Thursday, July 31, 2008

We Heart The White Hart

Actually I have no idea if I (or indeed we) heart the White Hart at all, 'cos I've never been there. That will be remedied in double quick time as I'm going there tonight, to play a tune or five indeed! So if you fancy checking out the place, or you are a performer youself, do pop down and check out the Open Mic part of the evening as well as the featured acts (ie Me!!).

Here's the details that ya need: The White Hart, 1 Mile End Road, Whitechapel, E14 4TP - come along 7.30 ish... and be prepared to hum along.


P.S. More on the Blag Club gig later.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back To The Blag

I'm heading back to the Blag Club in Notting Hill Gate tomorrow (Wednesday 30th July). It's a good place to play, usually it's a private member's club, but on some nights they throw the doors open and invite people in to see some great acoustic acts. The system they run is a little different than usual, the running order is decided on the night, based on how many people you get through the door. So if you are coming down make sure you are in the doors by about 8:45, so I have a good chance of playing something other than first on. As a bonus to the artist, this is one of the few venues that gives you money for everyone you bring through the door (no money for those that have come down to see no one in particular, and no split of the bar, but hey it's better than nothing).

Setwise I'm going to be using my VoiceLive box and looper pedal again, so the show should be really exciting and well worth seeing - oh, and a debut of the new tune!! Hope to see you there!


Friday, July 25, 2008

Until We Pass This Way Again

Yes, it seems I have found my folk roots, or perhaps I've just been hanging out with Eddy Jay too much. Either way, I now have a demo of Until We Pass This Way Again for your thoughts. It's certainly a bittersweet song, about passing of time, but also about the way that things move in cycles - no matter what happens the Sun will always rise in the morning and Spring will follow Winter. This is just a demo, vocals and guitar together in one take (via my TC Helicon VoiceBox, so the guitar is not as nice as it will be when mic'ed up) but I think it has enormous potential and I'm already hearing violin (perhaps just a single one) around the two-thirds mark. But anyway, without more ado here it is:

Until We Pass This Way Again (Demo) - MP3 (3'57)

Let me know what you think! (lyrics in post below)

Other News

It's been another busy culture week. On Monday I was in a photo studio in London Fields assisting on a shoot that involved two clowns, a ballerina and a bodybuilder... oh, and some marshmallow dumbbell sculptures!!! It could only be the latest project by Alex Staiger - watch her website to see the results in a week or so.

The Friday before I had great fun at Zero De Conduite at the Elevator Gallery in Hackney Wick. The highlights were the excellent Sculpture doing live tape loop mixing accompanied by visuals that involved a record player and a video camera. Really good stuff. Here's the first three minutes on You Tube.

I also enjoyed James III And The Puritan - who is an almost indescribable mix of live mixer, DJ, grunge guitarist and, well, weirdo in a very strange outfit of cape and multiple headwear!! The Home Office were also excellent cleverly playing along to a video soundtrack so they had synched videos for their songs. Also appearing and entertaining were Craig Template and a gaggle of performance artists.

This Wednesday just gone I was partying at the Notting Hill Blag Club with Wayne Myers (whose birthday it was), and doing a little bit of promotion for my gig there next week. Talking of which, here are the next few coming up, do come along if you can.

30th July 2008, 8.45pm
The Notting Hill Blag Club, 68 Notting Hill Gate London, W11 3HT
The last gig here was an excellent night, this promises to be even better.

31st July 2008, 8.30pm
White Hart, 1 Mile End Road, Whitechapel, E14 4TP
Featured artist at this open mic night in happening Whitechapel.

14th August 2008, 8.30pm
Montague Arms, New Cross
Lots of music and comedy at the Unwrong Quiz night.

17th August 2008, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition
Prohibition Bar & Grill, Unit 1 Tower Bridge House, St. Katharine Docks, East Smithfield, E1W 1AA
Just 15 minutes of fame!

31st August, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living room
18-26 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LN

Oh, one final thing. Why is it impossible to buy string anymore?! I mean, where do you get it from... no one has it!


