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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.

Oh-whoa, Come Take My Hand

I’m looking forward to the clocks changing this year.

Not because the days will be longer, or the evenings lighter. Purely for a silly self centred reason:- that will be the time to put away my winter bike gear, and break out the lighter coat and my open face helmet. A full helmet like I wear over the colder wetter winter feels like two things to me. 1, like I’m riding a post box and 2, like I’m in a tiny car, so what’s the point of a scooter!

I’ve only worn an open helmet for a few months after TT last year, but it felt much more like real riding.  I’m not under any illusion of being a Real biker (I’m sure my scooter has nearly 3hp!), but I don’t consider myself a real guitarist either, and I enjoy them both.

So here’s to summer. The wind in my eyes, and also the sand in my face & flies in my teeth!

“Come take my hand- we’re riding out tonight to case the promised land. Sit tight,  take hold. Thunder Road” Thunder Road, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band

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

So, it’s a little breezy on the Island this week.  and that’s saying something as we get our fair share of breeze!

It’s felt a little like The End Of Days recently- rain, floods, storm surges and all that. We finally had a dry day the other day, totalling 1 this year, but then yesterday reverted to downpour!  We travelled off the island yesterday, down to Brighton-ish, and found more rain.  Much more rain! It reminded me that maybe we haven’t had it quite so bad at home.

Having said that, though, as I write this on Saturday morning, it’s a beautifully still, crisp, clear and dry spring morning. Long may that continuem or at least until after we have flown back home on Sunday.

Stay safe, in particular everyone on The Island where I believe that everything is being battoned down in readiness for another battering from the elements.

“Here comes the sun, it seems like years since it’s been here”
The Beatles, Here Comes The Sun

I want it all

I’m not a person who craves material things very much. There’s not much more “stuff” that I’d need to be honest with you! But…

Every now and then, something comes around that I become a little obsessed with. I don’t like it – the feeling is distracting and consuming.  If it’s something I can’t quite get yet, I’m trying to work out how I can free up the cash to get it. It’s just gone past Christmas, and this particular bug hadn’t quite bitten in time this year.

I do know from experience that I don’t get into this situation lightly, and whatever the latest “must-have” item is, that when I do get it, it’ll be a carefully thought out purchase and that I’ll get as much if not more use out of it as the price deserves (cases in point are my awesome Gretsch, and my BlackBerry PlayBook, both presents and both much hankered after beforehand!)

But arrrgh, ie just won’t go out of my head. I’m trolling eBay, bottom-feeding and sniping to no avail. I’m checking Amazon, I’m establishing contacts overseas who may be able to source and supply.  I’d just like my head to be a little bit quieter about it now please. You know, so I can get on with stuff like breathing and walking in a straight line. Stupid brain!!

“I want it all, and I want it now”
Queen, I Want It All

(oops, since I wrote this, I’ve accidentally bought what I was writing about. The above still stands though!)

Back in black

So, here we are again! I’m going to try and post a weekly blog (again) and hopefully not run out of songs to title them with.

Big year of change coming up and if you follow me on Twitter then you’ll know the news about the twins on the way. I’m sure there will be mention, but it’s not going to be exclusively about them and the experience.

So, week one, just an introductory one.

“It’s been too long, I’m glad to be back”
AC/DC, Back In Black

Come along and see me

Riding in the tt races

This week it’s coming up to TT week – that time of year when tens of thousands of motorbikes come and visit the usually (comparatively!) peaceful Island.

I like it – the noise of the bikes, the smell of the bikes, and the foreigners who visit all make it an awesome fortnight.

Some residents don’t like it – the bikes are noisy, smelly, and bring foreigners to our home. To these people, I will often quote that famous manx phrase “There’s a boat in the morning”. There is always the option to leave for a holiday, and no need to bear it with bad grace.

True, it’s not as busy as it was 20 years ago (when quoted figures were 80,000 visitors with 50,000 bikes) but it’s still a very noticable influx, which brings a great atmosphere with very little trouble.

(additional – since I started this, the police figures have been released showing that 80% of arrests were of locals. Grow up, people!)

True, I’m not as busy as I was with the band (although nothing will beat out 12 gigs in 14 nights of 2006, but that also encompassed me driving into a wall at very high speed, so fewer gigs are probably for the best!), but the odd gig here and there is well received.

The TT is a race held on public roads, which are closed for the duration. As with all road races (the best known is probably Monaco for the F1), if the driver gets it wrong there isn’t much forgiveness in terms of run off areas, and this inevitably leads to fatalities, which is always very sad indeed to read about, but the racers know the risks I suppose.

If anyone has the chance- come along and see the races in the next few years, quick! Atmosphere is awesome, our Island is lovely, and the beer & music is totally fantastic!

no title for this week

This is short and sweet. It’s actually this week’s entry, not a backdated one. Sometimes things don’t have to be in order.

If indeed the reported events of Monday morning/Sunday night did actually happen, my overriding feeling is…

There never should be a time to celebrate death.

My heart and thoughts go out to those who have lost loved ones fighting for a cause they believed was right. That is everyone, I don’t care who you are, or which colours you are wearing.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

Personally, I just hope that this whole violent and wasteful (in terms of life) affair is now over.

Ch-ch-ch

Changes…

(Delayed from April for sensitivity reasons!)

A lot of upheaval recently. Mainly in my business life, as there are big changes afoot in the company I work for. On the plus side, it resets my “itchy feet” counter to zero and I get to stay where I am, doing what I do, doing it where I do it!

I know that one of my strengths is handling change. I have been told though, that I can’t be dealing with it as I’m “too far along the change curve, too soon”.

So I think that’s what I get for being frank and honest! Ah well, the more things change, the more they stay the same!

As of this Friday, 1 July 2011, the change will all have happened, and I can get cracking with learning the new ways of doing things. I’m sure some will be better, I’m sure some will be worse, but what I’m looking forward to most is a different desk- that will complete my ‘set’ of primary floors worked on in this building.

That’s got to be worth celebratory cakes, yes?

Turn and face the strain- don’t wanna be a richer man!

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!