The A-Z of my Week. Musicians, Linkedin and Enemies Behold

Here is the A of my week.

Righty ho. Another good week. Knackering but productive, positive and surrounded by love.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on medication. My PMT rage is at its height. But that will be eased later by a removal session in a loft without SPIDERS. Please let there be non. By the mere mention I’ve law of attracted them. OOOh MUMMY!

So after the 3 week relationship with a winter virus of doom.  Kindly and really, they should have been so generous, given to me by my colleagues and then spread by me to more work colleagues, not through snogging as previous rumours stated 😉  One of the perils of working in a hospital visiting many wards. An apple a day didn’t keep my Doctor away. I had such healthy intentions to survive dark January too. But there has been a lot of dark about. My light is too strong and bright though.

Now I suffer the sort throat lurgy irritation. Luckily the solo set I played on Friday wasn’t too hampered and squeaky chat line husky voice encumbered.

Watch the performance here : 

Exit – By Claudine West aka Bog Woppit

 

It was blinking well nippy out. In between the urge to cough my lungs up half way though.  My fingers stopped working on the chorus finger picking parts on ‘Unusual Haunts.’ “I ain’t no pussy nor primadonna!”  One carries on regardless like a true pro, A soldier of strumming!  (nice comparison to the birds voice out of the Beautiful South that man! Thank you )  I don’t keep calm as I cringe at that saying. I get excited. I’ve been working with my solo stuff for quire a few months now after a hiatus. One I redescovered what I truly loved. The things I was doing pailed into insignificance. If the passion is no longer there, and things get overcrowded with unnecessaries who lack vision and experimentation ability,  its time to go.  Big thanks to the organisers of Sneinton Market Light Night, Nottingham. Amy Dickens at Red Rox Projects  and Sound Engineer Phil Taylor . Check out this fab band The Breakfast Club.  I love their sound and instrument swapping. Suitcase drums too!  New album ‘Petrol Money’ –  ‘Work Related Stress’

2013 was busy with studies and a new job. It took time to learn (and I still am) all of the clinical knowledge needed to do it effectively. I’m blessed with a supportive team and Matron. Central Procurement has been my favourite job so far. It has only taken 22 years of faffing! I’ve counted my chickens and blessed them.  I’ve been updating my Linkedin, getting things in order.  Getting the C.V. updated.  Ange (My Wifey) is a prime example on why Linked in is so damn good. She has just been head hunted. An Agency saw her profile. She got asked for interview. Did bloody well, as she is bloody good at what she does and wham, bam on the rag of jam. She got the job. I’m really proud. It’s always nice to enjoy your day jobs as well as having it pay the bills and lifestyle.

So yesterday morning was spend with the band – ‘Subway Circus’ https://www.facebook.com/subwaycircus

Things are coming together nicely. We have the band member line up locked in. The thing with music is,this is proven time and time again. Ignore at your peril.  You have to all gel to make the magic. Every person in the band has to add the magic and play their special part. Deadwood sinks ships. I like our rawness. Our honesty and true equality. Everyone has input. We have our manager on place who deals with all of ‘that’ stuff. So we can concentrate on creating great stuff.  For some its about posing. For me its about jamming and making music. If I’m sat in my shorts and t-shirt on the kit v’s tossing it off in a posh dress. I’m more comfortable in my shorts and will play better. I grew up with grunge not ponsy clothing labels to pose in to be who I am. If I am naked, in a dark room. You only hear the music I make.

Here is a clip

Subway Circus performing a cover of Black Velvet

I think we’ve got four cover versions. We are an original band, but it’s nice to pop in the odd homage to a good song. The live set should be ready pretty soon. It’s been a bit of a journey getting the band up and running. But it has been well worth it. The vibe feels great. Its challenging, sweat inducing and I get to exercise sat on my arse! E.P In the pipeline. Then its gigfest a go go!

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Paul Delacey

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Claire Gilbert

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Right I’m off to take a time out as its back to the day job tomorrow.

I’ve got a bunch of Reiki clients after work next week, plus a ‘little project’ to complete ;-0 which I should have done today. But I need a break and to meditate before we go out and get busy with the ‘C@nty Stumpets’ lugging musical equipment about.

The final comment for today.  “Claudine West Is a true believer of keeping your friends close and your enemies, bound, gagged and kept as far away as possible. Life’s too short for games and wrong ‘uns.”

I finish with the Z of my week.

~ Claudine

Solo Oxjam Gig 30/11/13

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I wrote this in a drunken mess last night.

So it’s past midnight, a late one for me. Normally awake or stirring 5am onwards. Bed by 10pm. Rock and Roll!

I’ve just played a solo set at The Johnson Arms, near Qmc, Nottingham. After a rehearsal, meditation and long bath. 5pm hit and my nerves kicked in and guts emptied. I haven’t played solo live for many years, Over a decade. So being totally shitted up occurred. Its not so traumatic in the Idolins. As I can just concentrate on my instrument and let the others sing.

