Saturday, 28 August 2010

The Studio experience...

I spent 4 hours in the studio yesterday - you'll remember this was Mrs F's anniversary present to me :-)

What a great time! Firstly huge thanks to Nick of Broadwood Music Productions for all his help. Broadwood studios is a little studio in a small "enterprise center" in a village just along the road from us. Actually I go to an AA meeting there pretty much every Wednesday. The studio is small but with a lot of stuff packed in to it and all I could possibly need for my needs.

I'd gone prepared with several songs but, not surprisingly, we only got one done in the time we had - particularly given the arrangement/production I had in my head going in. We worked on Let Me Love You Tonight - which I've had a live version up on my Reverbnation player since I played it live at one of the RTYD Libertine gigs in Feb.

Nick got me to play the song through and then started with Logic Pro on his Apple set up. I've never really used software like this for recording so it was a real lesson for me. I've learnt a lot I can apply with my little Boss thing and it has made me wonder about getting a PC recording set up - however I do still worry I'll spend more time fiddling with the s/w etc. rather than playing/recording!

So we put down an acoustic track and then an electric rhythm one over some drums from EA Drummer. Then the bass and vocals. Then Nick performed magic coming up with some quick string arrangements which really add to the piece. Lastly I played the solo that I've been working on. We did about 5 takes and chose to use take 2 even though there are a couple of dud notes in there but I still preferred it over some of the others. Nick again cleaned up some string noise etc. quickly - showing me how the greats get those very clean sounding fingering... ok some of them might not need it but now I've seen that I won't so overly judge some of that in my playing.... oh yes and why did I never buy that Marshall JMP1 I once had on my wish list - plug in and within seconds I had the sound I had in my head - lovely piece of kit - can't understand why they dropped it off the catalogue.

Anyway - the final outcome of Let Me Love You Tonight is up at now. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Rude old woman

Yesterday we all went shopping at a local shopping center. My daughter needed new shoes for school so Mrs F and her set off around the variety of shoe emporiums. What a nightmare - "I'm not having Clarks they are so unfashionable" my daughter complains. I can't see the point of that but also point out that Clarks last for years - well my brogues do anyhow. Mrs F "I'm not paying that - you need a mortgage" - however they last years... I'll shut up they aren't listening.

So they go to another shop and agree on a pair but they only have the left one for a pair size 4 - where the hell is the other one? You'd think they'd remember only selling one!

So son and I take the list for the curry that night to the Sainsbury. We finish and sit on a bench by the exit waiting for the girls.

A lady - probably in her 70s comes along clinging to a trolley - clearly she had some difficulty walking. Now she has plenty more right to sit on the bench than my son and I who are now surrounded by carrier bags reading Guitar Buyer while waiting for the shoe buying marathon to end. She only had to say "Excuse my love - could you move up so my husband and I could sit there?" I'd have gladly moved over. But no she shouts (I use that word advisedly in my view given where she was in relation to us and her husband) - "We can sit there - get him to move - get him to move all his bags - we can sit there". I shut my magazine and looked her in the eye "I'll ****ing move then shall I." I do regret the profanity that wasn't called for and deflated my moral position here a bit. I picked up the bags and we vacated the seat. Behind me she says "Oh I didn't mean it like that". I didn't turn as it wasn't worth the scene but I want to say "Yes you did or else you'd have asked politely - I see loads of stuff on the TV and in the press about no respect for older people etc. well it's a two way street isn't it". This isn't the first and no doubt not the last time I'll get feed up with this my daughter gets it frequently...

The worse one of those was a while back when my daughter along with a load of other girls were all getting on the bus outside her school. An older lady said really loudly to her companion - "It a disgrace all these girls on the bus it's only because their parents are too lazy to pick them up". When she told me this I was flabbergasted - she uses the bus since (at that point) we were both at work paying taxes to pay for her free bus transport - by the way where I live we don't get free bus passes for kids to go to school (which I think it flatly nuts!) so it costs us hundreds of pounds to get her to and from school. Also it is the greenest option as well.


Maybe though there is something to this - can I get to the age where I can say this sort of vitriol without fear of retribution because I'm old - what age do you think is the cut over point for this? I hope it's 50 as I'm only 2 years away from it :-)

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Weddings and Lakes

We're back!!! The wedding was a huge success - I managed to perform all the best man duties without a cock up :-)

We had a few days in the Lakes - including a climb up Old Man Coniston... there is the most odd story of the holiday. So we have got to the top and were on the first part of the descent, Mrs F stopped to let a guy coming up past. He was my focal counsellor from rehab - so we had a brief catch up standing there up near the top of a mountain in the Lakes! How mad is that :-)

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Hi ho hi ho it's to the studio we go

My darling wife bought me an incredible present for our 25th anniversary. A slot in a local recording studio with an engineer on hand to guide me along!

It is only half a day but hopefully enough to have a go at at least 2 songs if not more.

When I opened my present, which we did a couple of days before the actual anniversary as we were going away as you'll recall, I was gobsmacked I have to say. It is just such a thoughtful brilliant gift for me.

