Not exactly back in harness, but we did some valuable arranging today for some of the newly learned 12 string songs transferred to six string. However Boo doesn't stand much chance of remembering her parts as she is off to the Bahamas until the next gig!
Some of these songs you might hear resurrected soon (although not necessarily with the same vocalist) are:
Rock On The Beach
For All Time
Things Can Only Get Worse
Lay Down Your Arms
Could I Remain Downhearted
See you at Twickenham, oh... and happy New Year!
Well it's Christmas isn't it? We managed to slothfully go through a couple of arrangements today and then it was off for our band Christmas lunch (yes we still call the two of us a band after all these years!)... so nothing much to report except that the D&B creative machinery is now settling down to a comfortable pre-Christmas idle.
Happy Christmas to all our readers and we hope to see you at a gig somewhere next year. Have a good one!
We were rehearsing today for our Christmas gig on Sunday(14th). The original plan for the set was to include some of the newly transposed 12 string songs (see below) but the task seemed a little overwhelming as we're already doing a Christmas song plus two other new songs that will utilise a Spanish guitar for the first time.
We decided not to be too ambitious (or we won't remember anything!) and do a few more of the songs we are more comfortable with and leave the old 12 string songs out for now. We'll introduce them at a more gradual rate soon...
Dave has finally admitted defeat with the 12 string tuned to fifths. Although a very creative tool which has been responsible for some lovely tunes (most of them on 'Late In The Day'), the instrument has proved to be too difficult to control - particularly in a live situation.
Today Dave started working out some of those 12 string tunes on a six string. This has proved to be no easy task and some of these tunes are unplayable on a normal guitar if the original quirkily tuned 12 string idea is to be represented in some way.
The more successful attempts so far seem to be 'Apple Tree', 'Things Can Only Get Worse' and 'Rock On The Beach', although with the latter Boo now sings it as it can only be transposed successfully to her key... that means some of the words have to change... a veritable pit we've dug for ourselves!
Relearning one or two songs we've not done for a while for our Christmas gig on the 14th Dec, including 'Apple Tree' , 'Eye of the Beholder' and 'Rock on the Beach'. We've also been bringing a couple of new ones up to speed. Should be a good gig with some tunes you haven't heard for a while - email us if you've got a request!
Working out harmonies for 'Glass Half Full'. Here is our practice recording. The structure has been changed, a verse has been added and it is now played on a steel string guitar instead of a Spanish guitar, which is what it was written on.
A new song. We spent too much of today trying out this new idea and neglecting our rehearsal for the weekend gigs - we should know the old ones by now shouldn't we?
This song is called 'Glass Half Full' and it came about with some production music which Dave writes to earn a few bob now and then. The same tune alternates between E major and E minor, which is what inspired the title. So far two grown women have burst into tears on hearing it so it's having the desired effect!
Boo now sings it as it suits her voice so it's now gone up to A major/minor. We won't be doing it at gigs this weekend but it should make an appearance soon. mp3 to follow.
We're not thinking about recording at the moment as we've been doing quite a few gigs and trying to incorporate the cajon as well as bringing a few of the newer songs up to speed.
Experiments have continued with the box drum including the purchase of brushes, which can be used on these things. Interesting...
Also Dave got his hands on a friend's set of V drums which were amazing. These are silent drums which you plug in and they sound as near the real thing as you can get with programmed drums at the moment.
Happily, with a price tag of about £4,000, there's not much chance of Dave getting any of his own. (huge sigh of relief)
As you can see, the cajon thing has developed. Boo now has her own cajon and we have started using it on gigs. We've found a good way of miking it up (stick a mike right inside) and Boo's playing it on 3 songs at present although I think this might develop. It's going down well and it's a new dimension in our acoustic set.
Boo's new cajon needed a bit of adjustment on the snare which was flapping a bit, so today's rehearsal had a certain amount of woodwork involved.
This is not totally unrelated to the last entry. We may still be able to introduce a bit of drum like rhythm into our set with this new toy... maybe. We were supposed to be practising for a gig tomorrow night in Faversham but got heavily waylaid.
