Getting in the swing

27/09/2014 Traveller Tip: In these countries, Facebook (including Messenger), Twitter, Youtube and Google (including the play store, Google Drive, Gmail, Hangouts) are likely to be unreachable until you get your VPN working. Don’t rely on these to hold any important travel information, and let people at home know that contact may be difficult until you get it sorted.

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One with the lot thanks!

 

Solo stuff

In the ‘off-season’ between tours, I undertook a course with Cari Cole all about how to turn musicianship into a profession. There were some great technical and artist developmental tips, as well as an introduction to other artists at all levels and ages, but the most value I got from the course was the slap-in-the-face common sense approach that if you want to make money as an artist, you need to treat it as a business. Continue reading

Back on the tour bus!

It’s been a while since my last instalment back in March 2011 when I was posting the last of the 2011 tour blogs. This intervening year and a half has been jam packed with Solo and PlanB goings on, so I’ll try to bring you up to speed as a lead-in to the next tour.

That’s right, the PlanB collection of Continue reading

Massages and all that Jazz

Sun 16th Jan – Massage, Sheraton, Jazz Club
Aside:how your mind justifies things is quite funny sometimes. Because wages and excise on things like alcohol and cigarettes are typically quite low, things are very cheap, and you find yourself objecting to prices because you think someone might be taking more profit than they should. This is despite the fact that Continue reading

Tequila Bob, Buddha, The End

Fri 14th Jan – Gullivers Travels. Show at Buddha

Aside: The way we interact with others is a very subtly learned skill. This came to me as I was walking along Bui Vien, the street our hotel was on, towards Stella’s. Even given the larger number of people, there seemed to be an unusually large number of times that I and the person walking towards me did the “this-way-that-way” dance. At first I thought it might be Continue reading

Recording, donations, and applause for finishing

Wed 12th Jan – 5th day recording. All but two songs down. Visit to the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation

I was in recording for a half day today as Karen, Kayla and I had arranged to deliver some things to the Christina Noble Foundation, a foundation set up for local children.  Kayla came with me to Continue reading

The film clip and No. 5 bar

Apart from the recording and gigging we’re doing over here, Patrick has also been collecting vision for some film clips for 3 of the album songs. One of those is called “So Saigon”. It was originally entitled “So Far Gone”, but with the practices in Adelaide, it morphed a bit and became more topical. I liked it because of the sense of metaphor; although being “So Saigon” didn’t really mean anything before, it does now! We’ve since found out that it translates quite well into Vietnames, too, the “So” prefix gives the subject (Saigon) a uniqueness or feeling of being special. This may well be beneficial if we decide to push the single into HCMC when it’s all set up. The songs we are recording are…

• Blueprint
• Too Late the Hero
• Maggies
• Give It Away
• Plan B
• I Don’t Mind
• Sandpaper Sally
• So Saigon
• Falling In Love (for the 1st Time)
• Images

All songs were written entirely by Peter Flierl, the bass player, with the exception of Sandpaper Sally, to which I contributed some lyrics. Blueprint, Too Late the Hero and I Don’t Mind were all written and performed in the 80’s version of the band, and Plan B was written and performed by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. The band in those days was heavily influenced by Dexy’s and so took their name from that song. Although we’ve always performed it, the idea of including it on the album was a strategic one; while the album is being prepared, Peter, Patrick and myself will seek out blogs and forums of Dexy’s fans and make our selves known there. Once the song is ready, we’ll let them know about it and hopefully pick up a few new fans that way. I think we need to be prepared for some pretty ‘religious’ discussion at the time, but if we maintain a position of respect for Dexy’s, and that this song is a nod to them, not a rip-off, we should be OK. Given the number of songs, plus the two recorded last year (Call Me and Southern Delta), we’re actually considering releasing an EP first so that we can have it ready sooner. All the post production will happen back in Adelaide, so we’ll just see how long it takes when we try it. Anyway, back to the film clip. Patrick’s idea was for it to be about me wandering lost after having broken up with a girl (played by local girl Thi), and another girl (Helen) always appearing at the right moment to help me out. Helen was fantastic; she is actually one of the receptionists at our hotel, and was happy to give up half a day to appear in the clip. The clip takes place mainly in the back alleys near the hotel. These are amazing places, like rabbit warrens, off the main streets. Patrick put together a test clip (click here) to get a feel for how it would look (excuse the ‘dry’ singing, this is actually a very difficult piece to pitch because it has such long extended notes in it. The soundtrack on this clip is from one of the guide vocals I put down early in the recording process.

