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Thursday 17 April 2019 – Essex Easter Jazz Day 4

After a final rehearsal of Thing Of Gold (I had a 3 page score to follow of mostly chords) we spent the morning with the guitar tutor Nigel Price looking at various topics including 2516 arpeggios in the 5th position, adding b9 to dominant 7th arpeggios, triads and 11th chords. The rest of the day (until we broke for an evening meal) was spent with the band and we rehearsed our two tunes for the concert, namely On Green Dolphin Street and Thieves In The Temple

Later that day: Mick, Angie, Jo, Ben and I went to Prezzo for dinner after which we strolled down the street to Bardswell and got ready for the evening concert. My band were scheduled to play last (before the Thing Of Gold finale) so I had plenty of time to watch the other acts and get ready. Our band played the intricate arrangements of our two tunes very well. I was pleased with my solo in On Green Dolphin Street bearing in mind a few years ago I would refuse to solo on this song at Interplay gigs – but less so with my solo on Thieves In The Temple which didn’t end quite like I had planned. I also MC’d for our band and I think I was one of the very few people that evening not reading the music from a piece of paper. All the students then performed Thing Of Gold, deafening both ourselves and the audience in the process. It was a great end to a great jazz course. 

Wednesday 16 April 2019 – Essex Easter Jazz Day 3

The day again started with an ensemble rehearsal of Snarky Puppy’s Thing Of Gold in which this time I played guitar, following a three page score. I followed the bass line on some sections and played some chords. The morning’s session with Nigel covered modes of the melodic minor, picking techniques such as ‘inside’ and economy picking. I recorded him playing an arpeggio example based on a ii-V-I-VI using what he called a 2 up 2 down approach (referring to notes plucked on each string). Click below to hear it. In the afternoon the band played through Song For My Father (including lydian b7 over the Db7 chord), On Green Dolphin Street and Mo’s Better Blues and we had Angie on vocals.


Tuesday 15 April 2019 – Essex Easter Jazz Day 2

The day started with an ensemble rehearsal of Snarky Puppy’s Thing Of Gold in which I played go-go bells. The morning’s session with Nigel covered phrasing, timing (playing ahead and behind the beat) and… In the afternoon our band played through Thieves In The Temple, How Sweet It Is and Always There.

Later that day: after an evening meal at Prezzo in Brentwood High Street a few us went down to Bardswell to watch some of the tutors playing. Marc (drums), Dominic (bass) and Alan (sax) were later joined by Nigel on guitar who had been playing earlier at Ronnie Scott’s. They also had a pianist, Gunter, who unfortunately was positioned with his back to me and obscuring my view of the guitarist. Nevertheless it was a very good gig and they finished with a very quick version of Billie’s Bounce. Click below to hear it. I reckon it finished at about 300 bpm.


Monday 15 April 2019 – Essex Easter Jazz Day 1

In the morning all the guitarists got together with tutor Nigel Price and we spent a couple of hours looking at… At lunchtime John, Ben, Mick and I went down to Rossi in Brentwood High Street for lunch. In the afternoon I joined our group where we played through Honeysuckle Rose (or Honey Suck My Nose as Nigel calls it), You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To and Scrapple From The Apple. In my group are Claire, Elliot and Robert on saxes, John on bass and Bill on drums. 

Sunday 14 April 2019 – Essex Easter Jazz Day introductory day

Today was a short one at the Brentwood School. After registering and meeting lots of people I know from various bands (including Rita, Angie, Jo, John, Mick, Gil, Annette, James, Richard, Jan, Hugh, Ben and Graham) I went into a large music room with approximately half the other students and proceeded to jam on a number of different tunes. As there were three guitarists we took it in turns. After quickly scoffing a peanut butter sandwich I borrowed a bass and played on the first tune, Freddie Freeloader, and then over the next hour or two played guitar (I had my Gibson 335 with me) on a few other tunes including Doxy, Fly Me To The Moon, Oleo and Sway. At one point I popped into the other music room and discovered that the group in there was jamming on Blue Bossa at the same time as we were in our room. Click here for a brief video. The afternoon was a good warm up for what was to come in the following few days and it was good to meet so many familiar, friendly faces including Tony and Marc who organised the event. 

Friday 12 April 2019 – Interplay rehearsal

Other than practising various tunes from the set list we worked on one new tune: I mean You (Thelonious Monk). I played the tune though in the final version, John will play the tune and I will play the opening four bar intro.

Thursday 11 April 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

Tonight’s guest on Desert Island Discs was our sound engineer, Mike. Altough most of his tunes were pop and rock songs the piece of music he would rescue was Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory. We didn’t do much else apart from practise Wish You Were Here with Martin playing the melody in response to mine.

Wednesday 10 April 2019 – DWJQ Rehearsal

We had a good rehearsal working on a few things that didn’t go as well as hoped at the previous gig. We then worked on three new tunes which all sounded go though will not all make it into the next set list. These were The Sidewinder, Filthy McNasty and Triste. The next gig at The Three Elms is on Wednesday 24th April.

Earlier that day: Gil came round for a practise and we worked on his jam tunes (Impressions, Blues For Alice and One Note Samba)and also a few from the Easter Jazz course (Scrapple From The Apple and You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To)

Monday 8 April 2019 – Monday Guitar Group

After tuning up I showed everyone how to practise finger rolls (playing consecutive notes on adjacent strings) and then we strummed C E7 Am G as a warm up. We did this as open chords, barre chords and triads. Before the break I showed them how to play the riff from Bad Guy (the current no. 2 in the charts by Billie Eilish) and also the melody which appears half way through the record. We finished the evening playing the intro and verse chords of You Do Something To Me (Paul Weller), and they each played a solo over the chords.

Earlier that day: at Mick’s we went through the three jazz jam tunes we are going to perform (Doxy, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise and Satin Doll) and then played once through each of the Easter Jazz tunes.

Friday 5 April 2019 – Benslow Music, Release Your Voice course

I’ve been to Benslow many times to attend music courses but this was the first time on a vocal course. The tutor Barbara Alden has some interesting approaches to singing, in some cases refuting the traditional but also sticking to classical style. I certainly gained a much greater understanding of breathing and articulation as well as techniques for practising at home. Here’s a short video of me doing my best not to move my chin. When I get a chance I will sit at my piano, play some arpeggios and see if I can push my range gradually higher (and lower) – but only after warming up with a few zee-zee-zee-va-va-va type vocal utterances.

I’m not going to become a singer in the near future but I have always felt that connecting what you hear with your voice helps when improvising on one’s instrument. I will also listen to singers differently from now on. I met plenty of other people on the course (and on other courses taking place this weekend) and they all had their own reasons for being here. There was even a jazz group weekend led by Jeffery Wilson – I was sorely tempted to go and watch them or even join in if possible but I decided to remain focused on the vocal techniques. I did tend to look at the clock more often than I usually do on courses possibly because I wasn’t so interested in the choral singing aspect. Having said that, it has shown me that my vocal sight reading is not great and that it would benefit from me joining a choir. If only I had another spare evening during the week. The session ended on Sunday afternoon after an hour of singing a variety of tunes such as a Zulu folk song, a Purcell composition and a Russian slave song.

