31.7.08

The Bridge

I had a great time last night.

After a hot and sweaty time at the dayjob I dropped in on my parents for food and conversation. They supplied both with their usual generosity and then I packed up and drove to an Oxford rehearsal room to play with Bridge Street.

First, I should get the moaning out of the way. The place is under new management and it showed. We had booked a small room at a good price. When I got there I was told we could have the bigger room downstairs as no one was using it. Only at the end of the evening did we find that they charged us the rate for the big room. We had the small room booked for next week and vowed to stay up there whatever happened. But no, they had someone else in their so we'd have to come back to the big room.

Do these people not own diaries? It can't be a cynical way to make more money because they'd still have people in both rooms anyway. What they have no is one band who didn't get what they had been told they already had. This is a great way to guarantee that we won't put them at the top of our list the next time we're in the market for rehearsal space.

But the good news - the rehearsal itself was a pleasure from beginning to end. true, we weren't playing well, but then many of these songs take a lot of work to sort out. The room had a strange way of enhancing the top end of everything too. The snare sounded odd, my bass was unusually trebly (is that a word?) and even the guitar sounded too prominent in the high end.

Some songs were hard work but nothing felt like work, if that makes sense. We put a lot of effort into making music but it felt effortless. OK, my fingers hurt - the Fender Precision I chose to play is not as easy on the fingers (or hands) as the fretless I normally use with this band. Some words didn't come either. The line "big swimming pools and movie stars" from 'Gittar School' came out as "Big Wimplepoots n' Mendypies." But who's listening?

We had two short breaks. Long enough to catch up with Richard Drummer's stories from life on the road with Marillion and Carbon Silicon.

Richard Guitarist tried out his Strat (he normally plays a Les Paul) but too many years on the Les Paul made it sounds, well, wrong. Mind you, that's the joy of rehearsal. trying out new ideas and braving the mockery of your band mates.
The spirit was good, the whole night was shot through with a serious optimism and lack of cynicism than made me glad to be alive.

I love playing music live. And to play with such good musicians is a privilege I try never to take for granted.

Suitably buoyed up I came to find knackered wife and child. Teething and a bad reaction to an immunization has caused a few problems but, at the time of writing, it seems to be coming under control.

Oh, and another thing. Everyone go out and buy the album Pole by Tuner. It's mysterious, powerful and reviewed here. I've had this album for ages but recently it's become almost as prevalent on Radio iPod as Kathleen Edwards.

More soon.

27.7.08

Avebury


Had a lovely day at Avebury today. But could someone tell me if this is rude or not.

Fresh music news coming in a few days.

24.7.08

The frustrations and the wonder

So the frustating and wonderful news is all about me and music. Sorry. No new babies, no sudden religious convertion and no lottery win.

My new project has been building up, with lots of new music appearing and being recorded. There are still two tracks in my head which I know I can make a decent job of but I don't have the time to record properly. There just isn't the luxury of setting up everything I need and taking time to get it right just yet. These two pieces need a bit more workthan just plugging guitar into laptop, which has been the method of choice recently.

So, I now have all but two pieces and the months of editting and re-recording have been 'rationalised' - yuck - into a much smaller space. In stead of tweaking everything I just threw out a lot more material and made some tougher decisions. I've even worked out the artwork in record time. This was helped by an almost pathological need to take photographs since I got hold of a decent camera last year.

Another frustration is that I'm rubbish at mixing and don't seem to get better no matter how much I do.

The good news though is that a new Spingere album, probably hard copy as well as digital download this time, should be available before the year is over. Then what?

17.7.08

Current

This week, although tired from too much driving, I'm invigorated.

Music has re-entered my life after a brief break. That is, playing music has returned, since I always seem to have tunes buzzing around inside my head.

Last night, I sat down with a Precision bass and a small amp and started re-learning music for a Bridge Street gig. Usually I play a five -string fretless bass with this band but change was in the air, so out came this 1950s designed beast.

I played through a large chunk of the song list and noted that muscle memory is an amazing thing. Songs I would not be able to talk you through were there, in my hands, waiting to come out. I also noted that months of playing the Warr Guitar has left me slightly out of alignment with the bass. My timing suffered a little as I adapted back to four strings and the P-bass's slab body. The Warr Guitar has eight strings and a gloriously curved body, not to mention a completely different tuning system.

So, hours passed, and I felt energised, rather than tired, as this practising was leading to full band rehearsals and at least one gig in the near(ish) future. Sorting out arrangements and finding new ways to adapt classic songs was also keeping me happy.

On top of this there is a strong sense of possibility that feels both scarey and wonderful. This is coming from those close to me and (without sounding too bonkers) it feels like a whole new phase is starting. I notice that this is the third recent post to mention this feeling of change but it's only in the last couple of days that it has started to find form. Whatever that means.

12.7.08

Turning point

I've been house-sitting this week so a little out of touch with the regular world. Nothing musical has been worked out, although there is a gig on the horizon. I'm now itching to get playing, for all sorts of reasons.

I had some photographs on display at a local arts festival and even made a sale - which was a pleasant surprise. The online photographic group I belong to met up at the exhibition and traded stories and ideas. So many creative people doing wonderful work. Outside the exhibition were an ever changing line up of middle aged men playing rock music. Of course, that's what I do too, so I can't judge.

This week was a turning point though. Big things are in the wind and although they may not come to anything I want to record that this was the week when (possibly) everything changed.

6.7.08

... ever

Just watched the best game of tennis.

New

On Friday I got fresh inspiration. I had finished my first week in the new dayjob and felt good. That combined with news that was both wonderful and hugely frustrating made this feel like a new beginning.

What does this mean without specifics? Probably nothing. Lots more specific stuff on its way though.

3.7.08

Kathleen Edwards

Only yesterday I was bemoaning the lack of emotionally charged music. When was the last time you were really moved by a song? But then, after listening to this week's Musician's Radio show I heard an interview with Kathleen Edwards which contained songs from her new album. And there it was, a song that made me stop and listen intently. No clever tricks, just beautifully written words set to a perfectly arranged tune and an emtional punch that could knock a person out.
The album is called 'Asking for Flowers' and the song was Alicia Ross.