Friday, 25 November 2011
I recently went to Cyprus for three days with Kristyna Myles and Pete Williams to do some work at a school where our friend Claire Thorpe teaches. The plan was to spend two days at the school, do some performances and a question and answer session with the kids, then some workshops and finish with a concert where their parents would come and watch.
I had been looking forward to a nice couple of days in the sun but I had to think again. It rained pretty much the whole time we were there; the weather had followed us from Manchester. Almost everyone we met apologised for the rain as if they were personally responsible, and said they struggled to remember worse weather at that time of year. There were some cracking storms though and it was great to see the lightning strike down over the sea.
On Monday morning I jumped out of bed enthusiastically at 5:30am (which equated to 3:30 in England) and we made our way to the school. We had to sign in with our passports as the school was on a military base. To kick the session off we performed one of Kristyna's tunes 'I Wouldn't Change A Thing' to the kids. I was playing bass instead of guitar for a change as it made more sense with the line-up we had. It's nice to be in control of the bottom end. The Q and A session was really fun, with questions including 'whats your favourite song?', 'what do you think of the X-factor?', 'how much practice do you do?', 'what organisations are you part of?', 'why do you love what you do?', 'are there any downsides to being a musician?' and 'what has been your favourite gig so far?'. I think we managed to negotiate them without talking too much rubbish. We played a couple more tunes to the kids and did some solo performances. I played a version of Stevie Ray Vaughans 'Lenny'.
After a break I split off with the guitarists and bass player and spent the rest of the day teaching them their parts. One of the older pupils had already learnt all the tunes so was able to help me show the others what to play. They were very quick to pick things up on the whole, although I did have to simplify some of the chord shapes as no-one knew what a major 7th chord was. In fact one of the pupils commented that I hadn't written the chord charts in English, haha.
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Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Recently I spent a day filming a couple of acoustic tracks with Kristyna Myles and gang. The aim was to record two tracks, an acoustic version of Wouldn't Change A Thing which will be on Kristyna's album, and also a cover of Coldplay's God Put A Smile Upon Your Face. The link there is that Ken Nelson who produced that Coldplay record also produced Kristyna's debut album.
In the morning I went to meet Kristyna who had been getting her hair and make-up done, and her wardrobe sorted. I was completely in charge of my own make-up and wardrobe. After thinking about it very seriously for several days I decided to wear a T-shirt and some jeans. We were lucky that the weather was particularly good that day, and we were able to film outside. The idea with the first song Wouldn't Change a Thing, was to feature us playing it with several famous Manchester landmarks in the background. The first location was Manchester Cathedral, after which we went to Manchester City's football ground, then Old Trafford, Spinningfields, Albert Square, Exchange Square, Urbis, and probably a few other places I've forgotten about.
We must have played the same song at least 40 times. At the start it's easy to concentrate, and I wanted to make sure everything was just right, such as playing the song at the right tempo, playing a good groove, and not doing anything too stupid with my face. Towards the end of the day the concentration slips a little and it's hard to remember if you're in the first verse or second verse, having played them both so many times already. The toughest challenge for me was having to sit cross-legged on the floor outside Manchester City's stadium. Everytime i got to the middle eight I developed an excruciating cramp in my legs. Maybe I should take up Yoga. All in all though, i was basically just strolling around strumming my guitar in the sunshine, which makes for a very enjoyable day.
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