Tag Archives: Delta Ladies

Busy and ups and downs and around about


It’s been a fairly busy few days, 4 gigs in a row and a bit of website stuff to sort out for the Delta Ladies.  Plus I am working on a  new tune or two and have now managed the basic track for a new song. The lyric is incomplete at present, but I have the main part and  the chorus. It’s a funny thing but although I am quite competent technically I occasionally get a bit of a block and for get whats possible. I try to keep the focus on the musical aspect and not the production part, but you can get blown off course.  The almost limitless options in terms of production on even the most humble demo home studio really does mean its just a matter of your own creativity. You can’t really blame the gear anymore.  I remember saving up my penny’s when the first Teac Portastudio 144 appeared and having great fun with it over the years. It was very simple but gave good results. In those days you had to actually worry about head room and signal to noise big time.  Now all that’s pretty much an irrelevance, just make sure you record to -4db as peak and you are sorted.  I think you had to have more of a sense of adventure then to actually make something special.

The next big deal for me was when I got my Korg W1fd. I had had various keyboards before but this was my first workstation that I could build up complicated arrangements on.  It also had a real time sequencer, so that was a great leap for forward for me.  Before that I had a couple of Korg analogue synths (one was the Monopoly), but I never really got the full potential out of them. I then got a Yamaha Piano and started learning Piano as opposed to keyboard playing.  One thing I regret selling though was a not particularly good fretless bass, I could play it a bit and even used it on a few recordings, but lack of space and funds caused me to get rid of it in the end. It’s fun playing a bass. Maybe I will get another one some time 😉

View from the stage Millfield Theatre

Another regret is that I never did master sight reading music,  but I had been playing by ear for a long time.  I started working on it about ten years ago, but I am still pretty crap at  it. I can do lead sheets fairly well though.

I am dyslexic, and I wonder if the 2 things are related.  Still that’s life I guess and I wonder if I would have been inspired to do the other stuff if I had been playing by the rules.  Its interesting that many iconic songs have been created by people who have inherent musicality but have not had any formal training. Of course the reverse is also true at times.

I sing, but I am never happy with my voice. Not much I can do about that really. But I shall still keep singing.  My musical tastes are very eclectic, so the stuff I create and write is very wide ranging. That keeps it fun though not everything works of course. I first picked up an instrument about 1968 I guess and my first instrument was a Harmonica. I never really got much out of it, then I attempted guitar which was a bit more successful. Then came the violin which was difficult. So difficult that I gave up after 6 months or so. But  about a year later I thought I would  have another try. I got a slightly better instrument, which I still have in my collection and spent about 18 months fighting with it, but this time with more success.
Day jobs of many different flavours and finally a 13 year dabble in IT databases websites and programming whilst being a Civil Servant at  which point various problems caught up with me, and I ended up leaving a stable job and leaping in to the void. I seem to be still here but I can just about keep my head together on good days. At other times I don’t  do that well but I do better than others in my situation.

I very rarely played live until I joined Elephant Shelf  (now defunct)12 years back at the tender age of 48,  But I have done about  1500 gigs, so I have a bit of live experience under my belt now.

Elephant Shelf band, Catford, London UK 02.12.11
So that’s me, the depressive dyslexic and often cripplingly shy  person who strangely finds one’s self performing in front of the public.  Occasionally I even tell jokes on stage, but once the lights go off I am soon back in my shell.

The way the world is now,  is there is a lot to concern me, but I can’t write protest songs with lyrics that anyone can understand. I am not going to save the world with a song, but I might know some folks that can.







Carry on and keep calm

I have just about got over Christmas. We were back in the studio in Burnham on Crouch yesterday and I put some accordion on one of the more rootsy tracks, which seemed to work OK.So I shall be doing a bit more of that in future though Phil Cunningham will have nothing to fear from my occasional squeezing and wheezing, mind you Allie Bain has not much to fear from my fiddling either. Due to the ongoing back and ribs problem I can only do a limited amount of playing so my skills are not going to improve that quickly on it. We have about 15 tracks of which about 10 will end on the album I think. The cold is slowly relinquishing its grasp though I felt very tired last night.

We have two gigs this Saturday, one in Billericay in the afternoon at a club called Blues at the Farm as Elephant Shelf. Not the most flattering photo on the website but hey we are quite hale though rather aged and crusty I had never heard of Billericay before that Mr Drury mentioned in one of esteemed songs.

Then one in the evening in our Delta ladies incarnation in the wilds of Barnet at the pub where Elephant Shelf had one of its very first outings (before I joined believe it or not) called the Lord Nelson.

I have it on good authority that at some point this year we will hit the 1000 gigs mark as we have averaged around 140 gigs a year in our various incarnations (Elephant Shelf Jessie Pies Cleavage of Death and the Delta ladies) which I suppose is not bad going really.

December 2011 continued

3 gigs this weekend one on Thursday at Cafe Rouge in Highgate that was mellow but good fun and we have been invited back in January if all go’s well. One up near Baldock which didn’t go quite so well as they normally have 80’s cover bands so a very retro duo was not quite up their street.

On Saturday night we were at one of our favorites, the Belle Vue in High Wycombe with full band. It was a very lively night and good fun.

The live sound of the band has mellowed somewhat though its actually more energetic, and we had some very complimentary comments from the punters who are mad enough to comeback each time we are there, and so must be real gluttons for punishment. It was pretty much a party atmosphere as everyones really getting into the mood for Christmas and the band was in a somewhat joccular mood too

I record most gigs on a small pocket recorder to get a real ldea of what we sound like, thats very revealing too, sometimes when you listen back its good news and sometimes its awfull! Last nights was mostly pretty good. We put audio clips from the live stuff on the website now. We used to do a lot of video, but its impractical in a lot of places, though we should really get some new stuff done for publicity purposes.

I haven’t been working on writing solo stuff  though as I have been doing a lot of studying and practice and I have felt rather uninspired. Some stuff just never seems to sink in. Also I am not a big fan of Christmas though as a child I really enjoyed it a lot. New Years Eve is always a good feeling though and I try to look back at the good things that have happened though the year.



Its nearly September

Its nearly September and the year has flown by. My Ancient chariot needs to get an MOT (15 years old but only done just over 100k) and I think so do I as I have had a lot of aches and pains post gig recently. A trip to the docs is indicated me thinks. So far so good as we had a really good gig at the Cambridge Rock festival recently that should have upped our cred a bit. We also have a local london festival appearence tommorow at Abbey Fest at the Colour House Theatre on Bank Holiday Monday. We were up in Nottingham at the Trent Navigation as our duo which went well to a mixed crowd of the local blues club folks and rugby supporters so we will be back there in the not too distant future we hope. We also had recent gigs in Lincoln and a few other places. We have one more festival gig in September which is the Plumpton Beer and Blues Festival near Lewes in Sussex which could be good for us apart from the normal ongoing stuff. We are still waiting on the the rough mixes of the new Elephant Shelf Album to come through,as we we will be down in the studio again to do a bit of over dubbing as soon. We have also started recording a Delta Ladies Album and have a couple of rough tracks down for that which sound promising. I have also still got a rather iritating cough which has now eased of enough for me to get my full voice back on gigs but which nearly left me mute for the Cambridge Rock festival but I got me mojo working sufficiently for that thank goodness.