Thursday 4 April 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

No Jo today and no gigs for a couple of weeks so we relaxed and chatted about a few things including the process by which songs are chosen for the band to arrange and perform. We then strummed through Wish You Were Here in a slowish reggae style to finish off the evening.

Monday 1 April 2019 – Monday Guitar Group

We warmed up on the D major scale and then I mentioned how a major scale is made up of two tetrachords (Lydian tetrachords) and that it can make it easier to play across the fretboard. We then played the intro to The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore in tribute to Scott Walker who died recently. We changed its key to G and harmonised the melody. I mentioned how it is based on the thirds of the chords. After the break we started on a new tune, You Do Something To Me (Paul Weller) and worked out the intro and verse and I gave everyone a chance to solo over the verse chords using the E minor pentatonic scale.

Earlier that day: Mick, Graham and I went through the three tunes we have chosen for the next jam session namely Doxy, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise and Satin Doll. We then resumed work on Easter Jazz tunes including On Green Dolphin Street and How Sweet It Is.

Sunday 31 March 2019 – Essex Easter Jazz session

Annette, James, John and Rita came round for a run through some of the Easter Jazz tunes. We started with two we hadn’t done before (Song For My Father and Always There) and then the rest of the tunes except Thing Of Gold. These were Scrapple From The Apple, You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, Mo Better Blues, On Green Dolphin Street, Honeysuckle Rose, Thieves In The Temple and How Sweet It Is.

Saturday 30 March 2019 – D’Ukes, White Hart, Grays

We play here three times per year and this had to be the most raucous of the lot. The first set mainly gave us a chance to play newly introduced tunes such as Everybody Hurts, Ginny Come Lately, Livin’ Thing and The Scientist. However it was the second set that got everyone up and dancing and singing along – here is a short video of us playing Angels. We had lots of compliments afterwards, some saying it was absolutely fantastic and the one of the best gigs they had ever been to.

Friday 29 March 2019 – Interplay rehearsal

No gig in the near future so we just ran through tunes from the set we played at the recent Railway Hotel gig. We also concentrated on The Chant (Victor Feldman) which definitely needs a bit more work before it is gig-ready.

Thursday 28 March 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

We started the evening with Desert Island Discs and this time I was the guest. Each band member in turn asked me a question and I think most of the session was spent dwelling on my childhood, love of music and interest in electronics. Eventually it touched on my later music career and ended with my choices for a luxury item (a Gibson L5-CES guitar), a book (Encyclopedia Britannica) and the record that I would rescue (Survival by Osibisa). On Saturday we’re playing at the White Hart, Grays, so we rehearsed three tunes that we will include in the set for the first time: Margaritaville, Everybody Hurts and Son of a Preacher Man. We then worked on Black Horse and the Cherry Tree for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday 27 March 2019 – busy day

Gil came round for a guitar duo session in the morning. We played through Impressions, Blues For Alice, One Note Samba, The Right Time, Body and Soul and Giant Steps.

In the afternoon: I drove down to Southend for the fortnightly HOFS session. We played four Kenny Dorham tunes (Prince Albert, Blue Bossa, Straight Ahead and Una Mas), plus I Could Write A Book and Stella By Starlight as a bossa. As I was at the end of a long line of sax players I was the last person to solo on each tune (before the rhythm section) and had plenty of time to figure out some ideas as to what to play. I was actually very pleased with what I played this afternoon – much more than usual!

In the evening: It was the first evening with food on offer and, under new management, the Three Elms managed to attract quite a few people tonight and we (DWJQ) also dragged a few friends along. We had a bit less room in the performance area than usual due to the additional furniture which made it a bit harder for me to signal to the others when I felt like it. We managed to get through the set with only a couple of shakey moments, mainly due to lack of a recent rehearsal, and overall we went down well. The pub is happy to have us back on a regular basis and might be able to offer us one or two beer festivals gigs as well. It was good to see so many people enjoying the music, the food and the newly refurbished toilets.

Tuesday 26 March 2019 – session with Guitars Galore

After performing Angels (by Robbie Williams), the song that I had asked the all female Guitars Galore to learn at the previous session, I did my best to explain how to play off-beat rhythm guitar (involving ‘chucking’) that would be suitable for strumming songs such as The Tide Is High and Red, Red Wine. The trickier method involved relaxing the chord playing fingers of the left hand and dampening the strings with the right hand (to create the chucking sound) followed by an upstrum on the offbeat. The easier version used just the right hand to dampen and strum the strings. The rest of the evening was spent showing them how to play Hallelujah using a pimama picking technique.

Monday 25 March 2019 – practice with Mick and Graham

We went through a few Easter Jazz tunes including On Green Dolphin Street, Always There, Scrapple From The Apple and Mo’s Better Blues.

Later that day: I scooted down the A130 to Southend in the evening to play with Ron Spack and his band. Malcolm was on sax, Ron on bass (acoustic guitar bass this time) and John (whom I hadn’t played with before) was the drummer. Because the football was on in the main bar we played in the restaurant but due to the table arrangement we had to play in a straight line along the wall, namely drums, guitar, sax, bass. A bit of a strange order but it worked ok and the sound was good because of the deader atmosphere of the room compared to the lively bar. The room was quite busy with punters and the music was appreciated with each solo getting a round of applause. We started with You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To and finished with a tune I hadn’t played before called The Goof And I, a tune based on rhythm changes normally performed by big bands.

Saturday 23 March 2019 – Walk on the South Downs

I met up with a friend, Fiona, in Lewes and we went for a walk over the Sussex downs. We walked out of the town, up past the golf club and onto the downs. The steepest section was across Mount Caburn, site of an iron age hillfort, and then down to Glyndebourne, home to the well known opera concerts. We continued along the road to the village of Glynde passing Glynde Place where the jazz festival, A Love Supreme, is held each year. We had a look around the unusually square shaped parish church of St Mary the Virgin, built in the Palladian style, before heading to the tea shop. Fortunately it was still open so we had a pot of tea and some Bakewell tarts before walking back to Lewes via Mount Caburn.

Thursday 21 March 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

We started with John’s Deset Island Discs and then worked on the following tunes: Livin’ Thing (the intro), The Scientist, You Can’t Hurry Love (the break), Margaritaville, Everybody Hurts, Son of a Preacher Man, Wish You Were Here, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree and Break My Stride.

Tuesday 19 March 2019 – TNG Session

The band are looking at some new tunes so I came along to help them work out and learn the guitar parts to Linger (The Cranberries) and Wherever You Will Go (The Calling). They started with Bad Moon Rising (CCR) and I showed them a couple of ways of playing the basic chords differently. 

