Seeing pictures of young Socialist Party supporters celebrating their Presidential Election victory in Paris at the Bastille, reminded me of the few occasions I visited the Bastille myself.
Paul Beuscher la librairie musicale de Paris
When I lived in Paris the only time I ever came out of the Metro at Bastille would have been to go to the big music shop, Paul Beuscher. It’s still there today, not covering quite so many shop fronts, and specialising more in pianos than guitars, but still there. The first time I went on the advice of somebody who had told me it was the best place to buy replacement guitar strings, because you could buy singles instead of having to buy a new set every time one broke. Breaking strings was an occupational hazard, we didn’t have portable amplifiers in those days, played purely acoustically, so there was a tendency in noisy corridors or streets to get maximum volume by hitting the strings hard. You know that if you go just a little bit too far a string will break, but every so often you get carried away and it happens. I was asked very recently why I don’t cut off the ends of the strings like most guitar players do when restringing, and it’s for that very reason. If a string breaks near the bridge, which is the most likely place, you can sometimes put the same string back on again, by retrieving the little nipple end that’s fallen inside the hollow guitar body, threading the end of the string through the ring, tying a knot in it and then tightening the string back up to playing tension again. But you can only do that if there is enough leftover string beyond the machine head to pull back through a couple of inches at least. If it works, then that’s great – you can carry on playing the same pitch without having to go away and find a replacement. Of course you could always carry a set of spares around all the time, but that would have required a certain organised resourceful lifestyle which just wasn’t possible in the 1970s! I had more than most, though, which meant that other guitarists often asked me if I could lend them a spare D string or more likely a top E in passing. I couldn’t afford to do that very often at all of course, otherwise it would have just been me all the time having to make the trek to Paul Beuscher’s music shop at Bastille to replenish everybody else’s supplies.
The Mazet Paris
One occasion was a more sever emergency than just a string break. I had a guitar stolen from underneath the pinball machine in the cafe Mazet. Having the means of earning a living suddenly disappear is quite a scary position to be in. As luck would have it, the music shop had a big sale on which included a bin full of broken guitars at next to nothing prices. After rummaging around I was able to find an Epiphone six string guitar that was only damaged by a large split on the side of the body. So it was perfectly playable and the sound quality seemed oddly unaffected by the broken wood too. A snip at 150 French francs, equivalent to about £15 then and maybe about £150 in today’s money. Musical instruments and most other thing were generally more expensive in France than in England, particularly so in Paris. Still are. Mid range guitars are probably quite a bit cheaper now than they were then, you could probably buy a playable guitar brand new and undamaged for the same amount, it wouldn’t be as good as my old Japanese built Epiphone though. A few years later Epiphone moved production of their guitars from Japan to Korea and the build quality suffered. Now they make cheap guitars in China, nothing to do with the original Epiphone. I kept and played that old broken Japanese Epiphone for many years afterwards, until the fixed bridge broke and I didn’t get around to having it fixed, what with the broken side as well. Then somebody persuaded me to sell it to them, which I should never have agreed to. Nearly all the guitars I’ve ever sold, I wish I still had. That’s life.
I finally got around to setting up my gramaphone record player deck again yesterday after having a bit of a clear out during the week, to make some space. I’d mean meaning to do this for goodness knows how many years now, but you know how it is…
On the deck left over from whenever I last used it, and thus used as the test record to see if it the replugging was all working: The Rutles.
Great to hear old favourites like “Cheese And Onions” again. “The Rutles” album sounds just like an affectionate pastiche or a lost Beatles album, using similar sounding orchestration and composition techniques to those found on Sergeant Pepper, Abbey Road and other great Beatles records.
“The album contains some obvious send-ups of Beatles numbers such as “Ouch!” (“Help!”), “Love Life” (“All You Need is Love”), “Piggy in the Middle” (“I Am the Walrus”), “Doubleback Alley” (“Penny Lane”) and “Get Up And Go” (CD reissue only — “Get Back”). However, its real tribute is in its subtly layered blending of elements from many classic Lennon-McCartney tunes.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rutles
After searching for the sleeve in which to put the vinyl record away, I found there was already another copy of the disc inside, which means I had two copies for some reason, and the one I had played was in much worse condition, which may have accounted for the slightly disappointing sound quality coming from the undersized loud speakers I had connected, and the way the record deck amp was connected through a mid range compact HiFi system.
