Dec 24 2011

Quick Pre-Christmas End of Year Roundup!

Good evening folks,

Thought I’d sneak in a quick blog post before Christmas is officially upon us. It’s also my first attempt at writing the blog using the WordPress iPad app(lication). It’ll be interesting to see what a hash I make of the formatting if nothing else. I apologise in advance if it comes out looking like a dog’s dinner and littered with typos.

I’m sitting here watching the excellent Victor Wooten Groove Workshop DVD which arrived this morning. Yes indeed folks, I am a proper bass geek.

It’s been a fantastic year. The quiet first few months gave me time to record my second solo album The Knowledge of Things To Come (and the 5-track Rejectamenta EP)and put it out via Bandcamp and CD Baby. When things get busy there just isn’t enough time to concentrate on my own music so this year I’ve learnt to embrace the occasional ‘gig drought’ and make the most of my time…

20111224-215305.jpg

As well as touring with Clare Teal and Lea DeLaria I’ve been lucky enough to play for two shows at the National Theatre this year. In the Spring I was playing the Double Feature in the Paintframe with Ben, Phil and Mark from the Duke Special band. We had a great time and it was amazing to play in such a special venue. I wrote a whole post on the Double Feature earlier this year. Obviously, the Paintframe theatre isn’t there anymore (they started tearing it down straight after our last show) but I reckon we’ll be hearing from the band sometime next year. Watch this space…

20111224-220720.jpg

A couple of months after finishing the Double Feature I was called back to the National for Dominic Cooke’s production of The Comedy of Errors, which opened in November. We’re currently right in middle of our run of over 80 shows in the Olivier (back in on Boxing Day!). We had some fantastic reviews and he shows are selling out so if you’re gonna come; book your tickets sooner rather than later folks…

20111224-222239.jpg

Aside from playing and writing I also got quite involved with the fight against Westminster Council’s plans for evening and weekend parking charges. I had conversations with the Musicians Union and the BBC. I wrote about it extensively on my site and Twitter. I even spent one rather wet night in the street outside Westminster City Hall with a load of musicians and bikers (!) handing out leaflets. I have never done that before…

20111224-224259.jpg

Well, having postponed the charges until January (supposedly so as not to ruin Christmas) Westminster Council has now decided to wait until after the Olympics to implement their ridiculous plans. Although apparently there are Council elections in May so hopefully we’ll have seen the last of them by then. Why anyone would vote Colin Barrow back in after this is beyond me. I shall keep you posted…

So I accidentally bought two new basses this year. First was the Fender 60th Anniversary Precision bass which has already seen plenty of action this year. About a month ago after much searching I bought a Breedlove acoustic bass. Having been playing an ABG for The Comedy of Errors I’ve gotten used to idea and actually really started appreciating he sound (if not the action!). So I’ve decided to record a new solo record next year entirely on acoustic and was therefore forced to buy one. Honestly. There was no other option. This afternoon I put the Breedlove through the looping rig to see how it recorded. This is the first demo, a quick improvisation on the acoustic…

Breedlove Acoustic Demo #1 by simonlittlebass

Well that was a long post. It’s been a great year and I’m looking forward to 2012 and all the exciting new projects that are coming up. Little Alex and Triage are both set to be doing all kinds of good things next year. And I’ll eventually have another solo record for you. You lucky things…

Merry Christmas everybody and have a happy new year!

20111224-230219.jpg


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…


Jul 21 2011

Back at the National Theatre

Thought I’d drop a quick post to let you know what’s been happening of late. Those of you that follow me on Twitter will already know that for the past few weeks I’ve been back at the National Theatre working on a new series of plays.

The series is called Double Feature, and we perform two short plays per night. There are four plays in total and they will eventually alternate each night. They are:

  • Edgar & Annabel by Sam Holcroft
  • The Swan by DC Moore
  • Nightwatchman by Prasanna Puwanarajah
  • There Is A War by Tom Basden

We’ve just finished three previews of the first two plays and are about to start technical rehearsals for the next two. The plays are being staged in the National Theatre’s Paint Frame which has been transformed into a unique performance space. This is the first time the space has been used to stage theatre and everyone is really excited about the project.

We have a four piece band drawn from the Duke Special gang. Our MD is Ben Castle and we are joined by Phil Wilkinson and Mark Edwards. We’ve got some great music and I’m getting a chance to play my Dano 63 again which has been great fun.

I really love working at the National on the Southbank. It’s one of my favourite parts of London. I’ve also been taking the opportunity to take lots of photos with the wonderful Hipstamatic for iPhone (my latest obsession). Here’s a few choice pics from the last couple of weeks…

The press nights are in a couple of weeks so there’s still a little while to go with previews. Hopefully see some of you there in the near future. The Double Feature runs until September 10th.

Until next time :)

ps. I had another lovely review for The Knowledge of Things To Come on Guitar Jar last week. You can read the review Here.