Archive for January, 2010

The new Terra Fyrmusica venue opens

January 26, 2010

This past week has been a tad hectic for me in Second Life. The island upon which my previous venue stood will vanish by the end of the month when the person I rent it from ceases to continue paying Linden Labs for the land. My friend Ferdy came to the rescue and offered me a plot on her parcel, so I have been busy rebuilding the Terra Fyrmusica in a distressed brick texture that fits in very nicely with some of the steam-punk buildings in the surrounds. I think it looks better now than it did when it was over by The Vibe. Yesterday, I got everything finished, changed the Land Marks for teleporting, and managed to get a show advertised inworld in Search (I also put a notice in SLMC). I have put a pic up here of the view from the stage. At noon, SLT, I played a show to open the new venue and thoroughly enjoyed myself. There was a very nice crowd of people in the audience: some old friends and some new faces. The sound is streaming well nowadays. The guitar is sounding good, although I need to put some new strings on (I might do that today), and the piano is coming through well, especially in some of the alternative digital voicings. When I play Dolly Parton’s ‘I will always love you’, I use a harpsichord and strings voicing which works very well IMHO. My voice has been a bit dodgy down the bottom end lately and I don’t always hit my bottom D. That has come as a bit of a surprise to me, since I have been comfortable down there for several years now. This week I am very busy with a show every evening (English time).

The new Terra Fyrmusica building

Apart from all this, things tick over. The snow has been gone for some time now, although more cold weather with winds coming down from the north is predicted later in the week. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Boiler down again!

January 11, 2010

The bloody boiler’s down again. It was limping through the Xmas holiday period with luke warm shower water and radiators, we finally got it fixed last week, and now we have zero hot water or heat in the radiators. They can’t come until Wednesday (thank you British Gas for your part in this extended saga). Still, one feels a Pythonesque moment coming on…

On a positive note, I would say that my hangover has gone now; the guts still feel a tad wobbly but nothing to dire. I have several things to do today that will take my mind off the lack of heating: piano scales; pen & India ink sketch; UK tax return. I don’t think I shall get all those done. As a special treat for having to pu up with the boiler situation I shall grant myself one day of tax return procrastination. There! I feel better already.

Finally, let me apologise to the members of the audience at Cascadia Harmonics last night who got a shortened show. I think my difficulties have now been sorted out and I hope that you will get the full 60 minutes next Sunday.

Now, should I sketch on A4 or A3? I think it may have to be A4, at least in the first instance. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go to A3. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Hung over

January 10, 2010

I am feeling a little fragile following on from my musical birthday party last night in First Life. My friends Tony, Tom and Terry helped me to provide the music. Costello sang a lovely version of ‘The first cut is the deepest’ and later in the night Cat played a little bit of mandolin, drawing upon her knowledge of violin fingering. The music started around 8 p.m. and went on until around 2 a.m. when the guests left. At this point, I should have gone to bed. However, having had quite a few glasses of wine over the course of the evening, I became obsessed with the idea of playing music through the night on into the dawn in First Life. I logged into Second Life and advertised within my group, Fyrmusica, that I was playing an impromptu gig at Terra Fyrmusica. Woody and a couple of others turned up and I played on for a very long time. I think I finished at around 7 a.m. Woody found out for me that the dawn in the UK was at 8.15 or there abouts. So I didn’t make it through to daylight but I do feel that it was an impressive achievement. Only later today, Sunday, did I discover that I had woken somebody up who was sleeping in the house, by playing my guitar; apparently they checked the time and it was around 4.30 a.m.

I have paid for my pleasure of yesterday, today. I slept right through into the afternoon and woke up with a disgustingly thick head. Drinking water, making frequent trips to the bathroom, and taking further naps more or less sums up my existence over the past few hours. Still, playing through the night was something I felt that I just had to do at the time. I’m starting to feel a bit better now at 5.45 p.m. UK time and soon I will get ready for my 11 a.m. (SLT) show at Cascadia Harmonics. Somehow, I suspect the gig will be more laid back than high-energy this week.

Before I go, a quick word about the Harold theme. Another drawing is planned but I want to do it in dip pen and India ink. This may take me some time to do, so there may be several days before I return to the question of Harold.
Bye for now, my dear blogophiles.

Harold at Hexham?

January 8, 2010

Fyrm has sent me this sketch he made of Hexham market. It was obviously done in a bit of a hurry, using a blackened tree stump for a pencil, by the look of it. Anyway, he asserts that the shadowy figure in the foreground is Harold. I am not personally convinced of this.

Fyrm's sketch of Hexham market

I wonder what happened to Harold Hake?

