Thursday, March 31, 2005

Doubt and Pain

Very sore legs this morning after last night’s football but it soon wore off.

On listening back to the splices for Ian’s CD I discovered a slight glitch on one of the tracks and spent a good two hours or so trying to fix it using various different parts of different takes of the tune in question until, eventually, I could take it no further and had to say “that’ll do”.

I’m glad to say my mysterious hand injury, which appeared just before the recent Spanish trip, putting paid to my return to playing live, now seems to have healed up and so I spent two hours or so today playing through all the songs from the “Deeperdown” project with just my acoustic guitar.

Of the fourteen songs, I’ve decided I’m not 100% sure of around six of them. But we’ll see. I suppose anyone who writes songs goes through phases of not liking some of them or doubting them in some way. And with my guitar playing, I’m probably not hearing them in the best of conditions after all!!

I’ve had sore arms now for a very long time – probably more than 10 years, in fact I can’t remember when the pain started but I first became conscious of sleeping with my arms in a particular position when we were on holiday in Sicily in 1985 and I’m convinced this is the cause.

I had a long course of physiotherapy which ended around a year ago without much improvement really but I’m to blame to a certain extent in that I’m loathe to do the small exercises I ought to be doing every day to help keep my arms flexible.

I’m pretty sure that the only time in the last 10 to 15 years I can remember when I had no pain in my arms was when the physiotherapist injected courses of steroids into my shoulders and even then, the relief only lasted for half an hour or so because it was the painkilling element rather than the steroids that gave me respite.

I mention all this because at present, if I play an acoustic guitar for any length of time I get very bad pains in my left arm and this is annoying to say the least.

So, all in all a fairly uneventful, but (self-inflictedly) painful day today.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Cat Fight!! Production!! Fives!!

Ok it's not quite Lights! Camera! Action! but this morning, at around 5 am, and in a similar fashion to quite a few mornings recently if the truth be told, Meg the Black Cat went careering down the stairs and proceeded to Yowl at the very teeth gratingly annoying top of her voice due to the presence of a little black and white cat with a bell sitting on our outside living room window sill.

Needless to say the condition of our inside living room window sill is deteriorating by the day due to Meg's rather agitated state which seems to involve scratching the hell out of our lovely wooden sill. You've got to love the wee tyke though eh?

Anne admitted to me tonight that the thought which went through her head as I ran down the stairs naked to wrest Meg from the sill, dump her in the hall and shut the living room door tight, wasn't "I hope David doesn't trip and go head first through the front door and end up naked in the garden at 5 am". No, it was "that cat's got to go".

By this evening the Black Cat was forgiven, as she is so nice.

So I was up at 5 - and I took the opportunity to finish off the splicing together of one of the tracks from Ian's session on Sunday and then burn rough versions of everything we have to CD. I was finished by 7:30 and saving the tracks to the hard drive on the computer.

As for fives, well, once again I made it into the chosen ten who fought it out tonight and this week, I was a "Light". I spent the first 10 minutes or so in goal and took are rather annoyingly "sore one" to the head early doors. Once again my little old lady goalkeeping technique was to the fore - and once again the ball kept hitting off me rather sorely. Ow-ya.

Once in the outfield though, I contributed at least two goals that I remember, one was a dead ringer for David Narey's "toe-poke" for Scotland against Brazil in 1982 (the opener - after which Brazil slotted a cool 4 past the Scots).

The other was a shot from half way which I bent around at least two defenders and the goalkeeper, much to my delight - just like the old days. (of course I may well be slightly biased and be making both these sound better than they actually were - but that's how I saw them...).

The "Lights" won tonight by two goals - we didn't keep the scores just shouted "one up darks" or "two up lights" or "level" after each goal. An enjoyable evening.

The MBFives (that's Meadowbank Fives, after the venue at which we used to play our games) Awards Ceremony is on Friday night and I've been looking back at the previous winners in my capacity as organiser.

Although the awards are annual, we only seem to award them every two years. In 2001 I won the Lee Harvey Oswald Award For Deadliest Finisher but also the Stanley Matthews Statue Award For Most Static Player.

I retained the latter in 2003 adding to it the Heinz Chocolate Steam Pudding Award For Player Least Likely to Turn On A Sixpence. So I'm hoping I can maybe pick something up on Friday....

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Fripp and Mozart

Today, the complete String Quartets (and Quintets) of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made their way into my collection.

I had decided against buying these last week but was encouraged to do so today upon reading an interview Robert Fripp gave on the occasion of the release of the last King Crimson album “The Power to Believe”. In it he said:-

"In terms of music being easily available, I'm grateful. I have a wonderful music library on my computer. My little Japanese active speakers that I plug in the back of my Mac G4 Powerbook have transformed my miserable, wretched life on the road. Because now I go into this vacuum-with-a-bed-in-it (otherwise called a hotel room) and I set up my computer. My active speakers - oh! those wonderfully flat little Japanese speakers, just on the market in Tokyo last October when David (Singleton) and I were there - hah! and there it is. I have Bartók, Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert String Quartets, complete and total in my computer. And that is only partially what I have. Charlie Parker with Strings, ah! Bliss. And much, much more. "

This is much the same way I feel about my Creative Jukebox when I’m away from home. Already having Bartók and Beethoven’s complete String Quartets I decided to add Mozart’s (and no doubt will now be looking out for sets of Haydn, Schubert and Brahms).

Ironically, having spent many hours last week browsing in the classical department, I chose 5:55 this evening to approach the store only to have the security guard, who was ushering out customers, bar my way whilst mouthing the word “closed” to me through the glass door.

Undeterred, I pushed open the door and advised him that the store was supposed to be open till 6 and that he wouldn’t have to stay on any longer than necessary, as I knew exactly what I wanted to buy. He relented and let me in.

By 6:01 I was back on the street clutching my purchase and heading home. I’ve listened to the first eight of the seventeen quartets tonight as I've been working on the computer and it really is quite beautiful music indeed….even if the Heutling Quartet’s 1967/68 recordings aren’t included in the Good CD Guide and even if all the sleeve notes are written in French….

You can read the full Fripp interview here - it’s worth it
Mozart's Complete String Quartets

Monday, March 28, 2005

Post Production

Despite claiming to Ian Sclater during our recording sessions yesterday that there would be no post production on his recordings (I was trying to explain to him the Crispycat recording method which is essentially a collection of live recordings one on top of the other - hopefully complementing each other - to which very little can be done once the recording is done - other than recording any substandard take again), I did indeed spend quite a bit of time today listening back to the three hours or so of recordings which were "laid down". My goal was to delete the myriad false starts and breakdowns and identify the material which could be saved.

I now have to identify savable guitar solos and splice them into the acceptable backing tracks.

...and if anyone knows what happened at the end of the episode of Law & Order : Criminal Intent broadcast recently, which involved the son of a gangster murdering his father and step brother in order to donate $2M to the cult which had brainwashed him, please feel free to let me know....we taped it while in Spain and, as is often the case when using the timer function on our video (unless you add 10 minutes at both the beginning and the end of every programme you tape) the recording ran out just as the very clever cops were about to go "A ha" to the bad guys....

