Monday, 30 July 2012

hup hup hup update

no hills i could probably bike race again out here  
- i'd need a shave though

Today I got to see some of the stills taken during the shooting of the film “The Head Of John Hayes” a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I can’t show any here due to certain restrictions on previewing material for a film where it is the intention to submit it for entry to film festivals. I had a fantastic time and learned quite a lot about story boarding a script. It was so good to be part of some thing like this where dedicated young people are working very hard to make some art on a budget. The artistic sub-culture in the metropolis is alive and well, even in these austere times and when Arts grants are thin on the ground. I am looking forward to seeing the end result towards the end of the year.

I have been looking through the various proposed new band names and I think you could do better. There are some quite good ideas there but none rings my bell. I will award a prize to the best of the bunch when I get the Cd s but please feel free to enter more suggestions. I am not ungrateful for your effort. The comp is still open. The CD has not arrived from Germany yet so there is still time to impress me with your suggestions.

The gig on Friday was very enjoyable though the day started badly with a message from Ramblin early on Saturday morning. Dave had hurt his back a few days before and had a negative reaction to the medication he was prescribed resulting in very bad stomach pain. Luckily we found a replacement driver in the shape of Tim Plant who was a very pleasant companion for what was to prove to be a long day and night. Thanks mate you were great.
We arrived in Leicester and collected Luke. The detour through road closures was nothing compared to what was to come but eventually we wound our way to the Musician. What a surprise. The slightly faded gig has had a make over. It is now one of the coolest small gigs I have played since I began my solo performances a couple of years ago. The place is very neat retaining its fascinating collages of music stars and overall vibe but the room has been extended and refurbished. 
The PA system is lovely and both Luke and I actually enjoyed our sound check. The man on the mixer is spot on and a pleasure to work with.
We played to a good crowd on a night when the Olympic opening ceremony and the Leicester fortnight holiday was just some of the competition. It was nice to see some old friends there and a few new faces.
Luke kicked off the evening with a solid set of self-penned songs and it was clear to me he has put in a lot of work since we last performed together. I suppose I will always feel emotional when I sit in the audience to listen to Luke but there is no doubting the emotional effect he has on an audience unfamiliar with his material. The writing is deep and his vocal style and melodies are distinctive. He was very well received by a typically warm audience and came off to genuinely warm applause. After a little chat with Luke and a couple of drinks it was time for me to play.
I started off with the intention to weave some improvisation into the set and couldn’t quite believe what my fingers and mouth were doing when I began to sing an unfinished song. I have a verse and a chorus and that’s what I did. It worked ok so I did the same thing again later. I managed to fit a lot of unfinished songs in to and around existing songs and I really enjoyed myself.
I played for quite a lot longer than I usually do but the time flew by and after dropping Luke and Ros off at their place we had a quick tea and hit the road. The journey back was uneventful until we got into London. All roads leading to the bridges over the Thames seemed blocked by Olympic stewards and lots of traffic was entering the roads only to be turned around.
Eventually after driving around for a good half an hour, I decided to ask a steward why all the roads were closed and how might we cross the Thames. I am glad I was polite because he answered to the effect that the roads were closed in preparation for the Men’s Road race. Well that shut me up and we spent another twenty minutes finding a way to cross Battersea Bridge.
I finally went to sleep at around 8.30am and woke to find that Mr Cavendish and The Team GB boys had failed to win the the road race but they rode like warriors and virtually on their own. I thought they might have sent Froome in to the break away group of riders containing the eventual winner but I don’t think he had the energy. The Tour De France was not won easily and his contribution to the team success was huge. I was pleased that Alexandr Vinokurov (Kazakhstan) won in what might be his last year as a pro cyclist.
Congratulations to Ms Lizzy Armitstead who loves to race in the rain and jumped out of the main bunch of riders to take the silver medal in the Women’s Road race. 

I expect when Bradley Wiggins rides the Olympic Time Trial the cry of hard core cycle race fans at the road side will ring  in his ears for most of the route as it has down the years. "Hup hup hup" is the call to increase the revolutions of a riders pedals. Some times the Team director will shout this from a support car. It is a rhythmic knock in the air which the rider can hear and hopefully react positively to. He will appreciate it from the crowd but this guy knows how to cover a course over 50 k at about 40 to 50 kph and will know how fast to go and where to ease up. I hope it is dry. Wiggins is the fastest man in the world in the race of truth - a man on a bike against the clock so check it out on Wednesday the 1 August.

