my first guitar

music and sound

I’ve been playing an instrument since, at the age of seven, I stretched my weedy little arms over the jumbo guitar of my parents’ Canadian lodger. When he went home, I made my own guitar from elastic bands, a biro, a ruler and a biscuit tin (you had to be there). Before that, I played my Nana’s piano for hours and, before that, my grandad taught me to play Oh Susannah on a miniature harmonica, which amazing experience (to me at the age of about 4) got me started. Carrying on in this tradition, I hacked my first electric guitar from a cheap acoustic, the microphone innards from a tape recorder and a piece of metal curtain rail (the picture on the left was taken before the hack and, yes, I covered it in drawings - I was about 14). I survived several mains shocks but it sounded great and very dirty. I also made my own stereo and (for fun) used to manually phase my vinyl audio against reel-to-reel recordings by slowing up the turntable. I also covered my room in paintings, but that’s another story. Most of my music mileage was in Leicester, where (apart from the info below) I played a variety of instruments with a variety of people, among the most memorable was a short series of gigs as a duo with ex-Deep Freeze Mice drummer Graham Summers, with his fantastic sense of humour and left-field musicianship. Being a member of all the bands mentioned here, I should probably be on some list but (not being very promotionally proactive) I’m not.… (remember that?). These days, for more songs and a downloadable album, see my Bandcamp pages or Facebook music.

Loscoe State Opera

I was also a singer/songwriter/guitarist in Loscoe State Opera ("folk inspired bedevilry that WILL make you happy", according to one review)—also see the companion video to this: Loscoe State Opera at Stainsby Festival in 2011 from moongold. It’s nice that we built up such a diverse and enthusiastic following including a great crowd in Broadstairs, Kent as well as our Derbyshire fan base and in the “greener and/or folk alternative” festival scene. However, after 23 years in 2018 we did our last gig together (before Ben’s sad death) at Stainsby Folk Festival.

Loscoe State Opera still had enough unrecorded material for another album, although without Ben that’s not now likely to see the light of day although there are in-crowd videos of the last headline gig at Stainby Festival’s 50th anniversary on our Facebook account. You can find Loscoe State Opera CDs here, as well as on Amazon and Spotify. By the way, we were proud to be the first non-acoustic band to be welcomed at the venerable Priddy Folk Fayre :-)

The Storm Thieves

Storm Thieves 3rd CD cover Although the Storm Thieves may now only meet occasionally at a suitably celebratory points in time, I’m still in contact with Dan Britton and Chris Conway. We’re remembered from the 90s in Leicester for never practicing yet turning out (apparently) memorable performances of (at the time distinctly unfashionable) extended acoustic and harmony-based songs about twice a year, pulling in regular crowds and attracting a loyal following of really lovely people. Chris Conway has re-issued all the original Storm Thieves recordings for free download. After 12 years, these include the “lost” album we recorded in 1995 (we were proud of our unstressful slacker approach), and the instrumental Dwellers in the Mirage album from when we called ourselves “Leaf Storm”. Chris tells the story here.

I recently collected all my Storm Thieves material on an album on Bandcamp, including some nice live versions of the later Loscoe State Opera favourite “Dawn Bird”. If you pay the measly £5 you can also hear all the bonus tracks and see photos! Here:

The Rain Garden, Memory Wire and more…

Rain Garden CD cover Recently I’ve really enjoyed playing in Memory Wire with Jim Tetlow (Jim on Bandcamp) and Chris Conway, performing partly electro-acoustic, partly improvised live pieces—there are three videos of these performances on YouTube. There’s always been an instrumental and improvisational thread to the music I like to play, first explored at length and live after meeting Chris Conway. Humbling to think The Rain Garden once shared a stage (and compared double-bass playing) with Gavin Bryars (who happened to be one of my former Fine Art guest lecturers). Apart from several rehearsed pieces, as drifty ambient improvisers, we made up titles from science fiction books opened at random ten minutes before each performance—one of us would shout a page number, the other a line number, the third would read it out. We’d say that’s a good title and write it on the set list (the best/worst was why do you look at me like that. Jim?). The Rain Garden were part of the 1999 Leicester Music Festival, as were Ensemble 8, with the late Ben Daglish from Loscoe State Opera (Ben is well-known for writing excellent early computer game music too :-)

Experimental and other music

I also have experimental work (starting with tape loops and electro-acoustic experiments at art college in the 70s, like using the pickup on an electric guitar to record saxophone loops—haunting and interesting—or using oscillators to produce mathematically-based pieces which sounded horrible). I was also a participant with other musicians in two of the early Sharp Edge (search on the page) concerts in Nottingham, UK, organised by members of the Royal Philharmonic in the late 90s (“a flexible ensemble of 10 to 30 musicians… innovative concerts of the newest music”)—all very different. Sound also features in digital art in which I’ve been involved, and is part of my project cubeLife. Former Loscoe State Opera flautist Kate Rounding made a brief piece from the audio we recorded for the work.

I’ve just started on fragments I’ve collected over the years, including old bedroom tapes with interesting (well, they are to me, anyway) glimpses of sounds and moody hints of songs, as well as a big collection of acoustic guitar pieces. Whatever can be turned into something listenable will eventually appear here.

Send a message to me
expression through music is a simple pleasure evoking thoughtless responses...
communication of conscious experience through sound is a primal form of interaction...
audiences act as intelligent feedback systems for assessing interaction...