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September 29, 2008

The Death Of Metal

Well, I think that's it for my foray into metal. It simply kills my right forearm to play it right now, which is something that came out of left field. I did something completely out of character and actually blew off rehearsal on Sunday. I'm not saying I'll never revisit metal for a laugh, but it had actually started affecting my ability strum and play less agressive stuff! Not happy about that.

So, I have two possibilities in the offing right now. One was from 'Join My Band' and the other was from Gumtree. I was subscribed to Gumtree a long time before I even thought about starting The Project, but had unsubscribed. Someone in my office has been looking for a new flat and reminded me that it's a decent resource. I'd pretty much written off 'Join My Band' as it seemed like most of the membership were in their teens.

I can't honestly tell whether either prospect is a great one, but y'know, if you don't test the water, how're you gonna find out, eh? One's just me and a drummer (so far) and the other one is me, three other guitarists and a drummer. Hey, maybe a four guitar lead is the way forward for Nu Southern Rock? A couple of the other guitarists have stepped up and said they'd be willing to have a go on bass (if someone has one!).

Meetup/jams in the next couple of weeks. I'll let you know how they go!

And news just in. It seems that an album entitled "The Roots Of The Allman Brothers" is due to be released in a week or so. Don't know where this came from! Details are sketchy but it appears to be a compilation of recordings which were considered to influence the Allmans back when they were getting started. Lots of blues stuff, obviously. Preliminary track listing goes something like this:

1) Key To The Highway - Big Bill Broonzy
2) Lost Lover Blues - Blind Boy Fuller
3) Statesboro Blues - Blind Willie McTell
4) Call It Stormy Monday - T-Bone Walker
5) Sweet Little Angel - B.B. King
6) Smokestack Lightnin' - Howlin' Wolf
7) Trouble No More - Muddy Waters
8) Can't Stop Lovin' - Elmore James
9) It Takes Time - Otis Rush
10) Deep Feeling - Chuck Berry
11) Need Your Love So Bad - Little Willie John
12) It's Too Late - Chuck Willis
13) I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town - Louis Jordan
14) Did You Ever Love A Women - B.B. King
15) Wild About You Baby - Elmore James
16) Mona - Bo Diddley
17) Hoochie Coochie Man - Muddy Waters
18) 0range Blossom Special - Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys
19) San Antonio Rose - Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
20) Nobody Knows You - Bessie Smith
21) Tears - Django Reinhardt
22) Come On In My Kitchen (Take 2) - Robert Johnson
23) T.B. Blues - Jimmie Rodgers
24) Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground - Blind Willie Johnson

Fascinating snapshot of the band's influences or shameless marketing of forgotten back catalogue tunes? You decide.

September 26, 2008

What Would Satan Do?

Right, first off I missed a major milestone a few days back. The Project entered the final 100 days. Yes folks, were down to double digits. I need to sit down, look at what time is left and actually figure out what my goals to be achieved by New Year's Eve are. I always knew that my action plan would have to be adaptable, but in truth I've kind of left the rails on that front. Must get more rails. I'm very glad to be starting a new guitar course in under a week as I found the last one very motivational.

So, having said that... what would Satan do?

On Tuesday evening I spent a few hours trying to get back into metal music, playing through some of the Metallica that I'd quickly taught myself in preparation for the jam with the metallers a few weeks back. I was painfully [cough] aware that I needed to play catchup if I was to join in successfully this coming Sunday. About 2 hours into trying to get my droning back up to speed I felt my tendonitis start to kick in. Ow!

Smart 39 year old kid that I am I figured I'd just keep going, only stopping when the shooting pains up my right arm got too bad. Clever, eh? Mama didn't raise no fool! So, because I'm an idiot, I had to take a break from playing on Wednesday, only resuming practice last night. Pretty soon after starting in on "Master of Puppets" the pain was back with a vengeance. I tried making the "Sign of the Devil" a few times to see whether that helped. Nope. Besides, playing with a pick and doin' that hand thing isn't possible. It ends up looking more 'pinkie out' tea sipper rather than hardcore headbanger.

