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April 27, 2009

Derek Trucks, Beyond The Bush


Derek Trucks band:

New Orleans: Fantastic
Shepherd's Bush Empire: Awful sound, couldn't hear a thing
Manchester Academy 3: Bloody brilliant

I actually feel truly honoured to have been witness to Derek and the band's evolution since 2002. Back in the day, Derek's slide work was phenomenal. It's now even better plus his work without the slide, in alternate tuning (!) is more than it's equal. Amazing.

The Manchester gig was fan-bloody-tastic. There were a couple of technical issues which, if you didn't look closely, you might have missed. Mike's earpiece didn't seem to work right for the first couple of songs, so they broke from the setlist, went into an instrumental, off went Mike for a conflab then back onstage and bingo, everything was fab again.

It was interesting to see the band showcase each player. Most noticeably was on "Soul Serenade" where the band really reeled it in and Mike's vocals took centre stage. And he 'owned' the song, as they say these days (don't they?)

After the major disappointment of the Bush, Man 3 made up for it.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

April 20, 2009

Celluloid Burn

Before I start, I'm going to confess that there's absolutely no point to this posting. As of two minutes ago I really didn't have anything in mind to say. Since I started typing I've had a couple of things pop into my head, though.

First off, check this out...

No reason. Just because. I don't have a decent graphics package at work and these days I don't seem to make the time to screw around with images at home. I've never considered myself an artist, but I used to enjoy sketching, generating computer images and so on. Somehow that got lost in the mists of time. I made this one in about 5 minutes using an online package called FotoFlexer. It's not exactly Photoshop, but it's got some interesting features. If you're stuck for a digital manipulator on the move, you could do worse. There's a link to it here. No download necessary!

What else? Well, on Sunday I actually made time to stretch Red's legs. I could feel the old girl calling to me, so I pulled her out of her case, plugged her into my Blackstar and let rip. Despite the fact that I've not had much time for music over the past couple of weeks I was bang on form, sounding good. I'm so ready to get back into a band that it hurts. Ready to ROCK!

After a few hours of solid bluesing I decided to give the neighbours a break, packed up and headed into town. I had a couple of errands to run and it afforded me the excuse to do something that I've not done for ages. I went into a record store! Yes, they still exist! Not everything's online these days. I treated myself to 3 albums by The Black Keys. I've been really getting into their sound lately, listening on Last.FM. I knew I'd be paying over the odds for the privilege of going to a real checkout, but I didn't care. Yes, I price checked them on Amazon and yes, I could have saved myself a tenner or so, but I wouldn't have had the Old Skool experience of actually 'shopping'.

Last but not least, Summer's coming! Top tip, if you're going to barbecue burgers, go for the lean mince, eh? Not only healthier but much less of a fire hazard! I nearly smoked us out of house and home last night, grilling up a couple of those bad boys!

April 15, 2009

Need sleep...

...or "Damn this club-lag!"

Not much to report. Got back to the gym. Lifted weight. Ouch. Why, oh why, oh why do I have to buy into this whole body-fascism thing? Wouldn't it be easier just to say "I'm old. It's my time to just let it GO!"?

Actually managed to practice guitar for almost an hour for the first time in over a week. Not good. Not good at all.

Went to bed fairly early. Couldn't sleep. Kept waking up. Club lag, I bet, bolstered by overcompensating with the ol' coffee during working hours.

Not good... again...

Doorbell rang at some god-awful hour of the morning... THE POSTMAN! Special delivery! Whaaaaa? He never arrives before 10am! What "special delivery"? Bizarrely turns out to be a piece of sculture, addressed to us, but with no real explanation. The compliments slip just reads "thank you".


Some kind of good-will guesture? Wrong address? Gift from anonymous benefactor?

Who can say!?!?

No, we're not going to just keep it. Tim's going to phone the gallery and find out what's going on! All I care about is that it cut last night's sleepy-time by an hour and I was NOT HAPPY THIS MORNING! Grrr...

April 14, 2009

Long Weekend...

...short post!

Weekend summary:

Friday: Ikea, pub, kebab (but a good one), club

Saturday: Coffee, pub, another kebab (still good), club

Sunday: Coffee, more coffee, pub, internet, bar, club (no kebab)

Monday: Coffee, eggs, pub, pub, bar, back to pub #1, Chinese, DVD.

It's Tuesday today, right? Still waiting for fog to clear... from head. Beautiful ride into the office on the bike. Blue skies all the way.

