Category Archives: Elephant Shelf

The days grow short when you reach…You know the rest.

It’s been pleasant and sunny and autumnal as you would expect from the time of year.
So what’s new?    The routine goes on as ever, practicing, writing, recording taking exercise and pondering the infinite. So the same old same old really. Plus a bit of anxiety creeping up on me again. I get to sleep OK but have constant dreaming it seems so I wake feeling exhausted.
As I write this I am also not in my happy place, I am in my grumpy place. Just because.  There is a glimmer on the horizon of some distant fresh new dawn but. At the time of writing I should have been at a rehearsal which was cancelled at short notice so I find myself at even more of a loose end than normal. I have also hit my tea saturation level.  I am not cooking up any new tunes at this moment either. Its Diwali and tomorrow is bonfire night so there has been a bit of random banging echoing through the dark.  My joints are rather sore too. My head is empty though of ideas and words at present. But hey that’s never stopped me before. I have decided if nothing much occurs I may just try and join a pub band to get a few bob extra come 2022. I get these mad ideas from time to time…..
Perhaps I need to lie down in a darkened room until the thought goes away. I had along phone call with a friend about a few things that are troubling me and that helped me quite a bit. 






Is the damp affecting my brain? I think its getting rusty.

Its been a fairly busy week to lost of recording for two separate projects. 3 gigs and I open mike slot, which we don’t do too often, but it was on a Wednesday night when there wasn’t anything else going on and not too far away. It was mostly young folks enthusiastically doing there thing, and its seemed to go across fairly well. We were a bit surprised as we were told we were headlining it. We did the equivalent of a short first set and off we jolly well went.Thursday we were in the studio again and for once it didn’t rain until after midnight.

Friday nights gig was good, but I seem to have gone down with some sort of a bug as I felt very rough and as if I had a temperature, was nauseous and had no appetite. Got stuck in some traffic on the way back due to an accident too so I was not at my best by the end of the evening.

Saturday was OK as I felt a bit better, but again a very wet night so not the biggest audience, but the gig went well enough. I also managed to find something akin to a duck pond on the 3rd lane of the North Circular on the way home that made for an interesting couple of seconds.

Sunday was a strange day. We did a tea time gig in London that’s was a complete waste of time as the place was almost empty. That did not put me in the best frame of mind as it was a pay on the door gig and only covered the cost of a couple of drinks, and there is nothing worse than playing to an empty room particularly if the room is a largish one. We took off for one of a regular drinking haunts that also does live music on some Sundays (one we have played at recently). The London Irish Band (Back of Beyond) were playing and jolly good it was too. Made me feel much better. Bizarrely they had seen us a few years back (The electric band, not the Duo) and we had a brief chat in the break about music and stuff. We suggested a few venues that they might try and stuff.

At the start of the second half they invited us up to do a turn so we borrowed a couple of instruments and did our bit. I had a brief bout of fiddle envy as I borrowed a very nice modern 5 string fiddle, from the also very nice Antonia Pagulatos (made by Bridge)(first time I have played a 5 string, so of course it had to be in front of a fair size crowd ) but it went OK. I would love a violin like that but its not very lightly that circumstances will allow. It was also virtually effortless to play… So I need to get a lottery ticket for Wednesday 😉

I am slowly starting to work in more stretching and exercise now to help free up my back and I now have a lot more movement in my left shoulder, so the Violin playing is getting back to normal though its rather more tiring than it used to be physically and I often find I cannot get a comfortable shoulder position for too long though this is easing a bit now.

