Open Dischord

Posted: July 13, 2014 in Music

Blogged by one of my favourite musicians.  Oh, and I’m in the band too. 🙂

Open Dischord.

Why don’t you come on down, and play / groove along with us?

 

 

 

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Gigs and nerves

Posted: November 11, 2013 in Music

I’m playing a gig on Thursday….

…. and the pre-gig nerves are starting to kick in.  It’s many years since I played a “proper” gig and back then it was as part of a five piece band, so my contribution was only a relatively small part.  This is going to be a lot more stripped back; just me and a good friend that I’ve had the great pleasure to play alongside many times over the last few years.  His name is Andrew Clayton, and he is a phenomenal musician.  I strongly recommend that you check out his Bandcamp page so you can have a listen: http://notejuste.bandcamp.com/  And maybe buy some of his music while you’re there as well. 

It all started a little while ago when Andrew and I had some fun on FaceBook talking with a few people about our “band” which had split up before we had even started to rehearse.  We said that we had then decided to reform to celebrate the split and to do a tour… but five minutes later we split once more over musical differences, etc, etc.  It was all just a bit of nonsense really, but we had a good laugh at the time.

But then we had one of those “lightbulb” moments, and thought maybe we could actually do this, and play some loosely blues based live improv.  So we decided to give it a go… and formed (reformed?) as Dischord.

Dischord is  a loose collaboration between Andrew and me; Andrew plays keyboard/piano and I’m covering guitar duties.  We can also add other musicians into the mélange, as and when we want to fill out the sound.  But this Thursday it will be just the two of us on our own.  It is much more exposed than I have ever been before as a player.

And the location for this gig?” I hear you ask.

“It’s at a bookshop. In Kenilworth.”

Hang on, a bookshop?

“Yep.  The Tree House Bookshop in Kenilworth”.  ( You can read more about what the Tree House does here:  http://treehousebookshop.co.uk/  )

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m really looking forward to playing and seeing what we can create on the night.  And to browsing the shelves  to try and find those few books missing from my King/Koontz collections.  🙂

But the nerves are still building up… Will anyone turn up?  Will my playing be up to scratch or will I have a bad case of fumble-fingers?  Will we enjoy the music we create?  In fact, ignore that last one, because I know we will enjoy it!

If you’re in the area, or just want to come along, then I hope you enjoy it too.  And maybe you will also find that book that you’ve been searching for for ages.

Waiting, still waiting

Posted: May 7, 2013 in Christianity
Tags: ,

There’s something a bit odd about waiting for a delivery to be made…  There is the agony and frustration that you have to hang around until the delivery van reaches the particular point on its route where it is outside your house.  And then there’s also the excitement and anticipation of what you’re expecting to receive.  These are two diametrically opposed feelings are held in tension, and it’s very hard to not be pulled more in one direction than the other.

Today, I’m waiting for the delivery of a new guitar which I have been promised will be delivered within the next few hours.  I’ve wanted to own this particular guitar for more than 30 years, so having to wait a few hours shouldn’t be too much of a hardship.  But the anticipation of opening up the guitar case, and (I expect) my wide-eyed excitement at (finally) holding this cherished instrument in my hands is welling up inside me like a volcano about to erupt; my heart rate is higher than normal, I keep on pacing up and down, and I’m checking the road outside every 6.3 seconds to see if the delivery van is there!  And all as though I could speed up the arrival of the delivery van.  “A watched kettle never boils”, and all that….

It’s been ages, but the van (and my new instrument) isn’t here….. Yet.  But surely it will only be a few more hours at the most won’t it?

The whole process of holding back to buy this particular purchase for so long is called delayed gratification.  Wikipedia has the following entry to describe it:

 Delayed gratification, or deferred gratification, is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward.  Generally, delayed gratification is associated with resisting a smaller but more immediate reward in order to receive a larger or more enduring reward later.

 A person’s ability to delay gratification relates to other similar skills such as patience, impulse control, self-control and willpower, all of which are involved in self-regulation.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_gratification

This concept is sometimes difficult to grasp when we live in a world of immediacy.  Our world, and the pace at which we live, along with our expectations as consumers, has changed in the last 20 years; we expect our fast food order to be delivered within a few minutes, music purchases to be paid for and downloaded within seconds, our online travel arrangements or holiday bookings to be completed instantaneously, etc.  It seems that we don’t want to wait for anything, because we are so busy doing “stuff”.

I think we all need to slow down a little… I think there is also a biblical truth in the process of embracing and cultivating delayed gratification.  As Christians we are called to wait on the Lord.  The Bible has many instances where God’s people are called to do this:

Isaiah 40:30-31

30   Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;

31   but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Psalm 27:14

14  Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 130:5-6

5   I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

6   I wait for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

 But what is it that we are waiting for?  Ultimately, we are waiting for the time when Christ will return in glory and Heaven and Earth will be remade:

Isaiah 65:17

17  “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind….”

