Its now coming up two years since Vicky martin died after a Delta Ladies gig at the Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell London. Its seems vividly like yesterday in some respects and also in a whole other life time ago since so much has changed since then. I did carry the Delta ladies on for about 6 months and was thinking I might just about make a go off it until everything shut down in February 2020 due to covid. Vicky was a huge part of my life in many ways, as way back in 2004 I joined the band Elephant Shelf playing keyboards. I had very little live gig experience in those days and learnt a lot very quickly and the rest is history. In 2008 for various reasons music became my day job and we did a lot of gigs over a period of nearly 17 years. So as I type this this having played live 3 times last year when previously I would have done between 100 to 130 gigs my life is pretty much turned upside down. Also the loss of another close friend at the end of 2020 (Vicky’s Partner Ralph ) totally knocked the stuffing out of me.
I have no idea when or if it will be possible to get a regularly gigging act up and running again. I need a regular guitar player (with a reasonable voice) and frankly I dont really know if I can actually get any gigs starting from scratch again. I have never been good at sales, but its worth a try I guess. I might get one or two but I doubt if it will be enough to make it work as a business again the way it used to. To be honest any hopes and dreams for me are are pretty much based on a more blessed 2022. But of course no one can see the future, or at least not anyone that I am in touch with.
Before starting to write this I got desperately low, so I took myself out for a 30 minute drive to remind myself that there is a world out there still. I have not sorted out as much as I would like too in the way of disposing of whats no longer needed or duplicated and I really should. Some possessions are a joy , but some are just taking up space now. It will be easier to sort out in a couple of months in May when hopefully restrictions should have eased.
Sad to say another friend has died. Jan who ran Waltham Abbey Folk Club where I have played a few times. She became ill suddenly in January and died in a hospice this week on April 1st. She was a very interesting character and also had many cats. Her house had a large extension conservatory which was full of large foliage plants that grew out of the lounge and into the small garden so that it looked as though the end of her lounge was the entrance to a mysterious jungle that you might walk into, never to be seen again.
That’s now 6 friends and my aunt and my sisters partner who have died in a period of less than 2 years which includes one suicide and a death from covid. Its making it a bit difficult to try and keep my spirits up right now. All of this and the combination of lockdown and no opportunities to perform anywhere has been a bit of a perfect storm for my mental health. Its difficult at times like this not to become very introspective or overly nostalgic. Also to dwell over past mistakes if they were actually mistakes of course. At times like this “what ifs” weigh heavy on the mind.
So my current routine continues much as ever otherwise. Exercise to help with the back problems which some days is hard going. Music practice and composing and recording. Phone calls and some remote recording and rehearsal sessions on most days, The odd walk around and about locally. I have used my car so little that I have had not needed to put fuel in it for nearly 4 months. I take it out for a run once a week if I have not had to do a shopping trip. Contrast that with 3 years ago when I was doing around 15000 miles a year to and from gigs and related stuff.
Currently I have 2 gigs booked both in 2022, until then my diarys a little empty 😉
So sunset moves a little later from today. Its dull here and cloudy and slightly windy so there are not many folk out except for a few dog walkers and the occasional passing EDM bass drum riffing from the passing traffics sound system. So no particular outbreak of sunny up land isums today from the general populace. Its so dull we wont get much of a sunset either by the look of things.
Yesterday was spent mostly sketching out musical ideas. So I have the outline for a new number that really ought to be a song sitting on the music stand. Its watching me begging for attention like a friendly dog or unfed cat, but I am ignoring it at present. I should really make more use of programming drum rhythms as I have the facilities and it does make a more or organic vibe to the tracks. just that little extra thing but seems quite a benefit. Also the sheer mental exercise cant hurt either. The wind chimes on my balcony came adrift from there moorings which somewhat broke my revery too. I had an interesting discussion with a songwriting friend who I have recently been collaborating with via na online live link. He said “I write songs, but you make records”. My approach to music is often made with arrangement in mind that would often be difficult to replicate in a live environment with te kind of resources I have. Often what I create tends to sound more and more as though its the sound track from some unmade film. This is not a conscious thing, it’s just the way it manifests itself now frequently. I seem to have mislaid the ability to just write a song by picking up a guitar and bashing out the lyrics. I suppose it’s the way my head works now and a year of virtual isolation has pushed me further in that direction. This may all sound somewhat pretentious but it is not meant to in any way. It’s Just the way I do things now. In my defense I have been doing it for about 40 years or so. perhaps I am a bit set in my way now. As I write this I am listen to a few recent tracks playing back at fairly low volume. That’s usually a good test of how well a track works, if it works at a just above ambient playback level. At present writing and recording and composing is about the only thing keeping me sane and frankly it’s getting to be touch and go in recent weeks.
