Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Secret Life of a Jazz Singer

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Inhaling Dust

We had our first full band rehearsal in Earl Mysterio's cellar last night and I've been coughing ever since.

I've just given up smoking (three weeks without a single puff so far...) but I may have just undone all that good work by inhaling three hours worth of brick dust.

But apart from that it was a good rehearsal.

Connie set up the keyboard under the hole in the roof, and it didn't cave in on top of her, (so that's good), but she did manage to get white chalk off the wall all down her back. That'll teach her to slouch when she's playing.

Earl kept hitting his head on the plastic flower garlands hanging from the ceiling, but I don't think it hurt.

Bobby seemed to be sitting on a computer monitor to drum, because he had to squeeze the kit in next to three boxes of junk, but he managed to find enough floor space for his beers so he was happy.

Magic J didn't have to bring his bass amp because Earl had a spare one. So he was happy too.

Fitzroy doesn't have to worry any more about leaving puddles of water on the floor when he's emptying the spit out of his trombone. If anything, this could be the perfect solution to the dust problem - damp it down.

Honey and I even had enough room to dance. I think that might be where all the dust came from: we might have kicked it up during our soft shoe shuffle.

So a good night all round.

All the cables are covered in dust now though, which is a whole new gig-night hazard. Brick dust on a satin gown is not a good look.



Monday, September 04, 2006

singing for my supper

This weekend i've been a proper jobbing musician with a gig on Saturday and a gig on Sunday, and very delicious free dinners at both.

I tell you what, it beats earning your crust by sitting in an office in front of a computer.

On Saturday I was on a riverboat cruise from Putney pier singing jazz standards for the esteemed ladies and gentlemen of the Rotary Club, while we cruised up and down the thames looking at the sights through the drizzle.

And last night Connie and I played at the Portobello Gold in Notting Hill. It looks like a 'rock pub' when you walk in, but it's got this amazing conservatory at the back where they have the restaurant and you can sit among palm fronds and mirrors and eat the immodestly billed "best sunday lunch in london". I have to say, my tuna steak with nicoise salad was quite possibly the finest I have ever eaten, so they may actually be telling the truth.

The barman built us a stage out of beer crates and boards, and rigged up the PA for us, but it felt slightly odd at first, standing above a pub-load of beer drinkers crooning old-fashioned jazz. Like a door had opened from another dimension and I had accidentally stepped through onto the wrong stage. But we had enough of our own friends there who knew what we were all about to turn the tide of the pub in our favour, and some very unlikely-looking punters seemed prepared to embrace jazz nostalgia - including a guy who looked as if he'd have been more at home at The Brian Jonestown Massacre, who didn't take his eyes off us for the whole first set, and thoughtfully mentioned in the break that the mix needed a slight adjustment to bring the vocal up so he could hear every word of the lyrics.

Then Tommy the promoter grabbed me and said there was a jazz singer in the pub on holiday from Hawaii, and could she do a number with us? Sherri got up and duetted on Girl From Ipanema, which would have gone slightly better if she could have remembered the words, but she attacked the number with plenty of enthusiasm to make up for it, and the crowd embraced her bravura performance with a kindhearted sense of fun. I got my first breaks in London being invited up on stage by complete strangers after brashly announcing myself as a jazz singer, so I'm all for it. Honey Mink was, in fact, one such kindhearted and brave musician - and I don't think she's ever lived to regret it. But that's a story for another time...

I managed to end the evening with a spectacular piece of girly ineptitude, which took the shine off a bit, and also jeopardised the future of my 50s dress. I pulled into a petrol station at 11 at night and couldn't manage to get near a pump where I could fill up from the left hand side - so I tried to pull the pump handle all the way around the back of my car instead. And of course the minute I pressed the handle petrol spurted all down my dress and over my arms and feet. I went flapping into the shop squealing like Nikki off Big Brother, demanding hand towels. The guys asked me why I didn't just turn my car round and approach the pump from the other side, which of course hadn't occurred to me. Oh and they also charged me 17p for the petrol I threw down myself.