Monday 18 March 2019 – Monday Guitar Group

We warmed up on the chords C G Am F (based on Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi) and played a two note arpeggio line over it. Then, in tribute to Dick Dale who died recently, I showed them the hijaz kar scale in E how to play his version of Miserlou (only the opening melody). After the break we chatted about songs we have been working on recently and then we had a strum through I Hear You Knocking (Dave Edmunds).

Earlier that day: DWJQ got together to play through some tunes (just for the fun of it) such as Stompin’ At The Savoy, Triste and On Green Dolphin Street. We also worked a bit more on Silver’s Serenade which we are planning to play at the next gig.

Even earlier that day: Graham, Mick and I got together to work on some of the Easter Jazz tunes including On Green Dolphin Street, Always There and Thieves In The Temple.

Sunday 17 March 2019 – Jazz Jam Session, Black Bull, Chelmsford

I arrived an hour or so ahead of time in order to set up the PA system and my guitar and amplifier. I placed the flipchart against the wall – on it I had written out the list of 18 tunes, the leader of each song and a space for everyone to put their name down if they wanted to jam on a particular song. By 4pm the place was busy with musicians and people who had just come along to watch and listen. DWJQ started with a short version of Tenor Madness and then we began the jam session with This Can’t Be Love led by Tony. I was on M.C. duties again and introduced each song, announced who was leading on it and who was going to take solo; and if there was a delay while people were setting up I would make a silly or informative comment depending on my mood (“the fire door is on the right but if there is a fire could you let the band get out of the building first please”). As well as DWJQ members there were two guitarists (Ian and Gil), several alto players (Nikki, Graham, Mick, Stephanie), a few tenor players (Richard, Hugh, Val), a soprano sax (Jan) and two singers (Angie and Nicole). There were no bass players or drummers apart from John and Mick in the house band so they got to play for the entire afternoon with only one break. I played guitar on a few tunes (Triste, Cantaloupe Island, Honeysuckle Rose) but as I was concentrating on the M.C. job and conducting the soloists I left most of the guitar playing to Gil and Ian. Maybe I will play more next time. The event ended just after 7pm with a rousing version of Watermelon Man followed by the usual clearing up operation and home by 8pm.

Saturday 16 March 2019 – D’Ukes, White Swan, Pimlico

We arrived after a reasonably quick journey across London to find the rugby on the pub’s TV system and about a hundred people shouting at it whenever tries were scored. Eventually things calmed down and we were able to set up. The audiences in London pubs are so much more cosmopolitan than Essex ones and enjoyed us from the start. I did quite a bit of wandering around the audience as I played, much to their amusement, and the smartphones came out to take videos that they will never look at again. Comfortably Numb got a huge cheer at the end as did many of the later songs as we gradually whipped up the audience into a state of not-quite-frenzy. I stated over the mic that the challenge was to get people up and dancing and eventually a couple of guys from Bedford did, and we succeeded in persuading a couple of dozen people to follow us as we walked out of one door, down the street and back in the other door while play These Boots Are Made For Walking. As alkways we finished with Duelling Banjos, which they loved, and New York, New York to which almost the entire pub got up, formed a circle and kicked their legs out in time to the music. I did so much shouting and singing along that night that my voice was hoarse on the way home. 

Friday 15 March 2019 – D’Ukes, Book Reading, Wivenhoe

We had been invited to perform briefly at a book reading event at the British Legion. Finding the place was the first challenge but once we had managed to locate it and park outside we took the gear in and set up on a small stage in front of rows and rows of tables and chairs. Fairly soon it started filling up and I chatted with audience, explaining that we were just sound checking before the first poetry reading. We didn’t have our usual PA system with us so I was just playing and talking through my AER amplifier. The first poet didn’t turn up so we went on first and played for just half an hour. The audience seemed to really enjoy it although there were a couple at the front who perhaps wanted to put their fingers in the ears. Once we had finished we went and stood at the back of the room while Alex Toms read poems and extracts from her books and then during the break we packed up quickly and went home.

Thursday 14 March 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

We started with another episode of Desert Island Discs: today I interviewed Jo and listened to her choice of eight tunes and a brief summary of her life story. Tunes rehearsed today included Sorrow, The Scientist, Margaritaville, Everybody Hurts, and Son Of A Preacher Man. We didn’t play Wish You Were Here but I will remember to suggest it next week.

Wednesday 13 March 2019 – Interplay, Railway Hotel, Southend

I’ve lost count of the number of times we have played here – probably over 50 – but I was pleased to see a lot more people here than there have been at recent gigs. They had even placed some tables and chairs in front of us in a jazz club style and these started to fill up. We went down well and I enjoyed it more than usual, probably because I was happier with what I was playing – but is a musician ever truly happy with their performance. Happier perhaps, happy perhaps not. I received a few nice compliments afterwards including one chap who was convinced I was ‘having a bit of fun’ during Summertime when I played a flamenco style lick. 

Sunday 10 March 2019 – walking trip, Yorkshire

Every now and again I book a small cottage in Yorkshire, take my guitar, walking gear and plenty of food and wine and generally indulge myself. This time I picked a converted barn a few miles south of Masham and found myself driving through a snow storm to get here while crossing Ilkley Moor. The barn is in the grounds of a large house owned by a couple who beforehand had warned me that their band rehearses on Sunday afternoons. When I arrived I popped my head in to the rehearsal room to say sorry for disturbing you but I am here. They didn’t seem especially interested in the fact that I was a guitarist and to be frank, the basic one-bar riffing rock music they were playing wouldn’t have interested me for too long. The following day it was clear and sunny, if a little windy, and I hiked along the river Ure to Masham where I had lunch at probably my favourite cafe in Yorkshire, Johnny Baghdad’s. The walk back took me past Swinton Hall and through Azerley Park, with a brief stop for a cup of tea in Grewelthorpe, and finally back to my little barn where I was greeted back by a dozen of the owner’s chickens.

Saturday 9 March 2019 – Southend Jazz Co-operative, Leigh On Sea

I have played with these guys on occasion including at HOFS so it was nice to be able to sit in the audience and listen for a change. John conducted and filled in for the ailing trumpet player, Graham, on a couple of tunes. During the interval I went into their green room had a chat with a few of them. They hadn’t realised I was in the audience (sometimes that’s a good thing) and were pleased to see me. I mentioned the jazz jam session coming up on Sunday week and a few of them seemed very interested in coming along. They finished the evening with Caravan and everyone went home, I presume, reasonably happy.

Friday 8 March 2019 – Interplay rehearsal

All four of us were present today so we went through all the heads of tunes we are going to play at the Railway Hotel next Wednesday.  

