It's a wonderful apocalypse... Dave

Branscombe Flower 3
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
J and I were planning to go to the Uffington Show yesterday but somehow we couldn't bring ourselves to spend £7.50 each on the tickets so we spent the money on a fabulous pub meal instead.

When we got home we planned a country show of our own. We reduced each event to the absolute minimum. For example, a demonstration of Tai Chi (I only know one move), classic cars (stuck a toy car on the bird table), dog show ( we used our cat - and by 'used' I mean watched her jump the garden fence), falconry (tied a drawing of a falcon to a piece of string and hoisted it over the shed) and the ever popular tea and coffee stall. If I ever become a dad I'll be able to say "of course in my day we made ourownn entertainment" and mean it.

Talking of children, Dave the trombonist and sound guy from Soul Beaver has just become a dad. He and Georgina have a baby son called [don't know yet]. What should a trombonist call his son? Answers in the comments sections please.

Lastly, I should report that watching 'It's a Wonderful Life' and Apocalypse Now' in the same day gives you really odd dreams. Put it this way, I'll never watch Big Brother again.

Today's flower is from one of the many flower photos I took while on holiday in Branscombe.


Break time

Hard drinking (tea) at a rehearsal today. Busy hours of work helped by hearing some excellent singers and players. The show is next weekend though and we still haven't had a proper rehearsal with the drummer yet. Yikes.

Dinner guest

Dinner guest
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
One of the guests at yesterday's picnic in Oxford.


Along the way

It's been a fun and busy day. I started with breakfast in bed and then a frantic game of Backgammon with J, finishing off the tournament we began last night. We were about to go into Oxford when I checked the computer and found a kind act of linkage over at DGM Live had brought several hundred people to the Myspace site. Amazingly I'm also getting orders for the album. It's going to be mixed soon and will be available on iTunes and possibly some other sources. Do I need a record label to distribute it... probably not. I'm expecting sales of maybe between five and six copies. Gasp!

Anyway, hello to anyone coming here from Myspace.

Meanwhile, J and I headed into town and stumbled into Modern Art Oxford just in time for a guided tour of the Kerry James Marshall exhibition. Striking works in collage, cartoon style, drawing and painting. It always fun to see someone using the word 'Muthafucker' in art. Marshall paints black people (who he suggests have been missing from serious art) as fully black characters. No browns, no shades of grey or purple. His black people are virtually silhouettes. It's a great show.


My Space

I've taken the plunge and set up a Myspace page. The plan is to have a proper web site for my latest musical adventures, while keeping you up to date on day to day goings on right here. Until I actually find the time to make a worthwhile site though, this will have to do. Enjoy.


Tarts and churches

Some snaps from the holiday. A view from the bedroom window and those WI tarts.


Devon and back

Regular readers may have noticed my absence from the blogsphere recently. No? Oh well.

Anyway, I've been holidaying with my wonderful wife in deepest Devon. We rented a cottage in Branscombe which was just about perfect for us. When we arrived we found it in a valley by a Norman church, within walking distance of the sea, a brewery a decent pub and yes, even a decent tea room. Oh, and if it was idyllic enough a crowd of white doves flew past us and landed near the truly beautiful garden of the neighbouring cottage. Down the road from us the village hall advertised a Pie Feast (Tarts 'R' Us) where your could get sweet and savoury pie and a cuppa in aid of the village hall fund.

We had a week of peace, walking clifftops, good food and seriously good beer. We also managed to cram in more reading than usual. J enjoyed The Island by Victoria Hislop and I spent happy hours immersed in The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco. This is only my second Eco novel (although he has written some great liner notes too) and it is very much like eating a rich meal with many courses.

Luckily I also had time to do some album listening. It seems to get harder and harder to find the time for an uninterrupted listen of 45 to 60 minutes so this was a chance for some proper active listening. Amongst some blistering tracks from the DGM Live catalogue was 'Destroying Silence' which is going to be on constant rotation for a while yet.

I'll be right back into the music world tomorrow night when I put in some more practise for a show in a couple of weeks. Soul Beaver will be making a rare appearance soon too. I'll post the date and location shortly.


