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May 30, 2008

Shiny Objects Of Desire

I definitely have an obsessive personality. Back in the day, I used to have a basic steel-body resonator guitar which had a decent action and which sounded the business. I sold it for next to nothing when we moved back to the UK from the States. Stupid, stupid thing to do. If you have a nice guitar, don't sell it. If you need some cash then sell a frikkin' kidney, instead... you have two!

The other day Tim dropped the hint that maybe the birthday equivalent of Father Christmas... or the Tooth Fairy... whatever, might have a shiny surprise in his sack this year... presumably I have to be a good boy to qualify for such treatment?

I absolutely love steel-body resonators, both in terms of the way they look and their distinctive metallic sound. I really want either a genuine Dobro (now owned by Gibson) or a National tricone. Either one... I'm not fussy. The only problem is the price. I have a sneaking suspicion that the ol' birthday budget may fall short of the wedge required for such esteemed brands. Nevertheless, my obsessive personality has had me scouring the 'net for shiny, shiny guitars.

For those who don't know, resonators were first conceived as a way of mechanically amplifying guitars so that they could be heard above louder instruments, such as horns, or to cut through background noise in clubs. They never really established themselves due to the advent of electric guitar technology. Resonators look similar to acoustics as far as body shape goes, but in fact they work in a very different way. In regular acoustics, the vibration of the strings is transferred to the body of the guitar which vibrates in sympathy, generating the sound. In resonators, the string vibrations are transferred via a saddle to one or more aluminium cones, which act like speakers. The body of the guitar is effectively the speaker cabinet. Single (large) cones will be louder, whereas multi-cone models (eg a tricone) tend to have more resonant harmonies and hence give a richer sound with more sustain.

Ach, you know, I wouldn't even mind a non-USA brand like Amistar. They make some very pretty toys!

May 28, 2008

iPod DJ Vol. 2

Album: New Orleans Heat
Artist: Albert King
Year: 1978 (or 1979 depending who you ask)
Rating: 4/5

Ha-ha! Two coconuts in a row, no lemons! The amazingly talented shuffle button on my iPod instinctively picked another album I think is great. If you want to know what the iPod DJ thing is about, click here.

Okay, so the production isn't stellar, but it's Mr King (of the 'A' variety) at his funky best. The album was recorded in the Crescent City with some of New Orleans' best session players at the time.

It's a very laid back, hot/steamy night, windows open, jug of ice-cold cocktail kind of album. The urban myth about Albert is that he never bothered to actually tune his guitar right so he had to tweak every note to get to the right note. What is certain is that he was a lefty who played a righty upside-down, low E to the ground, so his high-string bends were pulls rather than pushes. He also tended to stick to a small 'box' on the fingerboard and just made his axe talk, talk, talk. Jamming along to this CD is a lot of fun and really lets you get your funk out, focussing you on bending single strings to different tones.

One interesting side note is that the Allen Toussaint penned track "Get Out My Life Woman" is currently being played by the Derek Trucks Band during live performances. Rumour is that the dTB will be going into the studio imminently to have a crack at recording a new album. I wonder whether it'll make the track listing...

May 27, 2008

Stormy Monday...

Wow, what crappy weather over the Bank Holiday!?!

Saturday was beautiful, a perfect May day in London. The sun was out, but it wasn't too hot. Sometime between 'let's change nightclub' and 'I'm drunk, tired and danced out' during the wee hours of Sunday morning, the skies opened and London's dusty streets were purged by a deluge.

Sunday showed some relief (hangover notwithstanding) but Monday was a mess. Suffice to say I did not leave the house. In fact, with one brief exception I don't think I saw the outside world for a period well in excess of 48 hours.

I did, however, achieve a couple of things. First off, I read a couple more chapters of "Skydog: The Duane Allman Story". Update: Duane just died. Every time I get to the bit about his bike crash it tears me up inside. Not because I didn't know it was going to happen, but because it always seemed to me that the band were at the beginning when Duane passed, just starting to achieve their potential. When Berry suffers an almost identical fate in about 20 pages (I'm guessing) I'll be really depressed.

One thing I noticed upon this reading of the book was that there's mention of the original band being captured on film. Before the weekend, it had never dawned on me that such footage existed. Thanks to the miracle of Google and YouTube, I got to see the great man play.