Next up, after hearing Steve Tilston play one of his oldest songs “Normandy Days” in Maggie Boyle’s kitchen I was looking for his first “An Acoustic Confusion” album but instead out came “Songs From The Dress Rehearsal” his 3rd album, from 1977. Despite not having heard the songs for a decade or more, most sounded welcomingly familiar and beautifully recorded. After the worn out Rutles LP, this one sounded much much better with Steve Tilston’s voice in his mid 20s I think, mature and confident, always a technically impressive guitar player, here with very sympathetic arrangements. Now the advantage of analogue sound over compressed digital could be heard loud and clear with gorgeous acoustic bass, harmonica, voice and guitar separation. The single fold album cover has one slight problem though – the sleeve notes are printed over a black and white photograph and this makes some of them unreadable! This part is clear though:
“All the songs were recorded as played with only the minimum of overdubbing and I think a very good live sound is the result, totally approaching a performance and not at all like the vivisections that I’ve found myself taking part in before – in fact the session was so relaxed you can almost hear me smiling on some of the songs”
I was chatting to Patrick Hadfield at the London Bloggers last week, who had a ticket to see Keith Tippett, still gigging apparently, which put me in mind of the great album I own called “Dedicated to you but you weren’t listening”. I decided at the time this would be the first record to go on my new set up, but it ended up 3rd but but no means last.
Wow. This album intrigues, thrills, delights and builds up into some really big sounds. Modern Jazz from 1971 with several members from early Soft Machine ( Robert Wyatt, Elton Dean, Roy Babbington) incarnations performing, well rehearsed, improvised and enthusiastically performed. This was all surprisingly familiar too, it’s funny how music memory survives so well.
Some illustrations used during the January 2011 Songwriters Circle Challenge. The next Cohort is due to start on Monday February 6th 2012 if you’d like to join usand kick start your songwriting in just 30 days
for The Songwriters Circle. “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”
Taken February 3, 2011 at 3:39 pm
Interim logo for The Songwriters Circle group. “To sustain a supportive environment called The Songwriters Circle where collaboration and creativity amongst songwriters can flourish and both new and experienced songwriters can hone our skills.” Read more: songwriterscircle.co.uk
Newsletter time once again with a report of last nights’s Andy Roberts feature evening from John the Fox.
Havering report 25 January:
A splendid turnout for our guest artist Andy Roberts (Haverfolk’s Andy not the Liverpool Scene one) meant the number of floor spots was restricted (the guv’nor Simon Oliver led by example and stood down, despite having practised something special for the evening).
Proceedings were opened by our Hillbillies Pep and Terry playing a quick bluegrass piece then leading all-comers in the songs You Ain’t GoingNowhere and Worried Man Blues.
MC for the night Smolovik formally opened proceedings with Down By theRiverside then called on Foxen who performed Freewheeling Days, their tribute to the late Suze Rotollo, Bob Dylan’s girlfriend who is pictured on the front of his Freewheeling album.
Our own Thief of Dadgad, Graham Harrison, marked Burns Night by singing Archie Fisher’s Lindsay.
Concertina and guitar duo Bernie and Maureen Pilgrim gave us Grandfather’sTune and Uncle Bernard then violin maestro Richie Barratt made a welcome return, accompanying Micky Brown on a song we think was called Can’t WaitTill the Weekend Comes.
Newcomer Di Russell accompanied herself on mandolin for a Mumford and Sons song, Awake My Soul and Ray Spillman, recovering well after his recent stay in hospital sang Norwegian Wood.
Poetess Carol read us a brief ode written during a workshop she went to on hands and Peter Walters sang Gypsy Rover.
Then it was time for the main event. Andy has a growing reputation as a songwriter and treated us to an hour and three-quarters (with a break) of mostly his own compositions. [ full setlist ] Old favourites such as London Bridge (which Haverites insist on calling the Cormorants) and Winter In Andalucia jostled with newer compositions such as Never Was to Be (an online collaboration with lyricist Daryl P Hall) and Clean Living Woman Blues (lyrics by Andy’s partner Linda Hartley).
