Red vs Blue

Thanks to a Mr. Ed Robertson of Canada for putting me on to the highly entertaining Red vs Blue. The comedy version of Halo.

Job and Job

The musical part of my life has been busy recently. I've been rehearsing with both bands, writing out set lists, trying to remember the keys and words to songs I haven't played for a while, writing and re-writing lyrics to an original song to improve my chances of getting the words right in performance, working out the complexities to come of my new Chapman Stick bass (due in the next month or two) and generally spending lots of time with my bass. I love it or I wouldn't do it.

Tonight however, I am doing my other job. I'm writing report for my tutees at the college where I do my 'day job'. This is a day job which stretches into the evening two days a week for actual teaching and many other nights for marking and report writing. When I was at school some teachers would write reports which were greater works of fictions than I could ever hope to create. I particularly remember my sports report for the last year I was at school. I got a grade for basketball and some comments about making more effort. This was the year that I spent every sports lesson in the library and to this day I don't think I've ever even held a basketball. Love of sports came later.
Report writing for me then is slightly loaded. The easy way to do it would be to write some stock phrases and cut and paste these as I progress through the pile of paperwork on my desk. I'm not doing that precisely because of my school experiences. It's also because of these experiences that I make an effort to show students that taking an English GCSE isn't just about passing exams. Sadly, lack of time doesn't always allow me to get as passionate as I would like.
Teaching is a full on business, with too much paperwork (just like every other job in the world these days) and a lot of stress. However, the rewards are in meeting interesting people of vastly different ages and backgrounds and also getting the chance to see these same, wonderful people find new things to enjoy. A hard and not terribly well paid job. I love it or I wouldn't do it.

Oh, and the badly taken picture of a church below is there because it features a cross decorated with daffodils. As instigated by my mother-in-law.


I walk past this every day and wonder 'what's not to be used?'

Odd posts

There are going to be some strange, short posts while I try blogging from my phone.


Test posts

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
I've been trying out blogging from my phone with mixed results. This picture, taken yesterday arrived on the blog and then vanished. The text I tried to post in hasn't arrived yet - but might.

So if you see some oddd things over the next few days, bear with me.


Soul Beaver 05

Soul Beaver 05
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Couldn't resist this photograph taken by Nick Askew of Soul Beaver at the Marillion gig. We rarely get good group shots so this is a bonus.

Paul Hester

Sad news this morning as I read that Paul Hester, the drummer with Crowded House, has died. I always feel lucky to work with a good drummer but I'm aware there are few enough good drummers around; let alone ones who would take all their clothes off and run around the stage, as Paul Hester did.


Friday night is music night

A good evening. Last night's Soul Beaver gig was a last minute call, which is something I always enjoy. I was at the venue for four, set up and with three hours spare by six. After coffee in Oxford and the rare chance to bump into two friends (one of whom I hadn't seen in two years) I walked back to the venue and enjoyed the evening's entertainment.
And what entertainment! The first band was Twizz Twangle - essentially a man called Dan who has been known to wear nothing but a gimp mask and a pair of underpants on stage. He could well be the John Otway for a new generation. Tonight he dressed more conventionally (although he did have a mask with a built in microphone for the first one and a half songs). The set opened with a solo version of the Home & Away theme (that's an Australian soap for those of you who don't live in the home of the Australian soap... the UK). He progressed through the night with his bass player and drummer, even dedicating a short a cappella piece to the bass man (a balding, skinny guy - so he got my vote). All through the set there were surprises. Maybe not the most disciplined of, Twizz had us all cheering loudly for his energy and sheer worthiness. I don't remember being so entertained by a local group for years.
The second act was Chantelle Pike. A beautiful voice and some nice songs. She played acoustic guitar and was aided on the last few songs by a cellist (I love the cello) and a keyboard player.
Then it was time for the Beaver. We played a cut down set (about half our usual) and did ourselves proud. By the incredibly early time of 10:15 it was over. Our last gig didn't start until midnight!

Next gig - the Rose & Crown, Charlton on April 1st with Bridge Street. Details are below.


Soul Beaver Live 2

Soul Beaver Live 2
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
For some reason this picture vanished form the blog. Here it is again. Please read the previous post though as that has all the up to date information on gigs.

Gig news - the details + New Beaver Gig!

Thanks to Moose for pointing out my lack of detail on the gig news. Bridge Street will be playing on the 1st April (no, really) from 8:45pm onwards. For those of you who missed the earlier post we'll be at the Rose & Crown pub in Main Street, Charlton (near Banbury, Oxon).

Last night's rehearsal was not too bad considering we haven't played together since last year. A bit more tightening up before the gig will need to take place though. It did feel wonderful playing with the freedom a three piece band allows though.

On the Soul Beaver front I can report the recording of the show is very good, although still isn't quite ready for public consumption yet. Just a little bit more editing and tweaking of EQs. Also, the Beaver will be playing at The Zodiac in Oxford this Friday (25th March). Come along is you can. I should add this is a last minute arrangement (we're filling in for someone else) so if you are only coming to see us, call the Zodiac first to check.


