Well today was a bad day. I felt very low, sometimes however much I try things just get on top of me. I get angry, frustrated and all logic goes out of the window. That’s one of the gifts depression brings to the party. So today I have been trying unsuccessfully to shift my mood with many distractions. Listening to music from my teenage years Neal Young, Elton John, Hendrix, Yes and also a bit of other stuff like the Dudley Moore trio. !968 to 1972 in particular was an incredible time more music and revisiting it helped me a bit. I am still fighting it out with a French Language course but being dyslexic doesn’t really help to much, but I can’t give up. So many times in my life it seems as though I have had to though. Its very frustrating, or maybe I am a lot stupider than I thought I was.
I also started recording a track which will be a song once I have sorted the lyrics into some sort of order. I spent a couple of hours working on that. I think it might be a reasonable number if I can get a good enough vocal on it. I can sing but my voice is not going to win awards. In the past I did work with some guest vocalists on some collaboration’s but personal circumstances make that a bit difficult to do here.
Also I am listening to the sound and production on recordings I really like to see if I can get some sort of warmth into my own stuff. Some of the 70’s stuff is particularly appealing. Perhaps I need to open the doors up figuratively and literally and try again?
Now I am a bit wary of people and i am not always a good judge of character, I can be easily fooled or duped if I don’t keep my wits about me. Also I often get suspicious of peoples motives and that can get me in trouble if I misinterpret them. The trouble is often ends up with me feeling isolated and cutting myself off from opportunity.
On a personal level it’s not been too bad a year. A couple of disappointments, and the inevitable couple of stitch-ups by people who should know better. I should not really be taken in so easily. Often though when you loose out on one opportunity something better turns up though in many cases. By this stage in my life I should really expect that sort of thing, so perhaps its just naivety. I do get disappointed because I usually expect people to be reasonable, and not full of shit or to try and con me. Still if I was that good a judge of human nature I might be doing a bit better now than I am in some respects. Of course there is also the mass insanity of the brexit crew, which seems to have brought in its wake a lot of very bad behaviour. I am still waiting for a sensible reason for leaving, so give me some sort of reasoned argument and try and convince me. Why is there only a deafening silence? So I shall plod along with my various musical efforts and continue my battle with facing often the futility of endeavoring to achieve anything, but carry on doing it anyway as you do.
So is there a point? No you just roll along and stuff happens and sometimes its good and sometimes its not, That really seems to be it. Everything else that happens seems to be random and not bound by the laws of causality, except for the odd signposted train wreck that you can spot.
Quite often I wonder why I write this stuff. I suppose it’s a way of letting off steam and thats it really. My problem is that if you are fighting depression you want positive stuff to happen, but you dare not get too excited about anything as its frequently a disappointment. So how does one keep positive? Answers on a postcard please.
The thing I have lacked for a couple of years now is energy and the ability to really keep applying myself, but lately I just want to give up and I really do despair about it.
There are not to many people left that I am able to talk to…
Another weekend and a couple of fairly well received gigs, both in Reading by coincidence.
On Friday we were at the Global Cafe and on Sunday we were the closing act at a mini Blues festival held at the Ukrainian club. The festival was organized by the couple that run one of our favorite pubs in Reading The Retreat, They are going to be moving out in January next year, no doubt so that it can be turned into another gastro pub or something similar. Its a real shame as it has lots of live music, world to jazz to folk and almost every bear you can imagine, and has a fantastic atmosphere, but being in a side street and not exactly huge, it will not make any new tenants a fortune.
So a pleasant enough weekend on the whole. Also an opportunity to do some networking as well.
I am making an effort to try and stay engaged with stuff as to a point the more I do the better I feel. Last night I slept slightly better than I have for a while, without waking up in the middle of the night or vivid dreams that have made me feel tired on waking. The air has a distinct whiff of Autumn in it now, though its still mostly pleasant and sunny down in the deep south at the time of typing. Still doing the stretching which is helping a lot with the back related problems. I am not looking forward to winter though, so I shall have to make sure I have plenty going on by then.
Music wise we may be adding a traditional Hungarian tune to the act and possibly a tango or two, which will make it fairly eclectic but still no Oasis covers.
Its really quiet here again, and you can almost hear a pin drop though I have been breaking the silence with sporadic outbursts of piano playing during the day. Lately I seem to be meeting some every interesting people and perhaps some of those connections will be useful in time.
We are starting to get a few dates in the book for 2013 now, which is quite reassuring. We are still a bit of a novelty in some places of course, but that keeps us in work I suppose.
I should have been out in the wilds today enjoying a bit of country air, but I was too knackered to go. I did a few useful things to fill up the time though.
