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Sunday, 20 November 2016

Open Mic #2

Myself and Rob Edgar run the Open Mic at Primrose Hill Community Library. The event is fantastic opportunity for anyone to perform in an easy-going and supportive environment. Please come along to play or listen. The event will be held on the following Saturday dates: -

November the 19th: 19/11/16 (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm)
December the 10th: 10/12/16 -- Chritmas Special (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm)

Then every second Saturday on: -

January the 14th: 14/01/17 (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm)
February the 11th: 11/02/17 (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm)
March the 11th: 11/03/16 (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm)
April the 8th: 08/04/16 (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm)
May the 13th: 13/05/17 -- Open Mic Anniversary Special (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm)
June the 10h: 10/06/17 (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm)
July the 08th: 08/07/17 (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm).

Contact events@phcl.org to book a slot or find out more.


Monday, 29 August 2016

Recording Journal #2

The summer holidays passed and I took a morning off to record vocals. This was so I could send over all twelve tracks to Chris Waring and Chris Monger with singing attached -- we had done the first few vocal tracks live. Meanwhile, Sean Taylor turned up to make a couple of guest appearances on Danish Desperado and Rock Star for Tonight, chopping out mercurial bursts of lead guitar through my classic Epiphone Les Paul and Marshall G100 CD (with cabinet) combination. Sean and I often meet up for a jam, and have built up a good chemistry over the years. He is a brilliant guitarist with a fantastic touch and feel. Once we'd overcome what has since been nicknamed 'Dan's innovative tuning', Sean conjured up a couple of spellbinders to make you weep and smile.

Whilst I was mixing up a storm in Primrose Hill; up in the old city of York, Chris Waring had been preparing his bass guitar parts on his Fender Precision. I wasn't 100 % sure that remote bass was going to work, but it has well exceeded my expectations. Chris plays with impeccable timing and instantly picked up on the rock influenced flat tuning we used for the album (think G n' R / Thin Lizzy / Jimi Hendrix). Hearing Norway complete with bass for the first time was one of those finger tingling moments I sometimes get as a musician. Nestled alongside that smooth sax, right in the middle of the mix, all our hard work was starting to sound like a high quality production. What also amazed me was how easy it was to import Chris's parts onto my TASCAM DP-24SD (especially once I'd uncovered the user's manual from underneath some cardboard boxes).

Then came the morning of the many wires. For those readers not familiar with guitar terminology, we call the kind of wires guitar players use leads in the UK or cables in the US. One wire was heading from my Ibanez RG550 to my Boss BCB-60 pedal board with three pedals connected by wire: my (from right to left) Digitech Bad Monkey overdrive, Boss DS-1 distortion pedal and Boss DD-3 delay effect. The whole system was then wired into the DP-24SD, ready for some lead guitar action for the closing album tracks Ferdinand of Abyssinia, The Sinner of Pinner (I later added some bass guitar from my Fender Jazz for these two myself) and the epic Nightingale. Happy that we have nailed the parts for nine of the twelve tracks, we now await a final burst of inspiration from my old partner in crime, the sound magician Chris Monger.

A trip to my former home Oxford might do the trick.

My Epiphone Les Paul with cherry sunburst finish.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Recording Journal #1

The first thing we did was lug all the gear to New Rose Studios on Camden Road. I had booked a six hour lockout with Rob and we traveled on the 31 bus with a change to the 29 when we got to Camden Town. Once we got there, we were greeted by the studio's friendly staff who offered me a choice of amp, of which there were several various shapes and sizes of. I went for the Marshall head and cab most resembling my own and dragged it into Room 1, left past reception and through the door on the right. Then Rob and I started setting up mic positions for the drums, Rob warming himself into the drum seat of the classic Pearl kit that came with the room. After some sound testing, we decided to record live with myself at the captain's helm, facing Rob's command position in engineering -- Star Trek metaphors became a theme that day.

At precisely two o' clock, with the timing of a Swiss train, up walked the talented Joel-Isaac with his compact saxophone packed in a black hard case. Earlier, Rob and I had just finished nailing our live renditions of Norway, Wake Up in the Morning Light and Wife of a Blues Singer ready for sax insertion. So the plan now was to record me singing with Joel-Isaac standing to my left blowing out his finest in as many sharp 'guitar keys' as musically possible. And what a fantastic job the young man did, honking his way through our 12 bar like he was taking a Mars bar from a toddler. This was exactly the start we needed to get the foundations of this ship steadied and ready to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilization, to boldly go where no musician has gone before.

Then we stopped off at The Union pub next door, with its outlandish selection of rock band names postered on the wall and its limited choice of either pork scratchings or pork scratchings to accompany your pint. Rob had a Guinness, I had a lemonade, and the youngster J.I. abstained from partaking of a beverage. Incidentally, my mother heard from someone that used to work at The Union that the pub is haunted, which we agreed suited the live music venue's penchant for bands with weird names. Following a chat about the future, past and present, off walked the accomplished J.I to new chapters and new horizons -- oh to be young again (okay, you're not exactly old are you).

It must have been about half past three when somehow my index finger stretched its way across to the overdrive switch of that solid old Marshall, and I'm glad it did because what we got was a couple of rock corkers from the old beast (check out Danish Desperado and Rock Star for Tonight if you get the chance when they're released). The great vibes J.I. had left behind, Rob's impeccable ear, and that 'just crunching at the edge' amp had started to have their desired effect. Out rolled the ballad Got My Love (On Winter Days), which I had demoed on piano for the band originally; then we kept it clean and swung for a couple more tracks -- to be heard on Happy Hour and The Sinner of Pinner -- until Rob needed the toilet, as did I need to also go for a slash (people do sometimes go to the toilet in stories).

