Thursday, 30 September 2010

Vida´s Cakes

To the untrained eye this might look like a cat but really it´s a cake.
My sister in law makes them

Denis/Knispel/Lawson-go forth

If you don´t count the live CD Nonstop with guests Alain Piñero and Markus Bruess this is the forth album by Denis/Knispel/Lawson..hence the title.
Probably our most mellow recording to date..not that I will be sending my Grandmother a copy!


One saturday afew years ago I was browsing through the racks of my favorite record shop Discos Pat in Malaga when I came across an odd looking CD by a band called Snakegrinder..and the shredded fieldmice.
It was on a label I later discovered that was notorious for pirating obscure albums without telling or paying the bands involved.I took a chance and bought it and was blown away the first time I put it on the CD player.
They sounded like a  funky cross between the grateful dead (circa 1970) and little feat in a pastoral,back to the land way.With titles like Nothing´s very easy when your baby´s in the lake they obviously had a sense of humour as well.
I managed to contact bassist Steve Roberts who very generously sent me some more CD´s of their unreleased stuff and some great live tapes from the mid-70´s.After Snakegrinder he helped form Dick Uranus,a truely warped and wonderful outfit.
More info on them here.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Spain´s greatest record shop

A few years ago I was in the centre of Malaga heading towards the bus station when I spied a small record shop I hadn´t noticed before.Having  some time to kill I went inside to check it out.It was tiny but filled to the ceiling with great stuff..60´s and 70´s prog and psyche,free jazz and plenty other stuff I like.I started chatting to the guy who ran the place,a friendly bloke called Fran and I left with a couple of Sun Ra CDs and a new friend.
Since then I have bought many more CDs and expanded my knowledge of weird and wonderful sounds thanks to Francisco.On plenty of occasions I have picked up a CD I have never heard off and asked him if I would like it and if he says yes I buy it without listening to it until I get home.I always like the stuff I´s hard not to in such a cool place.
Whenever I put out a new CD I take two copies into Discos for Francisco and one for Miguel,another regular.I joke about them being my fan club.It´s also thanks to Fran that I met my bandmates Javier Denis and Joel Knispel.Javier is another regular who buys a lot of vintage jazz from Discos Pat and Joel is a friend of one of the guys in an obscure US band whose album I came across there.
If you are ever in the centre of Malaga pop in and say hello to Fran..he´s right across from the big indoor market and round the corner from my favorite cafe El Tren.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

New C.D. Blue Smoke

Just finished the latest CD Blue Smoke.It is more jazzy than usual and has two long tracks just like the last one Local Sounds.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

On being prolific

Since starting Tinytapes as a cassette label in the early 90´s I have put out nearly 180 releases on tape and CDr.On average I record and put out one CD a week often playing all the instruments myself and producing the artwork as well.
I don´t see it as work because I enjoy it so much and feel I am getting better at it all the time.When I reach the 200 mark I might have a small party with my musician friends to celebrate.
A lot of the musicians I admire were/are very prolific : Frank zappa,Sun Ra,Grateful Dead.They made a point of recording themselves and archiving their performances for future use.I find it odd when I come across musicians who don´t record their gigs or rehearsals.Evey gig I play I record on my minidisc..the sound quality can vary depending on the venue but at least I have a record of the event.
I am lucky to have a website run by Scott Heller of the band Oresund Space Collective which keeps track of my output.I send Scott a copy of each CD as soon it is done and he posts it on the site along with the artwork,line up and notes.he does a great job and keeps me motivated to keep producing more.

Inside La Noria studios

Just in case anyone thinks that recording studios are snazzy hi-tech places heres a quick tour of mine.
I call it La Noria after our house which is in the middle of nowhere..pretty cool for making lots of noise without bothering any neighbours.
This is an early picture..not that it looks any better now.My Zoom 1266 is on the left with my fender amp and cheap yahama keyboard behing the chair.You can see my epiphone les paul,Tele and acoustic (just about).
This room isn´t very big..I have moved my drums next door so I can leave them set up all the time and I only have to run a couple of mics through there for recording.
When I have people over to record we all set up in the living room next door and I tend to try and mike us all using four or five mics.there is a lot of leakage and it never sounds too slick..with my gear slick isn´t an option!
Sometimes in the summer I leave the windows open so you can hear birds,goats and barking dogs on a lot of my CDs..I never edit them out it just adds to the rustic character!

