30.11.05

More music

I'm getting truly excited about the musical adventures to come.

This Sunday (I've said it before but it's worth repeating) I'm in a house band for the drum students of pro drummer/teacher Simon Ash. We have just one gig (this Sunday) and have had only two rehearsals. Short term projects like this are like taking on part time jobs; you can enjoy them more because you know you won't end up mired in disputes and grudges. It's a fresh challenge, especially now I've agreed to sing Teenage Kicks.

The added advantage to playing this gig is that the man putting it together is a friend from way back. Someone I lost touch with and thought I wouldn't speak to , let alone play in a band with again. One song we play in this band is a Chicago blues, very similar to the sort of things we played in the 1980s. The main difference is that this time round we sound a lot better.

As well as all this I re-established communications with Mr Brough last night. Our ideas of the sort of music we want to make is guided more by a philosophy of creating sounds that we would want to hear, rather than a concept such as, say, "let's make a fusion album" Which is pretty close to how it started. Mr Brough can do amazing things with guitar and bass, while I am drifting into using my Stick Bass with all the MIDI toys that it came with. The next step will be a keyboard free jam session to see what emerges. I like to think that the combination of years of playing and active listening are going to pay off.

And for those people bemoaning the photograph free nature of this blog recently I can report that I've found the cable that links the camera to the Powerbook, but now the internet link has died, forcing me to write this on another machine in another place.

Fingers crossed that all this can be sorted out by the weekend so I can share some action shots of the weekend gig.

28.11.05

Unconfident

By day I'm an English Lecturer. And yet I'm starting sentences with 'and' and having a minor mental struggle with the word 'unconfident.' Is it a word? My colleagues and I got caught up with this question before classes started this morning and it remains unresolved. The internet doesn't help, in case you were thinking of Googling it. One site gives a definition, or lists it as an antonym of confident; another tells you the word doesn't exist. J suspects it's an Americanism. I know at least one published author reads this blog occasionally. Any ideas? Or will I be forced to go upstairs and consult the big OED?

Sunday afternoon in the rehearsal room

Another cracking rehearsal yesterday. The highlight being Andy's 'Freddie' moment in 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love.' There is photographic and video evidence but I see no reason to end a friendship so soon. The one-off gig with this band will be next weekend. Surely I must have found the camera cable by then?

December is going to be a busy time with heavy work commitments from the day job, Soul Beaver gigs and, finally, a chance to play some original music with Mr Brough.

26.11.05

Power


I've pinched this from the BBC news site. It is possibly the only photograph of the (here abouts) ubiquitous Didcot Power Station I've ever seen that doesn't make me wince.

A good day here at La Casa Popolare (not as pretentious as it sounds - well maybe). After a late night game of Scrabble with the wife we've, well J has cleaned house. I've caught up with some marking and I even spent some time in the kitchen listening to a soundscape. Talking of which I'm off to Ely next month to see Mr Fripp performing one live. Yes, I will be leaving the camera at home.

Now J and I are looking forward to an evening in front of the fire with baked potatoes and some practicing for me. It's all getting scarily domestic.

25.11.05

Happier

The happy bun

As I bounded up the stairs to my office today I passed Tory hopeful David Cameron coming down them. If a person could be said to radiate charm then that's what he was doing. I had missed the Government and Politics class he had attended but students and colleagues told me it had been a great success. Minutes after he left the building the phone rang and, instead of a student calling to say they couldn't come in because they had 'flu' (a special version of flu only students get which lasts for a few hours, blocks attendance to college but allows partying) it was the editor of the Guardian.

Then I had a craving for an iced bun. Hence today's portrait.

22.11.05

Much Stuff

I spent today in a meeting for people learning how to standardise GCSE coursework, having heard news items about students 'cheating' by receiving help from their parents. Good coffee and food, nice people and an excellent person in charge. In other words, a surprisingly good day.

Tonight, in between lesson planning and practise I have discovered the excitement of DGM Live, the new web site for Discipline Global Mobile. If you're interested in King Crimson, Robert Fripp or any of the connected ProjecKts (no, not a spelling mistake, dad) then get over there. Well done Mr Smith.

