Manchester – Noise Upstairs.

So, a mightily pleasurable evening in Manchester for the Noise Upstairs gig no. 2, with a heady mix of electronics, saxophonists and spoken word/beatboxing. My set went over, I thought, pretty well, and I even shifted a couple of CDs! I’m incredibly impressed by the openness and friendly atmosphere Anton and Rodrigo have generated for the event, and look forward to coming back, if they’ll have me again.

So today is a chance to wander about in Manchester without the usual pressures of timing to distract. A trip to the Museum of Manchester at the university was set off by a fascinating exhibit on Alan Turing, the cracker of the Enigma code and a pioneering giant of computing. The exhibit focused on his last great, unfinished region of study, Morphogenisis: the mathematics of patterns within biological life. Poor Mr Turing died before he could see the fruits of his work, hounded by the repressive attitude towards homosexuality in his era. The tragic end of a genius stands as a harsh reminder of the damaging effects of intolerance in the history of our progress as human beings. I was profoundly touched upon learning that Mr Turing took his own life by eating a poisoned apple. Such a clearly mathematical and rational man dying in such a storybook, almost romantic manner…




Sheffield – Noise Upstairs

Having arrived in Sheffield with a bit of time to spare before the Noise Upstairs gig I took a wee walk around. I’ve done some function gigs here, but haven’t ever been into the centre. Glad I did.. This is a city that still utilises the tram as a public transport method, which I find curiously romantic. Then I suddenly remembered I’ve been here before, years ago, on a school trip to see Guys and Dolls. Suddenly feel quite old. At 27 these moments of nostalgia are becoming scarily frequent. Every time I recall something from the lates 90s/early 2000s I am flummoxed by how long ago that suddenly seems. Weird, elastic time. That said, this statue I found, in front of Sheffield’s lovely cathedral, of a man named James Montgomery puts that in a bit of perspective. Homeboy died in 1854 at 83 years old!! Suddenly 2001 seems very close indeed.


Looking forward to the gig. There’s a solo set, squeezed between some names-from-a-hat ensemble improv. I’m psyched!



Update 2: Gigs

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!




The coffee table is black, but cheap. Outside I can hear to and fro, bustle and hushed rumour. The tip of my right index finger itches. Practically throbs. I pinch it between my left thumb and index and pull with a grimace. The tip comes away from the first knuckle. I am careful. The tip goes in my front jacket pocket. Outside there are raised voices and dashing trolleys. Thrum and professional panic. I turn my opened finger down to the surface of the table and spread inky night across the field. The gradient of the liquid moves from deep blueblack to a fuschia-tinged greenery like a childs storybook rendering of the Northern Lights. Oil on water in brittle spring sunlight. No guests, but visitors.

Update 1: Long time, no Blog!

So yes, it’s been a LONG stretch since I last made any noise on this thing. I’d made a promise to myself to blog frequently, which I profoundly broke within a matter of weeks. How can I live with myself? With difficulty.

The initial reason for my silence was the big repair job my bass had to go through. A serious crack had developed in the front table due to the bass bar having slipped, and my fantastic luthier, Steve Ramsey of Gosforth, had to take the old girl in for the better part of a month. The process, as he explained it to me, was extensive: removing the entire front of the bass and bending the warped table back into shape with a bag of super-heated sand (wow!), which takes time, then strengthening the weakened wood with ribs of maple and reinforced sections. Steve did a great job, as always, but not having my bass around for more than 3 weeks took a toll of my productivity and my ability to earn, not to mention my peace of mind! So, frankly, I forgot all about blogging; no music being made, I thought, so nothing to blog about. Wrong, of course, but an easy rut to fall into. Even so, mind, I got the bass back in APRIL!! A musician can fit a lot into 4 months…and I haven’t told you about ANY of it yet!

So, long story short, we’re back and we’ve got a lot to talk about. In the time since I got the bass back I’ve made some excellent music with some very excellent people, done some things I’ve never done before and made a handful of very cool new friends. In the next few updates I’ll fill you in on some of these adventures, and introduce you to some of the folks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on my travels. I promise they’re worth checking out.



The Amazing Paddy Steer

Thinking about it, Paddy Steer deserves to be seen, as well as listened to. The full impact of his brilliance is better realised with the visual. So click the link above and hang on for 9 minutes of greatness!

Odd Little Group – Live in York

Just a quick post to share the OLG set from last Decembers York trip. This was a really fun gig, not least because we got to share the bill with some very excellent musicians: Brad Field, master of the solo MPC idm set, and the incredible Paddy Steer, a one-man music enginge of drum-triggered synths, glockenspiels, bass organ pedals and light-up papier mache robot heads. This guy produces incredible sounds, and his all-at-once sound makes BATTLES look lazy!! So inspiring!! Check the rest of the Advent Channeler soundcloud for the audio from their sets…