Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Rabbits on the verge...

Music of the Day
David Binney – Balance
Jellyfish – Bellybutton
Local Rabbits – This Is It Here We Go
Echo and the Bunnymen - Avalanche

Disappointingly, no CDs have arrived yet re my latest flurry of e-bay activity...

Forgot to say yesterday that me old mucker, James Jamieson, called wondering if I might be interested in going along to the Queen’s Hall tonight to see Echo and the Bunnymen (hence my listening to yesterday of their last “best of” CD)...



My answer was in the affirmative and so we met up at the Pear Tree Pub around 8pm, after I’d dropped Anne off in at the West End of Princes St to meet up with her best chum, Lynn...

Jamie and I sat outside in the evening sun and each described to each other, various song ideas – I gave him the outline story on the four I wrote at the weekend, singing the melodies to him....

I seem to have adopted JJ’s writing methods, which is to find a melody for a chord sequence before working on lyrics..

Many years ago I used to write lyrics all the time and, whenever I wrote a new piece, I would refer to this stockpile in order to find suitable words...

These days, the method is to firstly formulate the chord sequences which seem to go best together and, from there, work out the structure of the song....

Then I record a basic guitar track and hum along various melodies to the song, recording these also.....

Once I am happy with the melody, I work out the rhythm the words ought to have...

Then I write the lyrics very, very quickly, often without any real idea of what the subject matter might turn out to be - I find lyrics will, more often than not, turn out worse, where I specifically set out to write about a particular subject...

Then I sing the just written lyrics along to the melody and, hey presto, I have a song....

Over the next few days of listening and singing, it will gradually dawn on me, what the song might be about and I will then make, sometimes subtle, sometimes wholesale, changes to the lyric...

I seldom write a straight ahead song – there will usually be some kind of twist, which makes it more interesting for me to sing and, I would hope, more interesting for the listener...

For example, my new song, “Starting to Worry”’s first four lines seem like a perfectly normal love song – and I was conscious of that when I looked at what I’d written at that point. From there the narrative takes on a whole new turn...

But you’ll need to listen closely to the song (once it’s released, or when I sing it live) to find out what that is...

Another new song, "Rabbits on the Verge", is not particularly about rabbits...

Anyway, back to Echo and the Bunnymen, we arrived at the hall around nine and Jamie went to the front of the stage while I chose a more sedate area of the audience from which to spectate....

A young (well younger than me anyway) bald headed chap approached me asking for confirmation he had my name correct, to which I said indeed he had. His name was Nick Franklin and he remembered me from our childhood in Loanhead....

He advised his mum still lived there and, rather bizarrely, that he was a huge fan of the Loanhead Gala Day, had a big book about it, and new that my sister, Pam, had been Gala Day Queen in 1975...

He seemed a very nice chap, very likeable, notwithstanding his love of a small town summer celebration of the academic progess of its Primary School pupils...

The Bunnymen were quite excellent and I knew every single song they played (in the early 80’s, I used to buy their albums upon release)...

After three encores, including a great version of the Velvet Underground’s “Waiting For The Man” (the first cover I ever learned to play – though not as well as Echo and the Bunnymen), I miraculously met up with Jamie...

On our way out I picked up a CD from the floor which turned out to be an Echo and the Bunnymen album, "Avalanche"and so we listened to it in the car as we went to meet up with Anne and Lynn...



[If you bought and lost this CD at the gig, get in touch with me telling me where I would have picked it up from, and I'll get it back to you - can't say fairer than that...]

We had a quick drink and then I took everyone home, Jamie and I agreeing to go to Out of the Bedroom tomorrow night...

Hmm, when I started this post I thought it’d be fairly short – but at least you now have an insight into how a CBQ song makes its way into the world...

Highlight of the Day : Rediscovering Echo and the Bunnymen Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Suits and insurance...

Music of the Day
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Nine New Songs
Lemon Juice Quartet – Peasant Songs
Argent – All Together Now
Echo & The Bunnymen – Ballyhoo : The Best Of
Billy Cobham - Total Eclipse
Tool - 10,000 Days
Tommy Smith – Misty Morning and No Time

Summer’s trying to make itself felt – although it’s bright and sunny, it’s still unseasonably cold...



Buying a new suit is becoming a bit like spending my FOPP token a few weeks ago – I keep trying to do it but for some reason can’t bring myself to do it. I vow to do it by the end of this week though....

While I have 4,300 + CDs, I have only three pairs of jeans and an old pair of black trousers to my name plus two old suit jackets (for which I wore out the trousers a while back) and one black linen jacket – and a rain coat – and a waterproof cagoule thing. So I’m thinking “New suit”...

Brought home particulars for some houses today – Pathhead, West Calder and Corstorphine (where we already live). This freaked Anne out as she would find it too stressfull to move. So I binned them....

We watched a programme on idiots trying to buy a second house abroad – I find it amazing that people in France and Spain don’t complain more about the Brits invading their country to occupy perfectly good houses for just a few weeks per year rather than people who move there to work -– at least the latter are contributing to the economy...

Watched England v Hungary. Dreadful dive from Gerrard just before half time gave a totally cheated penalty to England. Justice was done though when Lampard missed. Ian Wright at half time was awful. He cannot accept that England can do any wrong and truly believes they have some God-given right to win...

Second half and Beckham’s crosses from set pieces did for the Hungarians. Surely Becks must start for England in the World Cup? Those whipped in crosses could be worth a goal a game to the team I will never, ever support (thanks to the English media)....

I will be watching of course and hoping for a defeat in every game. They will likely qualify for the knock-out stages though. I will take out my usual insurance policies by placing bets on England to win each game. It gives me some consolation at least to come away slightly better off...

I’ve been buying on e-bay again and await the following CDs:-
Halloween Alaska - “Halloween Alaska” (featuring the drummer from The Bad Plus)
Halloween, Alaska - “Too Tall To Hide” (ditto)
Hayley Hutchinson – “Independently Blue” (the girl who supported Paul Buchanan)
Haftor Medboe Group – “In Perpetuity” (brand new jazz)
Billy Cobham – “Many Years Bc” (2CD) (I love this jazz fusion master drummer’s work)
The Bad Plus - “Suspicous Activity” (the album I almost bought for £15 at their concert last week)

Total outlay (incl postage) £36.73 = £6.12 per CD – not bad....

Another good episode of "CSI" tonight...

Highlight of the Day : Finally securing The Bad Plus CD

Monday, May 29, 2006

Familiarity breeds something or other...

Music of the Day
Cloudland Blue Quartet - Nine New Songs
Vivaldi - Concert For the Prince of Poland

Almost 11 pm as I write this and I can honestly say I've not done very much today - in fact I have no plans for the entire week (unlike last week, when I was out every night)...

Got to know my new songs and sang them again a couple of times - making slight changes to the lyrics as I came to understand a bit more about them - and broke a string on my nice blue guitar in the process - so then I started singing them along with the guitar I recorded yesterday (even though I have another guitar)...

Watched "New Tricks"...

Surfed the net...

Won a CD on e-bay...

Analysed my last 100 CDs - 63% Rock/Pop Etc, 20% Jazz, 17% Classical

The only music I listened to today other than my own new songs was this Vivaldi CD which I bought in Amsterdam...



..and very good it is too...

Good to see my old chum and ankle-breaker Jim Park is back on form re the comedy factor at his blog - check the link...

OK - over and out

Highlight of the Day : Getting to know my new songs

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Prolific or what...

Music of the Day
Freddie Hubbard – Backlash
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Nine New Songs

A long lie today before heading out to Patisserie Florentin for breakfast...

Back home, Anne went into the garden to plant the plants she bought yesterday...

Here are some pictures to brighten things up a bit...









Whilst Anne gardened, I was looking to try and tidy up the files on the computer. Over 30 GBs are being taken up by WAV Files I’ve created over the last year using Cakewalk and I need to determine which ones can safely be deleted. So I set about getting all the Cakewalk tracks throughout the PC into one folder....

Anyway, I won’t go into the ins and outs of saving bundles etc but, while searching through the hard drive, I stumbled across some chord sequences I’d put onto the hard drive back in January and then forgotten...