"Screw this," I said to myself, reverting to playing less aggressive, less right hand intensive stuff... the Allmans' "Don't Want You No More" intro riff (the first thing I ever played on Red, which had make me instantly fall in love with My Precious)... Slash/Kravitz's "Always On The Run"... "Walk This Way". Pain subsided. Joy was felt.

Wait a minute!

Joy was felt! I was enjoying playing this lightweight stuff, whereas I wasn't getting the same kick out of playing the metal tunes. Okay... soooo, let's see... I don't particularly like listening to metal and I don't enjoy playing it, not least of which because it causes me pain! I did enjoy playing it with the other guys, but that was partly because of the whole band camaraderie etc. Noise making is fun, no matter what the noise.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I may keep playing with the metal guys on and off over the next few weeks and months, I need to not lose sight of what I enjoy. Makes sense?

I was actually going to post a video of my droning speed using different pick angles, as tilting the ol' pleccie is something that significantly decreases string resistance so you can play faster. It also noticeably changes the tone, and when you accidentally [cough] clip the strings with an upstroke you get quite a cool double-time sound. BUT... that was about the same time I decided to lay metal to rest for the night, so... you, loyal reader, get nuffink.... bumpkus... RIEN DE TOUT!

"Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu'on m'a fait, ni le mal
Tout ca m'est bien egal"

Ah, that Edith Piaf... she knew a thing or two about nothing, eh? (Basic translation 'a la chav': "I don't regret nuffink... not the good fings wot av been done ta me or the bad... it's all the fukkin' same ta me, innit?")

What? WHAT?

Oh, I give up. I wanna rock out, but metal's not for me, not long term at least. I have a note from my doctor...

September 23, 2008

Metal Update

After a few weeks of uncertainty I've managed to clarify what the position with me and the metal band is... or at least I think I have.

The party line is that I'm more than welcome to learn the songs, come along and play at rehearsals as and when I can/I want to. 'The band' per se is still in an emergent state and so it's not really a case of who's in the band and who isn't right now, it's predominantly a handful of musicians getting together, shaking the tree and seeing what (if anything) falls out. I made it pretty clear that I don't currently see it as a permanent thing (though who knows... maybe I'll have an untapped talent for it!) but for now it's better to be playing with other people than not, right?

I've not had the chance to practice many of the tunes on their songlist, so I need to get back on the horse and dig my heels in. The other guys are clearly way ahead of me as far as learning the songs goes, which seems to concern me more than it does them!

I still have other feelers out there. Still waiting for some callbacks [cough]. I actually do think that in the long run that the only way things are going to happen the way I want them to is for me to take the wheel and put a band together myself. In the meantime, though, I'm gaining experience of how studios work etc, which is all valuable stuff. None of it's hard, but when you don't know stuff, you don't know stuff, right?

What else..?

Erm... the WAES Rock School course should be starting next Thursday. Really looking forward to that! I just spoke with the head of music there and she said that she expects the course to go ahead, though they currently haven't reached the required minimum number of students. D'Oh! SO... anyone out there who's interested, check out the WAES website here. The course is from 6-8pm on Thursdays in the Victoria/Pimlico area.

Evening update:


"Seek & Destroy" sought me out... and destroyed me!

September 22, 2008

Totally Unrelated To Music, Guitar, Common Sense...

Ordinarily I make some attempt to tie posts into music somehow. I cannot, however, even be bothered with this one.

I need to get something off my chest.

We watched Guy Ritchie's "Revolver" last night. Not his latest one. The one before that.

What a STEAMING PILE OF CRAP that was. I thought "Plan 9 From Outer Space" was the worst movie of all time. "Revolver" just stole its crown. I cannot even begin to fathom where Guy thought he was going with this one.


Don't even be tempted to rent it. Seriously. It's that bad.

September 18, 2008

Guitars I'd Like To Own

Filler alert! Filler alert!

