Sunday, 29 November 2009

New tracks...

All of which made their live debut at the Libertine gig.

Gypsy



Waterfall



Solo Sunday

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Christmas shopping... DONE!

In the spirit of the cult of done we have done the Christmas shopping. A full paced blitz through Maidstone and Amazon on-line shopping and by lunch Mrs F and I could head off to a Mexican restaurant for a Burrito!

I need to just pop out with Daughter-of-Furtheron today to get some bits with her but then that really is in essence it.

I'm off to USA on Monday - typically I've had some vertigo issues this week after at least 3 weeks clear. But it's no big deal and I'm sort of looking forward to the trip to catch up with my team mates in USA and to have the first face-to-face with my boss since he became my boss in June - apart from us having dinner with the family and some of the team whilst on my summer hols.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Brought up by The Booze

I finally got around to watching this programme yesterday. I was off sick as I've been back to having mild - moderate vertigo attacks again which is flipping annoying.

Anyway this documentary was about Callum Best the son of legendary football and drinker George Best and was a Children in Need special about the effects of alcohol abuse on the children of the alcoholic.

I'd recorded it as it had been promoted within the AA fellowship. However I'd sort of expected something very typical without much substance. I was very very wrong. It was brilliantly done. Unfortunately as it was over a week ago it doesn't look like it is on the iPlayer which is a shame - they have space for so many complete series of popular things it is a shame that they can't find space for this one programme.

Any how - Callum Best talks very candidly about his relationship with his Dad and how alcohol affected it. He meets the children of active and recovering alcoholics and people working in the support of families and at treatment centres etc. One of the best documentaries on this topic that you are ever likely to see if you ever get the chance.

I hope they repeat it / make it permanently available on the iplayer site.

There is a short piece here about it from the morning news show.

Powerful stuff - I've lived the side of this equation as the active alcoholic and seen the damage it has inflicted on my kids - I'm very very lucky in that I stopped at a point where my relationships with them had something left still to salvage and very grateful that they were willing to be part of my sober life.

It's been a few days of mixed emotions being a bit ill again with the vertigo and attending the funeral of a friend in AA who died too young from cancer - died sober mind which was a great tribute to her. The chapel where the service was held was packed with people and it really was a great celebration of her life which was also nice. Her children were there remembering their Mum making jokes about her personality and again nice to see a family that could have easily been broken apart by alcoholism bound by such obvious love to the very end of her life. Another day I feel a bit Furtheron...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Living the Dream

I'm having a great time at the moment.

On Saturday one of my songs appeared on the infamous Drunk Punk show. If you listen I appear about 1 hour in and at the very end.

I've got stuck into recording some more material using the Boss BR-600 which I've had about a year and not done enough with. All I need to really figure out now is programming the rhythm machine in it.

Some new material will soon be released via Divshare again no doubt. Watch this space.

So recording, played on the radio, a gig in Feb lined up, writing new material... and madly a possible interview for Scooter Forums radio. It's mad I really am living the dream right now! :-)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Catch up

So it’s all been a bit hectic recently... I think this’ll continue until Christmas probably. Still it’s good really isn’t it?

Firstly this weekend was our daughters 14th birthday. That meant a night out with a load of her friends at the local ice rink, me cooking a Chinese meal with her for Saturday night and then a big meal out and going to the cinema to see Christmas Carol on Sunday. BTW I thought the Christmas Carol was really good, the animation was stunningly good and they kept really true to the Dickens story - worth seeing.

She got a load of presents that she wanted including the web cam we’d promised her – in fact I’d bought 2 of the same one so we could install one on the family computer as well. So Sunday morning ended up with us waving at each other in different rooms in the house on web cams... at times like these I wonder why we bother with technology. Oh no I remember one thing is so that hopefully we can have the odd web cam waving session with our son in Wales... we’ll be able to gauge the beard development much easier this way :-)

I had a moment with the Chinese, for some reason from the word go it didn’t go right and when I’m panicked in the kitchen the whole thing suddenly seems like the end of the world with me. Mrs F and Daughter-of-Furtheron saved the day in the end and it all tasted nice although we should have invited about 4 other people the amount we’d cooked!

I’ve a couple of new songs progressing well in the writing stakes and started trying to learn something for the 14th Feb that Four Dinners has recommended. Oh yes big thanks to him as I’ve now made my debut on the internet radio! I stupidly missed the live show (as I said it was busy this weekend) but have caught up now.