The iPod has been treating me to KC's Construction of Light (the tune that almost always summons my wife), podcasts from Naxos (fab 20 minute programmes that advertise a new CD but also inform the information hungry such as myself) and the podcasts of Arthur Durkee, always a treat.

As well as this - and now I really wish I could find the cable that lets me put photographs onto the Powerbook - I seem to have got the hang of getting the fire going.

21.11.05

Keeping the fire going

If I sound distracted it's because this is being written while I keep an eye on the first proper fire I've lit in a while splutters in the newly cleaned out fireplace.

Lots of fun yesterday. I got to play with Andy Cross, who I last actively created music with in 1987 (yikes). Along with the excellent guitarist Leigh and drum pro Simon Ash, we rehearsed songs for a special 'end of year' show for Simon's drum students. In the afternoon the students began to arrive and play through their showcase tunes.

I played a little Stick but mostly used my 1983 Squire Jazz bass, the least expensive bass I own but the easiest to play this eclectic bunch of rockin' toons on.

It was a long day but certainly didn't feel it. Olivia the roady brought coffee and chocolate, nobody smoked in the rehearsal room, there was plenty of good cheer and exceptance of the occasional slip-up. On the way back to my car Leigh and Andy entertained me with tales from the 50th Anniversary show for the Fender Strat. All too libelous to repeat here but Jeff Beck, you should be ashamed!

There's more of this next Sunday. I hope to take some action pictures of the band in full flow. Yes, sanity is slowly returning and more musical adventures (some fusion vicar?) are on the near horizon. Can you have a near horizon? Anyway, more soon, I have to keep the fire going.

19.11.05

Dealing with the annoying

I spotted this on Robert Fripp's web diary today. It is a description of how he intended to deal with an annoying throat-clearing man on a plane.

"How might I approach this, I wonder? Perhaps to say excuse me: you'll never manage to clear your throat because you're a booby, locked into an habitual richter that is beyond your capacity to address; please consider the ramifications of this - in the substantial matters of your life you are just as powerless. Now, that's a winning strategy. Instead, I adopted Plan B: every time he cleared his throat, I did the same immediately afterwards. His throat clearing has now diminished. Time to buy a baguette & move to boarding."

Also today, advice from a radio person on dealing with telephone cold callers. Simply wait for them to stop talking, then ask them "... and what are you wearing?"

Tomorrow - music in abundance and a meeting with an old friend.

17.11.05

It's that bloody curtain rail again

I just had an idle search on the net for advice on my curtain rail/metal lintel problem and found this page. Scroll down to the article with the same title as this entry and you'll sense how I've been feeling recently.

And if your life is too easy, try searching for the lyrics of 'wishing well' by Free. A great band but not the best name when you're Googling.

I advance masked


Another brief trip to my folks today allowed me to pick up tapes I'd made of the two Andy Summers/Robert Fripp albums, 'I Advanced Masked' and 'Bewitched.' It has been a long time since I've had the opportunity to listen to these. Now I have them on cassette I can at least enjoy them in the car. What happened to all my tape players?

While I've never been a fan of vinyl (despite my best efforts I couldn't avoid scratches and pops)I love the sleeves (I Advanced Masked has a wonderful textured surface) and finally have begun to appreciate why people get misty eyed about their old albums.

16.11.05

Life returns to, um , normal

I have to stop posts that begin with "I had an odd day today." Either that or redefine "odd."

Yesterday I took some students to London to hear a set of lectures on Shakespeare's 'Much ado About Nothing.' This had been retold on telly recently and the students who had bothered to watch it had thought it good. It was good to be in the Great Wen again, even if there was no time for music shopping or anything else other than keeping an eye on students and talking to the new student teacher. The best part of yesterday though was my early hours in a cafe at Oxford's coach station. I had over-compensated for traffic and my new distance from Oxford and arrived at the station horribly early. So early that I got to watch the sun come up as I sipped coffee and munch pastires while reading this month's Wire magazine.

