Archive for October, 2008

Lords at Arts Organisation

October 26, 2008

Had a cracking night on Friday which began with a support slot at the Lords album launch party at the Arts Organisation.

Haven’t set foot in this place before its an Art gallery with a coffee shop and has gigs/events on too.  Its quite large with high ceilings and a natural reverb that helps the sound.  I love it as a venue.

Lots of people turned up and the place was quite full even by 9pm when we played.  Before the gig we had decided to try and stop asking each other if we were ready between songs and wondering aloud what the next song was.  It helped because we delivered the set quite strongly and tightly – including new addition Vicious Times.

Thats my song and its donkey’s old.  I have to confess I relished the opportunity to take the central microphone and perform it.  The song sounded quite strong with the band especially with Angie on backing vocals.  Consequently I got even more of a buzz off this gig. 

Afterwards a member of the audience asked for a set list! How cool is that?

Angie and I then repaired to the chip shop for a kebab.  I usually leave it to the end of the night before I order a chicken doner on naan with all the salad and sauce and extra onions, and as Angie asked the man to hold the onions on her doner, I realised why its not a good idea to eat a load of onions before you go out on the town.  They make your breath stink.

I smoked a cigarette and rinsed my mouth with Bells whiskey but I’m not sure if that made the situation worse or better.  Even if the stinging alcohol had succeeded as a mouthwash, my gassy tummy brought regular reminders of the dinner I had consumed.  Oh well, I thought, I’ll just have to keep a good distance from others when I speak to them.

On the street we were approached by two young american gentlemen who introduced themselves as Jesse and Brett from Jack Ruby Presents.  They are a good band and lovely lads from Oregon, studying at Nottingham Uni, and I was flattered when they told us they were into Fists and had enjoyed the set.

Down the front at the Arts Organisation I got carried away watching Lords play and earned myself a sore neck as well as a sore head for the morrow.  This trio are a proper band with loud guitars, riffs and a drummer that most groups would sell their kidneys for.  Although he didn’t have a microphone he was the star of the night, in bright red tracksuit bottoms and shirt, centre stage, making Keith Moon type faces and movements as he commanded his kit.  At the top of the set I was craning my neck to look for the bass player, but they don’t have one.  Chris Summerlin gets an amazing low end tone from his rhythm guitar.

Buzzing from the music I made the short walk over to Loggerheads where Yeah I’ll Play it Later DJs were finishing their set.  I went crazy when Bones played ‘Rum and Coca-Cola’ by the Andrew Sisters, which I’d been singing all day.  What a coincidence – or perhaps he had also tuned into Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour last week (the subject was alcohol).  If you listen to ‘Rum and Coca-Cola’ on YouTube you’ll hear the Andrew Sister’s close harmonies, featuring an impressive downwards sliding vocal bit at the end of the chorus.

Emboldened by the music and the beer, and challenged by the early closing time, we retreated to the cave to sing showtunes.  Again the recurring theme of getting carried away was to the fore.  Making jazz hands and putting on a faux musical style voice, a group of us made up some exaggerated Broadway style songs.  We had to make them up because regrettably I didn’t know any.  It was fun and lots of laughter and tomfoolery followed.  Then, like a bolt from the blue, I remembered that I knew most of the words from Jackie, so Theresa and I launched into a stirring version.  After a few minutes we were told to quiet down as Loggerheads has had some problems with noise pollution and its neighbours.  Usually they get complaints about the massive pumping sound system rather than a few overstimulated punters singing Jacques Brel tunes 12 feet underground. 

On the streets of Nottingham, the made-up showtunes continued, with arms round lamposts and cries of ‘lets do the show right here’.  It was at this point when things got pushed one over the eight, as we found that the Pop Confessional was still going on upstairs at the Social.  The DJs were very generous with their bottle of Vodka, giving charge of it to Katie on the condition that she did not ‘take the piss’.  But later it was the DJs themselves who took the piss, as they asked me to stand still and open my mouth as they poured several shots worth of the potato-based drink directly down my gob.

Theresa must have had a good night as she woke up without her handbag and with someone else’s coat.  God bless her.