Revelation 21:1-4

1   Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

2   I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

3   And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

4   He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

The greater reward of our delayed gratification as Christians is that we will be with Christ one day.  Saint Paul wrote to the church in Corinth:

 1 Corinthians 13:12

12   For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 So I believe that waiting is a good thing; indeed, I believe it is a biblical truth.  I believe that we should cultivate it, and rejoice in it because one day all the agony of waiting will be forgotten as the joy of the ultimate reward fills our hearts:

 1 Peter 4:12-13

12  Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

13  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Matthew 24:13

13  but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

I’ve checked again… it’s still not here yet.  But soon, my friends, soon…. in the meantime I’ll enjoy the waiting.

Nose to the grindstone

Posted: September 13, 2011 in Grumpy, Work

Sometimes my job is great. And sometimes it has some mind-numbingly tasks associated with it that, quite frankly, make me want to shut the door and walk away.  Today (and probably for the rest of the week), I am having to do one of those tasks.

Without going into too much detail, I work for a Voluntary Sector “Infrastructure” organisation that (in partnership with similar infrastructure organisations) provides support to “front-line” voluntary and community sector organisations.  We maintain a database of approximately 5000 voluntary sector organisations, and ask them to complete a “profile form” annually; this asks for details about their activities, finances, services offered, etc, which we can then (in theory) use to identify how we can help them over the next 12-24 months.

However, this profile form is under constant review, and certain things (e.g. the list of Client Groups served by an organisation) are changed, added to, or removed.  Still with me?  OK, well done!  But these changes then require wholesale changes to the existing data held in the database.

For a couple of weeks we ask people not to use the database until the changes have been implemented, and the data updated – this means that the very people who should be using the database to inform and record the work they do, are unable to do so.  Understandably, this leads to some frustration on their part, because we are affecting the way that they do their work.  So there is a considerable amount of pressure to get the changes made as quickly as possible, but without creating any errors :-/

Changes to the wording of an item are simple and quick enough to do, and I usually write SQL Update queries (in the SQL Server Management Studio) to save both my time and sanity.

Things are a bit different when dealing with additions or deleting obsolete data though; it has to be done manually using the database front end, because the database maintains an index of those items to reduce search times, and also keeps a record of the most current unique identifier associated with that piece of data.  This process is slow and labour intensive.  And unfortunately (for me) has to be done before the database can be used freely once more.

I’m currently in the middle of doing this, and in the mood I’m in right now could quite happily hand in my resignation.  But that won’t put food on the table, or pay the mortgage.  So, like many others nowadays, I’m just gonna have to get my head down and get on with it.

Doesn’t mean I have to like it though…. so if I’m a bit snappy over the next week or so then maybe you’ll understand why.

I’ve always liked guitars, but I’ve never had enough disposable income to afford all the ones I want.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with my Ibanez electric (RG-7321) and the tonal variations I can get from its versatile pickup switching  options suit most of my needs, but at the end of the day it just doesn’t cover everything I want it to do.

Over the last year or so, I’ve started playing in church; I turn up with my Ibanez and Boss GT-10 (chorus set to “Stun” mode!) and arpeggiate my way through some chord inversions higher up the neck.  This is generally OK as long as there are  enough other musicians filling out the mid-range.  Unfortunately, with the team of musicians I usually play with there is a piano, cornet and a flute, so I have to play mostly chordal stuff down at the bottom end of the neck so that I’m not competing with the flute and cornet’s frequency range.

I’ve been asked on a number of occasions if I can play an acoustic instead because this would fill out the sound better.  But I don’t own a suitable electro-acoustic, or even an acoustic that is decent enough to be miked up.  I’m extremely grateful to two friends who have been generous enough and gracious enough to lend me their acoustics when I’ve asked, but I can’t keep doing this; it’s just not fair on them.

So….. I’m looking for a decent (but inexpensive) electro-acoustic that plays well both acoustically and when plugged in (so I can still get that lush chorus).  And I think I might just have found it.

I recently tried playing Turner Guitars 72CE (Grand Auditorium) and have been utterly smitten.  The guitar has a crisp well-rounded sound when played acoustically (fingerstyle and strummed), with lightish strings (which felt like 10’s or 11’s – ideal for a weak-fingered electric player like me!), and sounded nice enough when plugged in to a Marshall AS50D.

It also looks beautiful, with a very blond spruce top, rosewood back and sides, that sweet pinched-in waist and a drop-dead gorgeous mother-of-pearl rosette.

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The pictures just don’t do it justice, but I am in love with this instrument.  Now if I could just find £400 to buy this guitar my life would be complete.

Unfortunately I can’t make it to this week’s Wired service which is the latest in the Micah 6:8 series.

The eminent scientist Sir John Houghton is the guest speaker and will be responding to questions. I have submitted a few questions and am hopeful that at least one of them will be answered.

Posted: June 22, 2011 in Worship
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A newly created blog. But I’ve got nothing to say.

Come back in a week or two and I’ll have figured this out a bit more.  Until then, au revoir, mes amis