Home studio adventures

Studio? part two
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
This was the main part of my home studio set up that I've been playing with over the last week. By Saturday morning I had an album's worth of music which I'm still pleased with. It's going to need mixing properly and maybe a bass line added on one tune. How did I forget to add bass?! The further adventure is that I've been using Leafcutter John's Forrester software to produce a remix of the whole (potential) album into one 17 minute track. I have a horrible feeling that this is the best part of the whole project. Hopefully I'll have figured out how to put music on to My Space soon, failing that I'll have a website up in a month or two as a launch pad for all my strange musical ramblings.

London with the nephew

Back garden flower
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Just back from a fab day with J and one of our nephews. As a birthday treat we took him on the train to London and packed in a visit to the IMAX cinema, several sportsware stores (he had to have the proper baseball cap), the Apple store (OK, that was for me) and Planet Hollywood. Let me tell you, twelve year olds are perfectly capable of spotting a rip off when they eat at one. Planet Hollywood was overpriced, badly maintained and sold a selection of underwhelming food. We should have eaten in Chinatown. That apart, it was a surprisingly relaxing day, and if you like cinema and haven't been to an IMAX, go to one now.

The flower picture is from an unknown growth in the back garden.



Almost fell asleep walking up the stirs last night. Woken early this morning by a crashing sound from the kitchen. The cat had brought a bird in, and was standing guard outside the food shelves where (presumably) the bird was thinking up exit strategies. I made coffee and toasted a bagel. The second I pulled the bagel out from under the grill the bird made an abortive escape attempt, flying directly over by head, around the kitchen (missing the wide open door) and getting trapped behind the venetian blind. After some frantic fiddling with the window I got the bird out and finished breakfast. All this underlines my heroic status as 'friend of the animals' as two days ago I was stung on the hand by a wasp, which then fell into the dishwater. For some strange reason I scooped it out of the water and dropped it in the garden before running upstairs for the sting cream.

Currently listening to ProjeKct Three Live in Texas and about to disassemble the home studio and generally clean up the house. Can anyone tell me how to put your own mp3s onto a Myspace site?

Late night mix up

That's it. After a week of recording I have turned a list of twelve partially written songs into eight completed pieces. All the tracks that have survived sound like they belong together which makes this the first CD I have ever made that doesn't sound like a grab bag of ideas. I've also abandoned writing traditional songs just to see what happened. What actually happened is two songs crept in, then had to be thrown out again (maybe they'll find a home in an other project). I'm now aware of what the Stick Bass can and can't do as I've been playing almost everything melodic on it.

The next stage is to listen to all the tracks on speakers, in the car and on headphones. Already I've discovered glaring mistakes with mixes. A possible solution would be to export all the individual tracks to the computer so I can mix and edit with a bit more precision. Mind you,if I downloaded all the tracks onto this (much loved) computer, it would probably just grind to a halt. It's been making a lot of worryingly wheezy sounds lately.

Time for bed. Tomorrow I'll have a fresh listen and see what can be salvaged.


Sticks and sticky rice

With so many sad and bad things going on in the world I should feel guilty for admitting I've had a good week. The main reason for this burst of goodness is that I'm away from the day job and, best of all, I've converted the spare room into a mini-studio and have been recording the music that's been building up in my head for the past six months. Ideas that I've been playing around with are finally taking shape on my humble 16 track recorder. The Chapman Stick Bass, bass guitar, found sounds on minidisc, drum loops and the fab Kaoss pad are being layered and processed and edited until they sound like the sounds in my head. It's been a highly rewarding week so far.

On Monday night J and I went to the Mount Fuji restaurant near Swindon. The Honda factory is nearby and the restaurant along with the hotel it is part of are owned by the car factory and visited by its executives. Luckily for us it is also open to the public so we were able to enjoy a fab platter of sushi, sashimi, eel, noodles, aubergine, sticky rice and weird Japanese ice-cream. It was a great meal, and when I return I'm planning on letting someone else drive so I can have a glass or two of sake.

Hopefully, if all goes to plan I should have an album's worth of music by the weekend. Stay tuned.