Last night before was another trip to the Vortex to listen to Nigerian vocalist Ayinke Martins and British pianist Sara McGuinness (who I am sure I have seen somewhere before) playing Latin and African stuff with a brilliant band of musicians around the world. Loads of folks up and dancing by the end of the gig too. Very enjoyable indeed and the 3rd week running that I have been to the Vortex.
I feel at present I am living in my head a lot, perhaps rather more than is usual even for me. I have had fair amount of low level anxiety but its manageable at present. The aches and pains grind on in the background which is tiring, so the trick is enough exercise but not too much. The vivid dreaming is still a problem as it feels like I have been awake half the night.
Typing is a bit a bit painful too even one fingered. I can go pretty fast with one digit now though
I have a song lyric that I am trying to set to music, but it keeps eluding me as every time I get around to trying to sort it out I end up writing something else. I have done a couple of slightly impressionistic jazzy Piano pieces, but just can’t crack a suitable setting for those words at the moment.It maybe the way to go is to try writing on guitar instead to find something that fits.
We have a fair number of gigs coming up until Christmas and we are hopefully going to relaunch the slightly re-branded Elephant Shelf in the New Year, we have a few band gigs, but most of the gigs are Delta Ladies gigs so a lot of duo stuff but also the odd extended line up one mixed in among them.
I am investing in a slightly better Electric Violin as at present I have a very nice but very old Acoustic Violin that sounds great but is difficult to amplify in some situations and can make playing some gigs a bit too much of a workout. Its also rather delicate so it gives me a few nervous moments in the rather unsophisticated environs I often frequent. My other Electric has served me well but is rather crude tonally and I have out grown it in some respects.
I wish I could get all angst ridden about gender issues but I far too neurotic to worry about that sort of stuff.
The rain is still coming down after what seems like about 24 hours worth almost under a fairly uniform gray sky in Battersea right now. There’s a bit of a wind moaning through the air vents and making slightly spooky muttering noises (I will be fine as long as I don’t start talking back to it) but the sky is just beginning to lighten a little now. Last night was a better nights sleep but the rather vivid dreams are still continuing and have been so the last week or so, and they mean I don’t awake refreshed. Often in my dreams I pursued or trying to escape some captor, I am sure this is deeply significant on some level, but paradoxically I do have a fair amount of freedom and don’t feel that I am either oppressed, repressed or subjugated but I don’t think there is too much point in dwelling on that. I am still having some significantly painful days but getting more exercise has helped a lot, though it seems paradoxical to be stretching and stuff when your in pain. I think that the sleep disturbances are related though.
This morning I have been murdering some Cole Porter on the piano, and feel the sudden need for a decent cup of tea. Funny how Cole Porter can do that for you? I still have those song lyrics that I can’t find a home for as well.
I have had a fairly decent weekend with two good Delta Ladies gigs. The Friday night one at the Hare in Linslade near Leighton Buzzard was particularly enthusiastically received which is always a boost to the spirits. On Saturday we were down in Wandsworth at the Armoury which was also a fairly good vibe. Two Classic quotes this week as well, the first being â€œNext time I hope to see you in a dress from one enthusiastic punter at The Hare and on Saturday night in WandsworthMy mate told I me I must come and see you and to be honest I though it was going to be crap, but its brilliant. Better than the other way round I suppose! On Sunday we had a rehearsal with Jessie Pie as we will be resurrecting theCleavage of Deathâ€ for some special gigs in the future. It will be fun though perhaps not terribly subtle! One of the tunes we did was On a clear daywhich we all fairly pleased with. Having not played with Jess for about 4 years or so it all came together rather well. We have decided to keep Elephant Shelf going as our new drummer Lee seems to have helped us turn a corner. It will be a slightly different sound.
We do seem to have a capacity to entertain that makes it a fairly warm experience at many of the gigs we do. We take our music fairly seriously but not ourselves as being 2 transfolk out in a world where you see that kind of thing on the box but not in your local. Vicky also has a running gag which goes For those of you that watch the X factor this is a Violin and the opening to a gig is sometimes We are the people your mother told you about orWe are Delta Ladies, if you don’t like it we are going home at 11pm. There is a whiff of unconscious vaudeville about it I guess and maybe a distant echo of Laurel and Hardy.
I had to do something vaguely practical today, replacing an internal lithium cell on an old work station keyboard (Korg W1fd) which has been in faithful use on various recordings I have made since 1998. It still sounds good today even though its mid 90’s tech, the sound samples are very good. Last week it started showing a low battery warning light so a quick Google told me it needed the equivalent of the cmos cell replaced. So I opened it up and got it sorted in just under an hour. There were about 30 screws to undo before getting the base plate off but it only needs doing about once every 10 years or so. Its very heavy to shift though.
I also put a new glass on my wing mirror that got busted a couple of weeks back.
