So, now we got the apology out of the way, what HAVE I been up to?
Well, chiefly living the life of a gigging musicians. I spend a lot of time playing function/wedding/scratch band/earning-money-type gigs, so there’s been a fair amount of that (which isn’t necessarily interesting, although if anybody wants to hear about it feel free to drop me a line). This includes a bit of teaching, both private instrumental one-on-one stuff and my employment at Newcastle Universisty on the CMP module (a great non-classical performance module that focuses on unlocking creativity and putting musicians together in unpredictable combinations to create original music. The results are frequently amazing…). BUT, not stuff which stretches my ‘music for me’ muscles…
First among those efforts were my visit to Birmingham in May this year, to perform with pianist Mike Hurley at his brilliant ‘Fizzle’ night. These gigs happen in the backroom of a tiny pub called the Lamp Tavern. My set, and the trio set that followed with Mike and trumpet-beast Sam Wooster (who got me the gig: cheers mate!), were watched by a crowd of perhaps 10 people, but they were generous with both their appreciation and their donations (which more or less covered my petrol costs). I had a great time playing with these dudes, and hope to get a chance to go back down soon.
Not long after I took a trip up to Edinburgh to play with two of my very favourite improvising partners. Lauren Hayes and Christos Michalakos work regularly as ‘Můstek’, but they’ve been kind enough to invite me up to perform with them in Edinburgh a few times, and in 2010 we spent a (freezing cold!) weekend recording together. This gig, in early June, represented the official psychical release of the results: Signal Powder, on the newly-formed Reid label (for those working at/in Edinburgh university, or associated with Reid hall).
The gig featured a performance by Můstek and myself, preceded by a duo set from ‘Not Us’, which is Michael Edwards on sax/electronics and Fritz Welch (of the incredble Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra) on percussion, musical saw and sundry bitz. Then both groups came together, augemented by the quality guitar-wrangling of Jack Weir, for a superjam to finish the night. The whole thing was incredibly rewarding, and I was psyched to hold CD that bears my name in my hands. I’m selling them at gigs, if you fancy one…or, y’know, see above…
Throw in a couple of solo appearances at Blue Rinse (my favourite local night for eclectic music, run by the supremely dedicated Charlie Bramley) and it’s been a fairly good stretch for improv-type work. I feel very lucky to have gotten to meet and play with some incredibly inspiring musicians, and I’m looking forward to more, including my upcoming shows for The Noise Upstairs in Sheffield and Manchester this August. Plans are also brewing to make some recordings available very soon, hopefully including the sets from the Reid Hall gig. Watch this space to find more, and come to my shows!