Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I'm back from LA and just about in one piece. Well apart from a severely bruised finger (I shut it in an industrial elevator door, yeah it did hurt). The last two weeks have been saturated with a host of experiences and emotions, way too much to document in detail, so here are a few snapshots (in no particular order, just as they come to me).
Waking up wedged into a airline seat, surprised to find that I've actually managed to sleep. Foolishly I start to watch another movie. Anyone know what happens at the end of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas? I can't help feeling it can only be bad. Just before we land I can swear that I hear the pilot say, "We hope to see you on another virgin soon".
Sitting on Zuma beach in Malibu, watching the sunset with Alex. I'm eating a picnic off a china plate with a knife and fork. Very civilised.
Walking downtown in LA in searing heat (they had a Spring heatwave just for me, it seems). It's a mixed area of very run down shops and beautiful old theatres. I walk for about 2 hours and am astonished to not see one MacDonalds.
Standing in a huge empty loft in the Toy District of downtown LA. Our voices echo around the walls. The view of the commercial district is stunning.
Trying not to laugh when a slightly camp real estate agent tells us that the apartment block we are viewing has a "breezeway".
More walking, this time on Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard. Checking out the handprints and the walk of fame. Is this the true mark of having made it? Curiously it kinda is just how I always imagined it would be, although I am slightly disappointed I didn't see C3-PO's footprints. There is a man dress up as Homer Simpson, apparently this is how he makes his living.
Watching the homeless people make camp for the night in the road next to our loft (whilst trying to avoid looking at the stuffed snake and mongoose diorama). There is a mission and a Police station just around the corner. It seems that they are allowed to sleep on the streets from 9pm to 6am. Prior to Hurricane Katrina the city aggressively moved them on, so I am looking at social progress (of a sort). It turns out we are actually living on Skid Row!
Champagne by the pool in the Standard Hotel on Sunset.
Wandering the lot at Rent-A-Wreck. They've told me that they rent cars to the movie industry. There is a green convertible Jaguar just like the one in Memento. I don't ask if it is the same one, I don't want to be disappointed. In my mind it is.
Getting lost in the LAX airport complex on the way to the car park. Twice.
Looking down in the blazing heat on the whole of LA from the observatory in Hollywood Hills. Wondering what would happen if there was an earthquake right now. Trying to take a picture of us with the Hollywood sign in the background. Failing comically... most especially when the passerby who volunteers to take the picture for us manages to get it right behind our heads.
Brunch (Dutch Babies and Mimosas) with a number of young defense attorneys in the suburbs of LA followed by table football (my team loses 1-2, but it's pretty close). Their descriptions of gangs and crime in the area makes Thornton Heath seem very safe.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
More travels beckon as this week I'm off to LA and then it looks like I'm going back on the road as a roadie, but more news on that later.
First a round up of the last few gigs (mine for a change) which have all gone really well: last Wednesday I was in Guildford at a great bar called Fahrenheit 55 that has a great viewing area upstairs and I made full use of all my TC Helicon VoiceLive box and looper pedal during the set.
On Thursday I was up in Islington at the Edinburgh Cellars. Daniel, who promotes the Stripped Bare nights, had been let down by a couple of artists, and then on the night another had to pull out due to a death in the family! In the end there was just myself, Andy Page and my good friend CT, but we played our hearts out for the whole evening. I did two half hour sets and made use of the looper pedal again (despite a slightly dodgy PA) to entertain an increasingly enthusiastic crowd. The feedback from the evening was all really positive and I'm looking forward to getting back there soon. When I left Andy was still singing away with most of the audience joining in with his set of well performed covers!
Easter Sunday night brought me back to St. Albans were I first started out on the acoustic open mic scene. The Horn pub has just won an award as the Best Music Pub in the UK and it was fantastic to be able to use all my effects pedals with their excellent sounding PA and powerful monitors (the bits that let the artist onstage hear themselves... very important when you are building loops). The Sunday night crowd is very knowledgeable as most of them are veteran performers themselves, so it was particularly pleasing to have a good number of them come over to let me know they had enjoyed the set. Can't wait to get back there either!