I am still searching for something and I haven’t found it yet, but it would help to know what it is…

February and March 2012 dianas doings init

15th February 2012

The video from the Cambridge folk Club gig Delta Ladies gig has come out fairly well. Although though it was not a huge attendance the audience is quite responsive and the playing is OK so that will hopefully help with the profile. I am rather pleased about that. The present relief from the cold weather is also a blessing and its supposed to last until the end of the week at least. I used not feel the cold to much, but this year has been something else. February is traditionally my moping around month and this year has not been any different so far. Yesterday was a typical day, a couple of hours on the piano in the morning then over to N London to do some over dubs for one of our recording projects where we are adding a guest player. Then off for an Indian meal (starters only) and a quick drink and a chat at one of the venues we play that’s also our local by proxy, though its a long way from here. they were having a Valentine themed evening, but it seemed the same as usual to me except our favorite ale had just gone off. In bed by about 3 then up at 09:30…

19th February 2012
Thursday was a studio day and fairly successful. Just overdubs for percussion and second vocals to go on. We won’t go back to the studio for about 3 weeks or so though.

Saturday, and only one gig this weekend at the Bellvue in High Wycombe. Woke up with a bit of a headache in the morning, but I shook it off. A very lively night with a good audience and also some very good beer too. One of my favorite gigs and a place that has a regular music crowd. They also have an art exhibition in what I suppose would be have been called the saloon in days of old.

We recorded the gig,(we record most gigs as its a useful reference) and one newish number which we had not done live before worked remarkably well. Its a track that will be on the new album.

A side effect of recording gigs is that you can often pick up some of the audience talking in between numbers about cabbages and kings which is often quite amusing. particularly if they are discussing band members! People have there favorites of course.

Although we have been at it for 7 years the TG aspect of the band is still an unknown quantity with regard to bookings and so forth. I suspect that we do miss out on some opportunity’s due to this. We are also perhaps perceived as something of a novelty in some quarters. Often the biggest problem is those PC types that might think they are doing you a favor, rather than the very un PC types. Here is a perhaps a not atypical punter slightly edited quote from a gig a while back “When I saw you come in I thought this is going to be rubbish, but its really good” There are still some barriers to be overcome but we are working on it. It also pays not to be too sensitive as there can be some interesting comments and our main working environment is boozers of course. Still you make your bed an lie on it as the saying goes.

It could be worse, I could still be working in an office… Though being employable in some sense might be an asset

21st February 2012 at
Its been about 3 years since I came off anti-depressants, after having taken them for around 12 years on and off. They did create a consistent warm fuzzy feeling and lack of tension a lot of the time but also stopped me from feeling very much as well. Mostly these days my mood is reasonably easy to manage, though I do get a few crap days.

One thing that has really hit me in recent months is the “Is that all there is” syndrome.
I have always assumed the worst will happen and whilst getting on with life kept a weather eye out for some cosmic thunderbolt or similar to knock me flat on my back just when I least expect it. What is quite frightening is perhaps the possibility that everything will just be a bit average from now on.

Possibly its just the midlife Crisis thing or in my case the Tranopause which occurs when you discover that your doing everything you always did before and the grass is not any greener and you can’t remember what was so important about all this old gender malarkey or just a good existential hangover.

Perhaps averageness is the English condition?

5th February 2012

I had a really strange dream last night. In the dream I was covered in weird squishy growths all over my body. These were quite annoying so I picked up a sword and started slicing the tops off, at which point gallons of green yellow muck came out. Having done this I then went to a sort of veggie cafe for a breakfast in somewhere that was a bit like Malvern. I asked for a Veggie burger but they had run out and tried to give me a meat one instead! At this point I woke up.
29th February 2012

Still limping along and yesterday I rehearsed some new stuff for the Delta Ladies act. Didn’t sound too bad so we will try out a few things on Fridays gig. I am getting very fed up with aches and pains which seem to be very much still with me and are affecting my playing a bit. We have a full couple of months coming up gig wise though mostly low key pub stuff. To be honest I often find the smaller gigs are the most enjoyable if you can engage the punters sufficiently. We are not going to make our fortune doing this but that’s OK I think.

My mood is still quite low a lot of the time but I do get a lift from getting out and playing.

4th March 2012

A couple of gigs this weekend. On Friday we were back at a place we have not played since 2008. It was a not that good as the Road was closed for re-surfacing so we had a very low attendance as nobody could get in the car park. Saturdays night was at the New Inn Witney near Oxford and went fairly well, but it was a fairly late finish so I didn’t get home till 4.

