Archive for February, 2009

New Album Now Available For Free Download

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2009 by alunvaughan

Hi, hope you’re all well.

As some of you may know, I took part in this year’s RPM Challenge where you have to record an album’s worth of material in the month of February.

The resulting collection, entitled “What I Did On My Holiday” after the essays we were made to write in school after returning from school breaks, can now be heard at http://www.alunvaughan.com/free.htm

You can download the entire album (a zip file – approx 25mb) or download individual tracks from the embedded player.

You can also listen to all the tracks, read liner notes and general thoughts on the recording and read the blogs I posted on the RPM website during the process.

I hope you enjoy it, and it you do…please tell people 🙂 There is no better publicity than word of mouth so please feel free to let people know 🙂

Take care,
Alun

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RPM Challenge and SWJO Big Band Course

Posted in Uncategorized on February 2, 2009 by alunvaughan

Hello. Just thought I’d post a quick blog about a couple of projects I’m working on that may be of interest…

RPM Challenge
The RPM Challenge is quite a simple idea…record an album’s worth of original material (10 songs or 35 minutes) during February, Why? Why not! I love the idea of working to such a constraint and coming up with new material. I have no idea what I’m going to do, or even if I’ll manage to complete it but I’m going to have fun trying! I’m also not allowing myself to use any material written prior to February 1 2009 – great fun!

Once the project is done, I’ll be making the material available free to anyone who wishes to download it.

Steve Waterman Contemporary Big Band Course
From April 3-5 I will be, for the fourth year running, teaching on Steve’s residential big band course in Llanelli, South Wales. It’s a great weekend focusing on, not surprisingly, big band playing as well as jazz improvisation and there are plenty of opportunities to play. Sax virtuoso Alan Barnes is also appearing as a tutor this way which promises to add a new dimension to the course.

If this sounds appealing, full details can be found at http://www.swjo.co.uk/index.php?page=7.

Take care
Alun

Panic Room – Swansea and Kingston upon Thames

Posted in Uncategorized on February 2, 2009 by alunvaughan

Hello all. Hope you’re not too snowed under wherever you’re reading this.

Last weekend, Panic Room travelled pretty much the length of the M4 to play The Garage in Swansea on Friday 30th and then The Peel in Kingston upon Thames on Saturday 31st.

The Garage is a relatively new venue in the Uplands, just outside Swansea’s city centre and is still finding its feet but it really promising. The stage isn’t a bad size, the load in is easy enough and it’s a decent sized two level room. It was a special night for us too as Liz Prendergast, who played the fantastic violin parts on the Visionary Position album, was joining us on 6 tunes.

Soundcheck was reasonably painless although the venue only had an 8 channel mixer so myself and Paul were relying on the backline to be heard ( my lovely little Markbass rig more than coped!).

Support for the evening was from an interesting duo, Karma Junkie who played a fascinating blend of acoustic guitar, violin, harp, and electronics. The only downside was a series of technical gremlins which seemed to be the theme for the night as we were about to find out.

Just after 10pm, we took to the stage and Jon started the keyboard drone for Elektra City. At this point “Roadhouse Blues” kicked in on the house PA so we stopped and patiently waited for the soundman to stop the music. Wth The Doors silenced, we started again. All was going well until Anne attempted to sing…..nothing. She signalled to the soundman who looked oblivious to the mime show in front of him. We then noticed that the DI box for her vocal effects, which Mr Soundman had left in the middle of the stage and apparently not checked in the changeover, was unplugged. So we plugged it back in. And started again. Third time lucky!

And onto Reborn. Anne asked the soundman to mute the acoustic as it had been unplugged. He didn’t. It went pop. By this time I was quite happy to not be going through the PA!

We also had various other technical mishaps, including Jon’s keyboards deciding to misbehave, but we got through it. Liz was fantastic throughout, perfectly recreating her performances on the CD as well as adding new colours to those songs and also “Banks Of The Ohio”, where she added a fabulous bluegrass fiddle part, and “No Quarter” where she added a beautiful sense of authenticity to the “Kashmir” section.

The setlist for the night was….

Elektra City/Reborn/Sandstorms/Into The Fire/Banks Of The Ohio*/Endgame*/Fifth Amendment/Hadditfeel (Anne solo)/Dominos (Anne solo)/Yasuni/Black Noise/The Great Divide/Go/Moon On The Water*/I Wonder*/
Apocalypstick*/Blood Red Sky/No Quarter*

*Featuring Liz on violin

Regular Panic Room watchers may notice a couple of surprise song titles in there? Yes-two brand new songs! We were a little nervous as we hadn’t rehearsed them much ( and messed one up in the soundcheck) but (even if I do say so myself) they went really well.

First up was a new Edwards/Helder tune Fifth Amendment (which might end up being called “Pleading The Fifth” by the time it gets recorded), a mid tempo anthem with a great heavier section in the middle. I get to have some fun tonewise on this one, using a big swirly synth in the chorus and a Muse-like buzzy distortion in the middle section (where I also get to pay tribute to jazz legend Charlie Parker and Tom Hamilton from Aerosmith in the space of two bars – see if you can spot it!).

The second new one was one of mine/Anne’s – a ballad called “The Great Divide”. I wrote the main track for this and sent to Anne with a few lyrics that summed up the idea of the song, she then turned my random scribbles into a beautiful lyric and came up with a gorgeous vocal melody. I’m really proud of this one so really enjoyed playing it. It also gives Paul a chance to do the big power ballad guitar solo thing and I get a little noodly bit over the outro.

Overall, not a bad gig but a little rough around the edges in places. The vibe in the venue was a little weird, the audience are a fair distance from the stage and there seemed to be an equal mix of people who really wanted to listen and those who just talked incessantly. Oh, and as we were in Swansea there was a fight too!

And then on to Saturday, sans Liz. This was to be the “rematch” between ourselves and co-headliners Jump after our first attempt in early 2008 was ended by a power cut.

I really like The Peel, it’s a nice size venue with good sound and a reasonable stage. It also has a fantastic atmosphere.

The club soon filled up ( great to see so many people from the Panic Room forum – hi everyone!) and Jump took to the stage. I’ve heard them a few times but I think this was the best one yet. I loitered at the back for a while and really enjoyed it.

And, before we knew it, it was out turn to play. I must be honest, it was one of the best gigs we’ve done – great atmosphere and a lot of fun. The Peel has a strict 10.50pm curfew so we had to cut the set down quite a bit but still managed to squeeze in 1hr20 worth….

Elektra City/Reborn/Sandstorms/Banks Of The Ohio/Endgame/Go/Yasuni/Black Noise/Fifth Amendment/Apocalypstick/Blood Red Sky/No Quarter

Thanks to the tireless Andy Smith, bassist for Mostly Autumn, for great lighting too.

It was a great weekend and I can’t wait till the next time ( which will be March 13 at The Venue in Stockbridge, near Sheffield)

Take care,
Alun