Dave got this cajon for his birthday today and it was a bit of a hit with both of us. A cajon is a 'box drum' (as opposed to a drum box!) which can sound uncannily like a full drum kit in the right hands. The trouble is we are both usually playing an instrument already so we're not sure yet where this might fit in.
In the meantime here's a video of someone playing a cajon on youtube. Don't worry - we ain't ever gonna sound like this!
Boo's just back from her hols today and we decided on some fundamental changes to our live sets. First off, we have decided to ditch the drum machine because although it was brought in to provide a little local colour to some songs at gigs, it has had the unwanted effect of alienating some of our folk audience. We've only currently been using it on about 3-4 numbers so it's not a big difference for us.
The second thing we decided was to do more of our older numbers at gigs rather than trying to do as many new tunes as possible. As you can see below, there has been a bit of a surfeit of new material, but if I go to see someone play I want to hear something I recognise, so... as we only do our own stuff, we are now going to include more of our hits! We had a lot of fun playing some of them today.
Shouldn't have put that bit about Boo not remembering she sang 'Some Day' (see below). She wanted it back didn't she? However for various reasons Dave regained control of the masterpiece and we decided to change the harmonies.
This is an mp3 of us trying out the new harmonies but unfortunately coming to grief in the remembering words department...
We've been having a break as it's been holiday time, and today was first day back from Kefalonia for Dave with sea-softened fingertips, some red Ray-Bans and a paunch.
We tried to remember our new songs and went to work particularly on this one: 'Some Day', working on the bass line and some harmonies. It's been so long since we last did it that Dave managed to steal the lead vocal back from Boo without her even remembering that she sang it in the first place. Here's a minidisc workout...
Two more new songs. This is keeping up a rate of roughly one a week which is totally out of character for us. It's normally 6 a year if we're lucky. So we've now got far too many things to remember, but we'll do our best and we're aiming to do 3 or 4 of the new ones at the next gig in St Neots on 1st July.
The two latest tunes are:
'I'll Be With You' which is a slow chorussy anthemic (hopefully) folk tune sung by Boo and.. 'Some Day' which has a kind of latin feel and is also sung by Boo.
A fourth new tune in as many weeks is now under way. Don't know what's going on... I guess songs are a bit like buses. This one's called 'Mohamed' and corners a new style for us... this is banjo reggae (why have we never made it?)
The mp3 here is a practice mini disc recording that's a bit distorted but you'll get the idea. A long time ago someone called Boo a 'bad bass playing bitch' and I think that supreme quality is demonstrated here.
The new songs (see below) got christened last week in Swindon, one of which was 'Ginger Rogers'. An old friend turned up and told us about this famous Ginger Rogers quote which apparently originated in a cartoon...
We've since managed to work this into the lyrics in V2 of our song. Thanks Jake!
Today we were sorting out harmonies for these two songs and Boo was working on a boogalooing bass line whilst trying to sing loads of words - not easy!
Also a third song is now under way called 'Serenades and Masquerades' which is a jazzy torchy kind of song in which Dave gets to try and sing like Shirley Bassey.
Two new songs written over the bank holiday weekend. One called 'Ginger Rogers' and is a happy up tempo tune (unusual for us!) for guitar and bass which was written in the space of a few hours. The other is one that's been in the pipeline for months now called 'London Town'. This one started life on the keyboard, but got transferred to and completed on guitar. The words were rewritten about 4 times since the song first appeared but got the seal of approval over the weekend.
Boo sings both these songs and we spent time working on them today for live work. Hoping to do them at the next gig where we'll continue our tradition of doing things at the wrong time and in the wrong place: two songs in the set will be... 'Xmas Carol' in June and 'London Town' out somewhere near Swindon!
Here's what we've done to 'Don't' so far. The Ramirez guitar makes its debut and has a nice effect on the sound of the track. It leaves loads more space than a steel six string and gives the song an unexpected character. Happily we just happened to have this song with a slightly Spanish feel to the chord progression.
