domenica 30 luglio 2017

Look, there goes old two bows.

On a last minute whim I took my French bow to a gig tonight and left my German at home. It was a jazz style gig backing singers and there was room for quite a bit of arco. First French bow gig for about 18 years. I think I'll take both bows to my next gig.

Gig today.

Instrument: double bass (contrabbasso)

Location: Paramaramu (Paraparama)

Organisation running event: Catholic Church (chiesa cattolica)

Type of music: Jazz backing singers (il jazz con cantanti)

Start time: Evening (sera)

Most important task to be achieved in next half hour: Make breakfast (fare colazione)

Ciao, ciao.

sabato 29 luglio 2017

It's all coming up gold at Richard's Bass Bag.*

Evidently you can get a discount on
your violin tone.

* the original bass bagging site

venerdì 28 luglio 2017

Tone is everything.

Well, almost everything.
Robert has a very good violin tone.
I've noticed that I have a tendency to play with too much pressure, especially when I get a bit excited.

I spent two hours practising violin yesterday and also watched some stuff on Youtube about producing a good tone. It's not really rocket science.

This is more like rocket science.

It's really just a matter of not getting too excited and holding back a bit when I play.
Most of us know the three things about the bow:
  • placement
  • pressure
  • speed.
As a general rule - play halfway between the bridge and the fingerboard and don't press to hard.
Okay, this is a huge over simplification, but thinking about this will improve your tone almost straight away.
A nice vibrato helps and, of course, playing in tune.

I added a tune to the Testore Trio repertoire that I haven't reall played before - A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.
It's a lovely tune. I always remember seeing and hearing Stephane Grappelli playing it.
It has a slightly unusual form in that the A Section is ten bars long. The B Section is eight bars long, as you would expect. I love the modulation up a major third to the B Section.

Well, that's it from me this morning. Another busy day of practice lays ahead - unless the bloody phone rings in the next twenty minutes or so.
Fingers firmly crossed.

giovedì 27 luglio 2017

Testore Trio.

24 charts ready to go.

Suonerò il violino. Ora è il momento di praticare. Tra il dire e il fare c'è di mezzo il mare.

mercoledì 26 luglio 2017

24 Charts and speaking Italian.

I want the Riccardo Testore Trio to be a really slick band.

A great player, but a poor chooser of shirts.
This is not his worst shirt picture.
I'll be pushing the Italian theme with this band and the on stage presence. I'll also be memorising all the charts so that my head is not stuck in the music. I might even go for a band shirt - very 1980s.

But nothing this extreme.
I do have an Italian shirt that I really love - I think I'll wear that.

This Italian trio has been almost twenty years in the planning. I had this shirt decorated many years ago and it's perfect, though Shelley thinks that it makes me look like a Nazi. I don't know why.

martedì 25 luglio 2017

The waiting game.

For those wondering, this is not
a picture of Richard (of RBB).
I have my name at a few schools making myself available for daily relief. Often one receives a telephone call between 7 and about 7.45am.
To be ready I have to be up by at least 7am.
Two things can happen:
  • You get a call and you get ready and head off or
  • You don't get a call and you are free for the day.
No call yesterday and, so far, no call this morning.
This isn't something to be concerned about because it is only the second day of term. 
In fact it is very nice to be home. Yesterday I started organising a book of charts for the Riccardo Testore Trio. Twenty four charts to start with. Ten Italian tunes, ten jazz tunes and four of my own. 
I'll be playing violin and my plan is to memorise all of the tunes - I'm about half way through doing this. I'll sort out more charts (written out tunes and chords) today if that phone doesn't ring. I want this trio to be slick and well rehearsed. George (of RBB) said he was keen to play double bass and hopefully Wade (of RBB) will be available for guitar though, with a band like this, there will be clashes with other gigs - hence the necessity of accurate charts if you have to pull in a sub.

7.47am and no call. That probably means I'm safe for today.

I hope you're all getting on and writing your charts.
Poor old The Curmudgeon had a nasty accident over the weekend and broke two fingers. I guess, since those fingers are on his right hand, he won't be writing any charts in the near future. He said that he tried playing the piano yesterday and it wasn't really possible. Probably he wasn't helped by the fact that he couldn't play the piano before the accident, but his right hand is certainly not up to the task at present.

All of us at Richard's Bass Bag* wish him a speedy recovery.

Take care old friend.

* the original bass bagging site

domenica 23 luglio 2017

The quiet world of blogging.

Where have all the bloggers gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the bloggers gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the bloggers gone?
Watching TV I suppose.
When will they ever leard?
When will they ever learn?

School's back tomorrow. Not for me though. Unless, and there's only a tiny chance, I get asked to relieve somewhere. Chances are very small as I say.

I might write another blog post tomorrow. Bin Hire says he will get his blog back in action. That's good because it has been very quiet around here.

Robert seems to have closed up shop, like a shop in the Homedale Village.