Admittedly, the film footage that I did find was frustrating to watch as the camera never seemed to settle on Duane when he was actually doing anything more than holding down the rhythm. Mostly when he's playing you get imagery of the crowd frolicking in mud or of Butch Trucks bashing away on his skins. Strange cinematography, to say the least.

A lot of clips appear to have been pulled from the 'net, presumably due to copyright infringement. My understanding is that the bulk of the footage of the early Allman Brothers is owned by The Bill Graham Archives (some of which is available through 'Wolfgang's Vault'). I haven't, as yet, been able to locate them on there yet, though. If anyone has any better information as to where to find movies of the Allman Brothers featuring the original line up, please let me know!

Following on from the "Stormy Monday" theme, I decided to check out various version of the song of the same name and started to learn different ways of playing it. Much of the song is based around what I call the moveable 'jazz fingerings' of 7th and 9th chords, only using the middle 4 strings, along with simple minor 7th barres. Jamming around on those shapes using the T-bone Walker trick of going up or down chromatically between changes is a lot of fun and sounds very cool. Listen to his (or the Allman Brothers') version and play along.

Unlike the song lyric, Tuesday's not so bad. There's no sun, but the rain's holding off. As usual after a long weekend, it's back to work with a bump. Still, it's only a 4 day week. That counts for something, eh?

May 23, 2008

Allmans, Allmans Everywhere...

My love of all things "Allman" (as in, related to the Allman Brothers Band) leads me to binge on them from time to time. I metaphorically drag out all my old recordings (they're on my iPod, so there's not much actual dragging required) and I immerse myself in published literature, fan webpages and so on.

I'm currently re-reading Randy Poe's Duane Allman biography, "Skydog". It's something like the third or fourth time I've been through it, searching for clues as to who Duane really was and what it was like to be in his presence. For those who've not read it, it's a surprisingly well written book which really does give some insight. It also attempts to make some sense of the chronology of Duane's musical career, from delinquent adolescent obsessed with blues guitar, through failed early album releases and record company traumas, to the height of the Allman Brothers' popularity. If you know anything about the history of the band, the you pretty much know how the story ends.

[...though the road goes on forever!]

Each time I read the book I follow track and album descriptions by listening to the songs as they're analysed, rekindling my passion for their unique style of music.

For those fan-boys (and girls) out there, I'd recommend "Skydog" over the other Allman Brothers biography, "Midnight Riders", by Scott Freeman. That's not to say that the latter isn't a good read. However, it tends to dwell on the conflicts within the band and Gregg's drug issues rather than being a celebration of Duane's life. Further, "Midnight Riders" purportedly contains 'facts' that are disputed by some of the real-life characters. When penning "Skydog" Randy Poe took the decision to publish the various different accounts of critical events to give a more rounded picture.

Heck, read "Midnight Riders", too, for all I care! One biography focusses on the positive impact that Duane's life had. The other focusses on the negative impact of his untimely death.

Hey, the latest gem I gleaned from the book was that Duane's daughter, Galadriel, was born in the exact same month and year as me. Fascinating fact #342!

May 22, 2008

iPod DJ Vol. 1

So here's the deal: there's been a lot of talk lately in the blogosphere about classic albums, love/hate relationships with artists etc.

For a bit of fun I thought that at times when I have nothing interesting to say (don't, alright... just don't!) that maybe what I'd do is hit shuffle on my iPod and see which album comes up. I'll then post a quick review here. The basic idea is that it'll give folks some clue as to the variety of stuff I listen to.

With luck, the albums that the iPod DJ picks will be ones that I'm proud to own. Trust me, there are several on there that I don't want anyone to know about!

Okay, spin the wheel... round and round she goes... where she stops... AH! GOOD! NOT A LEMON! [phew]

Album: Sound As Ever
Artist: You Am I
Year: 1993
Rating: 4/5

This one is Australian rockers You Am I's debut album. It was recorded at the same studio as Nirvana's "In Utero", at around the same time. It's raw-edged punky grunge with great vocals and overdriven crunchy guitar. In my opinion the band went a bit too melodic-rock after this one, but "Sound As Ever" stands as a testament to what a great sound you can get using relatively simple musical ideas.

Started Today With A Smile On My Face...

...and here's a little something to put one on yours.

Axe Victim's been talking about cover art recently on his blog. For fun I Googled something like 'classic cover art' and found a page devoted to the challenge of extending album art. From the site:

"Using any tools available - you, your record collection, a camera, photoshop, a scanner, whatever works - show us what happens beyond the borders of classic album sleeves, how the artwork continues."

