Seaside II

The manager of the Hotel disagreed with us that the room had been missold and wanted two nights pay instead of the one we actually stayed for. We refused and moved out of the Devoran Hotel (good for the over nineties who don't mind a hotel with 'do not' signs everywhere, an arrogant manager and an all pervading smell of cabbage) we drove to Beer. This lovely seaside town is where my parents had their honeymoon and later brought there son, who loved it.

I'm glad to report the place was still charming and relaxing. J and I booked into the Anchor Hotel (highly recommended), relaxed and went for two long walks along the coast. Good food and seriously good beer was sampled too.

Home today and on our evening walk we watched a foal running around its field, kicking its legs up as it went. Possibly the most positive thing I've seen in a long while.

Seaside I

Just back from a quick break. We'd planned to stay in a 'deluxe double room with sea view' at a hotel in Sidmouth. I was going to finish off some work and maybe we'd find the time for a walk by the sea. This is what our room looked like...


Au port

AS I write some organic, slug eating creatures are chowing down on the slimy invaders of the extensive gardens at Cruttenden Towers. Get on with it boys!

I'm still at work, although having completed coursework and exam preparation there isn't a great deal to do. Next week however, I shall be putting all this behind me and heading to the Great Wen to see 'Zappa Plays Zappa.' According to pals in Germany this is going to be a great show, with top quality guests and finally a chance to hear FZ's tunes played by a really good band, live.

Also upcoming will be more songwriting/bashing into shape with Mr Brough and (hopefully) enough time to record more music of my own.

This week (should you be interested) I've mostly been listening to Camille, a highly inventive French singer. I haven't got a clue what she's singing about (well, a bit of a clue) but her vocal delivery, instrumental ideas and arrangements are freshening up the air molecules all around. Matisyahu and Tool are getting a look (um ,listen?) in too.



Ian Copeland, known to friends as Leroy, has died. Those of us who grew up trecking to Police and Squeeze gigs will know him as the Vietnam vet turned booking agent responsible for getting our favourite bands known in the states. A good and well loved man.


Gig 5

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
The Saturday night gig was also when we said goodbye to Colin as our regular guitarist. Fans of Cols will be pleased to hear he'll still join Soul Beaver on the occasional gig. You can track his future musical (and other) moves on his blog.

Gig 4

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
None stop dancing at the Saturday gig.

Gig 3

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
My other bass (OK, the support band were a piano/cello duo).

Gig 2

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
The venue

Gig 1

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
The view from the venue on Saturday night.

Friday night, Saturday... night.

Two gigs this weekend. Friday night's was fun but hard work. We played one long set and my aching forearm reminded me why practising isn't just about learning notes. The real highlight wasn't the music but the discovery that Gary, our sax player, had been listening to Steptoe and Son on his iPod.

Saturday night was something else though. It broke two of the basic rules of (Soul Beaver) gigs. Firstly, no one dances in the first set. This time everyone was up and dancing from the first song. Blimey! The second gig rule is that more people dance to the DJ than the band. Again, we were happily surprised to see most people sit down in the DJ's set. All of this, along with the warmth of the crowd, made for a very enjoyable way to spend an evening.

During the sitting around period on Saturday we went to the Bat and Ball pub (in Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire - I highly recommend it). I asked for a black coffee and, much to my surprise, got a coffee with no milk and... shortbread! A true delight.

Back to a very busy week at the day job and then things should ease up enough for me to do some more recording. News as it happens.


The Wait

It's been a busy but rewarding week. A lot of the day job's pile of stuff has been reduced, although the remaining pile of stuff is pretty huge.

In the music world all is good. A good rehearsal with another fine keyboard player mean Soul beaver are ready to rock again tonight. I'm writing this on a borrowed laptop in the inevitable gap between setting up and playing. We're in a golf club tonight, playing music for people to dance and sing along to. They have come to celebrate 60 years of a football club. Nice people, but their club's colours are identical to Ikea's - which makes the place look a cross between a large bar and, well, a big Swedish shop.

If I don't get any decent photos tonight there should be plenty from tomorrow's show, which is at a picturesque Oxford college.


