Managers - Part Two

And yes, the prediction came true. An hour before playing the manager was seen leaving the hotel, bags packed, and driving off into the night. We began our set and were immediately told to turn up. It was a great night - a truly involved audience and, therefore, a truly positive atmosphere.

Now, back home, it's time to clean house and make some serious decisions about what to do in 2006.

If you're celebrating tonight, enjoy and remember to play your music LOUD!


Managers - part one (probably)

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
This is our new band manager. We're in the gap between setting up and playing and waiting to see how this evening is going to progress. Having set up speakers, mixing board and amps we played through a quiet song, quietly (we're in a hotel function room and they always sound boomy without a crowd in them). At the end of the song the hotel's general manager walked in and told us to turn it down. We point out that this wasn't really an option. Ho-hum. The general-manager either has never had a band play before or is throwing his weight around to make himself feel better. Or both.

In a few hours we'll be in a room where the crowd noise will be louder than the band and we'll be asked to turn it up. We are a particularly considerate band and have been through this situation so many times we should be running a sweepstake on how long from "it's too loud" to "please turn it up."

Our new manager will be taking care of business from now on though.


The wrong aiff file

It's a good night. I'm spending the evening in front of the fire with my wife, the cat and (much less romantic) Amadeus sound editing software on the Powerbook. I have just spent the past half hour editing a reading of a poem into slices so that it can be of use in a new track. Dropping it into Garageband to compare it to the rest of the tune I realise I've been editing the wrong file. I went through a brief period of working out how to use the wrong file in the music but have done the right thing and thrown it away. I'll start again (with the proper file) tomorrow. Sigh.

Last night J and I got a night out with friends in an Oxford restaurant. Apart from the good food and company the night also delivered the possibility of more Bridge Street gigs. This is an exciting prospect, especially as I can possibly, maybe get to wig out on the Stick... at volume. We'll see. It's a Soul Beaver gig tomorrow night. Jazz bass, guest vocalist, should be lots of fun.


Post Christmas

It's been a good Christmas so far. We visited the inlaws on Christmas day and my folks in the evening. A satisfying and enjoyable chance to mix with both families.

On Boxing Day we went for a much needed walk up to the White Horse Hill and then had a quiet day with a roaring fire and quite considerable amounts of time sitting around reading.

Today I've done very little (a rare luxury) but did play the Stick and start writing a new piece based on Trey Gunn's 'Deception of the Thrush.' More on this later.


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you. For the record, Jingle Bells can be played quite convincingly on the Stick, but probably won't be making it to my next project.

Have a good day, wherever you are and whoever you're with.



As hoped I managed to get in a night of Stick playing. The joy was doubled as I spent half the evening just fiddling with the electronics (great toys and creative toys with it) and the other half letting new melodies arrive.

Meanwhile, I've had two glasses of mead tonight. It feels fitting now I'm living close to a prehistoric hill etching and (I'm told) on the convergence of lay lines. Ancient booze. yep, it's time to sleep.


Swelling and healing

The Crimsonesque playlist on my battered old iPod has been swelling lately with downloads from the DGM site and recommendations from Mr Smith. On the way to last night's Soul Beaver rehearsal I drove through ring roads and country lanes listening to David Sylvian and Robert Fripp's 'The First Day'. Not as exciting as the live version (Damage) but still a great listen. On the way home, tired and keen to be with my wife, I chose KTU's '8 Armed Monkey' which is a quite staggering CD full of wonderful, and very musical, layers of noise. And frankly, how many albums have you heard with acoustic and electronic drums, Warr guitar, accordions and vocals?

Squeezed in between these delicacies was the rehearsal itself. Because of the surprise nature of the event we are playing at (and because you never know who is reading your blog) I can't go into too much detail just yet. However, we had a temporary new member in the band last night who, intentionally or not, brought a cohesion to the rehearsal that is not always there. As a mighty fine guitar player once said to me, the Beaver is the least gang-like band he's ever seen. It is more of a co-op than a group. That said, I had arrived in a stinky mood (trouble with the bank and a general lack of energy) and was well and truly fixed, cured and put back on track by playing with my excellent band/co-op mates. Music heals.