Today was very different. I overslept, missed breakfast and spent the morning on a picket line. Since I try not to write about the day job too much I'll just suggest you read an article about the lecturer's union and their issues with the government.

Picketing over I went to see my wonderful parents and then headed home clutching dad's power drill. I've been undergoing much frustration over the past week with my (non)ability to put up curtain rails. Time and talent has been against me, and my one chance to have a friend come over and help was scuppered. However, tonight I successfully put up the bedroom curtain rail and now I feel I could take on the world. At least I could take it on if I wasn't so tired.

I get to play my bass (and possibly the Stick) Sunday. Can't wait.

How to sell a double bass

I've been having more fun with sad people trying to defraud me under the (very loose) disguise of buying my double bass. Here is a recent e-conversation. Original spellings have been retained.

Them: DAER SELLER seller how are u doing hope all is cool i am intresting in buying ur(3/4 double bass )am from spain but now am in holland. and now plz i will like to no the total amount it will cost ok. so i will tell my the company i used in spain to be able to do pick up ok. so plz i will like to no ur amount and i will like to no the condition of this ur it ok. so plz and i will pay u buy check or money order. but 1st let me have the total amoumt okay? plz get back to me as soon as u get my mail. regard kelly..

Me: Can you write in English please?

Them: Good, thanx for the immediate reply, it really means alot to us, as a matter of fact we are interested in the purchase of this item and we will be willingly to make the .as well i have a shipping company that will handle this for me, they are located in in the spain, so i will be making the payment through cashier check and i will include the shipping cost in the check, so you will help to transfer the shipping fund as soon as the check clears for immediate pick up.payment as soon as possible.

13.11.05

Busy

Amazingly busy today. I'm missing seeing friends, today's schedule stopped me from doing just that, but it does feel that things will improve soon. More music (and some photographs when I can find the camera) soon. Really.

These entries would be a lot longer and more detailed if the computer wasn't forced to temporarily reside under the stairs. And yes it is a laptop, and yes I could put it anywhere, but that is an indication of how chaotic the house is.

8.11.05

Moving, falling over and standing up

Everything feels odd at the moment. The new house doesn't yet feel like home. The old house doesn't feel like home anymore either. I feel more at home while at work, and that just can't be right.

J and I have a had a stressful move. Many more things to do, clean, pack, break, fix, lose, find and fall over than we had ever expected. I'm missing band rehearsal tonight because I'm simply overloaded with making the house related problems and coping with the backlog of work that has been building up. This caught up with me so fast I lost track of the days and, I suspect, upset some band members (and friends) in the process. Part of me wants to make a fuss and show everyone how tired and strung out both J and I are, while the other part just decides to shut up and get on with things. It's good to have this blog to vent though. Parents have been hugely helpful. J has been a stressed angel and I have had enough.

Big sigh.

Right. Good news. The house is slowly taking shape. Besides the recent problems that have taken up all our time there is a growing feeling that it will all soon resolve and we can have our lives back. The Stick is out of its case and living in the bedroom. All my other basses are in their flight cases for the time being. There are a few Soul Beaver gigs coming up (but with no time to rehearse now), the Ash Bash show (that should be a lot of fun) and one day soon I hope to play some more fusiony stuff with Mr Brough. Soon.

5.11.05

New Home

This is just a quick note to say that I'm in the new house and getting ready to spend my first night here. J is still at the old house as she doesn't want to be woken up by the sun (there are no curtains in the new place yet). I'm only staying here tonight so that my first morning in the new house isn't ruined by a trip to the day job.

The 'new' house is new in the sense that a) it isn't an old cottage like the place we are moving from, b) it's our first home that we've owned and c) it was built as recently as the 1950s.

Photographs and musical stories soon.

1.11.05

Chilling


Chilling.JPG
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
I was going to write a hard edged article about finally getting the keys to my first ever house and the impressions of walking around a place I can now call my own. I was, but it's too late and I've got an early start in the morning. Hard edged stuff will return soon, in the meantime please enjoy this picture of J's cat and her newly recovered teddy bear. Ahhhh (aagggghhhhh!)