Melody Gardot

Melody Gardot

It’s been a while since I went to a live gig. This weekend we headed down to the Colston Hall to check out the Bristol Jazz Festival, holding two tickets tightly in my hand.

 

I love jazz. But Melody is more than a jazz artist, she is a show-woman and a talented instrumentalist. Her vocals were exquisite – exploring the whole range of what her voice can do, creating atmosphere and holding us captive. One thing I loved is that it wasn’t all about the vocals; each band member was a brilliant musician, and each were showcased with solos throughout the evening.

 

The final tune was the gorgeous preacherman where the audience was invited to join in with a catchy riff. As we all joined in you could hear a few harmonies floating up from the chairs as Melody sang out over the top. It felt like we had joined her on the stage momentarily. Lush.

 

Check out Melody’s recent album here.

EP Recording Sessions

EP Recording Sessions

What a great weekend with Band13 and Stage2Studios. Pulling an EP together in just two days this was a fun action-packed weekend with some great musicians and tech effects. For those that haven’t been in a recording studio this is a brave new world of foam clad, deadened acoustic space, mic-ed up to expose every moment, expression and movement – gotta love it!

Starting with a raw click track through the headphones we got the drums and a fat bass layer down. Then came the keys and electric guitar – three different guitars, three different layers. And finally at the end of it all, down go the vocals. This EP starts with a Lament using ambient choral vocals and dirty electric guitar, followed by a couple of cleaner numbers, and finishing with a live-in-your-lounge-style finale.

Happy days. Stage2 caught the band’s vibe spot on and now Windfall has been laid down, mixed, and is ready to be mastered!

Thanks J, G, Jas, Sam and Becky for an awesome weekend.

Amaluna

Amaluna

So, my sister turns 21 this year, and to mark the occasion we went to see the Cirque de Soleil, an amazing acrobatic more-than-a-circus at the Royal Albert Hall. I have fallen in love with the wide circular building, the tiers of seats, and moons of acoustic domes in the ceiling. The set was very avatar-like in blues and greens with ambient forest sounds. The acrobatics were incredible, and while entranced by them it took me a few moments to realise that the music was all from a live band, partially shielded from view by green tendrils of the forest floor. A vocalist dressed in black standing on an illuminated basin of water cast ambient vocals out across the arena. There were no words, unless they were in the strange language of the island of Amaluna, but somehow you could feel the meaning of the music by the tone, emotion and, interestingly, the vowel sounds that she chose.

The change in vowels changes the shape of the resonators in your vocal apparatus, and this vocalist exploited all of them, allowing harmonics to rise and fall, changing the timbre, volume and intensity. Clever stuff. A few times I found myself watching her instead of the gymnastic feats on the stage. Mesmerising. All in all, it was artistic showmanship at its best.

Listening With Your Body

Listening With Your Body

People usually assume that listening is done through the ear, but really there is so much more to listening.

Let me introduce you to the great Evelyn Glennie, a talented musician, speaker and educator. She is the first person to have a full-time career as a solo percussionist and recently received honorary membership from the Royal Philharmonic Society, and the Polar Music Prize (a big deal – the musical equivalent of a Nobel Prize).
Evelyn lost her hearing by age 12 and learnt to recognize the difference between sounds through the vibration in her hands and throughout her body. She started her percussion lessons by training herself to recognize tiny differences in the vibrations of sound.
As I carry out speech and language intervention at a school for deaf children this is so important to understand! During this TED talk, Evelyn asks the viewer to allow their body to be a ‘resonating chamber’ for the music they experience, to experience the journey of the sounds, not just the initial contact of the stick on the drum, or the bow on the string. To pay attention to the tiny changes in how the sounds are affecting our bodies.
During the talk she explores notions beyond instructions from sheet music, interpreting the music with feeling, and in the final stage to listen to ourselves, both musician and audience alike.
Let’s think differently about music. And start learning how to listen.

And click here to watch the talk!

Image by: King JG, Hillyer JF, on Wikipedia here

Rock the Record

Rock the Record

Last Friday I headed on down to Rock the Record, a charity fundraising event celebrating 50 years of youth counselling charity Off the Record. I was part of Pappa J and the Crinks who got together for one night, and one night only, to support this fab organisation. We arrived for sound check to find the venue already buzzing.  There were banners, bands, beers, burgers, jugglers, icecream, facepaints and an ace line-up of live music.

OTR are all about empowering young people to thrive through the provision of free mental health services and through challenging social and structural inequalities. Yes! It was a privelege to open the night as a Crink, with a few covers, before handing over to a fab band of young people, who picked some Hendrix and other ace covers to rock out to. You can find The Black and Whites here. The night picked up speed and volume with Last Night’s Victory and Friday’s Ashes, culminating in the roar of headliners Koshiro. Definitely good to have a BBQ on hand to feed up after a good sing.

Nubiyan Twist and Tapas in a tipi

Nubiyan Twist and Tapas in a tipi

Love bank holiday weekends! We took some friends out on the town at the weekend to sample the delights of Bristol, and oh so conveniently our evening coincided with the foodie event  eat drink bristol fashion,* just one of the many festivals that makes Bristol such a fab city to live in. We managed to grab some bench space in the massive tapas-tipi set up on Queen Square and sampled pretty much the entire menu. Yum. Feeling full of bbq lamb, tiny burgers, asparagus and hollandaise and other mini-meal delights we headed to the music stand nearby.

The band was playing some funky tunes so with some crafty manoeuvring we got a spot near the front and started to groove to the beat. It made me want to swap my boots and raincoat for a cocktail and a hula skirt, with a chilled vibe and soulful vocals. Then out of nowhere the baritone sax slid into some jazz riffs, pulling the other brass with him, under some vocal delay effects creating layers of sound as they went. Nice. Who are these genre-blending crew? Nubiyan Twist.

*Continues until 10th May – head to Queen Square and see what’s on!