Wednesday, 30 December 2009

New guitar...


Couldn't last for long... always seem to buy guitars around this time of year...

Just bought one of these (Yamaha CPX) as a more appropriate stage guitar than my LL series Yamaha, which isn't electro-acoustic for a start.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Furtheron Music Awards 2009

Best gig of the year.

Very difficult... after much deliberation Muse just edge it I think but Heaven and Hell at Sonisphere ran them a mighty close second.

Others of note - I like Snow Patrol a lot and Judas Priest at Wembley in Feb were great as well.

Best album of the year.

Paradise Lost - Faith Divides Us Death Unites Us

Saw these on the second stage at Sonisphere and I was impressed. I listened to this when released on Spotify and instantly bought it. One of the best "metal" albums from a British band in years. Rarely off my listening to list since. Brilliant.



Worthy of note... a lot although this was a quiet year for a while. Okay U2 produced a good but not great for them album, Heaven and Hell showed that the old boys of metal can still produce the goods! Newton Faulkner's second effort disappointed a bit at first but has grown on me, less flashy but good song writing. Biffy Clyro continue to grow and impress with a strong showing on Only Revolutions. Marillion's Less is More was a brilliant example of how to really do unplugged sessions with a stripped back version of some of their old songs... and not the obvious ones. Phil Campbell is a musician too few people know - Daddy's Table his latest effort is again one to check out if you like quieter acoustic rock, in that vein also David Gray's Draw the Line is probably his best all round album since White Ladder and was a definite contender for this title. Muse produced a stunning album in the guise of The Resistance but I just felt this slightly too over the top in places and too Queen derivative in a couple of points, good though it is to see progressive rock so high in the charts and in demand from concert goers.

Best single of the year.

Don't normally do this but has to be RATM - Killing in the Name by getting to Christmas no 1 slot. ACE!

Best DVD of the year.

Joe Bonamassa Live at The Albert Hall easily wins this with his sublime blues rock playing.

Closest other contender would be the Children in Need animated band :-)

The Furtheron Review of the year.

So 2009 – the end of the noughties... I’ve hated that title for this decade, oh crap what’ll the next one be the teenies? please I hope not.
So this year has been one hasn’t it. The biggest recession in my lifetime which I have to say luckily has largely passed us as a family by so far.

Quick summary then...

January

January was a sad month with some tragedies for including the sad loss of the great great John Martyn. Gives me an excuse to point you to spend 5 and a half minutes of your life just listening to this – if you want to get close to the emotion of the man. I found out I know John’s cousin which provided some amazing insight to him.



Also I acquired my PRS CE22 in January – still now my principle “go to guitar” when I plug in the amp.


February


I was told that my old job had gone away and that I was “redundant”. I went frankly into a bit of a tail spin... I had no Plan B, I frankly had bugger all Plan A. In retrospect I probably should have taken the cash and gone off but rereading some of these things show me the turmoil I was in at the time and the panic of both not getting any job anywhere (since in my head I’m a useless twat) and secondly just simply becoming lazy and unemployable once not working.

I did put a couple of videos up including Gypsy




March


Much mention of still remembering the great John Martyn as there were tributes on the BBC. Also I was into career continuation mode – and went off on a course about that which was useful but frankly I should have put more effort into afterwards I think.

One quote from a post on guilt hit me looking back over this... “Probably the biggest critic of my behaviour is me.”

On the music front Mrs F and I went to see Snow Patrol and the U2 CD came out... that reminds me I must do the Furtheron music awards for 2009 post as well.

I posted on the Karpman Drama Triangle – one of the biggest search hits still on this blog. :S

Oh yes and here is a video that made me very proud to post that month



April

I got offered the new job at the company and even then I was not in a good space over it. As I said earlier in this retrospective I should have thought longer and harder and worked on it more and come up with a better route that I had more control over... too late however I accepted the job and moved on with it.

I had a bunch of guitars at the repairers – the Peter Cook Bass which subsequently has moved on to a new home, the newly acquired PRS having locking tuners re-installed and my old beloved classical my Mum got me as a teenager having new tuners and a scratch from a disaster in the music room repaired. That appeared in some classical videos at my youtube channel. However I also posted this video of one of the greatest songs ever.