Plantation 2

Originally uploaded by Roostar.
The newbies settling in.

Plantation 1

New plants.JPG
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Recently purchased plants for the huge back garden area.

Unloved art

Catching up with the internet world tonight. J has been remodeling the extensive front garden (actually about the size of a small car) and the plants bought for the back garden have finally taken hold. We here at il casa de popolare are happy when it rains.

A good gig recently. Soul Beaver played in a big top and had the benefit of a professional sound crew. They perfected the monitor mix in the soundcheck and we were all terribly pleased. After an awards show and comedian had done their thing we came back on stage to find the perfect mix had been replaced by a random one. No bass in the drum monitors. No vocals in mine. Yikes.

Still, a good night musically and enough money made to buy a fab painting I saw today in Wantage. The artist had taken up the brush when she was 70 and paints, mostly, landscapes from her imagination. The one I fell for inspired someone in the gallery to question my taste in paintings. This I take as a compliment. It also makes me aware that, after a few more years of buying art I'll probably be able to have my own exhibition of hated artworks - this partly brought on by my treasured (and signed) Yoko Ono 'bottom' print and the incident when I telephoned a sculptor to ask after a piece of hers I had seen called 'between a rock and a hard place.' Her reaction was amazement that I wanted it at all. Apparently she had been exhibiting it for years alongside her other works and, after everything else was sold, this piece remained, unloved and unpurchased. Well, if I ever needed a sign that something was right for me...

More Beavering coming up next weekend. I'll try and take some photos.


When I say Vrooom...

This in from BBC Radio 4's poll on their arts program, Front Row. They asked listeners to keep a diary of all the music heard in a 24 hour period.

'Front Row' listeners who kept diaries were exposed to an average of one hour and sixteen minutes of background music in a day - music which they did not choose to hear.

One previously unidentified source of music rage emerged in a number of the diaries: bad singing by colleagues in the workplace, who have no volume control and little musicality.

Other music which provoked particular anger included 'hideous sounds' coming from newly installed TV screens on a bus, very loud pop tracks in shops and repetitive electronic tunes played by toddlers' toys.

But the diaries also reveal that ... many respondents actually enjoy piped background music in the right context.

While 38% of non-chosen music received a negative rating, 28% was rated positively, and 34% received a neutral score.

I noted birdsong as an unrequested, but highly rated, form of music. My least favourite intrusion was, no surprise, a series of mobile phone ringtones. I have part of a guitar solo from King Crimson's 'Larks Tongue's in Aspic Part IV' as a specific ringtone for a guitarist friend. I should imagine that would upset quite a lot of people. Robert Fripp being one of them.

Talking of Crim, I listened back to their EP Vrooom yesterday. A wondrous, full on, lolloping crazy person of a record. Sid Smith asked for opinions on it and marked out 'When I Say Stop, Continue' as a track that divides its listenership. I love it. Especially the moment where a sharp, well defined stop doesn't happen and the music continues like a particularly cool car parking a few feet further up the road than it's driver intended.


Busy, busy, busy....

It's been a busy week, and I've got a busy month coming up. In brief, all hell breaks loose at the day job (exam preperation, coursework to mark in abundance, etc.) and lots of gigs with Soul Beaver. Kind of people to ask about Bridge Street. I'm hoping a rare gig could be fitted in next month when we've had time to remember all the words and chords. Rachel, who posted earlier, might like to know that 'Little Fluffy Bunny and the Bucket of Liquid Nitrogen' is almost finished. What's that? A year? Don't get your hopes up though.

I'm hoping a solo CD will be complete by the end of summer. Listeners to Zak's Stickworld Podcast will have heard early mixes of two tracks. There are others in the can and more written out and waiting to be played. This solo collection seems to be different to my previous efforts in that I've listened back to the tunes and still like them. My plan (borrowed from Arthur Durkee) is to make some tracks avaialable for free and then have it for sale on CD Baby and iTunes. If you're wondering, it's the usual funky-ambient-heavy-bepop stuff and features the Stick Bass heavily. Oh, and there'll be some singing too.