Category Archives: music

Share Something Every Day – Music/Performance

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I put today’s gig in the book late in November 2019. Just after a holiday in Iceland, my last flight and last trip out of the country. It came out of one of those random conversations on Twitter – someone said something like “do I know anyone who’s a busker?” to which friends of friends said “@lloyddavis” and we took it from there.

It was scheduled for 17 April 2020. And rescheduled on 24 March for 1 October 2020. If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans.

But today, having stuck a tickling stick up my nose and getting the all clear, masking up and braving the (delayed, natch) trains of the Southern Region, I toddled off to the coast to entertain the folk while they queued up to get into the Brighton Centre for the brightonseo conference.

I had a coffee afterwards with my old pal Al Robertson (who turned out to be a delegate at the conference) and then had a little walk around post-COVID Brighton, had a quick lunch and then toddled home again, tired, but happy.

A few things.

I had to take a lateral flow test and be able to show a negative result this morning in order to get a wrist band that let me into the building. I don’t mind doing this – especially since it turned out negative… – but it’s not a great thing to have to do at 10pm, let alone with the prospect hanging over you of it being positive and so not only losing the gig, but also having to isolate and worry about who I’ve been in contact with in the last few days. But also, it’s incredibly fake-able, if you really want to – you do a test at home, fill in a form to report the result and then get a text from the government saying yes, you’ve reported a negative result. So if you’re on a very low income and the opportunity to work comes up for the first time in 18 months and you haven’t ever had any symptoms but you get a positive test, the pressure must be huge to just go “nah, I’ll report it as negative, no-one will know.”

I’m really out of practice in the social niceties of going somewhere else. Partly because I wasn’t sure until 10 o’clock last night that I’d be going, but also because I just haven’t been anywhere on this basis (a little bit of work that might have been nicely rounded out by seeing some friends). In the olden days, I’d have been open about it on social media and messaged the people I know in Brighton (probably all of both the Sussexes) to see if we could say hello, but it just didn’t occur to me until this morning.

I’m also out of practice with being fully prepped for a public gig. I need to have a good sign and a range of ways for people to tip that don’t involve cash which people just aren’t carrying around any more. I need to have plenty of water and give a bit more thought to repertoire – I’ve got a standard busking set, but ordinarily I just, um, busk it – ie I don’t worry too much about repeating songs or starting in the wrong key, none of which is terrible, but it puts me off my stride, reduces my confidence and what people want to see is cheerful confidence. And I need to think a bit more about what to wear – today was the nightmare, British cold misty day after a few days of hot sunshine in September, the weather when I left home was different from the weather when I started playing which had brightened up a bit by the time I stopped playing.

But mainly – It’s bloody great to be out performing again. I just stood outside the main entrance to the Brighton Centre and played and sang and made people laugh and helped them feel a bit more OK about going out to something like this, perhaps for the first time in a few months. I really hope that this isn’t an awful super-spreader event that I should, with hindsight, have known not to support, but it felt good to be out being me in the world after so long. Oh and invoice!

Crazy mixed up kid

Finally got round to uploading my muxtape. All are taken either from vinyl or from tape. None have been digitally remastered or messed about with in any way.

You won’t like it. I’ve spent my whole life thinking that sooner or later I’ll get into whatever music everyone else is into. Just realising though that it ain’t going to happen. This is the stuff that’s usually going round in my head when I’m talking to you, just so as you know….

Here’s some hand scrawled sleeve notes:

Temperance Seven – Chili Bom Bom
Must get a cardboard megaphone for busking with, although I suppose I’d have to attach it with elastic around the back of my head or something. Sometimes when I’m feeling very sick, my singing along to this morphs into a Jake Thackray impersonation. Wrong, but strangely right.

Benny Goodman – Ain’tcha Glad
I don’t know what it is about this one, I think it’s the corny lyric – “life is just a melody, in perfect harmony…” and singing style. Plus some hot Goodman hickory stick.

Ella Fitzgerald – Lady Be Good
Bang, into the fifties for the most modern sounding one on the tape! This is from a whole album of Ella doing be-bop scat numbers, some are a bit weird, but I like the bounce in this one.

Ray Foxley – Fudge No Rice
I miss Raymond a lot and this is my favourite of his compositions. He gave me enormous encouragement when I was a kid to get into the music. The last time I saw him before he died was at The 100 Club in about 2001 and he asked me if I was still singing. I said no, I wasn’t and he looked so disappointed and said “What a bloody waste.” I’m trying to make it up to him now.

Billie Holiday – Dream of Life
Life *is* sublime.

Bing Crosby – You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby
This is more polished than his earliest Rhythm Boys crooning, but swings along beautifully and I love the verse.

Bessie Smith – After You’ve Gone
Knockout raw blues power in a Tin Pan Alley song (another lovely verse).

Zenith Hot Stompers – Someday Sweetheart
This is the band my dad played with for many years, but this was recorded many years before he joined them. 1966 to be precise – Tony Pipkin’s on trumpet with some belting tuba from Phil Matthews.

Me with Michael Law – When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful
The last time I was in a recording studio, probably 1988, which makes me feel ancient – one of the tracks on a demo tape. Really should do some more, I’m glad I’m singing again, but when I busk I do have to sing loudly – it’s much nicer when you can get right up close and whisper.

Uke News

Long-time readers here will have been aware of my plunking and warbling, but I’ve only recently been coming out of the ukulele closet more widely.

