Weeding out the freaks

A night in on my own, so obviously I went straight to the bass and started playing. I have recently re-tuned my four string bass in fifths (like a cello) and it produced intresting results. Regular material has proved hard, but not impossible to play (there's a reason why basses are usually tuned in fourths after all). But, new ideas have come pouring out and I had the presence of mind to drag my recording gear into the spare room and play for a while. Once the Myspace server recovers from its current wobbly I will get an mp3 up.

Post mix I tried to watch 'Weeding out the Freaks' (my title for the X-Factor) but it's just too horrible. "Derek has always dreamed of being a star..." they say as we watch someone singing an impersonation of a hundred bland chart acts. What's the prize? About a month of low level fame. Does anyone mention craft, graft or discipline? No, of course they don't.

Wow, I sound grumpy tonight. So, to redress the balance let me direct you to this excellent news story, which has a winning combination of chess and 'relaxation rooms.' Enjoy.



A nice comment from NMJ reminded me about the upcoming Zappa profile on BBC Radio 3. This is a station celebrating its 60th birthday yet to me it sounds younger than most other 'younger' stations. It still has the excellent Late Junction and Mixing It and for that it should be ritually blessed and loved.



Originally uploaded by Roostar.
This would have been better if had taken the picture from the front but I'm still pleased to have got this close.

If the Peter Hall production of 'Waiting for Godot' is coming to your town, go and see it. I had always suspected this play to be a "pile of exestential crap" (review from a colleague's wife) but I was pleasently surprised at just how good it was, how funny it was and how disturbing it was. Time to put my thinking hat on.

Uffington Sunset

Uffington Sunset
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
There have been greater sunsets (and greater photos of sunsets) but I wanted to post this to symbolise something. Not the sunset of this blog but the simple fact that I AM BACK ONLINE! I'll go and get a beer, you get the peanuts and we'll meet back here in a day or so.

The mixing session didn't happen but should do very soon. I'm already writing new music in my head and look forward to trying out something different. Talking of which I'm going to a potentially fascinating gig soon. I'll keep you posted (because I can - again).


Where's Will?

I'm getting out a quick message from the bowels of a large, faceless 1960s building somewhere in Oxfordshire. My home internet connection has been down for a week, BT are useless (the full and gory story coming as soon as they help me get back on line) and I am mighty frustrated.

Great pictures, hilarious anecdotes and whopping great pearls of wisdom are being lost to the world because BT aren't doing their job.

Or, I've made some basic error and it's all my fault. What are the chances?

Back soon.

I hope.




It's been a strange week at the day job. My timetable has been changing almost every day and I'm still not completely sure what I'm teaching and when. This morning I was due a late start and, therefore, an extra hour in bed. As it was J's car broke down on her way to work (she starts really early) and I answered her call for someone to rescue her. She was in the rain, on a dangerous stretch of road and the car was refusing to start. Luckily I remembered a handy snippet of mechanical engineering which a friendly AA man had shown me a few days ago. I got J's 'Krooklock', inverted it over the altenator and brought it down with a solid 'whump!'
Bingo! The car started and we took it to a garage that said it was closed (it was still seven something in the morning) but opened up to take a look at the car. Later in the day they called back to say there was nothing wrong. So, now we're stumped. Is the car really okay, meaning my whacking the engine actually worked (brilliant but unlikely) or is the car playing a subtle waiting game; holding out for another rainy early morning?

In other news Apple have solved the problem of the little gaps between tracks on iPods (well, it was bugging me) but have updated iTunes so it doesn't show podcasts in the main display. Very annoying because now I have to go on a hunt to see if any new goodies have arrived.

Once again though, if that's the worst of my problems I don't have much to worry about. It's a good job I don't believe in fate.



Five years ago nearly three thousand people died in a pointless gesture. We could have learnt from this if someone had had the imagination to do something other than try to get re-elected. As it is, nearly three thousand people die in Iraq every month and many good and caring people in the west live in fear too. How do we make this better?

Don't worry, I'll be back to the nonsense again tomorrow.


Soul Beaver at the fete

Soul Beaver at the fete
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
A fun gig at the Mildenhall village fete. No keyboards, no trumpet, no audience. Rich, our drummer, gave me a copy of Marillion's 'Colours and Sound' DVD and I've been watching him working as their drum tech. He's wearing a Soul Beaver t-shirt through most of it - good for him.

The other good news is that Richard Brough (on the left of your picture) and I should be mixing 'Coffee-Housing' next weekend. We're hoping not to take too long on this and I've been making copious notes to speed the process along. Things like 'make the drums sound like drums' and 'find the bass'. When it's mixed and mastered it should available on iTunes and then the next project can begin.


Back with the Beaver

A rare rehearsal for Soul Beaver last night. We haven't played in months but despite this there was an energy present that helped us produce a sound better than some we have achieved at gigs. Maybe we were overcompensating for the missing keyboard player, maybe temporarily returning guitarist Richard gave us some extra steam. Either way, I drove home feeling elated at playing at such a level again. I would have had a perfect night's sleep had a car alarm not gone off in the early hours. For some reason this completely freaked me out.

Freaking out of another nature can be had if you make your way to the village fete at Mildenhall (in Wiltshire, not Norfolk) this Saturday. The keyboard-free Beaver will be playing at about two o'clock.

Currently listening to Markus Reuter's amazing "The longest in terms of being." It's a stunning album in the spirit of soundscapes but with a special tonality all his own.


Long day's journey into the front room

Yesterday I started rehearsals at ten in an Oxford rehearsal room. At one in the afternoon we packed up and moved to the venue (after a short break for food) and then rehearsed again until about half an hour before show time. We played through the show then I packed up and went home, getting in the front room for a beer and a chat with J around eleven.

Today I was a zombie.


With the Enos

I'm spending the evening preparing for a show tomorrow, bouncing between fretless and fretted basses and trying to make everything sound solid. Today though (and thanks to my fab mother in law) I attended a fundraiser hosted by Brian Eno. It was a well planned and good natured event, even if the high winds threatened to blow over the actors performing a one act play. I don't think I've ever seen a group of thespians deserve applause as much as these people.

There was music for dining from a Senagalese trio and a local band playing in the nearby barn; a barn so perfect for playing and rehearsing that it has featured several times in my lottery winning fantasy. Not that I've bought a ticket in three years mind.

In front of me, in the queue for coffee, was Robert Fripp (I'm not in a position to name drop too often so let me indulge here). Knowing he's a man who doesn't like to be bothered I mumbled a quick "... enjoyed your soundscape in Sutton" and then mentally kicked myself for bothering him at all. That said, I heard someone ask him if he was still playing.

Does anyone know about Kuno Wagner(s)? I'm trying to find some of his music and not getting anywhere.