I'm planning a studio version of "Let me love you tonight" - see the player widget on the right for a live version of that. The intro I've always thought of as a bass solo and I think if we can get a drum pattern on that and an electric guitar with a phaser... oh and the bit at the end where there is the instrumental with the diff chord patterns... guitar solo! I've been working one up in the last couple of days. It's an odd one - it's some mode (never any good and the names) as the tonality of the chords is in Em but are in sort of Cmaj / Amin... if that makes any sense... I know what I mean anyroad.

I've some others I've recently written needing to be recording - Running in the Shadows is a rockier song than much of my stuff so again a more "band" setting with drums and electrics might work well on that one so that is a really good one to maybe go with.

Then two others as reserves - Everyday - typical of my sort of stuff a little one that was written on a 12 string and also Strength of their hearts which is a newer one that again could use some "production" on it to bring it to life.

Anyway we are all booked in for when we're back from weddings in Scotland and climbing hills in the Lake District. I'll let you know once they are ready to be aired :-)

Hi ho ... hi ho... etc.

Book Review - The Swan Thieves Elizabeth Kostova

Now this is funny I've decided to write this review a little prematurely as I've not yet finished the book. I probably will later today and add a post script to this review via the comments. Why am I writing this now then? Well in case the climax isn't a whizzbang ending I don't want that to detract from how I feel about this book already. It is brilliant!

This is an amazing book about love, madness and obsession. It intertwines the lives of some French impressionists back in the 19th century with the lives of modern day Americans - namely an artist, his wife and his lover with the doctor helping him after he is arrested and sectioned after he attacks a painting in a gallery with a knife. Now the doctor, who is an amateur painter himself, wants to know why he attacked the painting, why he always paints the same woman over and over again, why his wife ended up finishing their marriage over the woman in the paintings (who may be fictional, maybe real, maybe dead) and why the artist won't speak at all once he is in the hospital and in the care of the doctor.

What a story line! The writing is superb - in particular the reference to little gestures and settings that really pull you in. I am now living these peoples lives! It hasn't been a quick read and you need a break regularly to allow the scenes and the narrative to settle in your head. Throughout the book you are building to a climax - some bits of which become obvious really to you early before they are fully revealed but others are hidden like I say I'm a few pages off the end and the finale is still awaiting me.

As I say the writing is excellent with largely it written in the first person from several points of view - you are guided at the beginning of each chapter as to which character is now talking to you. And new characters are introduced as others go away in this style. There is some third party observation as well but interestingly only of the 19th century portion of the tale. So cleverly written as well as beautifully descriptive.

The best book I've read in probably a year or so. Completely recommended.

I'm confident that the climax will make me recommend this even more but like I say I'm so transfixed with this work already I had to write this review now.


I read the ending last night. It wasn't a cataclysmic type of ending but more one that would ideally fit the use of denouement to describe it. Some of the threads you've guessed at by then are answer - well some brilliantly left just to you to draw the obvious conclusion and finally you are left somewhat resolved but actually caring what does happen to the main characters after the book.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

My son's planet photos - available to buy :-)

My son has put some of his planet photos up on a website where you can buy them if you like them...

Have a look at his planet collection.

Monday, 9 August 2010

New Song

I've a new song for you to listen to...

Look at the widget on the right hand side of the page - it's call Summertime - a short acoustic piece that has more than a nod towards Gordon Giltrap's influence.

Alternatively go to my reverbnation site to listen via the player there. You can also sign up there to my mailing list :-)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

25th BBQ and Sonisphere 2010 Review

We had a family BBQ celebrating our 25th on Saturday - it was brilliant fun. We set up my PA in the garden and had various music blaring out throughout the day. The morning was very wet and it looked like it might be a flop but as people arrived about noon it stopped and I lit the BBQ and put out the garden chairs... in the end sun shone at times a very small shower wasn't enough to deter us and we had a great day.

Sunday though was up early to head to the Sunday of the Sonisphere festival for see Iron Maiden!

We got there about 9am and got parked up easily - great car park marshaling. Enough to get you in the right bit but not that officious "you need to move 2 inches or I'll punch you" type you sometimes get.

We found a great tea stall - mug of tea, 2 rich teas and 2 chocolate digestives for £2! Bargain - nice tea too. We noted the camping looked less chaotic than when we camped last year and better spaced out, better shower block provision and better security. Top marks as they have learnt well. The show area was less constricted between the two main stages as well which was one point we didn't like last year.

Okay to the music! Karnivool kicked off - very good atmospheric progressive metal I thought - must check them out. (Side note just loaded up their latest into Spotify to double check my assumptions).

CKY kicked off the second stage. A band I'm not familiar with... old fashioned USA rock n roll band. Not that impressed... CKY OK I suppose.

Back to the main stage for Madina Lake - not a bad performance. I've heard some of their stuff. They were appearing as a three piece as their bass player Matthew Leone who is seriously ill following a horrible assault earlier in the year. The performance was energetic and clearly a tribute to him - I wish him well in his recovery and hope the guy who injured him has a long long time to reconsider his actions. Overall musically though I prefer Incubus in this kind of genre personally.