I spent the rest of the day working these up into song structures and ended up with the basic structures of four new songs. I found another two on tapes of Ian Sclater sessions which I’d quickly recorded to disc during breaks. So six potential new songs to join the five I have already...

By the end of the day, I’d written four new lyrics....



...and so the four pieces I’d worked up from the January recordings were finished and I now have nine new songs....

I took a break to watch last night’s Dr Who – worst of the series so far but next week’s looks promising..

In the evening, I burned the nine songs to disc –

The End Of Everything
I Still Write You Letters
At Last (I Can Be Free)
The Luckiest Man Alive
Go Away (And Leave Me Here)
I Fell For Your Blue Eyes Across The Room
Chocolate On Your Bread
Rabbits On The Verge
Starting To Worry

Finished off the day with another ingenious "Criminal Intent" on video...

Highlight of the Day : Writing four new songs...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Put your money where your mouth is...

Music of the Day
The Blue Nile – Tinseltown in the Rain (Best of)
The Blue Nile – Rarities 1984-1996
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Five New Songs (New Version)

Up before six and reburned the Blue Nile Best of to reflect last night's setlist...

Got Anne up at 8:30 and made breakfast as she was meeting with her sister Jane to go shopping for plants today - she bought quite a few but planting will need to wait for another day...

Spent all day from around 10am till 5pm recording new versions of the five new CBQ songs....



They're still all acoustic, though I did add drums and organ to three tracks but eventually deleted them...

Tried to upload all five as one file to Myspace (www.myspace.com/cloudlandbluequartet) but was advised as it reached 97% after 45 minutes, that the file was too large...

Another annoying thing about MySpace is, I can't work out how I leave a comment on my own page in order to answer the ponts visitors have left, like why I haven't uploaded "Skylines Full of Cranes" or "The Crocodile Song" and why I've only got one song up...

Part of the reason is, with my ongoing home PC problems, I can't actually see the music player on my page unless I'm using someone else's PC but if anyone wants to listen to more tracks by CBQ what's wrong with going to the music page on www.crispycat.co.uk - doesn't anyone visit real websites any more? Is everyone only into music they find on bloody MySpace??

Burned a CD of the songs and listened to it as I walked round Tesco - I was there for lottery tickets (yet again only one number...)

In the evening watched the Soccer Aid game (England v Rest of the World). Not the best footie match I've ever seen but it's all for a good cause...

However, in the same way that it was galling to watch Bill Gates spouting on last year about Making Poverty History, I found it a trifle galling to have David Beckham tell us how very little it costs for a mosquito net and that we really ought to be giving what we can to help stop malaria - this from a man who earns around £100,000 a week....

Got bored with the game and set up the equipment to record a 90 minute Pet Shop Boys concert recorded on 8 May at the BBC...

Finished off the day with "CSI : New York" and "Law & Order : Criminal Intent" and put some bids in on e-bay - I should of course have been sending my money to Robbie Williams and David Beckham....

Man, that was a bit of a grumpy post - hope I'm feeling better tomorrow...

Highlight of the Day : Working on some new songs

Friday, May 26, 2006

The blue nile....

Music of the Day
Kurt Rosenwinkl – Heartcore
Various – Now That’s What I Call Music May-Sept 1973
The Blue Nile – A Walk Across The Rooftops
The Blue Nile – Hats
The Blue Nile – Tinseltown in the Rain (Best of)
Grand Funk Railroad – Live, The 1971 Tour

Today we’re off to see The Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan in concert. He’s not toured for ten years – last time we saw him was in September 1996....

We leave for Glasgow around 2:30 having burned a “best of” Blue Nile CD for the journey and park up at Byres Road around an hour later...

At Lost in Music I buy Grand Funk Railroad’s “Live, The 1971 Tour” for a fiver - much to Anne’s wonderment for, for some, even to me, inexplicable reason, I am a big Grand Funk fan.

Anne thinks they're rubbish – until I reel off some tracks she likes, whereupon she says, “I didn’t know that was Grand Funk...”



This is the fourth live set I have by the band....

FOPP yields nothing and we head to Little Italy for a lovely coffee...



You may recall I spent a few hours recently “flying around the planet” on Google Maps after stumbling across the site whilst searching for the location of Mr Singh’s West End Balti. Of course with all the shenanigans of visiting San Francisco and Central Europe, I neglected to actually write down the address...

And so we found ourselves looking for a venue for dinner, the location of which I had only a vague idea...

Instead we found Mr India’s West End Balti and Dosa House (which I’ve since checked – turns out this was the restaurant I found in my search for Mr Singh’s and I never realised I’d got the name wrong). A recommendation in an old newspaper article in the window by Scotland’s most intelligent football writer, Graham Spiers, clinched the deal and we went in...



The food was excellent, including monster starter portions of veggie pakora and lamb tikka and succulent main dishes of Chicken Tikka Bhuna for Anne and Vegetable Balti for me...

Tasty! (and recommended - see here for The List’s take on it) http://www.list.co.uk/restaurants/glasgow/indian/index.php?q=u,v1013,o3

We will be back...

Whilst at the restaurant I texted old friend Alan Brodie to advise we were in Glasgow for Paul Buchanan – it was Brodie who first introduced me to the Blue Nile back in 1984, through their first album, “A Walk Across the Rooftops”...

A call comes back but it’s not Alan, it’s Mr James Jamieson phoning to see if I’m attending the launch of the Out of the Bedroom IV CD tonight. He’d forgotten I had a prior engagement. I await his report back re how the evening went...

We decided to leave the car at Byres Road and take the Underground into the City Centre for the gig...

A long wait and we’re finally admitted to the hall at 8pm. Support is a young singer-songwriter Hayley Hutchinson (http://www.hayleyhutchinson.net/) – she has a clear crisp voice, a good guitar style and some countrified songs from her debut CD which her mum is selling in the foyer. She gets a good reception from the crowd...

Turns out she’s the daughter of original Spider from Mars, John Hutchinson and Mr Bowie is apparently a fan...

At nine, Paul Buchanan ambles on with his band, which includes Robert Bell on bass and keyboards. To all intents and purposes then, this is The Blue Nile. They have all the samples used on the original records and the arrangements mirror perfectly those on the band’s classic four album canon...

As it was ten years ago, there is much banter tonight between stage and audience, much to everyone’s hilarity and Mr B makes some jokes about the laboured “how come you take so long between albums” point which is invariably asked of him in interviews...

The concert is superb. Movement on the stage is minimal, almost non existent, but the music speaks for itself and the home town audience (the first of three over this weekend) is here to worship at the altar of the Nile...

Me too...

The set list includes songs from all four albums plus two new songs (in the same Blue Nile style) and, to close the night, a rendition of Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night”...



And then it’s out into the night, the Subway back to Byres Road, into the car and an hour’s drive home...

Lovely...

Highlight of the Day : The Blue Nile in all but name, live in concert

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Two for one, son....

Music of the Day
John Coltrane - The Classic Quartet (Disc 1)
Harmonia/Brian Eno – Tracks and Traces
King Crimson – Larks’ Tongues In Aspic
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Five New Songs
Bill Rieflin – Birth of a Giant
Kooks – Inside In/Inside Out
Pet Shop Boys - Fundamental

While I had wanted to make it an “every night is music night” week (visiting Out of the Bedroom tonight), I’d forgotten that Sister Pam and Mum are returned from Spain and Pam returns to England tomorrow and that we had arranged to visit them in Loanhead tonight...

When we arrive, mum’s out for a meal with her drama group friends (I think that's who they are anyway, but I’m pretty sure mum doesn’t actually do any drama these days)...

Pam regales us with tales of the holiday and shows us her pics. The ones of her pushing mum in her wheelchair remind me of the two blokes in “Little Britain”....

Sounds like they had a good time though....

I am despatched to the Indian Takeaway for our evening meal, leaving Pam and Anne to chat some more about the holiday and stuff...

The order is made and I have around twenty minutes to wait – so I take a nostalgic walk around the village where I grew up. As on every other occasion I find myself in Loanhead, I don’t see anyone I used to know...

