Yet another awards night.

It was great to attend yet another awards night at the CRS on Saturday. It’s been an annual tradition since the 90’s; a band plays, some awards are given out, and then there’s another band. Generally the band playing second will get an award or two (possibly because they’re playing?) but it’s all in good fun. The awards have a level of respect behind them, and everyone leaves happy.

But they don’t.

I was really amazed to hear someone bitch that they’re all “a fix”. Why? Because he attended and didn’t win anything? Well possibly…

I’ve been in the presence of others who have never won anything. And I often sit from a bassist point of view and think “seriously, you guys have the best bass when all they play is straight quavers all through each song?”. Now I’m not a keyboard player. I’m not a guitarist. I’m not a drummer. But if we are basing it on technical ability I often thing the awards are not given to the right people.

But they aren’t. The awards are given based on “what you’ve actually done”. Not what you did 20 years ago. It was nice from my point of view to see the awards given to current bands. The stalwarts of old didn’t get a jot. At one time two or three bands would sweep the awards. It wasn’t on technical ability, it was just the the scene was smaller and the audience didn’t listen outside their comfort zone.

Nowadays, with the CRS building the scene back up in the 90’s when it was all but dead, and all the other venues joining in later; there’s very much a prog scene. A small one albeit, but a dedicated one.

These days the yearly call to arms for the awards yields some great results. Some win. Many lose. Some bitch about not winning. But sorry, matey – and this is aimed at one person, this ain’t a talent show anymore. It’s a popularity show, and you aren’t popular because you’re too “same old same old”.

On a lighter note though, I met Carl – the previous Strangefish bassist.

And I stood next to Bev Bevan

Remember the CRS Acoustic Sessions?

I was looking back at a little project I attempted, and somewhat succeeded at a few years ago.

Technology wasn’t as good as it is today, and my equipment at the time certainly wasn’t the best hi-tech equipment you could use. My few good microphones were filled out with a hell of a lot of cheap poor quality microphones (including some MAPLIN ones!), but listening back – I did well. Is it right to pat myself on the back?
It all started when a gig fell through just a couple of weeks before… I said to Martin Hudson “why don’t we do an acoustic gig?”… and we could record it?
Yes. I set myself a task with that one – and to this day, I can’t rightly remember how I did it – but I did and I managed to make it sound good, putting a PA and recording system into a venue, having no soundchecks except the live ones, and getting through 5 artistes whilst monitoring levels, recording levels, etc…. and then MIXING IT!
Anyway, Lambsie (now from the CRS but back then just a member) commented and reviewed it. Yes, I didn’t play a note, but I am proud and it did well for the CRS.

(20 July 2003) The CRS Acoustic Sessions (CRS (UK) Hudrok002CD, 2003) was recorded at the Herringthorpe Leisure Centre, Rotherham on January 18, 2003 and features selections by Karnataka, Sleeping Giant, Miv Cameron Band, Gina Dootson and Tommy Binks. This is the first time The Classic Rock Society have mounted an all-acoustic evening, and the resulting CD is a well-recorded and -packaged affair, with design by Oliver Wakeman.

The contributors are largely regular visitors to the CRS stage, however the first two tracks are by young Rotherham singer-songwriter Tommy Binks. “Eskillater” and “Janet” are both direct and humorous, strongly influenced (to my ears) by post-punk troubadour Billy Bragg, and steeped in the quirks of ordinary living. He seems talented.

Gina Dootson is next up, and her contributions are somewhat more intense. The artist is well known to our visitors, she has an excellent voice, in the US folk style, and her songwriting is tuneful and perceptive. “Wrapped” has an excellent hook, and some frantic guitar playing from Gina, while “Crippled” is an haunting, slower piece. “Slide” is her last contribution, its repetitive hook building into a thunderous climax with her voice at full power. On the evidence of these three songs she sounds like a terrific prospect.

The Miv Cameron band, bring slightly more diverse instrumentation to their performance. Several guitars, some lovely vocal harmonies, and atmospheric keyboards give more weight to these gentle folk songs in a traditional vein. “I love you” and “The Empty Seat” are good examples, while”Kieran” adds some well-chosen whistles into the mix. Miv herself has a good, though unremarkable, voice.