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Man Who Forgets Far Too Easily (pt 2)

Anne is always amazed at the things I can remember. For instance, at Keith and Maureen's on Saturday, it emerged that Maureen's eldest daughter, Rebecca (15), is going to Bavaria on a school trip soon. It appears she'll be visiting Konigsee and Salzburg, just as I did in on a school trip in 1974. As part of the deal Rebecca will have to keep a diary and I piped up with the fact that I'd had to keep a diary too. I was able to remember that I used the record tokens I received for successfully keeping a diary, to purchase the first two Cockney Rebel albums, "The Human Menagerie" and "The Psychomodo" on the same day in August 1974. I can remember things from way back, granted usually connected to music, like first hearing the Beatles in 1963 when "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was playing at a Christmas Party.

So, if I can remember those things, how come, when I make arrangements to attend further sessions on Ian Sclater's CD (which we started today) over the next two Sundays, I forget that I've promised to take my mum to visit her friends in Glasgow next Sunday and that the week after that Anne and I have tickets to see Hearts no doubt being well and truly slaughtered by the unfortunately mighty Glasgow Celtic at Hampden in the Scottish FA Cup Semi-Final?

The session today at Ian Sclater's house went well and we managed to get the first tracks down for at least three songs and have the basics for another two or three too. Ian's friend, Ian Pettigrew, was playing guitar. It turns out he knows Alan Brodie, my oldest and bestest friend (erm who I haven't actually seen since we went to see The Tubes playing in Glasgow at the start of December - due to his having gone all girlfriendy on me since "taking up" with a lovely young lady who lives in Dundee). Ian knows Alan through having worked with Alan's brother and through having been Alan's neighbour in the early 80's. Turns out also that Ian Sclater's sister is married to someone I know. Small world.

How come when I walk into a room to do something, I often forget what it is I came to do?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Here's the collage I'm thinking of using in the artwork for the proposed new anthology (1973/1980/1993/2004)

New Projects

I was up at 6.45 this morning as I've got a busy weekend ahead (my ability to do this no doubt due to drinking Diet Coke rather than Red Wine last night).

Firstly, I have to hand back all the CDs I borrowed from the library three weeks ago so, as usual, I've left it till the last minute to scan the covers for my illicit copies. Then, at 2.30 we're due at Anne's brother Keith and his partner Maureen's new house for a house warming party. Anne's extended family will be there including her mum, siblings, their respective partners and our nephews and niece plus Maureen's two girls - so a full and noisy house in prospect.

Tomorrow I commence the recording sessions for an acoustic CD I've been commissioned to produce for Ian Sclater (pronounced Slater) - he's the editor of a local coffee-house inhouse magazine called Instant and a prolific songwriter to boot - so at some point today I have to ensure all the Crispycat equipment is functioning correctly - the remit is to produce a 15 or so song CD which will stand the test of time as a document of Ian's songwriting skills - he's invited a few of his friends to play on the disc too so it'll be a challenge, but one I'm looking forward to.

This new project means of course that Cloudland Blue Quartet matters have to be put on hold for the time being. With that i mind, I've been toying with the idea of updating the currently available anthology. That double CD set is a kind of "Best Of" from 1977 through to 2001 with quite a few years overlooked and some more heavily represented than others.

I recently stumbled across another 2CD set I'd compiled at some point last year and I've been listening to this on and off for a few weeks now. It features just one track from each year from 1977 to 2004 (28 tracks in all) with some nifty crossfades between most of the pieces and some long not listened to songs which only previously featured on various compilations.

It's 50/50 song/instrumental and features some of my very favourite soundscapes I've done over the years. A couple of the early tracks are a wee bit embarrassing I suppose, but that's what I was doing then. The track from 77 is the first I ever recorded. All in all I think the set demonstrates the progress made over the last 28 years - you'd have to hope there had been at least some after all!!

I'd keep the other anthology in the catalogue at present since only a few tracks are duplicated over the two sets.

....and of course it's Easter Day on Sunday - not that I'm a believer, but I do go along with the concept of Easter Eggs - I'm a Nestle Man while Anne's a Cadbury's Girl...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Impossible Songs

Tonight we had dinner with John & Ali of Impossible Songs ( down at South Queensferry. I'd already had a couple of drinks so Anne agreed to drive down on the understanding that she'd be ok to consume copious amounts of the old Vino Rosso after which I'd drive home.

I've known John and Ali for just over a year as we all served together on the Committee for Out of the Bedroom, a songwriters' Open Mic night in Edinburgh. Anne has met them a few times too but this was the first time we'd all gotten together "formally".

The food was excellent (thanks Ali!) and the wine was flowing (though I was on Diet Cokes). Our background lead us of course to discuss various OOTB matters and topics such as performance, song-writing and recording but we also touched on the mighty trinity of Politics, Religion and Sport, with Anne promising to take Ali to Tynecastle on her mum's season ticket next time the opportunity arose. Anne's a huge Heart of Midlothian fan - favourite player Steven Pressley (aka Elvis) - mine is of course the mighty Robbie Nielson - because he was rubbish until he went to Queen of the South on loan from where he returned a brilliant player of course!

Needless to say, as this was our first get together there were various tales of "how we met" and "what we've been doing all our lives" which, for the sake of our reputations I won't repeat here - suffice to say it was a very entertaining evening.

We'd arrived at 7.30 and before we knew it, it was 1.30 in the morning so we decided to head home, if only to avoid everyone's Saturdays being washed out. John and Ali's cat Syrus was sitting patiently in a plant pot outside the main door when went down to the car, having been left out a bit longer than intended. He's a great looking we ginger cat with semi-long hair and very pointy ears and face.

On the way home I kept to 40 mph just in case any of the myriad rabbits on the side of the dual carriageway decided to run out and play with our car...none did.

A great night and we're looking forward to J&A's return visit to Crispycat Towers soon...

P.S. I did indeed forget to book appointments with the doctor and the mechanic...oops

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Man Who Forgets Far Too Easily

I am forever saying to Anne "OK I won't forget", only to find upon being asked if I remembered to do something, that I have indeed forgotten to do it.

For instance, today I left the house with the intention of, at some point, making two appointments - one to have our car looked over by our mechanic and the other to have me looked over by our doctor. At one point I did remember to make a doctor's appointment but, seeing as I was at that particular point without either access to a phone or the doctor's number it was to no avail. When I got home, I once again had to utter my catchphrase "I'm sorry, I forgot".

Hopefully I'll remember tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Lumbering Lump of Lard

Tonight I returned to the Five-a-Sides fray after two weeks away (the Xannakis concert and the Spanish trip taking precedence). To be fair, it was only my second game this year but I'm getting awfully old (and am too fat really) to keep playing much longer.

I'm at least 10-12 years older than anyone else on the pitch (other than when my old chum Mr James Sebastian Park - comedian of this parish takes to the pitch), and the youngest players might be almost 30 years younger than me - but inside I'm still the deadly finishing maestro I was until even around 5 years ago.