I walk past the fence of my Primary School....



...and look upon the playground where I used to play football with my friends 40 or so years ago – it’s gives me a strange but enjoyable feeling to do this – then over to the middle school and, on the field where I also once played, a group of young lads now play – plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose – as they probably don’t say in Loanhead...

I walk past the old town hall, now boarded up, where I attended my first ever "disco" back in 1970 – I still remember George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” ringing out into the night...

Back to the Indian, I collect our order, pay and head back to the house. The food is excellent and Anne and Pam share a bottle of Red Wine. Afterwards, Pam does some last minute tidying of mum’s garden in the dying light...

She does more work for my mum in the few days she’s here, than I’ve done since I was born....

Mum arrives back from her meal. She’s been at the restaurant opposite the crematorium where my dad was cremated – the one we know as “Roasted to Perfection” due to a banner bearing those very words which once memorably and rather inappropriately was placed above the gates – of the restaurant that is, not the crematorium....

As usual she’s complaining about the service and the food. I ask her why she goes. The answer comes back quickly – “two for one son, two for one”...

We say our goodbyes to Pam and head home to Meg the Black Cat...

I finish the night tracking various CDs by The Bad Plus and two other bands for whom The Bad Plus’ drummer drums, Alaska Halloween and Happy Apple....

The former are said in reviews to be reminiscent of The Blue Nile, of which very band Anne and I are off to Glasgow tomorrow to see Mr Paul Buchanan in concert....

Highlight of the Day : A sentimental walk around the playground of my Primary School

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Shoulders, flamenco and jazz...

Music of the Day
Various – Now That’s What I Call Music Oct 1972-April 1973
Tool - 10,000 Days
The Church – Uninvited, Like the Clouds
The Church - After Everything, Now This
The Church - Forget Yourself
John Coltrane - My Favourite Things
John Coltrane - Trane's Blues

Today it was back to the Royal Infirmary, but this time for some X Rays and an opinion on the three or four years of constant pain in my shoulders and arms...

The consultant was very, very, very serious, which kind of threw me - I like to establish a bit of banter with people who may well later be cutting into my body to fix me...

Anyway, he noticed inmy notes that I'd "had" a broken ankle - when I advised I was due to come back in two weeks' time to have it X Rayed he said he'd look at that too...

So I ended up having two X Rays of the leg and around eight of my left shoulder taken...

Results?

1. The ankle is still broken - yes even I can still see the fracture on the X Ray. Nothing anyone can do about this though and it may be up to a year before the break is fully healed...

2. I have Calcific Tendonitis in my left shoulder and, most probably also in my right - hence the acute pain and lack of movement without said pain...

The consultant injected something (I forgot to ask what) directly into the affected area. It sent such a pain down my left arm, I nearly keeled over - but it was over in a flash...

I will be back in six weeks for an update - will restart exercises at home in two weeks time (I saw briefly the physio I'd seen two years ago re a similar condition in my right arm, which still niggles to this day)...

At the update meet, the consultant will decide whether or not to peform surgery (mainly because I've had pain and immobility for a number of years whereas this condition will normally sort itself out over a period of months)...

When is surgery necessary?

Surgery is recommended in the following situations:

When symptoms continue to progress despite treatment

When constant pain interferes with routine activities (dressing, combing hair) - ha ha I don't have a problem combing my hair!!

When symptoms do not respond to conservative care

Available treatment options include needling and aspiration of the calcium deposit and excision of the calcium deposit.

Needling is a procedure that is done under sedation or general anesthesia. The surgeon will direct a large needle into the calcium deposit and attempt to aspirate, or suck out, as much of the calcium deposit as possible. Injections of saline, novocaine, or sometimes cortisone, is then performed into the calcium deposit. Patients can resume activity shortly after the procedure.

Excision of the deposit is a larger procedure, but may be necessary, especially is cases of chronic calcific tendonitis. Either through a small incision or through the use of shoulder arthroscopy, the calcium deposit is identified and removed. Physical therapy is usually necessary after this procedure to help regain strength and motion in the affected shoulder.

Ok so that's probably keyhole surgery for "excision of the deposit" then....

Looking forward to it!!

In the evening Anne and I went along to The Jazz Bar to listen to Fraser Campbell, the young sax player I'd seen with Dr Prog last Friday..



Tonight he played with his own quartet - guitar, six string bass, drums - and it was different from Friday, but just as good....

Prior to the jazz, there had been a flamenco night which, unfortunately went on till around 9:30 (we'd arrived at 9 for the advertised start of the jazz)...

The bar seemed to have been taken over by Spanish students (including one very drunk girl who, later on, danced to the jazz like a dememnted Tina Turner) a good few of whom hung around after the flamenco eventually stopped - not to listen to the jazz though - no - but to talk at the tops of their voices - man, what do they find to talk about at such length? It's like kids on mobile phones. How about just sitting down and thinking for a while?

We ended up sitting at the same table as Fraser's mum and dad and they looked on proudly (and rightly so) as their teenage son wowed the audience with his technique...

I spoke to him as we left later on - he was heading back to Boston on a flight tomorrow morning - he's studying at the Berklee Jazz School - but he said he'd be back in December...

I will keep an eye out..not literally of course - that would be gross...

Highlight of the Day : Another visit to The Jazz Bar

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The bad plus half a tooth...

Music of the Day
Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental
Lee Morgan – Tom Cat
Moving Sounds (Stockhausen/Bouman) – Thinking About
The Church – Uninvited, Like the Clouds
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Skylines Full of Cranes/Do As Others Do (Single)
Various – Now That’s What I Call Music Jan-Sept 1972

I used to be very afraid of dentists. One time when I was around 10 or 11 years old, my parents were convinced I had appendicitis but it was just the fear of the dentist that was making me so ill...

Nowadays, I’m fine with it...

I’ve had the same dentist since around 1971 – Mr Fenny is the best dentist in the world...

Today I thought I might need a replacement filling but I came away having had half my tooth out and an appointment for a couple of week’s time to have a crown fitted...

And of course, I have the half of the tooth which was extracted. It’s now in a box with the whole tooth I had pulled out around ten years ago...

Not content with my purchases yesterday, the Gods of CD Acquirement deliver the latest duo of CDs bought on e-bay to Crispycat Towers today, Tool's "10,000 Days" and The Church's "Uninvited, Like the Clouds"...

I listen to the latter as I make my way in the evening to the Queen’s Hall for a gig by The Bad Plus (http://www.thebadplus.com/) – a piano bass and drums jazz trio – but an absolutely brilliant one...



What a contrast with last night....

One of the things I love about jazz is that I know, with absolute conviction, that there’s no way on earth I could do what the musicians up on stage can do...

It puts me in the same position as a non-musician at a pop/rock/singer-songwriter concert...

Gone are the thoughts of “hey, I bet I could do that if I wanted” to be replaced with “Wow”...

The Bad Plus are superb and I vowed that I’d buy there extortionately priced £15 CD in the foyer after the show, if I recognised at least five of the song titles. But I only recognised two...

I came home and searched their back catalogue on the net and found that around 80% of the set they played tonight has never been recorded. Aaargh – I must have this music!

And so, The Bad Plus is the new search whenever I’m on e-bay – I am tracking a few items already...

I retired tonight a happy bunny with half a tooth less in my mouth than last night...

Highlight of the Day : The Bad Plus at The Queen’s Hall

Monday, May 22, 2006

Awards...

Music of the Day
Uriah Heep – Demons and Wizards
Gentle Giant – In A Glass House
Pet Shop Boys – Very
Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental

Finally, finally, managed to spend the FOPP token I won in the OOTB raffle just over a month ago. Today, I bought the 2CD Special Edition of Pet Shop Boys' "Fundamental" along with Lee Morgan's "Tom Cat"...

So far I can say that PSB is very good (though perhaps not as good as many reviews are suggesting) and that Lee Morgan's set, which was only belatedly given a Japanese release in the 80's, is top stuff jazz-wise...

Tonight it’s the annual Acoustic Idol Awards, which, this year, is at the new Edinburgh Venue, The Jam House - I listen to PSB as I drive along....

