Archive for November, 2009

Christmas Songs For Solo Bass

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 30, 2009 by alunvaughan

Hi everyone.

Yes, that time of year is sneaking up on us at an alarming rate and soon the sound of relatives saying “play us something on that big guitar” will be ringing in our ears. With this in mind (and the fact that I’m a bit of a big kid where Christmas is concerned!) I thought I’d let you know (or remind you if you were around last year) that a collection of solo arrangements is available from http://www.bassbook.co.uk and is now also available at http://www.learnthelowend.com ( If you haven’t already checked out Learn The Low End, I highly recommend it – it’s a fabulous site with a range of courses and lessons from some truly incredible players. I’m really honoured to be involved!)

NB If you order from Bassbook, I’m afraid I’m doing everything manually so there may be a slight delay in emailing the file to you (but it should be with you within 24 hours at the most). If you register with Learn The Low End it’s all there waiting for you 🙂

So what is it? Basically,you get the following in PDF format:

10 Christmas chordal arrangements for solo bass in notation and tablature

Auld Lang Syne, Away In a Manger, Ding Dong Merrily On High/Deck The Halls, In The Bleak Midwinter, Jingle Bells, Joy To The World, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Silent Night, The First Noel

11 Christmas melodies specially transposed to “easy” keys ( ideal for less experienced players) in notation and tablature

As above, but “Ding Dong Merrily On High” and “Deck The Halls” are presented as seperate pieces

2 mini lessons

An introduction to natural harmonics and a lesson on the two handed tapping technique used for the arrangement of “Jingle Bells”

I also have a favour to ask of you – if you like the arrangements and use any of the bass forums or social sites, please tell people about it 🙂 Word of mouth is often the best advert an independent musician can get so any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time and take care,

Alun

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Panic Room – Aylesbury and Bedford

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2009 by alunvaughan

Hi. Hope you’re all well and surviving the weather! I realised the other day that I hadn’t put my random thoughts from the Panic Room gig in October on the blog so here we go with a double bill about that one and last night’s Bedford adventure.

So, back in October, we headed up to Aylesbury to play the Limelight Theatre, which is actually an arts centre in a school. It’s a great place, although the stage is actually some flooring so the edge of the stage is less than inch above the floor everyone else is stood on. This makes for a great intimate venue, but does make it hard for people not in the first couple of rows to get a decent view.

When we arrived, we were told that the soundman they expected to be there had dropped out but a new one was on the way so, after moving a piano to the side of the stage, we got on with setting up. Soundcheck went OK, but unfortunately the venue only had two monitors at the front of the stage which couldn’t be seperated so it took a bit of fiddling to get to a point where Paul had a chance of hearing his vocal and meant there was no drum monitor at all ( made no difference to me as I never have a monitor anyway – hee hee).

Soundcheck done, the traditional takeaway hunt found us a chip shop ( with possibly the worst sausages of all time) and an Indian takeaway ( which in hindsight would have been the better choice!), and it was back to the venue in time for an acoustic set from Jump who were great as usual.

And then it was time for us! The stage sound was pretty good, and the outfront sound by all accounts was great, and the gig was pretty relaxed and lots of fun. The setlist was the same as we played in Worcester in September:

Freedom To Breathe, Fifth Amendment, Yasuni, Reborn, Into The Fire, Go, Endgame, Sandstorms, Blood Red Sky, Elektra City, Black Noise, The Great Divide,, I Am A Cat, Dark Star, Apocalypstick

Encore: Satellite

I believe there is video footage of the gig, definitely of “Reborn”, so I should probably explain what’s going on in the breakdown of “Reborn” so it makes sense when it inevitably appears on Youtube 🙂 It all started not long after we began to play live. The first lyric in that section is “look” and myself and Paul would often point to random things of interest at this point to amuse ourselves. Over time, it has evolved into varoius words ending with “ook” including “hook”, “cook”, “ah fook” and “chinook” ( complete with pictures). On this particular occasion, we were using a classroom as a dressing room and, amongst other fun stuff, was a pocket sized Postman Pat book. So, what you’ll see at that point in the video clip, is the “reveal” of this “BOOK” to Paul. If there’s footage from later on the gig you can see it propped up on his amp. Childish yes but always keeps us amused!