To make matters worse I now seem to have developed some kind of in-growing toenail type scenario on my goalden right foot. Anne's on at me to see a chiropodist, or at least the doctor, so I reluctantly agree to make an appointment tomorrow - but I'll probably forget as the pain in my toe reduces overnight...

p.s. I did score two goals although my team "The Darks" finally succumbed to "The Lights", 10-8 after a hard fought 60 minutes, during which my famous "cowering-little-old-lady" goalkeeping technique was much to the fore...

The Nearly Man

I nearly bought a couple of box sets of CDs today - nearly but, in the end, I didn't. This has been happening to me a lot lately. Which is good. Over the years since 1985 when I bought my first CD, "Thursday Afternoon" by Brian Eno, which had been recorded specifically for the CD medium (it's one continuous piece which lasts for 61 minutes) [Therefore I had to switch from vinyl to CD otherwise I couldn't own this latest work by my hero Mr Eno] I have spent far too much on CDs and have amassed a frankly huge collection of the things - truly, I am addicted.

This morning I'd been listening to "Music For The Spanish Kings" a 2Cd set of 15th and 16th Century Spanish Music and, in particular that of Antonio de Cabezon (1510-66) played by Jordi Savall's early music group - and been impressed. So later, while in HMV browsing through their latest "Biggest Ever Sale/Clearout" which they now seem to have every couple of months, I found an 8 CD Box by the very same band - all for a paltry £15. However, both the CDs in the 2CD set I'd been listening to this morning were included - and so I decided not to buy - £15 for 6CDs...still a bargain - but there was that little voice in my head again "you'll never listen to this".

The other non-purchased box was an 8CD box of the complete String Quartets (and indeed Quintets) of Mr Mozart. Perusing the handily left-lying-around guide to stonking classical CDs, I noted the particcular recordings in my hand were not included - and so I once again decided to keep my plastic in my wallet.

Perhaps one reason I'm not buying as much is that the card I usually use has just been reissued to me in chip and pin form and I just can't quite remember the pin number sufficiently well to be confident of using without being arrested as an identity thief...

Of course not buying CDs does not mean that my collection does not continue to grow, as I generally copy every CD I borrow from the music library - I'm sure the majority of their customers do.

One thing I've not been very sure of over the years is downloading MP3s, as the software usually seems to bring along with it a load of other programmes which clog up the computer - however, I recently downloaded Morpheus (the free version of course) to do some very select downloading - the problem now is that my choices of tracks are so obscure that, of the 15 billion people using peer to peer systems at any one time, only one has the song I want, and they always seem to shut their computer down just when I'm half way thru downloading their file...ah the pleasures of the internet.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Meg The Cat

I had intended to go along to Out of the Bedroom's (OOTB) Acoustica tonight, the first one since last July's when I backed up Jamie on his full live debut. The venue where we (I was on the committee of OOTB at that point - no longer though) used to hold Acoustica (Cabaret Voltaire) kicked us out because we weren't commercial eough for them so we'd moved to the Cafe Royal instead - then that venue lost their amplified live music licence and Acoustica has been homeless since then - but it's now got a new home at the Caledonian Backpackers at the West End of Princes Street. Big Jim, The Victorians, Lindsay Sugden and a fourth unconfirmed act were playing.

Anyway, the reason I didn't go is that Anne and I went to our chum Julia's house out in the wilds of West Lothian and, in keeping with our pathetic navigational skills which we showed off so adeptly in the outback of Andalucia, we got well and truly lost in the fair city of Armadale.

We stopped and asked a local for directions. "Do you know the way to Bathgate Road" we asked - "Yes" he replied. There was a rather long pause and then I offered "Can you tell us how to get there?". "Who are you looking for?" he asked....

20 minutes later we arrived at Julia's. Late last year she suffered some flood damage at her cottage and had to move out, so we took in her two cats Meg (The Black One) and Pandy (The Fluffy One) for December, giving her them back while we were in Barcelona at New Year. We then had them back from early January until our departure for Nerja earlier this month.

Julia had advised she intended to give them away once she moved back to her house (last week)and so, after much soul searching we decided to take on Meg (The Black One) in the hope that Julia would then keep Pandy (The Fluffy One) as the latter is less of a handful. We still hope she will.

Meanwhile, after a couple of glasses of Red Wine and a fair old natter (one small one for me only due to my driving), we left her house with Meg in a cat box and brought her to her new home - of course she's quite used to it having lived here for the best part of the last four months but now it's official and so Meg (The Black One) is now the house cat here following our wee Crispy the Cat who lived with us for nearly 18 years until she died in January 2002.

Meg is a funny character. She was abandoned in a house with a dog when she was just a kitten and has some distinct dog characteristics e.g the way she lies with her legs folded and her chin on the ground rather than the usual sphinx-like cat postion; and her short dog-like yelps she utters rather than normal cat miaows.

So we're looking forward to having a full time cat again although Crispy will never really be replaced.

Monday, March 21, 2005

A Great Underated (Unheard of) Band

The arrival of "Night Of The Shooting Stars" while we were away, means I now have all the officially released Rheostatics CDs. So today I spent some time compiling a 2CD "Best of" set and burning it to CD, then listening to it in the car and on my walkman etc etc etc. They really are a quite extraordinary band....

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Homeward Bound

Woken at 5 am this morning by the people in the room above clomping around – so I take the opportunity to listen to the Yes album “Tales From Topographic Oceans” in its entirety - which eventually gets me back to sleep.

For the last breakfast, fried eggs are on the menu again. After breakfast we pack our bags then go up to the weekly flea market. It’s amazing what people will try and sell at these things but there’s a buyer out there for anything it seems – check the success of e-bay.

We return to the hotel and sit by the pool with a Coke and I write up this journal. After taking no photos yesterday because of the weather, it’s once again hot and sunny today and so I take a couple of the hotel and a lone fisherman on the nearby point.

We head up to the Balcon de Europa for the last time. All the cats are mostly lying sleeping in the flowerbeds arounds the square which is now crowded with tourists and locals who’ve just come out of the church having celebrated Palm Sunday in their Sunday best.

We’d talked about going to the “all you can eat” buffet lunch at one of the two Indian restaurants in the town and I have to say that when I awoke this morning I was up for giving it a miss after last night. However, despite the hearty breakfast, by 11.45 I’m ready for the buffet and so is Anne. A bit risky perhaps with a long journey ahead but what the hell…

We arrive at the place at 12….to find it doesn’t open till 1, so we head down to the beach for a seat in relative silence. At 1, we’re back at the Indian – no pakoras but a very lively beast crawling on top of the Tarka Daal is less than inviting. When I call the waitress’s attention to it, by the time she takes a look it’s lying prone on the surface – she insists it’s just a spice! I’m sure I saw her furtively remove it later on…

After three or four platefuls of everything except the Tarka Daal, we head back out into the sun and walk down to the hotel for the last time. We sit out at the pool as two powered hangliders float noisily past…

At 4 the minibus arrives to take us on the hour-long trip to Malaga airport and I listen to the jukebox while Anne reads. By 5 we’re in the check-in queue – once again managing to choose the slowest moving one. It’s a non-smoking airport and I confront a Glaswegian smoking moron behind me in the queue much to his delight….