Then I had a go at at learning a bit of Ruby (another coding language used quite a bit on the web). A bit of piano practice and a bit of violin scraping as well. Yesterday (Tuesday) was spent in part at a band rehearsal which was pretty useful and I also tried out my new Electric Violin which should see service on the gig this Saturday all being well. In the evening we went to the Lytton Arms for a meal and to sort out some gig dates. A pint and a half of real ale and a relatively early night for a change (in bed by 12:30) though I did watch the box a bit.
North London â€“ thatâ€™s Crouch End, Haringey, Hornsey, Stroud Green and the surrounding area was once home to a thriving music & arts scene â€“ famous names from the arts who lived and worked in the area abound â€“ they include -The Kinks, Pete Brown of â€˜Sunshine of Your Loveâ€™ & Cream fame, Mick Kidd (Biff of the Guardian), Anthony Minghella, Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) Laurie Morgan (legendary Jazz drummer) , Tim Healy, Denise Welch, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth; Bob Dylan â€“ yes he resided in Crouch End for a while. In recent years some of the areaâ€™s best loved venues, theatre, cinemas and arts centres have gone â€“ recession, corporate Gastro Pubs and the like have taken over. A once thriving area feels like a cultural wasteland.
But not any more if entrepreneur Jonny Rogers has anything to do with it. Jonnyâ€™s vision of a community arts & music centre based in Stroud Green and serving North Londonâ€™s creative community is gathering momentum â€“ read on…
BRAND NEW START
A home for community arts and music in North London
With recession devastating the arts & music scene, a single individual has come up with an exciting plan to launch a creative complex within the community.
BRAND NEW START (BNS) envisages the realisation of an ongoing â€˜creative village lifeâ€™ in the heart of North London. BNS would enable a multifunction network channelling independent creative practice into the community and vice-versa. It would harness music, visual & performing arts, film-making, fashion, craft and other disciplines, with particular care taken to accommodate the disadvantaged. All this would be in the confines of a 10,000ftÂ² live-work complex.
BNS seeks thosewith an interest in this project, investors or donors, who possess material assets that they are willing to contribute. Financial investments will go into a co-operative fund held in trust to facilitate the instigation and day to day running of the centre.
At a time when one of North Londonâ€™s iconic buildings â€“ Church Studios in Crouch End is in imminent danger of conversion to flats â€“ BNS offers those with a vision a brand new oasis in the present cultural desert.
Jonny is an established successful Â professional antique & furniture restorer who specialises in prestige period property renovations. He has wide experience and connections with the local creative and charitable community and previous experience of involvement with creative premises. Further information on application to firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE PROJECT
BNS envisages offering space, support services and facilities to those believing in developing local creativity. Its core principleswould be justice, community, equal opportunity and creative expression, as well as creating a level playing-field for individuals coming from vulnerable or under-privileged circumstances and who are in a position to benefit dramatically from its services.With music as one of its core creative areas, BNS would provide stage, recording and rehearsal settings, as well as a touchstone for shared musical contact, dialogue and interaction.
BRAND NEW START will consist in self-sustaining and community-dependent artists, musicians, tradespersons and other people of relevant profession, who will occupy live-work space and help to run the continual flow of workshops and events that make up the BNS scheme.
THE SITE The project is presently is pitching for is a 10,000ftÂ², A1-status premises in Stroud Green, N4. This would be occupied by project contributors and sub-let to other artists. Work has been done to secure a series of pre-let guarantees for the property.
3 gigs this weekend one on Thursday at Cafe Rouge in Highgate that was mellow but good fun and we have been invited back in January if all go’s well. One up near Baldock which didn’t go quite so well as they normally have 80’s cover bands so a very retro duo was not quite up their street.
On Saturday night we were at one of our favorites, the Belle Vue in High Wycombe with full band. It was a very lively night and good fun.
The live sound of the band has mellowed somewhat though its actually more energetic, and we had some very complimentary comments from the punters who are mad enough to comeback each time we are there, and so must be real gluttons for punishment. It was pretty much a party atmosphere as everyones really getting into the mood for Christmas and the band was in a somewhat joccular mood too
I record most gigs on a small pocket recorder to get a real ldea of what we sound like, thats very revealing too, sometimes when you listen back its good news and sometimes its awfull! Last nights was mostly pretty good. We put audio clips from the live stuff on the website now. We used to do a lot of video, but its impractical in a lot of places, though we should really get some new stuff done for publicity purposes.
I haven’t been working on writing solo stuffÂ though as I have been doing a lot of studying and practice and I have felt rather uninspired. Some stuff just never seems to sink in. Also I am not a big fan of Christmas though as a child I really enjoyed it a lot. New Years Eve is always a good feeling though and I try to look back at the good things that have happened though the year.