Archive for March, 2013

Rock and Roll is Dead

March 29, 2013

Barney and the rest of the band are in this little cocoon where the label feed them information that makes them feel like they are special and are ‘going to be huge’ if only they do x y and z. But nobody ever says ‘you guys are massive, relax, it’s all cool’. 

Rock and Roll is Dead -- Steve Lawson

Rock and Roll is Dead — Steve Lawson

I am deadly serious about us having fun. — Michael Franti

Music is more precise than words — Igor Stravinsky

To pub musicians, everywhere. Especially those longing for an escape route… — Steve Lawson

This is unbelievably bad. Steve Lawson is an excellent musician, writes an excellent blog that is a joy to read, and yet Rock and Roll is Dead is turgid crap, it would make 50 Shades of Crap look like a good read, plus it is an e-book and I find no joy in reading e-books.

Or at least that was my initial reaction.

But that criticism to one side, it does contain good ideas, and that is really what it is, a book of ideas, only the format is wrong. He should have written something along the lines of Manual of the Warrior of Light, a suitable summary, followed by the details.

We start with a band that does pub gigs. They wake up one day thinking is this life, is this really what we want to do for the rest of our lives, plays gigs in pubs, the same old crap night after night to bored punters who do not give a toss?

That is the dilemma, a career in music, but what is that career. Is it playing night after night the same old crap, or is it playing what you enjoy playing, even if it is not your day job?

The drummer seems to have got it right, he plays drums, but also does IT, he enjoys both and does not have to worry abut money. When the music is slack, he does more IT, when he is playing music, he is doing it for the joy, he is not having to worry how is he going to pay the bills.

So where do they go from here? Instead of practice, they jam, try out a few ideas, see where it goes.

Then Gem throws a spanner in the works, a chance to go on tour with a band as a backing musician.

The dialogue is incomprehensible. As though written for a low budget film no one will watch.

In fact it actually reads like a script for a stage play, and would make a very good stage play.

A bit like The Archers, every day story of country folk with thrown into the story line advice on farming. Except this is an every day story of music folk.

Weird. Dialogue, sms text messages, ….

It was the weirdness that kept me reading. At first it was, it cannot be this bad then the weirdness.

What is success? What is music?

Is success being on X-Factor. Is music what is in the Top Ten?

Much of what people like, or what they think they like, is actually dictated to them, in the same way as fashion is.

Why do not people dabble, try out different music, see where it leads them, find out what they really like, not follow the rest of the lemmings.

Is success selling lots of records, being on a record label?

What is great about a record label that criminalises the people who may like your music, that wants to see them punished if they share your music with their friends, that rips you off big time because they were able to con you into a contract when you were too naïve or maybe too desperate to know or care what you were signing, but sold you a myth that does and never has existed?

Rock and Roll is Dead does for music what The Winner Stands Alone did for fashion or Two Caravans did for industrial food or Dickens did to expose the Victorian underclass.

“Very little that’s happening in rehearsals is undermining my conspiracy theory. Barney and the rest of the band are in this little cocoon where the label feed them information that makes them feel like they are special and are ‘going to be huge’ if only they do x y and z. But nobody ever says ‘you guys are massive, relax, it’s all cool’. There’s always more pressure, more made up shit to try and get them to strive further and inevitably to OK more expense that the label can take out of their advance for the album, that’s already over budget, apparently. They really do have the shittiest deal ever. They make the Stone Roses look like Ani DiFranco I can’t believe that a bunch of guys in their 30s would have bought into all this crap.”

There is nothing wrong with playing what other people have written, but focus on good, not correct.

When Jimi Hendrix performed All Along the Watchtower, he did not slavishly follow the original.

I heard a jazz quartet play a tribute to Blue Note, but they improvised.

Shadowboxer play their own stuff, but when they play other stuff, they use their own interpretation and do a better job than the original.

Or Crypt Covers, recorded literally in a crypt.

The Crypt Cover Project once a month invites musicians down into the crypt and within a day they record a song and get it on-line the next day. The song selections are crowd sourced, then random selection used for the final choice.

All bands need is a blog, and twitter, and if they record anything then release it on bandcamp. My Space is for losers, you do not need a record label. And please if you do upload something to youtube or vimeo, do not upload what your mate recorded on his phone at your gig in the pub, cos it looks and sounds crap. And if you do blog and use twitter, please not juvenile drivel. If you have something interesting to say, folks will sit up and take notice, they may then be tempted to listen to your music, they may even buy it, turn up at a gig.

If you have a website, it doesn’t need everything bar the kitchen sink. It has all that crap because some web designer has conned you into paying for it. And please, do not auto play your music.

I talk to musicians, and they say we know best, we are on all these different sites, we are not interested, you can play music on our own website, you can download. And know what, when I look, it is crap.

The ending is The Devil Wears Prada, the book not the film, where the record label is told to go and fuck themselves, but you knew that anyway.

Rock and Roll is Dead is essential reading at every music college, and especially for every X-Factor wanna be. And as it says in the book, there is more to life than Simon Fuckin Cowell, who has done more single handed to destroy music than anyone. If it is not on your reading list, ask why?

