More House Concert Adventures.

Steve Lawson with Owen Biddle at a house concert in PhiladelphiaOne of the magical things about house concerts is just how quickly they can be put together. Because there’s no ‘press’ involved, no promotional deadlines to hit, emails can be sent out to friends as soon as the gig is decided on, and an audience can be rustled up in about 2-3 weeks.

Which is exactly what happened to us for Philadelphia. Linda Mills sent me a message on Twitter just before Christmas saying ‘what would it take for you to come to Philadelphia?’ – we swapped Tweets, then emails, and it was booked! Because of Philly’s proximity to New York and New Jersey, a lot of the other twitter and social media friends in the area were up for making the trip, some musician friends were emailed, and a plot was hatched.

The date was picked because it was the day before Lo and I were going to be giving a looping masterclass at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh anyway, so we’d be out and about, and needed to have a car rented for that weekend anyway.

And once again, we were in the now-familiar situation of turning online friends into real friends, getting guided tours of cool cities, and introducing another room full of lovely people on to the delights of house concerts. (and posing for bizarre pics with lovely audience members/friends at the end, like the one above)

The gig went so well – the PA was put together from bits borrowed from Lo’s brother and from the drummer from her old band, Kevin Quickle. So the sound was fab. And Linda’s house has a through-lounge, meaning that we could do the fairly common L-shape set up, with a lovely assortment of sofas and chairs and cushions for people to sit on.

As a reference for how well house concerts work, we sold more than one album-per-person at the gig, including Lo’s first foray into selling her entire back catalogue + rarities on a 1gig memory stick. Definitely something we’ll be exploring further in the near future!

Being an audience largely drawn from the world of social media, the amount of fab technology on show was amazing, from great cameras, to Macs streaming the gig live to Ustream, two Nokia N95s taking pics and video, iPhones tweeting and twit-picking… Welcome to the future; blink and we’ll be onto something new.

We now can’t WAIT for the 3 more house concerts we’ve got in Northern California on the 22nd,23rd and 24th January – it’s going to be a LOT of fun. 🙂

..But before that, it’s NAMM, which starts tomorrow. Except for the ‘social media for musicians‘ session that I’m doing tonight. If that counts as NAMM for me, we start in about 2 hours!

…Oh, and one more thing – if you want the definitive explanation on how looping works, just watch the video below, from the Philly show:

First Leg of The House Concert Tour over…

Photo by the fabulous Tracy AppsWe’re back in Northern Ohio for Christmas, having played three amazing shows, (overshadowed by the tragedy before the first of the shows).

The picture on the right there was taken at ‘Divine Word Lutheran Church‘ in Milwaukee on Sunday morning, where Lo and I played a couple of songs and some ambient goodness for the assembled lovelies.

I’ll write more about the third gig soon, but for now, here’s a Flickr slideshow of the gig at Tracy’s, and then the embed of the UStream archive of the entire show!

Enjoy…

…and if you enjoy the show enough, you can still head to LivingRoomSessions.com and contribute to the ‘chip-in’.

…and another video with Michael Manring!

Here’s a second video from 2005, with Michael Manring – this one was filmed the day after the last one, at the Brookdale Lodge, a rather freaky venue in the Santa-Cruz mountains that actually as a creek running through it… and a swimming pool with all kinds of weird tales attached to it – apparently the place was a Mobster hang-out back in the 20s.

Anyway, they now have duelling-bassists to add to their list of weird events, and here’s the video evidence!

Video of a duet with Michael Manring

In the process of clearing out my CDs before moving house at the end of this week (BTW, I’m selling of a lot of CDs, if you want a copy of the list of what I’m selling, email me!) I found a few CDRs of photos from past gigs. One of those CDs contained a series of short video clips of some duets I played with Michael Manring back in 2005 – I think they were filmed by Gustaf Fjelstrom, but were possibly by Lowell… I’ll find out!