The organiser, Pete-Michael Rowan has done a great job and, this year has drummed up some sponsorship so there are real prizes to go with the home made award statuettes which are various relevant “things” superglued to a CD...

We are treated to songs from every one* of the people coming 3rd, 2nd or 1st in each category and, since no-one knew before hand who was going to be in this elite group, some of the performances are a bit ropey to say the least – but it’s a decent night’s entertainment for the gathered great and good of the Edinburgh Scene...

I spend the evening sitting with Impossible Songs’ singer and lyricist Ali Hutton – making all sorts of non-PC remarks about the merits or otherwise of the various people called upon to play (and in a karma like way of retribution was duly awarded later on)...

First up, an award for being enterprising is given to members of a group no one’s ever heard of, for e-mailing all their friends and acquaintances and getting them to vote...

The backing singer and mandolin player are on hand to sing and play for us and sound better than you’d expect a backing singer and mandolin player to do – although the mandolinist has eschewed his normal instrumentation for a guitar tonight...

The voting in “Best Pub Act”, which Pete had wanted to reflect those people who play covers in bars, has been slow to say the least but 3rd place Nobody Jones is allowed to play a couple of songs. He’s one of the best people on the circuit and gives an excellent account of himself..

Third (or rather 2nd Equal) solo artist is John Mowbray, of whom I’d heard of but never seen play before He gave us two ok songs – one of which, rather surprisingly for your correspondent, ended up being in the top three for “Song of the Year”...

Equal second was the absent but generally whizz guitarist and shy and retiring singer in her own right and bassist in Flowers for Algernon and guitarist in Chocoyamo, Lindsay Sugden. I found out later she had been ill, but a performance from her would have brightened up proceedings for me anyway on this male dominated evening of the “stars”...

And top of the pile was the undeniably streets-ahead-of-most-solo-performers, Lee Patterson. However he was a bit the worse for wear and gave us an opening song acapella with percussion played on a paper bag – hmmm.

A rather raucous song followed which seemed to have the refrain “What the fuck” and didn’t entertain me personally in the least. His last was another voice and percussion effort involving banging on an upturned guitar...

Any people wandering in for the evening without prior knowledge of what this man can do on a good night, must’ve been scratching their heads if this was the “Best Solo Act”...

Next – the heats for “Best Song” in which the “top” three were played. POL took to the stage (he must have been forewarned he was to play as he had his own guitar and equipment with him) and gave us his anti-war song “One” which probably isn’t his best song – but he entertained us with his novel method of guitar playing which involves hitting rather than strumming..

Next up John Mowbray had to repeat the first of the two songs he’d already played “Don’t Let Her Slip Away”...

Finally, Big Jim Whyte gave us his song about a dog he finds in the street called “Love”. The song’s called “I Found Love” and has a clever lyric with a nice circling chord sequence on the guitar but which, like POL’s earlier, merely featured the same four chords played throughout the song...

It got my vote though and the result was to be announced later on...

Next up was the award for Best Club and Out of the Bedroom won by a mile – though quite a few other clubs did apparently garner at least some votes and “The Listening Room” came second...

Best group gave us a nifty performance from Fraser Drummond in the guise of his duo Confushian, followed by Graeme Mearns (like Nobody Jones and Lee Patterson one of the best people around for acoustic music – the three of them seem to have the two things most people, including me, don’t – they have good voices and good guitar technique – usually it’s one or the other, or sadly, in all too many cases, neither)...

But, surprisingly (for the winner himself too by the looks of things) winning out over those two was Norman Lamont and the Innocents. Clearly chuffed to bits (and why not) Norman took to the stage with Lynsey Hutchison (usually bass and Backing Vocals but tonight just the latter) and Nelson Wright (like Lee Paterson earlier, using an upturned guitar for percussion) played us three songs in their inimitable style...

Best CD was next and yours truly picked up third spot for my superb and briliant album "Deeperdown" ("only third??? surely some mistake" I hear you cry...)



...but, for some inexplicable reason, I was the only top three awardee not given the chance to play...

Fraser Drummond (who’d already played) picked up second spot and Norman Lamont (who’d already played) won the day again with his EP “Romantic Fiction 1”.

Still, to have come third out of twenty nominees wasn’t bad and I consoled myself with the fact that I’d not bothered e-mailing anyone about the nomination or asking anyone to vote for me – perhaps if I had I’d have won – but at what cost to my conscience ha! ha!

Not getting to play was VERY annoying though...

But since Norman wasn’t dragged back up to the stage either, *maybe it was always intended that the award for people who’d actually bothered to spend some considerable time recording their songs did not merit the chance to air any of them live...

The result of the best song voting was announced and Big Jim won – and played his song again – second repeat rendition of the night...

Finally, the overall acoustic idol was announced – based on most votes received by anyone in any category...

And so it was that the Acoustic Idol for 2006 was, erm, Out of the Bedroom...

An entertaining evening, even if I wasn't allowed to add to the entertainment myself...

Yours, eating sour grapes...

Highlight of the Day : 3rd Best CD of the Year at Acoustic Idol

Sunday, May 21, 2006

From Luing...

Music of the Day
Andrew Hill – Judgement
Brian Eno – Clean OST
Alice Cooper – 1977-1987
Alice Cooper – 1994-2004
Various – Hit Singles

Awake around 9 and breakfast is scheduled for 10....

We are up quickly and take a walk around the tiny village of Cullipool. It’s bright and sunny but not too warm...



Round to Birgit’s cottage where she’s prepared some excellent fayre. Being German, she naturally partakes of some chocolate spread on her toast – which prompts a discussion about the strange eating habits (strange to Brits that is) of the German nation at large, including the above propensity for mixing bread and chocolate and their ability to eat raw minced pork without batting an eyelid....

I must confess to having enjoyed both these examples of German cuisine whilst I lived there...

We are looking to catch the midday ferry back to neighbouring Seil Island which is linked to the mainland by the famous “Bridge over the Atlantic”. Prior to this, the four of us take a stroll along the country road which leads from the village to the heart of this sparsely populated place....



I also get to touch Birgit’s pet American Corn Snake Ophelia this morning. She seems fascinated with the camera trying to touch it with her ever darting tongue. Anne declines an offer to get a bit closer but I like the wee beastie...



All too soon it’s time for us to go and Birgit drives us back to the ferry – we promise to return in August and to try our best for us all to meet up in Glasgow at some point (Norrie works there and comes to Luing at Weekends but will retire to the island soon)...

Our route back home is slightly different as we go from Oban to Tyndrum rather than via Glencoe as on the way up....

A traffic jam on the outskirts of Stirling causes us to make a detour to keep moving and we’re home by around 3:30 to a wee Black Cat with a bit of a story to tell by the sounds of things...

In the evning it’s round to Anne’s mum’s for tea. Jane and Bobby are away in London with the kids so it’s a bit more “civilised and quiet” than usual...

Keith and Maureen have bought combined TV/DVD/CD players for Maureen’s two girls and, since neither of these generous parents drives, I offer them a lift home. A taxi fair would have added rather a bit percentage wise to these bargain pieces of technology...

By the time we get home again around 9, I’ve driven around 400 miles this weekend and my ankle is giving me jip..

It’s been a good weekend though...



Highlight of the Day : A Visit to Luing

Saturday, May 20, 2006

To Luing...

Music of the Day
The Violet Archers – End of Part One
Martin Tielli – Operation Infinite Joy
Ethan Iverson – Construction Zone
Ethan Iverson – DeConstruction Zone
Various – Hit Singles
Cloudland Blue Quartet - Deeperdown
Brian Eno – Clean OST

Today we’re off up north to visit our friend Birgit on the island of Luing (http://www.isleofluing.co.uk/)....

I once lived in a little village (Felsberg) near the city of Kassel in Germany....

I was a Foreign Language Assistant at the local school....

Birgit, then aged 14, was in one of the classes I took....

I got to know her family through the parent teacher association and we have remained friends ever since....

We will see her today for the first time in over two years....