May

Was a nondescript month it seems reviewing my posts. Losts of random catchups. My old Nunostrat (home made bitsacaster) underwent some work and is better than it’s ever been before. I started making that with my Dad when I was a teenager so it has some of his DNA in it as well as mine.

I celebrated my 5th anniversary of sobering up which seems something of a milestone given five hours was a problem in the old days.

I’d discovered the great “Some Grey Bloke” so I was posting this sort of stuff.




June


We lost our daughters guinea pig unexpectedly.

Had a great time at the London International Music show with son-of-Furtheron.

The new job was really getting to me and many of the posts were me angry at myself for being in a bad space with it all and then it all in smacked into my face with the story of the Puttick family who you may remember were two lovely parents who had a very ill child who when he died took his body to Beachy Head in a back pack and jumped to their deaths. How tradgic – these two people gave so much to their dear little boy and were worth much more to this world than many people who simply take from people around them and the world and give nothing back. A reminder I should aspire to be more like them and less like me.

I didn’t post a video at all that month... so have this... CLASSIC early Fish era Marillion!



July

I bought the amp! Bloody great Hughes and Ketner Dual 6L6 – it’s still brilliant by the way even though I’ve gone all unplugged. We’ll see in 2010 I still have some idea about a band maybe.

Son-of-Furtheron was declared best student of his year!!!

There was a lot about health which was not good and really hinted at what was to come really.

I won a great competition over at Guitar Noize!

Gigs a plenty with Jools Holland in the storm, Jeff Beck at the Albert Hall and Sonisphere, oh hell the best gig of the year is going to be difficult!

Here’s the amp being demoed but someone who knows their stuff...





August

Was dominated by the Sonisphere festival experience... guess what the boy is on about going this coming year as the mighty might Maiden are headlining. Hmm... I’m not bloody camping!!!!

Also the holiday to the USA and the first issues with the vertigo which led me to have several weeks off work and the ripples of this still continue as it’s still a problem although I’m living with it better I think

Here is a TV appearance by my great friends The Sue Menhart Band that we also got to see live whilst in their neighbourhood on the holiday.



September

Was dominated by not being well and I was in and out of work and then returning on reduced hours. I’d also been looking at getting a band together through some ads on Partysounds etc. just before the holiday and I tried to follow them up but I didn’t really find anyone where stuff clicked and given I wasn’t physically or mentally not that well the band idea sort of fell by the way side.

No videos but there is a link as I posted photo off my phone of Gary Moore from a gig in April so here is Gary live this year from Brighton...



October

Another year done and I turned 47 – no escaping it I’m late 40s now without any doubt!

I was slowly getting better during this month, increasing my hours back at work.

Also one of the biggest things for me this year, I asked Toby Burton over at Rock-til-you-drop if he’d consider giving me a slot on the November bill of his Sunday Acoustic sessions and he said yes and booked me in for the November one. Suddenly the acoustic was being grabbed every night and a set list was taking shape including some old self penned numbers that I was dusting off.

Here is someone else who was 47 this year...



November

I did the gig! It was a success, i.e. I turned up, I played some people clapped, I didn’t die on my arse and I actually enjoyed it. Four Dinners deserves a special mention as he not only came along to support he asked me for recordings to play on the legendary Drunk Punk show he hosts. That meant I dug out the recorder and started recording for the first time in years. But I enjoyed it and it has really taken me in a new direction and motivation on the music.



December

So here we are at years end

I went the USA on work for the first time in ages which was useful meeting all my team face to face for the first time. We had snow... a lot of flipping snow and the UK travel chaos was complete. Luckily with a little bit of planning and care I seem to avoid it and get Son-of-Furtheron home for Christmas from Wales and to from work as I needed to.

More songs were recorded and some more written. I got a gig lined up for March where I’ll be live on the Scooter Forums Radio world tour as long as we figure out the technical nonsense.

I set up a reverbnation page which is hosting my music and gigs.

