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Nerd days and September Stuff

Another weekend and a couple of fairly well received gigs, both in Reading by coincidence.

On Friday we were at the Global Cafe and on Sunday we were the closing act at a mini Blues festival held at the Ukrainian club. The festival was organized by the couple that run one of our favorite pubs in Reading The Retreat, They are going to be moving out in January next year, no doubt so that it can be turned into another gastro pub or something similar. Its a real shame as it has lots of live music, world to jazz to folk and almost every bear you can imagine, and has a fantastic atmosphere, but being in a side street and not exactly huge, it will not make any new tenants a fortune.

So a pleasant enough weekend on the whole. Also an opportunity to do some networking as well.

I am making an effort to try and stay engaged with stuff as to a point the more I do the better I feel. Last night I slept slightly better than I have for a while, without waking up in the middle of the night or vivid dreams that have made me feel tired on waking. The air has a distinct whiff of Autumn in it now, though its still mostly pleasant and sunny down in the deep south at the time of typing. Still doing the stretching which is helping a lot with the back related problems. I am not looking forward to winter though, so I shall have to make sure I have plenty going on by then.

Music wise we may be adding a traditional Hungarian tune to the act and possibly a tango or two, which will make it fairly eclectic but still no Oasis covers.

Its really quiet here again, and you can almost hear a pin drop though I have been breaking the silence with sporadic outbursts of piano playing during the day. Lately I seem to be meeting some every interesting people and perhaps some of those connections will be useful in time.

We are starting to get a few dates in the book for 2013 now, which is quite reassuring. We are still a bit of a novelty in some places of course, but that keeps us in work I suppose.

I should have been out in the wilds today enjoying a bit of country air, but I was too knackered to go. I did a few useful things to fill up the time though.

Last night before was another trip to the Vortex to listen to Nigerian vocalist Ayinke Martins and British pianist Sara McGuinness (who I am sure I have seen somewhere before) playing Latin and African stuff with a brilliant band of musicians around the world. Loads of folks up and dancing by the end of the gig too. Very enjoyable indeed and the 3rd week running that I have been to the Vortex.

I feel at present I am living in my head a lot, perhaps rather more than is usual even for me. I have had fair amount of low level anxiety but its manageable at present. The aches and pains grind on in the background which is tiring, so the trick is enough exercise but not too much. The vivid dreaming is still a problem as it feels like I have been awake half the night.

Typing is a bit a bit painful too even one fingered. I can go pretty fast with one digit now though

I have a song lyric that I am trying to set to music, but it keeps eluding me as every time I get around to trying to sort it out I end up writing something else. I have done a couple of slightly impressionistic jazzy Piano pieces, but just can’t crack a suitable setting for those words at the moment.It maybe the way to go is to try writing on guitar instead to find something that fits.

We have a fair number of gigs coming up until Christmas and we are hopefully going to relaunch the slightly re-branded Elephant Shelf in the New Year, we have a few band gigs, but most of the gigs are Delta Ladies gigs so a lot of duo stuff but also the odd extended line up one mixed in among them.

I am investing in a slightly better Electric Violin as at present I have a very nice but very old Acoustic Violin that sounds great but is difficult to amplify in some situations and can make playing some gigs a bit too much of a workout. Its also rather delicate so it gives me a few nervous moments in the rather unsophisticated environs I often frequent. My other Electric has served me well but is rather crude tonally and I have out grown it in some respects.

I wish I could get all angst ridden about gender issues but I far too neurotic to worry about that sort of stuff.

The rain is still coming down after what seems like about 24 hours worth almost under a fairly uniform gray sky in Battersea right now. There’s a bit of a wind moaning through the air vents and making slightly spooky muttering noises (I will be fine as long as I don’t start talking back to it) but the sky is just beginning to lighten a little now. Last night was a better nights sleep but the rather vivid dreams are still continuing and have been so the last week or so, and they mean I don’t awake refreshed. Often in my dreams I pursued or trying to escape some captor, I am sure this is deeply significant on some level, but paradoxically I do have a fair amount of freedom and don’t feel that I am either oppressed, repressed or subjugated but I don’t think there is too much point in dwelling on that. I am still having some significantly painful days but getting more exercise has helped a lot, though it seems paradoxical to be stretching and stuff when your in pain. I think that the sleep disturbances are related though.