There's not much project news except that I pulled Red out last night for my first electrificated practice session since we got back from vacation. Isn't that always the way... you take a week off and an extra half week of crap piles up that you have to clear out of the way before you can get back on track? Anyway, Red felt good... sounded good... but I was slow. Really slow. I tried leaping into some of the Metallica riffs that I'd learnt for Metal Session #1 but I couldn't get them up to speed. Damn fingers kept catching the wrong strings. Took a break and learnt how to play "Sweet Home Alabama" instead, which is a tune I've often thought of having a crack at but never did. After 30 minutes or so the main riffs sounded pretty good. Ran through the opening riff from Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" (yes, that was a deliberate pun) which is so simple... why isn't everything that easy?

Anyway, blah-blah-blah. Practiced. Went okay but not well, particularly in the metal department. Maybe if I'd jacked myself up on caffeine I'd have done better...

Doesn't look like I'm going to make it to band practice this week. I'd kept Sunday clear only to find out the metallers are meeting on Saturday. D'Oh! Nothing like communication, eh? I'm still not at all convinced that I want to play metal, but I am convinced that I want to play with other real live people, and they're the best bet right now.

Oh, in other news, the WAES rock techniques class has been postponed by a week, so don't expect me to write about how that went until at least Friday 26th... always assuming they've managed to fill enough places to make the course viable.

So... guitars I'd like to own (subtitled: a filler piece)!

A friend of mine who's been playing for almost 2 years now (I guess), just splurge purchased a Martin 000-28 Standard (i.e. not the Eric Clapton signature model). It's the kind of guitar that'll send most acoustic players into a drooling orgasmic frenzy but which looks so un-flash that it could easily be confused with a £29.99 plywood box from Argos by the uninitiated.

I would not mind having one (at all). Maybe if I'm nice to him he'll let me play it... I've asked him to take very good care of it... and leave it to me in his will.

I can't say, honestly, that it'd be on my list of guitars that I'd buy if I had stacks of cash. Then again, I've never played a real Martin (or even a fake one). I've been looking at my Ovation lately and wanting to buy another. It's not that I don't love my 1861 Balladeer, it's just that I've always strangely coveted the Adamas series. I remember first seeing one back when I was a kid and wondering what the hell it was. For example...

I won't bore you with my dobro/resonator fetish again, but yes... something like one of these is on my list...

Now, on the electric side, I've always primarily fantasised about having a Les Paul. Now I have one. I'm 99% happy, but...

...once you have what you want, sometimes you look around and think, hey, it'd be nice to have one of those to add to my collection. Therein lies the root of GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome).

I never used to even think I'd want a Tele. To me (rightly or wrongly) they were always the idiot cousin of 'real' electric guitars. As I've aged, though (somewhat disgracefully), I've come to realise that sometimes simplicity is it's own reward and adding a Tele to the list of axes I wand seems like a natural choice. The idea of not having a separate fingerboard appeals, so why not have one of these:

Still on a Fender tip, other than a Strat (boring... not even worth a picture) the only other F guitar I've really liked is the Jaguar. I have no clue whether they play well, but they look cool...

On the Gibson front, it's only really the Les Pauls that do it for me. I'd have a vintage SG, just because Derek Trucks plays them, and I'd consider some huge hollowbody thing (like a 355 dotneck) if I ever got serious about jazzzzz, but stuff like the Flying V never really appealed.

...Oh and don't get me started on the BC Rich style of guitars. Too pointy. I'd have my eye out on one of those!

I just know one day I'll go totally glam and buy myself the goldtop that I've always been too embarassed to!!!!!

Here's Dickey Betts putting one through its paces...

Layla... Won't You Bring Home Some Jam?

First things first... a joke!

Q: How many guitarists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Five. One to screw it in and four more to argue about how Eric Clapton would have done it better.