ANDREWS SISTERS – BONUS FOOTAGE

The touchy-feely sisters are having a wonderful time here on the Dean Martin Show in 1967

lolaments

October 17, 2008

I was whisked off a table today to wish happy birthday to a member of staff on the microphone in front of the whole club to ensure maximum embarassment on his 40th birthday.  I think the supervisor asked me to do it i) because the only other person willing to do it would be Simon Trumper who wasn’t there; and ii) because i wouldn’t mind making a fool of myself. 

Never one to shy from the centre of attention, I made sure everyone knew it was Tournament Director Dave’s fortieth and tried my best to lead a chorus of Happy Birthday.  A few moments after launching into the song, I became aware that only a handful of the 200 people in the room were really with me.  I instinctively chose to amp up the performance as opposed to shrinking away like the proverbial violet.  Dave deserved better.  Before I knew it I was bawling out the song at the top of my lungs, in my best attempt at an operatic tenor, waving my arms and turning from left to right in a desperate effort to rouse the crowd.  It was a bit weird and out of place, but the sentiment was heartfelt.  Dave certainly appreciated it.  To my surprise I received several compliments from members of the club.

New Tunes

October 14, 2008

I posted my demo of Cold Cold Nights on myspace.com/smellofsuccess.

Also up there along with some older tunes is Found it Hard from the EP i recorded with Tom Shave one year ago.

Have my musical work cut out over the next week demoing more new songs, transcribing some covers for Fists and working out basslines for two new additions to the set.

Its good to be busy.

SNG4ME

October 14, 2008

Struggling through yet another cash session about ten days ago, I decided to take a break with my old friend – the Sit and Go.

When the tournament finished, I realised that my bonus point ticker had fallen by 63 points – in one Sit and Go!

Full Tilt pay 7 points to the dollar on tournament registration, a few points more than most sites.  I realised that I could work my bonus off as quick or quicker playing SNGs as opposed to cash games. 

Within a short time I was 6-tabling, enjoying it, working off the bonus quickly and most importantly I was winning.

My game had changed.  I had shifted to a more loose aggressive style playing more hands before the flop, re-raising more before the flop, and getting some thin value bets and good bluffs post flop.  I had never made a conscious decision to do this, and even a few weeks ago I was playing a rigidly tight preflop tournament game.  Somehow I had gained a bit more confidence in my reads and a bit more of a laissez faire, gambly attitude.

Anyway the results have been great since including one massive day last week where I was actually running good, expecting to win every race, shoving a lot prelop and getting lucky – including one bubble hand shown below when I found the JTs in second position after an under-the-gun raiser.  Shipping it without a moment’s thought I was dismayed to see the JJ tabled.  But no stress – how about a Royal Flush?

 

sorry buddy

sorry buddy

So a better game coupled with running good means I’m now at the height of confidence and my bankroll has recovered too.  Its great to have a few tables open and have the sense of my chip stacks all moving in the right direction.

Lost Notebook; New Earphones

October 13, 2008

A few weeks ago I lost my music notebook when I left it at a gig.  In that notebook were lots of lyrics and song ideas – the scribbled beginnings of things that either get turned into projects, or not.

I wasn’t very upset about losing the notebook, and I thought about why.  It wasn’t like losing a word file of 2000 words from your computer.  It wasn’t like losing a mastertape of completed songs.  It was just a book of scribbled ideas.  If you don’t work on your ideas and turn them into projects then they remain ephemeral and insubstantial. 

For a while I’ve not spent a lot of time going back to the notebook and working those ideas into songs or other projects. 

For a while I thought it was enough to write down the ideas in the book, and come back and use the idea at a much later time.  But the truth is that you usually need to start work on an idea straight away, while its still fresh in your mind, if anything is to come of it.  The notebook might be useful as an aide memoir until you have a free couple of hours, but it is really not a receptacle of projects. 

Often an idea for a song might not get past the notebook, but if you don’t spend some time working on the idea you’ll never know!

Once you start working on the idea you scribbled down in the notebook, you don’t need the notebook anymore.  It becomes an organic thing in your creative mind and will pester you until its finished.  Of course it can take many many hours of demo-ing and re writing to finish a song.

So I didn’t lose a lot when I lost the notebook – I have already paid the opportunity cost of not following through on the ideas within it.

This week I bought a new pair of headphones and a couple of leads i needed to help me demo songs at home, and I got to work on my new notebook.

