It’s Happy Hour!

Ah, time for the quarterly update to the old blog. But with big news!

You’ll recall the show I mentioned last time, Rock the Jazz-bah, with their jazzy arrangements of your popular songs and your Gangnam Styles and the like. Well, I’m taking that idea and running with it, in the creation of the Happy Hour Collective (Facebook here, Twitter here, website to follow soon), a collaboration of (for now) three different groups: a revamped, rebranded Martinis (a new band in all but name), the Bloody Mary Brass Band, and the Brandy Alexanders. If you fancy checking it out (hint: you do), our launch party will be at The Miller, London Bridge, on November 10th! Details here.

And that’s not all! The 29th October brings a classy jazz jam night at Big Chill Shoreditch, hosted by the ULU Jazz Society, and also me. Come on down and check it out, it should be a blast!

And that’s not all! Down for the Count are, as ever, going from strength to strength, and you can catch us at various swing gigs over the next few months, including a monthly slot at the Super Swing Pit at Bishopsgate Institute (the next one of which is on October 19th, so get those dancing shoes on). On top of that, our excellent swing festival Rhythm Junction London went off without a hitch back in September, so keep an eye out for a reprise of that puppy some time in the future.

And that’s not all! Back in August I did some recording with a fella called Paul Carella, laying down some horn stuff on a few of his tracks for his upcoming EP. Well, as well as Paul just being a top guy, we’re shooting some video this weekend, and then he’ll be launching his EP on 7th November at Twickenham Theatre. Be there!

And that’s not all! I also updated the website, including the Bands page with details of the HHC and the excellent Equinox Quintet.

…That’s all.

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Site Update

Now, the clever ones amongst you may have noticed something a little different about the site as of today. A new haircut? Different tie? Nope, I just decided to give it a bit of an overhaul, with a new theme and some pictures and that just to brighten the place up a bit.

I’ve also updated a number of the pages, like the Associates and Bands sections. Go check ’em out!

Oh, and anyone wondering what the deuce ‘The Two Rules Big Band’ is…well, that’s a secret.

Catapulted into the Real World

University life now sits behind me, a sort of hazy fever-dream of sex, drugs and rock and roll gigs, coffee and the occasional bit of work, and with that I find myself chucked out the door onto the Sidewalk of Reality, like an unruly drunkard at closing time at the Pub of Life. Stripped of the warm embrace of the education system (haha?) I stumble onwards, and turn towards that one thing that’s generally guided my way in times of strife: music.

Enjoying continued work with my good friends at Down for the Count and seeking out further opportunities with The Martinis (and yes, our album is still to come – I’ve put up some samples for your aural pleasure) are the main plans, supplemented by further work as a session musician, instrumental teacher and band leader. The creation of a big band is another project, following the discovery of a DVD-R full of charts long thought lost to the abyss while clearing out my room at home (OK, Mum, being tidy does have its merits I suppose). I’m also going along to my first rehearsal with the amazingly-named King Groovy and The Horn Stars on Thursday, so that ought to be fun.

At the advice of my stalwart and talented friend Claire Waterhouse I’ve also put myself out on this Internet thing, with profiles at UK Music Jobs and StarNow, so feel free to stop by those pages if you want to give me some work/fancy a laugh. They are both in progress, so don’t be put off by any lack of photos or anything at the moment. That will be rectified.

As always, I’m always happy to hear from potential clients so don’t hesitate to get in touch through the website too.

In other news, as well as the upcoming Martinis CD, there are also new albums from both Down for the Count AND The Emily Tree to look forward to in the next couple of months! Goodness me, what lucky people you all are. If buying music and supporting local artists isn’t your thing (and if it isn’t then your morals are bad and you should feel bad), then check out some of our upcoming live performances, including The Emily Tree playing at Candied Nonsense at The Wilmington Arms in Clerkenwell on August 2nd, and Down for the Count’s next gig at Winslow Public Hall on September 8th.

Until next time, my lieblings.

Films, Comedians and Music

So, I watched Independence Day last night. Apparently I should have watched it years ago and as such have had an unfulfilling childhood. Ah well. I found it a hugely enjoyable movie and enjoyed shouting ‘Spaceballs!’ when I recognised the president. They really pulled out all the stops with the characters too: they had the sassy black guy and nerdy white guy who get that really good rapport going by the end of the film; the stripper with a heart of gold who, even as almost-certain destruction is heading her way in the form of an advancing wall of fire and cars finds the time to wait for her dog to get into cover; the wise old Jewish man who provides the comic relief but also restores the hero’s faith in humanity; and of course the token drunk who overcomes his self-inflicted adversities and beats the odds to make a name for himself and do his family proud. Loved it.

