Philadelphia Songs’; The Choir, ‘Wide Eyed Wonder’; Bruce Cockburn, ‘World Of Wonders’; Nik Kershaw, ’15 Minutes’; John Lester, ‘Big Dreams And The Bottom Line’; Joni Mitchell, ‘Travelogue’.

that's entertainment

So, it’s the end of Big Brother for another year. It was pretty poor quality TV, though a nice change to see someone who genuinely seems like a decent person win – Cameron comes across as a likeable enough chap. Davina McCall has turned into a big of a tabloid-esque gossip monger, but still. Serves me right for watching it.

For far more edifying entertainment, check out the BBC‘s radio on demand service – especially the archive of Radio 3 programmes – The Late Junction and Jazz on 3 are great shows, but I’m rarely in a position to listen to them when they are on, so I listen to the archive instead. If you do tune in, please drop them a line and request some of my music – they have played me in the past, and will be receiving a copy of my CD with Theo Travis when it comes out in a month or so’s time.

Soundtrack – right now, Late Junction. before that, me and theo, before that, me, before that Bill Frisell, ‘Ghost Town’; Trip Wamsley, ‘It’s Better This Way’.

Trip the light fantastic

there’s a really cool interview with Trip Wamsley over at www.talkbass.com at the moment – Trip is a fantastic solo bassist, with a new CD out called ‘It’s Better This Way’, that I can’t recommend highly enough – head over to his site to get a copy, he’s very good indeed. The interview is marvellous, written by Max Valentino (another fine solo bassist), and mentions me a few times, which is nice, but not the only reason why it’s a cool interview – for someone who is clearly as mad as a sack-full of badgers, Trip makes a lot of sense in interviews.

Soundtrack – right now, Bill Frisell, ‘Ghost Town’ (another one of my most listened to albums in my whole life – at one point is spent a few weeks both in my CD player and my Minidisc player, so I was permanently listening to it), before that, Horace Silver, ‘Jazz Masters’; Mary Chapin Carpenter, ‘Time, Sex, Love’; Ghost 7, ‘New Directions In Static’; Joe Burcaw, ‘Dichotomy Theorem’ and Chris Bowater, ‘Still’ – I played on this one, the session was a couple of months back, and Dan Bowater who engineered and co-produced it has done a fantastic job – it’s a worship/devotional/gospel album, and I play loads of melodic fretless stuff on there, and a few bits of Ebowed ambient stuff that blends right in with the keyboards and string pads. Very nice stuff.

There's no place like home…

So, I’m home, safe and as sound as I’ll ever be… Jetlag got me bad though – this is the longest trip I’ve had to the states, and after four weeks over there, my body had adjusted rather well to the time difference, so now my body clock is screwed up. So I slept a bit yesterday afternoon, then went to bed at 12 last night, woke up at 5.30, awake til 8.15, then was asleep on and off til 6.30pm!!!! Am up again now, ploughing through email and trying to rebuild some semblace of a life… Fortunately I don’t start teaching again til next week, So I’ve got time to sort through the mountain of post and email… Fortunately both the small person and the aged feline seemed to recognise me when I arrived home, so nothing to drastic can have happened. Still haven’t unpacked yet though… need to get some washing done…

So what happened while I was in the states? Really sorry for not keeping this thing up to speed – hopefully next year I’ll have a lap top with me and will be more concientious (spelling, harv?).

Anyway – first up was the NAMM show – huge great music gear trade show – equal parts hideous schmooze-fest, and great chance to catch up with musical chums I’ve not seen in ages…

Good people I saw who I already knew – Peter Murray, Geoff Gould, the Modulus and Ashdown people, Ed Friedland, Lee Sklar, Joe Zon, Matt Garrison, Doug Wimbish, Michael Manring, David Torn, Doug Lunn, Vida Vierra, Steve Rabe, Steve and Jill Azola, Mike Tobias, Norm Stockton, Adrian Ashton, Dan Knowlton, Mark Wright, Frank Gambale, Rufus Philpot, Pete McCann, Mike Roe, Dave Pomeroy, Trip Wamsley, Lenny Jordon, Bill Leigh, Jamie Faletti, Dale Titus, Kerry Getz, Rick Turner, Clive Roberts, John Ferrante, Kim Flint, Richard Zvonar…

And Fine people I met for the first time – Elijah Torn, Will Calhoun, Daniella Sheppard, Derry Daugherty, Mike Dimin, Mike Watt, Kira Roessler, Charles Normal and Softcore (his band), Tedd Killian, Chris Tarry, Greg Heet, Dan and Laurie Schinder, Kevin Van Pamel… and lots more in both groups that I can’t remember in my near comatose jetlagged state…

