2008 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Hello. Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. 2009 is upon us so I guess it’s time to reflect on the madness that was my life in 2008. It was definitely on of the most manic 12 months I’ve known, full of fantastic and occasionally not-so-fantastic moments.

I think I’ll get the “Bad” and “Ugly” bits out of the way as the year ended positively and so should this post. Plus I have faaaar more cool, fun things to talk about than crap ones.

The Bad mainly revolved around some up and downs in my personal life , constant chaos in my day job, and my car’s ongoing attempts to bankrupt and/or kill me šŸ™‚ Considering I have a 5 year old, low mileage VW you’d think I’d have no trouble at all. Alas, I fear mine was made by a hungover apprentice on a Friday afternoon :-(. That vehicle must have cost me over Ā£1500 in random faults this year and then, just as it was behaving, it got crashed into whilst parked outside my house leading to another few weeks of repairs ( and I still haven’t had my excess back as the other two parties are continuing to bicker of who crashed into who before hitting my car!).

I don’t really want to go into the Ugly bit in detail but this year I have learnt a lot about people. I have encountered a lot of lies, deceit and general unpleasantness in my personal and business lives this year and hope to never encounter them on such scales again. I have also seen the lengths some people will go to to either a, further their own careers by using and discarding the people who helped to get them there or b, ruin the happiness of others ( and sometimes, self destructively ruin their own). Ultimately, I believe in karma and “doing unto others” so will say no more about it. So there šŸ™‚

OK, that’s enough darkness and negativity šŸ™‚ Let’s get onto all the wonderfully wonderful things that happened! In no particular order…..

Panic Room
This year has seen the release of our debut album “Visionary Position”, which has been received better than I ever dreamed, and two mini-tours. I have a reputation as a freelance player and a jazz musician, but I have to say that I absolutely LOVE playing in this band. They are great musicians and great people and I’m very proud of the music we’ve created. And there’s more to come in 2009 šŸ™‚ I’m really pleased with the new music, both the ones we’ve been playing live, and the “in progress” tunes lurking in my CD player and laptop. I can’t wait to get back in the studio and get this music recorded. I have met a huge number of lovely people through Panic Room and would just like to say hello and thank you to everyone who’s supported us.

In the past, I’ve done a few ad-hoc recordings for people over the Internet but this year I recorded tracks for two CDs from the comfort of my house – two tracks for “Waiting Days” by Pip Robinson and a track on “Alone on The Sun” by US guitarist Mike Shouse.

In additon to these, and the Panic Room album, I also appeared on a promotional DVD for singer Jeff Hooper’s big band.

This year also saw the launch of Bassbook.co.uk, my new educational site. It’s still in its early stages but the first release, Christmas Songs for Solo Bass, sold really well and I have also been doing some custom transcription work. All good fun!
The next release is going to be quite involved, as I want it to include MP3s, backing tracks and midifiles so it may take a while, but it will come. Oh yes šŸ™‚

Solo Bass
Ok, so my solo recording still isn’t out! Unfortunately, it has to take a back seat this year but I have had great fun playing supports for the likes of Chapman Stick player Jim Lampi and one of my favourite bassists, the great Seth Horan who was nice enough to say the following in his blog:

“The show opened with a set by solo bassist Alun Vaughan, who Iā€™d been looking forward to meeting and hearing play for quite awhile now, and he did not disappoint; it was a short but focused set of intriguing music, played effortlessly and with good taste.”

Thanks to Rob Southall of the wonderful Islwyn Acoustic Guitar Club for both of those gigs! The music world needs more dedicated music lovers like Rob ( and Dave Cottle at Swansea Jazzland) who voluntarily give their time to make gigs happen šŸ™‚

Speaking of wonderful volunteer people, I have to thank Kofi of Bassmasterclass.com for inadvertantly giving me some of the biggest exposure to the bass community this year. In March, Kofi organised a two day masterclass with US jazz bassist Todd Johnson which I attended. During that masterclass, Todd asked me to show him an arrangement I was working on so I showed him my work-in-progress arrangement of Blue Bossa. This led to an impromptu jam captured on film by fellow bassist Andy Long. This is now my most viewed clip on YouTube šŸ™‚ Yay!

Other Fun Stuff
And now for the other fun stuff that doesn’t really fit in the categories above….

– In February I did a short run of gigs with New York singer Marlene VerPlanck which was the first time I ever played solely upright on a gig. It was a great experience (although my bowing is still terrible!)
-I got to play with the Root Doctors, a band I used to go and watch when I first started playing šŸ™‚
-I managed to get an endorsement deal with Italian bass amp manufacturers Markbass šŸ™‚
– I was called for a gig and told that the bass parts were on a sequencer anyway so I just needed to mime. I decided I didn’t fancy that and set about learning 27 songs in one day – just as well I did as it turned out that the gig was the wedding of two musicians and I would have been rumbled instantly had I attempted to mime šŸ™‚
– I finished the year off with some manic sight reading, depping with John Oliver’s Live, a great function band with a huge pack of music, nearly all of which is segued (making page turning almost as challenging as reading and playing!) and a fantastic show.
– I got to play bass while one of my biggest bass influences, Laurence Cottle, played trombone including a chorus of just bass and trombone – scary but great fun šŸ™‚

The Internet, and in particular the Social Media side of things and Twitter, have played a big part in my musical life this year. As well as the recordings and work mentioned earlier, Twitter very nearly got me a gig with one of my favourite sax players, Andy Sheppard, after, in a “three degrees of seperation” moment, I had a phone call from Steve Lawson asking me to ring Simon Little as Tom Mason was ill and unable to do the gig that night. Unfortunately, by the time we had sorted it out, the manager had already fixed someone. Next time! But, without the Internet I wouldn’t have got that call.

And that’s about it. I played around 100 gigs in 2008 ranging from scruffy rock clubs to the most magnificent ballrooms and country houses you could imagine. Emotionally, the year went from some of the best moments of my life, to dark lows, and back again šŸ™‚

Right now, I have no idea what 2009 has in store, but I think it’s going to be fun!

Take care and Happy New Year!!!


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