The unexplained dread, trauma, nausea… trying to pass on a song to Karen, my Idolins bandmate. Just so I only had to do 2.  It’s not rational, no one dies during gigs…. usually. It’s not torture. But I always gets in a state. Running away would be easy, except the unsigned guilt trip of the underachiever.

Those moments before and plug in my guitar are hell. I try to ‘have a word,’ with myself. Get pep talks off friends and bandmates. Still the worry, anxiety rules.  I passed out into a slumber at that point.

Ange, wifey video’d 2 of them.

Unusual Haunts-YouTube

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Sonic World-YouTube

I normally close my eyes while playing, but made an extra special effort. Plus I had my lyrics on a stool. Nerves give me amnesia.  Seeing a wave of nodding heads and smiles felt wonderful. I had a group of good friends sat behind me. My wife making filthy gestures in front. Yet again. Why oh why did I get myself into such a state before hand. But as they all say. If you arent nervous, you don’t perform to the best of your ability. Or you are just off your face on drugs and booze.

Catching up with fellow musicians, Joe Beagle and Roj Whitham for my formative years of music was great. I’m now intrigued by penny whistles and sheeps wool shearing insulation.

Great night!

I awoke with a banging head. Too much black sambuca. The kebab tasted wonderful. We both cant remember going to bed. Let Rambo in who was miaowing at the front door. That was 5am. During the following hours. He proceeded to jump on us, miaow, poke, claw and fight with Pattie. Pegging it up and down the stairs. Oh what joy I thought. One day I will get a lay in.  A big breakfast at the carvery followed.

We then opened a can of worms getting the Xmas tree out of the loft. This bloody loft is the bane of my existence. For the last 6 months I’ve ended regularly up in it. Either looking for stuff, emptying it for cavity wall insulation workmen. To my horror it was wet through with dripps ruining all of our stuff. Mold, sloppy cardboard boxes. I just swore and swore and shouted and swore more. Crippled my back and arms faffing about sorting the mess.  It took and hour to sort and my Dad and Brother coming round to save the day. Turns out the workmen had blocked up all ventilation. Plus cold damp weather = drips and drips on everything. Eventually we managed the planned walk around the lake. A sunny winters day. Good to get out in the daylight at last .  I’ve felt like a vampire recently. Get up go to work in the dark, get home in the dark. Quite depressing. But candles on, exercise and meditation is doing wonders.  Got some beautiful pics. Here…

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I’m busy drawing ideas for The Idolins Ep cover art and emailing photos. Once decided by all of the band what the collective likes. We can crack on with release. I’m ready for a day off! Oh no its Monday tomorrow. Back to the day job.

Studio session 24/11/13 recording the E.P. The Idolins

After a not too boozy night before, eating fish finger cobs, watching a Drag Queen rip the piss out of a bird called Donna (poor lass, but very funny! It was her 40th Birthday bash too), playing bingo and losing the raffle. I was gutted not to have won a gallon of whisky. I saw all of the hope drain from our mate Veronica, as ours wasn’t the winning ticket drawn. I grumbled, ‘Bastard’ out loud many times that night!

So the next morn, I packed up my beer, wine, herbal tea, tiger balm, wet wipes, tampax and guitar then headed off with our band,The Idolins http://theidolins.com/ for the studio. In A cold November grey day and a heavy period. I was nervous. (The day I don’t don’t get nervous, will be the day I quit music. That day will never come if I have any choice in the matter.) Nerves help performance, give the rush, make accidents, create perfections, the genius.  Paper Stone Studio has character, the big live red room felt good, even though a bit ‘chilly willy.’ If I could have legally lit a campfire in the middle of the cables, and had It have been practical. I would!  But I suppose too much heat makes one dozy. I popped open a bottle of Bud (At 10:30 am, I felt like I was on holiday abroad!  We commenced set up with the engineer, Tom. A dude that reminded us  Bar and I sat googling, after trying to put our fingers on his ‘looky likey’ for hours, in between conspiracy theories and Reptilians chat. Vince Vaughn mixed with Ice T. A talented, honest engineer. This session was recorded live. By that I mean. The band were individually miked up and performed each song live, together. Did I mention that my family of bandmates are special in so many ways. A great bunch of people. Talented too. Always a bonus, The likes of Jedward, The Cheeky Girls and the many delusional pop idol ‘wannabies’ whose family blatantly lie to them, have no place in our world. Well thats just cruel. Give a kid a wax crayon and let ’em draw. If they are good buy them paints. If they are crap, in time, try them on something else. Or you could just sell their work as Modern Art! Shit in the eye of the arrogant and pretentious. Being a good musician takes talent, dedication and practice. Oh and a good chunk of your day job wages buying instruments and bits.