I’m busy on the Christmas shopping front with me having ordered a load of stuff off websites etc. To get things done sooner rather than later. Best yet was a relatively small gift turning up in a box large enough to probably hold 30 if not 50 of the things! Best of all was the relatively little packing in the box, a jiffy bag would have been better!

Friday I was involved all day in a big AA seminar we’d been planning for ages well over 18 months of actually committee work etc. The day passed off as a great success I think, at least that was the early feedback.

So it’s been a busy few days. I could do with a rest frankly!

Gig video

I screwed up the link I think

Friday, 20 November 2009

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

New creativity

Suddenly I found myself spurred on into new realms of creativity – the gig clearly did me some good.

As per the previous post I already have finally got my act together and started using the digital recorder I bought a year ago. On more than one occasion in the last year I’ve pulled it out looked at the manual, poked a button or two, scratched my head and gone off to do something else. Most of that was just my lethargy but I didn’t have the drive to get on with it. Admittedly my first attempt was simple only three tracks and a quick fiddle with pan settings then mastering to a stereo mix and getting that onto the PC and from there converted to MP3. But hey it was a success for me. I do intend to do some more as soon as I can find the time. I’d like to figure out using the drum patterns better as well. But I think at least a couple more simple ones.

Secondly last night I had some time on my hands as daughters regular swimming practice wasn’t on. So I sat down guitar in hand and thought, “I really should have a bash at writing some more material”. I started strumming out a riff that has been around for at least a year or more – I already had a part lyric in my head which the riff itself had simply presented to me and so I dived in starting with that. Before long I had written the whole thing. It needs that critical look at it again in the cold light of day but it’s been a long time since I wrote something like that, it felt a bit like the old days.

I real happy with where I am at the moment with the music – it has some direction and purpose as I say the gig really was a real inspiration. Furtheron...

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Getting brave!

So in for a penny in for a pound. Flushed with success of the gig on Sunday I've taken the plunge dug out the BR-600 (digital recorder) and the tome of a manual and recorded one of the original pieces that debuted at that gig.



This is "I Used To Know Her".

Monday, 16 November 2009

Sunday 15th Nov – gig at The Libertine

So I did the gig. Let me just put some of this into context as for many people this’ll be one of those shrug the shoulders and mutter “So what?” moments.
I’d not played live at all since stopping drinking. It had become a slightly stupid thing in my head about whether I could do it sober.

  • I’d never played an acoustic gig like that, i.e. me an acoustic guitar and my voice only.

  • I have in a couple of bands been the second lead singer – i.e. taking the lead vocals on one or two tracks but never the guy singing for the whole thing.

  • The set included a smattering of my own material all (expect one) had never heard the light of day outside of my practice room.


Here is a summary of my reactions.

Venue – the venue is a nice cozy little place with a small but adequate stage, it managed to host three piece Strange Behaviour at the end complete with drum set without any issue. The staff were friendly and helpful and the food (Sunday roast beef) was excellent!

Organisation – big thanks and vote of appreciate to Toby Burton of Rock-til-you-drop for promoting the whole event. He promotes several different gigs for more mature musicians this one being a regular monthly one. All was good, PA set up was pretty good for me all went well.

Crowd – thanks to all those who came along. I was somewhat knocked back by the level of support I got. I had my family there, including the surprise guest of my son, my brother and his other half came along. Then a whole list of current or ex bloggers. Deejay who is an old work friend travelled all the way up from Kent for the gig. Col of the late lamented AxeVictim blog was there to offer his usual "encouragement"... or should I say heckling from the bar! :-) Istvanski of A Load of Bollocks was there as well along with Kenski of Fillmore Five fame. So a whole bunch of other guitarists of a certain age... Finally the legend that is Four Dinners was also there when we arrived sat at the bar tucking into... yes a huge roast dinner. I can't think of a more apt way to meet him. He joined our family table and was a great companion for the day. another couple of friends who were planning to come along did turn up about 3 minutes after I'd finished my set! There were obviously a host of others and I was made to feel very welcome and got a good reception.

Other Acts - Toby Burton himself was on with a duet when we arrived having been stuck in the hell that is London traffic so only heard his last two numbers - I wish I'd heard more. Next up was John Rigby who played a driving stand up set with some thought provoking lyrics. Michael Woodacre (Woody) was up next with a diminutive guitar and harmonica to play a great blues/folky set slightly hampered by not getting the best sound out of the on board guitar electrics, capturing the crowd with a Bob Dylan classic. Strange Behaviour were a three piece playing their first ever acoustic set and very good and well received it was too.