Next stop the far north of Norway for a Fair days pay for a fair days work show in a couple of week’s time. Now that will be some thing. I always feel at home in Norge and I expect this trip will further heighten that sense of my belonging there. Meanwhile it’s back to the grindstone ha ha! I am expecting delivery of my new Mac for music production and I want to get as much pre-production for the new band project completed before it arrives. I need to collate all my audio soundscapes and other noise so that It can be easily transferred to the new system. I am very excited about this. Time is running so I had better make a start.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

rhythms of the world

yes i will come with you

Last week I spent a couple of days filming with a small crew of skilled and enthusiastic folk for a project by Eddie Carey around the story of Catherine Hayes the last woman who was burned at the stake for Petty Treason. Back then when a good horse was worth more than a sickly woman, any servant, slave or wife who murdered any man, might be tried and executed. We had much debate about the trial during filming around the very likely possibility that the trial was rigged by the social values of the day and that then , the rights of a man were always paramount. The story is a very sad tale however you might look at it.
During filming I became interested in finding out more and came across a list of defendants tried and sentenced at the same time as poor Catherine and her alleged accomplices. The following is an extract from the court record.
The sentences varied from 2 burning of the hands – 1 whipping – 4 hangings – 3 burnings – 1 defendant too unwell to receive punishment – 1 who would be bound to show remorse and a degree of repentance – 12 shipped to the colonies

Life has been especially interesting lately. The exploits of the SKY Cycling team at the 2012 Tour De France have been fascinating. The guys are golden and I expect they will get more gold at the Olympics. It shows what can be done when the best people get a realistic budget to work with. Congratulations to all involved. My dad would have loved this. He was a time trialist specialist like Bradley Wiggins. Though not quite as quick as Brad he did some times over10, 25and 50 miles that were fast in his day. The second world war put a stop to his cycle racing but he always rode a bike through out the rest of his life. When he was 75 he rode from Warwick to Steve’s place in Barnet to meet up with Ramblin’ and me. Next day we rode to Malvern then to Aberystwyth to check out the then UK Milk Race ( Tour of Britain). We cycled back to Malvern the same day and then back the way we had come. He never lagged behind once and we all had a wonderful time on and off our bikes. An English TDF winner! Yeah Dennis would have loved it.

I had a great time at the Hitchin RHYTHMS OF THE WORLD Festival. Tucked away on a small stage in the dry part of the field I was surprised by the turn out and warmth of my lovely audience. This is really special event for any family or anyone else. There is a great atmosphere and everything is very well run. The set went down very well and the organisers would like a return performance. Job done.

While watching the unfolding saga of the fall of the Assad regime my thoughts go back to the beginnings of what became the Arab Spring. I remember a fierce debate about the ethics and morality of violent opposition to the Mubarak regime. Although there is a long way to go before Egypt is a free country the trend towards the development of a robust culture of popular protest, enhanced judicial independence, and an increase in political pluralism, in connection with the ousting of long time president Hosni Mubarak, can be seen as real improvement. Though political corruption at all levels is high and the Army have tried to keep a hold on power, the deadlock on political expression by the people is over. Is it reasonable to want and to fight for freedom, to have the expectation that you will have a voice in a civil society and that the cost of the struggle is always worth the effort? I hope so though we know getting rid of the tyrant can often pave the way for a new tyrant in slightly different costume / uniform. It is difficult to change the culture of many years practice. However there must be hope that the way forward will bring a better quality of life for the children of the opposition forces and that their sacrifices will ultimately result in a fairer society.

I hope to see some of you at THE MUSICIAN in Leicester on Friday. I've got a few new changes on the go and Luke will be playing support with a selection of his own songs so it should be a bit special. 