Spotty Coffee!

Spotty Coffee!
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Sometimes possessions are cool. This is our new hand-painted coffee maker which (combined with a packet of Cuban coffee brought back by friends) has allowed the glorious smell of a good brew to drift through the house.

You'll have to come back to me later for a more spiritual post.


View 1

View 1
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
The house is slowly taking shape. Areas are appearing where it is possible (neighbours permitting) to be calm. This is a snap of the front room and some of J's sterling decorating work. The front room often has a fire blazing away in it, which is a great improvement on the television for inspiring visuals. The painting (an inspiring visual) is a Picasso copy by my mum.

The day job was nicely odd today. All the signs suggested we shouldn't be there. Few students, a boiler blew up, the food hall (more of a food corridor) was shut. I stayed for my allotted hours and then went to get Christmas shopping done and to have some paintings framed. We've had these pictures since we visited Assisi, another place where I felt calm (and a long way away from noisy neighbours). J and I promised we would frame them when we had a place of our own and now they are getting the professional treatment in a Wantage framers.

Beavering tomorrow. Lots to say about this but propriety suggests I hold back until after the gig. All will become clear.

On Wednesday night I can stay in, rather than go out an teach. I love my Wednesday night class, but this week I'm going to devote the evening to playing the Stick.


Hello Hippies

An insane day yesterday. Some pain, some pleasure, and all that before venturing to deepest Cambridgeshire to enjoy a Robert Fripp soundscape. It's possible some of you have surfed over from the DGM Live site and are wondering about the Duck Calmer. Fans of said object will be glad to know it is still in use. Those of you new to it's charms won't have to wait long to see a special Christmas appearance.


Tuba frenzy

It's been a week of musical contrasts. After the Ash Bash gig of last weekend I've been rehearsing with Soul Beaver - well, some of Soul Beaver. We played through songs with a band consisting of minimal drums, bass, trombone and vocals. When things went well it sounded quite compelling.

On the iPod this week have been two Robert Fripp soundscapes (downloaded from the excellent DGM Live site), the KTU album recommended recently by Sid Smith and electronic/tuba music from Oren Marshall (I can't get the link to work but Google him for more information). I read about him in The Wire and was intrigued by the sonic range possible from a tuba (or five), some electronics and (more importantly) industrial quantities of imagination.

Last night Soul Beaver played a typical set for a council Christmas party. We played quite well but the audience seemed frightened by live music, only swarming onto the dance floor when the disco came on. I'm a bass player, and I'm used to music at volume but this was music at RIDICULOUS VOLUME and I had to scrapple about for ear plugs during the break. The only way people seemed to enjoy themselves was to be deafened and dulled by booze. I'm not sure I saw any genuine happiness in a room filled with people.

On the way to the gig I saw a lady stroking what appeared to be a dead labrador on a pathway. It was an image that would have fitted a bleak moment in a low budget movie. It stayed with me through the gig.

And hey, kids, on that happy note, J and I should be off to see musical creations in Ely soon. Expect a report here and elsewhere.


Ash Bash 2

Ash Bash 2
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
And for the gear-heads...


Originally uploaded by Roostar.
In an effort to be as Levinesque as possible I bring you an audience shot from the spectacular Ash Bash 2 gig yesterday. Great fun, great band mates and it was all over by five in the afternoon! To compound this we all went to the bar for... coffee afterwards. Roll on Ash Bash 3!


Tower and trees

Tower and trees
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Another snap from my away day.

Travelling public

Travelling public
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
A snap from my day in the great wen.

Bass moment

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
This is my bass of choice for the weekend's gig. It's also become bass of choice for many Soul Beaver gigs. This is the instrument I found in a now defunct Oxford music shop. It was rusted and cracked and in need of love. The instrument behind it is a modern Fender Jazz fretless - truly a lovely bass.

I spent the day in London today, attending a course for the day job. It finished around three, allowing me time to visit the music shops on Denmark Street and the Apple Store on Regents Street. Two, count 'em, two doughnuts from Krispy Kreme (one in the morning and one on the way home) and I was a truly happy bassist.