Whether my dress will survive its misadventure remains to be seen. It's currently in a bucket soaking in Sainsbury's stain removal powder.

Note to self not to engage in any physical activities involving common sense or manual dexterity after singing for two hours.


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Goodbye Boscombe Road

It's the end of an era.

Ever since the band began, about two and a half years ago, we've been rehearsing in the front room of my old flat on Boscombe Road - and for decades the house has been a haven for actors, writers, and musicians. But the house has been sold - and this week we all moved our gear out and said goodbye forever to the crumbling Victorian pile, with its elegantly wasted leaking conservatory (home of many a messy party), its vast, overgrown garden (home of an impressive array of fruit bushes and a whole den of foxes), its eccentric electrics (including the fuse you have to push back in every time you turn on the kettle and the toaster at the same time and trip the power), and its giant front door (complete with beautiful lion door-knocker, and erratic yale lock, prone to jamming and locking you inside the house, so you have to go out via the conservatory and climb over the side gate to escape).

I love the place.

Luckily, we're not out on the street, with our piles of dodgy amps and pilfered keyboards. The stupendous Mr Earl Mysterio is in possession of a cellar which is not only big enough to fit us in, gear and all, it also has electricity. All right, so it also has a big hole in the ceiling, but as long as none of us stand under it, we should be okay.

But, no offence to Earl and his generous hospitality, it won't be the same...

Goodbye Boscombe Road, and thank you for being an inspirational, bonkers, totally brilliant place to live, work and play.




Strange Glamour Dreams

I'm a bit worried about my subcoscious life

A couple of nights ago I had a dream that I was giving someone make up tips - for some reason I was taking her step-by-step through my make-up routine on a beach. We were sitting on a rock promontary at the edge of a lovely sunny beach, looking out to sea. There I was, dolled up to the nines, complete with false eyelashes - and then I realised that to get off the beach, I would have to wade through the sea. I'd made it halfway across, when I saw a huge wave coming. Oh no, I thought, my make-up is going to be ruined! The wave hit me - but only came halfway up my face, leaving my false eyelashes spared. I was hugely relieved. What disturbed me, when I woke up shortly afterwards, was that I hadn't been remotely worried about drowning in the vast wave I saw coming straight for me (we are talking Old Spice Advert scale here, for anyone mature enough to recognise that reference) - all I was worried about was all that hard work on my face going to waste.

Have I got Glamour Issues? Should I be consulting a psychologist?



Thursday, August 24, 2006

Going Festie

I know I'm not the sort of girl you would imagine doing this but... last weekend I went incognito to a music festival.

Yes, that's right. Mud, wellies, the works.

Admittedly, my Beloved and I did have a designer tent, complete with inflatable double matress, duvet and pillows... but in all other respects we threw ourselves enthusiastically into the full festie experience.  I even wore the free plastic poncho that came with the Guardian. I hope to God there are no photos...

Most decadent festie activity of the weekend was the stalls selling balloons filled with nitrous oxide for £2 a pop. Festies everywhere were sitting on the ground in little circles inhaling from party balloons then whooping, giggling and swooning as the laughing gas kicked in for, ooh, seconds of thrill. I daresay by next year someone will have found some reason to make it illegal - or limited the sale of whipped cream dispensers to certified catering companies only, thus cutting off the nitrous oxide dealers' access to the tools of their trade...

I may have been there incognito but if there's a stage going begging anywhere you can count on me to muscle my way onto it somehow or other... and getting onto the mainstage was definitely the highlight of my festival.  Honey Mink was booked to play at the festival under her alter-ego, 'Lana, and she asked me if I fancied doing backing vocals for her. She didn't have to ask me twice, I can tell you.

It was very exciting getting the green artist's wristband, swanning past the security to the backstage area, having real roadies shifting our gear onto the stage, free bottles of water, and a stage manager asking us where we wanted the mikes set up. But most exciting of all was standing up there and looking out at the crowd from the stage. I was really crap - I actually waved at Beloved from the stage, which is sooooo uncool. But I was excited.