After the gig, we experienced an amazingly humbling thing. We met a gentleman, Roger, who had been seriously ill and, throughout the worst parts of his illness, had listened constantly to our first album “Visionary Position” and has continued to listen to it ever since. It was so special to realise that something you’ve created can have such an effect on someone (it’s one of those things you hear about but never expect to happen to you!), and it was wonderful to spend some time with him. Roger, if you’re reading this is was great to meet you and hope the bass playing is going well!

The journey home was a bit of a nightmare as a combination of fog, closed roads and a lunatic satnav saw us travel from Aylesbury, round Cheltenham, and then back down to Bristol and back onto the M4. A late night was had by all! Gavin and myself had a gig the following night with The Root Doctors and were both a little bleary eyed!

And now we fast forward to last night and Esquires in Bedford. We had a reasonable journey up until we got to the outskirts of Bedford and which point an exciting adventure of traffic jams, ring roads and one way streets ensued (Anne lated referred to the road system as the “eighth circle of Hell” which summed it up pretty well).

Eventually we found the venue and carted the gear up the stairs to the venue, assisted by the promoter ( this rarely if ever happens at venues, so thank you thank you!). Anne and Gavin were travelling seperately as they were also playing at the same venue on the following night ( in fact they are probably playing as I type this!) so we got on with setting up the rest of the gear and soundchecking. Both were held up in the nightmarish traffic ( as were Ray and Steph, our merchandise people, who took 4 hours to get from Tamworth!) but we soon got everything together and managed a full soundcheck (the crew at Esquires are fantastic and nothing seems to be too much trouble – really great!) plus a quick run through “The Fall” which we had never played live.

Soundcheck done, tonight’s takeaway of choice was Chinese and the dish Paul introduced me to (and I’ve since become mildly addicted to) – Singapore special fried rice ( basically special fried rice but with chillis so much hotter – absolutely gorgeous!)

Support tonight was from local singer Amy Leeder who was fantastic – great singer and guitarist with some really nice songs. Only shame was that a lot of people decided to talk through most of her set but that’s their loss. The other thing that was slightly distracting was that there was a second band playing downstairs so there would be occasional rumbling from them.

We unfortunately didn’t have the intro music available, so instead used Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” ( on the journey up we had pondered various highly inappropriate Tenacious D songs, and the overture from Seewney Todd, but Teardrop seemed a better choice).

The set was largely the same but with with the addition of the live debut of “The Fall” and a second encore of “No Quarter”:

Freedom To Breathe, Fifth Amendment, Yasuni, Reborn, Into The Fire, Go, Endgame, Sandstorms, The Fall, Blood Red Sky, Elektra City, Black Noise, The Great Divide,, I Am A Cat, Dark Star, Apocalypstick

Encore: Satellite, No Quarter

It was amazingly hot on stage which made it difficult to keep some of the instruments, especially the acoustic guitars, in tune but overall it was a pretty good set. We also suffered a bit from “chatty syndrome” and the low end rumblings from the club downstairs but on the whole it seemed to go well. The venue recorded part of the gig so hopefully some of that may see the light of day at some point.

It was great to play “The Fall” for the first time, it’s a nice song to play and Anne wrote really beautiful lyrics for it. A quick note for the bass fans – on the album this ( and “I Am A Cat”) were played on my electric upright bass so it was a bit strange playing it on bass guitar and I’m still not sure whether to play it on fretted or fretless. I’d love to use the upright but most of the stages aren’t really big enough to have it sitting on its tripod in the corner all night for the sake of a couple of songs.

Esquires is a great venue and it looks like we’ll be back next year, all being well.

And that’s it for Panic Room live activity this year, although we’re currently booking 2010 dates so keep an eye out for announcements! The new album is with the manufacturers at the moment and should be going out to all the people who’ve pre-ordered in a couple of weeks.

Take care,
Alun