As it was Burns Night he gave us two of his Scotland-inspired numbers TheLast Nail and The Rowan Tree (not to be confused with the Scottish ballad written by Lady Nairne).
We also got a version of his epic, Gernika, inspired by a visit to the Basque city on the anniversary of its bombing by the Luftwaffe.
He finished off with his song Cajun Music Cajun Food and invited Pep on banjo and Richie Barratt and John Foxen on fiddles to join him.
He was called back for a well deserved encore and aptly provided The LastSubway Home, reminding us it was time to take the last train.
This coming Tuesday, 31st January sees a guest night at Romford Folk Club with C’est la Vie; the compere & commere are Mick & Nora. www.romfordfolkclub.com
Also on Tuesday, 31st January the Hoy at Anchor Folk Club has a guest evening featuring Tony McManus. I quote direct from their website: ”Tony McManus is the Jeff Beck of the acoustic guitar”; ”His guitar playing is faultless…atmospheric and evocative…consistently appealing” just two of the many glowing reviews attributed to this guitar virtuoso. In the course of his relatively short career Tony has established a reputation as the best Celtic guitarist in the world…the man whose fellow guitarists would aspire to and are in awe of!”www.ridgeweb.co.uk
On Thursday, 2nd February, Loughton Folk Club has guest Josienne Clarke; again I quote direct from the website: “Josienne Clarke is now one of the leading lights in the current folk revival movement. Her music is borne from sincere and succinct songwriting, distilled through traditional folk, executed with skill and dexterity. Come and see!”http://www.loughtonfolkclub.btck.co.uk/alsowww.josienneclarke.co.uk
Back to Haverfolk:
Our next open session is on Wednesday 1st February when all are welcome to claim a floor spot. The first 15 to give their names to the night’s MC are guaranteed at least two songs. After that, it depends on how many we have, but we’ll try to fit you in for two if we possibly can.
That’s it for this week – a rather shorter-than-usual newsletter, but not so much happening this time. Make it a date- Wednesday at eight!
Cheers – Peter Walters
HaverFolk, The Function Suite, The White Horse, 118 High Road, Chadwell Heath, Romford, RM6 6NU
YouTube allows the rediscovery of highlights from very distant memory, in this case the seminal TV series ‘Do Not Adjust Your Set” featuring the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
Here they are performing “Hunting Tigers Out In Indiah”:
“I really did see them in black and white!”
Somebody called ‘Dormouse’ in the alt.fan.bonzo-dog newsgroup put me onto these videos, but with YouTube it takes no time at all to browse around and find more rare gems. The live concert in Belgium, extracts from films, interviews, alternative performances and outakes – they are all there.
Incidentally, alt.fan.bonzo-dog was the first online group I ever founded, in February/March 1998 the the process of which I learned a lot. Here is the original charter:
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 20:46:11 -0000 Organization: ESBI Lines: 54 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Approved: email@example.com Message-ID: NNTP-Posting-Host: p81-as2.dubexs.tinet.ie Summary: Newgroup message X-Newsreader: Anawave Gravity v2.00 Xref: news.isc.org control.newgroup:17319 For your newsgroups file: alt.fan.bonzo-dog The Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band: Neil Innes, Viv Stanshall etc DISCUSSED IN alt.config: proposal for alt.fan.bonzo-dog posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on 19th March 1998. reply from Sysop 20th Mar. Justification posted, various contributions demonstrated strong international interest and traffic in newsgroups. Name finalised without -band.Richard Bryant suggested posting a Charter, charter posted No further objections. JUSTIFICATION: A dejanews search on bonzo+dog indicated 2100 matches. There is a mailing list with 65 subscribers which is intended strictly for low volume informative posts. It is envisaged that this would continue and the ng will attract wider ranging discussion, probably medium volume traffic. References to the Bonzo's regularly crop up in alt.fan.capt-beefheart, alt.fan.frank-zappa, alt.comedy.british, alt.fan.monty-python newsgroups. Also in rec.music.beatles, rec.music.dementia, rec.music.rock-pop-r+b.1960s.