I can't believe it's taken me [cough] 18 years to buy "The Layla Sessions: 20th Anniversary Edition" CD box set. Okay, so ignorance was the real reason I never picked it up. I've had the CD version of "Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs" for many, many years and I just assumed that the 20th anniversary edition would be a minor remix with digital remastering etc. Now, I'm not usually a fan of remastering as I like to hear music as it was originally intended and released, so I never even looked twice at this reissue.

That was until Col of Magic Ship/Axevictim told me about the non-album goodies that are included.

Disk 1 is pretty much the same as what's been previously released, though, as I understand it, the bass guitar has been mixed to the middle and a few more tweaks have been made to make it sound more contemporary. I've not listened to the remastered album yet, so I don't know whether it's an improvement over the original, which I love, love, love, just the way it is.

Derek & The Dominos only studio recording was, to me, a snapshot of musical perfection. It was the perfect storm. A freak recording, born from accident and circumstance. I'm certain the album would have been good with just the original musicians, but my feeling is that its greatness comes from the interplay between Eric and Duane Allman. The music isn't perfect. It's not polished. It's raw and earnest, and that's what makes it great. These guys could play.

The two non-album disks are where the meat of the box set is... that's where you'll find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. One contains alternate cuts from the released versions (great) but it's the final disk, containing 76+ minutes of jams which not only shines musically, but which transports you back to 1970 so you can sit in a room with these two guitar greats as they traded lick for lick, cutting heads, jamming for jamming's sake, just letting the music flow. It's also here where you can most easily distinguish Clapton and Allman's playing. On the record, discerning who's who can, at times, be problematic. Neither guitarist chose a distinctive guitar tone to go with, making differentiation tricky.

With the jams you hear what might be considered 'signature licks' from both players and moreover you gain an insight into their improvisational approaches. The first three of the five jams are Clapton by himself with the band. On these tracks you often hear him rhythmically wailing on a single (root) note or phrase, adding tones here or there until the fuse lights and BANG. HE'S OFF. Once the motor's running it's pure shining brilliance. Where Mr C ends up backing up Duane on rhythm you get to hear his other side. The boy can hold down a groove, veering from funk to (almost) country and back again.

Allman's approach on the other two tracks is more intuitive. Favouring the slide, he doesn't sit around waiting for the spark to catch. His powder's already dry and he's ready to blow the roof off with fully formed licks. There are shades of the jams from "Live At Fillmore East" in there, but also something else... something he's pulling out just for Mr Clapton.

One of the jams (number 4, I think) is pretty much the Allman Brothers Band plus Eric and Bobby Whitlock on organ, with some lead guitar work supplied by Dickey Betts.

Even if you're not a jam-band fan, I think it's an interesting snapshot of history, giving some insight into what happens when great players at their peak get together and let their musical hair down.

September 17, 2008


Yes, I know, hardly Rock & Roll lifestyle but...

...went to see "Wicked" last night. Surprisingly good show! Can't remember most of the songs but I don't think that's the point with this kind of narrative musical. The performances were great, especially by the two witches... Es... Esmer... Esmeranti? And... [cough]... Blondie?

Anyway, names aren't important. The important thing is that it was a good night out. A veritable spectacle!

I'm not going to go into details, but "Wicked" is actually the reason that I have less than six degrees of separation from BRITNEY! It's your typical family to friend to room mate to celeb type of thing. Maybe I shouldn't have said that. I'll come home to find the place overrun by paps...

Just heard from my Heavy Metal crew that band practice is on Saturday this week. Not only am I supposed to be at a rugby match in Reading (of all places) but I should also have houseguests that evening. Scheduling conflict! Something's going to have to give... Note to potential bandmates: PRACTICE DURING THE WEEK, PLEASE!!!!

...except Thursday nights, that is. I decided that I got so much out of the last guitar course I took in terms of keeping me focused and progressing that I'd sign up for another one, organised by the Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES). It's on Thursday nights and is basically a Rock Techniques class. We'll see how it goes... right now I'm not 100% sure that they've got enough people signed up to run the course, so it may be a non-starter. It's supposed to kick off next week. Watch this space!

