Steve's Online Diary
Copyright Comeuppance Ltd. 2002 - 2012 This diary may not be reproduced in whole or part without permission.
Looking For Eric. Flawed genius. Flawed expression. Every Genius is flawed. And all genius is flawed. By its very nature, the wayward mind, the extraordinary imagination of the greatest artists, entrepreneurs, inventors and sportsmen, is flawed. It cannot be anything else: not ordinary; never stable, and impossibly exasperating. Read Eliot and take your time. Research the allegories and the allusions to obscure, arcane Greek literature and myth. Cantona, Zidane, Best and Maradonna. Michelangelo, Picasso, Stubbs and Turner; Darwin, Einstein, Gates and Hawking; Fosse, Prince, Rogers and Hart; Bernstein, Epstein, Faraday and Wilde; Lawrence, Shakespeare, Steinbeck and Hemingway. Think Hemingway’s rare gift for story-telling in the narrative. Think the shortest short story to grace literature’s annals: For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn. Charlie Scribner prize winner. Saw this quoted recently in a broadsheet. Misquoted, actually. After each pair of words, Hemingway carefully, meticulously, pedantically, placed a point. Not a comma, as in the paper’s poor quote. But a full stop. Each pair represents a third of the story. It had, according to Scribner’s rules, to have a beginning, a middle and an end. So points it was. Full stops. Hemingway was a Genius. But he blew his head off once he realised he’d never find the ultimate answer. Flawed, then. Not superman, merely a Genius. Such a gift must be a burden.
ChildLine Rocks rocked. Jon Lord is a friendly chap. A cool and unaffected sort of guy. He played a clever set with Steve Balsami singing to the Lord Hammond B3. They travel to European cities, just the two of them, and meet there with a full orchestra and rock band, comprised of local players, rehearse for a day and then play big cross-over concerts to 3,000 or so people. I thought it all sounded a little nerve-wracking, like arriving to find your backside has gone south for the winter, as the leader calls the first beats. Jon Lord is made of the sort of stuff that makes a man a man, for all tha’. No, he said, it’s exciting. And I understood: the adventure, the gamble, the risks all make it worthwhile. And it probably seldom, if ever, fails to score. Thunder played like the virtuosi of aol rock that they are. My new agent, Danny Bowes, has an amazing vocal range. I hope he proves to be as convincing and sensational an agent as he is singer. To Bury St Edmunds (not praise it.....), for Battle Of The Bands, held in the Abbey grounds. Gave up a place in a box at Epsom Downs for the Derby. Giving back, I guess it’s known as! Some school/college age fellows played (no females in any of the 5 bands) 15 minute sets, and all, ALL, thrashed it with electric guitars, riffing like the 60s their own dads can only barely remember. It shocked me. I wanted melody and harmony, and I got unison thrash. I expected and hoped for Coldplay, The Killers, Elbow. I got Uriah Heep and The Edgar Broughton Band in short trousers.
This website has been up for a few years now. Met with Webmaster Andy Fearon recently, and a complete (and I mean complete!) re-vamp has begun. Andy reckons the new site, all inter-action and bells and whistles, should be ready for unveiling later in the summer. I am something of a technophobe, but Andy made it all sound very swish, elaborate and more than a little exciting, even to me. To Spain, to visit the old dad. Found a cool restaurant with good, serious cuisine. Always thought nobody would move to Spain for the food. Best meals I’ve had when out with family there have been Indonesian or Bulgarian (maybe Croatian, certainly east Euro). Finally found the decent one - in the Costa Blanca town where they live, at least. Great night with my brother Nigel, who my sister calls my “little buddy”. Can’t see why really, he’s a big ole boy. But my buddy, nonetheless. Proud to say so. His partner, Derek, is one of the best companions, too. They like a bit of banter, exchanges of opinion, without taking the Nice umbrage, common among my family. I like debate, banter and even argument, but a lifetime travelling with musicians who take no prisoners makes it the only way to get by. Greta missed the trip (the boy and his fab partner came with us); she’d already got a week at Boot Camp in Norfolk in the diary. Tough week, that. Very tough. But she completed and we are proud of her. She’s a softie at heart, so maybe Boot Camp and its RSM style routines have made a bit of a man of her (just kidding, girls).
Thinking of Culloden. But it was seven weeks ago we were there. We trudged around the battlefield, site of the last action fought on British soil. I think that’s right. Cold, windswept in January, of course. Great museum on the site, quite brilliantly presented. Then to Belfast: “an audience with.....” show, with songs thrown in. That’s what they asked for, at least. Barry and I actually played a 50 minute or so set after the interview. It was something new to me, different, and very worthwhile. Read a passage or two from The Impression collection. Bright, sensitive audience who made it easy for me. Next morning, a workshop. Never before, and I did regret agreeing to it all through the early part of the day. Then we went in. A basement room at the hotel where much of the Belfast/Nashville Songwriters Convention performances had been held. Thirty people or so. Up close. Like at home. I asked Barry what a workshop would entail, as I reckoned he might have been involved in a few. They’ll want to know how it’s all done, he said. So I sat and broke the ice. “So, what’s a workshop?” Silence. “What do you want to know?” And we were off. And, as usual, I was glad I’d said I would, and thrilled with the experience. Never before, different. Worthwhile. Special people, all the organising team, and the audiences. Welcoming and thoughtful. Bright and appreciative. Brought a smile as we were carried back to the airport that afternoon. Clint Eastwood will win the Oscar next year for Best Actor for Gran Torino. When the betting starts, I shall steam in, regardless of what comes later this year. It is charisma writ large and potent. Non-PC, which I like. He perfectly enacts the role of Mr Angry-But-Sensitive right-wing American, albeit of “Pollack” ancestry. And to Bury St Edmunds, tiny Georgian Theatre Royal for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. They swing, these youngsters. But they aren’t quite the NYJO of ten years ago, last time I caught them. Only a few quid a ticket, and a big thrill to see young players like that.
Sunshine in East Anglia at last. Been months since I last made a proper assault on the woods. Coppiced hazel and stacked logs in the woodshed, passing a calm, solitary few hours. The notes are there, in notebooks and on scraps of mini-disc. Tunes and couplets, simple rhymes and deeper thoughts all jumbled, randomly acquired and noted over the past few years. There is only one way I will collate it all into coherent songs, and that is by booking a recording studio.
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