Category Archives: gigs

“Welcome back, my friends…

…to the show that never ends”, chorus a legion of prog fans around the world.

Yes, it’s that time of year where I plug my latest adventures in the pit – June sees me in the guitar chair for the premiere of Howard Goodall’s musical setting of the classic story/film “Love Story” at the prestigious Chichester Festival.

It’s a lovely score, for strings, piano & guitar (doubling classical & 12-string) – a wonderful and rare blend of lyrical & evocative writing, with some real finger-twisting ensemble moments. Marvellous!

Details for the show can be assimilated here:

Come on down and revel in the sunshine and musical derring-do!


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Filed under gigs, Guitar, music, promotion

This part of the World is a Stage.

It’s not very often you get to stand on a Glastonbury stage, throwing shapes and generally rocking out with a loud guitar in your hands.
Well, certainly not very often for me. But then I’m sort of the Niles Crane of the jazz fusion world, so that’s probably to be expected.

But here we are, on the stage, just done the soundcheck for the gig tonight – a fundraising, roofraising, hellraising rock extravaganza – hosted in the beautiful grounds of Wells Cathedral School (I know, I felt weird just typing that).

It’s all very picturesque here, glorious weather, and the stage is bona-fide Glastonbury stock.

What’s bizarre is that I was originally playing bass with this band – but due to some unfortunate illness problems with the lead guitarist late last night, some hasty rejigging has occurred, instruments swapped, new members recruited yadda-yadda-yadda, and now I’m playing lead guitar. With someone else’s rig, on a whole set of tunes (no charts) that I didn’t know the guitar parts to.

Anyway, so far, so rock’n’roll. Nothing new here. Soundcheck went well, all are in good spirits, tech folk are sunny and a delight to work with, AND we have a dry-ice machine.

So, I’m thoroughly looking forward to making some glorious noise tonight in front of the >1,000 people who’ve bought tickets. After a fussy trip down from London, I was admittedly expecting the worst (as those lovely people following me on Twitter will know all too well!).

But this could be a right good event.

To downsize Jon Bon Jovi’s epic pronouncement, I’ll see just over 1,000 faces, and I’ll rock at least 2/3rds of them.

UPDATE: The gig was a resounding success, the audience response was incredible (final attendance count was over 1300) – so huge thanks and over-enthusiastic hugs to all who worked, played, supported and cheered. And people who bought me drinks afterwards, you’re on the fast-track to sainthood.

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Filed under gigs, Guitar

International Guitar Festival 2009

Firstly, welcome to my latest website/blog amalgam. It makes slightly more sense to parse the number of domains needed in my professional life, and this seems to be the most logical conclusion!

So, without further ado, on with the blog…

This year’s IGF is without a doubt the best one one I’ve been involved with thus far.  An incredible array of wonderful musicians, inspirational teachers, and a multitude of enthusiastic participants. All willing to chat gear, technique, and musical recommendations; and of course jam and banter in equal measure.

2009 brought us such luminaries as ace drummer Stanton Moore (with the incredible Wil Bernard on guitar) performing and teaching; workshops from Rob Harris and the Jamiroquai rhythm section; a face-melting concert from old IGF-hand Guthrie Govan & The Fellowship; and gigs from the IGF teachers, including John Wheatcroft’s gypsy jazz evening.

So, a pretty packed week, even without factoring in my teaching requirements!

This year, my Extreme Rock class (\m/) performed a diverse range of metal tracks – we learnt Motorcycle Driver by Joe Satriani (from ‘The Extremist’), Killers by Iron Maiden, and a Zakk Wylde-meets-guitar-orchestra arrangement of HillBillie Jean, by John Jay Smith Michael Jackson, as arranged by me in a caffeine-abetted marathon the week before.

My class did a sterling job at the Student Concert on Friday, so well done guys! Seamus, Michael 1, Will, Josh, Theo, Jack 1, Jack 2, Michael 2 and Alessandro – you all rock, and your great performance in the gig is testament to the hard work you put in over the week.

Thank you!

Post-concert, of course, came the farewell jam session, and I had a rather good time with Jonny Scaramanga, Hugh Richardson & Martyn James, with a chest-thumpingly intense rendition of Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love (according to Jonny, it was played ‘with unprecedented bodaciousness’). Of course, we took extended solos, and I even added the 9th into the A minor pentatonic, just to show that I play jazz…

Oh yes, and I played it on my latest acquisition – a new, un-modded Squier Strat. Yup.

So, all in all, a great week! Thanks to everyone who helped – all my old friends, and new ones from the week – your great company and hard work made it a week to remember!


Filed under gigs, Guitar, music, tuition

The signatures are legion, for they are many.