Karen-Acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Nick-acoustic guitar, Hannah-Cello, Bar-Backing vocals., Mark-Cajon and djembe, Me-Banjo and lead acoustic guitar picking, licks and flicks. A few extra backing vocals were added later by Nick and Hannah, cymbals by Mark and tambourine by Bar was added at the end. As having ‘Bar’ our backing vocalist wacking a tambourine would have drowned out everything.

So we gathered and began to play. Maximum concentration is required to perform to ones best. Or you just let go and fluke it, or get possessed by your instrument.   One fuck up and its all over! Start again. Patience and attentiveness.  Now acoustic strings hurt after a while, even with hardened finger tips. After a few takes, the fabulous new song, ‘The Dancer’ was done. I’d heard the workings of the rest of band a few weeks ago. It was emotional. So I worked on a few bits for my part. Its one of those songs that would be so easy to over indulge in. But keeping things a little more simple to give space to all was achieved.  Its dark, velvety, haunting and beautiful. Holding ones breath, not moving through fear of the mic picking up as the instruments hit the last note. The vibrations dwindling into silence…”Now breathe!”

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I got into my own little world at the start of ‘Choices.’ Its an oldie, but a favourite, also known as the ‘sound check song.’ It used to be first on the setlist. We’d sound check it infront of said pub audience. It’s short at sweet, only about 2:30, then get a round of applause..and then… play it again to said audience, who clapped again. We never quite got it down well recorded before. It featured on The Sound Of The Rain Album and many demos. But we never quite captured it properly. We did yesterday!

I was sat on the piano stool. Messing with harmonics and my capo. Getting into my “Zone” dream world. Its an improvised intro. I like to think of it as a bit of ‘Doors’ influence thrown in. I then noticed all eyes watching me. Oops. The band were waiting to begin the hook to go into the first verse, all eyes staring at me.  I laughed out loud. I only have to look at Karen and pull a face for cracking ups to occur. Luckily that was the engineers sound check. We got that song down in a few takes in the end. Everyone afterwards entering the engineers room to listen back and ‘devastates themselves’ over perceived mistakes, or what didn’t come out as planned. As a collective. We thought, “ooh try a few more.”  But they didn’t feel right and I dropped a clanger. So the original one we chose will get mixed and mastered. It feels alive, melodic, right..Just so right!  You can get into the ‘What If?’ trap. If it feels right, go with it. Being in a band is about compromise. Happy accidents are cool. I sit back and make them all the time. I rarely play the same thing twice, Thats not a bragging thing. Its just the way I play. I’m a Gemini. I get bored easily. My Ying and Yang battlle each other. I’m working on my oneness.  I need adventure and new things all the time. Old age in later 30’s is mellowing, not settling me, myself and I.

Well I play the ‘known’ hooks on the guitar. The other way of recording, (except the ‘non musician/technician’ cheating way where samples and shit are used to generate songs) If you are recording a song literally track, by track. You can achieve such levels of anal retention perfection. Spend weeks and months on a song. But the danger of losing the great holy moly vibes poses a threat.  But as a band. Capturing the live feel was what we wanted.

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So we moved onto another new song, ‘What Would You Change’ Now this is very energetic live, a bit Mumford and Sons. But very much The Idolins. We all love performing it. Really easy during rehearsals. Its great to do on stage. One can almost mosh and flip a wig off on the banjo. I dont have a wig, but If I did or had a comb over. It would look superb going at it to this song!  SO

… After a break and pub lunch, the sleepiness and weariness hits. SHIT! The filmmaker arrives, takes his footwear off (as to not make noise while he is filming us live) and sets up. Red light fever hits! Its major fuck up time! Forgetting the structure. We are all like…AAAArgh. What is going on. We’ve played this song so many times without a problem. Trying to pose and hid the double chins when the camera is pointed at one. Nick hit a wrong chord clanger! The dirty and horrified look Hannah and Bar gave him made me piss, Karen got just to the end then lost herself. I kept losing my timing with Mark, who was bloody knackered.  Nick calms all and suggests a break. So the energy of this song was being sapped. Sorted our shit out..and finally I think it was maybe 7 or 8 takes in the end? We got it! We decided not to do ‘Forever Changing.’  Our collective battery has gone flat for the day. We have a great new recording of it. It would have been nice. But we were all exhausted. There is only so much musical creativity one can channel and output in one session. I never understand bands who take ages recording albums. Maybe they are too busy snorting, popping or swigging? Knitting or having nails and hair done? Or just extremely unorganised? Or just crap.

Proud? Yes. Satisfied? Yep. Excited? Hell yes! my work is now done. Well except painting the EP cover design. I’ve got a crazy little idea.

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See Nick and Karen doing their Johnny Castle and Francis ‘Baby’ Houseman impersonations.

I’m playing live and solo this Saturday for an Oxjam fundraiser comprised of some Nottingham singer/songwriter. Should be panty liner fillingly fun. I’ve brushed off the cobwebs of some of my old and loved material. Pissed the neighbor’s baby off by practicing on random evenings in our healing room. You never know, the little winkle might grow up liking real music.

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