Thursday, 12 July 2012

up days

rottingdean - sussex

Last week I was in Sussex for the week. We stayed at a very lovely 17th century cottage ( Stable Cottage ) in the High Street of Rottingdean, the home of Rudyard Kipling and other literary and artistic luminaries. Relaxation and a bit of bass fishing were the order of the week though the weather was wet and windy so options were limited. I spent one evening fishing as the sun was going down but the tide wasn’t perfect and weed blown in by a sharp wind made things difficult. So I didn’t catch a thing but I am used to that. It’s fishing and not necessarily catching.
The next day the sun was shining and so I went down to a local beach and chucked a few lures. It’s research and development for a better day and I get to see how my expensive Japanese bass lures work and behave in the water under differing conditions ha ha!. It’s all a bit “boys toys” but very diverting and relaxing, unless I get snagged up and lose tackle.
I’d been on the beach a short time and was setting up when four little girls, who may well have been genuine angels, approached me and began asking very smart and unexpected questions about the “trick fish” as one of them correctly identified the plastic fish in my lure box.
The girls were lovely, bright and very socially skilled for young ‘uns. They introduced them selves and asked lots of questions. Aged between 8 and 9 they represented a future to me that made me smile. They were fabulous little kids who were full of life and light. I was careful to make sure they didn’t get near the hooks on my lures but sadly I was more concerned that their parents or who ever was looking out for them, would not be disturbed by the sight of them following me down to the water Pied Piper style. I needn’t have worried too much as soon a couple of teenaged lads appeared to check them out, and me, and to tell them to stay in sight of their mums. At one point the four of them stood at the waters edge chanting “ Pray for Rob, pray for Rob, pray for Rob to catch a fish”. Eventually they left saying that they hoped I would catch a fish.  Bless them and may all the good things come their way. They were delightful and made my day. They were, in fact, the highlight of the week.

I am looking forward to playing at The Rhythms of The World Festival at Hitchin on Saturday afternoon. I hope the weather is better and we are not wading through a sea of mud. I know it’s always worse for the audience but I hate the clean up afterwards when I have spent the day covered in bits of some far flung field.

Next week I will be filming with a guy I met at the first Mad Pride benefit last year. He is an independent film maker and is making a film around the case of Catherine Hayes. She was a Birmingham lass who with two others, murdered her husband John on March 1st in 1726. It’s a gruesome story that lead to her execution by fire at the stake. She was the last woman to be burned for a crime in England.
I play the executioner carrying the head of the dead John Hayes into court . It should be fun and certainly some thing different for me.

I have been fascinated by the suggestions for the new band name and I wonder what some of you are taking and…can I get some?
The word INTERVENTION strikes a chord with me but I am not yet convinced that any one has come up with the goods yet. So keep on trying. This can run until I get copies of the live album recorded at The Fabrik in Hamburg 1972. The album is in production now and it will be some weeks before it arrives here.

I missed not having a guitar while I was away in Sussex but as soon as I picked up my acoustic guitar on my return I was back in the zone. It is good to take a break from playing and I always enjoy returning to it. It feels fresh and re-energised. I am trying to work up the courage to introduce an electric guitar into the solo stuff but I am still a little short on confidence and the possible options are many. I am working on it and I am beginning to finish off the writing for the new songs bit by bit. I am loving the experimentation that I have been doing with pedals and well, more pedals. Walls of sound and sheets of noise and pretty, pretty melody. It’s where I want to live.
I have been looking at the latest synthesis units for guitar. The advances made since I last looked are major and I am tempted to enter the fray. There is a nice piece of kit called a Kaos Pad which has been around for a few years but the latest model is amazing. 
You can transform the sound of any sound, including guitar, by touching the pad in different ways. I am thinking of carving a chunk out of one of my new Squier guitars to fit one.
Ok enough boys toys and tech stuff. I have received some interesting bits and pieces for the KREATIV project but I need more scraps of sound and pics. Please send as attachments to any of the email addresses on my web site.
My book The Instantanium is finished I think, but is a little bit like when I finished my website and didn’t quite have the confidence to upload it for all to see. I have to show the publisher and I wonder if I am ready. Ah well it’s all good and what will be, will be. The year is developing nicely for me and if the weather was a bit better I’d be even happier.

Keep your eyes on latest developments at 38 DEGREES. A current campaign to stop the big Olympic sponsors from getting obscenely large tax cuts achieved 400000 signatures in only a few days. Join in with THE NEW REALITY and make a difference. My spies tell me massive demo organisation is underway for marches later in the year. The bite is on and tightening every day. Resist the cuts and challenge the authority of those making them. Begin now to work towards informing the next leader, who ever they might be, that that they work for us. We need a referendum on the Nation’s Priorities. The old way is busted. We need to get rid of the posh boys and create a new way of governance that will be logical, reasoned and fair. Utopian or feasible? You choose.

John Terry “ It wasn’t racism it was exaggerated sarcasm”.  WHAT?