Friday, July 18, 2008

Some Good Things

The gig at the Fiddler's Elbow went really well. I was nervous before as I'm using a voice processor and a looper to create effects and harmonies and it calls for quite a bit of co-ordination. I've been practising really hard and it's starting to pay off. I think I may have inadvertently invented a new form of exercise. One part of the set calls for me to stand on one leg, whilst playing the tambourine with my other leg, playing guitar and singing! It'd doing wonders for my core stability. Anyway, enough of the technical details, the point is that it all came together and, by all accounts, sounds great. It's a thrill to finally start hearing the songs the way I have in my head and headphones for a while now. Many thanks should go to Steve the sound guy who was very friendly and professional, and did a superb job. I really can't wait for the next gig - it's an exciting time.

I'm also working hard on a new song, the working lyrics are below and the chords are pretty much there. Not sure on a title yet though, so feel free to post your suggestions... Until We Pass This Way Again is one option, Like A Melody is another.

In the morning the Sun will rise again,
After noon it drys my falling rain,
Evening comes to soothe and cool,
And night-time falls on king and fool,
Will we see the dawn again?

But these moments they don't last long,
Just like a melody they linger fleetingly and then,
In a heartbeat they are gone,
'til we pass this way again.

In the Spring the trees will grow again,
I remember Summer days without an end,
In the Autumn we all fall down,
And Winter chills the frozen ground,
'Til the seasons start again.


We are born with wonder in our eyes,
As we grow we feel the pain of life,
In the middle some gain a frown,
And the last act brings the curtain down,
Who will remember we passed this way?

(D. Callow 2008)

As you may spot it's a bit of a digression from my usual writing, and the tune is quite folky (perhaps NiteByrd's comments have had an effect?). But I think it's a strong song, that may suit smaller more intimate gigs. If I get the lyrics finished over the weekend, I'll try and record a version for you to hear next week.

Love and peace to all,


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Summer Of Music

Much as I do enjoy the performance and art things that I get involved in, it's nice to get back to my first love from time to time. The last few weeks have been filled with playing and appreciating music of all kinds. On Thursday 3rd I headed to The Duchess in Battersea Park with my wonderful (and now glowing) friend Sarah Peach in tow. I've played a few times at this open mic night and it's always an enjoyable experience, in no small part due to the ebullient (and perhaps occasionally, slightly drunk - only slightly mind, and only occasionally) host - Will O'Durkin. For various reasons this was the last open mic night 'til September, so I really wanted to play. It turned out that one of those reasons was that Will and partner were having a baby, and as coincidence would have it, it's due on more or less the same day as Peachy's. In between the baby chat, I managed to play four tunes and was happy with how it went.

Next appointment was on Wednesday 9th when Peachy and I ventured out again, this time to the Jazz Cafe to see our friends Katrina and U'mau perform. True to form, we arrived too late to see Soul Bar, but did manage to catch a large part of the set by Tunday Akintan & The Yorubeat AllStars (catchy name that!) - who were an excellent set of funky musicians. U'mau was singing and the whole vibe was upbeat and infectious.

Thursday 10th brought a trip to New Cross for 2nd Thursdays at the Montague Arms. This evening was Ladies Night and once again the entertainment was diverse and interesting. The highlights were Holly & Jenny's montage of embarrassing situations and overhead mobile phone conversations and aerobics (highly enjoyable), Caroline De Lannoy's fragments of words and feelings to even more fragmented piano stabs (highly stimulating) and Jo Stevenson's songs and ukulele playing (highly hilarious). Her song about Hitler being her favourite dictator is a work of comic genius. Emma Leach was also giving medical advice to pub goers and performers alike, although by the time I got round to it she'd finished! I was also grilled (in the nicest possible way) by Felicity Mukherjee about safety and security in London, this might have actually been a performance art piece by Lucy Panesar, but as is often the case these days, it was kinda hard to tell. It seemed professional and off-beat enough to be entirely genuine.