Some are funny...

Some are strangely clever (yet disturbing)...

And then there are those that are just down right WRONG!!!!!

...and there are more than 30 pages of them!

May 21, 2008

Father, Forgive Me...

...for I have sinned.

Lately, I've been using Pandora Radio to try to figure out my vibe and synch my mojo with it.

How Austin Powers, eh?

For those who don't know, Pandora is an internet radio station which is the love child of streaming technology and The Music Genome Project. From the Pandora website:

"...We set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or 'genes' into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like."

The way Pandora works is that you type in a song or artist you like and the Genome database suggests songs with a matching or complimentary style. You can even vote on whether you like a particular song or not and Pandora will learn and adapt (much like The Borg) to your tastes.

So, I've been listening to a lot of different bands from the late 60's and early 70's. All good stuff. Led Zep, Skynyrd, Neil Young, The Who...

Here's my confession. First subconsciously, then aggressively, I found myself skipping past stuff by The Beatles. Yes, pretty soon my crime against music became apparent. I don't like the Fab Four. Their jingly-jangly, catchy tuney, flower-powered, tailored suit thing just doesn't cut it with me.

[If you ever read this Tabitha, I'm SO sorry. I know you'll think less of me!]

I also don't particularly care for The Doors.

To my surprise I actually found I did like some of George Harrison's solo stuff, along with guys like Tom Petty, who had been flying under my radar for a long time. I remember his video with the Alice In Wonderland theme, but that was about it. Pandora pulled out some smart stuff that I'd never heard before.

So, to the legions of Beatles fans... I apologise. To me it all sounds like McCartney's "Frog Song". Don't get me wrong, on some level I appreciate the classics, both in terms of their impact and the cleverness of the construction, but they're just not songs I want to listen to over and over. I know, I'm a philistine. All I can do is say, "Sorry".

To the rest of you closet haters out there, are there any artists that you're supposed to like but which make you change the channel? Or worse, are there bands you listen to that you know deep down you shouldn't? If it helps loosen your lips I'll admit that I... I... I have a Hanson album. I... I... I'm soooo ashamed.

C'mon, fess up!

May 19, 2008

Drunk Boy Blues

Spurred on by the jam track that Ig of IG BLOG posted a while back, I decided to write my very first blues song. Over the weekend I taped a quick 12 bar blues in Em and set to penning some lyrics for it. Taking inspiration from my somewhat drunken attempt to jam over Ig's track I figured the theme of "Drunk Boy Blues" would be vaguely appropriate. When I've worked out the fills and solo guitar (not sure whether they'll be electric or acoustic at this point) I'll record a version and post it here.

In the meantime, here are the first draft lyrics to "Drunk Boy Blues"

I woke up late this morning
Soaked down with the booze
Yeah, I woke up late this morning
Really feelin' the abuse
Y'know these days I always wake up
With those mean ol' drunk boy blues

I reached out for a pillow
Thought I'd take myself a snooze
Yeah, I reached out for a pillow.
But you know, it weren't no use
I'd been sleepin' in the gutter
With my mean ol' drunk boy blues

Started drinkin' whisky
Bourbon chased by brews
Yeah, it must have been that whisky
It's always been bad news
My hands just get to shakin'
With these mean ol' drunk boy blues

One day I just won't wake up
I'll have fin'ly paid my dues
Yeah, one day I just won't wake up
I'll have nothin' left to lose
But that day I'll fin'ly kick off
Those mean ol' drunk boy blues

May 16, 2008

Oli Brown's "Open Road" Review

First off, I'm going to say that I've seen Oli and his band play twice so far, once as support for Devon Allman's Honeytribe and once as headliners, showcasing this album. Both times I walked away knowing that I'd seen something special. This is a band worth following.

For the guitarists amongst you, here is what you need to know:

The boy has tone.

...and he's not afraid to use it!

And he's so frikkin' young and talented it's enough to make you hang up your guitar, lock yourself in the bathroom and cry for your Mommy. If that's not bad enough, at 18 years old he's got himself a damn fine blues voice.

And he writes his own stuff.

And he has a record deal.

At this point I know you're dying for me to say something like 'he's good, but y'know, all he plays is pentatonics so he's got a long way to go...'

Not so. He plays all over the frikkin' place. Just when you think he's going to do one thing he hits a colour note then tears off in another direction.

