New single – Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

Over the summer, I had the pleasure of recording the tracks for Danielle Steers’ new album, of iconic songs by Jim Steinman.

Now, Danielle is well-known for her powerhouse performance in the musical Bat Out Of Hell, so it was an honour to continue that connection with this recording.

Before the whole album is released, the first single is out now, our rendition of the beautiful ballad Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad – which Danielle & I recorded live in the studio. Coming up with a solo acoustic arrangement of the piano part was an enjoyable task, and I was aiming for a James Taylor style mood for this take, using my Maton steel-string.

More information when I get it, but for now you can download the song here!

https://music.apple.com/gb/album/two-out-of-three-aint-bad-single/1482104657

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Show Must Go On – Live at Abbey Road

Back in February I had the joy of recording live in Abbey Road’s palatial Studio 1 with the fantastic London Show Choir and some of the finest orchestral musicians in London. One of the pieces we performed was Queen’s epic The Show Must Go On, replete with both solos (huzzah!), at a rather hefty volume –

Big clogs to fill, and a real treat to do so.

I used my PRS Goldtop DGT, MXR CS Phase 90, Custom Tones TWE-1 & Paul C Timmy, and the Catalinbread Belle Epoch into my Victory V40 head & Creamback cab.

 

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‘Guitarist’ Magazine Interview

Alongside m’colleagues Andy Jones & Nico Sabatini, I had the honour of taking part in Guitarist Magazine’s Amp Modelling special, April 2017 issue 418.

We get together in their studio and have a chat and a shred through our units – I used my trusty Fractal Axe FX and JM-style from Eternal Guitars – we’re not comparing them as such, but looking at how they fit into our world of stage, theatre and studio work.

The video of the session is available on Facebook and YouTube, so put the kettle on and enjoy!

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Hadley Fraser’s “Just Let Go”

Delighted to announce the landing of troubadour & chap Hadley Fraser’s solo EP “Just Let Go” today.

Hadley & I worked on The Pajama Game last year in Chichester so it’s a treat to carry on music-making with the gent. As well as being the world-class actor & singer that he is, he’s a very fine guitarist as well.

Musically, it’s some lovely country-tinged tuneage, which has plenty of dobro, mandolin & banjo from this scribe.

Please check it out, and enjoy!

http://hadleyfraser.bandcamp.com/releases

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New Video Lesson

There’s a new video up on the YouTube! Today it’s a quick hybrid picking idea you can add to your playing. Something I’ve fooled around with for a few years and thought it was worth sharing:

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‘Love Thing’ – New Recording

Gentle Internet Denizens, hello.

I bought a lovely Custom Audio Electronics wah the other day. It’s the closest I’ve found to the elusive (to me) wah tone Joe Satriani achieved on his gorgeous instrumental ‘Love Thing’.

To test it, I’ve recorded the same track, for a bit of fun. I love the way this pedal reacts to the phrasing, I hope it’s captured the same feel of the original.

Love Thing

Enjoy!

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A return to (long-) form

I love to write. Almost as much as I love to read.

As much as we’re told growing up not to play with our words, I can’t help it. Words are such a delightfully malleable plaything, to stick to the factory settings of language would be such a waste. Like Lego.

So, writing is fun. And I love it. From wanting to write books, or journalism relating to whatever hobby I was obsessed with at the time, for years my mind was focussing on words, words, words. Puns, drama, novels, poetry, the lyrics to every Iron Maiden album.

And given that we tend to communicate a fair bit with words, this sort of pursuit is a much more useful interest than the slightly nerdy-gloss I’m coating it with might first suggest. When I was teaching, the more ways I could express myself made explaining certain complex ideas  easier/possible. Just by trying to write an article explaining, say, metric modulation, I’d have to explain the concept to myself in my head before I could articulate it onto the page. Sometimes I’d discover a whole new way of explaining or viewing theory this way.

As such, I enjoyed writing blog posts, generally the longer the better. Although I was in danger, at times, of churning out theses the length of ‘Dune’ (appendices each the length of the sequels), the act of writing was thoroughly enjoyable and probably pretty therapeutic for me over the years. The mind can be a lonely place to inhabit at times, sometimes it’s nice to let others in to see it. The pieces might have been fairly abstract, or controversial, maybe starkly emotionally naked or just a tad whimsical. And, remarkably, every so often someone would read them (wait, that’s not the remarkable bit) and be interested in what I thought (there it is). You put these words together, after playing with them in your head – this imaginary Lego – and wait. Sometimes communication happens after, some laughter or arguments or bonding or flirting or confusion or righteous befuddlement. All from some words I played with in my head then shared with the world for no real reason other than I wrote them.

It’s struck me that my long-form writing has pretty much stopped. That’s made me rather sad. I suppose I didn’t really notice it ending as I’ve been a constant jabberer on the twitter for years, so short-form writing (read: puns) has been an almost-daily exercise for me (so many puns). And writing -140 characters does provide a whole new set of editorial challenges (I make no apologies for finding this sort of thing interesting). The communication and sharing seems to work much faster, plus the sheer rate of output lowers the critical expectation so barriers to posting are reduced greatly, if that’s the sort of thing that keeps you up at night.

But my impetus to write, to a satisfyingly worthy length, has been diminished by the lack of doing. I’m not thinking of things as potential topics any more. Which is a shame. I’m now curious about what else in my life has slunk away whilst I was busy forgetting it existed. In fact, this blog post came about when I realised I’d stopped writing blogs, and tried to figure out why ON EARTH this could have happened. This should not be the fate of a man who owns more than one Moleskin notebook and several pens.

The only explanation I find satisfying is that I merged my professional website with my blog, and now most things I wanted to write on seemed stupefyingly off-topic for a musician. That’s a shame. Once thinking of things to write about became ‘work’, sticking to something easy and creatively-constrained like the twitter probably became the more enticing prospect. My attempts at songwriting have probably been reduced now that my working day is spent playing music written exclusively by others. My reading/writing seesaw is imbalanced.

So whilst trying to figure it out, I decided to write this post to see if it’d help. And I think it has. I mean, this doesn’t solve any problems and might not even win any blogging awards (it’s all politics, I’m at peace with that), but I’ve enjoyed mucking around with the mental Lego in the small hours. It’s nice to create.

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