Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Away, Back, Away, Back (Part 1)

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Well the last few weeks have been busy and traveling lots. This has partly been work and partly been vacation. The work project has been reaching an important milestone so in April, just before the Easter weekend, I returned to San Jose, California.

I arrived on the Wednesday, dropped my cases off at the hotel, this time the Marriott Residences in Campbell, and then headed off to Planet Granite, the climbing centre in Sunnyvale, in order to surprised my friends who regularly climb there. It had the desired effect and my very long day was finished off with a curry at a restaurant in Sunnyvale.

The Birthday GirlI worked both the Friday before the weekend and the Monday afterwards, which although they are public holidays in the UK, they are not in the US. My friend Sonya came over to visit on the Friday evening and my American friends organised a great birthday meal and get together on the Saturday. One very very generously paid for the entire thing. This was followed by an evening of Rockband at one of their homes.

CampbellSunday was a ‘personal’ day. I just needed some space to my self. I decided to go for a tour of Campbell on foot. I needed a couple of electronics items to planned a nice walk from my hotel, up to the local Fry’s, from there to The Pruneyard and Wholefoods for lunch and supplies, then back to the hotel. It actually turned out to be almost a 6 mile walk but it cleaned the cobwebs out. I completely failed with respect to Frys though as it was Easter Sunday and they were closed.

Monday was back to work. Wednesday was climbing night again. This time I went prepared to climb. This may not have been sensible. The day before I flew to the US I had had the cast removed from the wrist I’d broken in February. Climbing so soon afterwards was not really sensible. I managed half way up on a couple of climbs before giving up. I didn’t completely waste the evening as I used the gym instead.

Thursday evening was ‘Miracle Fruit’ night. A whole bunch of us got together, took a Miraculin tablet, then tried different sour foods to see what the effect was like. The weirdest were liquid sour drops, a confectionery which was designed to taste very sour, tasted really quite sweet. Sweet pickles were another interesting taste. Friday Sonya came around again and I cooked for her.

Saturday Sonya and I headed up to San Francisco where we played laser tag. After that it was off to the Hotel Utah Saloon where we watched several live bands including Headshear which were very very good. Sunday I flew home but not before a nice lunch and cuddle in Baylands Park with Joyce.

Tuesday it was back in the office in the UK and some hard work meeting the milestone.

Classic Rock

Friday, March 13th, 2009

The first ever single, a 45 RPM piece of vinyl, I bought was "Since You Been Gone" by (Richie Blackmore’s) Rainbow. I became an instant fan of Blackmore’s guitar playing. I wanted to know more about what he’d done so researched his career. I discovered he was previously in Deep Purple. So I bought their albums too. I was never lucky enough to see Rainbow perform live but I did see Deep Purple twice. Once in 1985 at the one off revival of Knebworth Faire, and once in Birmingham.

Blackmore’s relationship with fellow Purple Ian Gillan was tumultuous to say the least and he left Deep Purple for good in 1993. He reformed Rainbow for one last album before quitting that too. He wanted a change in direction and to play smaller venues. He also had an interest in music from the middle ages, folk and classical music. This interest he shares with his, now, wife Candice Night. Together they formed Blackmore’s Night.

I also have an interest in classical music, traditional folk, and more recently the German folk which tends to be referred to as mittelalter which literally means middle ages. Modern gothic bands from Europe often have Mittelalter influences. Some rock bands do too. Nightwish’s Islander has more than a bit of a folk influence in it. Blackmore’s Night rings all the bells for me and occasionally they cover on of the old Rainbow or Deep Purple classics. But the song I can’t stop playing right now is "Locked Within A Crystal Ball". It is catchy, a tad gothicy, has mittelalter influences and Richie’s classic guitar playing.

Expensive toys…

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I play guitar. When I’m travelling I sometimes have to be devious to get my guitar fix. Luckily in the US the guitar stores let you try the guitars out and plug them in to amps. So I go to the Guitar Center in Santa Clara when I’m in Silicon Valley. I don’t feel too guilty since I’ve bought a guitar from them and now two guitar pedals.

Boss BF3 Flanger Effects Pedal

Boss BF3 Flanger Effects Pedal

Yes I went to play and came out having spent $150 on an Ibanez t-shirt and a wonderful sounding Boss BF3 flanger effects pedal. I’ve already got the D1 distortion pedal. They are so nicely made and robust. And of course in the US somewhat cheaper than the UK.

I can has new guitar!

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Yesterday’s evening plans didn’t work out so I went to Guitar Centre to buy the guitar I promised myself I would buy when I came out here.

On the last couple of visits I ended up sampling guitars in the store for some time on a couple of occasions. Unlike in the UK, where they seem very protective of their stock and sometimes won’t let you play something until you actually decide to buy it, the US has generally good customer service. You can just take a guitar down off of the wall, plug it in to nearby amp if necessary, and play. You never have to buy anything. You can even take it back if you decide you don’t want it or fancy something different. This means you could take something home just to try with your equipment for a full deposit.

I bought myself a gorgeous black Ibanez AEF18 electro-accoustic together with a hard case so that I can get it home in one piece. And I got it at a great deal as the store is prepping up for Thanksgiving.


My new guitar

My new guitar