Category: Music

Open your eyes

I’ve been watching a program about the making of one of my favourite albums- Queen’s “A Night At The Opera”. It’s one of their earlier albums, and yes- it’s the one with Bohemian Rhapsody on.

This post isn’t really about the record, or the songs, or even the technical ‘behind the scenes’ that I am always fascinated by. I haven’t listened to much music recently, and this made me feel like I was letting these guys down. They clearly loved what thy were doing, but so much work from so many people went into it, and the end result deserves more than me not listening to it.

I’ve been trying to keep up on podcasts whilst washing up, and scooter riding isn’t really conducive to a musical commute.

This programme, with the lovely gentle Brian May and some interviews with Freddie I haven’t seen before, brought back memories of their music.  I remember finding a vinyl of Greatest Hits when I was about 6 years old. I didn’t know who those guys were, or what music was going to be, but I remember bugging my Mum and Dad to put it on. They gave in, and I listened with huge headphones on.

Since then, I’ve got pretty much every song they have released, some that they haven’t, and a Guild Red Special 250 of 315 from 1985. Without Queen, I probably wouldn’t have ever played the guitar.

And so, a public promise to you all: starting next week, I will listen to music again, and what better place to start than Queen I from 1973, and I’ll follow their timeline first.  One album a week, in order, on repeat. I also hereby promise not to skip Hot Space.

I won’t blog about it, but I will do it. After Queen, who knows, but that decision is months away.  Maybe something recent!

“Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see…”
Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen.


On the road again

It’s been a long time coming. I lose track of just how long, easily 2 years, maybe even 3. I know it’s a couple of years since I picked up a guitar though.

The amazing StoneChase have been booked for a (private party) summer gig, and this year nicely coincides with our ten year anniversary of that weekend at the Blues Festival Fringe when we played for over 20 hours altogether in a single weekend.

I don’t know if this will lead to more gigs, or if it’s just a one-off. I don’t know how long we’ll play for do to various injuries and us all being ten years older. I don’t know what songs we’ll play. I don’t really know much to be honest.

I do know that picking up my Irn-Bru coloured Gretsch again felt ok, and playing went ok (ish)- the muscle memory was there, eleven if the fingers weren’t as quick or accurate as when I was match-fit.

I’ve moved to heavier strings (two reasons- I’m having to relearn how to play again so I may as well try and sound as good as I can; and also Brian Setzer generally uses heavier ones than I used to). That’s a challenge in itself, but everything does feel a little tighter. I’ve also loved to different plectrums ( plectra?) as I got an awesome pressie from my awesome wife that I haven’t yet used.

It’s a whole new fretboard based adventure!

I don’t usually go beyond one line for the lyric quotes, but this one just had to include the extra line.

“On the road again, I just can’t wait to get on the road again. The life I love is making music with my friends”
Willie Nelson, On The Road Again

woah-oh mercy mercy me

… Coz I’m half the man I used to be…

(From Apr 22)

(Well, not quite half, but hey!). The diet went ok. First week of it was slow, but by the second week my body seemed to be used to it, and I was feeling better and looking better. Over the fortnight, I lost about an inch from the middle, and that was just about what I wanted to achieve.

Gig went very well- we had some issues with the sound (new speakers, new desk… All we need is a sound engineer now!), but we hit the ground running and seemed to keep running to the end!

It appears that I have May and June to prepare for the next gig, 1 July… Given my eating habits, I forsee having to do the same again!

I believe in you

To cut a long story short, I’ve been on a diet. Primarily to “toighten” up for the summer, but with the more pressing need to lost about half a stone for the upcoming StoneChase re-debut after an absence. Truth is, if I don’t get weight shifted, I have a feeling that my knees won’t hold out!

My Mum believes in the diet, I believe in the diet, and (most importantly!) Kylie Minogue believes in the diet, as it used to be her pre-tour rehearsal routine. Essentially it’s very Atkins-y, with plenty of salad and grapefruit added.

I’m quite looking forward to it, as there is real food involved so I’ll be cooking (which I enjoy), eating (which I enjoy) and at the end of it, gigging (which I enjoy). Being meat-based, it’s a very short term plan, which I can live with! (If you know me, you’ll know how important cake, pie, and jelly are to me!)

If there’s anything left of me and the knees have held out, I’ll report back!

Happy eating people!

Here is the news

…Coming to you every hour, on the hour. (ELO in case you’re wondering).

Many apologies- I’ve had a busy few weeks with trips away, some work stuff, and lovely people.