After 30 minutes we’re finally checked in and have asked to be as close to the front as possible – we get row 2 and hope we’ll be far from the drunken arses who accompanied us so delightfully on the flight out…

Anne buys a big white funky watch in duty free for fifteen euros and though I’m sorely tempted by a 2CD set entitled “Dali – Music to Inspire a Genius” I manage to abstain. It’s mostly classical and I’ve probably got all the tracks on it already – as with many CD purchase decisions these days, I’m starting to listen to that little voice in my head saying “you’ll never listen to it, you fat tube”.

I grab a couple of bottles of still water to try and counteract the mild heartburn starting to emanate from the direction of the lunch-time curry, find a quiet seat and jukebox it again while Anne tries to determine which gate we’ll be departing from.

Another good selection, the first 15 minutes features Roxy Music, Richard Shindell and Mogwai – my own little radio shows in my head – I hardly ever have to “flick on”. 75 minutes to take off.

At 8.45, some 130 minutes later, we’ve been standing on the bus on the tarmac for 30 minutes when we’re instructed to go back to the gate as the planer has a technical fault. To make matters worse, the now even more drunken Glaswegians are smoking where they sit, ignoring the non-smoking status of the gate and the small and embarrassing smoking area which has been set up for the pariahs amongst us…but I can’t be arsed confronting anyone anymore and so I move to the point furthest from them.

The fault is fixed and we board the plane around 2 hours after our scheduled departure time, only to find that one passenger is missing. After a further 30 minutes, the mysterious Mrs Hannah appears up the gangway, looking very glamorous but attracting the seething hate of 179 other people. Apparently she’d become engrossed in filling out a questionnaire somewhere in the airport and missed the call to board. Idiot!!

On the flight I watch the video without the £2.50 headphones, listening instead to a concert by Tangerine Dream at the Royal Albert Hall at their peak in 1975. I don’t know what the film was called but it was quite interesting - although I did spend the entire 90 minutes waiting for John Travolta to appear, having misheard at the outset that he was one of the stars……

We arrive in Glasgow at midnight, a full 9 hours after leaving the hotel – we’re first off the plane but to no avail – there’s a delay in getting the luggage off the plane during which everyone stands around the motionless belt looking longingly at the big rubber doors like so many pathetic contestants on the Generation Game – and the drunks are smoking again – morons.

It’s another hour before we’re able to board another minibus to take us to the car-park and even then we sit for an extra 10 minutes waiting for yet another non-existent passenger to arrive.

We finally hit the M8 back to Edinburgh at around 1.30 am and I decide to keep to a steady 60 mph just in case I fall asleep - it’ll be a lot less sore for us if we’re going a bit more slowly…

By 2.30 we’re home and we’ve not been burgled – I check the post – a new Rheostatics CD has arrived from Canada – what a great homecoming present – I pop it in the walkman and head for bed….quite a day.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Woken by someone upstairs clomping around (new guests must have arrived and been billeted in the room above us) why is someone clomping around their room at 4 in the morning? Added to that, the bin-men arrive at exactly the same time and proceed to clang the bins and rev their engines…

So…I stick on my headphones (they’re the “plug” type that go right inside my ears and block out extraneous noises) and fire up the jukebox – the shuffle facility comes up with a great selection which helps me forget the clomping and clanging.

Without the car we’re stuck in Nerja today and the weather’s overcast so we can’t just sit by the pool and relax, as Anne would have liked.

I’d brought a book with me but finished it on Monday so I figured I needed a replacement for the trip home. We find “Spain’s largest English Language second hand bookstore” and a Sci-Fi epic, “Cold As Ice” replaces “I, Lucifer” in my reading list. They’re both tosh but keep me happy…

Leaving the bookshop, we walk around for ages, here there and everywhere, eventually settling at the Balcon de Europa for a seat where we could watch the antics of the large collection of feral cats that lives there, as they interact with the tourists and attempt (and fail) to catch the pigeons.

We head back to the hotel, stopping off at “La Vaca Loca” (The Crazy Cow), a bar and Internet Café run by a nice Dutch lady, and partake of the house speciality, Dutch Pea Soup for lunch.

In the afternoon, we're reduced to visiting the Nerja Hypermarket which turns out to be more of a Low-permarket and takes all of five minutes for us to look round and exit without making a purchase.

We sit in the bar at the hotel and are joined by an old German guy who’s been to Nerja four or five times before but this time is on his own as his wife had recently died.

He's a talkative chap with a reasonable command of English and insists on speaking our language even when we talk to him in German. He has some hair-raising stories of his travels in Venezuela and Mexico involving gangsters, robberies and beatings…he said Mexico used to be happy go lucky and he’d be fine walking anywhere at night but now he wouldn’t leave his hotel so there’d be no point in going…

For our last night, we decide not to dine at the Hotel but go instead to the Round Tapas Bar we’d visited on Wednesday and have a few glasses of red wine there before ending up at the Rendezvous, an English run restaurant with an extensive vegetarian choice, excellent food and large helpings. We share a bottle of wine before heading home feeling the worse for wear…

Friday, March 18, 2005


Friday - scrambled eggs again - ruined today though by the uncalled for inclusion of olives in the mix?!? The melon we've been having the last few days has been excellent however. Orange juice and hot chocolate, toast, breadrolls and croissants - all superb..

Having studied the map the night before, we proceed to take a wrong turning almost immediately and add around 30 minutes to our travel time - however, instead of driving along the shore of a nearby lake, we end up on top of a mountain overlooking it. Weather at this point is overcast - cue a glum face from Anne.

We arrive at Antequera at around 11.45 having taken two and a quarter hours - a pleasant journey though and, once again, passing through some spectacular scenery. This is a beautiful old town and by mid-day the sun is well and truly out and the temperature is hitting 25 celcius - Anne loves it - I'm keeping my hat on (again)...

Taking our cue from the tourist office at Plaza San Francisco having parked the car in a nearby multi storey, we settle at a street cafe for a coffee before setting off to explore the old town. The strange recommended route takes us along a couple of non-descript streets but finally we end up at the old church and castle which overlook the town.

Here we sit and sip a cool drink. 20cl of Pepsi/Pepsi Light with ice and lemon in these conditions makes you realise just why this drink is so popular. Suddenly Anne notices a strange discolouring around the bottom of her left trouser leg. First time on and somehow they've been splashed by bleach and ruined - well at least the toilet must've been clean - but that's little consolation - and this on top of her glasses falling to bits the night before.....

We walk up to the palace gardens taking plenty of photos including many of "The Big Face" - a very strange looking hill which sits in the middle of a flat plain outside the town as if deposited there from outer space.

