which is… exciting

The day is a patch of vagueness and work. Mainly work (the Art in the Park book) with vagueness thrown in.

The evening, of course, is the Jazz Jam. I’m in a good mood this week and take it all on the chin. Actually it’s all quite good-natured tonight, even the bit where I find out that Oleo goes considerably faster than I’d previously thought (so I wing it, which sounds fairly jazzy, and then I get a really fast solo to do, which is… exciting). Even the bit where the singer says “Oh, just make something up” is interesting. And it looks like I might have another jazz bass gig (a one-off at least) so that’s good too.

It goes on too late again (I’m called back for an impromptu Summertime but I don’t try playing the wrong chords this time, partly because I’m in a good mood, partly because I’m having enough difficulty playing the right ones).

which is jolly cool

As is usual for this time of year the first day of spring is somewhat contracted, so I have to rush to get everything in: I practise, finish off the compilations to be passed to their recipient, go to the gym and exercise and get clean, then I get ready for the gig. Written down it doesn’t look like very much, but I assure you I had to rush to get it all in.

Anyway, thence to the venue, where I’m the first to arrive, before the sound man or anyone. First Robb arrives, then the sound guy and we have a painless soundcheck (though it’s just two chaps with guitars and vocals each – the sound chap does make it sound very good, though) and sit in the curious backstage area waiting for the audience to come in.

Then the gig. It’s sold out, which is jolly cool, I can tell you (and sold out means fifty people – could have been more, as it turns out, because people who would have come to see me didn’t because there weren’t any tickets left. That isn’t a complaint in any way. I don’t think i’ve done anything sold out before).

Almost all “new” (that is to say post-Secret Agent) material. Very nice, too, although I’m aware of the tips of my fingers sweating which make my fingers stick to the strings. A couple of other distractions. I remember all the words to the New One, though, which is nice.

In the interval I meet up with Maude and Elisa, who have come to see me, and Ian, who has probably come to see Robb, but who I’m glad to see anyway. Bit rushed, though, so probably rude to all.

For the second half I sit backstage while Robb performs. The sound really is very good – he’s got a sort of “enhanced acoustic” rather than amplified sound. The fact that I can’t see anything also adds. Robb’s set is excellent – a lot of committed stuff that I can’t write but that he does very well and more inspired guitar-twiddling than he’d have you believe. Powerful stuff.

I suppose I rush of a bit quickly at the end – but apart from Robb and Ian I don’t really know anybody, and I want to say goodbye to Maude and Elisa before they go off on extended jaunts – Maude to her chap in the South of France and Elisa to her home in Argentina. And I do this. And then I take the bus home.

There’s not a lot to do in the evening except a bit of practise. So I do a bit of practise.

my scream wouldn’t have been out of place in a horror film

Up early – well, I’m up early every day but I don’t know that I manage organisational competence most of them – to get ready for the Crafies. I tidy the living room, hoover it, clean the bathroom (no really, chaps I did clean the bathroom, however surprising you might find that) and move the double bass into the bedroom.

Then I jet up to the gym for a shower and go past Konditor and Cook, where I buy cakes, and Sainsbury’s, where I buy nothing, since it seems to sell nothing but the component parts of office workers lunches. I can get more and better humus, for example, at the corner shop. And do. Well, more, anyway.

Elisa and Haru arrive several moments before Steve, find the front door open and walk up to my flat where they knock on the door. I am making orange juice with my electric orange squeezer, so I don’t hear them knock. I do hear Steve press the buzzer, however, so I rush to my door to go down and open the front one and immediately confront E & H. I scream. Apparantly my scream wouldn’t have been out of place in a horror film. Very embarrassing.

Ah well, they all come in and we have orange juice and begin the day’s work. Very good it is, too – lots of little bits of technique and repertoire (I make the mistake of asking about Askesis which those of you who know the piece will recognise as a potential problem).

At half time we have salad (which Elisa has provided) and the cakes I got from K&C, then back to the work.

After we finish I suggest that since they are meeting Maude that she comes here and they go off for a walk and then come back and pick up the guitars before going home (Haru is off back to Japan and has to get up early and the clocks go … um … forward tomorrow). In the event this turns out to be a helpful suggestion rather than a useful one (“helpful” isn’t good in GC circles), but I think it all turns out well. I use the time to make a cover for a compilation. Anyway, they come back and collect the guitars and that’s it for the evening. So.

opefully I’ll be able to learn it in time.

Bits of work are mopped up and some kind of attempt is made at preparing the living room for the Crafties meeting tomorrow. I will have to fit four people into the room. This will be a challenge.

I also practise the nylon-string guitar in preparation for Sunday and finish a song that I thought I’d finished a few months ago but didn’t like. So I’ve thrown out about two thirds of the words, written completely new ones and like it much more. Hurrah. Hopefully I’ll be able to learn it in time.

nice, but separate

Various bits of work during the day, then jet off to the gym via the post office. Actually as soon as I get to the post office the jetting finishes immediately since the queue is almost out of the door. I’m trying to get to the gym by 4:50 so that I can get my forty-five minutes running and five minutes cooling down in before 5:45 (we’re allowed fifteen minutes after 5:30) and … I know, I know, will to live evaporating, I know … anyway, I just about make it but the wait in the queue is very frustrating.