Okay, slight art diversion there... back to the tunes. Sunday night saw me trekking a long way north to the Fiddler's Elbow near Chalk Farm station (how do you farm chalk exactly?). Two reasons for the trip, firstly to see my friend Johnny Ryder play (young, talented, good-looking, footloose, fancy free... ah he's just sooo like me... ha ha) play and secondly to check out the venue as I'm doing a set there myself this Wednesday (16th). Johnny was not having the best night, his acoustic guitar had given up the ghost, so he was forced to do his solo set on a borrowed electric guitar. It took him a while to warm up, but by song three he was cooking on gas. He sounds like a mixture of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Joan Armatrading, if you can imagine such a multi-headed musical beast. Following Johnny were Hedorah (sort of Garbage-lite - very pretty singer, moments of genius), Lost Gravity (lost in a rock-timewarp, the guitarist couldn't have been more Angus Young if he actually was Angus Young, and the bass player looked like an estate agent on his night off, great fun though. One of their fans had dreadlocks to his ankles, I kid you not!) and Thick As Thieves (super friendly guitarist - he loaned his guitar to Johnny - my personal favourite band of the night).

Well that's a round up of my musical week or so. My turn to play at the Fiddler's Elbow on Wednesday 16th, do come down. It's a great little rock venue, and I'm really looking forward to playing loud and unrestrained. Be there - 8pm.

Love to all,


P.S. Pics top: U'mau with Tunday Akintan & The Yorubeat AllStars, bottom: Johnny Ryder

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Moment In Time

I have a fragment of a new lyric...

...Those feelings they don't last long,
Just like a melody, they linger fleetingly,
And then in a heartbeat, they are gone...

...and some chords. But no song... yet. Where do these words fit in? I have no idea, but I hope to find out.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside... II

First up I must must correct an omission from the last post. One of the other pieces I saw on the first day was Serena Korda's The Library of Secrets. This is a custom made portable library that looks like it was made in the 60s, the idea is that you select a book, and then write a secret and place it amongst the pages of the book, for someone to discover another time. I really like this idea, as I love discovering things left in books (plus I've also taken to leaving my gig flyers in appropriate books, as a random way of meeting new fans... possibly). I actually met Serena at the Seaside Cabaret and it turns out she's from the Harrow area where I used to live. She has a piece on Stanmore Station platform at the moment.

On with Sunday at Whitstable then. After a less than restful night at the artist house (the sound of hoovering at one in the morning turned out to be a pump for inflating blow-up beds!!), we headed back to the seaside for some lunch. Since this is the coast it was seafood we were after and we were not disappointed. We went to the Pearsons Arms and enjoyed a fine lunch of potted shrimp, scallops and local fish in the company of Vic Reeves (well he was in the restaurant at the same time as us, so that must count).

In the afternoon I caught some more video projections at the local museum (I saw the end of a Paul MaCarthy piece, I think) and the tail end of the Whitstable Tourist Board's tour of Whitstable Art, which it seems most people where not sure if it was a spoof or not. Since it was listed under the performance art pieces, I guess it must have been!

The Unwrong Quiz

A brief rest and a shower later and it was time to make my way back to The Smack to set up for the Unwrong Quiz. This is a format developed by Frog Morris and Mark Quinn which follows the standard pub quiz format except for the fact that there are no wrong or right answers. Creativity and originality rule the day and the answers are often very funny. In the company of many of the day's performers and artists the routine is to ask about 5 questions and then while Frog and Mark go through the answers I play some songs. An added twist this time around is that due to the nice weather we started out in the beer garden, so I did my first outdoor show for a while. Some of the songs are better suited to being al fresco than others, so I had to shift the set around to accommodate this situation. I was a little frustrated to start with as I'd brought all my clever kit with me to allow me to do harmonies, effects and loops and playing in the garden kinda prevented me from using them. I kept willing the weather to turn cold so we could all head indoors.

After three or four rounds (I won a set of emergency blankets!) we finally decamped to the warmth of the pub and I was able to use the equipment I'd brought with me. This produced a few nerves, but I feel that my first ever use of the VoiceLive box for my songs live went well. Even the use of the looper at the end of When The Snow Fell In Denver, which calls for accurate foot stamping whilst playing, went well. I can't wait to make use of this kit at full volume for a proper set, roll on The Fiddler's Elbow on the 16th... should be an exciting night! Despite the two location gig and the amount of kit involved I only repeated one song, which was I Need Your Love, this one works well both on it's own and with effects and harmonies, so I felt it deserved a reprise.

The final act of the evening was the sing-a-long, which we've been perfecting at the Montague Arms. We now have giant songsheets as well as handouts, so there is no excuse for people not joining in. First up was It's Summertime (which you can download here if you'd like to hear it) with harmonies and a delay effect it was a big sound and people certainly sang along with gusto. Finally another rousing chorus of Angry Badger (it's not my song... Frog maintains it's a traditional folk tune that he's arranged, but I'm not so sure... you can download a version from here if you'd like to check it out for yourself) wrapped the evening up - I even managed to play the chorus right and add the voice of doom!

