Days in the life of a songwriter 18

Sorry about the slight delay, but am up in Kendal (Lake District) to relax and do some walking. More about that next time. Last weekend I went to see Trollhunter; a little Norwegian movie that is doing quite well due to a clever social media/marketing campaign (apparently). Anyway, I did enjoy it, you might have heard that it’s shot in a similar way to the Blair Witch movie of yore, all true. So lots of shaky cameras and filming through car windows and what not. A third into the movie some trolls appear and rampage through the countryside (at night, obviously), it’s all very tongue in cheek and it could well become a cult movie. We’ll see. It might do some advertising for Norway on the way.

On Wednesday we went to quite an inspirational evening where Wayne Hemingway who co-founded Red Or Dead with his partner talked about brands and how they got started almost 30 years ago. They started with a market stall in Camden because he couldn’t pay the rent after paying for a rehearsal room and his friends (on the dole) couldn’t pay him back. They made something like 118 quid on the first day (1982) when they only needed 8 pounds for the rent each. Anyway, I think almost everyone there was impressed!! The venue was the Book Club in Shoreditch which provided an easy going atmosphere but not a lot of chairs.

Moving on to the music stuff. Well, I wanted to get some brass in on the act again for the week’s Amphibic gig at the Wilmington Arms, so I arranged another song that already had a small trumpet solo, for trombone, horn and trumpet. I came up with something simple and we also worked out something for the piano during a piano rehearsal with Nick, picking up what I had done on the recording already. With hindsight I think I might change it a bit as it sounded a tad low to me at the gig. Imogen worked out a pizzicato bass part on the cello (during cello rehearsal) as there was no ‘arco’ cello part in it. Anyway, we didn’t have drums for the gig but considering the fact that there were 7 of us on stage, I thought it might be best to bring drums back in next time. There was, Sarah Maxwell on horn, Rosie Turton on trombone, Joe Carter on trumpet, Nick Desmond on piano, Imogen Burman on cello and Laura Thompson on violin. I had emailed everyone their parts and we double checked the cues before the gig. It went really well and today there was a review on Spoonfed online already. It was Nick’s 21st birthday and I had got him a chocolate cake plus candles from Waitrose. I lit it downstairs before everyone came down to pick up their instruments from the backstage basement. And we sang.

Right, need to check my bank balance to see whether we can afford a zoom video/sound recorder in order to be able to record our future gigs. There’s a handy one called Q3 I believe. On that note…..more very soon.

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Days in the life of a songwriter 17

What a week it’s been. First I thought there wouldn’t be enough to talk about, now I need to edit stuff out… . Let’s see. Took some Danish and Norwegian architects and engineers to Cheslea’s Stamford Bridge in Fulham last week. Checked out the changing rooms, first the one for the away team which I saw 3 years ago because I took Schalke 04 there. Then we went to the ‘real’ home side facilities. Big difference. There was a board about tactics, tried to take a pic with my mobile, but switched on the camera …. aaarrrghhh. Also, saw the stands and some of the VIP areas too. The next day I took some of the same people to the Thames Barrier, well inside of it really.

Midweek I decided to take a short trip to Bergen in Norway. Flew there on Saturday to see William Hut play at the Garage (Garagen). He played a lovely gig and there was also a birthday party surprise thing going on for Agathe which was great. William played with a piano and keyboard player and a guitarist. Saw some old friends in the process and sampled a nice day in Bergen itself as well. Had booked a bed in a 4 bed room at the YMCA just behind the fish marked (fisketorget), turned out that I shared with a Brazilian family who took the same flight to London on Sunday. Before the gig I had some baked mackerel at a place called The Penguin (pingvinen)…..there is a place called The Camel as well (a coffee shop).

Came back Sunday after buying a big piece of salmon at the food festival on Bryggen (the old port) where the Hanseatic league used to have their offices. Saw some musician/roadie looking types checking in for the same flight and bought a book by Henning Mankell (the last in the Wallander series). Two days later (Tuesday night) I saw one of those guys on my flight, standing next to me at the Water Rats where I had gone to see a girl band called Katzenjammer. So I turned and said: “You were on the 2:30 flight from Bergen on Sunday!” It was funny to see his face. 5 minutes later he got me a pint of Stella. Turns out he works with sound systems for touring bands.

Well, since I used to enjoy reading spy stories and am a fan of John LeCarre it was great to be able to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy on Monday night (one day before the big premiere in London). I was very impressed with the set design, choice of location, the acting, the clothes……lots of great stuff in the movie and I remember thinking the word ‘masterpiece’ throughout at least the first 30 minutes. I don’t think it’s superb throughout. It isn’t easy to stick all of the fairly intricate plot into a one movie format (guess that’s why it was a mini series for TV with Alec Guiness). In my opinion the movie could have done with another 40 minutes!!! It would have made it clearer and given it a more even pace. I still enjoyed it though. Gary Oldman is fantastic as is almost everyone. Our friend Geraldine put the dark colours, that some described as grey down to the fact that the director is Scandinavian. I don’t think it’s grey, for me it was mainly ‘greenish’, in a Fuji Film type of way……..

anyway, need to arrange some brass for next week’s Amphibic gig and get myself organised so catch you soon!

Days in the life of a songwriter 16

We had to drop one violin from our (Amphibic) gig at the Distiller’s Arms in Hammersmith as we just couldn’t get the logistics sorted in time. Having said that, I made Piotr play loads of viola and cello parts as well on his violin, it kept him from getting bored and gave us lots of strings. Hakon did a good job on the piano as well, well he had to, his parents had come for a visit from Iceland and so his motivation was even higher than normal. A little tidbit here, Hakon used to train Karate in the same class as Bjørk back home and back in the day. My fairly newly installed (Artec piezo) pickup in my Seagull acoustic did really well and the soundman made me use it without the preamp (as it sounded better). It only cost 17 quid, result!!

Had to get up really early the next day to take some peeps to Stonehenge and Oxford and could have done with tons more sleep, but what can you do? Anyway, got back to my place, had a quick shower and jumped into half decent clothes as I had to join some friends at a birthday party at Bungalow 8 at the St Martin’s Lane Hotel. I didn’t know anything about it, so wasn’t expecting anything really, but if you did expect a high flying super charged VIP’y club you might have felt a tad let down, if you know what I is saying!?

We got up at 1pm the next day, yay! and had a lazy Sunday afternoon, went over to my mate Olaf’s house and after warming up to some Father Ted we saw Los Angeles and something else that I can’t remember now…..ah, where is my cod liver oil?

On Tuesday I had to wait for a group down at the London Eye, it was windy as fluff (that’s a euphemism) and the group was late by an hour and a half…..but Janet the lady who looks after the coaches there, had some gummi bears and Dutch biscuits coated in chocolate on one side. I got the coffee in, so yes I survived.

This brings us smack bang up to date. I’m very excited as I decided to fly to Norway (Bergen) for pretty much a day on Saturday, to see an old mate (William Hut) play a gig in Bergen (Garage) got a good price on Norwegian and here I come. More next week.