September 16, 2008

Midnight Rider

It's bizarre news time.

So, last night I waded through my backlog of emails and came across a mail shot about Gregg Allman selling his 2005 Corvette convertible on eBay!

According to the listing, which ended on the 8th September, the car didn't reach the reserve price. The high bid was $35k. That's £19,510 in British money. I reckon if you'd managed to secure it for that price then including tax, shipping and SVA conversion you could have been driving Gregg's old car for around £27-28k. Provenance to one side (would Gregg driving that puppy increase or decrease the value?), that's about on the money as far as pricing for a stock 2005 'vette goes in the UK...

However, included in the deal was upgraded suspension, tuned headers, sports exhaust and an air induction kit. It also came with custom car cover as well!


You also get... autographed CDs and picture, 2 tickets to a show in the venue closest to your area (erm...) and "Gregg will autograph the glove box"!

Sounds like a steal to me!

Shame about the colour (bleugh!) and that it's not a Z06 (or even a ZR1). Now, if it had been one of these babies...

...then I might have been interested!

(though, honestly, I still prefer the styling of the old C5s and for the record, no, I couldn't afford it)

Most of my other emails were a little weird. Lots of stuff suggesting that if only I had 'larger pens' (sic) that I'd be better able to satisfy my partner. I'm not 100% certain I get the correlation...

September 15, 2008

Back To The Blues

Well, we got back safe and sound from our trip to Morocco. Definitely a different trip for us. For the first few days we actually played tourist and 'saw the sights' of Marrakech. After that we escaped the city and headed inland to the Atlas mountains and did a little trekking. Our return to Marrakech was more about some much-needed relaxation than tourism.

What did I think of the place? Here's the thing: Morocco knows what it is now, in terms of being a tourist destination for 'Western' (mostly French and British) tourists. Moroccans are mostly poor and will do anything to get hold of your cash money. You literally can't walk down a single street in Marrakech without being hassled at every turn to buy some piece of tat or other that you really don't want or need, invariably at an incredibly overinflated price. It's almost ironic that you get constantly heckled with the mantra 'Come see, come see... ASDA price!'

When we were in the mountains we stopped in at a couple of the local Berber shops, still selling the same mass-produced trinkets as you'd see throughout the capitol. At one store I bought a fossil for a work friend who's a bit of a paleontologist wannabe. After much haggling I managed to barter the shopkeeper from 200 down to 80 dirhams, roughly £6. I knew I was being ripped, but for a matter of a few pence I wasn't going to argue. It wasn't necessarily about getting a good price. Anyway, upon our return to Marrakech I found a very similar, possibly nicer specimen in a (supposedly overpriced) wholesale store for 19 dirhams... about £1.35. Basically, the guy started off by trying for a 10x profit. In the end he still managed to get 4x, which isn't bad.

As we were passing shops on our way out of the mountains we were actually heckled by a couple of shopkeepers for not buying from them when we said we might come back but didn't. Not a very pleasant experience. Some of the curses I caught were pretty graphic and not really repeatable here.

Perhaps it's a good thing that one trinket I did purchase was a silver 'Hand of Fatima' (or Hamsa, depending which faith you buy into). I'm not religious or superstitious, but it's supposed to be a good luck charm and is used to ward off the 'Evil Eye'. Might come in handy!

I think it's safe to say that while I would visit Morocco again to go on another trek or to undertake an excursion into the desert, I don't think I'd choose to spend much time in Marrakech again. I'd recommend tourists go for a long weekend, but frankly the insanity of the place wears you down pretty quickly and after a few days of being constantly hassled you just want to leave.

I'm sure some would disagree with me, though, and to some extent my 'review' of the place is clouded by a black mood that has descended upon me today. All is not right with my world. The blues have well and truly arrived, in more ways than one. My brain fug to one side, the blues also arrived in the form of the 20th Anniverary Layla CDs, including a series of Duane/Eric (and The Dominos) jams and out-takes from the original sessions. When I cheer up a bit I'll have a listen.