Birgit has a shop in Oban (Whitmore & Hamilton) selling crafts and woolens and is working today so there’s no big rush for us to get there.....

After a leisurely breakfast of croissants and coffee, we set off around 10:45 for the drive up through some of the most beautiful countryside in Scotland. It’s pouring with rain....

By the time we’re leaving Callander however, the rain ceases and the weather starts to brighten....

We’re heading for the Balachulish Hotel, scene of the great CBQ becoming non-vegetarian last October and, after a drive through the wonderful Glencoe, we arrive around 1:15 for lunch....

Very tasty it is too...

We sit at the window, taking in the view...



Then it’s back on the road and we tootle down to Oban, never breaching 35 miles per hour....

We’re at Birgit’s shop by 4pm....

Top quality merchandise and we buy a few things....

At 5 we head for Tesco for few messages then drive down to the ferry and over to the island – we leave our car on the mainland as the Sunday ferry is passenger only...

At Birgit’s house we meet her new partner, Norrie, for the first time, although we’ve stayed in his cottage before and will do so again tonight....

While Birgit prepares dinner we take a walk along the beach with Norrie and he shows us two orphaned lambs who live nearby and where steps to the sea and the one track road were washed away in storms a year or so ago....

The weather is now bright and sunny...



Back at the cottage, Birgit has prepared a wonderful meal and we sit round the table eating, drinking and chatting until the wee small hours....



I have the foresight (thanks to a reminder from my Executive Producer, Anne) to switch from quaffing tasty red wine, to sipping sparkling mineral water since I’m driving back home tomorrow.....

A slow, relaxing day...



Highlight of the Day : A Visit to Luing

Friday, May 19, 2006

Out and about with Dr Prog...

Albums of the Day
Larry Coryell - Spaces
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Five New Songs
Andrew Hill – Judgement
Donald Byrd – Mustang
Cara Dillon – Sweet Liberty
Coldplay – Speed of Sound (EP)
Grand Funk Railroad – The Singles
Enchant – Tug of War

Began the day at 12:30am this morning (I invariably listen to music when I go to bed as I can’t sleep without it unless I am amazingly tired) listening to Larry Coryell’s 1969 album “Spaces”..

It may well be the only album to contain joint performances by members of all three of the greatest jazz fusion groups of the 1970s (Mahavishnu Orchestra – John McLaughlin & Billy Cobham; Weather Report – Miroslav Vitous; Return to Forever – Chick Corea)...



I was pointed in this album’s direction by my German chum Jorg when he was over staying with us last October...

During his stay he bought the same Reeves Gabrels album which I bought at e-bay recently and which arrived yesterday. The album had been sitting on my hard drive waiting to be copied and burned for seven months before I bought it not realising it was the same one...

Visited the Music Library today and borrowed two CDs by Irish singer Cara Dillon. It’s a wee bit too folky for my tastes but I have three weeks in which to persevere or reject...

A flyer from the Queen’s Hall alerts me to a concert on Tuesday by The Bad Plus – jazz trio led by Ethan Iverson – I will attend...

Before going out to meet up with Dr Prog tonight, I ran through a CBQ Set (around 20 minutes) of my most recent songs:-
“Go Away (And Leave Me Here)”
“The End of Everything”
“The Luckiest Man Alive”
“Happy Song” - hmm I need a new title for that one I think...
“I Still Write You Letters (I Just Don’t Send Them Anymore)”
and, finally, Lindsay West’s fine song
“Do As Others Do”

Then I drove to St Giles cathedral for tonight’s concert in the Sonicfusion Festival (http://www.sonicfusionfestival.com/). I was intrigued as to how this was going to sound – and a little apprehensive. It was billed as mostly improvised music with an instrumental line up of trumpet and clarinet...



I needn’t have worried though. From the first notes which resounded beautifully around the interior of the old church buildings, this was a delightful concert...

Markus Stockhausen (son of Karl-Heinz) and his wife, Tara Bouman, actually played a variety of instruments over the duration of the 90 minute recital, including flugelhorn, trumpet, piccolo trumpet, piano, clarinet, and bass clarinet...

Instead of an interval, Markus stood in front of the audience and invited us to close our eyes and tune in to the harmonics of a single cymbal, which he proceeded to play for around five minutes....

At one point during a piece, Tara even removed her left shoe and used her heel in the horn of the bass clarinet to treat the sound of her instrument...

After the concert Phil Prog and I engaged both Markus and Tara in conversation, congratulating them on their performance and Phil bought their CD and had it autographed...

What an unlikely enjoyable time we had – check Markus’ site at http://www.markusstockhausen.com/

Then we walked down the High St and along to The Jazz Bar on Chamber St to see what was going on there. If you’re into Jazz or just live music in general, check out the website at http://www.thejazzbar.co.uk/ for the interesting stories behind he club...



We caught an entire hour-long set by young Perth saxophonist Fraser Campbell who’s back in the UK for just a few days break from his studies at Boston’s Berklee Jazz College....

He was brilliant – really top notch stuff – and ably backed up by the unnamed pianist and electric bass player (his solos sounded like guitar solos) and, on drums, the bar proprietor, Bill Kyle – a true stalwart of the Scottish Jazz Scene...

Fraser’s playing again on Wednesday night – I will attend...

And so a busy week ahead next week:-
Monday – Acoustic Idol
Tuesday – Ethan Iverson
Wednesday – Fraser Campbell
Thursday – Out of the Bedroom
Friday – Paul Buchanan

Highlight of the Day : Out on the ran-dan with Dr Prog

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Watching TV with the sound blocked out by Jazz...

Albums of the Day
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Five New Songs
UK – Best of UK
Freddie Hubbard – A Soul Experiment
Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers – Free For All
Freddie Hubbard – Backlash
Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers – With Thelonius Monk
Reeves Gabrels – Rockonica
Various – The Wire Tapper 15

I start the day listening to CBQ’s “Five New Songs” with the intention of going along and playing three of them at Out of the Bedroom tonight...

Listening to them is a bit like rehearsing them – certainly it’s the closest I’ll get to that task today...

Of course I should possibly play “The Crocodile Song” or “Half A Lifetime Away” as they’ve both been nominated for Song of the Year at Monday’s annual “Acoustic Idol” awards. Apparently I’m also nominated as Best Solo Artist and my last album, “Deeperdown” is up for best album...

Since I’ve not sent out any newsletter to my, ahem, “fans” regarding these nominations and how to vote, I don’t expect to actually win anything – but I’ll go along in any case...

In 2004, my previous album “Anotherhappyday” came 4th overall and was the top album by a male artist...

Uptown, a kind of semi-sale at the moment at HMV prompts me to purchase two discs, Freddie Hubbard’s 1967 album “Backlash”, in which he moves away from his previous role as hard bop trumpeter and makes his way into a bit of a soul trip...

Cracking stuff....

While I wait to get home to hear it, I spin his later album “A Soul Experiment” on the Jukebox to get me in the mood...

Second disc is Art Blakey’s 1958 album “With Thelonius Monk” which is described in the Penguin Guide to Jazz as “indispensible”, receiving five stars and a coronet no less...

To tee me up for this, I set the jukebox to play the Jazz Messengers’ “Free For All”...

I love jazz – except Dixieland, Trad Jazz and anything with vocals....

Not content with me adding these two to the collection, fate leaves the recently successfully bid for on e-bay Reeves Gabrels album “Rockonica” on the doormat for my return to Crispycat Towers, along with the latest edition of The Wire magazine, which, this month, comes complete with an eclectic selection of new music...

Dr Prog has phoned today to invite me along to two concerts, one tonight, a selection of South American Guitar Music at a Church on Princes Street, and one tomorrow night, Markus Stockhausen, trumpet playing son of Karl-Heinz, playing some improv jazz at St Giles cathedral on the Royal Mile...

I forego tonight’s thinking I’ll be at OOTB but give a tentative affirmative to tomorrow – I’ll need to check with Executive Producer, Anne, re any clashes in the social calendar...