And... and...

And I haven't even got round to reviewing the CD!

"Open Road" is definitely a strong debut album. If I had to mark it down for any reason (and I'm totally nit-picking here!) it would be that I think a couple of the tracks could have been arranged more like their live performance. Onstage, the band consistently sizzles but at times the recorded tracks veer more towards a jazzier vibe.

The biggest example is the album cut of "New Groove". Played live it's an edgy, funky, balls to the wall song. On the CD it's a much more laid back. I'd have preferred them to push the tempo and add a bit more snap. In general the drums have been mixed further into the background than I expected, I guess. I get why: so that you can hear every note Oli's plays. I'm sure that I'll get used to the different mix of the recordings and love them after a couple of listens.

Hey I just listened to "New Groove" for the second time and already I'm starting to feel it more. See, I told you I was nit-picking! Y'know I just figured out what the deal is. The album is meant to be played LOUD! Amps to 11, puh-lease!

If you like blues with a twist, buy this album. You will not believe that this sound is created by a bunch of guys who are only just over the UK legal drinking age.


While I'm not a believer in such things, most Thursdays I make a point of checking out the horoscope in one of the local rags. This particular magazine always has uncannily accurate predictions about my life.

This week my horoscope read: "You're considering changing jobs and wondering what it would be like to work in a new place. The trouble is that the only way to find out what a work environment is like is to work there. It's having the courage to take the necessary step in a new direction. If you do, there will be no going back, but at the same time there could be many new opportunities ahead of you."

How uncanny is that?

May 15, 2008

Time Is On My Side

With 230 days left on The Project clock it looks like I'm finally going to have more hours in the day. I recently attended two job interviews and have just heard that I've been offered both positions. They're both in the same geographic area, about a 30 minute commute (as opposed to my current 3 hour daily round trip)... to my surprise, both pay more than I'm currently getting... both hold the promise of more interesting work and the real possibility of progression. Over the next day or so I have to choose between the two roles. One of them will see me acting as an external consultant which means that I need to go through the contract with a fine-tooth comb to make sure I'm not signing up for less money (VAT considerations) or more liability than I expect. Ah, the joys of self-employment!

I had wondered what I'd do if the company I'm currently contracting for offered me the option of working from home. At this time I can't imagine them bringing it to the table, though. It's also a carrot they could offer now then withdraw a few weeks or months down the line, in which case I'd be right back at zero. Do I sound cynical? Nooooo... The more likely outcome of me announcing that I'm leaving is that they'll throw money at me to try and buy me off. It's worked for them in the past, but not this time.

Thinking objectively, I reckon I need to step outside my comfort zone and make a change. It'll help me personally, professionally AND The Project will benefit. Can't really argue with that!

May 13, 2008

Bedtime Noodle

Just the last strum before bed. I had such plans for tonight but ended up spending the whole evening chasing a mouse out of the flat. Thank you, Mr Oscar (who caused the problem but was no help whatsoever in solving it).

"Please Call Home" The Movie

Okay, this one came in under my radar. Apparently a documentary has been made about The Big House, which is where the Allman Brothers Band and their families called home during the years they were starting to build up their following and working on 'the sound' that Duane Allman had been searching for all his life.

The movie's supposed to be less a band biopic and more a snapshot of what it was like living as part of the extended Allman Brothers family, down in Macon, Georgia.

I say it came in under the radar as, being an Allman Brothers Band fan I tend to hear about this kind of stuff pretty quickly. I only got to hear about the documentary, though, when I was sent an email saying that this Friday's premiere in NYC has been postponed.

For those interested, there's a trailer on the movie website. Check it out. It looks like it's based around band photos and monologues, but hey, for a fan it should be interesting. For those interested in The Big House itself, which is now a museum, their website is kind of neat, with lots of stories, pictures and virtual tours.

Interview Update 2

Interesting times!

The company that interviewed me last week just let me know they can't afford to employ me as a staff member, which was their preference (so I'd be on a tighter leash)... Would I consider a contract position at marginally more than I'm getting now instead?

In the UK, the current tax laws mean that if you play your cards right it can be more profitable to be a self-employed contractor rather than an employee. When using temporary workers, the big companies don't have to provide benefits, pay corporation tax, national insurance, sick pay and so on. Because of the money saved, they tend to pay individual workers a better hourly rate. Times they are a-changin' and that may not be the situation for long if The Tax Man gets his way. For at least the 2008-2009 tax year, though, being a contractor is worthwhile.