Time to get serious about stuff again. Music, gym, eating properly. The whole shebang. Not ready to pull a Madonna-eque macrobiotic trip, but it's time to hop back on the rails.

Oh, and the Sunday night clubbin' was the Freemasons dee-jaying at our local. All good, though they did surprise us by playing lots of their old stuff. I suppose they had to get the crowd going somehow. They came on for a 2 hour set, starting at 1:30am. The dancefloor was absolutely heaving. Spent quite some time dancing with a pair of top-notch lesbians, dressed identically in skimpy bikinis and not much else. Had I been straight, I'd have been in heaven! As it was I spent most of the time protecting them from being crushed by all the gyrating shirtless muscleboys. It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it. Mother would be proud.

April 9, 2009

Today, I Blog...

...about everything and nothing.

I met up with Col and the Magic Ship boys for a beer or two last night. Also got to meet and chat with Toby Burton of "Rock Til You Drop". Check out his ever expanding social networking site here). A fun, relaxed time was had by all. The topics of conversation were mostly unrepeatable!

Oh, and coming off a link from the RTYD site, here's Toby's own site. Very neat. Check out his paintings and his band Pocket Rocket's songs!

The subject of blogging came up once or twice and I confessed that really, these days I haven't got much to talk about on here. Oh, admit it, it's true. C'mon! Ever since the end of 2008 and hence the end of 'The Project' I've not had much to say for myself, particularly music-related.

So, what you get today is a series of blurps to give you an insight into what's running around inside my head RIGHT NOW!

First off, before running off to the pub last night I had a go at learning "Thickfreakness" by The Black Keys. It's not a hard song to play by any stretch of the imagination, but it sounds GOOD! There's a link to the tune, here.

For the past few months I've been trying to solidify my 'musical direction' and that-there-song actually gives you a basic idea of what I'm thinking of. It's in A minor and is based around a very simple, but neat bluesy-sounding riff. Moreover, the riff is the rhythm part... not strummed chords... riffing. Okay, you're not getting my point, are you? Take other songs like "Strange Brew" (Cream) and "One Way Out" (Allman Brothers). They don't use a strumming pattern for the rhythm. They use a riff. Let me see if I can find links... hold on...

Here you go: "One Way Out" and "Strange Brew".

"Strange Brew" is probably the better example. It follows a basic blues chord progression but gets the groove going by using riffs. Make sense now? Cool.

That's what both sounds good to my ears and also what gets me off when I'm playing. Bring The Black Keys back in. They're using a similar idea, but with a grungier sound. Me likey-like. Me stealy from them! You wait and see!

What next? Non-music! MY TITS HURT! Why? Well, we've just made it back to the gym for the first couple of times since Mardi Gras (yes, I'm still going on about Mardi Gras! Deal with it!) and it's bloody hard. Just walking down the stairs at work is agony! Going back tonight. Why, why, for Christs sake WHY do we do this to ourselves?

The flip side of getting back to weightlifting is that I'm STARVING all the time. Break body, body needs food to repair! I'm hungry when I wake up. I eat. I'm ravenous again by 11am! What's with that?

This weekend (we've changed subjects again, in case you didn't guess) we have a couple of friends coming in, which probably means we'll be out clubbin' a bit. I don't mind so much. One of the clubs we go to from time to time has The Freemasons dee-jaying. If you like upbeat, big American vocal remixes then you'll love the Freemasons. They basically wrote the soundtrack to not last summer but the summer before and their tracks from 2007 are STILL being played pretty much everywhere. To date I don't think I've heard any new music this year or last that made me run to the dance floor, rip my shirt off and jump on a podium.

Some may say that's a good thing. Like I say, we've not been going to the gym!

Okay, you want links to Freemasons' stuff? Okay, you get the remix of "Beautiful Liar" (Beyonce/Shakira). Picture lasers and a big ol' Boom-Boom room. Fab! You wanna know what that feels like without stepping foot inside a club? Go to Cyberdog in Camden Stables market. I can't go in there on a Saturday afternoon and then not go out dancing.

Anywho, the last time we went to a club where they were guest DJ's it was heaving waaaay before the pubs closed.

Okay, so we've covered music, weighlifting, dance clubs... food... what else? The weather? Forecast says 'light rain'. I think it's going to be SUN, SUN, SUN!!!! It's Easter, after all, the day Jesus ate chocolate and set all the bunnies FREE!

Oh, and that's it! I FORGOT! We got tickets to one of the Placebo warm up gigs before their summer festival run! YYYEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!