Back home and, by the time we’ve had our tea, it’s a wee bit late to get along to OOTB to get a slot, so, with all the new music which has made its way into my life today, I decide to crack open a bottle of red, get the headphones out and have an evening of classic jazz, metal and weirdness on one settee, while Anne watches the telly from the other...

We are accompanied by Meg the Black Cat...

We watch Jimmy McGovern’s drama for BBC, “The Street” (I don’t have sound of course) – this week re a particularly nasty wife-beating bastard who, rather satisfyingly, is himself battered to death in the street by his wife and her sister, having just beaten up the sister’s husband, causing his mother-in-law to die from a heart attack – rather fittingly, the girls dump his body in the freshly prepared mother’s grave where it is covered by her coffin...

Excellent – even without hearing the dialogue!!

This is followed by “Newsnight”, by which time my listening evening is over. Labour take another kicking at the hands of the audience and panel. They don’t realise of course that Gordon Brown will be even worse than Tony Blair...

Then “This Week” in which Stephen Fry, a luvvie whom I’ve never liked, makes an arse of himself with some, seemingly drunken, spouting about how Labour and politicians in general are ok (even though they fail miserably to do any of the things they said they’d do in order to get elected) and in fact, we, the public at large are to blame for all woes currently plaguing the country...

Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys also makes an appearance to give his opinion of the 80’s. He has a new album out on Monday you see (which I will be buying no matter the man’s politics)...

To bed at 12:30...

Highlight of the Day : An evening of listening

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Avoiding bourgeois stuff...

Albums of the Day
Grandaddy – Sumday
Grandaddy – Excerpts from the Diary of Tod Zilla
Tony Williams’ Lifetime – Believe It
Tony Williams’ Lifetime – Million Dollar Legs
Wetton/Downes – Glasgow Setlist
Shadow Gallery – Room V
Tool - Lateralus

Been trawling e-bay again but only bought one CD so far, the latest from erstwhile David Bowie guitarist, producer and co-writer, Reeves Gabrels – which I expect to arrive any day...

Mainly I’m looking to buy the new CDs by The Church and Grandaddy and, possibly, Tool’s new album – hence the recent listening to Grandaddy and Tool...

Came home tonight to find Anne in the house with a strange man. Turned out she’d been persuaded to change our Gas and Electricity supplier from British Gas to Scottish Power. Some kind of convincing argument had been made on the doorstep apparently...

Being an artist and musician, I don’t get involved with bourgeois stuff like where the heat and light come from so I let Anne get on with it while I took over preparing the evening meal, a very tasty indeed, pasta dish...

Watched the European Champions Cup final between Barcelona and Arsenal. The game was robbed of any real meaningful footballing content after around twenty minutes when the Snel’s goalie was sent off for a foul on the edge of the area – during which incident Barca had the ball in the net but the ref had already blown for a foul....

Twenty minutes later, Arsenal scored after their right back took a dive just outside the box and Thierry Henry (for me one of the best players in the English League, Europe and the World) sent in a pinpoint cross for Sol Campbell to head home...

From then on it was Barca attacking and Arsenal defending for the remainder of the game apart from a couple of breakaway chances for the latter...

Eventually Barca broke them down and scored two goals in five minutes and spent the last ten minutes of the game holding on to possession...

So a brave fight by Arsenal, my favourite English team since 1971 when, during their bid to win the Double of League and Cup, everyone else in my primary school class was supporting Liverpool for the Cup final...

Ah how I remember Charlie George’s superb goal that day 35 years ago...

Stayed up to watch a Bill Murray film but deemed it rubbish and went to bed around midnight, 30 minutes in...

Highlight of the Day : Taking over the prep of and completing the evening meal

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Forgotten discs just lying around..

Albums of the Day
Yes – Yes
Yes – Time and a Word
Yes – The Yes Album
Yes – Fragile
King Crimson – Cirkus (2CD)
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Ambient Collection (Unreleased)
Grandaddy – The Broken Down Comforter Collection

Didn’t do anything today really. I resisted the urge to sit in front of the computer all evening and sat in front of the telly instead. Or I would have if I hadn’t got bored with it....

I went upstairs and tidied up the back room while listening to King Crimson’s “Cirkus”, a two CD “Young Person’s Guide to King Crimson Live”..

Whilst tidying, I came a cross the inevitable pile of white labeled CDs in amongst all the stuff, unlooked at for probably more than a year. Many of these were discs for the car and I’ll deposit them there shortly...

One was a compilation I must have made up a while back. Scribbled on the label was “CBQ Ambient Collection”. I gave it a listen and it was good. Starting in 1986 and moving through time to 1999...

I am very undisciplined when it comes to labeling CDs I make and putting them into labeled boxes – so I often come across CDs I can’t even remember making – all in all, I must have a couple of hundred CDs just lying around or stored on spindles, or in unlabeled boxes, waiting for me to remember them...

JY Johnny visited Crispycat Towers for the first time tonight. He was round to pick up the CBQ CDs for his Charity Golf Day for Maggie’s Cancer Centres, which takes place at The Royal Burgess Course on Thursday...

Ended off the day watching the second part of a two part documentary on Gretna FC followed by Newsnight which had a very long piece about someone trying to give up using his car to do his part to reduce Carbon emissions....

If everyone in the UK gave up their cars, Carbon emissions in the UK would be reduced by just 2.5% apparently...

So I don’t feel too guilty about continuing to use mine....

Highlight of the Day : A visit from JY Johnny

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ha Ha, I am brainy...

Albums of the Day
Bozzio Levin Stevens – Situation Dangerous
Bruford Levin Upper Extremities – Same
The Violet Archers – End of Part One
Yes – Keys to Ascension
Yes – Union

Arranged for JY Johnny to come round tomorrow night to pick up the CBQ charity CDs...

Also arranged a visit to the island of Luing to see old chum Birgit who I’ve known since she was just 14 and in one of the classes I taught in a little town in Germany many years ago...

Watched “New Tricks” – mildly entertaining for a Monday and, before that, the final of University Challenge in which underdogs Manchester University beat Smug College Cambridge...

Particularly pleased that I was able to answer around 15 questions, including two on the subject of Cat Litter....

Updated the diary – writing an entry for every day is taxing but I still enjoy it...

Highlight of the Day : Arranging a visit to Luing

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The wind in my hair (if I had any)...

Albums of the Day
Rheostatics – Making Progress
Yes – Union
Bozzio Levin Stevens – Situation Dangerous
Graham Fitkin – Kaplan
PAhud/Terrason - Into the Blue

Despite the late night, I am awake early again today but decide to listen to some Yes on the jukebox before getting up...

I notice three albums are missing, “Union”, “Keys to Ascension” and “The Ladder”, so, on getting up, I transfer these to the jukebox then listen to “Union”...



It’s probably one of Yes members and fans least favourite albums but I’ve always liked it...

Soon, Anne and Pam are up too and we have breakfast then head round to Anne’s mum’s (mmm lovely pancakes and coffee by the way) to drop Anne off – she’s going to watch the Hearts team parade the cup through the streets on an open topped bus...







Meanwhile I take Pam out to other sister Sheila’s in Penicuik where we meet up again with my mum..

Sheila’s husband, Andrew, lets me have a go on one of his scooters. It’s a bit nerve wracking and I feel very vulnerable being so used to always being in a car on the roads...

Wishing Pam and mum a good holiday, I head back into town and take a look round Fopp and Avalanche in Cockburn St...

I pick up these three CDs for just £5 at Avalanche but once again fail to spend my £20 Token at FOPP – weird...



Excellent prog rock trio...



Excellent electronic/classical crossover...



Excellent Jazz/Classical crossover...

Then to Jane and Bobby’s for a celebration drink and to watch again the best bits of the final – especially Robbie Neilson's now legendary tackle..

Then we take Anne’s mum home and return to Crispycat Towers for a quiet night in. I transfer my purchases to the jukebox then attempt to watch a programme about Hannibal – but I wake up lying on the settee at around 12:30 and so head for bed, exhausted again...

Highlight of the Day : A Scooter Ride

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Cup Final Day...