Thursday 7 March 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

As a warm up we played and sung through Wish You Were Here in a reggae style then, as part of our own Desert Island Discs series, I interviewed Martin about his life and choice of music. We then worked on a few tunes that didn’t go quite as planned at the last gig (including One Day Like This, Sorrow, The Scientist, Brown Eyed Girl and Livin’ Thing) and then we worked on new tunes (Margaritaville, Everybody Hurts and Son Of A Preacher Man).

Wednesday 6 March 2019 – Jazz Jam practice session

Most of today was spent working on tunes we are playing either at the jazz jam or on the Easter Jazz course. In the morning, with Mick and John, we went through all the jazz jam tunes as a rhythm section. Gil came round in the afternoon to run through his tunes as well as to play a few others such as Ornithology and Oleo, and in the evening Angie came round and we played through her two jazz jam songs and some of those on the Easter Jazz course.

Monday 4 March 2019 – practice with Graham and Mick

We went through our three jazz jam tunes (Cantaloupe Island, Triste and Honeysuckle Rose) and then played a couple of Easter Jazz tunes (On Green Dolphin Street and Mo Better Blues)

Later that day: We started by discussing the recent death of Keith Flint. In conneection with this I demoed my Moog Prodigy synthesiser after which his band was named. Once everyone was ready to play some guitar we warmed up on the A major scale (5th position) and then played B to B, C to C etc and I explained how these were the modes (Dorian, Phrygian etc). We then strummed C G Dm Am followed by the opening triad chords of New Born (Muse). I then showed them the intro to Substitute (The Who) which is another example of triads. After the break we started on Live Forever (Oasis) and I showed them the triads over the chorus chords.

Sunday 3 March 2019 – Essex Easter Jazz session

Annette, James, John and Rita came round for a run through some of the Easter Jazz tunes. We started with the four from the previous session (Scrapple From The Apple, You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, Mo Better Blues and On Green Dolphin Street) and then looked at Honeysuckle Rose, Thieves In The Temple and How Sweet It Is.

Saturday 2 March 2019 – D’Ukes, The Lamb, Romford

I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this gig simply because the parking and loading in might be difficult but in the end, using John’s directions, we successfully parked in a back road and found a walking route into the rear of the pub. We set up in a corner of the pub, the barmaid switched on a swirling disco light and away we went. I must admit to hitting an inordinate number of wrong chords during the first set – all because I didn’t bother to practise through the songs in the afternoon to refresh my memory (let that be a lesson) – but I was pleased with my solos on both You Do Something To Me and Comfortably Numb. Quite a few people danced to songs in the second set and sang along with gusto and I quoted Alan Barnes’s joke: if I thought we’d be this good I would have asked for more money. We finished with the usual circle of punters, kicking their legs to New York, New York. To help with loading up the car I drove it round to the front of the pub, and parked in the large market place in front of the pub. We’ll be back on Star Wars day, May the fourth.

Friday 1 March 2019 – Interplay rehearsal

Getting ready for forthcoming gig at the Railway Hotel we worked through some of the tougher tunes such as Crisis and The Chant but also included Groovy Samba, Workout, Blues In The Closet and, to finish with, a new one: I Could Write A Book.

Thursday 28 February 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

We worked on new tunes Ginny Come LatelyMargaritaville, SorrowThe Scientist and Everybody Hurts and the guest tonight on our Desert Island Discs was Brian.

Wednesday 27 February 2019 – HOFS session

About ten of us got together at Hadleigh Old Fire Station to play through some tunes including Smokin‘, Summertime, On Green Dolphin Street and finally a very slow version of Stella By Starlight

Later that day: four of us from DWJQ got together for a rehearsal and worked on dynamics in Afro Blue, You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To and Silver’s Serenade, and then to finish the evening off we played So Danco Samba and Fungii Mama.

Tuesday 26 February 2019 – Great Guitars, Brentwood

I went with fellow guitarist to watch a modest re-enactment of the Great Guitars concerts that took place in the 70’s and 80’s originally featuring Charlie Byrd, Barney Kessell and Herb Ellis. Tonight’s guitarists were Dominic Ashworth, Andy Watson and Simon Hurley, all fine musicians in their own right. They sat in front of a rhythm section (bass and drums) and performed about nine tunes including Seven Come Eleven, Scrapple From The Apple (click below to hear an extract), Benny’s Bugle, Body and Soul and Topsy. Plenty of heads played in harmony, some excellent solos and trading licks, but maybe too many bass solos and too much talking between tunes. They finished with Tenor Madness.


Monday 25 February 2019 – practice with Graham and Mick

We worked through a few tunes from Essex Easter Jazz namely: You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, How Sweet It Is and Thieves In The Temple. We then considered what tunes to play at March’s jam session. We plumped for Triste, Cantaloupe Island and Honeysuckle Rose. We played through Triste and Honeysuckle Rose (in F) before calling it a day.

Later that day: The Monday Guitar Group warmed up on the chromatic scale and then played The Monkees Theme in tribute to Peter Tork who died recently. The rest of the evening was spent working on I Feel Good (James Brown), both the bass and guitar (horn) parts.

Sunday 24 February 2019 – D’Ukes, Wheatsheaf, Bishops Stortford

When we arrived the football was showing on the pub telly we so stood outside in the unusually warm February sunshine and waited for it to finish before loading in the gear and setting up. The first set went down well though was very long, over 90 minutes, and included three new songs: Sorrow, The Scientist and Ginny Come Lately. Sorrow needed a bit of sorting out but the other two were fine. There were several people in the other bar watching football, but listening to us, so I got the whole band to walk into the their bar and perform Space Oddity, which they appreciated. Meanwhile some of the the audience in the main bar got behind the mics and mimed to us while played in the other bar. A tribute act!

During the break a punter, Barry, asked us to play Comfortably Numb, which of course we did as it was the first on the set list- but he didn’t know that. We got a huge cheer after our last song and so proceeded to play our usual two encores, Duelling Banjos and New York, New York, ending with an even bigger cheer. Afterwards Barry said our version of Comfortably Numb was so good he was going to go home and put on Pink Floyd’s version. I hope he is not disappointed.

Friday 22 February 2019 – Practice with Gil

With Gil on guitar we played several tunes including You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, West Coast Blues, Four On Six, Honeysuckle Rose and The Right Time, a Dave Cliff tune which I vowed to learn properly before we next meet up.

Thursday 21 February 2019 – DWJQ rhythm section rehearsal

John, Mick and I got together and worked on some rhythm section stuff including dynamics behind solos, fours, threes, twos, and rhythmic displacement of phrases, and we also worked on the rhythmic hits in Silver’s Serenade and the A section of George Benson’s version of On Green Dolphin Street.