September 12, 2008

And On The 7th Day...

...They rested. Hammams, massages, a long lunch and some well earned pool time were the order of the day today.

September 11, 2008

Day 6: Return To Marrakech...

...and all its craziness!

Day 5: River Deep, Mountain High

These boots were made for walking and boy oh boy is that what they did! After an 8-hour trek across the high Atlas mountains we were definitely ready for a hammam and a well earned rest!

September 9, 2008

Day 4: Into The Mountains

To escape the craziness of Marrakech, we head for the hills...

Day 3: Dinner At Dar Essalam

A Morrocan feast, belly-dancing and an elderly lady in a unitard balancing a tray of candles on her head. What more could you ask for after a day in the sun?

September 7, 2008

Day 2: Medersa Ben Youssef

Marrekesh's Islamic school

Morocco Day 1

The Koutoubia Minaret, seen from Djemma El-Fna square, Marrakech.

September 5, 2008

Arabian Nights

You know how I've been complaining that everyone's been going off on their hols and not getting back to me about jamming, joining bands etc?


IT'S MY TURN! Ha-ha!

Yes. We're off! Where? Morocco. Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. By accident rather than design we're headed to a 99% Muslim country during the holy month of Ramadan. It should be an interesting experience, full of culture shock.

It's our first time visiting North Africa, so we're not 100% sure what to expect. When Tim and I travel we tend to do so in quite an immersive fashion, trying to blend in with locals, adopt local customs... eat where the locals eat... that kind of thing. Of course, during Ramadan there's somewhat less eating to be done during daylight hours. By all accounts the festivities after sundown will more than make up for any inconvenience during the day.

It got me thinking about what the soundtrack to our travels will be. I'm no stranger to many forms of world music, but my knowledge of North African culture is limited. I'm guessing that as Morocco is predominantly Berber/Arabic, we'll be treated to some quite exotic sounds.

Having a brief trawl around the internet, it looks like Arabian music is quite different from the standard fare over here. There are no I-IV-Vs, that's for sure! In fact, harmonisation seems pretty scarce. It looks like you predominantly get a solo performance (or chorus of instrument and voice singing the same notes), accompanied by a bassline supplied by a variety of drums. Interesting!

The music is based around quarter-tones rather than half-tones. In other words, there are twice as many notes available to the musician. Okay, so obviously, unless you're really good at tight quarter bends or you're using a slide, as a guitarist you're stymied from the get-go. Well, not completely, but the range of scales open to you are significantly reduced.

Scales themselves are termed 'maqam' and there are something like 100 main and sub-scales at your disposal. Note, that the maqam equivalent to C major would count as different from A major as there is no real concept of 'key' as far as I can tell.

Okay, so maybe discarding the concept of a 'key' is somewhat harsh, as you might move from one maqam to another which to Western ears might sound like shifting scales within one key signature, but... well... as there's no real harmonisation, so perhaps 'key' is irrelevant after all. I think that kind of highlights one of the main things about music theory... that it's really just a framework applied to 'what we know works'. Sometimes, when you try to shoehorn alternate musical styles into Western 'music theory' the wheels fall off the wagon.

Looking forward to the trip... If we're not back by a week on Monday then send out a search party. We'll probably have taken the wrong camel headed south...

Feel free to check in with The Project, though. If I get the chance (and a phone signal) I'll see about sending postcards from my mobile.

September 2, 2008

Ear, Ear?

On a (muted) side note, has anyone tried these before?

No, they're not magic mushrooms, space-age maracas or transistorised Christmas trees. They're ear defenders for musicians. According to the blurp they filter out damaging frequencies and generally roll off the volume to levels that you can actually hear what people are playing.

Years ago I minorly f**ked my hearing whilst working on the big rigs... oil rigs, that is. Nothing major, but I lost a few higher frequencies. Lately I've been becoming concerned that I'm putting myself in more and more noise hazardous environment (such as rehearsal rooms) and so I figured it might be worthwhile trying these out. They're not likely to break the bank... you can get them online for under a tenner... so I may just try a pair, but I thought it worth asking the more seasoned (or pickled) musos out there whether they've road-tested them already.

