Archive for March, 2010

My Boy, The Drummer

Posted in Special Events on March 19, 2010 by WeeMann

Wednesday evening saw a local music showcase promoted by the council and featuring school children from across the area. My interest? My son, Matthew, was playing African drums in his first public performance.

The whole evening was very impressive. I don’t expect musical genius at this level but, with barely an exception, every act was extremely talented.

The show kicked off with a steel band performing 4 numbers, the last of which was The Can Can. What an inspired choice of music for the steel drums – I couldn’t have predicted how good it could sound.

Matthew and his school mates were next. His school have teamed up with a nearby special school to learn African drumming. They only did 2 numbers – an African chant called Zugaloo and one called Come ‘n’ Have A Go If You Think You’re Hard Enough! which included the kids chanting the title at the end of every section. To say I was proud and impressed is an understatement. The group sounded great from start to finish.

They were followed by a school choir, a trio of trumpet players and then a solo flautist doing the 3rd movement from Sonata in Bb Op 1 by (if I recall correctly) Beethoven, before the first set was brought to a close by another school choir.

The second half contained a couple more choirs, an orchestra (including Matthew’s violin teacher) and a rock group consisting students from the local college, but the highlight of the second half was, for me, a band of primary school children including my friends’ son on bass. Sadly, their first song was Queen’s We Will Rock You, giving him little chance to show off his skills, so he instead dropped his bass resulting in a loud Clangggg! We’ve all done it at some point, so he’s just getting in his practice early and it didn’t phase him as they went into Rockin’ Robin followed by a revisited We Will Rock You, this time as a 12 bar in the vein of the previous song – despite dropping his bass, he didn’t drop a note – brilliant.

All in all it was a brilliant evening highlighting some incredible talent from some very young kids. I only wish I had started so early – I was 16 before I picked up a guitar. Matthew enjoyed himself, but was shattered by the time we got home and fell asleep in no time. His first gig was to a crowd of about 6-700 – a size of audience I’ve rarely performed to myself – and he joins my wife Karen and our daughter Chloe in having performed at the theatre, something I have yet to do.

Well done boy.

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The Lostees

Posted in Pop Culture on March 18, 2010 by WeeMann

Just been sent a great image (thanks Orpheum!). It’s the characters of Lost as drawn by the Simpsons crew. Click below to open the whole thing:

End of the Tax Year

Posted in Driving Instruction on March 18, 2010 by WeeMann

Bloody accounts. I always say I’ll try to get them finished ASAP and off to my accountant and normally it’s July or August before he sees them. This last week I’ve actually been working on them and they’re pretty much up to date.

Then all I’ve got to do is worry about paying the damned bill…

Ah well, it’ll soon be next year!

Happy St Patrick’s Day

Posted in Pop Culture, Special Events on March 17, 2010 by WeeMann

I’m not Irish, I have no Irish blood in my veins (as far as I know) and I’ve only visited once (although I hope to change that).

However, today is a great excuse for drinking Guinness and listening to Thin Lizzy, so happy St Patrick’s Day and if you have Spotify, fire up this playlist, sit back and enjoy, whilst supping on a pint of the black stuff: Thin Lizzy

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Happy St Patrick's Day!

New Iron Maiden Album

Posted in Pop Culture on March 14, 2010 by WeeMann

Seems Maiden are just in the midst of finishing off their new album, due for release in the summer:

The Final Frontier

It’s being produced by Kevin Shirley, just like the last album.

The Usual Suspects

Posted in Gigs on March 10, 2010 by WeeMann

I got a call a couple of weeks ago asking if I’d like to audition for local band The Usual Suspects.  I wasn’t looking to join a band, but what the hell?  The drummer is my good friend, Steve Eastment, with whom I’ve played on many occasions, so I was looking forward to jamming with him again.

The audition went well and I was offered the job on the spot with only the sacking of the old bassist determining when I would actually start.  “That’ll give me a while to get up to speed,” I figured.  How wrong was I?  Last Monday morning I got a call saying that he’d been sacked the previous evening and asking if I’d be able to learn the set by Friday.  No problem…

Long story short, I turned up to my first gig having spent most of the week on the project – about 30 songs, only about 5 or 6 of which I already knew – and plunged in.  Audience-wise the gig was a washout, but it did give me the opportunity to figure out which songs had stuck in my memory and which needed more work, so by Saturday I was feeling quite confident for what was my first gig at The Malthouse in Ironbridge.  I still dropped a few notes here and there, but I walked away happy with my performance.

There are still a number of songs which I need to get used to – things like Mr Brightside by The Killers, You’re All I have by Snow Patrol and Talk by Coldplay, the kind of bands I’m not into – but they are offset by a couple that I’ve done more than once or twice in other bands – Word Up and Hard To Handle for instance.

Looks like the band could be quite busy, so I’m looking forward to getting back into the groove.

Alchemy And The New DoddCabs

Posted in Rehearsals on March 1, 2010 by WeeMann

So, this weekend saw me travel south to meet up with Harj, Ray, Griff and Dodd, the rest of Alchemy (AKA The Hair Bear Bunch).  Since I moved up here and the others have moved apart we’ve decided to get together for occasional one off gigs as an excuse for seeing one another and having a damn good time.  We’re currently preparing for a gig in Telford in the Spring so Saturday saw an all day rehearsal.

Musically all as sounding as good as ever, with us resurrecting an old favourite – Iron Maiden’s Phantom Of The Opera.  It hurts to play, but it sounds fantastic and we all had silly grins on our faces as we blundered our way through it.  We also added a couple more new songs to the set list and, as the day drew to a close, we decided to polish up another favourite – Ace Of  Spades by Motorhead.  As Dodd was setting up a tone for the song I started a slow groove of the bass riff.  Before I knew what was going on the rest of the band had joined in and we now have a totally unique take on the classic, almost a lounge jazz style feel.  Odd, but remarkably cool.

Beyond what we were playing, another aspect affected our sound this weekend.  We all still play through (pretty much) the same gear as we always used and this means a multitude of large, unwieldy, 4×12 speaker cabs.  When playing small pubs this can quickly get problematic as we end up outnumbering the audience.  Dodd came up with an idea a couple of months ago and Saturday saw the first outing of the result of this idea.  I won’t go into detail here, but the upshot is a small, portable, yet powerful speaker cab, The DoddCab:

DoddCabs

Harj Kallah demonstrating the prototype DoddCabs

The sound was incredible.  Harj has always had a very powerful tone, but for the first time it sounded very detailed and focussed.  Plus we didn’t break our (now ageing) backs moving them around.

Dodd’s off building me a bass cab now (in oxblood red to complement the blue of Harj’s cabs) and I can’t wait.

News of the Alchemy resurgence will follow on here.

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