20/6/09 : Sign Of Death

Every time I drive along the A40 at the moment I get a weird reminder of a day that I nearly died. Well, I could have died anyway... I certainly thought I might at the time.

I was on holiday after my a-levels with my friends and we took a day trip to Greece. There's a beach with a wrecked ship washed up on it that you can only get to by boat, so we had to swim from the boat to the beach. It didn't look too far and I'm an ok swimmer so I jumped in and swam from the boat - but about half way along realised that I was no where near as good a swimmer as I had thought.

I probably would have been ok, except that I thought I would probably be near enough to the beach to stand already, so tried to put my feet down... and instead went under. I remember really vividly opening my eyes under the water and seeing the floor still quite far below me, and knowing I was in trouble. I managed to get up to the surface again and shout for help, and keep afloat, but by that time I was knackered and had swallowed a load of water. Fortunately a guy from the main boat zipped out in a small dinghy and literally rescued me.

So now they've decided to use a photo of that beach on an advert for holidays to Greece - so every time I drive into town I have to pass a huge picture of it. But at least it makes me remember it's good to be alive!

29/5/09 : Xup in Manchester

I've been playing live drums at gigs for my friend's solo project 'Xup' for a while now - we used to be in Wolfie together and it's good to keep up with playing the drums - I think out of every instrument I've had a go at, drumming is the most fun - it's kinda like dancing while sitting down. Actually, singing might be more fun, but drumming is a close second. Anyway, this weekend we went up to Manchester for a gig.

Ms Xup herself and Oliver (guitar player in Xup) had headed up the day before, so I caught the coach and slept most of the way as I always seem to on coaches and trains. The venue was a bit dingy but outside the streets of Manchester were sunny, loud, vibrant and predominantly full of gay men drinking and (for some reason) line dancing. I had a wander and a drink, Manchester is nice and though I've played there three or four times now I never seem to recognise where I am. In an effort not to get lost I was wandering around trying to follow my sat nav... I felt a bit stupid but it did seem to work. I met up with Oliver and we had a drink and a chat in the sun. He's a really good guy.

Down into the darkness and extreme smelliness of Retro Bar we played our set, which went ok, though the sound on stage was terrible. Also the drum kit was HUGE... a crazy over-sized one kindly lent by the headliners 'Elvis In Disguise', who turned out to be absolutely great - Elvis covers complete with lip-curling and knicker-throwing. Then there was more drinking, then there was dancing and eventually there was going back to someone's hotel for even more drinking. The next morning I staggered into the sunlight and tried to eat some fried eggs, then Oliver picked me up and drove me back to London. It was a good trip and I met some great people.

27/2/09 : Duke Of Uke

I bought myself a cheapo yellow Ukulele last year and I've been playing it a bit so thought I'd treat myself to a proper one.

I'd been to The Duke Of Uke near to Brick Lane in East London before as I'd recorded in Soup studios which is downstairs and in fact we used to have early Fanfarlo band practices there. I had a look at a few and was only really intending to have a think about which one to get, but there was one that was just right and kept winking at me, even though it was £100 more than the maximum I wanted to spend ;-)

I tried to pretend I wasn't going to buy it but then gave up and handed over the cash. Now I'm home and get to open the case and smell the new wood smells... mmmm! Now I just need to put the effort in to get good at playing it! It's a soprano with a spruce top, walnut back and sides, 17 frets and a shadow piezo pickup. The best thing of course is that you can actually tune it, as opposed to the yellow one I had before!

The Duke Of Uke is a great little shop by the way, really friendly guys who know everything about Ukuleles. They do stuff like in-store gigs too and Uke lessons, everything a music shop should be these days to survive against the big Internet shops.

17/2/09 : Loop pedals are ace

It's my next solo gig on Monday and it's acoustic, so I've go to work out how to play my songs without the drums machines and so on... but I can't resist just a few pedals...

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