Anyway, here’s the first of them, filmed at the Espresso Garden – a lovely venue in San Jose that’s no longer there, sadly. Playing duets with Michael is one of my favourite things to do in the world of music. He’s such an intuitive, amazing and fun musician to play with, and always makes whatever I play sound better than I thought it would…

N96 World Tour starts here!

A few weeks back I was contacted about a project involving the Nokia N96 – the idea was to send one round the world, getting various people to use it, upload video and photos, add apps to the phone itself, leave stuff on it, basically put it through its paces and tell a story… It’s a great fun idea, and I’m the first one to get it! So I’ve got a brand new lovely N96 to play with for a week or so.

You can follow the story by clicking here

Here’s the first video I posted as soon as I opened the case it arrived in:

And of course, you can follow the phone on Twitter

New solo tune on video – Don't Stop Believin'

For last week’s Freedom Of Expression gig in Gipsy Hill, I took a mini-set-up. I couldn’t really face packing up my whole rack to take on the bus, so I took my Line 6 DL4 (thanks Mike!) and my Akai Headrush – both loop pedals, but the DL4 also has a load of Delay sounds on it. I’ve only used them in conjunction with one another a few times, so it was a chance to experiment a little.

And experiment I did – the video below starts out as ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ ‘ by Journey, then goes all spacey and ambient.. for 13 minutes. It was pretty creatively inspiring to be a) limited by what those two pedals are capable of and b) not have any kind of ‘routine’ worked out, so to be throwing sounds out there and reacting to what came back… I’m happy with the results, hence the video post!


Steve Lawson – solo bass. Don’t Stop Believin’ from Steve Lawson on Vimeo.

Given the choice, I’d still use my Looperlative/Lexicon set-up at any gig, thanks very much – but it’s great to be reminded once in a while that improv can extend to form and structure as much as to notes…

The inspiration to try this tune in the first place was two-fold – firstly, I LOVE the Petra Haden version of this tune that’s on her MySpace page – she’s a genius. And secondly, one of my students, Dan, arrived at his lesson last week playing pretty much the chordal loop that I use for the main body of the tune – same progression, slightly different rhythm and fingering, I think… anyway, we were playing around with an arrangement of this tune in his lesson, and the challenge was we’d both go away and work on it… so I did, only I did it on stage 🙂

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it half as much as I enjoyed playing i!

Lawson/Dodds/Wood Pt 6 – an interview with Roy Dodds

And the 6th video (the last of the ones recorded in Patrick’s Studio on Sept 18th), is an interview with Roy Dodds. Roy’s main drumming world is playing with singer/songwriters, but he’s always been in demand in the jazz world as well, thanks to his effortless musicality, something he brings from playing with people like Eddi Reader and Boo Hewerdine. So when he improvises, he’s always thinking ‘song’ rather than ‘jam’. A vital distinction if you want the music to go anywhere…

Here’s the video –

Feel free to share it, stumble it, post it to facebook, etc. etc.

Lawson/Dodds/Wood, the making of Numbers video #4

It’s back to me talking non-stop on this one, I’m afraid… actually, that’s not all true, Roy gets a look-in half-way, but there’s lots of me. 🙂

The next two are mini-featurettes on Roy and Patrick, so look out for those in the next few days. Til then, here’s #4

Lawson/Dodds/Wood – the Making Of Numbers Pt 3

Part 3 of the video-saga. Our lovely drummer, Roy Dodds gets a fair bit of airtime in this one, talking about his inspiration, about improv, about how he comes up with what he comes up with.

Today I’ve been editing the PDF that’ll come with the download version of the album – was hoping to have it up for sale in the shop this evening, but it’s not going to happen, sadly. Tomorrow… possibly…

anyway, here’s video #3:

Lawson/Dodds/Wood – the making of Numbers Pt 2

And here’s part II – if part I felt like I was taking over, that was at least partly because the other two were just unsure of the format, really (it is a bit odd, filming yourself with a phone for uploading to the web, I guess!) – but by this part, they’ve started to get a bit more talkative, first Patrick talking about the editing of the album, and then Roy about improv… Some good stuff. Enjoy!