A forum for fans of the ‘The Bonzo Dog Band’ previously known as
‘The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.
Topics might include the recorded output of the Bonzo’s, TV shows and videos and the careers of former band members. No commercial advertising allowed unless for goods or services related to the subject of the group. Private individuals may advertise their Website or business in their signature files . Binary postings are forbidden. All Binary files should be posted onto the relevant group with a pointer to them in this group Format: Text files only, HTML , graphics and sound files should be placed on the Web with a pointer to them in this group
The newsgroup will not be moderated. We are an anarcho-syndicalist collective with a rotating chair.
The suggested possible circles are an interesting starting point. When people start to “add” you on G+, they are just names, and you can’t see their circles, so how will you know which circle of yours to put them into?
Keeping the circles well organised like that sounds like a lot of work, but ultimately might just be worth it.
You would be hard pressed to NOT have heard of Google+, the newest social networking and sharing tool from Google which after one month of existence boasts around 18 million users. Artists are already bombarded with a plethora of tools to help them connect with their fans, but Google+ truly adds some unique features which have great potential for integration into a musician’s marketing arsenal.
Google+ consists of a content stream, photos, sparks, hangouts, and chat. While these features are nothing groundbreaking, the feature pulling all of the others together is Circles. Circles allow you to put contacts into different, self-defined groups, which control what content you see and share. Since there are a number of good articles explaining the basics of the platform, let’s get into how each feature may be utilized by an artist.
Note: Currently only personal accounts exist and Google has suggested that businesses (artists) postpone creating accounts until special business accounts currently under development are made available.
Circles is where the magic of Google+ takes place. You can create as many Circles as you want, and add people by simply dragging their info into a Circle. Once your Circles are created, you can share content to select Circles as well as view content streams from specific circles. Artists should start by importing their mailing list addresses into Google+, posting their info on their existing marketing channels (facebook, twitter), and inviting those not yet using the service to join.
Now that you have your contacts, it is time to organize your Circles. It should be noted that your Circles are private, so others cannot view or be offended by your orginizational decisions. Some possible Circles include:
Industry Representatives: You probably only want to share updates concerning your latest releases, videos, and press content with industry folk who may be following you as they are less concerned about the burrito you just consumed.
Fans: This is where you can share the content your fan base enjoys reading. Let them know about your whereabouts, experiences, touring or recording progress, post photos and music etc…
Breakdown the Fan Circle into smaller circles to have more defined targeting. For example, create Circles for different areas of the country and international fans to ensure you aren’t over promoting shows to fans thousands of miles away. If your fan base includes young teens, young adults, and older adults, consider categorizing these contacts as well. Each group prefers to be spoken to in different tone and filled in on different activities. Sometimes even male and female Circles make sense.
Other artists: Much like yourself, other artists are learning from experiences, trying out new marketing ideas, using new services etc…Follow what others are doing and share what you know with others in your position.
Following: Much like Twitter, you can follow others without being Circled back. This is good for keeping up with informative figures who may not call for reciprocal sharing.
Knowing which content your various Circles enjoy receiving will help ensure that only the most suitable posts make it to their stream.
Sparks are similar to your RSS feed or Google Alerts. Simply add some interests and topics you’d like to follow and check it ever so often to stay up to date.
This is another great feature for artists. Hangouts are hosted group video/audio/text chats. If you’ve used Ustream, it’s a little similar but even more interactive considering you can see and hear the other members in the Hangout. It is really a great way to allow your fans to get to know you as well as for you to get more acquainted with your fans. Host special Hangouts for your different Circles and maybe play an acoustic set, have an open question and answer session, or just let your fans connect with one another.
Daria Musk performs in a Hangout.
The features are there, but the success of Google+’s ability to provide artists with the ultimate marketing tool will largely depend on how many users ultimately adopt the platform. Overall, Google+ will provide artists a way to more meaningfully connect with their audience.
Please share your thoughts and ideas concerning Google+ for artists as this is unexplored territory that begs for creative implementation. If you aren’t yet a part of the club, post your email and I or another kind soul will send you an invite.
Scott Horton helps recording artists achieve the ‘sound in their head’ by providing his technical and creative sonic input through his online mixing service Virtual Mix Engineer.