My seesmic fun has been well-received but before all that started, I did an audition for a busking licence on London Underground and yesterday, I heard that I passed 🙂

I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, so I just wanted to warn those who are uke-averse that shortly (just waiting for my police check) you won’t even be able to escape by going underground…

Café Audioscrobbled

So here’s an idea for members or regulars at the London Social Media CafĂ©.

You make LSMC a friend of yours on last.fm. When you come in, you swipe your card so our central electronic brain knows that you’re there. From here you’re in a group and the sound system plays radio from last.fm based on type of music favoured by the group of people who are in the house today.

Does last.fm work like that? I’ve never been able to listen to music and do computer based work at the same time, so it’s kind of passed me by.

Professional Crap Sifters

sep 07 049It seems that London’s opera critics think that Sally Potter’s Carmen is, well, a bit crap. I can’t comment, I haven’t seen it yet – but I still love the blogging and videoblogging over on the ENO’s mini-site. A couple of the critics have been a bit sneery about the whole 2.0 angle on this but I think they’re missing the point – the show may be gimmicky (err.. I don’t think opera folk call it a show, but you know what I mean) but the blog isn’t – I really think it’s taken a big step in a new direction for the Arts, opening up the creative process and the backstage, as the production progressed, rather than filming a fly-on-the-wall and then stitching it all together later. This shows up “what *were* they thinking?” as lazy rhetoric – you could have seen what they were thinking by following the site. The real question for the critics is “if they’ve been talking about what they’re going to do for so long and in such detail, why did the bits you don’t like in the production come as such a surprise to you?” and why weren’t you writing something about it back then?

I really hope that the ENO has the courage to keep that material up and to carry on with this experiment now and into future – it adds a layer of interestingness before you see the show as well as afterwards – it’s icing on the cake. As I say I haven’t seen the show, so I don’t know if this is an occasion to peel the icing off and give the cake to the dog or whether this is professional critics talking out of their arses again. Now is the time for the Carmen folk to get the conversation really going – fight back or surrender, doesn’t matter which, but say something.

The thing is that critics are part of the problem with opening up performance to a wider audience. The good news is that their power is diminishing as we gain the opportunity to hear people we know and trust talk about what they like and don’t like. I much prefer getting recommendations from my friends and I look forward to seeing some ordinary people’s reaction to Carmen, people who don’t have any prejudice against ENO and don’t already have a fixed opinion about how this opera needs to be done in London today.

I went to a C4 Education screening last night entitled “TV is dead?” My answer – read my blog (two years ago! – funnily enough about the same time as I started thinking about blogging for theatre) The bit in the programme where, if I’d been at home, I’d have been shouting at the telly, was when someone from the Beeb trotted out the old line that in future, as media professionals, they would be the people that we could trust to sift out the crap. NO, BBC, STOP! I don’t want your opinion on what’s crap and what’s not, I want you to make excellent programmes that no one else can make. More “Dr Who”, “Comics Britannia”, “Windscale”, “The Mighty Boosh” (oh God! *More* Storyville, not less!!!!) and fewer animals stuck up trees and celebrities who can’t tap dance.

Phew!

I really liked that younger people were included in the debate in a fairly unpatronising way, though friends and other regular readers know what I think of panel sessions.

Missing from last night was any recognition that the internet is about social interaction not content delivery (just like TV has always been) and so you should be concentrating on making stuff that people want to interact around rather than worrying about how they get it and whether everyone’s paid exactly the right money (whole other rant on that one – tell us straight – how much money gets spent on protecting rights? – how much more or less is it than the amount of money you currently lose to “piracy” – how much more money might you actually make if you weren’t so tight arsed about it all – *hint* watch Radiohead very carefully)

Also missing was any glimmer of understanding that advertising might not work any more. The real question here is “TV Advertising is Dead?” And it comes in two parts – 1. People don’t want to be interrupted or fed commercial information any more, they want it self-service and 2. The current advertising sales model is based on pulling the wool over the eyes of advertisers with extrapolations from sample audiences – what happens when you (and they) start to get real audience numbers in real time based on actual attention data from your viewers/subscribers in a form that makes comparison with other online media forms more like-for-like?

ENO getting it spot on for Carmen

I just love the Carmen blog from the English National Opera.

It’s exactly what I was talking about here

Well done to the folk at interesource who got it going, but super well done to the ENO people who seem to have taken to it as naturally as I’d hoped. I was really grateful to get to talk to John Berry a few weeks ago and hear his take – I came away understanding that ENO was an obvious place to do this – democratisation of access to opera is one of their cornerstones. We also talked about ‘bootstrapping’ online and offline relationships and I thought I saw a small lightbulb go on.

There’s a ton of cool video on the site – perhaps too many talking heads (but who am I to talk!) but some fantastic music and behind the scenes action. Go look.

I think it’s a great example of post-geek bloggery – as I’ve been saying for a while, make your own fly-on-the-wall documentary of what you’re doing rather than getting a crew in to follow you around and then stitch you up after the event.

When I’ve pitched this idea to other people, the perceived barriers have been (lack of) editorial control and shining the light on the creative process too early. I don’t know what the process has been for creating content here, but I can’t imagine that Sally Potter has had to get her blog approved by a committee every time she writes.

One suggestion – a more obvious place to find CC-licenced images for bloggers to use to illustrate their posts about you 🙂

You made me love you when I saw your thighs

macro 012…is the alternative rendition of this little beauty (660kb 0:42) but here is a one chorus blast of the original.

Not directed at anyone in particular (no, I haven’t been making any girls cry) just the first thing that popped into my head when I picked up my ukulele for a late afternoon recording session and dedicated to anyone whose ever had tears in their eyes.

Cartoon sticker on my computer by Hugh Macleod