Thoughts, people?

September 1, 2008

Sunday, Metal Sunday

So here's the thing... I've actually got a lot to say about the jam on Sunday and I want to get it out before... well, before I forget half of it... but due to a mountain of work I've to get through I'm just going to have to post snippets. Any comments, suggestions and so on more than welcome.

After a late start to the morning and a late breakfast I just managed to get to the rehearsal rooms on time at 1pm. Riding the ol' bike with Red strapped to my back wasn't a major issue. It may even have been good for my posture! On the gig-bag side of things, the Ritter one I bought (a 700, if that means anything to anyone) is supposedly shaped for a Les Paul, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Blackie the Ovation just squeezes in there... but only just.

So, I got there. I was nervous as hell... much more so than when I went for a jam with Col of Axe Victim, for some reason. I think it was a mixture of not really knowing where this might lead, not knowing the people I was going to meet and, frankly, not knowing much about metal guitar techniques.

Turned out that me and another guy were there to jam with a drummer/guitar/vocal combo. Bass to be added. They're a metal band who are initially looking at doing covers (mainly Metallica) but who have some original material.

From the start it became obvious that the drummer was a real powerhouse and highly skilled. It turned out that she's also a good guitarist. After the session she told us that she'd only been playing a year! I was gobsmacked as she was really, really good.

The guitarist was also top notch in the metal vein. I didn't really get to focus much on the vocalist as she was kind of side-lined by the screaming axes and I wasn't close to her monitor.

The other new guy there had recently relocated to London. He was really good, too, and more than capable of handling metal, blues, rock... anything. I got the feeling that his influences may have been closer to mine than anyone else's.

So, turned up and ran through some Metallica stuff. Luckily, they were tunes I'd at least heard, so I was able to jump in and play along after watching the other boys' fingerings.

After that we jammed for a bit, nominally on blues stuff (not!) then someone kicked off on "Freebird", "Sweet Child Of Mine" and a few other songs I could bash out some pentatonics on. I'm not entirely sure what scales/modes metal uses... Phyrgian? Lydian? Dunno...

Pulling some backbone out of my behind I started into some of the stuff I've written and was elated when the drummer kicked in behind me and the band joined in. You really can't argue with power chords from a Les Paul into a big amp. Sounded good.

After that I vamped on the intro from "Outside Woman Blues". Again, the drummer then the rest of the band fell in. I think that's what impressed me the most about the drummer. No matter what we played she was able to just bring it all together. Magic.

Next up was a session trying to play one of the band's original compositions. The riffs themselves sounded really good. I didn't have a clue what was going on so I wallflowered for a bit. I tried to join in being a faux bass, but in truth I was fading a bit. We'd been playing for over 3 and a half hours continuously and I was stiff suffering from a major workout at the gym the previous day.

Afterwards, we agreed to meet up again and later that evening the drummer texted me to let me know that they were looking forward to next time.

So, to the chase...

I've enjoyed playing some metal, but I don't know whether that's where I want my focus to be. I really liked the other guys in the band and felt I could learn from them. I am, however, way behind everyone else when it comes to knowing the tunes. Nevertheless, they've asked me back...

Obviously I don't have anything else major on right now. I've got at least one more definite possibility, though, and I don't want to put all my eggs in one musical basket. So, I'm thinking I should basically let these guys know that I enjoyed playing with them and would like to try out a few more sessions to see how it goes before committing to anything, but at the same time keep looking. They know I'm not a metal-head and seem to be okay with that... They seem pretty serious about trying to get out there and start gigging, but they're still a way's off.

Ah, what to do..?

On the positive side, it's another notch on The Project's belt. To those more experienced than I am it may seem like nothing, but for me, getting out there and playing with other people (amped to the max!) is a major achievement.