Lana's songs went down a storm - and so they should. They're catchy, simple bluesy rock'n'roll numbers that are stupidly easy to dance to and almost impossible to get out of your head. I danced my little socks off... and, just as Lana predicted, the sun came out specially for the half hour we were on stage.





Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"What have you done to your back?"

Gearing up for this week's gig, I've been hit by an unforeseen crisis.

My Beloved, possibly the most well-qualified boyfriend in the whole universe ever, is not only a yoga teacher, but also trained in the art of massage, and last Friday he generously offered to give my shoulders a good strong pummelling because they were giving me gyp. And very pleasant it was too.

But the next morning as I was dressing he asked, "What have you done to your back?" Peering over my shoulder in the mirror, I noticed what looked like two carpet burns - right where Beloved was pressing away some particularly stubborn knots of tension the day before. Beloved vehemently denied these were actual grazes, but claimed instead they were some sort of internal burst blood capillaries which would disappear within a day.

But sitting on the grass in Regents Park at the Fruitstock festival that afternoon, Honey suddenly said, "What have you done to your back?" and confirmed my worst fears that they were actual proper scabs, like the sort you got on your knee when you fell down in the playground aged five.

Beloved is very embarrassed, bless him - it seems that while he was flinging all his strength into massaging my shoulders, he was also grinding the cloth of my top into my skin in an unintentionally abrasive fashion. More fool me for leaving my top on. I'm not really angry with him - he was pouring all his energies into being a devoted and loving boyfriend at the time. He just doesn't know his own strength.

But it does leave me with a terrible dilemma for Thursday. All my gowns are backless - in fact Hollywood, who designs them for me, has decided to make a bare back my signature feature. But I don't particularly want to raise gasps of horror and concern every time I turn my back on the audience and they get an eyeful of my spectacularly unsexy scabs. It's too hot to keep my kimono-coat on for the whole gig. And I can't see a couple of plasters cutting the mustard either.

I've got two days to come up with a solution. Answers on a postcard please.



Friday, August 04, 2006

Honey can't come out to play

We've been offered a gig at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club - which is brilliant, because we've wanted to play there for ages - but when everybody got their diaries out at rehearsal on Monday night to book it in, Honey pipes up:

"Oh no! I'm not allowed out of the house that day!"

What's this? is she under house arrest? Some kind of excessive punishment for her bad-girl activities (smoking too many marlboros, picking up strange men on the tube)?

No, apparently there are two days in the entire year when she's not allowed out of doors, and this is one of them. It's Rosh Hashanah. So that means while we're hefting amps about, trailing microphone leads dangerously across the floor, and applying Rocket Red to our lips (well, maybe only me) in preparation to large it at the Sunday Large Club, she'll be draped elegantly over a couch eating milk and honey (how appropriate).

We'll just have to manage without her - but it won't be the same. I haven't done a gig without her shimmying along beside me for months, and I can tell you, shimmying is a lot more fun 'a deux' as the French say. But you probably knew that.

Maybe I can coax Connie out from behind the keyboards to join me for a quick wiggle now and again. And come to think of it, Sir Fitz has been known to indulge in the odd dance move (and I use the word odd advisedly) when he's not got his 'bone stuck to his lips. So I think we'll muddle through...

...but I'm glad there are only two days of the year when Honey's not allowed out to play.



Sunday, July 30, 2006

Too darn hot

Everybody's wilting a bit in this London heatwave, but spare a thought for the special hardships of jazz singers like me and Honey Mink. It's hot enough on stage at the best of times, what with the lights and the dancing around and all the over-excitement generally - but in this weather it's a killer. When you've got a boned, corseted gown on that's so tight you need a friend to zip you in (thanks, Honey) you get to know the meaning of the word overheated. I'm thinking I may have to dress down for the gig on August 10th and try and find something with a few more airholes.

