Nine Years Since This Gig…

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the gig where Lobelia and I recorded this video:

…I say ‘we’ recorded the video. Obviously we played the music, but the video was actually shot by our friend Brian Wilson (not that Brian Wilson…) – he’d invited me in 2007 to play a house concert after I’d talked about my plan to do a tour of them. He and his wife Michelle obviously got the bug, because after that they became exquisite house concert hosts, even going to far as to buy the grand piano you see in this video!

Brian is now a pro photographer (not much of a surprise when you see the quality of the video), and no longer lives in the house where we played these shows, (we played again almost exactly a year later, with the great Tiger Darrow opening for us – here’s a vid of an improv trio from that show) but they hold some incredibly dear memories for us.

This year, Lo and I have got back into doing gigs together (parenting kind of knocked the wind out of our duo gig sales for quite a while!) and we played a gorgeous house concert in Hackney, London in April. If you want to host one, please do drop me a line!

The tour where we played this show back in 2010 also became our album Live So Far – an album that grew progressively as the tour went on and I mixed and mastered the tunes on our days off… Check it out here:

5 Solo Bassists Who Shaped My Musical World

It’s a truism that most solo bass struggles in ‘pure’ musical terms. It’s so easy to get caught up justifying our ‘right’ to play solo by doing clever acrobatic things that the meaningful deployment of those acrobatics, or the avoidance of them for more musical ends gets lost along the way, and YouTube ends up as a fumbling bass-circus.

For this reason, there are very few solo bassists in my list of musical influences. But those who are there are towering monuments to what’s possible on this amazing instrument of ours, and their influence on my music and musical outlook is massive.

So, in no particular order, here’s 5 solo bassists who shaped my musical world: Continue reading “5 Solo Bassists Who Shaped My Musical World”

New MXR Pedal and Dunlop Super Bright Bass Strings Demo Video

It’s turning into a veritable film festival round here – video #2 for this week went online last night – a demo of three MXR bass effects pedals, and the new Dunlop Super Bright bass strings that I’ve recently started using.

The video itself is about 10 minutes of playing using the effects in various combinations and settings – 1001 sounds (give or take a few) by combining the three effects in different ways (though I didn’t actually change the order!) – it’s pretty long, but is fairly comprehensive in terms of the range of sounds that I use from these three pedals…

The string demo part is most obvious right after the ambient pad part is laid down at the start – the first bit of playing is just my bass through my ever-present Markbass MiniDIST pedal that acts as my preamp, with a little bit of reverb from my Lexicon. That’s my ‘neutral’ sound. If you’re pretty familiar with my sound, you’ll perhaps hear the difference from my old strings – more bite, more clarity low down on the neck… What’s not possible to show on a video is the FEEL of the strings. They just feel great. I’d been using my previous string brand for over 20 years, happily, and was reluctant to even try anything new, but after giving these a try, I’m hooked.

enjoy!

Video Of Improv with Shlomo in Edinburgh.

You may remember that back in August, a trip to Edinburgh to do some work with the Arts Council happened to coincide with the opportunity to guest with beatboxing genius Shlomo on his Edinburgh Fringe show.

I’d seen Shlo play a few times, and love his music – he’s one of the most musical and versatile beatboxers I’ve ever come across, and as meeting him confirmed, always seemed like a really lovely bloke too. Continue reading “Video Of Improv with Shlomo in Edinburgh.”

Great New Album From She Makes War

OK, I’m going to interrupt my ‘track by track’ breakdown of my own new album to tell you about a GREAT record by my lovely friend Laura Kidd, AKA She Makes War.

Here it is, in its entirety, on bandcamp (naturally) – hit play while you’re reading this (and then hit the ‘buy’ button when you’ve finished):

Laura is a true renaissance woman – singer/songwriter/producer/videographer/session bassist/blogger/social tech ninja/web designer… A huge skill set, all of which has come into play on the process of making the album and telling stories around it. Continue reading “Great New Album From She Makes War”

House Concert Footage: Hello?

I’m SO glad that our new live mixer set up allows us to multitrack record everything. It means we can capture lil’ moments like this one, when I decided to open the House Concert in Camberley with a version of Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Hello‘.

I’d previously played it at home, but just the chord melody bit. The weirdness in the middle was a whim – I’ve blogged before about the way that the house concert set up lets you take more time over things, and more risks in your playing. Here, they paid off: Continue reading “House Concert Footage: Hello?”

Online Music: Balancing The Scales Of 'Free'

I’ve just been reading Helienne Lindvall’s latest blog post on the Guardian site, entitled, ”
Behind the music: Can we ever measure the impact of downloading?

It’s well worth a read, as it talks about vested interests on either side (though doesn’t mention that Helienne herself was a signatory on the patently loony pro-Mandelson AIR statement from the Featured Artist Coalition – she probably has mentioned it in previous posts). It does contains a couple of interesting points that I thought I’d throw out for discussion. Continue reading “Online Music: Balancing The Scales Of 'Free'”

Posterous: Blogging For Everyone Else

OK, so the thought of maintaining a blog full of pontifications on the state of the world, the web, music, whatever is a bit daunting. The self-imposed expectation that there needs to be loads of amazing stuff to read about on your awesome blog is just too much…

…So what do we do? Clearly, the web these days – and in particular, music on the web – is ALL about sharing. Without sharing, we’re all screwed.

Enter Posterous – it’s a blogging platform that’s been around for a while, but seems to be really gaining in traction of late for a whole host of reasons. I’m going to focus on what an awesome service it is for embedding, and posting links to, things you really like online. Continue reading “Posterous: Blogging For Everyone Else”

Marketing By Accident

I’ve written a lot over the years about the power of curiosity – that most of my own best disoveries have just happened because I was interested in something and decided to investigate it without waiting for any kind external confirmation that that was ‘OK’ or ‘wise’.

So yesterday when a link from a friend landed me at xtranormal.com and I saw that there was a ‘create’ button, I set to work writing a comedy script for two people talking about a solo bass house concert.

Since then it’s had about a thousand views (pretty good going for overnight on a Sunday!), and I’m sure has quite a journey to go on yet… All because I saw a link, clicked it and played around.

Try it, sometimes it can really help 🙂

Anyway, here it is. “Solo Bass. It’s The Future.”

Feel free to share it around, or make your own videos. It’s pretty time consuming, but well worth it 🙂

[EDIT] it’s worth noting that the first place I shared this was Posterous. An awesome blogging platform, that I’ll write more about v. soon!