Albums of the Day
Les Arts Florissants – 10 Years (Disc 1)
Bruford-Borstlap – In Concert In Holland (DVD)
Various – No 1 Hits

Up around 6:30 and I update the diary for the first day of our Amsterdam holiday, before Anne gets up and prepares a slap up breakfast for us as, today, Cup Final Day, we will not be eating again until 7pm...

I decide to experiment with the larger of the two memory cards I have for the Digital Camera and see for how long I can film some video footage...

17 minutes of filming Anne and I making breakfast and coffee respectively, Meg the Black Cat lying around on the floor and various shots around the house – I don’t expect any Oscar nominations but it opens up possibilities...

Pam and mum arrive at 11 as arranged and, at 11:30, after showing my mum all my birthday cards and some of our photos from France and from Ballachulish last October, we are off to pick up Jane and Bobby...

We listen to various No 1 hits on the drive through to Glasgow, with everyone singing along. Bobby is the DJ...

It takes 40 minutes to get to Glasgow Cathedral and a further 40 minutes to reach our parking spot around 15 minutes or so on foot from Hampden – the same one Anne and I used last month for the semi final against Hibs...

We’re all expecting Hearts to win easily against Gretna, even though the latter won Division 2 this year (i.e. two leagues below Hearts)....

Of everyone I’ve spoken to re the game, only Anne seems nervous that it won’t go according to the form book...

How right she isto doubt. Hearts are dreadful. In the first half they forego chance after chance, finally scoring after around 40 minutes and going in just one up at half time...

The second half is even worse,as Gretna surge forward time and time again. My favourite player, Robbie Nielson, keeps the Jam Tarts in the game with a heart stopping tackle just as Gretna’s first sub has sliced through the defence and rounded the keeper...

Then, disaster, Gretna are awarded a penalty (rightly so) and, although goalie Craig Gordon saves it, the taker, Brian McGuffie scores on the rebound...

In extra time, Hearts seem to be back on top for the first time since scoring and they are denied a strong claim for a penalty with just a few minutes remaining – then Gretna miss a golden opportunity to score and the chance to amke a piece of incredible history...

And so it’s penalties...

At 2-2, Gretna’s big Centre Half (ex Hibs and so pilloried by the Hearts fans at every opportunity) steps up. His body language just cries out that he’s going to miss – and miss he does, hitting his shot almost straight at the keeper...

While 40,000 Hearts fans jump up and down celebrating, I must admit to standing stock still and almost bursting into tears at the thought of the poor guy missing the kick – but that’s football...

Another conversion from Hearts and then Gretna’s fourth man hits the bar and it’s all over...

Hearts have won the cup – just and no more, mind you....

The celebrations seem to go on forever..



Eventually we leave the ground and meet up with Jane and Bobby, who’ve been sitting in another part of the stadium...

Back to the car comparing notes and stories and a quick drive over to Byres Road for a lovely meal at The Ubiquitous Chip in Ashton Lane..

The food is excellent, the drink is flowing (except for me as designated driver) and the service is just right...

We leave around 8:40 and head back along the M8 – once again singing along to all the No 1 songs - a bit louder than before probably due to the excess alchoholic fuel guzzled at The Chip....

We drop off Jane and Bobby and head back to Crispycat Towers with Pam, who’s staying the night...

We are home in time for the highlights – it seems more exciting on the TV than it was live – truth be told the football on show was pretty average – but the extra time and penalty shoot-out combined with the very possible fairytale ending for Gretna made it a memorable final...

It’s probably a very long time since there’s been a Scottish Cup Final without either Rangers or Celtic which has managed to be a sell out at Hampden Park and the atmosphere was superb...

One highlight was the Hearts fans giving Gretna a totally deserved standing ovation as they took their runners up lap of honour...

And Queen of the South have to play them four times next season....

Highlight of the Day : Hearts Win the Cup

Friday, May 12, 2006

Far out jazz and a bottle of wine...

Albums of the Day:
Mott The Hoople - The Ballad of Mott : A Retrospective (2CD)
Ian Sclater – It’s Weird In Here
Conspiracy – The Unknown
Mathilde Santing – Under Your Charms
Mathilde Santing –Ballads
Art Blakey – Like Someone in Love
Andrew Hill – Dance With Death
Shadow Gallery – Room V

Forgot to mention yesterday that Ian Sclater popped a finished copy of his CD “It’s Weird In Here” through the door. Sounds just like the recordings I have on my hard drive! But it’s good to have the finalised CD with cover, lyrics etc...

You can find his site at http://www.iansclater.com/

Sister Pam is back in town, preparing to take our mum on holiday to Spain next week. She’s coming with Anne, me, Anne’s sister Jane and Jane's husband Bobby to the Scottish Cup Final tomorrow – Hearts v Gretna – I might be tempting fate, but I imagine Hearts will win – despite Anne’s constant “what if” scenarios...

In the evening, watched "Corrie", taped “Green Wing” (as we haven’t watched last week’s yet which we taped whilst in Amsterdam) and watched two episodes of “My Name Is Earl”...

Also tonight - Put in a pre order for a signed copy of American songstress, Alice Peacock's upcoming album - she's superb (www.alicepeacock.com)...

Uploaded the Amsterdam CDs onto the Jukebox...

Wow – Friday night eh?

While listening to the far out jazz sounds of Andrew Hill’s Dance With Death (my album of the month so far), I suddenly got a hankering for a bottle of wine –so cracked one open - a nice Chilean Merlot...

That’s a little more like it...

Highlight of the Day : Far out jazz and a bottle of wine...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The fog lifts...

Albums of the day
Alice Cooper – Lace and Whiskey
Alice Cooper – Pretties For You
Alice Cooper – Zipper Catches Skin
Alice Cooper – School’s Out
Alice Cooper – Easy Action
Alice Cooper – Flush the Fashion
Alice Cooper – The Eyes Of Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper – The Last Temptation
Alice Cooper – Love It To Death
Alice Cooper – Killer
Alice Cooper – Trash
Alice Cooper – Muscle Of Love
Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies
Alice Cooper – Brutal Planet
Cloudland Blue Quartet - Callingstill (Disc 3)

Still on a wee bit of an Alice Cooper frenzy today as you can see...

Lovely day today – our friend Birgit’s 40th birthday...

Here’s the sky this morning...



Spent the evening printing, folding and inserting the lyric sheets into the “Deeperdown” CDs for the Maggie’s Golf Day. Finished at last...

Watched a great episode of "My Name is Earl" on E4 - you might have seen it - it was the one where Y2K was coming up and the group thought everyone had been killed by the computers and so decided to live in a department store...

Also caught “Question Time” – Labour are taking a real hammering these days, which is great. Unfortunately, they’ve manipulated constituency boundaries so much, it’s unlikely they’ll be voted out next time round despite Blair’s lying, Prescott’s philandering, Brown’s tax raising and profligacy etc etc etc – man I HATE LABOUR – they really are a bunch of inept, lying, pocket-lining, hypocritical useless bastards. The only thing they seem to be good at is holding on to power for holding on to power’s sake...

Anyway, sorry about that little rant there – also watched “This Week” in which Rik Mayall reprised his Alan B’Stard character from the early 90’s – it seems the odious beast has defected to “New” Labour...

How fitting...

Hope to see the stage show when it comes to town next month...

Highlight of the Day : Watching the fog lift from the electorate’s eyes...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Charitable chap...

Albums of the Day :-
Alice Cooper - Top 100 Alice Cooper Tracks
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Doveloveshawk
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Callingstill (Disc 1)
Cloudland Blue Quartet – Callingstill (Disc 2)

Another beautiful sunny day in Edinburgh...



This evening, we watched the first half of the UEFA Cup Final between Seville and Middlesborough – pretty boring stuff.

At half time, while switching channels, we came across a programme about how lives have been influenced by food – this week’s episode was on “Punk Svengali” Malcolm McLaren. Very entertaining – much better than the football...

After this, while Anne watched the end of the match (4-0 Seville) I went upstairs and finished off the printing of the covers for the big “Deeperdown” project and then put the remainder of the CDs together....

I continued through my back catalogue while I worked...

Here's what I've been working on over the last few weeks...