Honey's having terrible trouble with the heat, and had to cancel a rehearsal the other week because she was too hot to move and therefore unable to travel. She also experiences massive sartorial dilemmas in this weather. She hates her bra-straps showing, but she can't go out without a bra, and bra straps show under most of the summer tops you can buy, so the net result is that she's leaving the house as little as possible.

But she has promised to come to the park with me tomorrow so we can practise our harmonies. So if you're wandering through Clissold Park tomorrow afternoon, and you hear the lilting sound of scat, that'll probably be us rehearsing. Practising in a park is a pretty good idea, because hopefully you can find a spot far enough away from everyone else that they can't hear you. Much better than rehearsing on the tube, I can tell you. Mind you it depends what Honey decides to wear - depending on how hot she is, we might end up attracting more attention than we bargained for...


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Who is Connie Vanderlay?

I'm often called upon to answer questions about my mysterious and exotic fellow band members (musical history, sexual availability etc etc...), so I'm going to do my best to satisfy your curiosity, starting with pianist Connie Vanderlay, whose erstwhile biographer, Rosa Conrad, has kindly supplied me with the following document for publication:

"Connie's musical background remains an enigma. It is generally accepted
that at some point she went to a prestigious music conservatoire but did
not attend the full term. One version of this story is that Connie went
AWOL in search of the strange sounds she had heard at night when listening
to her favourite radio station, 'Weird Waves' and was spotted some time
after on horseback clutching a Tuvan throat singer for warmth somewhere
east of Ulan Bator.

Another version is that she had fallen foul of the conservatoires
sensibilities by becoming obsessed with jazz chords and improvisation,
going off on wild tangents inappropriately in the middle of Beethoven
sonatas and Bach fugues and tried the patience of the masters by having the
uncontrollable urge to make tri-tone substitutions of the dominant and
scattering minor sevenths and sharp ninths where they weren't invited. The
final straw being an infamous re-working of Schumann's Kinderscenen joined
as a kind of hybrid with a jazzed up version of the 80's Alice Cooper
classic, 'Poison'. She had a good ear, they say, but she was out on it.

Since these shady times, she seems to have been spotted in several
extremely far-off locations conducting some kind of musical odyssey. She
was heard playing her strange improv whilst necking back the wine in a
pricy restaurant in the geothermal wonderland that is Rotorua, New Zealand.
Then she was spotted busking Irish folk music with a frighteningly virtuoso
accordionist for mere cents in the country's capital, Wellington. Further
sightings were made in hicksville sheep country: deepest Taranaki where
first she was spotted playing Aerosmith dities on keyboards in a Maori hard
rock band, then later seems to have re-visited the region only to get
entangled with an all-female sect whose raison d'etre is to deify the

She was also spotted singing folk songs and playing a surprisingly small
guitar in a Kyoto cafe, and in several places around Japan on the country's
highly organised underground bluegrass circuit with a wayward Japanese man
who appeared to be half man, half mandolin.

And of course there was her extended stay on the tiny tropical island of
Cuni-Longo where she was entranced by the Melanesian rhythms and harmonies
and became so involved with native life that some believed she would be
lost to the coral reefs and palm trees for good.

As for men, she's been linked to various slightly unhinged drummers;
legendarily, Tricity Vogue's ex-drummer, the dapper Ferdinand Lips, who
inexplicably ran away to join a Parisian cult circus troupe who hold firmly
to the belief that the moon is made of camembert. Any link with this sudden
departure to the fact that the night before Connie had taken him to an
extended performance of Arnold Schoenberg's 'Pierrot Lunaire' and Anton
Weber's 'Wozzek' is mere conjecture.

But Ms. Vanderlay insists that music is her true love and that she won't
let herself be sidetracked from her passion by such irrelevancies as men,
unlike her deplorable friend Ms. Vogue. Although some might say this may be
less to do with a righteous stand for independence than a hopeless raising
of her standards as a result of her past intimacy with the beautiful
cannibals of Cuni-Longo."

So there you have it.