Back down in the town it's 3 o'clock and, having failed miserably to find anywhere for lunch, we buy a couple of pre-packed salads and some crisps and juice from the supermarket. We collect the car and head back south to "El Torcal" a national park of very alien looking rock formations. However, it's at the top of a mountain and by the time we get there, the whole of the park is shrouded in cloud - visibility about 3 ft - which makes the drive a little precarious to say the least - we head back down into the sunshine, disappointed.

We take the main A road and motorway back to Nerja but have to switch off the classical station - large choral works are not as condusive to happy driving as string quartets...Anne finds a Spanish pop station and we drive along wondering what they're singing about...

I resist the urge to leave the motorway early to visit the huge hypermarket complex around 20 kilometres from Nerja and we arrive home in around 2 hours from Antequera.

I drop Anne off at the hotel and then take the car back early - I'm hardly likely to use it now before 9 am tomorrow morning. On the way back to the hotel I buy a couple of packets of Cadbury mini-eggs - one of which I scoff completely before joining Anne in the bar.

Dinner at the hotel then up to the Balcon for coffee..wonder what we'll do tomorrow - if it's sunny we'll sit by the pool reading - if not then we'll be in trouble...

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Start of the second half of our holiday and after breakfast we went to the car-hire office to pick up the car. By 9.15 we were heading for Ronda. We missed our turning at the Malaga intersection and ended up taking a slightly different but more spectacular route to our destination. We went up and over a few mountains on the way, on some particularly twisty-windy roads arriving at Ronda around 12.30. The weather was hot and sunny - Anne was delighted - I kept my hat on!

Ronda's old town is breathtaking, one of the best we've visited but, before exploring we stopped off for a pizza for lunch after taking photos from the famous bridge. Then we walked for miles around the streets and environs of the old town, crossing the original bridge, which lies upstream but lower in height than the more famous "new" bridge. We had a coffee on the edge of the cliff upon which the town is built and then made our way down to the best vantage point for viewing the new bridge and accompanying waterfall from below.

After walking the long way round to the lower part of the old town and then uphill to the main town, we grabbed a cooling ice-cream from McDonalds and then went to the gardens by the Bull Ring, rumoured to be the oldest in Spain. The owner was one of Orson Welles best friends and Orson's ashes were scattered in the gardens.

We set off back for Nerja at around 5.45 hoping we wouldn't be caught up in the mountains on the treacherous roads when the sun went down. We took the route we had planned to use to come to Ronda and it turned out to be even more hair-raising and spectacular than the one we travelled earlier in the day- we had one very near miss - my fault for driving on the wrong side of the road! One of the best moments was when we passed a herd of goats on the road being shepherded (or goatherded I suppose) down the mountainside. On our journey back, the dangerous route - and driving - were counterpointed nicely by the sounds of Radio Nacional Espana's classical music station - Handel, Salieri and Mozart.

Back at the hotel we'd missed dinner but piled into the drink then, for some bizarre reason, ended up in Nerja's only "authentic" English Fish'n'Chips bar. Days later our clothes were still stinking of fat - the food went down well though.

After a visit to the Balcon de Europa for a nightcap, we returned to the hotel to plan for tomorrow, deciding against Cordoba (around 4 hours away) and choosing Antequera instead (around 2 hours away).

I went to bed with aching arms, an aching right leg and my left wrist in agony - I don't know what's wrong with my bones these days but they're constantly sore and the seven hours of driving today didn't do them much good.

Best day of the trip so far though....

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Car Trouble

We rushed breakfast (fried eggs today - I see a pattern emerging) to be outside and waiting for the delivery of our car at 9 am.

The car didn't turn up.
We went to see the rep - she hadn't turned up either - despite the manager at the hotel she was based at insisting she'd arrive any minute, it turned out she'd been drafted in at the last minute to accompany a trip to Gibralter - we found this out by phoning the travel company's call-centre back in England - who also advised us to go to the Avis office nearby as the rep insisted she'd booked the car - Avis had never heard of us - not surprising when we looked at the brochure we'd been given - a completely different company.

It turned out the rep's boyfriend worked there and she was supplying customers to him against company policy of using Avis - funny thing was, this other company hadn't heard of us either.

So two hours wasted and by this time it was too late to set out on the 3.25 hour drive to Ronda.

Instead we took the local bus to the whitewashed village of Frigiliana up in the mountains.

Its speciality is a wine similar to the Malagan wine we'd had the other day but, rather than this, after walking around the village we had coffee/hot chocolate and cake/cream at a little place run by a multi-lingual dutch couple. Delicious.

Once back in Nerja we walked to the main beach, Burriana, and found a place for a very late lunch.

A couple of hours later and we were back in the main part of town trawling round car hire offices trying to get a car for tomorrow and Friday.

In the end we went for a local firm, Crown - no problems and we'll pick up the car tomorrow at 9, filling in the paper-work then.

After drinks by the pool we skipped the hotel dinner and, instead, went for a huge mexican meal and the now ubiquitous late night coffee....

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Tuesday and breakfast is a bit better today - scrambled eggs as opposed to yesterday's overcooked boiled eggs...

My vegetarianism is under some strain, as it usually is in Spain. Met up with the rep and booked a car for tomorrow and Wednesday with the intention of visiting Ronda tomorrow...

We walked up through the Tuesday market - it was the usual fare and pretty boring - only the CDs held any interest for me but I couldn't be tempted...

We took the bus to Malaga and I listened to the Jukebox while Anne read. Pretty good that it was only the second time I'd used it since setting off - says a lot about the lack of noise in the hotel at night - I often have to use the music to block out noises to allow me to sleep...

A good selection too - Bowie, Eno, Coltrane, Rheostatics, The Cure and some trance tunes from the latest Ministry of Sound collection...

The weather was overcast, which always gets Anne down, and to make matters worse we stayed on the bus right to the bus station rather than getting off at the old town...

After a quick walk round a soul-less shopping mall we walked back to the old town, and the weather brightened up...

Into the fruit, meat and fish market and we bought a kilo of strawberries for just one euro twenty - around 90p..

...then stopped at an outside cafe for coffee and churros - like strips of a very long donut and delicious with a little sugar...

We made our way to the square where Picasso's birthplace is situated and ate some strawberries in the now hot and sunny conditions...

Then we went down to the castle and paid the couple of pounds entry fee- it's had a lot of work done to it since we were last here and is well worth the money...

It gives some spectacular views out over the old town and harbour and, like much Andalucian architecture, is a mixture of moorish and christian cultures...

Back down in the town we found our way thru the back door of the Picasso museum but were ejected on trying to enter the courtyard cafe due to our lack of tickets...

It looked nice though...

We found a little street cafe just down from the Picasso museum and had a beer and a house salad before making our way back to the bus...

We were just in time to catch the one before that which we'd intended to take, getting us home 45 minutes earlier than planned...

As we boarded the bus, a white pigeon which must have been stunned by a passing vehicle, stood in the middle of the carriageway as car after car drove over its head without making contact...

As we pulled away it was still there and I'd like to think that, as the traffic cleared when the lights changed, it made its way to the pavement and safety but I'll never know...

