Village hall shows

Before the gig
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
A gig for not too many people in a village hall may not sound that great but it was the highlight of a string of recent shows. The small but lively audience danced from the first song and were highly appreciative. The photograph here is not of the audience by the way but Colin (guitars), Emma (vocals) and Richard (drums) discussing the intricacies of stage lighting (or where to get chips) while Dave (trombone, cowbell and cable problem solver) sorts out the cables onstage.
We are now on full rehearsal drive for the Marillion weekend.
I had started the day feeling terrible - headache, blocked nose, lack of sleep. But, as always, the prospect of a gig got me in a fit state for the evening. I should add that it didn't hurt that I got to spend the morning with Jenna and didn't have to rush around too much. She makes a mean bowl of porridge too.


Hunter S Thompson

Hunter is dead. One of my favourite writers, he kept me smiling and slightly paranoid on long train journeys across Europe. I had been reading 'Songs of the Doomed' and was reveling in the contrast between HST's acerbic style of writing (and thinking) and the very different approach of the US military (with whom I was working).

Arthur Miller, Hunter Thompson... who next?


More gig news

Another good gig last night. We played in a cavernous hall with not too many people, but some of them danced all night and we played well despite a slightly shaky opening. I forgot some words to our first song (although, to be fair I had only sung it about 100 times before) and we had a new trumpet player on board who had not even been at the sound-check, let alone a rehearsal.
Stuart, the new trumpet guy was impressive. He soloed in a song that has never had a trumpet solo in it before and he played solidly for the rest of the night.
Although I'm still fighting the traces of a throat infection I managed to sing without pain and could still speak recognisable words by the end of the night.
Today I blew out the cobwebs with another in a series of long country walks.


Thursday morning

Another odd couple of days. Yesterday lunchtime I was in the kitchens at Windsor Castle with my parents and Jenna. We were being shown around by two castle officials called Roy and Geoff, who were trying out a new tour. The part of me that loves to explore wanted to run off and look behind every door in the building, although that could have taken a lifetime. An example of the castle's size and complexity is that some of the rooms and corridors we walked through were only (re)discovered when the clearing up began after the fire in the 1990s.

Today I am on a diet of Pat Metheny and Phillip Glass while I try to improve my music theory knowledge, get some marking done, try to find out how to afford a house and (because I always work better when I've got four things to do) take some time to think about the practicalities of taking a doctorate. I had a short but inspiring chat with my mother-in-law last night and she reminded me of some of the dreams I had that were in danger of never being realised.

And while talking of music, let me recommend the wonderful Resonance FM. I tuned in at random and found Lance Martin's show 'Better on Headphones.' The only frustration is that I can't hear such good radio in the car [hmmm - visions of rigging the PowerBook up to my car radio... no, better not].

Time to refuel. Espresso and carrot cake. Let's go!

Current listening: The Power to Believe III - King Crimson


Sunday II

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
And later, sitting in the car with no shoes on (it's a long story), I took this. It helps if you click on the photograph for a better view.
This is the local shop (for local people) which does a good line in Fairtrade products and the best peanuts and Bombay mix this side of Fortum and Masons.

Sunday I

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
We had a long walk in the country again today. Looked in at William Morris's house and met this inquisitive sheep and his pony friend (pony friend was not quite as ready to be photographed).

Live music.

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
A good gig last night. Tight playing, excellent singing (from Emma, I was still a bit croaky) and a professional sound man out front to look after us. The room was still a bit boomy though, so my subtle differences in bass tone were lost in the wash.
As usual, it is the audience that makes an evening special. Last night we had a very keen group to play to. A lady came up to some us and claimed we were 'brilliant' before giving us all a kiss on the cheek. Other compliments and comments were passed on, along with the increasingly strange requests from the two (probably intoxicated) guys who wanted some Toto, Culture Club and REM.
Probably the best site for me though was the barmaid, dancing along behind the bar. To me this is always a sign that we are doing something right.


Deep (sore) throat

So is George Bush senior really Deep Throat? Somehow the idea of 'deep throat' and a man who sounds like a racoon doesn't work. Odd that the same week these rumours appear, we also got news that the original Deep Throat movie (nothing to do with politics apparently) is being re-released in US cinemas. Hmmm.

My throat is not good, deep or much else other than painfull. It's been hurting for a few days but it was so bad todat I went to the doctor. She put me on antibiotics after telling me it was probably an infection. By the time I got to teach in the evening I could barely manage more than a whisper. This is not good for somelike like me who teaches, sings and, quite frankly, loves talk a lot.

A special thanks to David, a knowledgable and interesting man who told me tonight that the reason hospital toilets are flooded with blue light (see the 'Friday Night' article below) is because it stops people shooting up as they can't see their veins.

There is a Soul Beaver gig this Saturday. Visit the site for details. maybe I'll have time between the soundcheck and show for a quick game of Go.



Originally uploaded by Roostar.
I suppose this has to be another in the series of 'mystery things.' They caught my eye on the latter part of our Sunday walk (see below).

Table boat

Table boat
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
And in a more watery part of the canal I spotted this table, out for a swim.

Canal Dreams

Canal Dreams
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
This is part of the canal mentioned below. It hasn't been used since 1914 but should be restored "some time in the 21st century."

Supersize sideways

This weekend J and I decided to have to ourselves. I worked hard to get all my marking and planning out of the way and we tried very hard to make the most of our time.

On Saturday we cleaned up the house (oh yes, we know how to have fun) and rented 'Super-size me' after having an 'ironic' MacDonalds. I may never eat fast food again after watching this film. Through most of the rest of the weekend, whenever we were close to the telly, we watched it again but with the directors commentary on.

On Sunday we walked for six miles around the nearby town of Wantage, enjoying the sun dappled paths by reclaimed canals and the unseasonably good weather. It was such a nice day we returned to our starting point shocked at how the time had flown by.

Sunday night we went to the Phoenix cinema in Oxford to see 'Sideways'. I had wanted to see this film since a posting on TBL (The Bottom Line - a wonderful bass players online resource) had raised a question about the poster artwork and Steve Page from Barenaked Ladies had raved about it. Since these two signs I had studiously avoided any reviews in the hope of not ruining the film. Tonight we saw the film and enjoyed every frame. If you haven't seen it yet get out there and watch! Passion, depression and wine. Why has nobody used these as themes before? How good is the novel on which this film was based? How revealing will the directors commentary be when this finally gets to DVD? I'll let you know.

In other news - my chess self improvement course is now back to playing my friend David while J and I should soon be playing Go on our all new magnetic fridge Go board. More relevant music news soon.

Current listening: Get some sleep tiger - Red Snapper


Marley's ghost

Happy birthday (a day late) Bob Marley. The band had a nerve wracking, full on, no stops rehearsal last night and toasted Bob's memory in the pub afterwards.
Usually, when we play a set there are gaps between songs while I chat inanely to the audience, quietly tune the bass, drink water, desperately try to remember the first line to the next song... that sort of thing.
For our up coming Marillion gig we want to perform the songs back to back with as few gaps as possible. Last night we tried this out and ... well, it really was nerve wracking! With no moments to gather your thoughts, the end of each song involved me squinting at the set list on the floor, identifying the next song, instantly forgetting what it was, repeating the procedure and then trying to play this song's coda while thinking about that song's intro.
We should have done this years ago.

Anyway, Bob would have been proud.