Pigeon

October 13, 2008

I returned to the house about 3pm this afternoon with a shopping bag and two dogs in tow.  I was hungry and looking forward to a pastrami and pickle sandwich.

What I got was quite a surprise.  Pigeon pie anyone?  As I shut the front door, a great crash and smash filled the house.  Blimey, I thought, did I just do that?  No, I had not.  It was a pigeon flown through the living room window at great speed, leaving a circular hole in the middle of the large pane, and glass everywhere, reaching all four walls.  On the varnished floorboards lay the fallen bird, twitching slightly and looking much the worse for wear.  It breathed its final breath as a small, thick pool of blood framed its sorry head.  I gave it a cursory poke with my shoe then bunged it in a bag and buried it at the bottom of the garden.

If somebody had been in that living room they would have had the fright of their life, but its very unlikely that they would have been hurt. 

It took a while to clean up all the glass.  I was glad that I didn’t have to kill the pigeon.

Falling through a window into another world

October 7, 2008

Check out this blog post by Trixter, where he describes his enthusiasm at finding a very unusual piece of software history.  I am taken aback by i) his love of his subject and ii) the avalanche of responses to his post which provide an insight into the fascinating world of computer technology.

How ignorant I am and how much do I take for granted the world underneath my fingertips which has rushed up like a tall forest within a few years.

http://trixter.wordpress.com/2008/09/28/the-diskette-that-blew-trixters-mind/

Broadway/Hockley Hustle

October 7, 2008

Last Sunday Fists played a raucous gig at Broadway for the Hockley Hustle festival.

I left the house at dusk feeling really below par.  For the last week I’ve had what my Dad identifies as the Nor Virus which is a kind of a cold without the congestion but all of the run down feelings and a few extra visits to the toilet.  Seems difficult to shake this illness. 

Upon meeting Pete I found out that we would have to pay for our wristsbands to see other artists at the Hockley Hustle.  I was outraged.  We were playing for free, taking a car load of equipment for other bands to use, paying for our own food and drink, and we had to pay to see the other bands!? This put my sensitive outlook on tilt. 

I arrived at the venue with a face longer than a Kings of Leon guest list.  But things soon turned around.  After dragging my 100Kg bass rig through the crowded bar, I grabbed a Leffe and ensconsed myself upstairs, where I found a very agreeable scene.  Yeah I’ll Play it Later DJs were playing some reggae, and a few friends were there.  I ordered some stew and drank some red wine, and found myself in a warm cafe-culture environment, food and drink on the table, friends all around, good music, nice lighting, conversation.  Suddenly I was up dancing, just shooting the shit.  An hour ago I longed for a Lemsip.  Now I didn’t need it, and I was ready to gig.

We got on about half ten, and my word what a lot of people had turned up to see us.  Probably it was a fortuitous fluke of timing, like there was a break between bands at neighbouring venues, coupled with a gravitational effect of a group of people saying ‘we’re going Broadway now to see Fists’ and people around them saying ‘OK lets go too’ and perhaps some other drunken stragglers attach themselves to this group without even knowing their destination, and anyway Broadway was the only Hockley Hustle venue where you didn’t have to pay to get in, which is a good job because they probably would have tried to make me pay to get in to my own gig.

Someone had the bright idea of taking one of the benches from the floor of the bar, which opened up a lot of space to allow more people in.  The place was packed!  And the factors which make the Broadway cafe bar such a dry and normally unsuitable venue for a gig now seemed to add to the quality of the experience.  There was no stage, just one corner of the room cleared for the band to squeeze into, so people were standing on tables and chairs to see.  The flow of people into the room bottlenecked at the doors between the bar and the foyer, making it difficult for people to get in or out, making the room seem more crowded than it was, and creating the impression that there was loads of people outside who couldn’t get in.  The sound system was absolute pants, and because there was no stage all the sound got absorbed straight into the first section of the audience.  That might be why people at the back were pushing forward and standing on chairs to hear us.  Perhaps also the fuzzy sound almost suited our DIY, eclectic, wannabe rockabilly style.