Does that call for a video embed? Huh? Yes, I think you're right, IT DOES!

AND... AND...!!!!

On Saturday night, top-notch youf guitar genius stroke blues boy, Oli Brown, is bringing his own brand of shuffle to the Half Moon pub in Herne Hill on Saturday night. Check out Pete Feenstra's site for details, here.

April 6, 2009

Concert Review: Jason Mraz, Hammersmith Apollo

Right, I'm not going to make any friends with this review on the following basis: Mr Mraz fans tend to be devotees (I should know, I'm one of them) and really, what did I expect, given that he's promoting his latest album which is more melodic than poppy.

The positives: Jason was on fine form, vocally and banter wise. He's grown as a performer and you really couldn't fault him at all for his stage presence and presentation. The band were tight. The addition of the horn section was surprisingly cool, even though (in my book) adding horns to pop music is usually the kiss of death. Not so in this case.

Okay, so shoot me now, I'm going to give the show a somewhat negative review, but get this, it's because the last show he did at the Shepherd's Bush Empire was just so much better!

It basically comes down to material. Whilst there were some upbeat tunes, like "The Dynamo of Volition", there were far too many ballads, one after the other, to keep me, personally, interested.


I feel slightly bad saying that, as, looking across the sea of adoring fans in the audience, it was pretty clear that I was one of the few that didn't have their hands in the air. Now, don't get me wrong, I love his stuff, but when you're at a Jason Mraz show, you expect more show, if you know what I mean?

And, to be honest, that's down to the latest (which isn't particularly new, per se) album. It's a more laid back, love in the sun, kind of affair. More... mushy. That's not a bad thing when you're listening to the CD and in that mood, but when you're standing in a steamy crowd of sweaty (and not very pleasant-smelling) teenagers, well, you need a little more action to keep your excitement level up.

Okay, so the show did start off well, and the encore lifted things at the end, but the bulk of the show was a little too snoozy for me. I did not pogo once!

I feel bad saying that... but, I ain't gonna lie to you about how I felt after the show! I didn't leave the venue with a smile on my face, buoyed by all the high-energy vibes. I just wanted to go home... to bed. The irony is that, with J on such great form vocally, just two or three more upbeat tunes would have turned it around for me. Oh well. Maybe I'm just getting old.

April 2, 2009

Tool Alert

Okay, so I do firmly believe that if you're going to become the bestest-bestest jazzer on the planet you really need to know all the different chords in all possible locations.

However, some days we all find that we just want to frikkin' look up a chord rather than working out all the possible options. I found myself in that position last night. I had about 15 minutes to figure out the best fingerings for a number of chord shapes from one of the Rockschool pieces.

I used Google.

I'm soooo ashamed. (NOT!)

I found this tool! I've not really delved too deep, but on the surface it looks really cool. It's called "Chord Guide" and can be found here.

It's a handy little chord chart generator. You type in the names of the chords you want then you can choose which fingering works best for you and add it to your chart. When you're done, just click on the print view and bingo, you're good to go!

It's cheating, I know, but hey, no brain cells were harmed!

So, for a demo, my Rockschool piece included the following chords that I wanted to see my options with: Bbmaj7, Dmin9, Fmaj9.

Navigating through the screen is pretty easy. I click on "Bb" which brings up a myriad of chords with that root. Information overload! However, I then select "Bbmaj7" and the page brings up 4 suggested fingerings.

So, I pull out the guitar and have a go. Which one suits me best? Hell, for shits and giggles let's choose #4. I check the tickbox on that one, hit "Save Chords" and I'm ready to go on the Dmin9. Same procedure... onto the Fmaj9!

When I'm all done I can go to "My Sheet" and click on "Print Version" and here's what I get:


What's actually cool is that the chord chart actually marks what the different notes in the chord fingerings are.

Me likey-likey! No have to thinky!

April 1, 2009

G20 Protests... Fact Or Fiction

Okay, so I had to pass through the supposed trouble spots to get to work this morning. Traffic was light. Didn't see any police or protesters.

Went out and took a look down towards Bank at lunchtime. Again, didn't see anything, though my x-ray specs are broken and I can't see around corners. I guess even angry rampaging anarchists need a break.

I'm beginning to think it's all an April Fools Day prank!

Nevertheless, I'll be skirting the hotspots on my way home tonight, juuuust in case.

As you've doubtless guessed, I have nothing of interest or note to blog about today.

[Picture tumbleweed rolling across the screen]