30.1.07

Police 2

It's only Tuesday but it feels like Friday. I seem to be fighting a cold, or maybe a light flu.

The Police are reforming to play at this year's Grammy show. I've been a fan since 1978 and saw them play live, got inspired by the way they could rock out, improvise and leave holes in their music. But oh no, I don't fancy this. My first reaction was disappointment that the Police seem (and I stress this as the tour is only a rumour for now) to be treading in the wake of too many other bands. Reforming when the best choice would have been to leave their legacy alone. But, as a friend reminded me, Sting's a clever guy and he's unlikely to change his mind about being in this band again without a good reason. I'm pretty sure it's not just motivated by money though. Let's see.

28.1.07

MySpace Vs MySpace


I have two MySpace sites. There's the one which is linked over there on the right, which has music and up to date details of musicky things on it. Then there's the original one I set up before finding out that it was the wrong kind of MySpace site (it couldn't play my songs, only other peoples). Sigh.

In a spirit of getting-things-done I've also signed up to last.fm and put in a solid bit of practising. Overall this has been a good weekend. Much walking and talking with J. Some plans to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the mighty Beaver. More soon.

Today's photograph is of the Glove Tree which grows somewhere near Wantage.

21.1.07

Gordon Thomas



No, it's OK, he isn't dead. Gordon Thomas is a singer/songwriter who at 87 is still waiting to hit the big time. I was sent some of his songs many years ago by New York DJ Citizen Kafka. Since then I've played is songs for their simple, enjoyable goodness. Mind you, I never found anyone else who had heard of him and information on the net was sparse too. Until today. I found that a Canadian couple had tracked him down and made a film about him. It's about time.

Now then, back at home the drunken, wind wrecked trees have had to go.

18.1.07

Eat at Joes's

On Wednesday morning I went to the new wing of the main hospital in Oxford for a CT scan. It was slightly surreal, wandering up and into this vast, mostly empty edifice to find a room with a giant, grey doughnut. Once found I got to lay on my my back and be moved gently into the doughnut so people behind the safety glass could photograph the inside of my head. I hope I get to see the results. Maybe there's a crayon in there?

Back to work in the afternoon after a quick visit to the Cowley Road for coffee and a catch up with Gary at the excellent Music Box.

And then, back to the hospital again to meet with J and have another scan. This time it was our twenty week check on the baby. What a difference a few weeks make. The 'prawn' of our previous visit has grown into something that looks recognisably human. Most recognisable amid the static and weird grey wash of the sonogram was the baby's lips. Full and ... was it smiling? ... they looked like mine. It seemed to be waving at us too. The scan moved around and reveal legs in motion, the heart pumping, kidneys, bladder... well the full works. At one point, as the sonographer went to take a picture for us to take home he/she moved so it was face on towards the lens. Oh yes, this is my child alright. See camera and pose.

When this experience was over we went for a lightening fast feed at Joe's on the Cowley Road and agreed how well we had been treated by the hospital staff. The last scan had felt something like a production line, this was a very personal and well handled procedure.

I had to rush off to teach again with the evening class and finally got home late into the night with the wind and rain whipping up a storm. I dreamt of looking after a blindfolded mole on a strange bus journey with antagonistic passengers. Maybe too much coffee.

16.1.07

Save the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat

Well yes, actually, it's time to raise some awareness about endangered animals. A good place to start is the well designed and fascinating site devoted to helping the edge animals (those on the edge of extintion). Look here for animals so rare some don't have names, and others so endangered they may already have vanished.

Somewhere out there in news-land I found an article about black diamonds from space but hardly a word about the death of Alice Coltrane.

14.1.07

Michael Brecker

Very sad news. Michael Brecker, one of the world's finest sax players, has died aged only 57. He had been suffering for years from MDS and leukemia and finally gave up the fight on Saturday. Typically he had just finished recording an album which, if it's half as good as 'Tales from the Hudson', should be a fitting tribute.

11.1.07

From the weekend

The remains of winter are thrashing around outside. Rain clouds like giant bruises have sat in the sky, threatening (and delivering) a drenching. Of course I love the wind and rain so this has made me happy and strangely energetic today - a day when my actual physical reserves should be quite low.

Still, for once I'm almost at the bottom of my to-do list and I've spent the day doing productive things at home, at the dayjob and elsewhere. I even squeezed in a visit to my folks which, as ever, is a treat.

Last Friday was a Soul Beaver gig. We played in one of the Oxford colleges and were presented with a large echoing room with very few soft surfaces. From the stage it felt as if we were in a studio with the room reverb knob turned up to 10. Luckily the audience heard a much more clear and distinct sound so they had a good time. Truthfully, I had a good time too. The Beaver has been off stage for months and our rehearsals rarely feature the entire band. So to play together and to play pretty well, was something to be happy about. J even noticed the change in me that playing live music brings. It's funny, being an essentially shy person who has no love for large groups or radical outgoing excitements, I'm hardly ever happier than when I'm on stage. Soul Beaver even gives me a chance to stand at the front and share the spotlight with our excellent singist Emma but on Sunday I was more of a background muso. It was time for Simon Ash's drum clinic students to show off what they were capable of. Andy Cross organised and busy afternoon which ran smoothly and allowed the friends and families of the students to see them in action. We played through a range of tunes with a fine scratch band including Richard Guitarist who brought an extra level of guitar sophistication to the gig.

Rehearsals should start soon for the next project and I hope to have Coffee-Housing mixed and wrapped up soon. Markus Reuter's 'Trepanation' is playing on the new stereo and, just at this momemt in time, all is right with the world. It's a good job I don't believe in fate.

7.1.07

Tough

It's been a tough week. J and I had to make some sudden and serious decisions, the Christmas tree fought long and hard as I attempted to remove it from the house and two very different gigs have come and gone. The gigs were the easiest part of the week and J noticed how much better I looked afterwards. There is something about playing live music that is about receiving energy from somewhere. Music saved me on the way home from the dayjob too. With important things on my mind and no wish to drive home in silence I picked out Robert Fripp's 'Love Cannot Bear' soundscape album and felt it carried me back. Only rarely does music reveal the power to do this and I'm thankful these particular pieces existed.

Need to sleep now but more proper blogging, with fab pictures will be coming your way soon.

1.1.07

Say yes to 2007

Last night was spent at the house of Richard Guitarist and his wife, both old friends. J and I enjoyed their hospitality and some seasonally ambiguous (but delicious) Thai food. Fab conversation took us to midnight when we switched on the telly to watch the surprisingly excellent fireworks in London.

2007? It's been going well so far. I'm loathe to make any resolutions but one low level one would be to read Andy Summer's autobiography (a well received present) as soon as possible.