Later that day: at the D’Ukes rehearsal we started by practising our new arrangement of Sorrow and then we broke for a new feature: Desert Island Discs. I interviewed Hazel about her life and the records she had chosen and played snippets from them. We then quickly learned and recorded a version of Ginny Come Lately that Jo wanted to send to her dad to play on the radio. Then it was time to return to working on new songs. Tonight we honed the arrangements of MargaritavilleThe Scientist and Everybody Hurts, and started work on Son Of A Preacher Man.

Wednesday 20 February 2019 – DWJQ rehearsal

Our gig on 27th February has been cancelled as the Three Elms is being refurbished so we had a relaxed rehearsal trying out some ideas based around fours and twos and we event took it down to quarter notes with Annette and I alternately playing chord tones. We spent a bit of time working on the arrangement of Silver’s Serenade which has several hits in the head. The solo section is quite modal too despite having several chords.

Tuesday 19 February 2019 – Guitars Galore

It is almost a year since I last did a session with Guitars Galore so it was good to be back. As I arrived they were singing Jolene, and then after a chat I did my best to explain how to use a capo to make a song with difficult chords easier to play. I then showed them the chords to Hound Dog (Elvis Presley), taught them the words by getting them to sing each line back to me, and then we played through it, first of all at a slow tempo and then at roughly the tempo of the original. The rest of the evening was spent working on Angels (Robbie Williams). Eventually we were in a position to play through it a couple of times and next time I will come back and show them how to play the solo over the bridge.

Monday 18 February 2019 – practice with Mick

We played through tunes from the Essex Easter Jazz list including: Mo Better BluesScrapple From The Apple, You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, Honeysuckle Rose (in two different keys) and the bass riff from Thieves In The Temple.

Later that day: We started the evening by warming up on the G major scale. Then we strummed the chords of Dock Of The Bay and investigated various ways of playing the chords, for example just playing the root and 3rd and, for the bass, the root and tenth. After the break we learned the final parts to In The Midnight Hour and then played a couple of times to end the evening.

Sunday 17 February 2019 – Angie and Dave, Mighty Oak Tap Room, Maldon

We arrived at about 2:30pm to set up after which I wandered down the road to the Blue Boar to see if there was anyone playing there this afternoon – there was no competition. When we started (with the song Breakfast At Tiffany’s) there were perhaps half a dozen people in the Mighty Oak but by the time we were in full swing the place was standing room only and full of people we recognised from previous visits. Does this mean we have a following? As always with our singalong tunes we got a lot of people joining in. The first tune that I was able to stop strumming for while they sang the chorus was Don’t Look Back In Anger but there were many more such as Three Little Birds, Delilah and American Pie. We did three sets with a couple of breaks during which I sampled the locally brewed Maldon Gold. I used my looper of half a dozen tunes so that I could play a solo and even got a round of applause after a couple of them, one of which was Moondance. At the end of what was a raucous afternoon (my voice was a little hoarse afterwards) a chap in the audience stated loudly: “you started bang on 3 o’clock and you finished bang on 6 o’clock. Well done!” Hopefully we will be back in a few months’ time. 

Later that day: Annette, James and John came round for our first session looking at material from the Essex Easter Jazz course. We worked on Mo Better Blues, Scrapple From The Apple, You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To and On Green Dolphin Street.

Thursday 14 February 2019 – 14 mile walk along Essex Way from White Notley to Wakes Colne

Last summer I walked from Epping Forest to White Notley along the Essex Way over a period of time as well as an initial 12 mile leg from Manor Park to the starting point in Epping Forest. Today, I continued my mission to finish it by the end of this summer. I parked the car near White Notley railway station and picked up the nearby trail, walking swiftly alongside the fields and hedges. The morning had been very foggy so there wasn’t much to do but stride ahead though I did come across a field full of alpaca. Only one of them seemed remotely interested in me so I took a photo of him/her. Before reaching the first settlement, Coggeshall, I saw what was probably the most impressive of the many barns I had seen to day – Grange Barn. I had a very nice coffee and scone in the only cafe I could find in Coggeshall and as I emerged from the cafe the sun was now shining on what was possibly the nicest day in February I can remember. Although the walk through the small town was interesting for its architecture, the Essex Way itself was less so as it zig zagged around fields of grass and mud so I just kept walking. Unfortunately, there was an unpleasant amount of rubbish whenever the footpath reached a road that I hadn’t noticed on earlier legs of the Essex Way. I kept walking and surprised myself by arriving at the day’s destination, Wakes Colne railway station at just 1:15pm. Despite the less interesting scenery today I actually really enjoyed the walk, partly for the lovely weather but also because I felt so full of beans as my dad would have said – probably on a ccount fo this being the first proper walk since the winter. I caught a sequence of three trains back to White Notley, found my car and drove home. That leaves just two more days of the Essex Way: Wakes Colne to Dedham next time and then onward to Harwich for the final leg. Easy peasy.

Wednesday 13 February 2019 – HOFS jazz session

About ten of us turned up for today’s session. We started with If I Were A Bell and continued with a few tunes by Jimmy Van Heusen (Here’s That Rainy Day, It Could Happen To You) and Hank Mobley (Workout, Smokin) and also played on Green Dolphin Street. 

Later that day: at the D’Ukes rehearsal we continued working on new tunes, in particular: Sorrow, The Scientist, Margaritaville and Son Of A Preacher Man.

Monday 11 February 2019 – Monday Guitar Group

We warmed up on the A natural minor scale and I demonstrated how it becomes the harmonic minor scale when the G (7th degree) is raised to G#. We then strummed chords to the current number one song, 7 Rings by Ariana Grande: Am F Dm E & E7. Her version is in C#m (relative minor of E) so we transposed it up to this key and also played the opening melody which is predominantly in octaves. I pointed out the raised 7th in the melody in line with the harmonic minor I spoke of earlier. After some nice fruit cake provided one of the group members during the tea break we spent the rest of the evening working on In The Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett).

Friday 8 February 2019 – Interplay rehearsal

Mark, Richard and I got together to run through some of the tunes we will play at the Railway Hotel on 13th March including one we haven’t played for many years: The Chant (Victor Feldman).

A bit of news: last week I resigned from the Blues Experience and within a few days others had also decided to leave. The net result is that the band is no more. 

Thursday 7 February 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

No gig for a couple of weeks so we just worked on three new tunes: Sorrow, The Scientist and Everybody Hurts. To avoid the playing the well known picking pattern on Everybody Hurts I suggested a different pattern which worked quite well and certainly helps make our version our own.

Wednesday 6 February 2019 – rehearsal with Angie

We’ve got a gig at the Mighty Oak Tap Room in Maldon at 3pm on 17th February so we played through the new songs in the set including Reward, Living On The Ceiling and Look Of Love – all from the 1980s. After a beer, and just for fun, we played The Bonzo’s Intro and the Outro. Sounded quite good actually. Angie took a video of me playing my percussive frog and will use it as part of the promotion for the gig.

