Hello, you beautiful people!
Since the move to Devon at the start of the year I’ve been exploring the musical terrain. There are some fantastic musicians down here. My main musical ally has been the marvellous Al Swainger and it’s been great fun to play guitar and bass duo, as well as practicing musical nerdery in every key and what not. We’ve also had a couple of gigs with a guitar quartet with axe demon Jesse Molins and drum supremo Gary Evans. Many Stevie songs were played and much joy was spread throughout the land.
I dragged Al up to the Southampton Jazz Guitar Society to offer our perspectives on playing duo. The kinds of things bass players moan about guitarists and vice-versa. Returning the favour, Al organised a group workshop with keyboard whizz George Cooper, Ric Byer – a genuine drum/bass/guitar/vocal/whateveryougivehim Wunderkind, and Leigh Coleman who is a totally amazing singer.
One of the first gigs I managed to get down here was playing bass in a band led by Billie Bottle. First of all, have a listen to the music here; I think it’s brilliant, and so much fun to play bass in it. It touches a lot of good things for me, flashes of Robert Wyatt, Rufus Wainwright, Queen, and so on. It’s theatrical, grandiose, proggy. We’re recording an album next week, too.
What else? I played a fun wedding gig playing classic rock & pop stuff on bass, and even got to attempt to sing Huey Lewis’s Power of Love, which sounded like someone shouting the lyrics of The Power of Love but to the tune of the Bass line to The Power of Love. But, fuck it. I don’t mind if they didn’t mind. I actually love singing, and I think I’ve realised that the trick is to sing to people who are VERY, VERY, VERY drunk, and they will actually hear you sounding exactly like Paul McCartney. Plus, playing 8th notes through a gut-moving PA on Jumping Jack Flash will go down as a life highlight. And I got to play ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’. And ‘I’ve Had The Time Of My Life’. AND ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. The band is full of the loveliest people in the world, too.
Matt Carter’s another piano wunderkind, who’s going to be pretty astounding I have a feeling. 17 years old and transcribed the whole of Brad Mehldau’s Anthropology whilst still in the womb and has been tearing into Chris Potter’s 10 minute ridiculous YouTube seminar. I was tabbing out Yngwie Malmsteen at his age. Y’see? That’s what these youngsters need. A bit of cock-rock. That’ll learn ’em. Next time I see you, Carter, I expect you to know the riffs to Iron Man and Fire, and that’s your musical education taken care of. I’ll see what The Royal Academy has to say about my Hair-Metal Module…
I did a trio of Wes Montgomery tunes with old musical pals Mike Gorman and Matt Home for the Teignmouth Jazz Festival. I transcribed 15 tunes plus all the Wes solos with the idea of getting a few gigs doing workshops on Wes plus a gig, but I realised after that, as much as I love Wes, doing a whole gig of his tunes feels weird. Anyhow, you live and learn, unless you don’t.
This last week we’ve been socked with the Norovirus! That’s fun, let me tell ya! Actually for me it was very mild, but everyone else near spitting distance would’ve been vomiting at a bi-hourly rate for the better part of a day. At least it’s out of the way for Xmas!
I’ve been playing lots of tennis too. It was going great: lessons at the local club, matches with encouraging people, etc. And then I played a 12 yr old girl who destroyed me. Demoralising, but whadayagonnado?
So, dear reader, we plod on – steeling ourselves until the day we rise, phoenix-like, to exact our revenge and smash the hopes and dreams of the Barbie-loving tiny people.