Anyone still willing to risk a liaison with Ms Vanderlay after learning of her taste in cannibals is a braver man than any I've ever dated.

Then again, that isn't saying much...





I think I was there in that Kyoto cafe.  Good times.  I'd had quite a bit of sake but am pretty sure she was doing a jazz-folk version of 'Honey, suck my rose', by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers I think.

Posted by The Goldhawk Road Slush Fund on Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 12:41 PM

Wow... corroboration! And there was me thinking some of it might actually be made up... I feel so ashamed of my lack of faith. Sorry Connie.

Now all we need to find is some witnesses from Cuni-Longo...



Saturday, July 08, 2006

my sparkly new website

I'm so excited! It's been a labour of love, and it's finally finished. My very own website.

The more observant followers of my career may have noticed that I've been using the word "soon" a bit loosely on the holding page - which has boldly stated "website coming soon" for the last year. But now it's finally come, I hope you'll forgive me for making you wait.

Of course, there is a school of thought that making people (especially men) wait for something will make them appreciate it more when they get it. I've never actually been able to put this theory into practise, especially not with men, being too impatient myself - but it really wasn't a deliberate strategy this time.

What happened was that my brother offered to build me a website, and we sat down for a meeting and came up with loads of brilliant ideas together, like, why don't I hand-draw all the captions and the decorative bits? And then we discovered that for every hour I spent doing lettering by hand, my brother would have to spend about five hours painstakingly cleaning it up in photoshop so it was actually legible. But we stuck doggedly to our plan.

However, work on the site hit a slight hiatus in March 2005 when my brother produced something else:
Lily Mae

Quite rightly, Lily Mae got first billing for a while, but my brother promised me that he would finish my site come hell or high water. Then he found out he had to move to France for his job. Luckily, France isn't in hell or high water, however, so work resumed on our hand-crafted piece of virtual real estate, as scanned images, photographs and emails commuted from London to Lyon in a glamorously continental fashion. This may be whimsy, but I have to say that I think a touch of French chic has attached itself to the site in consequence.

I sent an email to all the Friends of Tricity this week to give the site its grand official launch, and lots of people have been complimentary about it, which is delightful - I feel like a proud parent showing everyone my new baby, even though, strictly speaking, it was my brother who went through all the labour pains.

I've even started getting letters to my agony page, from troubled souls hoping to draw on my extensive experience in affairs of the heart. (Some might say too extensive, but that's nonsense. If you were looking for a plumber, you wouldn't choose one who'd never fitted a pipe before, would you?) Having learnt my own lessons in love from the School of Hard Knocks, I'm only too happy to share what I've learned along the way, and hope that it saves someone else a few bruises.

If I can help you out with any romantic dilemmas, don't hesitate to drop me a line.
Meanwhile I'd love to know what you think of the site... and whether it was worth the wait.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The warm glow of a gig well done

I don't usually admit this, but I was a bit scared before last week's gig. Not because I was worried about our performance - but because I was worried about England's - in the World Cup game right before the gig. If, God forbid, England lost - and lost against Trinidad and Tobago of all people, then no amount of flirtatious leg-wiggling from me was going to raise a smile from any male audience member - let alone a glass of champagne. If on the other hand we won, there was a high chance that the bar would be filled with boisterous males more interested in thumping each other on the back and roaring banal footie anthems, than sitting still and listening to finely-honed jazz. Or, if the mood was right, and the crowd was still basking in the warm glow of victory... it could be one of our best gigs yet.

Honey Mink and I sat together painting our nails and listening to the radio commentary on the match with rising trepidation. As the clock ticked on towards six thirty, we applied coats of "Vino" (tragically, a now discontinued Mac shade) with increasingly shaky hands as the commentator reiterated how angry he was getting at the disappointing England play, and I envisaged hoards of raging, red-faced England fans venting their frustration by hurling half-empty pint glasses at my shiny pink frock...And then - oh blessed relief! - a goal. And then another! Victory snatched from the jaws of nondescript play at the last moment... I positively bounced to the car with Connie's keyboard (lucky she was holding the other end).

