30.11.13

Everybody Street

Regular readers will know that one of my great loves is photography. I know that these days everyone is a photographer,  or at least everyone has the facility to take a lot of pictures and share them.

I was given my first camera at an early age and became quietly obsessed with taking pictures of everything. Looking back at some of the surviving early pictures I can see how I was trying out framing ideas and playing with contrasts between colours and textures. I knew what I was doing back then but didn't have the language, or the awareness of others' work to put it into context.

In recent years I've turned autodidact and have been reading about and enjoying looking at the work of the photographers who speak to me. I've also tried to work out why I don't like certain people's work. That can often be more revealing.

I've had a growing love of street photography too. It's something I'd love to do but can't, because I'm too shy. People like Joel Meyerowitz and Brandon Stanton have captured what some might think of as the mundane and ordinary people on the streets of New York City, but they remind us that no one is unimportant and 'ordinary' is a highly relative term.

So I was thrilled this week to discover a documentary called "Everybody Street" which can be bought or rented through Vimeo. It features a host of great NYC based street photographers and I found it completely inspiring.

NaNoWri... in a Mo

This year was my third go at writing a novel with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I never believed I was writing anything great but I did feel I was exercising my writing muscles and learning a lot about structure and what does and doesn't work. The last two attempts still live in my hard drive, waiting to be properly edited and polished.

This time round though I haven't managed to get to the required 50,000 words on time. Well, if I can write 10,000 words tonight I could, but that just isn't going to happen.

Although it won't get finished on time it will get finished. Once upon a time I was a person who couldn't finish anything. Now I can't let anything remain unfinished. More importantly, I've left the main characters in a car park and it wouldn't be responsible to leave them there.

My new, self imposed, deadline is Christmas.

25.11.13

Piccolette

My love of taking pictures goes back a long way. I have two main cameras now, a biggish DSLR and a tiny point-and-shoot for when people don't want a big camera in their face. Having enjoyed the delights of digital for a long while now, it was only a matter of time before the urge to shoot on film again arrived.

Well it did, and I resisted. This was easy since I don't have a film camera any more (my last two were stolen).

But then, at my mum' house recently we found my granddad's camera. He used to develop his own photographs and I have plenty of pictures taken by him. But now I have the device he used. It seems obvious that my dad, who inherited it, didn't take a lot of shots as it's in great condition. I'm going to have to work a bit to find the appropriate film for it but, ladies and gents, here is the Piccolette, pocket camera, made in the 1920s. Once I get the film I'll post some results.


22.11.13

Buzzing with the upright

Last night I played music with friends. This is something I love to do and don't do enough. The line-up was drums, electric guitar and me on electric upright bass (like a double bass with most of its body missing).

We took a theme from a previous get together and turned it into a full piece. Then we jammed for the rest of the night, producing a sort of rock/jazz/sometimes samba hybrid that sounded at times like six people were playing. It was huge fun.

Playing upright instead of my usual elctric bass was special too. You stand and play differently. I was trying to sum up the feeling and could only say it was more physical. Future sessions will have to use a mix of both basses as I'm not relinquishing that feeling, but I have to admit the regular electric bass is better for more complex, better intonated work.

There has been a fair bit of stress in my life recently (still is) but sessions like this put me in another place where the energy flows and good things happen. It's nearly 24 hours since last night's session and I am still buzzing.

14.11.13

November catch-up

This month has been something of a blur. The Eclipse Trio album is out although it needs some promotion (hopefully gigs) to bring it to a wider audience. My other band missed a session thanks to me picking up a nasty bug from one of my children, but we hope to return to the final stages of putting our set together soon. One of my top-most favourite bands, Ronin, isplaying their only UK gig in London later this month. Unfortunately, it’s on the same evening as the wedding of a good pal so I won’t be there. Maybe next year.

There is plenty of good music coming my way though. Juana Molina has a new album and thanks to Trey Gunn I found this fabulous album/DVD by Snarky Puppy and friends. My iPod has a playlist of music I should have spent more time with this year and it’s slowly being caught up with.

The last musical adventure of note (to me at least) is my plan to rescue and renovate my Squier Jazz bass. Squire are often seen as Fender’s cheap cousin, which they are, but this bass dates from 1983 when the Squire instruments were made properly in Japan. Something is telling me to fix it up and experiment although no instrument will fully tempt me away from the wonderful Ibanez Gary Willis bass.

In the non-musical world, I am in the middle of writing a novel for NaNoWriMo. At the time of writing chapter thirteen should be finished. Almost certainly this will be another ‘practise’ novel, getting me ready for the day when I write the one I’m really pleased with. As well as all this I have been creating a set of sound effects cues for a friend’s play, dealing with the horrors of our house situation, writing a lot of letters and, you know, being a dad and going to the dayjob.

The one thing I’m falling down on is catching up with friends. Now, there’s a resolution to be made.

Here's a track from Snarky Puppy with Lalah Hathaway. Stay to the end and be treated to some wonderful and spooky chord singing.


10.11.13

We will remember them

I discover new things every time I talk to my mum these days. Today being Remembrance Day we were chatting about the First World War. I was already aware that my dad's dad, as Grenadier Guard had fought and been wounded in Belgium. I also knew that mum's dad, in the Royal Horse Artillery, had been blown off his horse by a shell, sent back to hospital in Leeds to recuperate and then sent back to the front line. Both my grandfathers survived the war and had reasonably long lives afterwards. What I hadn't know was that my mum's uncles (her dad's brothers) had both died in the conflict. Given that my own dad (Royal Navy) and his brother (Royal Marines) had both fought and survived the Second World War and that I work with the Army, today has been particularly poignant.

6.11.13

... and me on bass