Tuesday 5 February 2019 – Session with TNG

There has been a long absence but we are back. When I arrived they were warming up on Yellow (Coldplay) and then we started the session proper by running through Zombie (The Cranberries). Fortunately I had kept detailed notes of the arrangement from several months ago so I was able to conduct the band through the different sections. We then briefly looked at Seven Nation Army (White Stripes) which I will prepare properly for another time, and then followed that with a look at all the guitar parts in Dakota (Stereophonics). At the next session I will help them with Linger (The Cranberries) and Dakota.

Monday 4 February 2019 – Monday Guitar Group

Tonight’s session was an evening in the key of E. I started by showing them the chords to the chorus of Just Like A Woman (Bob Dylan) and then we did the E major scale starting on the 7th fret followed by the much trickier alternative – the open position. The rest of the session, after the break, was spent working on In The Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett) starting of with the bass riff (E and A arpeggios) and finishing with the intro. We will complete the song next week.

Thursday 31 Jan to Sunday 3 Feb 2019 – visit to Malta

Day 1

I emerged into the arrivals hall of Malta’s main airport to be greeted by a huge Costa sign. Alongside chain cafés, this country can count speaking English and driving on the left, three pin main sockets and red phone boxes as traits in common with the UK. I bought a pass for unlimited bus travel and caught the X3 which was heading to Bugibba but dropped me off in Rabat. I quickly found my hotel, Point De Vue, and checked in. The room was fine but the hotel is being restored to its former glory and you wouldn’t pick it if you were cruising by looking for a room.

I went for a walk around Mdina, the adjacent medieval town for an hour or so and stopped for coffee in a small bar. Here, I had the chance to overhear someone from Essex asking the bar tender a string of quite interesting questions about the country. I stopped reading Wikipedia’s Malta entry to listen to the answers.

After a quick visit to my hotel I set off for another exploration; this time of Rabat itself. During my wanderings I came across Rabat’s St Paul’s Cathedral and café serving large date pies. I ordered one, plus an Americano, and settled down to while away a few minutes. The temperature is a little too cool to relax outdoors so I appreciate these occasional vists to bars and cafes.

In the evening I had a meal in the hotel restaurant despite all the alternatives in town. Marrow soup and vegetarian pizza with a pint of local Cisk beer was choice.

Day 2

I woke up after a solid eight hour sleep and went into the restaurant to have breakfast – full English minus the meat. After a quick walk around Mdina in the morning sunshine I took the X3 bus to Bugibba and then walked along the coast. I passed a couple of miles of concrete blocks of flats until I reached the terryberry tearooms where I had a coffee and scone with all the extras.

I continued walking around the bay until I spotted a sign for a road that I recalled, from my research, led to a cross country trail. Within ten minutes I was walking along a rocky track that in time took me up and over a hill, passing small plots of farmland demarcated by heavy stone walls made out of the local limestone. I eventually reached a country lane which took me into the outskirts of a small town. Once I had reached the centre and had a look around, I caught a bus to the Gozo ferry terminal and caught the next boat to Gozo. Arriving thirty minutes later, I caught a bus into Victoria, the capital, and located my very smart hotel on the fourth floor above a modern shopping mall.

Later that afternoon I had a walk around the old town which is mostly taken up by the citadel. The experience was similar to Mdina and there was plenty of evidence of EU funding. Every alleyway, wall, pathway and building was neatly preserved and clean enough to eat off. I wandered around until sunset and then walked into town to get some food.

Day 3

I awoke in this quiet, business-style hotel, went down to breakfast and found it packed with tourists who clearly had either stayed elsewhere or were on their best behaviour during the night. It was a buffet style meal with a huge range of choices including little snacks I expect to see during canapes. Anchovy and tomato, feta on a little square of toast. Totally fed up, including three glasses of orange juice and two coffees to rehydrate me, I went back to my room, packed, checked out and headed off on the bus to Zebbug, a small hilltop village a few miles north. From there I walked for a hour or so down to the coast and along towards the small seaside resort of Marsalforn. After sitting for twenty minutes looking out into the bay I took a bus back to Victoria and then another one to Mgarr where I caught the ferry with two minutes to spare. I bought a cheese and tomato baguette on board which was so big it took me the entire journey to finish.

Back in Malta I caught a bus to Sliema, and then walked around the bay as far as Floriana where I stumbled upon Gunlayer Street. Was this the street mum and dad used to live in during dad’s national service days in the early 1950’s? I found number 12, the address that mum had vaguely recalled, and it fitted her description of being just an upstairs flat, although they have since built a couple of floors on top. At the end of the street was also the view of the harbour that mum had described. I continued on my way, located St Paul’s street and walked down to number 236. What I found couldn’t possibly be my hotel; it was a scruffy, old (very old) four storey town house with paint peeling wherever possible. But there was a small placque announcing the name – Princess Elena. I pushed the door open and my heart sank. Considering I was paying the same amount as the previous two hotels put together, this was a disappointment. But things improved gradually. Walter, behind the desk, offered me orange juice and biscuits, and took me up to my room on the top floor. This place was old in a very good way. Over five hundred years old in fact. The room had fruit, interesting artwork, a balcony, and even a circular bed. The wardrobe contained the kettle and the WiFi worked perfectly. I kicked off my shoes and dozed for ten minutes.

In the evening I wandered around the enormous fortications surrounding Valetta and spotted a flaming sunrise above one of the many cathedrals. It must be 5:29pm, I thought to myself. I was right. After failing to be tempted by countless outdoor restaurants I had a simple veggie wrap in a café, with another pint of the local beer, Cisk. At the table I tried writing my blog but was put off by endlessly screaming children, mostly teenage girls I think. I’ve no idea what was causing their reactions. Eventually, during a lull, I wrote these last few paragraphs. Tomorrow, I have one more day of exploration followed by the flight home.

Day 4

After breakfast I checked out of what turned out to be a disappointing guest house, the mould on the cake and the hairs on the bathroom floor weren’t my favourite features, and headed out into the sunshine for a Sunday morning walk around Valletta. After taking a few photos of places I probably photographed in the dark the previous evening I decided to hop on a bus to Zurrieq. The guidebook promised that this southern portion of Malta was full of things to do. Thirty minutes later (nothing takes long in this country) I arrived in a very quiet town. I couldn’t find anywhere open for lunch so I walked down to the coast, the location of the famous Blue Grotto. Sure enough, it was busy and there were several restaurants, but instead, I bought a cheese baguette and went and sat down on some rocks looking out to sea. People were photographing the cliff below me – it must be the location of the blue grotto.

A while later I did the same and then caught a bus to Hagar Qim, an ancient free standing temple, one of the oldest in the world. After watching a 4D video production of it’s history and wandering around the site for a while, I went to the restaurant for a coffee to discover a very loud guitarist performing Shadows-style versions of old songs to backing tracks. An odd form of entertainment at an ancient archeological site. It turns out he was miming. By the middle of the afternoon I called it a day and caught the bus to the airport for the flight home.