If you know anyone dumb enough to sign for one of the major record labels, tell them to read Rock and Roll is Dead, then talk to a lawyer.

Except music is not dead, it is alive and kicking, what is dead is the major record labels, it just has not got through to them yet.

What I found as interesting as the book, was the way in which it is being distributed. Originally given away as a free PDF file, Steve Lawson has published on LeanPub, yeah I know, sounds more like a pub than a publisher.

I have felt for some time there is a need for a platform for e-books and writers and publishers what bandcamp does for music. It is not a good as bandcamp, but the best I have seen so far.

I do not know if what applies to Rock and Roll is Dead is true for all their books.

A minimum price is set. But you do not have to pay it. You can move a slider up and down. You can pay more, you can pay less. Whatever you choose it tells you how much is going to the writer (90% less a nominal fee). You can choose more than one copy. You can download in multiple formats. If you do choose zero, because you do not know what you are buying if you like, I assume there is nothing to stop you going back and downloading again, this time paying. You can share with your friends, similar to the share button on bandcamp. If you do not like a book, you can get a 100% refund, but it would seem a lot easier, to down load free, then if you like, download again and pay (which is only fair as the writers have to earn a living).

The share is nowhere as good as bandcamp. Ideally a share button, with one click post onto a facebook wall, and the ability to add comments.

The embed does not work either. If it did, it would appear here and it doesn’t.

As I was reading Rock and Roll is Dead, I discussed it with my lovely friend Annie. A bit of a one way discussion as I would not tell her what I was reading, but she was intrigued, and wanted in.

The First Honest Cable Company

March 29, 2013

This video is (a) Not Safe for Family Viewing, (b) Not Safe for Work Viewing, and (c) Pretty Much Entirely Accurate.

— Lauren Weinstein

Time Of Your Life – Smooth Criminal – Welcome To The Jungle – Highway to Hell

March 28, 2013

2Cellos perform Time Of Your Life, Smooth Criminal, Welcome To The Jungle, Highway to Hell.

Toby Carvery Aldershot

March 28, 2013

I walked in and the first thing that hit was the noise, the loud music, I nearly turned on my heals and walked out. I regret I did not.

People want to relax when having a meal, not have to shout above loud music.

I was escorted to a table by a window. Normally that would be be my preference, but it was cold. Those who arrived a little later and were sat further in, closer to the food, complained it was cold and were moved elsewhere. Another couple, sat down, who I assumed to be the head chef, came across and spoke to them. They got up and walked out.

The portions were meagre if not mean, poor quality meat. The person serving surly. The vegetables looked tired, as though sitting there for hours. I also noticed, but only later when I saw someone had peas on their plate, that only half the vegetables that should have been there were there. I also noticed from the menu that if you paid extra, you got larger portions. This is like the cowboy charter airlines. Reduce your luggage allowance from the standard 20 kg, then charge for extra luggage allowance, or worse no luggage allowance at all.

Toby carvery in Aldershot has been open at most three months, and yet it is already looking shabby, paint peeling off the walls, toilet door jams. As I walked in to the Toby Carvery, there was a sign warning the door was broken.

Outside it said breakfast served. No mention what. No mention on the menu either.

It was fairly empty. The staff out numbered those eating. Each time I have passed by and looked in, it has looked empty. I asked was it always like this, and was told yes, the novelty on opening had already passed.

Apart from one charming young waitress, the vibes given off by the staff was one of glum resignation, rather be some place else.

Totally lacking in atmosphere.

Not a place I would recommend if you want a decent carvery. I wonder how long it will be before it closes?

There is a Toby Carvery on the way out of Frimley. It is far better, or was, maybe it too has dropped its standards. Or is this because it is Aldershot, standards low, nowehere decent to eat?

For an excellent carvery try The Foresters on the way to Fleet.

The Toby Carvery is part of a group of tacky chain eateries in Westgate, or Waste Gate as local retailers are calling it.

Westgate is an ugly retail development on the edge of Aldershot town centre, that is killing the town centre. If all the eateries are as bad as the Toby Carvery, then they have nothing to worry about, or at least would not if there were any decent restaurants in Aldershot, which there are not.

For every meal eaten in one of these chain eateries that is a meal not eaten in a local restaurant. For every pound spent, it is a pound drained out of the local economy, compared with a pound recycled in the local economy.

When I have eaten in the Toby outside Frimley, I have felt too full to move. I left the Aldershot Toby Carvery feeling hungry.

I wandered through the town. There were few people about even though it was market day (and Easter school holidays). I noticed big gaps where there would have been stalls. As predicted, Westgate is causing the collapse of the street market. The quality fruit and vegetable stall near The Arcade, which has always been busy, had not a single customer. And yet the council claim Westgate is good for Aldershot, though this is not the view of either retailers, shoppers or residents, who see Westgate as an unmitigated disaster for Aldershot.

The only place I saw was busy as I walked past was McDonald’s. Says it all really, this is Aldershot.