Contracting isn't something I'd recommend to everyone. You're basically like a trapeze artist, swinging without a net. If work dries up, you're screwed. If you get sick for any length of time then you're screwed, which is why most contractors will go into the office even if they're close to death's door. There is no 'I've got a hangover so I'm going to call in sick'. You have to work the hours to make it pay. In fact, holidays like Christmas and vacations in general can become extremely stressful as you're constantly aware that while you're not working you're not earning money for the business... oh, and unlike regular employees, you also have to actually run a business at the same time as doing the 9 to 5.

The flip side is that you're not tied down and if a better offer comes along you can easily move around. As such, when the market's strong contract rates tend to be high. I've been contracting on and off for about two thirds of my working life. It's something I'm comfortable with.

So, would I consider another contract role, closer to home, for more money? Would I heck?!?

The only thing that stopped me from saying 'yes, when can I start' was that I have an interview lined up with another company, again in Central London, tomorrow morning. I don't like going through the interview process but I'm feeling much more comfortable about the one tomorrow knowing that I already have a decent offer in my back pocket.

As seems to be the way right now, The Project news is scant. Life stuff has been getting in the way. Right now I'm strongly drawn to the idea of going back to basics and writing a blues and a rock song. Most stuff I've been coming up with has been pop, which isn't where I want to be. I get such a kick out of playing Red loud and raw, though. That's where my heart lies.

What I don't want to be is derivative. That's kind of why I'm considering doing 8 bar blues stuff. In the odd half hour gap that I've been managing to grab for practice I've been playing over pre-fab backing tracks such as those on IG BLOG or Dolphin Street. Check them out. Some fun stuff in lots of different keys. Oh, and there's also some decent stuff on Riffeo.

May 12, 2008

Summer In The City

...what happened to Spring?!

It seems like summer has arrived in London. The weekend saw soaring temperatures, loads of lobster tans and drunken revellers spilling out of every pub in the land. The capital was packed, both with tourists and winter-weary locals stumbling, blinking into the fierce sunlight.

We were celebrating the completion of Tim's last big paper of this term. Something like eighteen thousand words. Still a couple of exams and a short paper to do, but the end of this year's study is in sight. Alcohol was drunk. Lots of it.

It was also a weekend of walking, culminating an afternoon stroll from Old Spitalfields Market, past London Wall, Moorgate, St Paul's, up High Hoburn, through Soho and on to Picadilly Circus and Haymarket. Total distance? Something like 4 miles (and two beers). Sometimes it's nice to abandon public transport and rely on Shanks's Pony to get from A to B. You see so much that you would ordinarily miss when trapped in a bus or on the tube. It reconnects you to the city.

What of The Project? Not much progress. The physical need to be out in the sun took precedence over playing guitar. I did swing by Studio Lounge on Borough High Street but didn't go in. I'll admit that I was intimidated by the place's blacked-out windows and no obvious point of entry. It was Friday night, I was headed to meet Tim's class at the pub and I used that as an excuse not to ring the doorbell. Next time, eh?

Oh, and last but not least, The Oli Brown Band have released their debut CD, "Open Road" on Ruf Records. There's a complete track listing on their website. I was very pleased to see that they've included all my favourite tracks from their recent shows, including a cover of Ram Jam's "Black Betty" which they just tore up live onstage. I have, of course, ordered a copy of the album and will give you guys a full review as and when it arrives. I'm really curious to see how the backing of a label will have changed the sound of their studio produced material. Very exciting times for the band, I'm sure!

May 8, 2008

Move Over Pete...

...and make room in da slamma for me!

Okay, so here's the thing. I totally stole something today. What?.. I hear you ask! Good ol' Ig at IG BLOG was generous enough to post a backing track on his fantastically wonderful site (tell me if I crawl too far) and YES I stole it. Without remorse.

It's a neat little slow blues in E. Initially I was nooding over it on Blackie but then two things happened... well, three actually.

1) I ordered a pizza
2) I opened a bottle of red, red wine
3) I plugged Red into the Marshall and cranked it
4) I put on a blues face
5) I hit record on the 'puter...

Right, so for those who were counting, that's five things. I don't care if my maths has gone a bit wayward. Did I MENTION the wine?