After that, while scanning the TV channels for something to watch, I stumbled across Bob Saget doing a stand-up comedy set. Now, as someone who doesn’t watch a huge amount of TV, I primarily know his voice as the narrator in How I Met Your Mother but apparently he did some other stuff too. However, none of that could have prepared me for his stand-up. He’s simply one of the most foul-mouthed, bizarre comedians I’ve ever had occasion to watch. Half the time even he couldn’t seem to believe what was coming out of his mouth. It was great.

Anywho. I have for you today a new page featuring a few clips from some recordings. Hope you like what you hear – I’ll be attempting to update the selection semi-regularly so stay tuned.

Back in Blighty

Our long-awaited trip to the Loncium microbrewery in Kotschach-Mauthen took place yesterday morning. One of the owners of the brewery (who just happened to be the son of the owner of our hotel) gave us a short tour and also explained the origin of the brewery’s name: the town lies on the Via Iulia Augusta, an old Roman trading route, and used to be known as Loncium, a customs-post of sorts. The pair who founded the brewery (which apparently has its humble beginnings ‘in a pot on a cooker’) liked the sound of the name and the links to their own town, and so adopted it long after the town changed its name. Luckily, considering the hour of the day, there were no free samples, although, as my ever-astute grandfather pointed out, it’s always 3pm somewhere.

We had a relatively placid trip back yesterday, despite having more connecting flights than on the way out – Klagenfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf and finally Heathrow. It would have been nice to have a bit of a saunter around the cities but, alas, we had no more than an hour in each airport before our next plane. Ho hum. At least we appear to have brought some of the nice weather with us, though thankfully without the fickle Austrian microclimates that throw up thunderstorms with little to no warning.

All in all, it’s nice to be back.

Now, to work – hopefully later on this evening I’ll be uploading some recordings so you can have a listen. Of course, for various legal, logistical and/or pecuniary reasons they won’t be full tracks, but rather short(ish) clips for your delectation. If you fancy something a tad more full-flavoured, get in touch and I can probably sell you a CD or something.

Funny Old World

People often have a lot to say against public transport in London, and it’s easy to see why. It’s expensive, it’s often late, it’s susceptible to breakdowns almost as frequently as they suspend it for maintenance work. In summer, particularly, it can be almost unbearable, yet many of us are possessed of a singularly British reluctance to show to anyone that we object to the sweaty fellow who insists on holding the handle and pushing his armpit in your face. It’s passive-aggressiveness without the aggressiveness.

That said, there are few things that make a person appreciate the relative merits of British public transport more than trudging back home in the rain from a station in the Austrian countryside because the next train isn’t for another 90 minutes. I now feel I can make that statement with some degree of confidence.

The music in this hotel has moved from the sublime to the ridiculous; I thought the apex of strangeness had been reached a few nights ago when our ears were treated to the dulcet tones of Bavarian yodelling, but earlier today I found myself listening to something that seemed to tug at the memory. The tune sounded familiar but I couldn’t place the words, and then I realised: the song was You’re The One That I Want from Grease – in German. Perhaps I’m alone in this, but I’ve become far too accustomed to hearing English music on foreign radio that this took me completely by surprise. To me, this was tantamount to seeing The Simpsons or Scrubs in German (which, incidentally, have both been on the TV this week)!

I created a new page for links to groups and people with whom I’ve played – at the moment there’s only the UCLU Jazz Society and Thames Youth Orchestra, but I’ll be adding more to it soon. Until then – farewell!

It All Adds Up

Microtransactions seem to be many businesses’ preferred method of enterprise these days. There’s WordPress of course – I just spent about £12 for a bit more space on here and the ability to upload audio files (an integral tool for the jobbing musician). Several video game companies do the same thing, offering extra content (or sometimes, arguably, content that should have been available when it was released…) for download to those who feel like paying a little extra online. Hell, the boys persons at Steam have based their whole business model around cheap, online transactions. It lends a certain level of choice and customisability to a lot of things, and I expect to see a lot more of it in the future.

As I mentioned earlier, I forked out a bit of extra money for the ability to upload audio files, so expect to find some sound clips up here soon to give you a taste of what you’re getting yourself into if you hire me or one of the bands. It might have to wait until I get back from Austria so I can format them all properly, but I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Hooray, progress! What a wonderful thing.

Also, whoa, a huge bumble bee just buzzed its way in here. Let me just show it out. Ciao!