Tuesday 13 October 2009

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Monday 21 September 2009

No specific destination

I did the London Skyride yesterday. Days off are rare at the moment; even rarer are those that allow me to simply ride my ancient bicycle with no specific destination in mind.

After lunch near Marble Arch with a friend I freewheeled it along to speaker's corner to hear some semi-sane ravings for old time sake. I used to be addicted to Speaker's Corner. Whilst half listening to a man warn of The Robots impending takeover I noticed hundreds of people wearing yellow jerseys with the words "Skyride" emblazoned across them. I cycled down towards Hyde Park Corner where they appeared to be congregating.

As it turned out, our mayor Boris Johnson had closed down a huge part of central London to enable 50,000 cyclists to take to the streets without a car in sight. The route ran from Buckingham Palace, along the Victoria Embankment to St Pauls, to the Tower of London and back again. I merely planned to observe this post-apocalyptic/eco-warrior's wet dream car-less London; but instead, I became literally swept along into the whole event and completed the ride with a huge smile on my face. What a priviledge it was to pedal down Constitution Hill without a car in sight. London and it's September summer was on beautiful form. Dressed in all it's finery, with no Range Rovers to negotiate, the city revealed itself as a beautiful old friend. I was a tourist again in my own city.

It was 15km in total and although teams of 7 year olds on BMXs seemed to race by every 30 seconds it was a pretty graceful experience. With speakers installed in Blackfriars Tunnel, Kasabian's "Fire" reverberated around the grimy old tube like psych-rock from the bowels of the earth. It was a great moment - unique and surreal - and a great reminder of everything this city can be.

Thursday 13 August 2009


The rough trade counter culture compilation of 2008 is a cassette with a USB stick inside it. I was actually disappointed to see that it wasn't a tape. I used to worship my tape collection, the mixtapes especially, recorded for me by friends and girlfriends. I still have a few at my parent's house and I'm going to try and dig out those musical relics and love them again. Send me some pictures of your old mixtapes or some old tracklistings and we can reminisce together.

Sunday 9 August 2009

An odd state of affairs

I've got that year zero feeling again. A new album is in the can and I'm at that blissful stage where no one has actually heard the thing yet and no judgements have been made. If any of you have read Paul Auster's "The book of illusions" you'll remember the character who makes movies that no one ever sees. He seals them in a vault only to be seen once by one journalist after his death and thereafter destroyed.

Right now "The Pursuit" is in my car, it's on my iPod, it's on my home stereo and it's my favourite album. After it comes out I will probably never listen to it again unless by accident in a restaurant. It's an odd phenomenon, but I wouldn't change it for the world.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

All things need to be this good

Music by Moby, video by David Lynch.

Sunday 29 March 2009


Depending on what mood I am in during an interview I'll say that I started my music career on the guitar/piano/drums within the rock/jazz/hip-hop/folk idiom. The bald truth is that it started with the Ukelele playing the tune "Show me the way to go home".

I am still fascinated by this miniature hawaiin instrument and wander around the house with it regularly close to my personage. I can't play any of my usual repertoire on it, or indeed any particular chords but I do appear to have amassed a large amount of original songs (no longer than two minutes) that have originated and will probably stay within the confines of the Uke. They are mostly about doing the laundry and other workaday activities.

My grandfather used to entertain me and calm me down as an overexcited toddler with his ukelele. Making up songs about robins and appropriating anything from Sesame Street or the theme from Columbo. It wasn't long before I made a grab for it myself and Grandad showed me the four chords that constituted "Show me the way to go home". I spent weeks mastering it and played it obsessively like some malfunctioning George Formby robot.

I soon branched out into other public domain classics - Amazing Grace, Oh Danny Boy, some Christmas carols etc. But it wasn't long before the seemingly cooler and peer approved electric guitar crackled into view. I became far more interested in playing "Wild Thing" and "Dizzy" by the Wonderstuff through a wall of distortion.

It was travelling on a tour bus that got me into the ukelele again. Guitars and keyboards always seemed to end up in the back of trucks or covered in cigarette butts. The uke however could fit in your bunk or in your bag. So I bought one in a little music store in San Diego - a little jewel of an instrument which rarely leaves my side.

Thanks Grandad. It may have been you that started all this.

My Brightest Diamond - The Gentlest Gentleman from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Nouvelle Vague Iceland

Sigur Ros - ViĆ° spilum endalaust - A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

This is the most I've ever liked Sigur Ros, and I always liked them a hell of a lot. Big bands in small situations. Frank Sinatra with just a piano. Hendrix on acoustic.

Monday 9 March 2009

Monday 2 March 2009

My Organ

I just procured a 1960s Hammond Organ and Leslie speaker from eBay after a few years of searching like a rabid junkie. It's currently in the repair shop getting some love like a classic car. If the truck is big enough next time we hit the road I may just bring it on tour with me.

Saturday 21 February 2009


Dear Blossom Dearie passed away on February 7th. She was a master interpreter of the great songs and has committed to record some of my favourite versions of standards - When the world was young, On Broadway, The Party's Over - to name a handful.

Her tiny voice could fill palaces with it's style and poise and I always thought her elegant and swinging piano playing was just perfect. I am sad I never got to see her play as she did regularly up until 2005, although she did speak to me on the phone when I played the Oak Rooms in NYC. Bob Dorough was a old friend of hers and he knew I was a fan. He called her while I was unaware and then passed the phone over: "Someone called Blossom wants to speak with you!"

The beautiful little voice was instantly recognizable as Blossom's. She briefly wished me luck on my month long run at the Oak Room - the kind of shows she had been holding court at her entire life. She said she might come down to see me play if she was well enough and said her goodbyes.

Merely to speak to her on the phone was a gift. She never came to the Oak Room but I'll never forget my phonecall with Blossom.

The world misses you.

Friday 20 February 2009


I can't work it out. I have been a music consumer my whole life. Obsessed by it, saved for it, longed for it. Now it appears that feverish collecting is coming to an end. Spotify even has those hard to find, Japanese Herbie Hancock albums. It is however missing quite a few independent gems. No Grizzly Bear, hardly any Rhythm and Sound - a lot of stuff on some great labels - Stones Throw etc. Maybe physical releases will be purely for muso-head types, pitchforkers. I still go to Soul Jazz in Soho, Rough Trade in Notting Hill for recomendations and ensuing purchases. Always Ray's Jazz for jazz; Portobello road for vinyl - Intoxica, Honest Jon's. But I've also been buying stuff off of Boomkat for three years now - in fact a lot of my new artist discoveries come from their brilliant emails. I also am an Emusic subscriber - like iTunes with a better independent catalogue and much better editorial - like subscribing to melody maker with the ability to have each act you read about. Beatport for the finest selection of electronic music. And then of course iTunes itself - easy, massive and reliable. Deep down I still love to physically OWN music but Spotify........oh my are we having a love affair!

Spotify is easy and beautiful. I had a Herbie Hancock day yesterday - building big, beautiful playlists from his interstellar catalogue. Who knows what I'll decide to listen to today - maybe a Deep Purple day?

I don't know what this means as a musician, but as a listener it's very exciting.

In an idealist, rose tinted world it means that you only survive if you push yourself to be great, greater, unhomogenised. When everything is available with one click there is no need to keep listening. So you'd better make it brilliant. Perhaps in the real world it will mean it is even harder for the seething mass of undiscovered talent to peek through. I guess then, that is what record companies will still be needed for - nurturing and breaking talent.

I'm off now to finish my album to make sure sure it is brilliant.

Typed at great speed in the back of a cab.

Sunday 15 February 2009