The perfect nap

I read somewhere a while ago that the perfect afternoon nap should be along the following lines;
First make yourself a cup of coffee
drink it (or course!)
Find a comfortable armchair and stool/seat to rest your feet on
Close curtains/put on some background music*
fall asleep until the caffeine hits your system (about 20 to 25 minutes)
and wakes you up.
works for me!

*Jazz or light classical i.e. eric satie.

My dream house

My Guitars ·no.2 Daion acoustic guitar

Not long after I switched from a Strat to a Tele I bought myself a new acoustic guitar.It was a Pilgrim electro-acoustic with a plastic ovation rounded back and a single cutaway.I had only had it for a couple of months when I spotted this Daion acoustic in a music shop in Trowbridge,Wiltshire.It was love at first sight and I had to have it.I offred them a straight swap for the Pilgrim and they nearly bit my hand off!
I have no regrets as I never really got on with ovation style guitars and the Daion is much more classy looking and sounding.
At the time I was getting into open tunings and slide guitar which the Daion is good for.Later in my avante-guitar phase I used to tune it really low with the low E down to a G as a drone which sounded great like a double bass.It was this tuning (GGDGAE) I used on the studio album ´Never rude to a Fox ´.
The second time I went to the U.S. to play in a country and western band I took the Daion and it was badly damaged by the time I reach Vegas.It took a lot of work to fix the large body cracks and lifted bridge and it changed the tone somewhat.
I don´t really use it that much now..sometimes for an acoustic intro on a track or as a rhythm guitar.It features a lot on my early solo live CDs played through my yahama amp and digital delay.

My Guitars ·no.1-Tokai Breezysound Telecaster

I bought this Tele in the late 80´s in a music shop in Bath.I had been playing a 72 strat for a long time but wanted to switch to a Tele.A friend of mine worked in the music shop demonstrating keyboards so he got me a good deal.At the time Tokais were not that could pick them up pretty cheap compared to Fenders .
Mine had a plain wood finish for a long time until I left it with a friend of mine when I first went to the states.He sprayed it silver..strings and all!It looked awful so I sprayed it blue which it remains to this day.
I have lost count of the gigs I have played with my Tele; Punk bands,Folk,improv and it has been lent to loads of people as a backup guitar.It´s a real workhorse.


another pic of us in action
L to R Joel Knispel,Alain Piñero,Rob Lawson,Javier Denis,Markus Bruess

Denis/knispel/lawson/breuss/piñero non stop live at Casa Invisible

For the past three years Casa Invisible in Malaga has run an improvised music festival.There are performances,talks and workshops and people come from all over the world to attend and play.
This year we were the opening act on the friday night.Javier Denis,Joel Knispel and myself have been playing and recodring together for a while and on this date we were joined by Markus Bruess on trumpet and Alain Piñero on warr guitar (kind of like a chapman stick).
I turned up without any drums and Joel didn´t bring his amp so we were at the mercy of whatever the Casa invisible guys could russle up.Thanks to Javier Carmona I had some good cymbals to go with the battered in house drumkit and one of the other guys was happy to loan Joel and amp.
Just before we started I told the other guys we should play one long piece and really go for it-full on!
which we did big time.By about ten minutes in I was knackered and my fingers were already blistered.Markus really got into the spirit of things running around the stage and into the crowd blasting away.
towards the end Joel laid down a loop of sorts using a coltrane chord progression he is rather fond of.
listening back it sounds great..we were playing as a team without tripping over each other.

áfterwards we went for a drink at a nearby bar and a load of Policemen turned up outside the venue claming they didn´t have permission for the festival.Too late it was already happening!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Noah Howard

In the week or so since he died I have been listening to a lot of Noah Howard.I hadn´t heard of him prior to reading his obiturary in the Guardian so I googled his name and a bunch of stuff came up.First was live at Judson hall which came out on ESP which I like a lot..two long tracks one of which is a tribute to John Coltrane.
Howard seems to have suffered being compared to Coltrane and Ayler but I think he had his own sound not as full on as Coltrane or as shrill as Ayler.At times he is pretty straight ahead dropping in quotes from Greensleeves at one point and some pretty lines here and there.
Other albums by him: Space Dimension,Patterns,Message to South Africa,Traffic and live in Europe vol 1.
It´s a great shame that it took someone this cool to die for me to notice him..I would rather be reading an album review than an obiturary.