Sunday, 28 October 2012


After much umming and ahhing about what to do today, and wondering when we would get around to watching the new bond movie we decided to combine the two. Clever huh.

I've reached the halfway point between joining the gypsy orchestra and our first gig. So by rights I should know about half the set backwards? Well I don't. I know 2 songs well and another 1 if I follow the other guitarists. Better get rehearsing.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Well that's gone and done it

Apple have just released the iPad mini. I have an iPhone 4 and a 2012 iMac already. When I bought the iMac I wanted a big screen for working at a desk. The cost of the larger Macbook was prohibitive. However I access the internet largely on my iPhone, even when at home because the iMac is in the spare room. I write my notes on the phone, I carry my phone everywhere, I record rehearsals on the phone. The only thing I don’t really do on my phone is make calls.

What my iPhone needs is a bigger screen.

A couple of years ago I noticed an interesting trend amongst film and visual artists. They had Macbook pro laptops and old Nokia dual band phones.

I have no pretence to needing pro equipment. What I need is something to use garageband, the internet, and write on that can go in a small bag or jacket pocket. I don;t make films like I thought I might but I do make music and write. I rarely use my phone for calls... would an old bulletproof phone work? Can I justify the iPad mini instead of an iPhone.

Monday, 22 October 2012


Tonight I went to the leaving do of a friend. After many years of military service he decided he'd done his 'duty' and decided to leave for a civilian career.

Just after I met him I joked that any job that involved firearms and body armour was the wrong job. He joked that in most of his jobs he'd been reassured by both. An uncomfortable silence followed.

I then said 'yeah but you've put that behind you?'

'Yes thank god'

He ranked as captain and was kept on the reserve list. Not ideal but he taught tactics at the TA, got weekends away with other men obsessed with military paraphernalia.

Tonight he's been recalled for a year in Afghanistan.

What is the point of sending a man finally socialised in normal society to kill for a reason none of us understand.
The afghans don't want him there. The British army won't be impressed by his years going 'soft'

His allies, the locals and the Taliban will all try to kill him.
His crime? He's done it before.

My friend the ex-submariner was deemed unfit for work and pensioned off. Yet when G4S screwed up he did convoy duty for 6 weeks so the regulars could patrol the Thames during the Olympics.

Bunch of arse. Hope you get to come back with the humanity you've developed and a your body parts attached. The British military has a survival rate to challenge cancer.

Why are we even in these places?

Cheap petrol, US policy, idiocy and the inability to learn from history.

Friday, 19 October 2012

LGO... the story so far

Weird how musicians from different disciplines find different things difficult to adapt to.

Many a time I’ve wished I had learned one instrument classically to give me an understanding of theory etc. Only to meet a classical musician absolutely baffled by folk/blues/roots music.

I thought I’d been having trouble adapting to the music of the LGO until I spoke to the other new members. Everyone finds the changeable nature of the arrangements tricky. Most challenging however is receiving a score that:

a) May be the part you are playing.
b)Might be the part you need to harmonise with.
c) May have no dicernable relation to the tune you can hear people playing.

That said I’ve still got a month before the gig at the union chapel... Plenty of time to get it all right in my head.

Guild M-120E

After much umming and ahhing I finally got round to buying a new guitar. I’ve looked at all sorts of different makes and models, each with a different specialty and each with different short comings. The problem is that whilst I am by no means destitute, I’m not a middle aged man with Guitar Acquisition Syndrome (GIS). You know the guy trying out yet another Taylor or Martin at the back of the shop to add to their collection... 

I need a guitar that I can play at home. A guitar that I can use for gigs. Use with the Buskers on Bikes. Take on the tube. I realised that I needed a small guitar (smaller than my 80’s dreadnaught anyway), with a pickup (I record and play live enough that I’d want this for convenience), and it had to be built to last.

Finally, the last criteria, was that I needed a guitar for playing in the London Gypsy Orchestra which I joined a month ago. Lots of Capo use and frantic strumming. In the course of my search I narrowed it down to  a Seagull grand parlour, A Simon and Patrick woodland folk, a Martin 001X, Various Sigmas and the Guild M120E.

Both the Seagull and the S&P are made at the same factory with Laminated back and sides. A cedar or spruce sold top and a proprietary pickup system (Godin). They played beautifully but the seagull headstock I found fiddly and the S&P body cut into my arm. They would also need drilling for an extra strap button.

The Martin had me sold from the moment I picked it up. It may have been made out of plastic and fibreboard with a solid spruce top, but it sounded like a Martin. It had a Fishman Pickup and the additional strap button for playing standing up. 

Thing is the neck is Stratabond (Plywood), and the body is made out of HPL (high pressure laminate3 or fibreboard) with a digitally printed grain. This is a guitar that whilst the top would age well the back and sides would get tattier as time went on. This guitar is like the Epiphone Les Paul. Great until you pick up the real thing.

The Guild M120E is all mahogany and looked like the Sigmas. It has the same pickup as the Martin and came in a hard case designed for it... not a gigbag. It is also solid woods all the way through. Solid mahogany top, back and sides. Satin neck and high gloss body. Money has been saved making it in China and there is no binding or ornamentation (except for an abalone rosette).

It immediately struck me as a budget players guitar... Sure with no binding i’ll need to be careful with the edges. With a thin mahogany body I’ll need not to bash it or let it dry out. However it should last me . It came in a case, with the pickup... It’s designed to do all the things I wanted and it’s the new model of the guitar that Nick Drake used. It even says on the side of the case...” Built to be played”

Bought from the lovely guys at Wunjo Guitars

Friday, 5 October 2012

Lovely bike

This morning I noticed this little beauty at the station. You might not be able to see from the picture but it's a vintage ladies frame, restored with a mix of vintage and velo orange parts. Very pretty and very practical. You could ride long or short distances in style on this.