Monday 28 January 2019 – Ron Spack and friends, Oakwood, Leigh On Sea

Despite being at a standstill for twenty minutes in traffic on the A130 I still managed to arrive before almost everyone else. John of JazzDuo was playing sax this evening and we were backed by Ron on bass and Glyn on drums. After starting with Ronnie’s Blues we played a variety of standards including There Will Never Be Another You, I Hear A Rhapsody and You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To. I sat at the front next to John but my amplifier was on stage between the bass and drums, connected by my wi-fi link. We played quite a bit quieter than on previous gigs and it sounded fine. After a cup of coffee during the break, courtesy of Val, we started the second set with a blues followed by All The Things You Are. The rest of the evening went well and it was good to see a lot of familiar faces in the audience.

Sunday 27 January 2019 – D’Ukes, Queens Theatre, Hornchurch

It was a tight schedule today as we had to arrive at 4pm, set up, perform a workshop, have a break and then perform at 7:30pm. Once we had sound checked I got ready to run my session on ‘moveable chords’. Jo started her workshop in the bar area and announced that for anyone who was already familiar with the basic chords, C F G, they could go upstairs and attend my session instead. About ten people came along and I sat them down in three rows of seats in front of me. Rather than just teach some common chord shapes I explained, with the help of the chromatic scale, how simple chords, such as C, F and Am, could be converted into moveable chords and played anywhere up the neck of the ukulele.  The session lasted about 45 minutes and went well, judging by the questions, though whether they will remember the theory behind it when they get home is another thing. 

After an hour’s break during which I munched on my sandwiches and banana, we were ready to go on stage. About one hundred or so were in the audience and we got a good cheer as we strolled into the theatre area. Unfortunately, there was a technical hitch and none of our instruments or voices could be heard for the first minute or so. Eventually we got going and the rest of the set was performed in our usual fashion. I did my best to engage the audience despite my croaky voice and we finished the first set with Those Were The Days. During What’s Up Brian wasn’t getting any sounds out of his ukulele and Jo indicated to me to play a solo instead. I did what I thought was a great solo but unfortunately that didn’t come out of the speakers either, but by the end of the second set the crowd were loving every minute of it and we got almost everyone standing and dancing to New York, New York, our second encore. Afterwards, we milled around the auditorium and I received a few compliments from various people including a young lad who loved my slide playing.

Saturday 26 January 2019 – D’Ukes, private party at the Blue Boar

We’ve played several times at this pub and this is the fifth location we’ve performed in: the front bar, the courtyard, two different outdoor marquees and finally, today’s private party which was up in the very nicely done out function room. It was a long gig (four hours with two breaks) and I spent a lot of my time, even when playing, trying to calculate how many songs we need to play in order to finish at the required time. Fortunately we had a request to repeat two songs which helped – Valerie and Don’t Look Back In Anger – and we also slipped in a new one, Livin’ Thing. We finished the evening with almost everyone on their feet singing and dancing to New York, New York, which of course meant they went home with a smile on their face.

Friday 25 January 2019 – practice with Gil

Gil came round for a guitar session. We played through the tunes from last Sunday’s jam session, namely: Ornithology, West Coast Blues and Cherokee and then played a few more tunes including Oleo and Blue Monk. For a change we used Band In A Box occasionally to provide the rhythm section.

Wednesday 23 January 2019 – DWJQ, The Three Elms

On a dry but freezing evening I arrived at the pub to find John and Mick already setting up. As I walked in, Gill the landlady stopped me to say that the pub is being taken off their hands so this could be our last gig here. After playing here almost every month since March 2015 that will take some getting used to. We also had some special gigs booked, such as at the blues festival, that will also probably get cancelled. It depends on whether the next landlords are interested in live music, and when they take over. Meanwhile, we have a gig to perform to a small audience, and I, for the first time in a long time, am playing my black Gibson ES335. New tunes My Favourite Things and My Foolish Heart worked well, while Afro Blue, although sounding great when it was grooving along, needs attention paying to the overall form. A simple fix at the next rehearsal. As always we finished with St Thomas, packed away the gear and I had a beer, this time from the Colchester Brewery.

Tuesday 22 January 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

After running through some of the tunes we are playing at a private party on Saturday we did some more work on Livin’ Thing to the point where we thought we might as well play it on Saturday, otherwise it won’t get aired for a few weeks. It’s sounding good!

Monday 21 January 2019 – Monday Guitar Group

We started the evening with a warm up strum around four chords (Am C G Em) which, when looking at the circle of fifths, form a neat little circular pattern at the top. This meant it was easy, using the circle, to change the key to, for example, Em – which we did. Then, in tribute to Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues who died last year, I showed the group the chords to the song, Go Now, which featured several slash chords and a D augmented chord (XX0332). The rest of the evening was spent working on the guitar harmony line in Brown Eyed Girl.

Earlier that day: Graham, Mick and I got together to have a chat about last night’s jam session and then we started playing some possibilities for inclusion in the next one on 17th March. Tunes we played today included Desafinado, Bags’ Groove, All The Things You Are and Cantaloupe Island.

Sunday 20 January 2019 – Jazz Jam Session, Black Bull, Chelmsford

After dashing back home (within the speed limits) from my gig with the Ron Spack Trio in Southend I had three things to do: change into more suitable clothes; load the car with even more gear; and cook myself a dinner in the space of ten minutes even though it was about 4pm. I arrived at the pub to find Mick already setting up his drum kit. I set my own gear up plus the PA system by which time jammers for the jam session were starting to arrive. It was a three hour session and I really enjoyed my role of counting in tunes, signalling soloists, making announcements and occasionally playing guitar when required. To cut a long story short, in the end we had about nine sax players, two guitarists, a bass player, two drummers and a harmonica player, in addition to members of DWJQ.

I positioned myself at the front with my microphone, for stage announcements and for corralling the musicians. I had the flip chart ready to write down names of whoever wanted to jam on whatever song; and my guitar for playing on the occasional tune. After DWJQ started off proceedings with a quick version of Tenor Madness, Hugh played Midnight Creeper and My Little Suede Shoes and then it was Nicole’s turn to sing three songs including Wave. The rest of the first set was taken up by Graham’s three tunes which included one I played on: The Days Of Wine And Roses. Most tunes had two or three additional soloists and we managed to get to the break by about 7:15pm.

Pretty soon I was getting everyone on stage to start the second set with Moondance, sung by Angie. It also featured Mike on sax and Reniaro on drums. Angie did a couple more songs, including Summertime featuring Michael on harmonica, and then Gil did three tunes including Cherokee which I counted in at quite a high tempo; about 220 BPM. Richard and Jan played the final set of three tunes, plus assorted soloists, before we finished the evening with almost everyone playing on Blue Bossa and, finally, Watermelon Man with me conducting the band through the final few bars. It was a very successful jam session – the best so far – and we managed to get through twenty tunes while only overrunning by about 15 minutes.