The guitar itself has been through a few changes since I got it (so have I!) and the Ramirez 2CWE was swapped for its more upmarket brother the 4CWE as I wasn't happy with the recorded sound of the 2CWE. It's an identical guitar to look at but the sound cheers up my inexperienced classical ears - it's since been set up properly and so feels great too.
This is a semi finished track with more work to do on it yet. See what you think - have a listen to the mp3 opposite.
Finished recording 'Xmas Carol' today. Started work on 'Don't' utilising my new Ramirez for the first time. Seemed to fit the arpeggiated guitar part better than a steel string. The chords are faintly Spanish in flavour as well. MP3 soon.
We seem to be going backwards... we tried recording 'Now You Tell Me' today and decided that jaunty banjo tunes just aren't our thing! This is the second banjo song we've had trouble with - the other being 'My Mother Should Have Told Me'.
This tune was too complicated and the best part was when it stopped! Therefore we've ditched it. I don' t suppose anyone's too upset - we certainly aren't. We've been trying to sort it out for months now.
A friend of mine suggested you shouldn't write anything you can't play when you're pissed! Thing is... I don't drink.
Sooo... instead of plodding on with this abysmal offering, we worked on one or two new ideas that we could play if we were ever pissed. The stumbling block right now is lyrics. Working on it...
Here is some proper recording for a change! This is our first recording since 'Living On Light' and I guess it's the start of the next album.
We had a lot of fun with this one. Loads of B Vox as you will hear - plus 2 acoustic guitar parts. This is all there is on the track at the moment and it may well stay like this.
Some of the harmonies were difficult. Here we see Dave using 2 pairs of headphones. One pair comes from a tuner in his pocket to give him the starting note, the other pair has the track.
We've been taking a bit of a break trying to do some writing. This week we were developing one or two new ideas plus we decided to start recording one of the completed new songs before it gets stale.
So there is now a version of 'Xmas Carol' taking shape with some seasonal (or unseasonal for April!) sounds being added. We'll put an mp3 up here when it's a bit more coherent.
There's a lot of banjo stuff going on at the moment. Amongst other things today we were trying to get a decent ending for 'Now You Tell Me', which is one of those songs which steadfastly refuses to stop naturally. We ended up having to write a new bit and used the verse riff to lead into what we hope will be a rip roaring ending. The only problem is that it will probably take us about a year to be able to remember it!
The second mp3 is the chorus of a song we resurrected from a long time ago when the banjo thing was new:'Oh Don't Desert Me'. We're thinking of doing it again, because although it's not exactly a classic, it felt like it just might be fun...
Never having had a Christmas song before, I'm afraid the detail department has got a bit out of hand and the props on the right were purchased and used at Wivenhoe Folk Club last night for Xmas Carol's grand unveiling. The socks weren't a problem but the sleigh bells are incredibly loud with acoustic instruments, so they had to be tapped with a foot instead of shaken.
We were even considering fairy lights round the mike stands. You know, maybe a fetching red hat for Boo, white beard for Dave...
We're still working on bits of 'Xmas Carol'. We worked out the last little bit today. Literally.
Looking forward to giving it a proper run out on 7th Feb at Wivenhoe before it becomes too unseasonal.
This is our new song 'Xmas Carol'. We've already done this song at a gig, but we spent most of the day rearranging it and working out our harmonies etc. Boo's singing this one with a Christmassy 6/8 feel to it on guitar. Very enjoyable tune to do and goes well with the Atheist's Hymn at gigs.
The idea below now has 3 verses and 2 middle eights although no chorus. It is one of the strangest tunes we have done to date and has turned out to be an anti Christmas song. Don't recall ever having heard one of those although I imagine there must have been one or two. After a fairly crap Christmas it seemed like the only thing to write about!
We were working on a new idea today on 2 guitars. A tune in 6/8 which has the provisional title XTV. This might change as XTV are the only letters I have for this song so far!
It started out sounding a lot weirder than this - a quirk too far we thought, so we evened out some rhythm changes and it has become a bit more lilting with potential for some nice double guitar lines.