Playing-wise, I was playing at the Ashdown Booth each day at 3pm, doing my solo stuff, and also hanging around a bit chatting to people there… Also played a little on the Modulus stand, with Leo Nobre and then with Bill Walker. Spent a lot of my time at the show just catching up with friends, putting the word around about the gigs and clinics, and checking out new stuff, of which there wasn’t all that much (though Ashdown did have a couple of gorgeous fake-suede bass cabs – very sexy indeed…)

Music at the show that was worth watching was pretty scarce – Ed Friedland was playing some great stuff at the Carvin Booth, and Michael Manring was doing his solo bass twiddling for Zon and SWR and astounding everyone as always. Bill Walker was making a fine noise at the Duncan-Turner Research booth, and that was Matt Garrison spent plenty of time playing at the Fodera booth, playing beautifully. That’s about all I saw…

Evenings were taken up with going to or playing gigs and eating dinner – Thursday was Frank Gambale at The Baked Potato (a bit of a NAMM ritual for me, catching Frank at least once during the weekend), Friday was the bass bash, organised by Dan Elliott who booked my tour, and acted as road manager for me. That was a great event – a few technical hitches (the venue wouldn’t let them start setting up the stage area til gone 7!), and the whole thing over-ran (bit of a NAMM tradition there…) but all in all it was a great night’s bassic entertainment – have a look at some of the pictures from the event at www.bassically.net. I did a couple of long solo numbers (No More Us And Them and MMFSOG) and the Michael Manring joined me for an improv thing that I’ve got on CD, so will hopefully post here before too long…

Anyway, Saturday night was dinner with David and Elijah Torn, Dani, Doug and Vida, and then Sunday was the first gig of the tour at Roccos in Hollywood.

The gig went really well, though the turnout was low (if everyone else was feeling the way I did after four days of NAMM, it’s not that surprising) – we didn’t start til late… musically, we had no idea how Rick Walker Andre LaFosse and I were going to gel, but the trio stuff turned out great. We all did solo sets (the running order was a bit of a shambles but it sort of worked out) then Michael Manring did some marvellous solo tunes, and all of us played together… The nicest thing about it was how inconspicuous the looping element of it all was – last time we did a loop tour, partly due to the limitations of the jamman, the looping defined the music in a very strong way. This time, with the extra subtleties available with the echoplex, we were able to loop in a music more transparent way – bringing loops in and out to allow ourselves to mutitrack, but without having to just build a loop then stop…

A couple of days off on Monday and Tuesday were spent visiting Ashdown, and Dan was chasing up last minute stuff for the tour (he worked really hard and did a great job…), then Wednesday we left SoCal and headed for San Luis Obispo for the second trio gig…

…and I’m going to stop there for a while, or my arms will fall off, or I’ll fall asleep, or my arms will fall off in my sleep, or something equally bad.

anyway, the rest of the story will follow ASAP…

Miscellany (have I spelt that right, evil harv?)

Missed church this morning – woke up feeling rather rough, like I’ve got a
cold coming on or something… bugger…

eventually woke up sometime after 12 (!)

Last night the small person and I watched ‘The King Of Comedy’ – one of
those films I’ve had recommended to me on many an occasion, but never
got round to watching… WHAT A GREAT FILM!! Deniro is fantastic, and the
rather unexpected ending (well, I didn’t expect it anyway) really leaves
you thinking over the whole film, completely reassessing what you thought
of Rupert Pupnik throughout the rest of the film. Superbly written, beautifully
acted, great story! Shame it took me 20 years to get round to seeing it…
maybe sometime in the next 17 years I’ll get round to watching the Matrix
or it’ll be 2022 before I see Donnie Darko… who knows…

Been practicing a lot over the last couple of days – having my full rig set up
at home is always inspiring, as I only have to switch it on to start getting
strange noises… Need to work out what I’m going to play in Norwich next
Friday

My mum arrives back here this afternoo, which’ll be nice…

Just had emails from Dan Elliot (my manager/booking guy in the US), and
Michael Manring trying to firm up some more dates for January – if you’re
in LA, feel free to call the Baked Potato or the
Rocco and suggest that they book us!

soundtrack last night, listened to Trip Wamsley’s CD a lot,
this morning woke up to Radio London, and now am listening to Three Blind
Mice – a trio that features Lydon Conner (from L42 and 64 Spoons – think
he’s got a thing about band names with numbers in them???) It’s just a CDR
as it’s not released yet, but it is fantastic. Really really good songwriting in
the Crowded House/Squeeze/Rembrandts/Jellyfish kind of direction… Hope
they get to release some of this stuff soon…