So that was it, Whitstable was over for us and all that was left to do was pack the van and head back to the big smoke. If any of this sounds like your sort of thing, then do come down to Second Thursdays at the Montague Arms in New Cross (every 2nd Thursday of the month, next one is Ladies Night on the 10th July) or one of my gigs - next one is 16th July at The Fiddler's Elbow in Chalk Farm.

See you soon!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside... I

It's taken a few days to recover sufficiently to write this review of the Whitstable Biennale 2008. Not that I didn't enjoy every minute, but two weekends in a row of very little sleep have taken it out of me a bit. Undeterred though, here we go...

The Whitstable Arts Festival lasts about 3 weeks and comes around every two years. I had no idea what to expect, the last Biennale I went to was Documenta in Kassel, which is a very dreary German prison town. Whitstable on the other hand is a beautiful Kent seaside town on a picturesque pebbled bay. We even got lucky with the weather, sun and rolling clouds with no rain at all. Just as well as we were there to see the performance art, which was mostly outside.

When we arrived the first thing to do was hit the beach, where we came across the The Man From Above (otherwise known as Charlie Tweed) there to inform us of how to avoid being drowned by building a platform or occupying high ground. I was particularly taken by his survival outfit of wetsuit and welding mask that, he informed me, had been purchased from eBay! Also on the beach was a sea container featuring a video by Jananna Al-Ani. Video in a sea container is fine, but it was so bright outside that you couldn't see it unless the door was clanged shut behind you, visions of Kassel maximum security prison flashed through my mind! Leaving the beach behind us we checked out some more screenings and then had a well deserved rest.

Next appointment on the Saturday was to see Lee Campbell's performance - The Fall And Rise. This event had already enjoyed much publicity in the national press, and a call for volunteers had been very successful. The anticipation was immense as we waited on the beach with about 400 other passers-by and art lovers (we do love a good crowd in England, I'm sure half the people waiting had no idea at all what they were waiting for). We didn't have to wait too long, as Lee and several dozen volunteers marched towards the beach wearing suits and shouting slogans from the hit TV series The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin. "I didn't get where I am today by eating greasy sausages" or similar... as the cameras flashed and people gaped in amusement, they all made there way down to the lapping waves and then recreated the scene where Reggie strips off and runs into the sea to fake his own death. Unfortunately I had to leave at this point to start setting up for the evening, but I talked to the curator Frog Morris later and asked how it went. He replied that there was rather more full-frontal nudity than he'd been expecting, but general consensus was that it had been a fantastic event. And the day was not over yet!!!

Seaside Cabaret

The final event of the day was the Seaside Cabaret at The Smack. The Smack is a little (and I mean little) seaside Inn with a horseshoe bar, beer garden, pub dogs and a gaggle of bemused regulars. Their day was to become slightly surreal as a succession of performers and artists trooped through the door. First up was Princess Penang, aka Alex Staiger, who dressed in gold catsuit, tiara, kid's bikini and that strap-on and using a mixture of marshmallows, a lollipop, cake sprinkles, a trampoline and heavy metal guitar riffs (courtesy of yours truly) she proceeded to wow, stun and heal the locals and other passers-by. One of my highlights of the whole weekend was when she healed Das Schimmel and Herman Rarebell III. It was a truly unmissable and unique art moment.

After the pub garden healing we moved inside for more cabaret. The evening was hosted by Dawn Chalkley in full drag, and was kicked off by Frog Morris with his drawings and stand-up routine. After Frog it was Victor Mount with tin can guitar and more funny tales delivered in his usual laid back style. After him came the truly extraordinary Leigh Clarke, who does a quite jaw-dropping human beatbox performance. After this mesmerizing set the final act was Deference Engine, a prog-rock band from Norfolk. They wow'd the crowd again with a set of intriguing songs, finishing off with the crowd calling for Big, Big Sofa and a rousing chorus of Angry Badger!

After that it was back to the artist's house to sleep it off, and that was just the Saturday! More to come on the Sunday's hi-jinks later.