Manuscript Found in Accra on special offer

March 28, 2013
Manuscript Found in Accra released before publication date

Manuscript Found in Accra released before publication date

In WHSmith, Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho is half price.

Buy two and give one to a friend.

Manuscript Found in Accra was published in UK today (Friday 28 March 2013), but has been available in bookshops since last week.

It is little wonder bookshops are failing. WHSmith (though I do not class as a bookshop) had a grand total of three copies in stock. I had a word with the manger and said look, you have an international best seller on your hands and you have three copies in stock, then you wonder why bookshops are failing. The staff agreed with me.

I bought two, and left one on display. But I made a mistake, I was handed a voucher that gives me 20% off any purchases.

Therefore, go in WHSmith, buy one, then use the voucher to get 20% off second copy, or buy something else, get the voucher, then get 20% off your half price books.

This offer is better than tax-dodging Amazon!

On day of publication, Manuscript Found in Accra No 28 in WHSmith best sellers chart! Will next week see it hit Number One?

Rollin and Tumblin

March 27, 2013

Jeff beck and Imogen Heap live at Ronnie Scott’s in Soho.

Caroline Lucas: Launch of the People’s Assembly

March 27, 2013

Caroline Lucas MP speaking at the launch of the People’s Assembly.

The People’s Assembly is a broad coalition formed to oppose the hated ConDem Government.

It is a real coalition, not a coalition of convenience where the despised LibDems will do anything to remain in power.

The ConDem Government delight in the deficit as it gives them the excuse for slash and burn of the public sector.

We live in a world where the rich have their taxes cut because they work harder, the poor have their benefits cut because it makes them work harder.

It was not the poor who caused the economic crisis it was the greedy bankers, compounded by the idiot we have as Chancellor.

If you are rich you will get State handouts to pay for the nanny for your spoilt brats. If you are a single mother on benefits trying the best you can to bring up your kids, the government will force you off benefits.

If you are sick, if you are at death’s door, the government will find you fit for work and cut your disability benefits.

Come April, the poor will see their benefits cut, they will be hit with a bedroom tax, they will be forced to pay Council tax.

Meanwhile the greedy bankers who caused the economic crisis award themselves multimillion pound bonuses.

The sun is shining

March 27, 2013
the sun is shining

the sun is shining

The sun is shining, the snow is melting, the daffodils are out, it is marginally above zero.

The first week of spring.

The cold winter weather is projected to continue for the next 2-3 weeks.

Voodoo Child

March 26, 2013

An unusual rendition of the Jimi Hendrix classic Voodoo Child by Luna Lee on a Gayageum.

Aldershot town centre retailers meeting

March 26, 2013
Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

hands off The Arcade

hands off The Arcade

A meeting was called by the council of retailers in Aldershot.

They were told, the ugly Westgate development on the edge of Aldershot town centre was good for Aldershot.

This statement was met with incredulity by the retailers present.

What is the footfall, one asked. 200,000 was the reply.

200,000 an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, a lifetime? It was not said.

The chain fast food eateries in Westgate are either not very busy or all but empty. But, every meal eaten in one of these eateries, is a meal not eaten in the town centre, not that Aldershot has anywhere worth eating. Every pound spent in these eateries is a pound drained out of the local economy, a pound not recycled within the local economy.

Westgate, or Waste Gate as many retailers are now calling it, has been an unmitigated disaster for Aldershot, it is laying waste to the town. It is as welcome as a hole in the head.

The week it opened, the Thursday street market saw their worst ever trading day.

Retailers are seeing takings down. One retailer saw one day when they only took a few pounds.

Jerome have been in businesses for 90 years. They keep detailed records. They have seen their worse ever two weeks in nearly a century.

A French restaurant, now closed, has been one of the first casualties.

Plans to trash The Arcade are making a dire situation worse. The first act of a new developer was to kick out the small retailers.

This is what is called consultation, the council tells the retailers what is best for the town and ignores the retailers and the local community. Not satisfied with having destroyed Farnborough, the council is determined to destroy Aldershot. Decades of bad town planing by a dysfunctional if not corrupt council has laid waste to Aldershot, a council that gets into bed with developers and Big Businesses, to the detriment of the town.

Survey after survey shows people do not want High Street chain stores, they want individual quirky shops, they want real choice, they want character.

North Laine in Brighton is always busy.

Sincil Street in Lincoln is always busy, and yet the City Council wants to see most of it destroyed for a soulless shopping centre.

Market Rasen, a small Lincolnshire market town, has managed to turn itself around by focussing on small shops, local traders, local community.

And yet in Farnborough, Firgrove Parade, about all that remains of small retailers in the town centre, is earmarked for destruction, The Tumbledown Dick, a c 1720s coaching inn is earmarked for destruction for an unwanted Drive-Thru McDonald’s. The council has refused to meet with the local community on these issues, and yet is happy to meet with developers and McDonald’s

The question everyone is asking: Why is the local council in the pocket of Big Businesses and developers and not acting for the local community and local businesses?