Dir En Grey were a Japanese act I'd not seen before... I'll avoid again! Sorry lads the guitar playing and overall music wasn't bad but the vocals were just - weird! What was the 3 mins advent garde screaming and coughing on the table all about? Odd!

Skindred blew the main stage away. They are a fantastic live act with a unique sound blending heavy rock/metal with Benji's Jamaican roots. The whole crowd warmed to them.

Slayer. I'll admit these are out at the end of thrash metal that's not my cup of tea I'm more into Metallica and Megadeth than these guys. However with seeing them we've now seen all big four of the thrash metal bands as we saw Anthrax here last year. So whilst not my cup of tea I was throughly impressed with the speed they play - the drummer is amazing frankly and the sound is well managed so it doesn't descend into a mush that it could at this speed.

We ducked on Bring Me The Horizon - too much shouting for me :-) Anyway we needed time to get something to eat! So to Alice In Chains. Just brilliant - to me by far the best sound of the day just an epic tone from Jerry and the boys and the vocals were spot on. Last year I remember thinking these guys one of the highlights off the second stage this year on the main stage I think they were even better.

The Cult were on the second stage and just brilliant - a band that really are too underated in their home land - how come they were never as huge as Guns N Roses is a bit beyond me. Billy Duffy may be a little more "weathered" these days and Ian Astbury a little larger but still a class act. She sells Sanctuary is still one of the greatest riffs ever written isn't it?

We had planned to see Funeral for a Friend in the tent and so set off there. Not disappointed - only thing was having to leave before the end of their set to get to a reasonable position in the crowd prior to the main act. Their set was energetic, good sound for in the tent and given there were obvious feedback issues on the sound check it was well done.

So Iron Maiden - as ever effortless brilliant. They never disappoint in terms of the show and the playing. My son had predicted a "classic set", I'd predicted they'd play a bunch of new stuff off the forthcoming Final Frontier release given it was billed as a show on the Final Frontier tour. We were both wrong! :-) They played a set almost exclusively of material off the last three releases - i.e. those since Bruce Dickenson and Adrian Smith rejoined and they returned to center of the metal scene after some time on the fringes without the classic front man. I know some people are complaining on forums that it wasn't a classic set and they missed things like The Trooper and Run to the Hills off - but the last time they toured in support of a new album (A Matter of Life and Death) they played that entire release beginning to end and only a few "classics" at the end of the set. To be fair the two tours either side of that have been firstly a "everything off the first four albums" and then a revival of the famous "Powerslave" tour including getting the set out of storage! So those that have wanted classic Maiden have had your chances over the last 5 years or so. Whatever - my view... Brilliant. The new material is as good as they've ever produced and "No More Lies", "These Colours Don't Run" and others are as classic as "The Trooper" and "Run to the Hills" anyway.

We left throughly pleased. We had a result in the car park as a nice hi vis jacketed marshal kindly showed us a quick route out the car park that was just on the verge of descending into that anarchy with 150 cars all trying to get through one gate at the same time. We dropped out the back straight onto the A1M northbound and a quick U turn at the next junction had us laughing as we sailed past a completely gummed up looking carp park exit and on our way home. So exactly 2 hours after Maiden left the stage we were back home - result! :-)

The bad old face of F1... the true art of saying sorry

Sadly Micheal Schumacher's return to F1 hasn't been great - to be fair it was obvious in the later part of last season that other teams were catching up with the new regulations and were getting ahead of Brawn (as it was then) which no doubt was one of Jenson Button's reasons for leaving - he is no fool and he clearly saw that to have a chance at retaining his championship he'd better be in a different car. However it isn't just that is it? Rosberg has pretty much looked the much more likely of the two Mercedes drivers to succeed this year.

However the ugly side of Schumacher has not gone sadly - and last Sunday the incident with Rubens Barrichello was just that. Luckily he did judge it just right or in a split second thought better of it but I thank God Rubens didn't hit the wall at nearly 200mph that would have been a very very nasty crash.

Schumacher won 7 world titles, has one of the greatest start to win ratios of any one - etc. etc. Sad that he has to drive like this. He has said sorry... hmm haven't we heard that before. Remember the blatant attempt to take out Jacques? To me if you say "sorry" that should mean that you have looked at the incident and concluded your actions at the time were wrong and that in future your actions will be different. Sadly I think at the next race in the same situation he'll do the same again ... and again in the face of complaint will say "sorry" but not actually adjust his actions again.

I always tried with my kids when doing the parental "You need to say sorry" to make sure they realised why they should say sorry and that they saw the error of their actions and that they wouldn't do it again. Normally I tried the "think of it from the other side" angle. It is a shame such a great icon in a sport doesn't relay the same message. I thought his return to F1 would be a really good thing spicing up the sport and having another genuine contender for the crown it hasn't been that at all sadly.