I will blog furiously to get my count back up to 1 per week (there’s one missing, but I’ve “privated” that one as it’s just for my eyes), but for now:

Quick catchup on the last trip away: weather meant I didn’t get my first jump. Ah well… The good people of Tilstock have offered me cash to stay away in the future…

Quick catchup on work stuff: big changes at the place where change happenz. Fortunately change is what I seem to handle best in my professional life, so I’m looking forward to the challenges it’s going to bring.

Quick catchup on lovely people: I have very good friends, an awesome family, and a lovely lady sharing lives with me (hers, her son’s, and mine). I am very lucky.

The world at large gets crazier by the day, and I do get upset by the troubles around the world. May everyone in a troubled area stay safe and get home as soon as possible.


…For racing in the street.

Music is very powerful. This week, I’ve had an Album Of The Week, being Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town”. One of the tracks in particular speaks to me “Racing in the Street”). It really shouldn’t, as I have no way of relating to the events described, or the characters it surrounds.

But crikey, that song hits me. It stirs real emotions, it feels like a true story, and I feel like I could be one of the characters.

This shouldn’t really happen. I don’t have a ’69 Chevy upgraded to 396bhp, nor could I fit new heads or transmission to it. I have a Honda Jazz, 1.4 (with 96bhp according to GT5 on my playstation), that I take to the dealer for service.

I didn’t build it up from scratch, or ride from town to town to partake in drag races against Cameros, Ford Deuces and their ‘rodded ilk. I bought it from the dealer, and I generally pop into work and occasionally load it up with band stuff to gig.

There seems to be so much feeling and emotion in both the writing and performance of the song that it just spills out. It’s a haunting story with realistic people.

It makes me feel part of a world that could I could hardly be more removed from, paints a romantic view of a foreign exotic culture.

Escapism? Maybe.
Romanticism? Maybe.
Daydreaming? Maybe.

I think that this sums up what music is to me. I’m surrounded by it as much as I can be. It helps me when I listen, and when I play it. I get lost in it, and it sometimes feels like it’s coming through me rather than from me.

So, please do look this song up. Listen to it, feel the story. Imagine your girlfriend/partner/significant other in the role that Bruce’s baby plays, and feel that emotion. The hug her (him/both/gender neutral), let them know how you feel and try and show your own emotion. This is how to learn.


Musical comedy- Just for giggles

I’ve written some tripe this week, I’m not going to lie to you about that. Some of it I’ve kept to read later, some of it I’ve just overtyped and deleted, none of it will I bore you with.

For one reason or another this week I’ve been listening to two great favourite pastimes of mine combined – music and comedy.

I don’t know why I’m so drawn to the genre, but I really enjoy listening to it. Ranging from the modern issues, such as Tim Minchin and Otis Lee Crenshaw right back through the ages past Tom Lehrer from the 60’s to the post-war gentility of Flanders & Swann.

Some of these will stupidly unfashionable, like admitting you quite like Ronnie Barker’s monologues, but I’ve never really been known for my fashion sense!

I think it’s do with the lyrical plays on words that are always going round in my hand combined with music itself. Generally it’s escapism though. Music in general can just wash you, but this style needs to be focussed on.

If you have a couple of minutes free, here’s what I like from the above and some others.
Tim Minchin: Tim Minchin

Victoria Wood: Victoria Wood

Tom Lehrer: Tom Lehrer

Weird Al: Weird Al Yankhovic

Flanders and Swann: Flanders and Swann


Breaking the silence

This weekend might be the weekend I make some guitar noise again.

I packed everything away at the close of last year, and I’ve only played three times since then (once at a party I didn’t even want to be at, once when I was tipsy the other weekend, and once for my friend Kathryn who happened to be round and essentially bullied me into it!)- a far cry from the 2 hours every night plus show rehearsals of recent times.

I still don’t appear to have missed playing though. It’s a strange feeling as it used to be the force that kept me going. This year’s events so far just seem to have broken me a little, and I haven’t felt the urge or the need.

At the very least I need to hope that my lovely Irn-Bru Gretsch has missed me and still sings like she used to. Even though it’s my newest guitar, it’s very much mine, almost as much as my first one, and we get on very well.

I’ll have to do it soon- it’s Mum’s wedding and I’m in one of the bands for the reception… No panic then!

I don’t see this as a band reunion, as I still intend that the rest of 2010 passes in a gigless manner. There’s a long booked gig in March 2011, so that year won’t be clear either, but for now, I have five weeks to re-learn a set that took 5 years to learn in the first place.

In closing, I’d like to apologise to my next-door neighbours…