After dinner we spent some time sitting in yet another cafe watching the world go by..

But .my mind kept drifting back to the fate of the little bird...

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Caves

The hotel is right on the beach but our room is on the town rather than sea side. We didn't pay the extra £70 it'd have costed for the week for a room with a sea view - though you can actually see the sea from our small balcony. £70 seems a lot when you're booking but, given the right weather, perhaps not once you're here looking at the sea.

The buffet breakfast was OK but doesn't bode well for the dinner - maybe we'll go out - there're plenty of restaurants around town. I'm sitting listening to the lapping of the waves as I write this in the poolside bar.

After a quick intro to the resort from the rep at which we advise we'd like to rent a car and arrange to see her tomorrow to firm up the details, we head up to the bus station to check the times for trips to Malaga and the famous Caves of Nerja. We decide to head for the caves at 4 when they open after the siesta. In the meantime we do a lot of walking around the town.

We went into the caves last time we were here and they've lost none of their magnificence. It's really just one huge cave, a vast cathedral like space where, occasionaly, concerts are held and which holds the largest stalagmite in Europe. We decide against purchasing the rather startled looking likenesses of ourselves, photographed as we entered the cave.

From the caves we head back to the hotel for drinks at the bar where we partake of some Malagan wine. It's fortified and so sold in smaller measures than usual - reminiscent of port or sherry and has a kick to it.

With dinner we polish off an entire bottle of wine and then set out into the night on a search to see one of the many elusive noisy cicadas we can hear in the undergrowth...we fail miserably but know they must be able to see us, as they stop chirruping whenever we move a little closer....

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Trip To Spain

Due to the late flight departure time, I was able to work a little on last minute e-mails and stuff before Anne and I set off for Glasgow. We're flying to Malaga and then along the coast east to Nerja, a little town where we spent New Year back in 1995/96.

Set off around 10 and stopped off in the West End of Glasgow in Byre's Road only to find the cafe we like has closed and is being refurbished so we go to The Atrium for a most agreeable Caffe Latte for me and Cappacino for Anne.

A bit longer than planned to get to the airport as there are roadworks blocking our return to the M8 and so we are diverted through the centre of town. We fly at 3 and so have to check in at 12 - for "security reasons". Why is it I always pick the wrong queue if there're more than one??

At the gate, I fire up the Creative Jukebox for the first time. As Bernstein's "A Place For Us" from his West Side Story suite plays, a plane pulls back from the gate, pushed by a little truck. The slow motion of the aircraft fits well with the slow emotion of the music. I think perhaps someone's written a childrens' book about a small airport truck - are childrens' books money for old rope?

A newspaper story viewed over a fellow passenger's shoulder opines the "chemical cosh is used too much on children" - I say use it a bit more, or bring back the real cosh....

The plane's heading for the Costa Del Sol and so it wouldn't be right if there wasn't a group of 24 drunken middle-aged Glaswegian men off for a week of sun, sea and sand in Torremolinos (named after the Flour Mill Towers which stood at the original site of what was once a charming village by the sea, now a spralling mass of high rise hotels).

I mentally draw a line from Largs to Blackpool to the Spanish Costas to Florida to, now it appears, Dubai of all desire for culture - let's go somewhere hotter but make it as much like "home" as possible.

We arrive at Malaga and are quickly out of the airport and onto the mini-bus which is to take just seven of us (of a plane load of 180) east rather than west - as usual though, there's a hold up - we sit on the bus for 40 minutes waiting for one missing passenger who, it turns out, wasn't even on the plane.

An hour later we're at the hotel Perla Marina which is very clean and very quiet - the latter a Godsend after recent experiences in Amsterdam and Barcelona with morons returning to their rooms at 3 and 4 in the morning clattering about and laughing and joking drunkenly at the tops of their voices - what's wrong with showing a little courtesy to your fellow residents? Or am I getting old?

We quickly demolish the cold salad provided for us as we've missed the evening meal due to our late arrival - then out to walk to the centre of the small town.

Everything is much as we remember, although we initially get lost and encounter a dead end while walking round the promenade. We retrace our steps and take the townward route round to the Balcon de Europa, the centrepiece of the town, a palm tree lined outcrop into the Med.

We finish off the day with a couple of beers sitting out under the stars. It's good to be back...

Saturday, March 12, 2005

I'm off....see you soon..... Posted by Hello
Today I popped round to see Jamie to give him a copy of his album (he hadn't heard the final version yet). I've known Jamie for over 25 years, in fact we recorded the first Capital Models album 25 years ago in January. A couple of years back four of the originals turned up at Jamie's birthday and one photo captured us together again. I've stuck it together with some portraits from 1980 - hmm looks like I've changed the most : L-R Jim Park, Jamie Frain, David Reilly, Angus Bolton. Missing original member is Eric Merrill Posted by Hello

Friday, March 11, 2005

The latest release on Crispycat is the excellent debut CD from my old friend Jamie Frain aka James Jamieson. Here are some pics which appear on the back sleeve. I've been working on the revamp of the cover tonight in between watching Red Nose Day. Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Kudos to The Webmeister

Craig Sutherland, for it is he, webmeister extraordinaire has been working his wee socks off to put together an ordering facility on the website - you can't see it yet as we're busy with testing, but he's doing a great job. He's also working on the best way to stream tracks on the music page so they load up more quickly for you to listen to them. This method will also be applied to the Crispycat Player, accessible on the homepage, which lets you listen to Crispycat music as you browse the web.
On returning home from the Xenakis/Crawford concert, I had a look for a CD containing any music by either. The only one I could find was this 3CD set called Ohm: Gurus of Electronic Music 1948-1980. It has a track by Xenakis plus others from the likes of John Cage, Holger Czukay, Brian Eno, Olivier Messiaen, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Karl-Heinz Stockhausen, Morton Subotnick (whom Phil was talking about after the show), Edgar Varese and La Monte Young - Tasty! Posted by Hello

The Edinburgh Quartet at the Queen's Hall

The Edinburgh Quartet concert last night was most entertaining. I made my way into town by car, listening to the only Stockhausen CD I have, “Seven Days”.

The evening opened with a Xenakis quartet, which, like all the pieces, played (and the Stockhausen CD), had no discernible tune. Nonetheless I found it spellbinding, in the same way as a King Crimson improv. James Clapperton stepped up for the second piece, and proceeded to offer us a quite bewildering display of dexterity on the Steinway in performing a solo piece, again by Xenakis. Last piece before the break was the first of two piano quintets, this one written by Robert Crawford. Less challenging than the earlier Xenakis quartet, but excellent nonetheless, over the duration of the 15 minute piece the quartet almost imperceptibly slowed and quietened its way to a moving end.

On completion of the piece, Crawford joined the five musicians to take a well-deserved bow – he’d been commissioned to write the piece in honour of his upcoming 80th birthday.

The second half opened with an earlier quartet by Crawford, which I preferred to the more recent piece, which isn’t to say the latter was lacking in any way. The lead violinist of the quartet then played us two capriccios written by Clapperton, which demonstrated both men’s respective virtuosity, in playing and writing respectively. And finally, a second piano quintet, this time by Xenakis, closed the evening.

