Monday 21 July 2014

You may have thought that Robert Mackintosh was an obscure Perthshire/Edinburgh violinist from the 1780s whose several attempts at mainstream success were doomed to failure, but ... you were wrong. As of this week he is now an Essential Classic, because Radio 3 says so. Our Mackintosh album is 'Essential CD of the week' every morning on Essential Classics, the kind of recognition I think Red Rob would have enjoyed very much ...

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Well, the iPad did its work a treat on Sunday, and I could enjoy basically being at a huge party for Shirley Collins: photos here and here. The Belles of London City were spectacular out in the street at the interval, Stewart Lee turns out to be a rather good singer and guitarist, Olivia let me join in There’s Not A Swain, I got to play the clapped-out old piano at Café OTO rather than the shiny Yamaha, and Alasdair managed not to get too freaked out when we sneaked off to a corner to rehearse, and Shirley appeared at his shoulder to sing along in his ear. There was also something rather wonderful about everyone on stage (and in the audience) wearing Shirley Collins badges. After Tobias Hume the other week, the pressure is now on to come up with a different badge for every gig.

The whole extravaganza was to raise money for this very special project, so go on, give them a few quid (or a lot more if you have it).

Friday 20 June 2014

I've been battling against technology today: my Ahlborn H6 organ is in for repair after an internal battery leaked all over one of the circuit boards, and I really need a convincing sounding fake chamber organ for Sunday night's gig for Shirley Collins in Cafe OTO. I briefly considered having ProTools running on a laptop on stage, with some virtual instrument on it, but that seemed far too scary. Then last night I had a brainwave: hang on, I bet there's an app for that.

Within a couple of minutes I'd found Markus Sigg's StrandOrgan, which uses Lars Palo's samples of a small early 19th century Swedish organ. It sounds pretty good, complete with optional tracker and key noise, and you can even turn the electric blower on if you want. The only problem was getting a keyboard to play it. My second attempt at finding a lightning-to-USB adapter was successful (the cheap adapter didn't work, the overpriced Apple cable did), and now the iPad mini powers my M-Audio master keyboard quite successfully, and I even had the organ running in the background while I used ForScore for the notation. Using the AirTurn pedals to turn pages might be a step to far, but let's see. It will certainly be nice not to lug the rather heavy Ahlborn about London.

Monday 9 June 2014

Here are my colleagues rehearsing for last night’s Cottier Chamber gig to launch the Tobias Hume album. Our wee band version (as opposed to the big band version on the CD) seemed to work really well, and about 40 of the audience left wearing Hume badges, which was brilliant.

rehearsing in the Cottier Theatre: L-R Liam Byrne, Alison McGillivray, Thomas Walker

Here’s Liam showing that you don’t need a Marshall stack to play power chords.

Alison has two Bach solo gigs in the festival before the next week is out, in the Hunterian Art Gallery – and they’re free!