Bridge Street gig!

For those of you into loud blues/rock I can only urge you to come along to The Chester Arms, Chester Street, Oxford, on Saturday 13th November. It's free entry and everyone is welcome.


Rehearsals, gigs and radio

Life goes on of course. This week, half term, has been a good week for me in terms of playing music. Monday I got to play original music with friend, recording it so I won't forget what we did. Tuesday was Soul Beaver rehearsal night and we produced a swathe of new (cover) songs to play at our next gigs. On Friday the blues/rock trio Bridge Street worked through the whole current list of songs. I've noticed that, although I can remember many things I should have forgotten, I fond it very easy to forget what key a song is in. Even if I've played it a hundred times. Friday night was like that. One embarrassing mistake after another until my confidence returned and we all began to produce music to be proud of. At one point in the evening some younger people looked in through the window, nodding to the beat of the songs. Later they danced, shouting goodbye and waving before they left.

As well as all this playing I got to see the exquisite Sarah Maclachlan in Bristol on Wednesday night. A belated birthday present from a friend, this turned out to be one of the best concerts of the year, if not the last few years. A delight of styles and every note sung from the heart. She kept singing in ways that made you believe she was going to lose her way, only to be rewarded with astonishing, boundary breaking acts of vocal magnificence. As you can imagine, I had a great time.

And if all this wasn't enough, on the way home from Friday's rehearsal I tuned in to Radio 3, hoping to hear Mixing It, but too late. Instead I heard Jazz on 3 presenting Chick Corea live from earlier in the year. Red hot music played by people obviously having a great time. I can identify with that.


More on John Peel

It's late but I felt I had to try and write more about John Peel. I'm still a little shocked at the news of his death. Today, the radio has been playing tributes. On more than one occaisions seasoned broadcasters have become so emotional they had to stop talking. This evening Soul Beaver played through some new songs in the rehearsal and, in my mind at least, this was a tribute to John. Go over to the tribute site on Radio 1 and let's all hope that his death deosn't mean the end for inspiring DJs and alternative music on that station.


Rich & Rich

Rich & Rich
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
This deserves a better caption than the one I gave it. A shot from Dave's wedding this is Richard Guitarist and Richard Drummer enjoying some light banter.

Another wedding

Last night I attended the reception for Dave and Georgina's wedding. Dave is the trombonist and sound guy in Soul Beaver.
Keep in mind that almost the entire band was there (Richard the drummer back from a tour in America to be the best man) and that usually, when we all attend weddings, it's as a band. When I arrived I felt as though I had left something behind. No bass, no amplifiers, no bulging bag of leads. It was all very strange.


Meet the family (up on the hill part III)

Meet the family
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
We went for a walk near Faringdon (Oxfordshire) yesterday and came upon this family sculpture. It's based in a reclaimed quarry and is close to the rather wonderful Faringdon Folly.

Eagle eyed visitors may have spotted some new links. Enjoy!

Monday night with cats

We have a fairly regular visitor to the house. Several evenings a week a black and white cat will drop by, eat our cat’s food and bolt for the kitchen cat flap as soon as we spot it.

Last night I was sitting on the floor of the front room watching a tense, if badly scripted episode of ‘Spooks.’ I looked to my left and noticed black and white cat chowing down. I decided to chase the little beast out. It, being a cat, moved faster and shot back to the kitchen. Unfortunately it had forgotten the heavy curtain, covering the cat flap (which it must have eased past on its way in). I arrived to see it hit the curtain head on, spin around, run up the curtain and then throw itself behind the fridge, knocking everything from the top and even switching the kitchen light off in the process.

Not wanting to share a room with a manic cat I shut the door and slipped out of the house to free it from the outside. Standing in the outhouse, in the pitch black of night I edged cautiously to the door. I stopped and could hear, no, feel a loud purring. I went cold (partly because it was freezing out there) my imagination conjuring pictures of a curled, mad cat, ready to pounce. Possibly ready to scratch me to shreds while escaping. It was the devil cat and I just wanted to let the damn thing go.

I stopped breathing and tried to concentrate on exactly where the purring was coming from.

It was coming from the street. It was a bus.

When I got back inside the cat was nowhere to be found. Maybe it’s in the fridge.


Up on (top of) the hill

Up on top of the hill
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
If listening to the Turangalila Symphony while blogging wasn't pretentious enough, I'm offering up this picture of a sculpture I bought in Tenterden, Kent. It's made from recycled tin cans and it appealed to me as I seem to have lived in many places which were on top of hills. The fool on the hill? Anyway, what with having breakfast on the hill this morning, posting this picture seemed fitting.
If you look closely you'll notice it says "Up on top of the ill" since the 'H' has disappeared in a dusting frenzy.

... and happy birthday Mr Lennon - wherever you are.

Current listening: Out on the weekend - Neil Young

Up on the hill

Jenna on White Horse Hill
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
As if discovering that March 30th is National Cleavage Day wasn't exciting enough, I get to celebrate Jenna's birthday today. We did this by shopping for breakfast goodies and enjoying them on top of the White Horse hill.
The wind blew and the rain threatened but we plodded up to the top, greeting everyone, or being greeted with a cheery 'good morning.'
Once we were up there we got out our folding chairs and tucked into coffee and pastries.
One couple, looking about as uptight as you can get without being called 'Mr & Mrs Uptight' looked at us as if we had escaped from the zoo and hurried past.
A truly wonderful way to start the day.

Current listening: The last Dance of Mr. X - Andy Summers

John who?

It finally happened. While teaching a class on 'The Catcher in the Rye' on the day after Mark Chapman was, once again, denied parole for killing John Lennon, a student asked "who's John Lennon?" A music student mind you.

I must be getting old.

Current listening: Les Espaces du Sommeil - Messian's Turangalila-Symphony.



Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Another flower from my parents' back garden.


Originally uploaded by Roostar.
After Blenheim Palace we dropped in on my folks, where I took this flower's picture in the back garden.


Originally uploaded by Roostar.
A great day out at Blenheim Palace. We toured the house with the fastest talking tour guide I have ever heard. But before gazing at huge rooms with tapestries we got out and walked the grounds where we spotted the ginger sheep.