All in all very enjoyable added to by the excellent company of Mr Phil Weitzen and a free glass of wine and some birthday cake in honour of Mr Crawford’s eightieth. I gave Phil a lift home during which we enjoyed the sounds of Stockhausen once more – a fitting end to an evening without melody!!
Here's the Stockhausen CD we listened to in the car... Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Favourite Music

Here's a list of people by whom I have at least five original CD's (i.e. no live or compilation CDs allowed)

Laurie Anderson; Asia; The Beatles; Adrian Belew; David Bowie; Belinda Carlisle; The Church; Ornette Coleman; John Coltrane; Alice Cooper; The Cure; Miles Davis; Del Amitri; Dio; Dream Theater; Bill Bruford's Earthworks; Emerson Lake & Palmer; Brian Eno; Falco; Die Fehlfarben; Bryan Ferry; The Flower Kings; Robert Fripp; Peter Gabriel; Genesis; Gentle Giant; Golden Earring; Grand Funk Railroad; Herbie Hancock; Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel; Roy Harper; Hawkwind; Joe Henderson; Allan Holdsworth; Freddie Hubbard; Ian Hunter; Icehouse; James; Keith Jarrett; Jethro Tull; Lucy Kaplansky; King Crimson; Kraftwerk; Udo Lindenberg; Madredeus; Mahavishnu Orchestra; Marilyn Manson; Marillion; John McLaughlin; Jackie McLean; Joni Mitchell; Hank Mobley; Moby; Lee Morgan; Morrissey; New Order; Pet Shop Boys; Phish; Pink Floyd; Radiohead; Lou Reed; Rheostatics; Roxy Music; Rush; Terje Rypdal; Mathilde Santing; Wayne Shorter; Jane Siberry; Horace Silver; Simon & Garfunkel; Simple Minds; Soft Machine; Sparks; Spock's Beard; Supertramp; David Sylvian; Talk Talk; Tangerine Dream; The Tubes; Uriah Heep; U2; Herman Van Veen; Suzanne Vega; Marius Mueller Westernhagen; John Wetton; Dar Williams; Paul McCartney & Wings; Yello; Yes; John Adams; JS Bach; Beethoven; Brahms; Chopin; Phillip Glass; Handel; Haydn; Mozart; Schubert; Shostakovich; Tchaikovsky; Vivaldi; Sibelius; Wagner...

Obviously this list excludes anyone who's not yet, or never did, release five or more original albums - The Blue Nile spring immediately to mind....

Ow - that hurts!!!

My return to playing live will have to be postponed for at least a couple ofweeks as I've done my hand in somehow. What was merely a twinge last night, feels like a full-blown broken wrist 24 hours later - although it's probably just a sprain. I can still type (as I can get away with only using my forefinger on my right hand) but I can't do anything else. Very annoying (although fairly insignificant on the scale of things others have to put up with I suppose!)

Yours, disappointedly

Mr Quartet

Hmm, won't be able to clap at the Xenakis/Crawford/Clapperton concert tonight, so I'll have to holler my appreciation instead....

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

TV Glotzer

Fairly uneventful evening - practised the three songs again - still not sounding too great; watched Ade Edmondson on Fame Academy and the girl from Eastenders who plays Sam Mitchell - she wasn't so good tonight - Ade should win purely for entertainment value - can't see why the Reggie guy's still there though - then CSI Crime Scene Investigation - the original and the best of the franchise - the recently aired NY series is a pale failure in comparison - but nothing beats Law and Order:Criminal Intent....lstening to Alex Harvey while I rip another 10 albums to the Jukebox - now has over 6,250 that too many? Can you have too much music from which to choose? I set mine to shuffle play so I never know what's next but chances are I'll like it...

Tix Obtained...Anticipating...

I already have my ticket for Alice Cooper at the end of November. Today I ordered two tickets for Laurie Anderson on April 29 which I'll be going to with Anne; and two for Stockhausen on 30th which I'll attend with Phil Weitzen. Apparently it's unreserved seating for KHS and the entire performance will take place in complete darkness - I wonder if Stockhausen will actually be there?

Met up with Anne for lunch and she'd bought a couple of seats for Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel in November. We saw them last December at the Queen's Hall and Stevie may well be the performer we've seen the most - he's a great showman and has an excellent back catalogue to draw upon, although most people will probably only know him for "Make Me Smile" or, as he calls it, his pension.

So four events to look forward to...and a wee holiday soon.

After compiling a sample disc of the poetry recordings I took last Thursday, I revisited the cover for the "Love and War" single and this is version 2 - I prefer it.... Posted by Hello

Monday, March 07, 2005

Webmeister Craig doubts this is a real building so here's the original photo... Posted by Hello

Looking back and looking forward

Looking back over the weekend it seems to have been quite busy. On Thursday night I was at “The Big Word” poetry evening at the Tron Tavern. I was recording it on the Crispycat Mobile Facility as a test for a full scale production I’ve been commissioned to do for a special 10 Poet night they’re putting on in April.

The results are good and I have nothing but admiration for the poets who get up unaccompanied to recite from memory for 10 or 15 minutes. The material was top notch, and so different from what I’m used to in the singer-songwriter world – don’t let people tell you song lyrics are poetry set to music….

I met a couple of guys in the club, Jed and Paul. Jed’s a singer/guitarist and Paul plays flute in his band. We had an interesting chat about musical tastes and Paul and I seemed to agree that jazz was the most admirable type of music, since you have to be a good musician to play it in the first place (which puts it up with classical) but you also either play your own tunes or improvise on others’ themes (which puts it ahead of classical for us).

Friday I had the chance to go to a black-tie dinner but passed in favour of sitting in with a Takeaway from the Taj Express and watching the Simpsons double bill on Channel 4. After years of watching them on BBC2 I still can’t get used to the ad breaks. I worked late into the night writing a review of the 24 February edition of local open-mic singer-songwriter club Out of the Bedroom (OOTB).

On Saturday mornings it’s become a habit for Anne and I to grab a croissant and coffee at Patisserie Florentine in Stockbridge before heading up town for a wander. I was up early as usual though to work on various projects before heading out. We stopped off on the way to pick up a parcel from the Post Office which contained a Stars of the Lid CD I’d bought on E-Bay.

Uptown, I went to the music library to hand back the discs I’d borrowed three weeks ago. On the way, I popped into Avalanche and picked up a couple of bargains, Shivaree’s album “I Oughta Give You a Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in This Dump” and Oh Susanna’s eponymous debut CD. Michael Nyman’s soundtrack to “The Draughtsman’s Contract” made it 3 for £5.

At the library, I swapped Lou Donaldson, Alex Harvey, Sigur Ros, Charlie Haden, Wilco (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – great CD), James Blood Ulmer and 3 John McLaughlin CDs for discs by Neal Casal, Darden Smith, John Scofield, Keith Jarrett, John McLaughlin (again – can’t get enough!), Joe Farrell, Steve Arguelles and a 6 CD Box called “Treasures of European Music” which takes the history of European classical music through from 5th Century Greece to 20th Century music from the Baltic States.