Following our short stop on the extra-comfy black leather sofa of the New Rose Studios waiting room, we then returned to Room 1 for a bit more rock n' roll in the shape of Ferdinand or Abyssinia, Super Pretty Girlfriend, Sheila and the epic Nightingale. This was when Rob really came into his own: knocking out tom rolls like a footballer knocks out four foot passes; busting us a spontaneous drum intro without so much as a misplaced sextuplet; and finally, squeezing a much appreciated extra minute out of a song's middle bit. It was classic stuff, the man was on fire; and what's more, we couldn't believe how easy it had been to record twelve songs in six hours. Sometimes, the universe is aligned at just the right point when you press record, and this was most probably one of those very moments which defined us as musicians and people.

We looked at the clock. Quarter to six and running perfectly to schedule. Now a bit of packing up, a healthy chat to accompany our departure, and one last friendly bit of banter with rocker Charlie at reception. All was done, what remained was another quick pint at The Union (this time I did have a celebratory glass of ale or two), a short walk through the rain with our heavy gear in tow and the double bus journey home (for a change we hitched the 274 on leg two).

Now to record the rest of the band and produce one or two more guest appearances from the bag.

Wood chippings on the floor: a perfect sign that you're in a rock studio.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Open Mic #1

Myself and Rob Edgar are now running the open mic at Primrose Hill Community Library. It is a community based project created to promote the values of the library and to encourage people to share their talents in front of an easy-going audience. We mostly have musicians coming along to play, but we also welcome poetry, stand-up comedy and other more eclectic forms of public entertainment. The room is set up like an intimate jazz club with tables, liquid refreshment and light aperitifs provided for all audience members. Musicians can have free use of a baby-grand piano, a Fender Jazz bass guitar, professionally set up acoustic and electric guitars, plus two qualified musicians in the form of myself and Rob. Basically, we will be there to provide everything needed for a smoothly run and entertaining evening from around 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Our upcoming dates for this exciting event are as follows: -

June the 11th: 11/06/16 (5:30 pm to 7:30 pm - after the Primrose Hill Fair)
July the 23rd: 23/07/16 (17:30 to 19:30)
September the 10th: 10/09/16 (17:30 to 19:30)


Poster for our open mic in  Primrose Hill.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Saturday Night Gigs

Rob and I caught the 31 bus from Chalk Farm to Kilburn Park. April showers had begun to fall. We chatted about music and literature. After dropping off our gear at the venue, we went out for dinner at Woody's Grill. It was a hearty meal and cost less than a tenner per head.

Chris met us after dinner inside the venue. He had on him a lap steel and a couple of pedals. The night before, he and I had given the set a virgin run-through in my studio. Tonight would be the first time that Chris, Rob and I had ever played together. It was going to be fun!

The gig was attended by our friends and the other four bands. As Chris and Rob sat down on stage, I stepped up to play a couple of my own guitar pieces. We then launched into a set of new songs and two covers. I believe we worked well as a trio, and the audience response was complementary.

Rob's drums and Chris' lap steel got the public seal of approval. 

Picture taken by Maria at The Good Ship (02/04/16)

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Dan's Annual Guitar Concert 2016

It was a sunny afternoon in Primrose Hill. I waited in the library office for the audience to arrive. The radio played rock music in the background. My equipment was set up ready for the concert to begin. All I had to do was walk out, plug in and roll. The rest would be the passing of thirty-seven minutes of time. Time enough to fill a room full of questions and answers.

Conversations begun to buzz from the room outside. A variety of people had come from a variety of places. Music had brought together people from different walks of life. There were the retired ladies from the local community, waiting patiently in the front row. At the back of the seating area, several of my friends looking towards the makeshift stage. And fanning out from the centre of the seating area, a wide range of listeners connected to my work as a guitar teacher.

I looked at the music on the stand. Opened up the first page. Closed my eyes.
Picture takene by Jolene at Dan's Annual Guitar Concert 2016 (07/02/16)

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Eight Weeks at the Dublin Castle

The Dublin Castle has been a fantastic experience for me, especially improvising live with the gentleman from the house band. Indeed, almost every person I have been introduced to at the venue has been friendly and welcoming, helping to create a smooth and flowing night of live music entertainment.
Picture taken by Julian at the Dublin Castle.
Below is a list of dates and songs / pieces I performed live at the Dublin Castle over an eight week period. Where appropriate, I have added notes in square brackets to help define exactly what was played. Italics indicate that the song was performed as a cover version, the remainder are my own original songs / compositions / improvisations. The items in blue can be viewed on video by clicking on their corresponding links, whilst the remainder can be found elsewhere online.
07/07/15 = The Merchant of Venice + Blues in A [improv.]
14/07/15 = DadFat Bottomed Girls [by Queen]
21/07/15 = Andantino (by Ferdinando Carulli) + Big in Japan
28/07/15 = Study in C & GColours  [by Donovan]
04/08/15 = Study in D + Acoustic (I love it)
11/08/15 = Times Are Hard + The Misogyny Blues in Bb [improv.]
18/08/15 = Table Mountain + Jazzy Musings in C [improv.]
18/08/15 = Study in B + The Free Birds and the Men [improv.]
My thanks must go to the house band, the sound engineers, bar staff and everyone who has made Tuesday nights feel extraordinary over these past two months.

Will be back soon.