Anywho. Ig had posted the slow blues track so that people could practice singing licks in their head and seeing whether they could play them out loud on guitar. I took a slightly different path. I decided to pull a Dionne Warwick and channel Mr Albert Collins (sans capo).

I have to admit that, while it's not perfect, it didn't turn out too badly. I got 2 and a half minutes in before I completely fell on my face and ended up missing notes left, right and centre. For the sake of listeners ears (and to save face), I've trimmed the crappy end off!!!!!

Here it is, though, in all it's glory. Given the Inc-O-Hol involved I've decided to call it "Drunk Boy Blues". Seems vaguely appropriate!

Oh, did I mention that I was playing Red. I think this is the first recording of My Special Little Boy that I've posted here. Red? Boy? Say 'hello' to the nice people...

May 6, 2008

Interview Upate

Got about 15 minutes into the interview and they offered me the job!!!! Apparently my 'rep' preceded me. We'll see how much they want to pay, I guess. Usually when they're that amenable it means that they're throwing peanuts at the monkey...

Afterwards, I shook the interviewer's hand and said I'd look forward to hearing their offer. 25 minutes later I was home. And that was including a stop to chat with one of the local shopkeepers!

Something tells me that my 3 hour commute is going to seem really long tomorrow.

Interview Day

So, as I mentioned in a previous entry I've been considering whether changing jobs would be a realistic way to create more time for myself, not just because of The Project, but to help reset my work-life balance. To that end I put some feelers out and lined up an interview for this afternoon. If I took the job, my commute would reduced by up to 2 hours a day.

As I arrived at work this morning, all my co-workers noted that I was wearing a shirt... and trousers. No, I don't work at a nudist colony! Normally I'm a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy, even though 'my look' falls waaaay short of the corporate minimum dress code. For whatever reason, The Man cuts me some slack and looks the other way. Hey, it's their fault for introducing Casual Fridays back in the 90's. Fridays bled into Mondays, then Tuesdays and before I knew it my office clothes were moth-fodder.

Any road up, I made an effort to dress nicely today. I even have a necktie in my bag, believe it or not! I'm not sure that I remember how to tie one, but I'll give it a go.

I'll admit that I'm not putting too much weight on the interview today. Yes, the location of the office is good but it'd most likely mean a significant pay cut and the work would be no different. In the back of my mind was the possibility that I could use another job offer as a bargaining chip with my current employer and finangle working from home one or two days a week. Once I had my foot in the door I could justify only commuting when strictly necessary. Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Then came today's surprise! Out of the blue I got an email from an old friend. We go way back. We first worked together during my gap year, between school and university. I think it's safe to say we hold each other in high esteem.

So, I get this email from him, asking me whether I'd be interested in working at his company's new office, which is just round the corner from where I'm being interviewed today! I let him know what's going on and he strongly urged me not to make any rash decisions. He's going to see what he can do to set up a meeting with his firm as soon as possible.

Hey, it's nice to be wanted, eh? What's gonna happen? Dunno. Watch this space!

In Project news, I was going to take the weekend off, to celebrate the first sunshine of the year. The lure of strumming whilst catching some rays was too strong, though.

I took the basic chord structure from my current work-in-progress, "Your Own Time", and laid it right back, plucking and slapping the strings rather than strumming. I'd just recorded enough to loop and jam over when a) our neighbour started mowing her yard, rendering recording pointless and b) I got a video conference call from Oscar the cat! Okay, so it was actually from Tim, who had discovered our errant moggie attempting to lay claim to one of the local community gardens and decided I should see what he was up to. I imagine that in the cat world, 'Scar probably owns everything in a 5 mile radius by now.

May 5, 2008

Summer In The City

Sometimes you just have to take a step back, say 'screw it' to everything you should be doing and smell the roses... or in Oscar the cat's case, the dandelions.

Sun's out. Project's on hold for this afternoon!

May 2, 2008


...and other crimes against music!

Apologies (not really) against those who like Michael Fla... erm... Flatterly? Flaherty? Dunno. Sorry, but Riverdance is so far down my list of significant musical experiences that I can't even be bothered to Google the poor man's name.

I'm not a fan. Can you tell?

Anyway, I was amused to see in this morning's paper that some guy was driving his wife and kids (probably 'around the bend') whilst playing "Riverdance" on the car stereo. He pulled off the road to ask a policewoman for directions and she slapped him with a £30 fine for 'causing excessive noise'. After a 4 year legal battle he finally beat the (c)rap.

