Wednesday, 22 December 2010

A little bit of something for you regular readers.

Okay something a little different...

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear



God Rest you Merry Gentlemen



A few other little classical pieces... two by Tarega, Lagrima and Adelita, and then the famous Spanish Ballard.

Enjoy - have a happy Christmas all





Wales and Back

As regular readers will know Son-of-Furtheron is residing at Aberystwyth uni these days. So we needed to get him back home for Christmas but with the weather...

I originally planned to go Saturday but weather in Wales on Friday and at our place on Saturday made that a non-starter. I thought I'd wait until Monday. But Sunday morning I watched the weather and thought "I better go today I think".

So 2 hours to dig out our drive, car and road - we'd had about 4 inches I suppose. I left about 11:30 and got through the slush to the motorway. All went well until I got to the M1 - first crash. Wasn't too long there. Then into the roadworks and frankly aweful road conditions near Newport Pagnell there was just packed ice that wasn't shifting. Two lanes only as the contraflow was shut and then a break down. Through that and carry on.

My biggest problem was the washers gave up working about Shrewsbury. So I had to stop and clean the screen from time to time. Into Wales and through Newtown ok - I noted some B&B with vacancies thinking "If I can't make it I'll come back to here".

Off over the mountains, pitch black, very cold and very focusing. I got into Aberystwyth about 6:30 I think. It was flipping cold about -8°C. We went and had a meal watched some telly and my son graciously gave up his bed for me and he slept on the sofa.

Monday up early and on the road at just after 8am as we knew more snow coming into Wales and also in the evening in Kent so wanted to beat that home. Over the mountains in the sun - very pretty but -16°C!!! And still sheep on the hills!!! But the road well cleared and slip free - well done Ceredigion council.

M54 - freezing fog but also the slip roads were terrible and vehicles joining were just spreading very slippery slush all over the road - that led to a lorry jackknifed at one.

All well again until the M1 - about 20 miles of slow traffic, again the surface was terrible, there is little point gritting if traffic is going 5 mph and stopping every two yards, all it does is pack the ice down. Another crash blah blah... M25 another crash... blah blah... Still Dartford Crossing was free moving. We got home about 4 - three hours later we had another dump of an inch or so.

Have to say though - getting about in England is getting a joke these days, weather or not intervening - we have an infrastructure that barely copes at the best of times once we have a problem, crash, snow, roadworks it just fails. Here is a radical thought, when you have a 20 mile queue on the motorway why don't they just stop people joining? Surely that would get it cleared quicker? Every junction just seems to pour more oil on the troubled water to me.

Still all home for Christmas now - which is the only thing that really matters.

Friday, 17 December 2010

A little snippet that made me quiet proud and humble

Never ask an alcoholic to buy the booze for you

So Mrs F says - "Can you go up Tescos and get the Christmas food and stuff on Thursday?" Of course being I'm not working it is least I can do as she runs from school play to governors socials etc.

"There is booze on the list you ok with that?" "I'll see how I am at the time" She still doesn't get a response like that, but given probably 2 years ago I would have instantly said no things are moving on - Alcohol is for the moment a past in my life if Alcoholism is still very much in the present.

Anyway - I come back with the shopping - no pork pies and the wrong type of shortbread but overall a success. She pulls out the bottle of Baileys (her favourite). I said "That cost £15 - good job you only drink it at Christmas". She looks at me - "I only drink it at Christmas and it is only me in the family. Why did you get a 1 litre one, the smaller would have done." Ooops - I'd pick up the little one and thought "Well that isn't worth opening" So dug about for the big bottle at the back...

moral of the story.... don't send an alcoholic to buy the booze for Christmas ! LOL!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Outstanding Achievement!!!

I am totally over the moon (as they say) that I have won the 2010 ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP Outstanding Achievement award. Many thanks to Toby at ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP, frankly without his encouragement and the support through the network he started I'd have never got off my backside and got out there doing what I've been doing for the last year i.e. writing, performing, recording etc.

I have to thank everyone who voted for me in the awards as I also got nominations in both the Song of the Year with Let Me Love You Tonight and the CD of the Year category with Within, my d├ębut solo CD.

The Award PODCAST is available at ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP at the moment or directly off Divshare.

Not often I say this but I'm a bit at a loss for words frankly!

The waiting is nearly over...