Anyway, yes, run, hot room, shower, home, lift to the Drill Hall. I fall in with my stuff and am directed first to the stairs and then to the disabled lift. That is to say a lift for people in wheelchairs. I mean, it works. I pile into it with my guitar cases and amp and a DH employee gets it working for me. I’m leaning against the far wall which, when it reaches the basement, becomes the door so I almost topple out again.

So setting up and testing and all that. They’re very particular about fire regulations and such, I must say. Which is a good thing, I suppose. It’s a nice little room, with tables around the performing area (no raised stage, but any necessary demarcation is made by the lights). Very good to see it in advance of Sunday.

Today is a Jeays night, though. It’s largely newer songs, so I have no chance to play on autopilot. Not that I ought to aspire to playing on autopilot. A lot of winging it, particularly during the bass songs (I’ve been spoiled by the looser vibe of the jazz jam, I suppose), but a feeling of disconnect between us and the audience (not sure that that conveys – it feels nice, but separate if you see what I mean).

After that it’s packing, piling back into the lift and a drink in the bar while Jeays talks to his fans. The News Quiz were in upstairs this evening (the Beeb seem to have block-booked the main auditorium for a while, which must be nice for the venue).

Anyway, thumbs up to the Drill Hall, it’ll be a pleasure to play such a fine venue.

the call that doesn’t come

And another day at the Mouse-face, although this seems to be the last for a while, and keeps me there for a while longer than usual.

There was (I thought) to be a rehearsal of the quintet at the Three Stags, but remembering last time I don’t go round there (to find a room full of the wrong people – very disturbing) and wait for the call that doesn’t come. So I start accumalating tracks for a comp for Maude (who seems to think it might be a good idea, though how long she’ll retain that thought when she hears it I don’t know) and also the spring MeFiSwap. Now my hard disk is largely full of AIFF files. This feels quite good, though I don’t know whether it ought to.

this is just a metaphorical bath

Into Walker and then I’m sent home for an early bath. Actually this is just a metaphorical bath at first (although I go for a run and a shower later on). First, though, I jaunt up to town and get copies of Heaven and Las Vegas and Victorialand and finish off the Cocteaux compilation.

Then I do other stuff, as well I might.

(I know, I can hear the complaints – “‘Today I did stuff’? call this a diary?” I’m sorry. My vague statements are a true reflection of my vague life.)

As I’m about to go to bed I begin to develop a terrible headache that keeps me awake for a while, which I think is terribly unfair. But then I would.

curse Cole Porter and his unexpected modulations

Back to Walker during the day and back to the Jazz jam in the evening. It’s quite fun – there’s no ringer, but there’s a huge influx of very drunk, quite posh people playing well-known tunes in perverse (i.e. non-Real-Book) keys. I have to wing it, which is quite fun but tiring. And curse Cole Porter and his unexpected modulations.

After what I think will be the last tune another one is announced. I am very tired and just want to go to bed. They call Watermelon Man and I decide to play Canteloupe Island, which is quite similar except for the bit where I play a Db rather than the Bb (I think) of Watermelon Man. I think the piano player even sways in my direction (actually I think she thinks she’s playing Canteloupe Island”, too). This gets some of the players (particularly one sax player) excitedly jumping up and down, trying to get my attention and mouthing “B flat!” at me. The sax player even crosses the room to talk to someone about talking to me. I find this very entertaining. Watermelon, cantaloupe, it’s all the same sort of vegetable.

I’ll make my mistakes, you make yours. At least I know I’m making mine.

I’ve also sent of a mail regarding the Drill Hall gig on Sunday, but there’s no sign of it by bedtime. Hmm.

its own … um .. metaphorical hands

Continuing my startling run of gym visits (you saw what I did there). Forty-five minutes again, lest the machine decides to take my exercise programme into its own … um .. metaphorical hands. It’s less an attempt at fitness than a bizarre desire to make my body reveal what ailment it has decided I should suffer next. Scurvy, probably.

I gather tracks together for a massive retrospective of the Cocteau Twins. This affords me great pleasure, since I haven’t listened to them for a while, or at least not properly. I think the Fontana albums are, if anything, even more fabulous than the 4AD ones, but I realise that that’s an unusual point of view re the Cocteaux. I don’t have two very important albums – Heaven or Las Vegas and Victorialand on CD. This is a tremendous gap, which I should try to find ways to plug.

forays into something

Following yesterday’s brave stab at nothing at all, I continue the theme, with the following forays into something:

  • I don’t get to the gym, but I do think about it very hard.
  • I find out where Toulouse is, and realise that it’s something I’ve known all along.
  • I mix several Peter Cadle tracks and try some mastering strategies as well. Almost right but not at all acceptable, sadly.
  • I manage to get my USB keyboard, which I had previously believed myself to have destroyed, to work by the old strategy of taking out all the screws that hold it together, removing the back, looking at it very hard and then putting it all back together again. Some noodling follows this.
  • I listen to part one of the Elvis Costello Story on the Radio 2 internet feed.
  • That is all