Now, I'm a firm believer in personal freedom, but c'mon, subjecting anyone to Riverdance has got to be worth more than a £30 fine!?! I'd have charged him with spousal/child abuse and assault on a police officer.

Not to mention 'public indecency'.

Speaking of public indecency. I was totally busted this morning when I got into work. Summer's coming (it'd better be, at least) and my thoughts are turning to 'clubbin'. At the indecent age of [cough] I discovered the joys of big dance clubs, with their lasers, mixed drinks and 'boom-boom' music. Last year Tim and I boogied all summer long and while we've not been out for months, the fire's still down below, smouldering away.

This morning, as I swiped my pass at the front door my iPod shuffled onto The Freemasons' remix of Angie Stone's "I Wasn't Kidding". My head started swaying, my shoulders fell in line. Before I knew it I was mouthing the words, doin' the diva head-shake/finger wave combo... basically, strutting like John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever" (or possibly Tobey Maguire in 'that embarassing scene' from Spiderman 3). Turning the last corner into the office my conscious mind kicked in and I was suddenly aware of several pairs of staring eyes, amused smirks... open-plan embarassment!

Moments like that you can either pull yourself in line, pretend that you were waving to a friend, brush back your hair and take your seat... or, you can channel your inner drag queen and just keep going...


Spurred on by Axe Victim's 'suggestion' that I should quit thinking about recording (blinkin') covers and focus on original material I decided last night to revisit a tune I started a month or more ago, working title "Your Own Time". The song grew from a melody line into a chorus, strumming pattern, then a full chord progression. At that point it stalled. I got hung up on the main theme of the chorus which was:

How does it feel
To be living in your own time...
...di-da di-da da-da-diiiii

(the di-da etc bit being the sticking point)

The concept for the song is that a guy (or gal, we're not sexist here at The Fillmore Five Project) has had his heart broken and hasn't been able to move on. In the meantime his ex- is out and about doing their own thing, or 'living in (their) own time'. So, it's kind of a self-involved bleating about lost love with a heavy dose of 'why me?'

You get the picture. It's a coffee-shop pop-rock song. Not exactly the bluesy stuff I want to steer myself towards, but it's a tune that's been running around in my head for too long now, leaving muddy pawprints all over the place. It's time to set it free.

Anywho, last night I made a quick recording of the chord structure (minus any bridge that may or may not appear at a later date). Noodling around on Blackie, I then tried to figure out a verse melody. An hour later, all I'd succeeded in doing was pissing off Oscar the cat (who hadn't had his daily dose o' lovin') and penning some intricate little Spanish fills that, while sounding great, were nothing that you could (or would want to) sing.

Undeterred, I elected to take a step back and this morning I've been humming along to the chords. In the cold light of day it became clear that in the Land of Kenski 'guitar' does not equal 'voice'. I've actually started making progress on the melody again. Clearly, not all 'instruments' are interchangeable!

When I have a semi-decent demo I'll upload it for comments. Yes, you heard it here first, The Fillmore Five Project's first song is in production! Thanks again to Mr AxeV for nudging me in the right direction!

On the subject of Mr Axe, check out his blog's ongoing series on classic albums, in association with The Rock 'n' Roll Doctor, Mr John Nicholson. He consistently manages to pick albums I either currently have or used to have back in the good ol' days of vinyl. To all those nay-saying friends of mine who say I have weird taste in music: be afraid... I am not alone!

What else? Concert update!

MACY GRAY @ O2 Indigo!!! YAY!!!!! WE LOVE MACY!!!!!

You may not believe it, but Macy live in concert is... well, let's just say that by the end of the evening you're going to be drunk, dripping with sweat (some of which is yours) and doing a hip-grinding dance against your neighbour's leg.

She's fun, she's freaky, she's FABULOUS.

We've seen her three times so far, once in Houston and twice here. The last concert was a bit of a let down as she took a while to make it to the stage then fell foul of Camden council's draconian curfew. She was all ready to go into the climax of the show and they raised the house lights. Damn beaurocrats! Fingers crossed that she's regrown (or re-sewn) her afro. It was the source of her power, oh yes...

Lastly, I'm still considering going to the Skinny Molly show in Herne Hill tomorrow night. I don't have a ticket, but I'm sure there'll be some on the door. It kinda depends whether or not Tim decides to kick me out of the house so he can study!