This morning I have been murdering some Cole Porter on the piano, and feel the sudden need for a decent cup of tea. Funny how Cole Porter can do that for you? I still have those song lyrics that I can’t find a home for as well.

I have had a fairly decent weekend with two good Delta Ladies gigs. The Friday night one at the Hare in Linslade near Leighton Buzzard was particularly enthusiastically received which is always a boost to the spirits. On Saturday we were down in Wandsworth at the Armoury which was also a fairly good vibe. Two Classic quotes this week as well, the first being “Next time I hope to see you in a dress from one enthusiastic punter at The Hare and on Saturday night in WandsworthMy mate told I me I must come and see you and to be honest I though it was going to be crap, but its brilliant. Better than the other way round I suppose! On Sunday we had a rehearsal with Jessie Pie as we will be resurrecting theCleavage of Death” for some special gigs in the future. It will be fun though perhaps not terribly subtle! One of the tunes we did was On a clear daywhich we all fairly pleased with. Having not played with Jess for about 4 years or so it all came together rather well. We have decided to keep Elephant Shelf going as our new drummer Lee seems to have helped us turn a corner. It will be a slightly different sound.

We do seem to have a capacity to entertain that makes it a fairly warm experience at many of the gigs we do. We take our music fairly seriously but not ourselves as being 2 transfolk out in a world where you see that kind of thing on the box but not in your local. Vicky also has a running gag which goes For those of you that watch the X factor this is a Violin and the opening to a gig is sometimes We are the people your mother told you about orWe are Delta Ladies, if you don’t like it we are going home at 11pm. There is a whiff of unconscious vaudeville about it I guess and maybe a distant echo of Laurel and Hardy.

I had to do something vaguely practical today, replacing an internal lithium cell on an old work station keyboard (Korg W1fd) which has been in faithful use on various recordings I have made since 1998. It still sounds good today even though its mid 90’s tech, the sound samples are very good. Last week it started showing a low battery warning light so a quick Google told me it needed the equivalent of the cmos cell replaced. So I opened it up and got it sorted in just under an hour. There were about 30 screws to undo before getting the base plate off but it only needs doing about once every 10 years or so. Its very heavy to shift though.

I also put a new glass on my wing mirror that got busted a couple of weeks back.

Then I had a go at at learning a bit of Ruby (another coding language used quite a bit on the web). A bit of piano practice and a bit of violin scraping as well. Yesterday (Tuesday) was spent in part at a band rehearsal which was pretty useful and I also tried out my new Electric Violin which should see service on the gig this Saturday all being well. In the evening we went to the Lytton Arms for a meal and to sort out some gig dates. A pint and a half of real ale and a relatively early night for a change (in bed by 12:30) though I did watch the box a bit.

Ever get really tired

Really Really tired, like when everything is just too much effort? Yep me too. Its been a difficult time over the past few months and nothing seems to have worked out on a practical basis. Every idea I have had for scratching out a living has been a complete flop and I don’t know if its simply that I am not good enough at what I do or just a sign of the times. I do feel a little bit a drift now though.

I tried reducing my anti-depressant meds dose to see if I could get a little bit more motivation but that only makes me irritable and makes my concentration worse, and its looking more and more like I  am going to end up filing in and office somewhere or worse to survive and the thought is rather dispiriting after all the effort I have put in to everything else, particularly over the last 2 years or so.

The main thing is I can’t work the way I used too,  my  mind wanders and after a a couple of hours I have just drifted away.
Deadlines get me stressed and my mind go’s completely blank plus there is the worry about money which is becoming more and more pressing all the time too.

I played at a garden party yesterday in my ‘Delta Ladies’ incarnation. We had a great time and everyone was enjoying it and we sold some albums too, only another 112 and we break even 🙂 The house was in Lonesome lane.  For the first 40 minutes of the set my mind was just completely absent, I played OK but basically on auto-pilot, by the end I was feeling more normal thank goodness though. The thing is in previous work that I have done apart from powerpoint presentations you could not do it terribly well in an altered state of consciousness, though that did happen a few times I have to admit.

Here are some pictures taken by my good friend Ralph Stephenson.