CBQ fan, John Yuille has organised a golf day for Maggie’s Cancer Centres (http://www.maggiescentres.org/) There are to be 20 teams of four, with each team paying a massive £1,000 to take part....

As part of the day, every player gets a goody bag full of various items – one of which is going to be, at John’s request, a special Maggie’s Limited Edition of CBQ’s “Deeperdown”...

So I’m doing my bit to raise £20,000 for the charity – which can’t be bad...

Here’s the special text which appears on the cover of the CD:-

The chances are you will never have heard of the Cloudland Blue Quartet.

It's not even a quartet.

It's one man, David Reilly who, as singer, player and producer, has had a hand in over 200 releases in the independent music scene over the last 25 years.

Your host for today, John Yuille, is a big fan of CBQ music and approached David to provide these special edition copies of his 2005 song based album "Deeperdown" for inclusion in your bag of goodies.

John knows you'd probably have preferred to find a copy of "Now That's What I Call Music 63" in there, but there you go.

All profits from the provision of these CDs have been kindly donated to Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres by David's record label, Crispycat Recordings.

Find out more about Crispycat and Cloudland Blue Quartet at www.crispycat.co.uk .

Enjoy your day.


Ha! Bet you wish you could have one - but you need to pay £250 to get one!!

Finally finished off all the CDs, and here's Meg the Black Cat making sure they're all ok...



Then she cheekily started walking all over them - don't tell the golfers....

Ended the day by updating the diary and then looking back at what I was doing a year ago - it's like reading someone else's blog - someone else who is very similar to me...

Highlight of the Day : Doing my bit for Cha-ri-dee...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hand made compact discs a speciality...

Albums of the Day:
Cloudland Blue Quartet – 5 new songs
Jacques Loussier - Play Bach 1
King Crimson - Thrak
Focus - Focus III
Focus - Hamburger Concerto
Cloudland Blue Quartet - Deeperdown
Cloudland Blue Quartet - Anotherhappyday
Cloudland Blue Quartet - Ampersand

A happy birthday today to my good old German chum, Jorg Sonnenschein...

Up very early and to the Post Office at 7 to pick up new supplies of ink re the big "Deeperdown" print job...

A fine and sunny day - my birthday always seems to herald the start of summer...

Spent all evening hand cutting covers and putting them together with the discs and boxes - all whilst listening to my own back catalogue - and why the hell not?? It's bloody good!!

Finished around 11:30...

Then surfed the web - mostly re Alice Cooper - and went to bed around 12:30 with my Jukebox playlist "Best of Alice" in my ears, as Meg the Black Cat snuggled down in amongst my discarded clothes....brave wee cat....



Highlight of the Day : Making huge progress on the Deeperdown project

Monday, May 08, 2006

Home from the 'Dam...

Just back this afternoon from Amsterdam...

Here are some collages of the holiday - Thursday 4th May (my birthday); Friday 5th May; Saturday 6th May; Sunday 7th May and, finally, today - with four extra pics thrown in...

I'll update over the next few days as to activities (which mostly comprised eating lots of lovely food, drinking FAR too much HooegardenWittbier for my own good, and walking around in the hot sunshine), so please do check back...

4th May UPDATED SEE BELOW

5th May
Albums of the Day :
Mathilde Santing - Mathilde Mathilde (Disc 1)
Golden Earring - Moontan
Golden Earring - Switch
Mathilde Santing - Under Your Charms
Shadow Gallery - Room V (Disc 2)
Conspiracy - The Unknown
Huelgas Ensemble - Lamentations



Highlight of the Day : CD Spending Spree


6th May
Albums of the Day :
Art Blakey - Like Someone In Love
Jacques Loussier - Play Bach aux Champs Elysees (Disc 1)
Vivaldi - Concert for the Prince of Poland
Handel - Organ Concertos
Thelonius Monk Quartet - Misterioso



Highlight of the Day : Browsing through The Jordaan


7th May
Albums of the Day :
Shadow Gallery - Room V (Disc 1)
Mozart - Sinfonia Concertante/Serenade in D Major
Mathilde Santing - Ballads
Andrew Hill - Dance With Death



Highlight of the Day : Busy doing nothing...


8th May
Albums of the Day :
Andrew Hill - Dance With Death
Conspiracy - The Unknown
Jacques Loussier - Play Bach aux Champs Elysees (Disc 2)
Mathilde Santing - Under Your Charms
Art Blakey - Like Someone In Love
Huelgas Ensemble - Lamentations



Highlight of the Day : The return of Meg the Black Cat

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Happy birthday to me...

Albums of the Day :
King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black
Cloudland Blue Quartet - Five New Songs
King Crimson - Red
Herman Van Veen - Zweitausandeins Compilation (Disc 1)

Up at 6:30 and a taxi to the airport at 7:45...

Breakfast at the airport branch of Witherspoons – much better atmosphere than the big canteen situation we usually experience at the “Food Mall”...

A bonus is the presence of Hearts’ Greek star Fyssas at the next table – he’s seeing his father, wife and child off to Greece...

On the flight I am landed with the most fidgety booby in the world next to me...

I try and blank out his annoyingness by listening to King Crimson’s “Starless and Bible Black” – apt due to the fact that around half the album was actually recorded live on 23 November 1973 at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouwe...

Luckily it’s just 70 minutes to Amsterdam and I am soon rid of him. It’s hot here as we step off the plane. We have hand luggage only so it’s straight to the railway station to buy a couple of return tickets to Centraal Station...

A quick and efficient service sees us in Amsterdam around 20 minutes later and we quickly buy 72 hour tickets to take us through to Sunday afternoon...

We walk through the Re Light District to the Neiewmarkt and sit in the sun enjoying the first of many drinks we’ll have between now and Sunday night. We sat here in October 2004 on our anniversary and celebrated the 03/04 New Year in this very Square...



We grab a delicious filled roll from a nearby delicatessen before heading for Dam Square and boarding the No 25 tram and validating our tickets – they will last until 14:30 on Sunday...

We had been told it was a fifteen to twenty minute journey to the terminus followed by a short walk to our houseboat...



However, roadworks and a long walk to the boat put paid to this timetable – it was worth it though when we got to the boat...

So quiet, lovely and clean, with the water of the Amstel River lapping against it, just a few inches below the level of our windows...

After unpacking and having a bit of a rest, we headed back out, this time walking 10 minutes up the river bank to Amsteldijk...



...for a No 12 to Museumplein where we buy some drinks from the underground Albert Hein Supermarket before jumping on another tram up to Spui (pronounced Spow though we have always called it Spewy)...

We sit outside at the Hoppe and partake of a cool beer in the hot sun. I foolishly opt for a Tripel (9% proof) and am immediately inebriated...





But hey, it IS my birthday after all...

We walk to Dam Square and sit at a caf├ę enjoying a coffee/hot chocolate and then back along the canals to Spui and to the Antelope and Tiger Indonesian Restaurant, reputedly the best in Amsterdam...

Not having booked, we have a 10 minute wait for a table, during which beer and gin is consumed...

We decide on a huge 12 dish Reisstaffl – 12 various dishes are delivered to the table all at once around 15 minutes later. The food is delicious and consists of:

Beef curry
Chilli Prawns
Coconut and Peanut Garnish
Fish kebabs
Fried Vegetables
Giant Crisps
Halved Boiled Egg in a Coconut Curry Sauce
Pork kebabs
Rice
Sati Sauce Salad
Scrambled Egg Salad
Small Sweet Crisps



It is accompanied by more beer and Anne moves from Gin to Wine...

At 8 o’clock, a two minutes’ silence descends on the restaurant, we observe it but don’t know what it’s for – we had seen a line of dignitaries going into the cathedral up at Dam Square earlier on and guess that perhaps someone important to Holland has died......



We leave the restaurant, full to the brim, and sit in Spui Square watching the world go by before walking down to the Leidseplein where we buy some fruit juice for the boat, catch a tram to the Concertgebouwe and a number 12 back to Amsteldijk...

I am asleep by 10:30 – a great day...



Highlight of the Day : Birthday meal at The Antelope and the Tiger (Indonesian)