It took a good hour to get ourselves set up for the sound check, what with persuading the footie fans sitting in our stage area to make way for a drumkit and pile of amps, moving sofas, and encouraging drunken revellers to remove their drinks from the surface reserved for the mixing desk... but once we got stuck in to the first number it quickly became apparent that the crowd were on our side. By the second number, people were dancing, and by the third, an impromptu dance-floor had formed.  We played straight through til ten, and despite my fears that the audience would have a low tolerance threshold for quieter numbers, even that sorry tale of  being dumped, Is It Because, went down well. And there was as much dancing to original numbers My Side of the Bed and Under Your Thumb as there was to the cheeky eighties covers.

The second set saw no let up in enthusiasm from the crowd, who I was quite prepared to see sloping off after ten - and, delightfully, they wouldn't let us off the stage, demanding not one, but two encores. There were even cries for a third, but by then we were all jazzed out and in need of a stiff drink.  Special commendations must go to the gentlemen of the National Geographic Channel, who desported themselves very commendably on the dancefloor - I will of course give one of their number's request to join the band in the role of backing dancer serious consideration.

Special mention too, to my beloved, who thought the embarrassment of being singled out for a Birthday dedication would be lessened if he banned us from singing Happy Birthday or mentioning his name. How wrong he was. But I feel sure that he was deeply touched - and reassured - by my bespoke performance of Aint Misbehaving, during which I assured him emphatically of my fidelity and virtuous behaviour, while shimmying hell-for-leather in figure-hugging satin.

A big thank-you to my partner-in-crime Miss Honey Mink (who's made some major new conquests at the National Geographic), to Lovely Tom, the Shepherds Bar Manager (who, despite having had to pack about three days-worth of work into one, still stayed to mix the sound so exquisitely for us) and to the band, who reached new heights of cheeky aplomb, and kept everyone grooving away on the dance-floor:

The melodious Sir Fitzroy Callow on Trombone

The mischievous Bobby Fresh on Drums

The marvellous Magic J on Bass

The mellifluous Earl Mysterio on Guitar

and, finally,

The magnificient Miss Connie Vanderlay on piano.

It was so so lovely to have her back, and, despite the fact we were performing together for the first time in more than a year, it was like she'd never been away... but even better.



Friday, June 02, 2006

The Return of Connie Vanderlay

She's back! After a year travelling the world with her cheeky little baby guitar on her back, Miss Connie Vanderlay has returned to the bosom of the family Vogue.

Our inimitable pianist will be launching herself on London musical society anew at our next gig on Thursday 15 June. After playing in festivals across Australia and New Zealand, and even a Japanese birthday party, it's back to the glitz and glamour of Shepherds Bush. Let's hope it doesn't go to her head.

What she is actually going to play ON is still a minor puzzle for us to solve. I can't imagine, even if I turn the full beam of my charm on him, that I can persuade Lovely Tom the Shepherds Bar manager to install a grand piano in two weeks. Bassist extraordinaire Magic J, true to his name, has revealed, astonishingly, that he happens to have a full-size Roland keyboard with a stand, weighted keys and the whole caboodle lying around in his loft. Apparently though his loft is in Croydon. Also the keyboard is longer than his car. I doubt I can persuade Tom to buy us a roof-rack.

So maybe I can attach one end of the keyboard to my bumper, Magic J can attach the other end to the front of his car, and we can put some coasters on it. Magic J, when not thumbing the beefy strings of his bass, has a nifty little sideline in Special Effects, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed he can come up with something magical to transport his ivories to the Bush. Nothing would be more disappointing for our audience than a pianist they can't hear, because she's been forced to play thin air.

However we solve the quandary of the Missing Piano, the return of Connie means one thing very important: the band is getting bigger... and I'll have my very own Big Band again before I know it. Only 16 more musicians to go...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Post Gig Bliss - and the search for an Angel...