On Saturday night I started this Blog and stayed up till around 2:30am pottering about and then up on Sunday morning at 7 am to start work on the new CBQ project - a series of CD singles to introduce the songs that’ll be on the new album.

Sunday’s pretty well covered by previous entries on the blog – but I have to mention the meal at The Howgate again – it, and its sister restaurant No 3 in Royal Terrace, really are two of the best places to eat in the Edinburgh area.

As for today, well I finally started organising the 2004 Christmas awards night for our various 5-a-side pools – we have two or three games on a week – I’ve been playing on and off for nearly 25 years - I think I’m one of the few originals left in the pack. I'm a little bit behind on this project!

On Wednesday (after playing football) I’m going to see a concert by the Edinburgh Quartet with James Clapperton on piano. The programme includes the first performance of a new work for piano and string quartet commissioned by ECAT to celebrate Edinburgh composer, Robert Crawford's 80th birthday

The full programme is :-
Xenakis - Tetora for string quartet; Xenakis - Evryali for solo piano; Crawford - New work, for piano and string quartet (1st performance, ECAT commission); Crawford - String Quartet no.2 op.8; Clapperton - Capricci for solo violin; Xenakis - Akea for piano and string quartet

Iannis Xenakis is a French composer born in Romania to Greek parents, while Robert Crawford lives and works mainly in Edinburgh. His first quartet was written in 1949. This prior commitment to contemporary classical music means I’m having to turn down an invite from my friend, sometime musical cohort and now budding stand-up comic, Jim Park, to go along to The Stand Comedy Club to see the very funny, Richard Herring.

Coming soon to the same venue as the ECAT night, The Queen’s Hall here in Edinburgh, are Laurie Anderson the New York performance artist and Karl-Heinz Stockhausen, one of the Godfathers of electronic music – in fact they’re appearing on consecutive nights at the end of April. Laurie Anderson's a must see - I first saw her at the very same venue back in 1981 just after her big hit single "O Superman".

Tonight, while Anne was out keep-fitting, I rehearsed my potential three song set which I might play at OOTB this Thursday. “A Place For You”, “Love and War” and “All The Flowers In The World”. I’ve paired down the intro to the first song but found I can’t leave it out altogether as I can’t remember how the singing goes at the start if the intro’s not played – pathetic!

Now I’m off to phone my old chum Dr Prog, the weird Mr Phil Weitzen for it is he whom I will accompany on Wednesday to ECAT and I want to ask if he’s up for Laurie and Karl-Heinz next month – Anne will certainly come to see Ms Anderson but probably not the Stock-man. Steve Harley is rumoured to be coming to the Usher Hall in December though and that’s is another kettle of fish altogether.

Ending on a sadder note, I read today of the death of DJ Tommy Vance, he of the gravely voice and Friday Rock Show fame – the John Peel of rock they’re calling him now….RIP.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

This is the first draft of the cover for the new CBQ single, "Love and War". I've been working on this tonight. I took the picture in January at the beach in Barcelona.  Posted by Hello
Here are the two albums which made me believe that I could write and record my own music - I thought, if these guys can do this and I like it, and it doesn't seem like it can possibly have been that hard for them to create these albums, then why shouldn't I try it too.... Posted by Hello

The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967) Posted by Hello

Fripp & Eno - (No Pussyfooting) 1974 Posted by Hello

Re-Filling My Jukebox

Just back from our blow-out at the Howgate - Mmm mmm...tasty!!
Now at the computer loading yet more songs into my Jukebox - I recently had to have it replaced due to a faulty headphone socket and so the 60GB of data that was on the previous one was going to be lost - luckily, Mr Martin Hay, our resident IT Guru, offered to save the content for me and, not only that, reduced it all in size from 256kps to, get this, an average of 128kps, not 128kps, but an average. This means my new Jukebox, now fully loaded with all 6,000 odd tracks from before, is less than half full and, well, that space is begging to be filled. In the period since the original Jukebox was sent back, Ive acquired around another 50 CDs - so, let's rip baby!!!

Here's Anne, my executive producer - this was taken in Bavaria in September 2003. She's just told me, in her capacity as Executive Producer, to cut out the long-winded intro to "A Place For You" for the acoustic guitar version - what a good idea as usual! Posted by Hello

A Place For You

I've chosen this song to be the "older" song on the first CD single for 2005. I've just spent the last couple of hours or so trying to work out the chords for it and, in particualr, its closing section. It's a track from my album "Liverysilver" from 1991 and, in those days when I wrote I recorded at the same time so I never wrote any chord sequences down, I just played them into the keyboard to programme them. Hmm, that now seems rather short-sighted. But it's getting there. The lead track will be what's probably going to be the first track on the "Deeperdown" album, "Love and War" while the live track will be, at this stage anyway, "All The Flowers In The World pt 2", originally from "Callingstill".

I need to spend some time trying out arrangements for "A Place For You" so back to the guitar....

Informing the Cat on Mothering Sunday

I've just e-mailed Craig Sutherland, who has to be the best Webmeister in the world, telling him of this blog and asking him to link the Crispycat website to it. At present he's working on putting up an "Orders" page on the site, making it easier for the casual browser to get hold of our CDs.

Today is Mothers' Day in the UK and Anne and I have arranged to take Mary and Alison, our respective mothers for a leisurely late lunch at The Howgate Retaurant near Penicuik, owned by Nigel Hogg. The food there is quite excellent - in fact, one might say "Food of the Gods, Nigel, food of the Gods"!!

Here's a recent portrait, September 2004 in Carcassonne, taken by Anne Posted by Hello

..and this is the cover for "Deeperdown". It's a landscape shot taken on the border between France and Andorra in September 2004. Posted by Hello

Here's the cover for "Anotherhappyday" - it was taken by my wife, Anne, on a beach near Dumfries on my birthday in 2003. Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 05, 2005

So, what am I up to....

Well, I've been planning my new song-based album, "Deeperdown" for quite some time now but I've been spending too much time doing other things. So now I've decided to put out the songs first as a series of CD singles as I did with my previous album "Anotherhappyday". That way I give myself a series of smaller short term targets rather than one big long term one and, once all the songs are out on singles, I'll collate the finalised versions (which will be slightly different from the singles) into the album.

So, tonight I'm working on a mock-up of the first single. My plan is that each one will feature a lead track from the "Deeperdown" project, followed by a live recording form the "Fifty Five Songs" series I did during last year's Edinburgh Festival. Then there'll be a re-recording of an older song from my back catalogue and the disc will be rounded off by a soundscape.

I suppose I should explain that you can find out all about my recordings so far at my regular website

Not only was this blog born today, but today's the day Mr Martin Hay, IT guru extraordinaire, delivered our new computer fully programmed and ready to go. So here I am - old computer dumped into the back room - just one crash too many on that one....
This blog was born at 11:42 pm on Saturday, 5 March 2005.