Do you remember that I put a plea out for readers of this blog to vote for my in theROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP 2010 annual awards?

Well at 6pm GMT tonight the winners will be announced in a special 2010 ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP-AWARDS podcast, which will be available to listen to, or download from the ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP blog

Fingers crossed :-)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

I am a professional song writer!!!

My statement and royalty cheque from PRS tells me so!

Okay it isn't going to mean I have to contact a wealth management consultant but nothing can better the feeling that I have received money for the songs I have written.

So this ties up this year nicely - last year I'd just started as a solo singer, I have had stuff played on the Internet (thanks Scooter Forums Radio and Dinners!), I've played gigs, I've written and recorded a CDs worth of material, I have sold that CD internationally and now I get royalties.

Shame there are not enough 0s on the amounts I've earned or I could seriously think about not doing a proper job again and living the dream! :-)

Political Compass

I've done things like these before - this one was via Facebook via my son... looks similar to where I've fallen before. This one seemed to have very USA centric questions to me.

My Political Views
I am a left moderate social libertarian
Left: 5.54, Libertarian: 3.24

Political Spectrum Quiz

Friday, 10 December 2010

Student fees, demonstrations and all that...

I'm a child of the 60s one of the last of the baby boomer generation, my parents lived through the war, my Dad didn't get called up as he was in a prescribed occupation - i.e. working in the dockyard but he was considering volunteering just as the war ended. My Mum was just too young for service as she only left school just at the end of the war. I imagine with their background and general political persuasion that they were exactly the kind of young people who really welcomed the 1946 social welfare revolution with the NHS, Welfare and of course the education reforms that led to the explosion of the universities in the 60s.

When I left school university was free in terms of fees and it was a grant not a loan. I sort of flunked my A levels a bit, too much time thinking I was going to get my band off the ground and that worldwide stardom was but a few odd timing licks and suspended chords away - but Rush had cornered that market. Anyway I did go to college locally and it didn't cost me or my parents a penny.

So that's the background - to the point. Should students pay for their education? It grates against me a bit that they should have to - however if that payment is in some form of very cheap long term loan that they only pay back when they are earning enough and the payments are pretty much as low as possible then is that so bad? Some of the things in the new proposal I much appreciate - the removal of means testing, I never get why a rich pensioner or someone over 60 still in employment can get winter fuel allowance, free bus passes etc. when an 18 year old who has never earned a penny has the level of their maintenance payment based on what their parents earn! If means testing is appropriate there why not the elderly? Oh yes pensioners vote, many young people don't. So I was pleased to see that gone.

£9000 is that too much? I don't know. What I do know is that the politicians have no idea about life around many kitchen tables in the UK. When kids grow up hearing Mum and Dad saying things like "Can we get the £200 for that school holiday?", "We can't afford a holiday this year", "The washing machine will just have to wait we haven't got the cash"... etc. then they minister says - "It's only about £40,000 of debt you shouldn't worry" Cloud cuckoo land!

However the protests have now gone over the top - the level of violence and what is being fought for is being lost. Why this level of violence, feelings or betrayal, feelings of inequality or that noone will listen.

The things that strike me...
  • A pledge is a pledge - look up the definition. If you shouldn't have made it tough then you have to accept that mistake but stick to your pledge, or go back to the electorate and have a set of byelections with a new manifesto.
  • The violence is a small minority, I wouldn't be surprised if the ring leaders of that have been no nearer a university entrance than I have.
  • The issue will cloud over many other massive injustices being done to the young people of this country - removal of EMA, in my local area many services for under 16s (Medway Childrens university as one example) are simply being scrapped overnight.

So what is really important here to everyone in this country is that we need a generation of young people who want to be here, have belief and passion in this country and it's economy. When I get to bus pass age I know I need people in work paying the taxes that will pay for those privileges of me - there is no insurance scheme I pay into and my money is held for me the workers of today pay for the young and the old and the infirm of today - always have always will. We need people who will do all that for people like me in 20 years or so.

Government, councillors, everyone - re-engage the young people of this country now... to not do so puts this country in greater peril than anything else.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Anniversary of J Lennons death

so 30 years ago today Lennon died... I remember my Dad coming in and telling us that - also that means 30 years ago I went to see Blue Oyster Cult at the Hammersmith Odeon and we had the disastrous swear box to raise a drinking pot idea - it was abandoned before we got off the drive due to the level of contributions!!

