Monday, October 31, 2005

Planning... a solo? Me?

Well, last night's practise was a revelation. In spite of my exhausted brain, I managed to pound a structure (gasp) for the "Funks Me Off" solo into my head. Dan and I are going to trade 2-bar solos, which is cool.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ho Hum...

Well. Tuesday night was an experience! The place was heaving, but I'm not sure that the crowd of well turned out freshers (no, seriously... a skirt that short is designed for only one cheek) were ready for the janeiro experience!

Plus, our new arrangements def need a lot more work, and I've worked out that a weekday gig sees me doing an 18 hour day. 7am to 2am the next day, then I have to try to get back into work the next morning... so I was pretty zombied by the last tracks, which include the solo-spattered "funks me off". I'm not scared to say I was in another world... and not in a good way!

There's the rub; this is the hard part, where my stamina gets tested. It's not helping having sleep apnea problems-my doc is dragging his heels arranging an ENT app-but I've got to work out how to balance this lot AND practise MORE.

It's got to be done: nothing ever came from caving in and giving up, no matter how hard it's getting. This is about ressurection, not the death of dreams at the hands of reality.

Anyone know where I can score some ProPlus?

L8Rs -yawn-


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Just recovered... I think :)

Well... Janeiro gigs demand more than a couple of lines :)

That quick post (done from the passenger's seat of the car as we sped around the roads of Surrey and Berkshire) from the P910 might have been a little quick ;)

It was a great gig. The guys at the venue were fantiastic: we actually got a rider we didn't ask for(!) when they delivered a case of bud, a case of J20 and a case of spring water, all chilled, to the dressing room (yes, a dressing room, and right next to the stage with a door onto it as well!). We were nicely lubricated before we went on... I abstained until after the gig as ever, when I laid into a bud or three.

Soundcheck went really well: Larry, the top fella who books and mixed the acts, did a fine job of mixing us on the night - and agrees that we need a tame sound engineer of our very own who does our mixing and knows the songs, so he can whack up this channel and that during solos, etc. We must have run through 5 or 6 tracks soundchecking! He revealed later that his sevret is levels, not EQ'ing, which must be the mark of an experienced engineer: that ranks as one of the best sounds I think we've ever had! I actually had an onstage monitor, which was a revelation... and slightly offputting :) Usually I can hear myself enough through my earplugs (which I'm totally used to wearing after so many years of trying to protect my hearing) that I stay roughly on pitch. Anyhow, I digress (as ever) - Larry revealed later it's all in the levels - ironically though, the Warwick Head pumped out too much level for his desk: he needed a DI to bring it down some: too hot! I'll remember that and buy a DI box I reckon.

So we killed a little time visiting Cafe Piccolo in Farnham, which I can recommend - but watch out for too many capers on the pizza and maybe a little bit too much vinegar in the salad dressing :) I posted a message to the janeiro yahoo group about that earler....

So we got back to the venue, and people are arriving. There's the luvly rider of juices and booze and water we can stay hydrated with, I performed my usual pre-gig ritual (very cleansing, say no more) and wasn't nervous after that, we do a big "Go Janeiro" with Neil F in the dressing room and finalise a setlist for a shortish 30 minute set with encore, and wait to be told what the final song before we go on is (DJs were on that night). Good music in there too on thursday nights: a real nice mix of old style stuff with occasional new bits: I grooved down to Old Jamiroquai from the first album while propping up the bar after we came off stage!

And we got some good feedback from the gig too. Lots of people saying they liked our blend of styles: someone noticed the latin influences, like the rock angle, etc - explicitly mentioning that they hadn't seen anything like us around, which is great.

Larry said we'd got the best reaction of a first-time-there band he'd ever seen, which is a real accolade!

I've got to go come up with some more content for the Janeiro website now... so that'll have to do.

Biggest memory of the night: the lesbian and the gay guy kissing in the front row while we played, which apparently is a good indicator of how hot the audience thought our music was :) Take a trip over the the janeiro site and look at the pics of the night if you fancy...!


Friday, October 21, 2005

farnham a corker!

just came offstage; a shortish set but much appreciated, we've got loads of top people saying how they loved our stuff, and a couple of guys saying my bass solo rocked. nice!

Our music is so hot we got a gay guy and a lesbian kissing at the front of the stage! now that's hot.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hold on to the energy....

Got in late this morning, slept in, which is probably a good idea given we're on at midnight in Farnham tonight... decided to pack the car at home when I get back there en route: I can shower, restring the 6 string, etc etc, then set off.