I think it’s about time I update with something about music – just for a change. The whole accomodationism vs. science education debate on the blogosphere is leaving me pretty worn out (incidentally, I must register here my fervent hope that Jerry Coyne uses my term to describe the accomodationists – The ‘Pew Atheists’, a ho ho ho), plus I’m playing in West Side Story at the moment, and that’s just killer.

So – in the spirit of light-heartedness, dear reader, I present to you the largest number of signature items on a gig. That I’ve done, at least.

Here, for a Music Faculty staff concert, is my rig – try and spot all the signature items:

Get ’em all?
OK, following the signal chain, R-L:
Boss Chromatic Tuner; Dunlop Zakk Wylde Wah; Xotic Andy Timmons BB Pre-amp; Digitech Hardwire Valve Distortion; MXR EVH Van Halen Phaser.

So, the tuner and the distortion aren’t really pulling their weight – FOR SHAME.
In my defence, though, the tuner’s needed because every audience deserves a guitarist who’s in tune.
And the distortion? It just kicks arse. Seriously great sound, I may scrawl my own moniker on it with a Sharpie if I have an idle moment…

Next up:

Yes, it’s a replica of Eric Johnson’s favourite Dunlop Jazz III pick.
I can’t even excuse the purchase of this, and needless to say it doesn’t form the bulk of my chat-up material.

OH HAI what’s that on my Parker Fly?

I just think those Satriani straps are funky. The new Metheny ones are really tempting, too…

And finally:

My oldest guitar, a lovely 1st-edition Ernie Ball/Musicman John Petrucci signature model.

So there we have it, a little trawl through some of my gear. And this is only the stuff I use to play RAWK – we haven’t even touched on the big band jazz stuff, or my country equipment, or the stage show rigs, or…

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Filed under blatant hero-worship, geek, gigs, Guitar, music

On Radio Silence and Decisions

Hail all,

Pardon the inexorable wait between posts – just what on earth have you been doing with yourselves?
And how the devil are you, anyway?

Radio Silence is mainly due to end of term at Day Job – which, far from being the Pimms-soaked jollity that I always assume end of terms to be made of, is actually a frantic dash to the finish line in open mockery of the laws of Space and Time.

Plus, there’s a new Evening Job this week (tilt peepers slightly to the right) so I’m preparing the pad for that – again, far from being the simple 15 minute joy of efficiency I predicted, is instead turning into a multi-hour odyssey as I slowly sup at the Elixir of Despair (it’s ok, it’s organic, no chemicals or anything nasty like that).

Also, the house internet is down. So I’m doing awful things – unspeakable, shameful things – in order to bring this missive to my loyal populace.

It’s a shame, too, as I really want to get the next proper post up – it’s another ‘essay’ but does actually reference music a bit too, for which I’m glad. Should be quite controversial, but, like all the writing here, I’d say it all in person – no sudden transformation into INTERNET MALE here.
But given the workload at the moment, it may take a while to get up (phnaar), especially as I pride myself on little things like spelling, grammar and cogent thought.

But it’s a hassle, also, because I can’t get access to my Twitter account at the moment. So all the lovely people who wait to find my posts on Twitter will go a-wanting. Unless I actually phone them up and tell them, but that’s so terribly 20th Century, isn’t it?

This could be solved if I went the way of the SmartPhone, but I’m getting terribly cold, itchy and frankly smelly feet over it. I do like the look of the new iPhone 3G s, but I’m not sure I’m happy making myself 02’s bitch. I’m currently a T-mobile bitch, which is regrettable given that I seem to be in their blindspot (the whole of Somerset), so maybe the move could be fairly beneficial.

Better get back to sorting out this show, but just thought I’d chuck a few paragraphs out into the Internet to show that I’m still fairly cognizent…



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Wells Jazz Collective

One quick advert for a very important gig tomorrow night!

The inaugural night of The Wells Jazz Collective is taking place Saturday 21st March (tomorrow!), 7.30pm at the Wells Little Theatre in Somerset.

Highly recommended, I’ll be playing, and all is under the helm of one of my fave multi-instrumentalists, Russell Collins. Should be an excellent concert, with a JAM session in the second half!
So come along, and bring a full palette of chromatic notes which we can spread judiciously over some ridiculous changes.
Or be all melodic and tasteful. Go on, I dare you.

Please come along and support (and PLAY!) – entry is £8.50, or £5 if you’re playing or a student.

Yours in Jazz,

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Stop! Panto Time!

Yes, ’tis the season to be jolly excited about yelling advice to stage dames.

“Where’s my career?”

Imagine you’re Wicket Warrick for a moment, and tilt your head inquisitively to the side, to see my ‘Upcoming Gig Info’ for Panto details.
One of the best parts about this panto is the fact that one member of the band looks uncannily like Richard Dawkins. So, everytime I look up to the conductor, I see a grinning Dawkins-alike grooving away in the pit.

Also, have you noticed that the panto dame is always facing the wrong direction?

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