October 2013

The weekend before last, I got an email from a local(ish) band. They said their rhythm guitarist was leaving and they’d been talking about having a keyboard player instead – classic rock covers from the 70s to today – mainly weddings – was I interested? I said to send me their set list with the keys of the songs and give me a week or two.

But the singer’s more of a “now” person. He sent me 36 tracks and asked if I could go to a rehearsal on the Wednesday.

I’ll be honest. Thirty-six tracks in a few days is quite a headful. So I got him to reduce it to 20-something to focus on. We had a band practice and decided it would work. Last night, we had another practice including most of those 36, with a dozen or more thrown in for good measure.

To try and make this news relevant to this blog, here’s a quick how-to on getting your head round a big set, quickly. (It’s only the second time I’ve done this in the last few months, so could be refined.)

o Make a youtube playlist of all the tracks, while copying and pasting the lyrics onto a word-processing document

o Print out the lyrics, pages numbered, with an index at the front

o In a folder of plastic sleeves, put the lyrics on the left, with a blank page on the right

o Find a website with all the chords for all the songs you need (I’m using ultimate guitar because you can transpose the key without paying a fee)

o Play through the tracks, checking the chords as you go and writing them onto the page facing the lyrics

o Refer to youtube “How to play [name of song]” if necessary

o Listen to the youtube playlist with a glass of wine (or few) and make notes on the lyrics about where to come in, marking solos, backing vocals etc

o Play along to the playlist if you have time – as often as possible – making a note of the best keyboard voice to use

o When you turn up to the band practice/audition, play something not on the set list as a warmup. I tend to improve for a bit and then play “Child in Time” because I can sing the first part of it – and everyone loves Deep Purple

Obviously, the band might be a bit nervous that they’re wasting their time having you along. Fortunately, technology has come up with easy ways for you let them know you can play a little. I spent six minutes playing live into Garageband, which I imported into iMovie, with an iMovie stock image wibbling away in the foreground. I was in a hurry – I had a lot to do (see above). Then uploaded it as a public video to youtube.

If you’re interested, you can see/hear it here.

Long-time (d)evolutionary readers may remember this image from the project1p website back in 2011:

luke 1p

Briefly for new readers, Luke started that year with 1p which he traded up to see what would happen. (No, he didn’t hear about the paperclip guy until afterwards.) What happened was that he got in the press and on TV and had a rollercoaster of a ride for six months. (His blog has all the details.) We got involved in the project and exchanged a yurt holiday for a custom-made metal object that our guests will know as the frame for the snail-shell shower.

This snail-shell solar shower:


Yes, that’s Luke pointing at a 1p soldered onto the frame. He dropped in on Thursday with his partner and we finally got to meet. Here he is again:

luke - écovallée

(I don’t have access to image-manipulation software at the moment. You’ll have to pretend that this is a good photo. I took some better ones but this is the closest to the original. Obviously I would have rotated it slightly if I could. I hope you’re not too disappointed. I’m disappointed. But I’m coping with it pretty well.)

One interesting thing about this shot is how much longer the shadows are in the Autumn than high Summer.

We’ve been thinking.

A short post to celebrate the fact that my friend and former colleague, Phyllis, successfully raised the money she needed to create her own TV show through Pozible. (If you decided to support her after reading this post, a big THANK YOU on her behalf.)

Through the miracle of Star-Trek-type technology, we spoke to her yesterday at home on the other side of the world. At one point during the conversation, she and her husband Kym blamed some of their inspiration on our project. I’d just like to pass the buck on this one and pin the whole thing on Liz and Ringo.

We met Liz and Ringo through our daughter, who was a good friend of their son. We got on well. We even went to each others houses a couple of times. But only a few weeks after we met them, they said: “We’re moving to Spain next month”.

They packed up their life and were gone.

What this showed us was that there are two paths. You can either dream about what you want to do, or you can just do it. Only one of these paths ends in regret.