My performance - wasn't bad I thought. A couple of moments that the vocals wobbled a bit and the odd fluffed chord but I got through. I had included a couple of more "delicate" instrumentals which did really suit that kind of a gig to be honest so I'll have to rethink the set list for next time. Oh yes looks like there might be a next time as I had a chat with Toby and February may work for me to make a return appearance.

I very glad I did it. It has laid some of the ghosts in the head to bed I've proved I can still get up and do something like that despite the gap in years since I last did this kind of thing and also that my own material (there were two of mine slotted in the list) didn't seem out of place and therefore worthy of an outing.

So what next? Firstly learn some other material, maybe take another couple of my own and try out for solo acoustic. See if I can move some ideas on paper to completed songs as well as I'd like to increase the quantity of my own material. Secondly get off my bum sort out the recorder I have at home and try to record some of my own stuff including the lighter instrumentals so that I may consider having some CDs to sell in future.

Overall in the cold light of the morning after I'm overall happy I did it and feeling good about it. We had to drop my son off at a hotel in Kings Cross - the rack rate was £250 a night! But he'd managed to get it for under £100 - result!! Anyway the traffic in London is a nightmare isn't it! But we drove up there and then back around the Shoreditch route to the Blackwall Tunnel and never got lost! I was just knackered after the driving.

My son being back was official photographer and got some nice stills so I'll post some of them once I get them, he is in transit back to Wales now also Mrs F has a video of one number on her phone so I'll have to try and load that up to YouTube or something.

Once again massive thanks to Toby for putting it on and giving me the opportunity and to all those who came along to support.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

..the one in which my wife lies to me...

In a good way. Last night I'm cooking a curry wondering why my wife had insisted on 3 Naan breads, Bombay potato, samosas etc. The door bell goes and she asks me to get it. Stood there grinning like a Cheshire Cat was my son!!!

He'd come all the way back from Wales on the coach to be able to be at my gig. To say I was touched is an understatement.

I'm so lucky to have the family I have.

Yesterday morning my jitters about this whole thing made me question why I was doing it. Now no longer a problem.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Muse at O2 12 Nov 2009

The Muse gig was great!

We had really good seats, at the side just about level with the front of the stage so a really great view if side on. The stage set was very impressive, huge risers for all three of the band and they opened with them on the top of these structures about 30ft in the air - i.e. level with us :-)

They played a lot off the new album particularly at the start of the show kicking off with Uprising which was a great one to start with. Other stand outs included United States of Eurasia which worked well even without the orchestra. That was actually the only one where Matt Bellamy played piano - and that was again on the huge risers with a great light show using the risers as projectors.

As the show progress more of of the older hits came out including the live anthem Plug in Baby which was a highlight. The final encore was Knights of Cydonia which they opened with when I saw them at Wembley Arena in 07 but frankly I've always thought should be a climax of a show and I was right I think... :-)

Sell out crowd who for the most part were on their feet from the start to the finish. An excellent night's entertainment.

Hmm... just musing... (sorry had to get that in) but prog rock gets a hugely bad press and old foggies like me who listen still to Yes, Rush etc. often get those stuffy looks from people that prog rock was something to have been left in 1976 but what is Muse if not prog rock? And look how popular they are... Marillion back in the top 10 again? Maybe :-)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Gigs...

Tonight I'm off to see Muse at the O2 with a friend - sadly Son-of-Furtheron (my ever faithful gig partner) is too busy at uni and can't get back for this so I'm going with a friend of mine who is a huge Muse fan and chuffed to bits when I offered her the ticket.

Oh yes and Sunday is THE GIG!! I.e. me and an acoustic and my debut as a solo performer at The Libertine Pub in Borough.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Stop being a miserable so and so....

I'm not a very happy person at the moment. I'm really not enjoying work at all... and sadly not only do I let that really get to me, I let many people about me know that it is really getting to me. That isn't plesant.

I'm off to see Muse tomorrow at the O2 with a friend.

I have my gig on Sunday... at The Libertine in Borough. If you are in the area come along for the afternoon starting at 1pm.

I have reasonable health - it's a lot better than a few weeks ago

etc. etc.

A friend passed away earlier this week from cancer. I ought to be more grateful about what I have and I ought to try to be more happy about it... my life is very good frankly. The old quote from Abe Lincoln about being as happy as you choose to be (I paraphrase) feels very apt.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Fireworks

We went to the big free council display on Sat night. It was excellent as ever, less popular than years before but there was no big fair this time attracting a lot of the local youth.

