The Basement Studio becomes the Kitchen Studio (and other scurrilous stories).
The difficulty of playing solo with a laptop backing is one that has presented me with a few problems of late. Although it seems quite OK for pop divas and rappers to sing or speak over a backing track that might well have numerous musicians playing, it seems that small pub and club punters resent paying money for this same scenario. Perhaps I'd better try busking on the Underground?
It's taken me a while to realize that music sounds better when the audience can hear the instruments and the vocals without having their chests compressed by kick drums and ears wrecked by tinnitus-inducing buzz guitars. The recent gigs that I've attended have been plagued by sound guys who can't hear, or musicians that don't know that the volume control can exist without being glued to 11. Even the recent live recording at the Half Moon Putney with the Ben Waters band was ruined by a bass guitar that was so loud in the audience mix that the piano and saxes were almost inaudible. I hope that the sound capture wasn't limited, or digitally distorted on capture. It seems that I'm finally getting old.
I was remarking on this state of affairs to Steven Forward, who mixed the Eclectic CD. He said that most house engineers are under instructions from clients to make the mixes LOUD - this means, he tells me, that Limiters and Compressors are used so that the natural dynamic range of the song is compromised for the sake of sounding louder than the preceding and following songs when played on the radio, TV and clubs. So much for the “Kids are allright” - the kids are all deaf might be more appropriate.
A few Hot Rod reformations at the Dave Higgs Memorial shows on Canvey. Paul Gray, Steve Nicol, Warren Kennedy, Barrie Masters and myself played sets featuring most of the Life on the Line and a few songs from Thriller. What fun! The last Lee Brilleaux Memorial.with theKursaals also happened in 2014. A couple of the photos have crept onto theis page, courtesy of photographer, Sally Newhouse.
In the last couple of years, I've journeyed down to Penzance and Glastonbury to play a few shows, one solo at The Farmers Arms and Union Hotel in Penzance, and a few at The King Arthur with my old friend David Hatfield on bass. We were joined by Robin Tothill on drums. various of my Kursaals and Hot Rod songs had an airing, together with some of my favourite songs in tribute to some of my respected colleagues, acquaintances and heroes who have met the Reaper.
A couple of shows at a now-defunct club in Harlow and London's 229 Club for the almost original Hot Rods were the live appearances of 2015, together with a further show down the King Arthur in Glastonbury.
I've played a few gigs down in Cornwall in 2014 to 2016, with some fine musicians and will continue to do so. Take a bow drummers Baz St Leger and Ben Richardson, and Victor Tomkinson together with the mighty Tim Chapple on bass. They've been very excellent guys and I'm happy to have made their acquaintances.
The finale of the real Hot Rods took place at the O2 Islington in April, 2019. Warren Kennedy once again took up the Dave Higg's mantle and, together with a number of guests, we managed to say goodbye to you all in a reasonable fashion. The previous day, Paul and I had travelled down to Canvey Island to play a couple of songs in tribute to Dean Kennedy, who had been one of the Hot Rods' crew for a number of years. Paul, Steve, Warren Kennedy (Dean's brother) Barrie and myself played a few songs at the wake. It was so sad that, a few months after that performance, Barrie Masters managed to also meet the Reaper following a road accident. It's never easy to say goodbye to friends and colleagues, and this was quite poignant in the strange circumstances.
Currently, I'm working on an Anthology type of release, with many new songs and works included from my past songwriting career.