Snettik dna oidar ten ,revaeb

I just had one of those surreal moments. Recently home from work I logged on to the net radio station Resonance FM and found 'Xollob Park' the show where everything runs backwards. It's on now and I'm not sure I can listen to much more. An unusual show on such an interesting radio station wouldn't be too odd in itself, but when I followed the link to the 'Xollob Park' web site it took me here. Kittens! And lots of 'em.

All this and the possibility of a live Soul Beaver album. Our efforts at the Marrilion show were recorded and are currently being mixed. I'll keep you up to date.

Tonight I'm rehearsing with Bridge Street - which means some loud music, guitar solos and quite possibly big gaps where the lyrics should be.


Soul Beaver Live 1

Soul Beaver Live 1
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Will B & Colin getting into a funky groove at the Soul Beaver/Marillion gig.

Soul Beaver Live 3

Soul Beaver Live 3
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Soul Beaver with Marillion's Steve Rothery (second left) and H (third left)


Gig news - Bridge Street

Exciting and unexpected news of a Bridge Street gig. The power trio with Richard Brough on guitars and vocals, Richard Lee on drums and myself on basses and vocals, will be making a lot of noise at the Rose and Crown on Main Street in Charlton (near Banbury). Come along and say hi.


Jelly babies

Jelly babies
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Living the cliche! Jelly babies sorted by colour backstage at the Marillion gig.

Beaver Rack

Beaver Rack
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
The Soul Beaver bass and guitar collection. From left to right: Fender Jazz fretless bass, Ibanez Gary Willis signature five string fretless (my main bass), Les Paul, Fender Telecaster, Fender Stratocaster.

Rock Coffee

Rock Coffee
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Coffee backstage at the gig - with a note suggesting we don't use it. I'm bringing the espresso maker next time.

Marillion and the Beaver

Just returned from an exciting gig with Soul Beaver. We supported Marillion at their fan club show in Minehead. We expected Steve Rothery to join us on stage for one number and he did so in a cool and professional way; walking slowly onto the stage playing the song's riff to a roar from the crowd (about 3,000 of them). The crowd, a dedicated bunch, were more than generous with the idea of being entertained by a soul band (not exactly an obvious Marillion influence). Perhaps they would have been happy to know I'd been listening to King Crimson's 'The Power to Believe' all week.
I suspect though that the audience were also willing to stick with us because of the surprise guest element to the show. No sooner had Steve Rothery whipped up a storm than onto stage bounded Marillion's lead singer H (Steve Hogarth) who sang Gimme some lovin' to everyone's delight.
Backstage we enjoyed a dressing room with jelly babies (sorted by colour), beer, mineral water and... coffee. The coffee came with a warning that it could ruin our rock 'n' roll image though.
I brought my camera along but had little time to take pictures. I would love to do a Tony Levin and have the camera set up on stage but for this show there are just a few backstage shots (they should be above or below this post).
If I get hold of any fan pictures I'll put them up here. There'll also be a few more stories once I've revcovered.



It was my birthday on Saturday. I had a meal with friends on the Friday night and surprised myself by getting up on Saturday for a breakfast out. This felt like a civilised way of doing things and we followed it with a walk in the (very cold) country. With friends down for the weekend we all elected to stay in for the night and worked our way through some bucks fizz (won at a gig) some great red wine (wedding present) and champagne (present to help celebrate my mum's birthday). To top this off we grooved to the Live Aid DVD (producing some spectacularly hostile reactions from my friend Alison) and an old version of Trivial Pursuit. No questions related to anything after the mid eighties. All good fun.

On Sunday, Jenna and I had another country walk with another couple. In the evening I put in a four hour rehearsal with the band after some marking of essays.

This morning I felt extremely unreal; as if I had woken up in one of those Star Trek altrernative universes.

There should be some lively posts and photographs soon as the band has a big gig coming up with Marillion. Also, the countdown begins to Bridge Street writing and recording some new songs and (if all that weren't enough) me getting my hands on a Chapman Stick bass - the very first instrument I'll have owned that was made for me.


Lost and dead

Yesterday morning I was driving to work. It's the same route I take every day. Somewhere (I'm guessing about half way) I took a wrong turn without even noticing. At some point in the journey I spotted that the scenery looked odd; it wasn't the usual set of trees and buildings and... hey? What's that bright yellow gate? I've never seen that before.

So, I'm in the middle of the country and lost. I turn the car around and retrace my steps but somehow take another wrong turn and get even more lost.

I get the map out. I'm drifting away from home and work but I remember a place name and turn the car around one more time. However, now it's snowing. Heavily. My car is across the road, mid way through a three-point-turn when it stalls. I turn to my right and out of the snow I spy a speeding lorry coming towards me. Great, I think, lost and dead.
But no, I get away just in time and gradually recognise more and more of the scenery until I'm back on track and back to work.

All this has taught me a lesson. Life is a tenuous thing. So is my grasp on navigation. And further more I'm giving up nothing for Lent. Life is too short and I need my coffee!