Anyway I felt really good about the gig, and there were enough folks in the audience familiar with the songs to react to the ones they liked, and many people liked it who hadn’t even heard us before.  It didn’t seem to matter that various instruments and mics cut out during the set.  A year ago we would have freaked out in similar circumstances, and a year ago we would not have had so many people turn up or had so many people recognise the songs.  So I think that Sunday night will become very memorable for me, and when we (very soon) have a load more songs in our set, and a record out and a bunch more people listening to our music, I might remember it as the start of something.

Battle of Champions

October 7, 2008

Yesterday we filmed the Norweigan ‘Battle of Champions’ TV tournament at Dusk Till Dawn.  Intriguingly, I’m not permitted to tell you who won.  Excitingly, the line-up included young millionaires Johnny Lodden and Annette Obrestrad.  Predictably, the day was sooooo boring and protracted as you would expect a film shoot to be.

My job was to stand behind the dealer with a clipboard noting down every single bet, raise, check and call, with the amount.  It wasn’t easy, but after ten hours I got the hang of it.

Simon Trumper was relegated to a supervisory role and the only commentary he got to do was announcing the rising blinds.  This was a contrast with his normal amped-up live commentary on every matchup.

Thank God for Lemsip I would have made a lot more mistakes were it not for this lemony, refreshing brew.

The 8 Norweigan players were really good (as you would expect) and during the first 120 or so hands, before action went down to the last four, there were a total of two walked pots and zero unraised pots.  Almost all of the players regularly defended their big blind to the first raise.  Often pots were played between a three-bettor and the initial raiser.  Johnny Lodden stood out in contrast as a player who liked to limp a lot – often from early position – and see many flops.

In this aggressive game showdowns were few and I can only remember one hand that was checked round on more than one street.  I look forward to seeing the finished footage so I can inspect the hole cards.  If you happen to see the program and notice any mistakes in the bet numbers/stack sizes displayed on screen its my fault. 

It was quite funny seeing Annette chowing down on a cheese-bap in the break.  Unfortunately I was too shy to chat to her much and far to professional to ask her to sign anything.

Extreme Characters

October 4, 2008

The bus on the way to work now is packed with Goose Fairgoers. 

A colleague at work said one fairperson had threatened to bring 80 people down to the club to play poker but it never happened. 

Work is getting a little bit busier now.  The students coming back has made a little difference and i’ve seen a few faces re-appear last couple of weeks. 

But we still want it to be busier! Its a long time since the glory days of the Norweigan festival, or the first couple of months we were open, when crazily long and arduous shifts and tired ears from the noise of hundreds of excited people in one room were made all worthwhile with adequate monetary compensation.  The Anniversary Cup festival happens first week of December and I will be disappointed with anything less than five grinding days of business, some big money poker and a wad of tips at the end of it…

The characters you see on the bus, from the window of your car, or as you sit on a bench on a busy street, are as extreme and fantastic as a crazy cartoon.  Its difficult to set down a description of some of the people you see without the reader assuming you are exaggerating or characterising.  You clean your glasses, polish your shoes and apply pomade to your hair, then go downstairs and in walks a man with a long grey ponytail and a gut so huge your mouth hangs open.  The gut does not protude outwards but downwards, like a ball-sack, and your eyes cannot leave it because it has been encased in a XXL golf shirt, belted at the waist, so as to make a feature of the huge sack-gut which hangs down a full foot over the belt.  He walks with a waddling walk which makes the sack-gut wobble as he walks from side to side. 

On the bus we stop at the Goose Fair site and a man of slight build and slightly lower than average height makes his way from the bus.  He’s strutting a little bit with shoulders close together and bobbing from side to side.  His girlfriend follows in tow.  He’s wearing sportswear – a black and grey Lonsdale top and tracksuit bottoms.  He has a big black baseball cap turned backwards and, as if it were not enough to have it backwards it is backwards at a huge rakish angle.  He’s got massive shades on and its dusk in October.  To top off the pimp-walk, shades and baseball cap he chews a white lollipop stick between his teeth.  He seems full of confidence and arrogance.  The whole picture is like a cartoon, and my eyes are wide and i’m laughing to myself ‘how can he walk round like that’.  But he does walk round like that!  And I think about how all the freaks that you see on the street are far more amusing than the characters in comedy sketch shows or more vaguely that every crazy thing or crazy person you can imagine is out there already, its already been done, along with all the things and people you cannot imagine.