Just spoke to Dan on the phone - fun and games getting themselves down here from Oxford, they're hiring a van as Rich's van is still needing all the work done to get through MOT... which I'm fronting the cash for and getting back from the mythical management loan.... ah, a band in hoc! How moderne! How in tune with today's society! I wonder if there's any debt consolidation companies for musicians?

Tonight's going to be insane, I can just feel it: there's a rising energy I can't stop (but I've got save some of it - once we soundcheck at 7 we wait 5 hours before going on!)... plus, rediscovered PlanetFunk on my iPod and totally into it - "Inside All the People" is a great track, part Duran Duran (esp the vox) and part dance: all groove.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Weekend Started There...

Late friday, set off home with a great deal of fatigue in my heart (just physical, mind - Janeiro keeps my spirits up) and tried to wrestle with wether or not to pop into london again to get the new Warwick fretless fixed.

Yes, you heard right.... fixed.

I dunno, maybe it's a sign of the times. Warwick must be one of the best mass-manufacturers of quality bass guitars, I've seen an article on their factory and it's impressive, keeping the human touch in the finishing and set-up after a lot of good high-tech machinery does the grunt work horribly accurately (which is why they feel so well put together). With that in mind, I reckon couriers have struck once again. Remember my amp-head and how it was totally trashed by TNT.... I reckon this poor warwick got a right doink in transit to the Bass Cellar in london.

Basically, dodgy volume control. The back pickup (much beloved of mine, I love a nice jazz bass type honk, especially through a humbucker) kept winking in and out, and had a fizz setting in between :)

Fortunately I worked out how to demo the problem (i.e. reproduce it for the shop) and the Bass Cellar were more than happy to fix it there and then - I went home with a working bass. Good show. But it was a pain in the arse to have to go into london again just to get a birthday present fixed (there were other things that happened that made it worthwhile - excellent thai lunch thanks to the sublime Nic! - and lots of shopping in other places which made things interesting in a sunny autumnal london stuffed with tourists. Trafalgar square's a lot nicer than it used to be...

The possibility of this type of saturday was not on my mind as I drove home... I just thought I'd have a nightmare trying to get the bass fixed and not have it for days and days!

The weekend was dominated by me working on some transcriptions I found in a Jaco book of some pieces I've always wanted to play, but as ever only one of the transcriptions seems to be up to scratch. The work someone did on "Blackbird" seems immaculate, and "Chromatic Fantasy" looks good and sounds great (only abour 25 bars in so far), but the transcription of "Donna Lee" is completely out in places, which is a pity. I know the main part of that really well but have only ear-trained the first few bars of where Jaco bugs out and really starts soloing freely, but the transcription of the part I know and can play up to speed (so I know it sounds right) is really badly out in places, so I've got little confidence in the solo parts.

Pity someone couldn't have run it by Jaco.

Never miind, another rehearsal tonight, and I've got the full compliment of basses with me. Roll on winter proper so I don't have to keep bringing 3 full-weight (these are heavy babies) basses up several flights of stairs for the day so they don't fry in the car...

Our first Uni tour gig is on thursday 20th: down in Farham. Nice and close to me, it means I can go home en route, I think ( I'll have to check that! ).

Practise tonight should be great: I've got all my gear, and T the KBP is comin' up. And I've got new music on the pod! Woohoo! Oh yeah, Nic got a colour pod in london for far less than Amazon is charging: they're clearing the shelves for the arrival of the video pods. £179 for a 20Gb colour full-sized pod, not too shabby - £30 less than last week!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Oops! Nearly denied people the right to free speech there...

I didn't realise Blogger had added a wobbly text human verify thingy to comments, but it's optional and wasn't turned on. I was deleteing about 5 spam comments a day from my blog, and I had enough and nearly left the blog with all comments turned off!

But now I've re-enabled all previous comments and enabled the verify box thing, so there's a step to go through before the comment can be posted where you read some slightly garbled picture of some letters and type them in. Bot progs can't do that. Yet.

Yeah right, seen what the insurance sales sites do? Guys like eat passcode verification systems like that for breakfast.

Honestly though, crappy spam in blog comments? What's the point?


Sunday, October 09, 2005

... And the deed is done!

Yes, I got a new bass ;) I've added a brand new Warwick Streamer 5 string fretless Jazzman to my collection, another unique instrument in the pack!

