Chayanne and Bishop FM

I was supposed to go to Bishop FM lat night, but I’ve been ill for a couple of weeks and despite my best efforts I couldn’t make it. I’m sorry I couldn’t get there because I was looking forward to meeting, hearing and playing some tunes with Charlotte Yanni – Charley or Chayanne as she is known. Charley is a French girl living in South Shields (a “Geordie Frog” as she describes herself) and she writes and sings some great tunes. I managed to tune in to the last hour of the show online, and it just made me wish even more that I’d been there – I didn’t tell anybody but I’d even learned some of her own tunes on the guitar so that I could accompany her. Never mind, there’ll be other times, I’m sure. On Sunday of this week, Charley was in the regional finals of Live & Unsigned, a competition with a huge prize for the eventual winner. Unfortunately, Charley didn’t progress, but she is still upbeat and I’m sure her infectious character, great singing, playing and songwriting will bring her success before too long. Charley has a myspace page here and a youtube page here

Poster Art Poster

A long long long long time ago, before the age of downloads of live music, before the age of CD burners, there was tape trading. I , like many others have boxes and boxes of tapes stashed away, mainly of The Grateful Dead. I used to look forward every day to the postman delivering packages to me from around the world. I used to like to put some extra stuff in packages I sent out (postcards, stickers, etc.), and I asked folks to do the same when they were sending stuff to me. In one such parcel I got this poster for a Sixties Poster Art exhibition. Unfortunately I can’t remember who I got it from. I got it laminated as soon as I got it and luckily the lamination process didn’t damage anything – I’ve had mixed results with lamination. It seems fairly easy to read on the screen here, but if you look at the hardcopy in just the wrong way the words start to melt, just like that girl’s face the last time you dropped acid.

Victor Moscoso, who drew this poster, has a site here. He’s one of the original San Francisco sixties poster artists and has produced posters , album art and more for many years. Check his work out.

Job Application

Way back in 1990 I was working at a small print shop, doing DTP on a very underpowered Apple Mac Plus. I learned a lot in a short while before the business went bust. While I was there I applied for a job with Cleveland County Council, who published a newspaper called The Clevelander that went to every home in the county. I decided that, to have any chance of getting an interview, I had to do something to be noticed. Here’s my application form. I got an interview, but didn’t get the job (there were only 2 of us in for it and the other person had more experience) (Click the image to read the drivel)

Trì is born

You may have read about my various musical adventures with Phil Graham – every now and again we get together to play an assortment of folk, rock and blues songs – whatever the gig needs, really. We’ve done a few of these now as a duo, and generally I’m happy to act as guitar player and harmony singer, with the odd lead vocal or two. You may also remember that I’m in a band that has just added a keyboard player as our fifth member. The drummer in this band, David, also plays assorted percussion – djembe, bhodran, etc. A while ago the three of us played a pre-St. Patrick’s day gig in Newton Aycliffe, and it went pretty well. So, we have formalised our relationship a little more – we are a band and we are called Trì -as Phil says, “It’s Gaelic for “three” and the pronunciation is longer than the i in Tricks but shorter then the e in Tree.”

Phil is still going to be doing solo gigs, as am I, and David and I will continue to give our band our main focus, but every now and again Trì will get together. We have such a gig in a fortnight’s time, just a short spot at the beginning of a football presentation evening – it is good to be out gigging even though our band isn’t quite ready yet.

Laney VC 30 Guitar Amp repair

Not mine, but this is a very comprehensive write up of a repair to one of these great amps. Mine doesn’t have this speaker, it has an uprated model (12″ Celestion model Seventy 80) and the magnetic problem mentioned in the piece doesn’t exist. Lots of other interesting amp stuff here too.

Watkins Guitar World

When I was a lad we would dream about the guitars we’d like – one that didn’t seem too far out of reach was the Watkins Rapier – I never did get one but I had a brand new WEM Dominator guitar combo a bit later – solid state and not very good. There’s loads of great info on this site – I’ll be checking back and maybe looking on ebay for a Rapier of my own!

Van Morrison Keep It Simple – CD Review

(Disclosure: I got this CD for free)

Van Morrison is another one of those folks who have always been around in my psyche. Like a lot of people of a certain age, I loved “Astral Weeks” and “Into The Mystic” is currently on the rehearsal list for both my band and solo sets. I’ve sung “Moondance” and “Brown Eyed Girl” in 2 different bands, and the other week at The Buskers I belted out “Gloria” – a song I’ve played for years and years.

I know that Van has some avid followers too, folks who hang on his every word. I’m not one of those folks, but I do like him.

I was sent this CD a few weeks ago and I immediately liked it. In fact, i liked it before i got it as I listened to a track online here

And I fully understand what Van means when he talks about “Entrainment”:

“’Entrainment’ is when you connect — when you connect with the music,” says Morrison, “’Entrainment’ is really what I’m getting at in the music – where I’m able to do what I used to call my thing. Entrainment is based on accessing a sort of hypnotic kind of thing – not stage hypnosis, but more like tying in with the music. Its kind of when you’re in the present moment – you’re here – with no past or future.”

I know exactly what he is talking about and search for that feeling every time I play.

This album as the title suggests, is fairly simple – a small ensemble of musicians playing with a soul/blues feel for most of the time. It seems as if Van is assessing his life in these songs:

“How can a Poor Boy” isn’t the blues standard of that title, rather Van talks about his journey through life:

“Had my congregation, had my flock”. He makes reference too to The Shadow – surely a reference to something he listened to as a child.

His life gives more content on “School of Hard Knocks” and there follows “That’s Entrainment” – an uptempo song that could become a standard, I think. There’s some great playing on this album too – nice to see English country music star Sarah Jory on pedal steel and banjo – when I was playing in a country band years ago she was an up and coming youngster who was destined for big things. I love the Hammond sound by John Allair and the guitars are tastefully understated.

“Don’t Go To Nightclubs Anymore”, with a great late night blues feel, must also be another autobiographical song – “Alcohol was too big a price”.

“Song of Home” has, naturally, a feeling of homesickness and talks about the need to get back home no matter how far we have travelled – but not in a sentimental, mawkish manner – rather in a way that we can all relate to.

Overall there’s a relaxed feel to this CD, but at times I get a feeling of yearning, as if Van is perhaps longing for simpler times, or lost lovers (“Lover Come Back”)
In “No Thing”, though, Van admits that “Only a fool would ever think things could ever be the same”

The title track “Keep It Simple” tells how “straight reality is always cold” and “we’ve got to keep it simple to save ourselves”

Whether you’re a Van fan or not, there’s a lot of good stuff here – a great CD for late night listening and contemplation.