I have been avidly watching ‘Monkey Lord’ Rob Chapman‘s YouTube output for quite some time now. His charismatic attitude towards life and music comes clearly through on his videos. This guy loves to play!
A few years ago Rob set up Chapman guitars in collaboration with Barnes & Mullins and Lee Andertons music shop in Guildford. Using Robs strong fan base to develop the worlds first fan collaborative developed guitar range users were encouraged to vote on aspects of such as body wood, pick up configuration and finish.
Early last year Chapman guitars in collaboration with Dave Hollingworth threw down the gauntlet to develop a bass guitar. First prototype has just been delivered to Dave and it looks amazing. Now I have some serious gas to get my hands on one! I think with a few modifications it will seriously versatile. Some Aguilar DCB pickups and OBP3 (I have a similar set up in my old Sadowsky) along with a Hipshot D-tuner will make it the perfect axe for teaching and my varied gigging schedule. I’m super excited to try one asap and can’t wait for the final production model.
Here’s a video of Dave putting the bass through its paces and demonstrating his demon chops:
One of the things that makes me feel connected to the rest of the world is my RSS reader full of lovely blogs. Industry blogs as well as the musings of friends and inspirational musicians (most of which are the same people) distract me from the post sound check pre-gig band rituals.
Over the years I have enjoyed blogging and discussing the things that interest me. One of the benefits of teaching full-time is that I get to talk about and disseminate the things that interest me everyday.
So this post is a personal slapped wrist; I have not been blogging enough. The last two years have been very busy. Last year I did 154 gigs, the year before 172. I teach full time and I’m a dad. Last autumn I enrolled on the final year of a Ba (hons) in Music and creative Music Technology. This set me in to hyperdrive time wise. Now its the end of March and I can’t believe where the time has gone. And I’ve used all of this as an excuse not to blog. Any port in a storm I guess.
Excuses aside, hopefully I will start blogging a little more often, if only to feel like I am giving in to something I take so much from (thanks blogophere).
Anyway, in the spirit of sharing here’s a wonderful album by Steve Lawson
Wow, that sums up the Sam Beeton gig I sat in on at Glee Club Nottingham. Sam is an awesome songwriter and performer. The band were heavy weights too with Chris Taggart (Stevie Wonder, Robin Trower) on drums and Chris Bucknall (Climax Blues Band, Stewart Copeland) on keys. These guys are on another planet musically and I was/am genuinely humbled to be invited to play on the gig. Here’s a video of one of my favourite Sam Beeton tracks.
What an epic few days of gigs. Highlights included The Cornbury Festival with Miss 600 and a really fun wedding with pro-function ska/soul/rock band LICK. I even managed to take Sunday off with the family and hang out in the sun in the garden. Brilliant:)
I love this photo of LICK in full tilt!
Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. For a fairly disorganised person I have developed a number of strategies for making sure I’m in the right place at the right time. Using calendars synced with my iPhone, iPad and Mac with cloud based reminders being sent to these devices and my work email system help me stay on target. A cloud based todo list and projects managed with Evernote also help keep me focused.
Multiple music projects, bands, dep gigs coupled with a hectic teaching schedule add to the mix. Some how I get most stuff done. However recently I nearly dropped the ball. I had managed to double book myself in two different cities on a Saturday evening. I was due to be at my sister and brother in laws joint 30th birthday celebrations in Derby and and a gig with Emily and the Martens at one of my favourite venues and former music hall the Malt Cross in Nottingham. User error on my part, a misunderstanding of when the gig was. As part of the Oxjam line up I had quite wrongly assumed that we would be playing late afternoon. This would leave plenty of time to stash my gear and head over to Derby. No idea why, but in my head it made sense. However in IRL the band were head lining the event, at the same time the party would be in full throw. Bugger.
Some careful time management helped, I can only imagine what I must of looked like to the rest of Nottingham as I ran down the road, gig bag over my shoulder and speaker cab on a luggage trolly behind me. Arriving at the venue with 5 minutes to spare I negotiated the audience, threw my gear on stage, tuned and plugged in. Forty minutes later I was breaking down my gear and about to sink a well deserved pint.
I did say nearly drop the ball……….
Btw love the pic above that I took when in Bristol a few months ago
During the last few years quite a bit has changed for me; becoming a father of two, a grown up job (if you can say that a job that consisists of talking about music and playing bass can ever be considered grown up) and a busy gigging schedual keep me on my toes. During this time I have also been studying towards my Level 5 teaching qualification and trying to make sense of how musicians can adopt new strategies to provide a sustainable income. All lots of fun, but it has also increased the amount of tech that I carry around with me. At one time an iPod and simple mobile phone was all I needed to keep me sane on the road. These days I carry a large amout of gadgets with me to gigs, sessions, teaching or just going to the park with the kids. My gobag looks its owned by a PC World salesman.
It could be me embracing my inner (or not so inner) geek, working more of the time or just being more organised about my workflow. What ever it is the need to be connected and to capture information for later use is compels me to carry all this stuff.
Right now I’m packing my gig bags for the week ahead. This week sees me doing my usual round of gigs, rehearsals, lectures and a recording session for a wonderful singer songwriter.
So this week my iPad and iPhone will rarely leave my side; be it checking emails, producing keynote presentations, listening to rough cuts or just for chilling with a film or twitter. Along for the ride will be an HD Kodak Flip style camera, my ace Cannon SX210, Zoom H2, iRig, Bluetooth keyboard and my recently purchased AKG 450 headphones.
What worries me is that when do I just switch off and be quiet? The constant barrage of emails, tweets, Facebook and other Web 2.0 fun along with the ability to consume any media 24/7 has resulted in me rarely switching off and ‘just being’.
And ‘just being’ is a very important thing indeed.
Les Claypool was a massive influence on me as a young bass player. Not only for his incredible high octane chops, but more importantly for what he brings to music from his bazar outlook on life, art and music. As I grow older its the why he does what he does, not the pyrotechnics that I find most fascinating.