There were a few local musicians in, and also some superb dad dancing at one point, shame I did not have the video camera with me.

Some very nice comments from Martin who runs the place about how the band is sounding now as we have refined it quite a bit, and he was also quite complementary about the new Album tracks. He has a good ear being a musician and also involved in recording as well, including a lot of classical (up to full orchestras) using very big desks with up to 120 input channels

We also listened to some rough mixes of the new album in the car, and it seems to work quite well though the running order may change a bit.

Slightly less in the way of aches and pains, thank goodness, though my left shoulder is a bit problematic as this can make playing the violin very awkward, but it seems to be easing over time and and becoming more mobile, though it can catch me out me from time to time. Last nights gig was using the solid violin,(basically a cut away body and can be loud enough to deal with any errant electric guitar players) but its not as good to play as my trusty old Ben Franklin acoustic from around 1780 ish.

A new tune in an old style ‘Old Bones in winter’

I have been doing a lot of slightly introvert solo Piano recently. This is sort of late 50′ early 60’s Jazz Ballard with nods towards Bill Evans and similar folks.

Old Bones in winter

Nerd quiz:

See if you can spot the quoteish from a very well known tune at about 3.24.

Of course some you of may think this is self-indulgent old bollocks 😉

One of the Uk’s fastest rising ethical fashion designers Ada Zanditon’s new collection Aw12/13 Simia Mineralis shown at London Fashion Week Somerset House this week February 2012. Music is by North London’s Elephant Shelf – a new tune in retro clothes ‘Ooh Bop Sh’Boogie’

One of the Uk’s fastest rising ethical fashion designers Ada Zanditon’s new collection Aw12/13 Simia Mineralis shown at London Fashion Week Somerset House this week February 2012. Music is by North London’s Elephant Shelf – a new tune in retro clothes ‘Ooh Bop Sh’Boogie’

The phrase feeling the cold in my bones has finally found meaning for me

The phrase feeling the cold in my bones has finally found meaning for me, being out a couple of nights recently where the thermometer hits -6C has been an experience, and one that I shall try to avoid in future.

We had two gigs this weekend, one at Cambridge Folk Club on Friday where the audience was a bit sparse possibly due to the Arctic conditions though they seemed to enjoy it. We videoed the gig to use for promotional purposes so that was a plus. I didn’t feel were were connecting with the audience as we did the last time we played there but we got some good feedback in between sets.

Saturday night we were in St Albans and had a lively night in one of the many pubs that has live music and we had a good crowd and played a very lively set.
just as we arrived I got a full on back ache that spread to my ribs and shoulders and had a very uncomfortable first set, but things eased a bit by the second set perhaps due to a pint of real ale consumed in the first set. We had a few friends in the audience that night so it was quite a jolly affair by the end.

A woman we have met at our gigs a couple of times, asked what we expected to be doing a in few years time, as in how would we be developing our music career. I managed to stifle the urge to say “Hopefully not starving, if we are still alive”.

She was talking about using project management techniques, and I waited whilst she went through the whole spiel. I then explained that I was no stranger to gant charts and that forward projections are pretty irrelevant. A bunch of semi-geriatrics is not likely to get signed to a record deal and there is no Mr big waiting around the corner with a fist full of dollars or even a pocket full of 50p’s. She did also ask if we had a manager, and in my experience unless they are also taking on the role of investor there is virtually nothing that they can do that we can’t do for ourselves, or are all ready doing.

A couple of years back an independent producer offered to do a record with us. He seemed to think we had money to burn and that we would tip some on his personal bonfire. A lot of people are so desperate to get heard that they are willing victims for this sort of stuff. He told us our songs were weak and he being a songwriter could write better ones for us. Now there’s a surprise ! If you have a product that people want they will pay you for it but a lot of the music industry at the bottom works by taking your money and the deal you get satisfies your vanity but nothing else.

Now anyone can get music on Itunes and everything else worldwide, but you may only sell a few pence worth. A lot of people still get sold on the fantasy of course…