Ah, last week's gig really was lovely...

It was the hottest day of the year so far, and everyone was sitting outside on the terrace while we crooned away inside for the first half... then, in the second half, we got a few hardcore fans inside to listen properly - and, indeed, sing along. I must confess I got a bit raunchy at one point, thanks to the influence of a particularly flamboyant (and possibly homosexual?) member of the audience.

Bobby Fresh has got himself a new drumkit in fabulous canary yellow, which was a fine addition to the stage show, and contrasted deliciously with my bright pink gown. Honey Mink and myself found it tougher than usual to squeeze into our stage-wear. Which might have been to do with the temperature, or alternatively an excess of indulgence... One of the nice things about sharing your stage with a lady friend is that you have someone to help you in and out of your frock. Honey's has an inner corset as well, so there are two zips to wrestle with - all I can say is, I'm glad of all that yoga training. Both our frocks are boned and corseted to within an inch of our lives, and we both felt quite light-headed with relief when we finally unfastened them at the end of the evening... we may have to source some Victorian-style smelling salts if the weather gets much hotter over the summer. Or try tequila. That's Honey's cure-all for most ills, and I have to say, she may be onto something. It's certainly less gassy than champagne.

The dresses are not the only thing feeling tighter these days - the boys in the band are on exquisite form, and we glided and swished and sassed our way through out set with a relaxed aplomb that makes me feel certain that now is the time to record our demo. Of course, all we need to do now is find a kindhearted angel with an empty unused studio just waiting to be filled with jazzers for the day...

If you are that angel, do please drop me a line. Much as I love singing in tight satin gowns, I can't wait for the opportunity to sing without wearing one for a change, in a more intimate studio atmosphere...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The Joys of Rehearsing

Who said that trying to get a bunch of musicians together in one place was like herding cats? Jazz musicians are the coolest cats of the lot of course, and so it took a week of solid planning and negotiation to make last night's rehearsal happen - but once you get us all in a room together we find it hard to leave...

Sir Fitzroy Callow couldn't help but stay for one more number, despite his urgent desire to return to glamorous Tottenham for an early(ish) night - but once we started up the slinky rhythms of Trust In Me, how could he resist putting in his saucy snake noises? It's amazing what he can do with that rubber mute of his. Who would have thought one horn could produce so many different sounds?

Jazz in-jokes of the night included a spontaneous rendition after I said 'Okay guys, take five...' and smirks at the phrase 'I like a good rim-shot'. Possibly the cans of 'wife beater' were a mistake for musicians of such refined sensibilities, but they certainly made three hours of rehearsing go by in a flash, and by the end of the night we were certainly tight, both in the muso-speak sense, and the classic debauched sense.

We will probably have even more fun on Thursday - not just because the Shepherds Bar has a more refined range of beverages than my refrigerator, but also because there'll be a discerning audience of likeminded cool cats and kittens to play for...

Hope to see you there.

All my love,




Sincere apologies to Sir Fitzroy Callow, who has corrected my misapprehension that he currently resides in Tottenham. Although he is Tottenham born and bred, he is now living in Southgate, which, confusingly, is not in the south of the city at all, but even further north than Tottenham.

All the more reason to appreciate his dedication to the jazzerly cause in trekking all the way to Shepherds Bush for rehearsals.



Thursday, April 20, 2006
A New Residency

I've been wandering like a little waif from venue to venue ever since my Big Band ditched me, but the lovely Tom, manager at the Shepherds Bar (so charming, so KIND...), wants me back every month from now on. I can't tell you how excited I am - of course variety is nice, but a longterm relationship with a single venue is much more satisfying than one night stands in a different bar or club every week. You never know what the dressing facilities are going to be like, what you'll sound like through the PA, or, even more crucial, whether you'll be properly lit...

I really hope that this one lasts... I think I've been through quite enough upheavals for one girl, and, although Shepherds Bush may be a little further from the West End than I'd been led to believe, sometimes being a little hard to reach is good for a girl's image...

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