Here is my good friend Giles who is stunningly talented!



So for next year?

Music – more new songs hopefully then a focus on the gigs in Feb and March. I hope to line up some in Kent as well etc. I might look for some musicians to join a “band” but very much using the set list and the current set up as the starting point. We’ll see.

Job – I have some plans in my head. If there is a chance I might take the redundancy as I have an idea on retraining to then take up a new career. Getting the pay off would allow me to get into that with the safety net of some money to keep the wolf from the door. However if the redundancy option isn’t there I’ll have to rethink whether I can just take the plunge as I really do think it is time to move on.

Family – Daughter of Furtheron needs to pick her GCSE options, we’re nearly there on that I think already but just some last decisions. Son of Furtheron will continue to work hard at uni I know as he always does. It will be my brothers wedding in August and I’m the best man believe it or not! And just before that Mrs F and I celebrate our silver anniversary which I’ve already booked a short break for back to where we went for our honeymoon. So here’s to 2010.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

So this is Christmas...

And what have you done?
Another year over?
And a new one just begun...

Hats off to Mr Lennon there.

I'll soon have to to the Furtheron review of the year in terms of music and life.

But in the meantime Happy Christmas to all the readers of this continuing ramble through my mind...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I need some of these


Christmas is nearly here. Daughter-of-Furtheron has broken up from school for Christmas, Son-of-Furtheron is home from uni, Mrs Furtheron has finished at school and all the Christmas performances are over. In the office we've had the end of year celebrations and day by day less people are turning up as those that haven't used up all their leave are using it up... I've blown that and am here until Christmas Eve, but never mind at least then I'm off until the 4th Jan as we have a site shut down.

With all this though a phenomenon has arrived, Mum and Dad's taxi service. Mrs F was shuttling girls to and from the cinema yesterday evening and has some complicated movements through the day today.

So I think I need to get some of these and those beady seat covers for the drivers seat and plastic ones for all the others and a meter to try to get payment for all this taxi service!!! :-)

Monday, 21 December 2009

RATM - Killing in the name of

I was so pleased that this hit the number 1 slot. Nothing against the X-Factor except that I am fed up with the manufactured pop star thing. It isn't a new issue... Bay City Rollers anyone? etc. but increasingly there isn't anything edgy anywhere.

Funny the edgy track chosen is 17 years old!!! Still it is the message it sends which is good, there are a huge number of people out there who will buy music when moved to do so. Hmm maybe some new bands should take heart from this and get out there and promote themselves and we'll get something new interesting and different up in the charts in 2010...

You can hope can't you?

Sunny Wales

That isn't a statement I often make but it was very sunny and lovely in Wales on Friday. I did run ahead of the snowstorm on Thursday down the M4 stopping about Chippenham for the night. As I say whilst our part of Kent was gridlock on Friday morning with several inches of snow I woke to a glorious sunny day and had a lovely drive right along the end of the M4 and up the coast road.

We came back Saturday via the M40 and dropping of my sons girlfriend near Uxbridge - they had a bit of snow... but then as we hit the North Downs near our home the snow was piled high. Mrs F had spent a couple of hours digging out the drive thankfully and despite a scary slide on the approach we got home fine.

Back to work today - getting there not an issue but getting back along our road to get home... now that is a different point :-)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Snow.. not yet!

Heavy snow is forecast for the South East overnight. Darn!!! I need to get down to Wales to pick my son up to come home for Christmas.

Maybe I'll shoot off tonight instead then have the issue of getting back on Saturday...

Monday, 14 December 2009

Sunday, 13 December 2009

New Songs

I've loaded up two new songs as promised.

Go to here or they are in the widget in the right hand bar of this page just down a bit...

You Make Me More - is dedicated to all the people I've come across in my life who have made me a better person... those that give energy to people not those that suck it out of you.

My Baby - is a little diversion for me. This is a jazzy chord progression I've had lying around for ages. I thought it needed some tongue in cheek lyrics so this song is a play on the fickleness you sometimes see certain people have in relationships and love.

Enjoy...