That night we played the No. 5 bar. We played here a couple of times last tour, and so there was a real sense of coming home in preparation for this gig. As usual with high expectations, the reality was a little disappointing. The bar and the girls which seemed so much fun and welcoming last year felt a whole lot more ‘business as usual’ this time. We set up, we played, and we left. Actually, it wasn’t quite like that; we had a few chats to a some of the customers and got a great reaction from the crowd.

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The following day I spent around the hotel room, not doing a lot. Apart from my own recuperation, Kayla was still quite poorly; she slept most of the day, and so I stayed with her to give Karen the opportunity to do some exploration. That night we dragged her out of bed to go to the Jazz Club, a club run by the owner of the recording studio, Tran Manh Tuan. We didn’t stay too long but the whole experience was very rewarding, seeing Tuan play and watching a couple of locals get up and sing with the band. This sparked the idea in me that I could do it, too, and so I resolved to speak to Tuan the next recording session. 

Day 2 and 3 recording. Gig at the Blue Salute.

Just another day at the office… Walter and Rob were back on deck (sort of) and we recorded another 3 songs for the album. It was a similar thing as the previous day, with me in the control room singing guide tracks while the drums, bass and guitar were recorded. I was concerned that a few more days of this might be too much for my voice given that I was always either in air conditioning or pollution. We broke for lunch and Pete came in and told us there’d been a mix-up with the No. 5 booking and so we had no gig that night. I was pretty happy with that; we did another five hours and headed back to the hotel. Karen, Kayla, John and I took advantage of the night off by going out to a pizza buffet place down the street a little. Inside it had the red checked tablecloths and a selection of pizza, pasta, salads and other stuff. It was a little dodgy; several of the pizzas had corn on them! Corn? On a Pizza? That’s just wrong. That night both Karen and I got sick within an hour of each other. We’re not sure if it was that place or not because Kayla didn’t get sick, though it’s possible that we both ate something she didn’t. As a result I was in no condition for recording the following day. We had a gig booked the following night at a place called the Blue Salute, so I opted to stay in bed and recover as much as possible to try and make the gig. I couldn’t face eating anything substantial but forced myself to have a couple of crackers. Despite this I didn’t feel too bad when we arrived at the gig and just sat on a couple of cans of 7-Up for the whole show. I can’t actually remember too much of the show itself, except that someone kept offering the whole band drinks of Johnnie Walker Platinum, and I had to say no. Sigh. Good thing I’m damn sexy.

The “Not the New Years Eve party

During the day after the New Years Eve show we had a few hours to see some of the city. Once you get past the culture shock of rubbish in the streets and being pestered every 5 steps for “Tuk Tuk Sir?”, Phnom Penh is really quite beautiful; the architecture is amazing and you can see how this could once have been a wonder of the world. A few of us went to the Russian markets to snap some bargains (I don’t know why they‘re called that; there were no Russians. Not even anyone from Uzbekistan, as far as I could tell!). Lots of copies of movies, software, jewellery, clothes, tools; just about everything. And quite claustrophobic, too.

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After the excitement and effort put into the New Years Eve show, we were all a bit flat the following night for the “Not the New Years Eve” party. We turned up at 8pm for a 9pm start, as usual, and I found out that we were to play 3 shorter sets as there were noise restrictions on the club past 11pm.

Playing less songs would normally mean an easier night of it, but we still needed to play all our originals and still needed to have a flow for the show. So I descended into reorganization mode once again and came up with a set list I thought would work without completely pulling the rug from under the brass section (as they would have to reorganize their sheets).  Sharky once again put on a grand spread in the band room of rolls, ribs, nachos and Jack Daniels. What more could you want?

We launched into the show, and after last night it was more like work than a party. Nevertheless we had fun and made it through, knowing that tomorrow we had a day off, before jumping on the bus back to Ho Chi Minh City on the 4th.

It had been a hard few days practicing and playing, and we were all a bit bushed, so it was smiles all around when we took advantage of hte jack’s and food and said our goodnights. On the way out, Mike says “See you tomorrow night for the Jam night, fellers!”

Wait. What?