Earlier that day: before the busy jazz jam session that was to follow in the evening, I had a gig in Southend at the British Legion with the Ron Spack Trio. Unfortunately, there was no car park so I had to drive around to find a space. The club was a very old fashioned looking place with fruit machines and a long bar. Malcolm was on sax today and also sang a few songs; and Ron was on bass as always. We played a number of standards to a small number of people but it was very relaxed and I enjoyed it. We finished at 3:15pm and I then had to quickly pack up, find my car which was in another street, and head back home to get ready for the jam session. 

Saturday 19 January 2019 – D’Ukes, The Norton Pub, Cold Norton

I think this must be our seventh visit here and it means we always start our year with a bang. Within a few moments of arriving the pub was starting to get very busy with people who had come to see us. As pub gigs go it was very straight forward and throughout the evening we built up the excitement to the point where almost everyone was singing along or dancing at the end. Just for a change I did a solo on The One I Love using distortion which I think worked well though I was getting quite a bit of feedback – a combination of the effects pedal’s compression and the acoustic nature of my tenor uke. That reminds me – I did my ukulele joke after my solo in You Do Something To Me: “it’s a cheap one; just a tenor!”

Friday 18 January 2018 – Interplay rehearsal

No John today so we ran through the current set of tunes we are working on including Nica’s Dream, Crisis, On Green Dolphin Street, Love For Sale, Serenade To A Cuckoo and East Of The Village. We also started on a new tune, Workout by Hank Mobley. I’ve probably said before that the reason I enjoy John’s absence is solely because it gives me a chance to play the heads (normally he does) and practise my sight reading too.

Thursday 17 January 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

We went through some songs in readiness for Saturday’s gig at the Norton and spent a bit of time working on our arrangement of Livin’ Thing.

Wednesday 16 January 2019 – DWJQ rehearsal

With Tony back in action the five of us went through the set list for next Wednesday’s gig at The Three Elms, including three new tunes: Afro Blue, My Favourite Things and My Foolish Heart

Tuesday 15 January 2019 – rehearsal with Angie

Angie and Dave have a gig at the Mighty Oak Tap Room in Maldon on 17th February at 3pm so we got together tonight to rehearse some new songs as well as sharing a beer. The new songs are Reward, Opportunities, Back In The USSR, Give Me One Reason, Look Of Love and Living On Ceiling. The final task was to look at the last set list and take out some songs so we can insert the new ones. Once we had done this we spent a short while just strumming through some songs and ended up playing Minnie The Moocher which worked so well that we decided to include it in the set list as well. 

Monday 14 January 2019 – rehearsal for jam session

DWJQ are hosting a jam session at the Black Bull on Sunday at 6pm so today we had a bit of a marathon session running through some of the tunes we’ll be playing on as a rhythm section. We started with three tunes that are being led by Graham, namely The Days Of Wine and Roses, Song for my Father and Fungii Mama and then, after a lunch break of bread and varieties of cheese kindly provided by Mick, we continued with the tunes John is playing bass on. These included Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Cherokee (in which gradually edged the speed up to 200 bpm), Ornithology, West Coast Blues, Good Morning Heartache, Black Orpheus, Blue Bossa, Fly Me To The Moon, Midnight Creeper and finally the bossa nova standard, Wave, which we are doing in the key of F for Nicole the singer. That was the longest rehearsal I have had in a while and it was nice afterwards to walk through the park into town and have a pot of tea and some cake at a cafe in the local bookshop.

Later that day: It was the second session of the year and we warmed up by playing a two octave A major scale, and then Bb, B, C, C#, D and finally D# major scale. To warm up our strumming faculties I gave them the chords to Key To The Highway (Derek and the Dominos) and I showed them some typical blues voicings of 7th chords. The basic chords are A E D D A E A E. Before the break, we strummed the chords to Killing Me Softly (With His Song) in deference to the lyricist, Norman Gimbel, who died recently. After the break we discussed the circle of fifths (looking at my new clock) noticing how many songs follow it in an anti-clockwise direction. Finally (for fun!) we strummed Brown Eyed Girl and I started to show them the harmony guitar line played by Eric Gale on the original which we will finish next week.

Sunday 13 January 2019 – Blues Experience rehearsal

We’ve got a gig coming up soon at the Three Elms as part of their Winter Blues Festival so we spent the morning running through the first set and deciding which ones to drop. We also need to learn some more commercial tunes, maybe from the Blues Brothers films, so had a think about what would be good to include. These will be performed at a gig in Basildon next April.

Friday 11 January 2019 – D’Ukes, Colchester Mencap Gateway Club

We set off extra early and sure enough the Friday evening traffic ensured we spent nearly an hour and a half on the A12. Despite that it was a good evening playing to about seventy people in the canteen of the adult learning centre. I did my best to encourage people to sing along to tunes such as What’s Up and Delilah, and during Sit Down, as always, I selected a couple of people to sit next to as the song reached the chorus. Good fun and I daresay we might go back one day.

Thursday 10 January 2019 – D’Ukes rehearsal

Dep bassist, Colin, is playing with us at tomorrow’s gig so he came over instead of John to rehearse the set which was essentially the same as the last one he played with us in France in September. It was useful for the rest of us too as we haven’t played since before Christmas and tomorrow is our first gig of 2019. 

Wednesday 9 January 2019 – gigs for 2019

I’ve just sorted out and uploaded my gig list for the year. Click here to have a look. There are so far  45 booked gigs plus some private ones not listed.

Monday 7 January 2019 – Monday Guitar Group

This was the first session of the new year but the 436rd of all time. Everyone turned up and we started by warming up on the chromatic scale followed by practising the A major scale. The chords we strummed as part of the strummy warm up were taken from the current number one record by Max Ava called Sweet But Psycho – F C G Am G. I showed them some 1st inversion triad voicings on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings that we haven’t used before. After the tea break we played Have I The Right by the Honeycombs in tribute to drummer Honey Lantree who recently died.

Earlier that day: Mick, Graham and I got together to rehearse the tunes we are playing at the jazz jam session namely: Song For My Father, The Days Of Wine And Roses and Fungii Mama. They went well considering we haven’t played together for a few weeks. We also played through a few of the other tunes that will be at the jam session including Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.

Friday 4 January 2019 – Practice with Gil

We went through the tunes Gil is performing at the jam session on 20th January at the Black Bull, namely: Cherokee, West Coast Blues and Ornithology, aand then we played a few other tunes suchas Beautiful Love, Scrapple From The Apple and Lyresto.

Later that day: Richard, Mark and I got together to work on Interplay tunes; Crisis, Nica’s Dream, Groovey Samba, Well You Needn’t, Love For Sale, On Green Dolphn Street and Blues In The Closet.


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