Pointless things to do on a Sunday Morning...

Number 27

Wash and hoover your car in the pouring rain.


... oh and thanks to all the wise arses walking up my road from the shop who thought it necessary to point out to me it was raining. I knew that but the car was covered in filth and I was doing it no matter what!

Friday, 11 December 2009

New songs to debut on Drunk Punk show...

I've a couple of new songs that'll be debuting on the Drunk Punk show on Scooter Forums radio tomorrow night from 9pm

I'll be posting them up to Reverbnation and hence into my widget... look right and down on Sunday.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

She's going...



... the Peter Cook bass that is.

This beauty has been in the collection for about 20 years now, but I'm no bass player, it only ever came out rarely to add bottom end (mostly root and fifth) to my home recordings. Given I took about 8 years out from any of that activity it generally hung on the wall for a long time. My son did use it briefly when he was playing bass in a band about 4 years back, then he converted to 6 string and that was that. However also in that period he convinced me that really a 5 string was required for modern bass playing so I bought a black Ibanez 5 string off a guy at work and now I have two basses I hardly play. Prior to that her only real use was when the bass player in a band I was briefly trying to get together about seven years ago used it as a backup and Drop D ready tuned for a while.

The recent upsurge in my home recording hasn't found me pulling the Peter Cook from it's place in a gig bag behind the rack of other guitars at all even though I had the electrics looked at early in the year - the switch on the jack socket for the active circuit was bust and a pot loose etc.

I found a vintage guitar forum with a discussion about Peter Cook instruments (see brief history below) and joined in sharing a picture of this and my similar 6 string. I mentioned I was thinking of selling and a guy pinged me saying he was interested. So the deal is pretty much concluded now I just need to sort out getting the payment from him and shipping it. He is planning to ship me an empty quality hard case to avoid any major hassles on that front.

Part of me is sad to see it go since having two Peter Cooks can't be that common but frankly I don't use it, it'll free up space on the rack as I'll move the Ibanez into the Gig Bag and give me some funds to purchase some speaker stands for my PA speakers and at least one better microphone for both recording and live use so that I can start thinking of self contained gigging soon.

Her new owner is a man who appreciates what a good instrument this is - the maple center section is a lovely piece of wood and he is a bass player so she'll get better use than at my hands and get to be shown off in public from time to time hopefully... which she deserves at her age :-)

Peter Cook Guitars what I know about it...

Peter Cook was based out West London way. He was involved is a bunch of stuff in the 70s and 80s. Ned Callen guitars anyone? That was Peter Cook under another name. He used to assemble guitars from Mighty Mite parts at one point as well that were sold by their distributors I believe. However he is more known for his custom jobs... he made several for John Entwistle of the Who over the years. Also there are a few twin necks about that are "firebird" look alikes... One of them sold on eBay earlier in the year, bugger I missed that! Around the turn of the 70s into the 80s he launched a range known as Axis which my bass and 6 string are part of. The 6 string I have though just has Peter Cook Custom on the truss cover so I believe was possibly a special order but I don't know for certain. The bass has the AXIS brass truss cover. These were hand made in Peter's workshop and are super instruments especially given they are available (although rarely) at astonishingly good value prices. The range was short lived as Peter on his own couldn't compete with the big boys and he moved into retail with his shop Peter Cook's Guitar World. I met him when he worked there once and we talked about my guitar and bass a bit. My 6 string has a Peter Cook strap he gave me free that day! He left the shop which still trades with his name but is no longer in the music industry to my knowledge.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Book reviews, Mark Billingham - In the Dark, Will Adams - The Lost Labyrinth, Jon Fashman - Unpossessed City

I'm behind on book reviews so here is a catch up on the last couple.


Jon Fashman - Unpossessed City

I loved his first novel - Geographer's Library. This wasn't quiet as good but was intriguing as the plot switched back and forth and you weren't exactly sure who was who and what was what in it. It is set mostly in Moscow where an American finds himself after getting into debt and deciding that "run away" was an appropriate tactic. He then unwittingly finds himself caught up in a complicated plot to spirit ex-USSR scientists out of the country.