January 7, 2010

The last time I heard of Harold was about a year ago. He had moved out, you will recall. Fyrm sent this sketch to me the other day. Could it be Harold? Who is he with? Where on earth is he?

Harold assumed the air of one who was not lost.


January 4, 2010

I have been making progress in terms of my 2010 music plan. I have started to listen to a lot of artists and bands that are basically out of my comfort zone (Foo Fighters, Razorlight, Kings of Leon… bla, bla, bla). I have made  a fair sized list and I am going to listen to samples of their stuff, adding artists that Spotify suggest are similar, in order to expand my coverage. I have done some preliminary listening today and, so far, I think that the cover yield in terms of songs that I feel happy with musically speaking and able to identify with as a human being will be very small indeed.

I have examined one person in some detail and that is Jason Mraz. The first thing that I noticed was that Strum Diesel’s (of Second Life) style of singing and lyric writing appears to come from this stable. I can only coin an acronym to describe the way I feel about it:

Breathless, Amorous, Love Lyrics (BALLs)

Regrettably, I do not think I shall be turning to Jason, as a personal source of inspiration, excellent though he may be. I shall keep you posted of any further progress as it arises, my dear blogophiles.

A cold start to 2010

January 3, 2010

In England the cold snap persists with warnings of snow falls and sub-zero temperatures continuing in the north and east of the country through to mid-January. It seems to me that we have experienced fairly mild winters over the past few years and, unlike the Canadians for example, we are not geared up for bad winters. The gritters get out to within two streets of where I live. Once I get onto the main road system I can drive around ok. The problem is getting in and out from that node; I have to negotiate fairly steep hills (that seem to be manqué ice rinks).

Snow continues into 2010

Earlier this week, I poured the lower half of my body into a smaller size of jeans; the weight reduction programme seems to be working well. The jeans are a rather snug fit, although I am not reduced to lying on the floor in order to zip them up. They should be just fine in a couple of week’s time. I have said goodbye to approximately 15 Kg over the past 10 weeks and I am now looking to bulk-buy some inexpensive magnifying glasses on ebay. I shall hand these to people who seem to be having difficulty in perceiving my new, corporeally-challenged, blade-of-grass-like self.

Those of you who consult my website for the Second Life gig list should know that I have not been able to get in as web administrator to update it for several days now. I think the company that I rent this site from has been closed for the holiday period. Hopefully, somebody will be back at work next week and reset the appropriate server or whatever. My immediate gigs are as follows:
03 JAN 10 @ 11 am (SLT) ~ Cascadia Harmonics
04 JAN 10 @ 12 noon (SLT) ~ The Cup n Spittle

I expect to have the website updated after that. Bye the way, the show I am playing on 3rd of January, today, happens to mark the second anniversary of my playing live into the Second Life virtual community. My very first show was on 3rd January, 2008, at Rocky Shores (which, happily, is the sister venue of Cascadia Harmonics). This is, indeed, a very happy coincidence for me. I won’t review the details of my musical progress over the past two years, in this post, since I covered that here on the occasion of my 400th gig which occurred in mid-December.

I did spend a little time thinking about things yesterday. I went to shows by Max and Strum and both events were extremely well attended. They were playing at Euro-friendly times. They are both excellent performers but the difference between their audience figures and my own is huge. People have told me not to expect big audiences because what I do is a bit quirky. Yet nowadays I mix original material with covers more or less in equal measure, my guitar playing is above average if not brilliant (IMHO), the pianist Evamoon Ember said last week that my piano playing has improved a lot this past year, and I do provide a 50-50 mix of guitar and keyboard accompaniment in my 60 minute shows. I don’t want to address this problem by going down the path of managers or agents, since I value being a strictly independent musician. I think the only way to go, in terms of new year’s resolutions, is to expand the repertoire of covers in interesting ways and, maybe, to start composing on piano in 2010.

As far as keyboard goes, I am hoping for something of a break-through in 2010. At present I am vamping on piano, playing from chords as a guitarist might. I think 2010 will see me playing more from the musical score, but in order to loosen that up a little I want to be able to improvise around it. So my ideal will be to retain the vamping style in parallel with the development of a more classically orientated reading of the scores. And then there are toys like the Loop Station, not to mention the Roland synthesiser.

Apart from my musical activities, I am trying to keep to a resolution to do some sketching or painting each day. I have not been terribly imaginative in terms of my subjects which, so far, have amounted to a series of still fruit and vegetables. Well, I did do a pair of socks yesterday but I don’t think I will show you them!

Still fruit n veg in pencil

I am starting to ramble. Let me conclude by wishing you a very Happy New Year, my dear blogophile. I have to go and practice some piano… bye for now.