Monday, February 12, 2007

Donut Training Grounds

Yesterday was a marathon day at Donut Creative Arts Centre in Chesterfield. And it was a bright sunny day too. I ran the conga workshops whilst Ana and Jeremy did the hand percussion, and Nathan and Dan the timbales. With such a wide range of abilities, it's always a challenge. The jam session after lunch was manically fun with Nathan on bass, Dan on timbales, Wibbo on drums and me on piano at one stage.

It's been such a long time since I touched the keys.

Then there was the gig later in the evening. The sound setup was exceptional yet again, under (the other) Dan's sure hand. I wish he was portable; we'd take him to every gig. Must make a note to ask our Dan to solder a couple of flight-case handles on him.

The folk of Chesterfield probably don't realise how lucky they are to have such a gem of a facility on their doorstep that put on such events like the Cultural Music Programme I was just inolved with. Headed by Bri(an) Evans, the training there in sound technology has produced high quality professional enginners - despite being vocational in nature.

A truly remarkable achievement. I'd love to take up their sound training programme if ever the opportunity arose.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Just Let Me Catch My Breath

Less than a week now before I jet off to sunnier climes, but before then there's the no-small matter of workshops and a performance at Donut - a highly successfully run youth programme for aspiring musicians, complete with recording studio. The emphasis is on edcuative development.

The link here is Dan, our guitarist and erstwhile bassist who was trained in sound recording there.

So this Sunday, we're running percussion workshops to show the young musicians how they might incorporate percussion themes of Latin American origin into their own music. You might be surprised to hear that I'm doing the congas bit. In the evening, there's to be a dance lesson followed by a performance by our salsa band.

Jeremy's really pulled out the stops and downloaded the tracks for our eight songs that we've recorded so far, and Dan's doing the mixdowns for us to arrange our melodics and percussion to. Hopefully, Jeremy will have a piano montuno track for me before I leave so that I can work out my inspiracion melodic lines for the ninth song.

When I get back we'll be experimenting with a shuffling of roles, with Dan on timbales, Nathan on vocals and congas, and me on backing vocals and hand percussion or tres. I think that I might have to travel more this year as Verdant's business develops, and it would be unfair to leave Cuatro de Diciembre in the lurch, so we're trying to build some redundancy into the system.

In some ways, I'd relish the opportunity to play tres and learn the instrument better. Let's face it, I'm an Eliades Ochoa wannabe. But it won't happen in this lifetime.

Loo Yen Yeo