I'd recommend this as a good read - the description of Moscow and the life within it was excellent giving me a better insight the underlying plot than many novels do.

Will Adams - The Lost Labyrinth

This is his third novel I think, and with a similar plot and many returning characters. The main one is Dan Knox who is an archaeologist who has a knack of making the greatest discoveries of the century... book after book and this one is no different.

If you like Indiana Jones like stuff this is ideal. A reasonable read and one that I'd recommend although I think Mr Adams needs to stretch out for his next novel, but then some have made very good careers with the repeat character / plot thing...


Mark Billingham - In the Dark

First time I've read one of Mr Billingham's and basically I only got this in one of those buy one get another half price type deals in WHSmiths. I was impressed. This was a gritty crime drama set in modern London with bent coppers, young drug dealers and gang members, career criminals etc. all in the mix. A bit of a diversion for me in some ways but I enjoyed it and it reminded me of Martina Cole (I think that is her) who I read one book of a while back.

I look forward to getting more of his back catalogue so I can't say fairer than that can I.

Christmas is coming...

Anyone remember the old rhyme?

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do
If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you!

My Dad used to often recite it. Today would have been his birthday but sadly he was taken from us back in 1984... blimey I've been alive more without him now than with him! I was 22 when he died, I'm 47 now.

Anyway - Christmas is suddenly baring down on us at a huge speed. Only a week and a day or so and I'll be off to pick up my son from university. Looking forward to him being home again. We've put the tree up - well Mrs F and I did that bit and put the new 200 multi-function lighting rig on it. I have to say they do look better than the batter old two other sets we used to wind around the tree hoping it'd look ok and every year saying we'd buy some new ones, well now we have and all the options for flashing etc. boggle me, we used to just be grateful if the majority came on and some of those busted we had replacement bulbs for!

Daughter-of-Furtheron decorated the tree (with Mrs F helping) in a style of silver, white and a dash of red. :S They keep me away from aesthetic stuff... wisely so.

So tree up, lights in the windows, Christmas cards written - Mrs F did that whilst I was away last week and I've done one or two specific ones I had to. We're even wrapping up the presents this week... largely as we've commandeered sons bedroom as a storeroom and clearly need to return it to bedroom status by next week!

Next week Mrs F is wrapped up in school productions etc. Friday we have a pre-Christmas get together for a bunch of current and ex-employees. Mrs F is off on her girls Christmas night out at the weekend. So the festivities are well and truly here - some how it seems to have suddenly arrived for me this year.

I have to say I'm looking forward to Christmas this year - it'll just be the 4 of us with the mother-in-law on Christmas Day. Boxing Day will be at my sisters as has been tradition for some years and then New Years Day a big family meal at a local restaurant, largely held in memory of Mum as New Years Day was her day for many years when the kids were little. This time there is about 20 of us all told when you include kids, partners, etc.

I hope everyone else Christmas preparations are going to plan (or not if you like the last minute panic/rush to be part of your perfect holiday).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

In Da Studio...

Okay stretching a point since I actually mean - In the little box room that is crammed with guitars, books, AA paraphernalia (I hold the stock for Public Interest stuff in our local area), Christmas presents... etc. But it has my little recorder in it so today it is the studio. :-)

I'm recording a couple of new tracks - so watch this space.

I've signed up to Reverbnation as an artist... nothing like self publicity is there. My page is here. It's quiet neat as you can then get a player for your material without it being available for Download - well it is up to you to set that and then you can get widgets to bung on your blog... note the two news one to the right of this post.

If anyone would like to promote me on there blog then go here and you can grab the code for a widget of different types which you can put on your blog etc. (If you are on blogger in layout tab click on add a gadget and then select the one that allows HTML to be pasted in and viola - done!

I have to add the March gig I've got but need to find the venue first... but soon there will be more than one upcoming gig.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

What's occuring on the music front

Well a lot!!

