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Gig Announcement @ Out Of The Bedroom (November 2013)

Edit! Please see change of date below. Sorry for inconvenience!

Someone must have read my previous post because I can happily confirm a booking at Out Of The Bedroom on the 2nd November 2013. Address is Kilderkin, 65/67 Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH8 8BT. First of a few more, I hope, in my now injury-free body! Contact me directly for more details, if needed. See you there!

(Thanks to my good friend, musician and all-round great-guy Nyk Stoddart who helps run that place.)

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Took My Guitar Out…

…to this fine place. Check it out at: .

It’s been a while because of a house move and then another house move and day-job commitments and… Well, I decided not to hunt gigs down or play out generally because of all that. I’ll write again shortly about my particular circumstances right now but just to say here I had a great evening on Wednesday and met some fine folks. Played a few song and was sorry to have to leave early.

Thanks to Jim, Jamie, Oliver and John for the warmest welcome I’ve had in a little while.

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Factory Produced v. Boutique Guitars

There are more independent guitar makers than ever before, it appears, by all accounts making fantastic sounding and looking instruments. Finely crafted, indeed. I even have one made specially for me in 1987 by my old friend Chris Eccleshall.

Now these fine instruments have to be superior in every sense from anything that comes out of a factory, don’t they? A guitar, whose woods have been carefully selected and assembled with all the love and care of a master craftsman, has to be intrinsically more musical and more valuable than any “production-line” guitar. Doesn’t it?

Yes, I wonder.

When I consider the history and usage of the steel string acoustic guitar, it occurs that it’s genius is to be found in its ability to be replicated ad infinitum, with consistent high quality, so that it’s available to “the masses” reasonably cheaply. Affordable inherently. It is the modern folk instrument par excellence. Add a little bit of QA/QC and you get instruments of exceptional quality at a price within the reach of the working man or woman.

Another thought: steel string acoustic guitars like to start their public life as part of a well-drilled platoon standing (or hanging) to attention on the wall of a store and regimented neatly on stands on the floor below. Thus arranged, they promise joys and dreams of fame and fortune to patrons young and old (mostly young) whose musical fulfillment may be only a few major and a couple of minor strummed chords away. And sometimes is.

In contrast, the luthier sits in a different world and crafts his instruments for a different animal. His customer is one who appreciates an instrument made exclusively for herself and to her exact specifications. She has graduated from her old “mass production” guitars and now has an ear for, and the playing ability to demonstrate, the better sound of her unique guitar. Made from the best grade woods from the oldest trees from the deepest forests inhabited by the most secretive of elves. “If only more guitar players would see the light!”, the luthiers cry.

Why? They would need to set up a factory to cope with the demand.

You can’t say that about orchestral instruments. I still remember recoiling in horror when I was browsing a stringed instrument store in Edinburgh. I say “store” when in fact is was more like a museum with ticket prices on the exhibits. Or without, I should say. Prices hanging from the necks of these instruments would, I think, have been considered a tad vulgar.

But back to acoustic guitars. It seems as if luthiers (as they like to be called) would like to bestow a refinement and almost an exclusivity to these instruments that is against the grain of their true nature.

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Tonight a session!

I’m going to pop along to Stonehaven Folk Club tonight to see some friends and play a few songs. Stonehaven is my favourite club hereabouts. Nice folks and some good singers and players.

The only down side of sessions is that they are like song circles where everybody gets to play one song in turn. My problem with this is associated with my chops: I’ve always needed to warm them up before they feel good and they do what they’re supposed to do. It happens that in song circles that although my chops get nicely warmed up with one song, they get cooled right back down again by the time it’s my turn again to do something. So I never quite get into the swing of anything. I’ve always had this way with my chops and it doesn’t improve with age.

Oh, and there’s another downside: ‘coz I’m drivin’ – no drinkies. Just fizzy mineral water.

But that’s all a minor quibble. The most important thing is being there, having fun and sharing.
Then back home over the “Slug Road” to Banchory, a bottle of wine and some noodling into the wee small hours. Magical.

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US “Tour”

I am hugely tempted by an idea that popped into my head to visit the US next summer or autumn (Fall, dudes) and play a few places. I’m also considering combining with a family holiday – that is, I work and they holiday. For them it would by a bit of a mystery tour, the trip not having been arranged via the normal touristy methods. I reckon I can google for venues and send of a cd, or two, with a press-kit and maybe do some cold-calling. I’m used to this – or was. Although I do play gigs these days, they are none too frequent, are ad-hoc, and are offered rather than sought. Nevertheless, I have toured extensively in the past, particularly in Europe, so I’m no stranger to life on the road. But I have never played in the US.

Here are a few parameters that are in my head:

  • Venues can be whatever; coffee bars, clubs, pubs, Carnegie Hall, festivals, open air, indoors…
  • Fees are not a priority and are entirely negotiable
  • Generally I would be responsible for my own travel, food and accommodation
  • I would not carry my own sound reinforcement, so if needed, this would have to be provided
  • Set, or sets, can be anything up to 2 hours (more than that, I can’t guarantee integrity of fingernails! <- joke)
  • I’m happy to formalise by contract in advance.
  • I anticipate producing publicity material: press kits, posters, brochures, fliers and forwarding these to the venues in advance of the show.
  • I would cooperate with regard to other publicity initiatives in advance of the engagement, as appropriate and practicable

That’s the way I’m thinking at the moment.

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Why Ain’t I Gigging (very much)?

Ooh, well…

This is hard to write about without is sounding like a bunch of baloney and excuses. And maybe there will be some truth in that – but i’m going to give it a shot, anyway.

If you have stumbled across some biographical material elsewhere you might have read that I quit playing in the early 80s. This coincided with a complete break from playing guitar and songwriting entirely for about 5 years. When I did get back to playing and writing I had lost pretty well all the contacts I had with promoters and agents who had helped me with gigs and tours in the past. Things had moved on and I would have had to pretty much start at the beginning again to build these contact and prerequisite reputation with new people. Well, in truth, I confess that didn’t have the appetite for that – and the bottom line was that there was no requirement for me to do it for the purposes of earning a living!

So now I’m living in the north-east of Scotland, whilst being a perfectly habitable corner of the planet (it’s that humped-shouldered part of the UK that sticks out into the North Sea), is not festooned with live music venues that an ‘umble fingerstyle acoustic guitar player like me would get paying work. Plans are afoot, though. Oh, yes, plans are afoot and I’ll confide about them here, ‘ere long…