Makes me feel flipping old however

Sunday, 5 December 2010

An early Happy Christmas

So to brighten the dark winter we've got the decorations up - much to Daughter-of-Furtheron's liking. She was moaning that we should put them up early, normally we are some point in the middle of December but with the snow and being stuck in etc we did it yesterday - although the snow was thawing quite quickly.

I downloaded Annie Lennox's A Christmas Cornucopia. If you want a new Christmas album I'd recommend this one some great interpretations of many a school hall favourite and I have always loved her voice. Daughter-of-Furtheron has also created a Christmas Playlist in Spotify, I got in with Steeleye Span and Jethro Tull whilst she wasn't looking and we had that playing all afternoon whilst the girls but the tree and the tinsel up.

I've pull out the family old ancient angel chimes to annoy everyone at the dinner table! Just looked blimey they still make very similar ones :-) I've had these since I was a boy, my aunt bought them so they have so much importance to me. For others the tingling of the bells drives them insane! :-)

The snow is a lot better than it has been, especially now I've dug the snow off the road from our house down the slope to the main road we might venture out to pickup my mother-in-law so she can have an afternoon out. We've walked down to her and brought in fresh supplies a couple of times but she has had a hip replacement and has osteoporosis so her walking about in a foot of snow or on ice isn't a good idea.

Bit early I know but given we're in the mood - Happy Christmas to all the readers of this blog.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Guitar comparison and Hughes and Kettner Statesman Dual 6L6 amp demo




Ok

So here is a little side by side comparison of three of my guitars.

All through my H&K Statesman Dual 6L6 combo.

There is a Boss Flanger throughout - that is connected via the amps effects send and return in parallel mode which I like as it has the effect colouring not dominating the sound.

In each sound clip is a shortened version of one of my tunes. Starts off on the clean channel with Twang in, then moves to the drive channel, finally the solo is on the drive channel with the boost in.

On the guitars in order the following..

Peter Cook Custom - clean is on the neck pickup then move to the neck for distorted chords and solo
PRS CE22 - position 9 on the selector (Outside coils of both pickups in parallel) for clean bit the position 10 bridge humbucker for the rest
Gordon Smith Graduate 60 - neck pickup with coil tap engaged and then bridge humbucker once drive is selected.

What's the Peter Cook sound like?

"I dunno Dud!" :-)

Alright as asked by many of you... well one reader!

So here is a demo of the Peter Cook

Three settings - first on a jazzy sequence.

This is using the Neck pickup - through my H&K Statesman 6l6 combo which is on the clean channel with the Twang button in. So the only change is on the guitar.

First - Freq pot at 1 Boost at 8
Second - Freq pot at 10 Boost at 10
Third - Freq pot at 7 Boost at 8

Nothing else is changed! Shows how versatile this beast is.

Then we go RAWK! On the drive channel of the same amp, gain on the amp about 50%. This is on the bridge pickup - again only thing changed is the tone controls on the guitar.

First - Freq pot at 3 Boost at 8
Second - Freq pot at 10 Boost at 10
Third - Freq pot at 7 Boost at 8

The third settings on both are my favoured settings with the guitar.

So here's the sound clip with all those on... enjoy

Thursday, 2 December 2010

My Peter Cook 6 string





I posted these photos on a vintage guitar forum... thought I'd stick em up here too...

It has an active preamp in it - more similar to that used in basses. One knob is overall volume, then a freq knob to pick a freq to boost/cut and then a boost control. The switches are some funny phase switch (never use it) and the preamp on off (I never have it off!). Powered by 2 9 volts under the smaller cover on the back.

It is same scale length as a Strat, Strat hardtail bridge Mighty Mite I believe. A forearm contour but no back contour. Mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard 12" radius with jumboish frets. Nut the brass nut - very late 70s/early 80s! Must be over thirty years old now and I've owned it well over 20. I should use it more but the preamp controls aren't the easiest to get on with - i.e. it is easy to quickly screw it all up!!

Hello Poland and all Hughes and Kettner dual 6l6 users

I've just been looking at my blog stats...

People from Poland, Denmark, all over - including China!

Most popular search that hits my blog is Hughes and Kettner Dual 6L6 review. Really!!!

So hello all owners of that amp - or prospective users. You know what I ought to post some more stuff about it now I've had it 18 months given it is popular reading :-)