Soon I'll have to put up an "Upcoming gigs" widget on this blog. :-) Yes true folks I've got another gig. This time in March and actually not just a gig... look I'm of the age when live music on the TV was a huge rarity (although actually it's probably rarer now!) and as a teenager I waited for a new series of Rock Goes to College, or Sight and Sound in concert. Ones that stand out... the last ever Lizzy TV gig, John Martyn blowing me away with just him and a guitar and that voice!, The Police, Supertramp, Queen... etc.

Anyroad the March date isn't just a gig I'll be broadcasting live... yes live... to the world... yes the WORLD on the legendary Scooter Forums Radio! Well I think the date is in March there is some confusion on that at the moment :-)

So now two live dates fixed... blimey it's nearly a tour :-)

Okay in preparation for the next Rock-Til-You-Drop acoustic gig I'm planning to do, which is btw 14th Feb at The Libertine, see I need an "upcoming gigs" widget :-) I'm working on some new material having learnt the lessons from the last time, i.e. the intricate instrumentals didn't work so well in that venue, so more vocal material needed.

I'm working on two new self penned numbers which have lyrics written and music ready. One is currently called "You make me More" it is a feel good song about those people who you meet in life that give you inspiration those people who give you energy rather than sapping it away. The other one is a little jazzy guitar riff I've had about for a while and had a vague idea for lyrics but they came together the other day that is currently called "My Baby" and is a jovial ditty about how feckless some people can be in love and relations. I'm hoping to record them both soon so that they are available for listening pleasure before the gig. Lastly on the self penned front I've an idea for a song and some half written lyrics for a song that is currently called "Within" watch this space on that one.

I'm looking to some other "covers" as well to provide a greater repertoire and offer something different for the Libertine gig. So I'm working on the following

Newton Faulkner - Dream Catch Me... Not sure the guitar is very high in this one, I might look to one of his others to cover perhaps.
Phil Campbell - Maps. Mr Campbell is an big direct and indirect influence - some while back whilst After the Garden was on in the car Mrs F said "You should do stuff like this". That was one of the several seeds people planted that has got me to this new position as an active solo acoustic performer.
David Gray - Fugitive... another big influence
Madness - Johnny the Horse. Recommended by Four Dinners and given all the unbelievable support he is giving me over at Scooter Forums radio I can hardly refuse can I?

I might also throw in Dave Mathews - The Space Between we'll see.

I got some new memory cards for the BR-600 recorder so no excuses there now and I'm going to order a couple of decent microphones once the Christmas expense nonsense is behind me.

Home from home...

Well I'm in the good olde US of A this week for work. First time I've traveled on work related stuff for something like 18 months, which is so odd given I've had a USA boss for over 6 months and the rest of my team is based here, but that is how life is sometimes. I've had other less "global" jobs and traveled much more. Today is a big workshop (the pretext for traveling) with another group then I've got a couple of days in the office to try to catch up with "customers" and "partners" before flying home on Friday.

I'm staying in the same hotel I've used now for years and which the family stayed in the summer on our USA holiday. Funny it seems all so familiar now - I almost was confused as they've moved the TV in the breakfast room!

The trip out was ok but very tiring. Why do airlines get you all to bundle on the plane thinking that you daren't hold up the process or all the other passengers and crew will think you are the one that caused the delay so that come the time to push back everyone is in and ready only for the pilot to say... "It's very busy at Heathrow this time of day and we have a 1 hour delay here at the gate". Err... why not let us stay in the lounge then? I presume a) they think they'll lose some of us or b) they need to get you on the plane to free up seats in the lounge. Anyway after sat on the tarmac we taxied around for another 45 mins then took off... 1 hour 45 mins and you've gone about 300 yrds in a plane that can do 500 mph? Air travel - mind boggling!

We landed in Boston and one thing was exactly the same as in London. The weather. Rain was hammering down. One good thing on the delay meant we were through immigration quick as no other flights were there at the same time and I got my Chevy Impala hire car sorted and set off to drive to Connecticut. Of course now was the start of a very raining rush hour in Boston so the drive down was slow. Still all in one piece and not the worst one I've ever experienced which I blogged about on my old blog some years back... slipping along I95 in an ice storm... never again!