Sleeping Giant are also well known to Musical Discoveries, so it would be interesting to hear what a full, acoustic band performance could do with their songs. In fact, the arrangements here are largely restrained versions of their electric counterparts, with Leon Parr’s drums replaced by conga’s and percussion, Dave Foster on acoustic guitar, Simon Crumley remaining electric on bass, and James Rimmer confining himself to piano. “When your best is never good enough” from the Primates mini-album is a good choice, with Charlotte Evans only slightly more restrained than normal, while “Nothing More,” from the “Embers” EP is a delight, with its lovely piano figure to the fore and Charlotte in fine voice. “December Moon” also works well, and actually manages to “soar” in the same way the electric version does.

Sleeping Giant offer faithful versions of songs without much rearrangement. However, Karnataka, performing as a three piece of Rachel Jones on vocals, Ian Jones on guitar and Jonathan Edwards on keyboards do something entirely different, presenting completely stripped down versions with an entirely different feel. “Must be the Devil” with Jonathan’s “Doors” like keyboard runs, is positively moody, with Rachel singing much more gently than she is normally able to do live. “Strange Behaviour” is a fairly straightforward version of the song as it must have been as it was written, with very subtle keyboard textures just hinting at its electric arrangement. “There Must be a Way” from their first album, is not performed live in an electric arrangement now, but the gentle version here is the album highlight, with Jonathan’s piano part absolutely perfectly arranged. Finally, “Crazy,” again, takes on a whole new life as another brooding acoustic piece.

Martin Hudson and the CRS should be congratulated for an excellent recording of what sounded like a memorable event. Each of the artists represented did themselves proud – and Karnataka fans will want this for the version of “There Must be a Way” on its own!–Stephen Lambe

Sadly, Acoustic Sessions 2 didn’t work… another sound engineer who was doing the sound for Dave Cousins and Toby Horton came in, ignored my demands about not changing GAIN settings on the desk, and blew a lot of the recording right off the tops of the meters… a massive mess of digital distortion.

The rest of the set was OK, but then without a headliner recording it wasn’t really worth progressing. Sadly technology moved on, I sold the desk, and the hard disks were retained for future use but didn’t survive too well in storage and became corrupted… both sessions were lost and the CD’s of this set are now all that survive.

The end of the Acoustic Sessions 1 and 2.

Tribute bands sadden me

Tribute bands have their place. There’s no doubting that it’s nice to see a song you know and love being performed note perfect, such as the excellent Italian band The Watch (pictured), but it saddens me that this very talented band – who perform Genesis covers as well as their own material – pulled such a large crowd at the Wesley Centre tonight, and yet had they been performing their own material instead of Genesis covers I would expect the crowd to shrink to about a quarter of that which was in tonight.
Without original bands, where would the tribute bands be?
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I feel small…

The last few days have been an interesting time for me.

On Friday I popped into the Montgomery Hall to see Pallas and generally just see people (and drop off the Wasp box). The Montgom doesn’t feel nice for me any more since the events of earlier this year with Fireguard being c**ts. The nice thing is for every customer they took off us (that’ll be 1 then), we took… hmm… about 14 of theirs. The reason? – well I’ll leave it to you to decide, but I have a good relationship with my customers and look after them very well and always deal personally with their problems.

Pallas were great – I wish I could have stayed around for the gig. They played “The Cross & The Crucible” for me and it was muchly goodly.

Over the weekend I did very little – we had friends over and played games on Saturday. Settlers of Qutan (sp?) is a superb board game… must get a copy. It reminds me of Sid Meier’s Civilisation on the PC/DS.

I did venture up the observatory on Sunday and did quite a fair observing session… I did actually manage to see 3 of Stephans Quintet (a group of galaxies in Pegasus).

Yesterday – my Toshiba NB100 came back from the mending shop… aaaaahhhhhh tis good. I love my eeePC, don’t get me wrong, but the keyboard is horrible and the screen is cramped – but it’s so indestructable and thus perfectly suited to my job.

Finally… today, I am giving blood. My O- is very much in demand it seems and it’s the least I can do…

The Photo?… well let’s just say I like this place very much.

The HLC – as it now is.

The drive of fame
Originally uploaded by Last Human Gateway

Today I passed the HLC… it’s now totally gone with very few traces of where it once was, except for slighly muddy ground marking it’s outline. The driveway remains, but that’s about all.

Meanwhile… little known Crimes of Passion fact for today: The first eponymous album featured bass totally written and recorded by me… even though I no longer feature on the artwork, my Warwick Thumb 5 bass is being carried on the first page.