29/5/09 : Xup in Manchester

I've been playing live drums at gigs for my friend's solo project 'Xup' for a while now - we used to be in Wolfie together and it's good to keep up with playing the drums - I think out of every instrument I've had a go at, drumming is the most fun - it's kinda like dancing while sitting down. Actually, singing might be more fun, but drumming is a close second. Anyway, this weekend we went up to Manchester for a gig.

Ms Xup herself and Oliver (guitar player in Xup) had headed up the day before, so I caught the coach and slept most of the way as I always seem to on coaches and trains. The venue was a bit dingy but outside the streets of Manchester were sunny, loud, vibrant and predominantly full of gay men drinking and (for some reason) line dancing. I had a wander and a drink, Manchester is nice and though I've played there three or four times now I never seem to recognise where I am. In an effort not to get lost I was wandering around trying to follow my sat nav... I felt a bit stupid but it did seem to work. I met up with Oliver and we had a drink and a chat in the sun. He's a really good guy.

Down into the darkness and extreme smelliness of Retro Bar we played our set, which went ok, though the sound on stage was terrible. Also the drum kit was HUGE... a crazy over-sized one kindly lent by the headliners 'Elvis In Disguise', who turned out to be absolutely great - Elvis covers complete with lip-curling and knicker-throwing. Then there was more drinking, then there was dancing and eventually there was going back to someone's hotel for even more drinking. The next morning I staggered into the sunlight and tried to eat some fried eggs, then Oliver picked me up and drove me back to London. It was a good trip and I met some great people.

27/2/09 : Duke Of Uke

I bought myself a cheapo yellow Ukulele last year and I've been playing it a bit so thought I'd treat myself to a proper one.

I'd been to The Duke Of Uke near to Brick Lane in East London before as I'd recorded in Soup studios which is downstairs and in fact we used to have early Fanfarlo band practices there. I had a look at a few and was only really intending to have a think about which one to get, but there was one that was just right and kept winking at me, even though it was £100 more than the maximum I wanted to spend ;-)

I tried to pretend I wasn't going to buy it but then gave up and handed over the cash. Now I'm home and get to open the case and smell the new wood smells... mmmm! Now I just need to put the effort in to get good at playing it! It's a soprano with a spruce top, walnut back and sides, 17 frets and a shadow piezo pickup. The best thing of course is that you can actually tune it, as opposed to the yellow one I had before!

The Duke Of Uke is a great little shop by the way, really friendly guys who know everything about Ukuleles. They do stuff like in-store gigs too and Uke lessons, everything a music shop should be these days to survive against the big Internet shops.

17/2/09 : Loop pedals are ace

It's my next solo gig on Monday and it's acoustic, so I've go to work out how to play my songs without the drums machines and so on... but I can't resist just a few pedals...

06/2/09 : Spending money on new things

It's all about physical possessions... well, it's all about trying to own every type of instrument that exists anyway... recently I bought myself a Xylophone (I think it came from a school as it had 'Xylophone' written on the side on a laminated label!) and for Christmas I got a new mellodica, a stylophone and an e-bow (which I've always had my eye on since I started playing guitar all those years ago) and then yesterday my new microphone arrived an SE2200A. Very nice. It even comes with it's own special silver carry case, mmmmmm.... This will of course make everything I record an extra 50% better. At the moment it's just demos being recorded, so we can learn the new songs with my new band (which is going well by the way), but I'll get down to some proper recording soon so you can hear the new material in all it's folky glory.

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