Minor Updates

A quick mid-exams update (four down, one to go!) – I’ve added the wondrous Max Holloway to the Associates page, along with a link to his and Alex Goodall’s current project involving alcohol and DIY (what could be better?). Hit him up if you want a class tenor sax player for anything, you won’t be disappointed.

Hasta mañana! Or something.

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Fame and Fortune at last!

Just a quick note from me, mid-exam season as I am. I recently did a post for the Down for the Count blog, so I wanted to plug it here. So what are you waiting for? Go read it! And while you’re there, why not book the wonderful band itself or book a ticket for On The Town?

Manners Cost Nothing

I’ve worked with a few people in the past who’ve taken what I view as a very negative approach to the music business (and indeed, the world in general): a sort of ‘take-no-prisoners’, very, ah, self-centric approach to things. Why, a previous acquaintance of mine even used that cliché phrase ‘I’m not really here to make friends.’ Whoa there! Settle down sport. This isn’t an action movie. This is real life, and however you try to dress it up, you’re going to need other people.

It’s not even just a cynical commentary on business, though an ability to network efficiently and know the right people can get you pretty far. Being friendly to other people can simply make life much easier and more pleasant. Doors open up for you, and they’re doors that are made of awesome stuff like bacon and gold. Here are a few ways to spread the love, most of which may not even get you arrested.

  • American comedian Jimmy Durante once said ‘Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down.’* Be nice to people serving you in coffee shops, supermarkets, bars and, well, pretty much everyone. We get it, you’re a massively ambition-driven go-getter full of so many words like ‘synergy’ and ‘consumer-centric paradigm shifting’ that they’re coming out of your ears. Great. Go you. That doesn’t mean you’re above a ‘please’ or a ‘thank you’ to the people around you. You start with something that basic and maybe you’ll be able to break up the monotony of your day with a pleasant conversation or two.
  • It’s not all about you. If you’re trying to build a network of contacts, you can’t just hand out a business card and wait for the rest to happen of its own accord. Take the freelance musician biz – do some scouting yourself and, if you find a gig or something that you can’t do for whatever reason, pass it on to one of your contacts. Big other people up and you’ll often find that they’ll do the same in return. Example: in case you’d forgotten, Down for the Count’s big live gig in Winslow, On The Town, is coming up soon, and you’d be a fool to miss it. Now, with any luck, they’ll give me a bathtub full of money. Right?
  • Now this one may come out of left field a bit (was that a baseball idiom? What is happening to me?) but being nice to people can actually just make them like you more and make your presence more tolerable. I know, right? That is some mind-blowing stuff right there. But it’s important – if people don’t like you, they’re not going to want to work with you, they’re not going to want to be around you and they certainly won’t go to the extra effort of not spitting in your coffee in the morning. Just a heads up.
  • Just try and smile a bit more. Finding even that difficult? Listen to music you find awesome, read something entertaining, do some sort of menial task that nonetheless revitalises you with that ‘job well done’ feeling. Britain is possibly the worst country in the world for spotting happy-looking commuters en route to whatever toil they’re engaged in today. Seriously – the average Tube train is a veritable picture of despair. So buck the trend and go around looking like you’re actually have a pretty good time – people will generally either think you’re crazy (and really, aren’t we all a bit crazy?) or will be buoyed, however mildly, at the possibility of a non-miserable journey.

It’s important to remember that being nice is not the same as being a doormat. Try and avoid being guilted or emotionally blackmailed into doing something, saying something, or being something you’re not. If someone’s trying to take advantage of your good nature – and there will be those who will try and take advantage, it’s how people are wired – you go ahead and slap that bitch up call them out on it.

Anyway. That’s enough moralising for one evening. For those of you keeping score, the Martinis CD is still in the works, and you definitely should all come to On The Town – it’s going to be fantastic.

* That quote has also been attributed to Wilson Mizner, another American wit, in case you were wondering.

It’s Pelvis to be Rectangular

The Martinis headed over to The Bull’s Head this morning for a recording session and I have to say, it was great fun. It didn’t look good when I got to Vauxhall and discovered that 90% of the trains that I could get to Barnes were delayed by unspecified amounts of time owing to an incident at Clapham Junction, but we all got there in the end and actually only ended up starting a little later than I’d planned. We got 6 tracks down over the course of the morning and I’m very much looking forward to hearing the masterful Craig’s final mix. A big thanks to everyone involved, and watch this space for CD news!

I was thinking on the way home about different musicians’ approaches to these sorts of occasions. I’ve played with some people who deal with this sort of thing with an air of ‘professionalism’ that borders on suffocating – no laughs to be had there. At the other end of the spectrum you get some musicians who can’t really hack the organisation that has to go into these sessions – and there is an awful lot of stuff to be sorted out, both in advance of the session and when you’re actually in the studio – and end up losing sight of what they want to do. I like to think we hit a happy medium today: much banter was had and I got the feeling people were enjoying themselves, yet we approached the actual recording bits with such a real sense of thoughtful, concentrated musicianship that I can’t wait to hear the final mix. Nice one guys and gals.

What’s in the daily news? I’ll tell you what’s in the daily news…

So in the midst of revision, rehearsals and recordings I find the news (plastered across Facebook, Twitter and various other corners of the Interweb) about Osama bin Laden’s death. People seem to be equal parts thrilled and wary about it and I have to say, I can see why.

It is, of course, pretty great news – he was definitely a Bad Man and it’s good to see a conclusion to ten years of searching for him. And as an added bonus we have the pleasure of his death happening under Obama rather than George W Bush – one fears we might never have seen or heard the last of it from the American right if Dubya had been ‘responsible’ for the end of Osama.

But on the other hand we have two things to consider: firstly, bin Laden was not the sole thing binding Al-Quaeda together. Far from it. They’re still there, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were pretty pissed. I don’t want to come across as a crazy fearmonger but we should probably keep alert. Secondly, the end of bin Laden accomplishes one of the USA’s more concrete aims for their presence in the Middle East. So…what are they to do now? I sincerely doubt they’ll just up and leave. I think the next few weeks will be very telling.

I know, I know. ‘Quit it with the serious stuff!’ Well, on a lighter note, Down For The Count is taking to Don’t Tell Fred in East Sheen for a live gig this Friday (6th May), and the Martinis are heading to The Bull’s Head in Barnes for a recording session on Wednesday. Very exciting stuff. Watch this space for details of our CD!