At the time of writing we are just about to have the first level of opening up of the lockdown for meeting people outside. I don’t think that it will make much difference to me personally yet until its possible to meet people indoors. That will not be until mid May assuming that there are no hiccups. Perhaps then I will be able to think about getting things prepared to a potential return to some sort of live performance again and the opportunity to work face to face with other musicians again. It will be interesting to see if there is much more in the way of people out and about. I am guessing here it will not be much different with mums and kids roaming about in the short term. The promise is that on June 21 we seriously unlock and I really hope that happens otherwise what is the point of the current vaccination program?
I have pretty much lost touch with casual acquaintances now apart from a few facebook message. two of my close trusted friends died within the last two years. That’s not helping me with attempts to keep on top of things as I have gotten into a very negative mindset. I have continued generalized anxiety that will not abate as well. I have tried everything to sort this out and it seems nothing much helps.
Is there a roadmap for back to normal. I am not convinced.
So here is a tune for you all.
Its now 10 days since my Covid vax jab. I made a to do list and I have 15 items on it so far and still seem to be finding stuff to add to it. I am in to my 9th week of extended exercise routine. Some things are better. For example my posture when playing violin is much better which also helps to make tone production much better in terms of effort required. My posture generally is much improved though it will never be right due to spinal curvature which also causes me quite a bit of pain. I mostly type standing when using the PC which is also a help in some respects.
The last 3 months seem to have been much harder to get through though and I don’t really know why. Perhaps mental reserves just run out after a while if there is no way to recharge them? Often I spend a good deal of the day standing as I get too uncomfortable sitting for any length of time. That’s fine for recording and playing but for some of the stuff at the PC that I used to do its not practical to work standing so some things have gone by the board now that I would like to have been doing .
That’s really frustrating at times.
here is a track from last year…
February has got off to a slightly wonky start it has to be said. I have now been doing my extended daily exercise routine for about 3 weeks and I have had to row back slightly due to problems that I suspect are linked to over enthusiasm. Currently I am doing most of my typing standing up. This seems to be mostly an improvement in on area. Some gain but this week a little too much pain sadly has put the kibosh on it a tad. Also anxiety is still a major issue.
In the world outside this room there is some better news at least including the possibility of an early relaxation of some Covid restrictions. This due to evidence mounting that vaccination is reducing the the R rate and also natural immunity having a similar effect. There is still plenty of fake pandemic ant-vax news flowing far and wide sadly. Especially on Facebook where everyone is a virologist of course. But some good news along the way.
And of course the last Trump has well and truly sounded….
So musically I continue to boldly go, but sadly only via the internet at present of course which is sometimes a difficult thing to do in terms of motivation. Often though it is simply a matter of starting and stuff happens. Occasionally on a day of zero inspiration just going though a practice routine may awaken an idea or two that starts in a fairly uninspired way but finds its own life in the process of simply doing stuff. The molding of the clay suggests something random and so it is with sounds too. The result may be far removed from the starting point or original direction at inception.
Technically I have plenty of resources which almost leads to having too much choice, which leads to dithering and time wasting. The main point is of course the result, and of course results and your millage may vary 🙂 The dulcima looks at me sort of funny from the corner daring me to do something with it. I have tried and continue to do so but so far I have not managed to hit my stride with it. It remains a little aloof it seems.
In Delta Ladies news the last remaining festival we are booked on has now moved to July 2022 as I expected it would. That seems a very long way off at the moment but there is talk of a virtual appearance of some sort this year as a place older and moral booster hinting at better times.
Our building works nearby are in the final phase so soon we should have our public open space open. By April though sooner would I hope if possible. That will make a huge difference as we approach the start of our 4th year in Great Denham. So much has changed since moving here of course and most of my expectations have been swept away on the wind. And find I have very little left to say about anything now.