Oct 10 2011

Triage, Theatre & Westminster Parking Update

Hello folks,

Thought I’d drop a quick post updating you on some recent developments and news.

Firstly my new trio with Lea DeLaria and Janette Mason Triage had it’s first gig last Friday at the Albert Hall’s Elgar Room. This is a brand new project for which we are developing a lot of new material. We tried out quite a few new arrangements on Friday, as well as some of the tunes from our long running Wall To Wall residency at the Pizza Express Jazz Club (Incidentally, we’ll be back at the Pizza on November 15th as part of the London Jazz Festival). The whamola even got it’s first outing in a stomping version of Straight No Chaser. As is to be expected I have duly started a Facebook page and a Twitter account which you can all subscribe to in order to keep up to date with all the news. Needless to say, we’re all very excited…

In other news, I had my first movement session this morning with the cast of A Comedy of Errors at the National Theatre. I am really looking forward to this production and it promises to be something really very special. The cast are a fantastic bunch of people and the band will feature Merlin Shepherd on reeds and the fabulous Ian ‘Squeezy’ Watson (my Divine Comedy colleague) on the accordion. There is an extensive period of rehearsal just starting now and the show opens for previews in November.

Now a little update on my Westminster Parking rant. The response to the post has been incredible. The level of outrage at the proposals really doesn’t surprise me. A great deal of people still have no idea that these changes are still going through; or that they are planned at all. It is therefore very urgent that we spread the news wherever possible; especially amongst the musicians and night workers in the West End that will be the most affected.

The petition against the proposals is still going over at GoPetitions; currently with 4548 signatures. This is still the petition that the Musician’s Union are directing it’s members towards. You can find it at


Last week I was contacted by somebody from BBC Inside Out London. I will hopefully be doing an interview for the program sometime over the next few weeks detailing the impact the proposed changes would have on musicians working in the West End. In the meantime, there is a demonstration outside Westminster City Hall this Wednesday at 6pm organized by the Musician’s Union in conjunction with other night worker organisations. I urge all musicians who regularly work in the West End to attend; whether or not they personally have to drive. Your bass players, drummers and keyboard players need you too!! And all the music lovers who don’t want to see a lot of their West End venues struggle. Here’s the flyer from the MU for those of you interested in attending:

I’ll keep you posted on the BBC program. We only have until December 1st, so there really is not a great deal of time to make a difference.

Until next time…

Sep 28 2011

The Much-Anticipated Double Feature Post…

How very remiss of me ladies and gentlemen. Now I know I posted at the beginning of our run at the National Theatre during rehearsals for the Double Feature, but have entirely failed to post anything since. I shall therefore redress the blog-balance with a little photo-blog. I shall endeavor to keep it short..

We finished the run of fifty shows just a few weeks ago and had a fantastic time. The band comprised myself on bass (and marching cymbals); Ben Castle on Sax, flute and sousaphone; Mark Edwards on keyboards and penny whistle and Phil Wilkinson on drums and tools.

The Double Feature was in fact four short plays; we would perform two each night on rotation, and all four on Saturdays when we had a matinee. The play was in the Paintframe which had been beautifully transformed by Soutra Gilmour into a new performance space, including a bar and foyer area. Our main function in the Double Feature was to perform in the foyer, and hand over between the plays and the changeovers as the performance space in turned around in the interval.

We were also on stage for one of the plays. We played a marching band during There Is A War by Tom Basden. We open the play by marching across a dark stage, self-lit by little lamps attached to our hats (oh yes indeed!)…

We cross the stage a further two times throughout the play, each time more bedraggled and beaten up by the war. By the final march, we have been robbed of our instruments…

We were joined by Dave Ohm on drums for the last few shows as Phil was off to get married. Dave and I have worked together a lot and it was really fun to have him in on the show.

We had a lot of fun during the Double Feature. I really love working at the National Theatre; it’s such a great creative environment and everyone that works there is fantastic. I went for an audition there on Tuesday for a new production and got the job, so I’ll be back there very soon rehearsing for The Comedy of Errors which runs between November and March in the Olivier. Can’t wait!

I shall leave you with a little gallery of other pics I took during the run. I’m still obsessed with the Hipstamatic application for iPhone and these are some of the results. Until next time…

Aug 28 2011

Petition Against Parking Charges in the West End

Hello folks,

As a follow-up to my previous post on Westminster Council’s proposed changes to weekend and evening parking charges, I thought I’d give you a little update regarding an online petition against the plans.

I’ve had a great response to the blog post and lots of good points were raised in the comments. Many people, not just musicians, are as against the plans as I am and have very strong feelings on the subject. Many people have been asking me if there is a petition online where they can voice their concerns. Today my attention has been drawn to the petition at GoPetition.com, which the Musician’s Union is directing it’s members towards. They say

This is only the start of a longer more concerted campaign to try to get these decisions turned around and your support is invaluable. This not only affects you as musicians directly but all areas of the evening and weekend economy of the West End so please take a moment to sign the petition

So far the petition has 2105 signatures and I would highly recommend all of you to pop over there and register your votes too. These plans are due to take effect from December 1st, so time is of the essence. Please share the link and spread the word before they kill our West End…