Fancy hearing what everybody is talking about? Well you can tomorrow night, when I'm doing the full looping/VoiceLive show at the Powers Bar in Kilburn (332 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, NW6 2QN), I'll be on around 8.30pm. Alternatively you can check out my videos on YouTube:
Daren's YouTube Channel
There are new videos from an exclusive Whitechapel gig going up this week and next week.
You might also be interested to know that a written piece of mine has recently been published in A3 magazine. This is available free from many London galleries, plus I have a few copies that I can post to you if you'd like one. Leave me a comment if you are interested.
Right, better get rehearsing for tomorrow!
P.S. Heading to see Fit & the Conniptions at the Abbey in Kentish Town tonight, do come along if you fancy it.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
I'm off on my travels again, tonight the one man electro-acoustic cabaret hits Guildford. Now technically this is a local gig as Guildford is in my county of Surrey, but it's still a fair old trek. I have to say I'm really looking forward to it, the set is really strong now, and it's a great sign when I can't actually fit all the songs I really want to play into my 25 minute set. My use of the looper and voicebox is improving with practice all the time. For the most part I can now hit the buttons I need without looking down, this is a bit improvement as it really lets me concentrate on performing the song and not on the technology. It's always supposed to be complimentary to the song and not take it over.
If you want to come along to Guildford tonight, here are the details:
Strangers On A Train @ Fahrenheit 55
3 Milkhouse Gate, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3EZ
My good friend and excellent multi-instrumentalist, Wayne Myers (Fit & The Conniptions) came to a recent electro-acoustic gig and wrote some nice things. Thanks again Wayne, hope your throat gets better soon.
For those of you unable to get to UK gigs there is some good news. I'm halfway through downloading video from my recent White Hart gig. This involves two video camera views so the editing will take a little longer than usual, but I would expect to have 4 or 5 new videos up some time next week. You'll hear about it here, but you can also subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want the earliest possible chance to see them:
Daren's YouTube Page
Don't forget to give a star rating to any videos you like.
The rest of my gigs this week are as follows:
9th April 2009 - 8.00pm
Stripped Bare @ The Edinburgh Cellars, 125 Newington Green Road, Islington, N1 4RA
12th April 2009 - from 8.00pm onstage after 9.00pm
Blue Angel Acoustic Cafe @ The Horn, Victoria Street, St. Albans, AL1 3TE
15th April 2009 - open mic from 7.30
Stripped Bare @ The Powers Bar, 332 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, NW6 2QN
Last night I ventured to the Hen & Chickens Theatre in Highbury (nearest tube Highbury & Islington) and saw The Brazner performing "Ay Me!". I'd seen Charlotte and Tom do some of these sketches before, but they were all excellently performed and really suit the small theatre setting. They certainly made me (and the whole audience) laugh out loud at several points and the horse comedian they brought in for the night was a real bray! Their show runs all week and is well worth a trip:
Finally I just wanted to make mention of the excellent new album by Hadar Manor - "Crossing London". This is a self-produced effort with help from many very talented friends (Wayne Myers, Tom Fry, Daniel Spiller, Geoff Southall, Gemma Fuller and Hezron Chetty to name check but a few) and can be bought for just a tenner (plus postage) here:
The songs are all very good and recorded simply and with obvious enjoyment and a wicked sense of humour - drawing on her experience of busking and travelling across London. Some of the little bits of audio between tracks and the group singing on many tracks really shows this. It has to be said that all the tracks are tinged with a little sadness, so it never gets too sweet. In fact, having said that, some of the songs are downright heart-wrenching, but, hey, if you like a little pain with your pleasure (as I do) then this this is for you. A whole range of styles and sounds are presented here and I cannot recommend highly enough also seeing her live. Either with or without her talented band she is a mesmorising, beautiful, emotional and highly skilled performer.
Okay, that's all for now. See you on-line, see you at a gig - either way - see you soon!