We took Daughter-of-Furtheron and a couple of her friends. No sooner were we on "The Lines" (big open space slap bang in the middle of the Medway Towns that is own by the army I believe) and they were off doing their own thing meeting up with some others that they knew would be there. Mrs F and I were left standing alone with a cup of coffee each.

Suddenly I was thinking - where has all the time gone? D-o-F is 14 in a few days time, my son will not be a teenager this time next year! Next July is our silver wedding anniversary! Funny some days spark (sorry that's an awful pun) old thoughts... like my 5 year old son setting up a cash till to get his Grandparents to pay 5p entrance for our home firework display one year... which was a bit rich given my Father-in-law had supplied a significant proportion of the ordance! The last ever firework party at home and the subsequent damage to the fence and my hand! The old Scout group fireworks parties that took over from our home ones where normally our son was in charge of the bonfire and we took a box of fireworks to add to the display. They used to be great fun. And lastly a couple of years back my son taking loads of photos of the fair and the display for his A Level photography course - which gained us more than a few odd looks.

Mrs F and I were alone for Sunday roast yesterday as well - a new chapter in life for us but an odd feeling one in many ways.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Royal Mail - no problem



I used to have one of these... It's a Dean Markley Promag easy install acoustic guitar pickup I think I lent it to someone a while go and it disappeared - I've searched the house. It's gone.

So gig looming I thought - order one you berk! So I looked on Strings Direct and found them for just under £50. So I ordered it.

I only noticed when I got the dispatch notice that I was 5p under the limit for them using ParcelForce and realised it had been dispatched via Royal Mail 1st Class. Darn I thought "the strikes!". If I'd have bought a plectrum it would have been on Parcelforce and trackable and easy to pick up (ho ho!) at the local Post Office. But I shouldn't have worried, less than 24 hours after my ordering it was delivered by my friendly postie.

So Royal Mail - brilliant!!! I hope whatever the outcome of the dispute currently that great service isn't undermined.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Later...

Suddenly a really good Later with Jules Holland.

To be honest this series there's been a couple of shows where I've struggled to latch onto anything. Is it me or since the BBC got rid of shows like Top of the Pops and there is nothing (other than Jonathan Ross I suppose) in the way of variety shows that Jules seems to have a lot more "chart" acts on than before - this series people like Calvin Harris for example. In the dim and ancient past I'm not sure that he'd have been on a show like Later but there is precious little live music output on the BBC any more is there.

Anyway - Sting playing his latest stuff which is very folksy - deliberately so, I suspect after the mammoth world tour playing the old Police hits he needed something completely different to recharge with. Whatever people may say about it - his vocal delivery on the one piece on last nights 30 min show was frankly... stunning! Oh how I wish I had the talent of that guys little finger!

Then Nora Jones - not particularly my cup of tea but a top notch performer.
Jay-Z the rapper was also on...

So already a not very shabby line up - to be frank anyone of them could have been the "headline" act pretty much. But hang on we're not done yet. The Foo Fighters were also on the bill.

I can't wait to see the Friday extended edition.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Book Review - The Prophecy Chris Kuzneski

I think this is the second of Mr Kuzneski's books I've read - I think I read Sign of the Cross sometime back.

So - fast paced interesting thriller with the added spice of being linked to the greatest of all sooth sayers - Nostradamus.

The interplay between his two regular Jones and Payne frankly did begin to wear a little thin at times with me. We get that these two ex-special forces guys are inseparable best buddies and will wise crack their way through the book but can we have a break from it at times?

Also I'm afraid that for me the ending was a bit rushed and frankly a little bit unbelievable but then many thrillers are plus the final punchline was a little limp.

But all things considered not a bad read.

Monday, 2 November 2009

The gig is looming!!

Suddenly it's less than 2 weeks to the gig... blimey!

So at the weekend I did some work on getting the set list finalised. I'm now umming and ahing about a couple of my own instrumentals vs one of Gordon Giltrap's. The problem being the Giltrap one is a bit of a challenge, I play it okay but obviously no where near his level. To still ponder

I've sorted out my little folder of lyrics. I'm okay remembering lyrics but have decided to ensure I have a prompt if I don't a folder with all the lyrics in on a music stand is the way to go.

So all set apart from some continued practice.

I've been offered the loan of an acoustic pickup for the gig which'll be good but it's annoying as I used to have a similar one. After an extensive search, including the loft, I have to admit it's gone. I have a vague recollection of lending it to someone some years back... I doubt it was returned.