Nic and I went into london early(ish) and made it to the Bass Gallery in London for about 12:30pm. I then spent about an hour trying (to my astonishment!) a wide range of available 5 string fretless - from a convertible upright/wearable to a lakland deluxe 5 with a nice cherry burst finish. Some really nice basses, including a bizarre Italian one with a buzzard-style body (not quite that mental) and reverse stringing which neede the action taking up about 3 miles :) None of them set my world alight, so after a little lunch in a camden pub we set off for Tin Pan Alley and WOM (World Of Music). The bass place there has more stock than space, and to my continuing surprise they had a 5 string warwick fretless streamer. After a brief time trying to get a little attention amongst the throng (you do NOT just pick up basses in there, they're all pretty expensive!) I tried it out, and fell for it almost immediately. Same feeling I had playing the 2002Ltd FNA jazzman last year.

I will be taking said piece of beauty in wood form to the rehearsal tomorrow, and it'll be stunning. Already playing Jamiroquai's latest album on it with not too many problems - and there's no markers on the edge of the board for the frets, or lines on the front! It's tightrope walking time, people...

I'm a happy bunny. Also got some new strings, Warwick coated jobs. Say they last 3 times longer, we'll see how things go... the FNA Ltd Ed 2002 is string with them.

All in all, a great saturday.

In other news: Janeiro have more gig dates! We're doing a uni tour to round out the year, and kick off bigger things (hopefully!) - sprint over to to find out more.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The 5 Gear Twitch

I know, I know. Crap pun. but here is I, about to nod off for the night, tapping into the p910, and tomorrow it's my birthday!


I think it's time for another bass ;)

Hopefully tomorrow I can find a new (note, demo models not accepted!) 5 string fretless of some pedigree. Another delightful combination of strings and things that I don't have yet. More beautiful wood to play!


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Long evenings... no practise?!?

here's me, snatching a second while I rinse my teeth and blog using my phone, after an evening of intense picture gallery manipulation for the Janeiro website ( Biggest gallery of pics yet! I'm off to pick up the 6 string in a minute and pluck a little lithe fitness into my fingers.

Just been doing a little google name searching for concorde artists international, who are arranging our university tour (first date 20th oct, see janeiro website for details!). They arrange live shows for lemar, girls aloud, steps(as was), lulu(!), the prodigy, blue... and now us! Neil really does have some cool contacts, and he's been in touch plenty. Nice.

Cheerio gentle reader. Have you spotted the new background for the other bits of my website yet? I've left the blog the same for now.

anybody else getting as pissed as I am about the bots using blogs comment fields for spam? pain in the arse, I'm erasing 3 or 4 a week!

oh well.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Tony the Tiger would say...

Well, you can guess. Good practise tonight, really got some energy back into me after an exhausting couple of days: Nic and I had a little too much wine last friday night (we did watch 40 First Dates though, which was eye-wateringly funny after said wine - it is funny though, I'd recommend it), so Saturday was a little upside down stomach wise, which was inconvenient to say the least... as we drove up to Nic's folks place to pick up the Janeiro artwork from the Double Decker Bus, where it has been for the last 5 or so weeks since the Party in the Park gig. The vinyl still looks pretty good, but the mounting board wasn't waterproof so it's going to have to be remounted. No biggie.

So Saturday was frantic driving: Sunday was a practise day but to be honest I was still feeling washed out from friday's excesses. Oops! Nic and I got into the day slowly with one of our amazing brunch fry-ups. Protein overload!

Trouble is, I'm always really lethargic at practises which don't have all of us there: Janeiro's sound suffers a lot when someone's missing, and in the case of keyboards, we suddenly become a 2 guitar one bass several vocals band: all those classic rhodes/hammond/etc sounds are missing and the largesse of the sound vanishes, so I tend to lose a lot of energy as a result. Driving back on Sunday I was feeling a little deflated :)

Today at work was pretty crappy too, took ages to wake up fully but still dragged myself out of bed OK and then got penned in by the traffic on the M4, which seems to affect the A4 at junction 7 of the M4 really badly, and therefore pins me into Dorney. Argh. Going south to the M3 is an insane way to try to get to Thatcham, so lord please no. I sat down, had tea, left later and got to work in the usual amount of time, but much later than I meant to. Spent the whole day feeling really drugged up, and not much better driving up.

But once we got playing, I was alive again - 3 songs in and I was capable of pogoing. Nice!

Terry's great, knows a lot of Stevie Wonder really well, and learns the Janeiro material really quickly. Nice.

I'm off to bed - I should post more often, in fact Terry was telling me he caught this blog and liked it. Thanks mate, see you next week!