There was a hairdresser salon in Homedale optimistically called Hair to Stay.
They went.
Some might remember The Childrens' Bookshop (note the possessive apostrophe in the wrong place - not a good look for a bookshop).
They went.

Will Robert return now that the PBs' Hutt Tour is over and he will have more time?
The Curmudgeon has a lot of time to blog. Okay, some of his posts are a little uninspiring, but he generally gets good marks for effort.

I guess, as has happened many times in the past, it'll be up to Richard's Bass Bag* to save the day.
We are planning a series called Know Your Double Bass and Violin Strings.
This could be just the boost that our little blogging community needs. The intention is to look at many brands of string, explain how to identify them by their colours and give a description of how they sound.
Watch this site take off into the stratosphere!

No need to thank us, local bloggers. We at Richard's Bass Bag* are just doing what we do best.

* the original bass bagging site

venerdì 21 luglio 2017

Second Test.

Heavy rain in the Hutt means it'll be wet under foot for the PBs at the Wellington Bluegrass Society in Petone this evening. The PBs will be attempting to take out the series 2 - nil. Robert will start again after a strong return to the team in Upper Hutt and the plan will no doubt be to keep him fresh for the Ashokan Farewell in the final few minutes of the concert. This is when the PBs may need to score some quick points using Robert's sweet violin tone. Warm sentimental violin playing might be different from hard forward bass playing but it can give you points when you need them. PBs captain Chris has gone for light amplification for this encounter, a wise move considering the smaller venue.  However, the singers will have to be constantly aware of their mic technique which let them down a bit in Upper Hutt. Chris said, "We're not expecting talkers so the boys are pretty confident that we can generate enough sound. We'll just bring the vocals up a bit to compensate for the wet conditions." Again Daryl will play a pivotal role on accordion and expect to see Richard coming off the bench again with his violin. Reports are that Rod's mandolin has recovered well from the broken string it suffered in Upper Hutt. The PBs will again be fielding two bass players. This tactic worked well for them in Upper Hutt because it gave them more options for solos with flute, clarinet and violin being available. Both boys are prepared to do the hard yards on bass and this should allow the team to play more expansive melodies over the top.
Chris is warning not to write off the audience. "These people are very experienced listeners, so we will not be taking them lightly. There will be a lot of experienced musicians among them and they are quite capable of spotting any mistakes and punishing us for them."
The concert kicks off at 8pm at the Wellington Bluegrass Society in Petone and will not be broadcasted live on Sky Sport.

giovedì 20 luglio 2017

A tale of two bows.

These are my two double bass bows.
The one 'on top' is my trusty old bow that I changed from French to German and then back to French. The one 'underneath' is my newer German bow.

For those of you who might be wondering, the French bow is more like a violin bow and the German bow is played with a different grip. Look at those black bits where the hair comes out near the top of the stick. That black bit is called the frog. The German frog is wider.
I played French for many years but changed to German because it was easier on my then aging and slightly injured hand. I was tempted recently to try French again, but the reality is that German works better for me.

My mission is to get my German frog put back on my old bow.

mercoledì 19 luglio 2017

Last Pay.

Today I received my last pay from the Department of Corrections.

I am now officially unemployed.
I don't become a pensioner until late August.
Life often doesn't go the way you expect it to, but one thing is for sure...


This means I'll have some time to catch up on Bloke Flicks - movies that, when I suggest going to them, Shelley just laughs.

I'll be kicking off with this one today.
Today it's War for the Planet of the Apes.
May there be many more Bloke Flicks.

As I walk into the cinema, I'll be alone and I will survey other men who are with their wives.
I'll smile and they'll hate me for it because they will know where I'm going.
Their fate will take them to something like A Slow Death From Cancer, or Days Of Talking With Friends, or if luck really goes their way Mr Darcy Part II.

Poor sods.

From where I stand life is looking pretty good. 

martedì 18 luglio 2017


A busy day approaches.
An early start too.

Today I must go into work to do handover - not to be confused with hangover.

Warning: Can cause a hangover.

Handover is where you go into your old job and show the new guy where everything is.
It'll take a few hours, but hopefully it can be completed today. Otherwise I'll be back in tomorrow.

After that I have a rehearsal for a gig. The Gloria will be the weapon of chioce.

The Gloria

There are some interesting tunes to learn for this gig. Well done Wade for producing such excellent charts.

I'll try to find a little time to study Italian after the practice.

I'll also find a little time for a glass on Chardonnay.

Enjoy your day.

domenica 16 luglio 2017

Tutto fa brodo.

It's still pretty cold in Nuona Lazio.
Vestiti a cipolla, as they say back home.

I'm back at work on my 20 tune solo violin repertoire. It's made up of jazz tunes and Neapolitan tunes. Ten of each.

It's quite a big job memorising twenty 5 minute tunes. I want to be totally free to walk around as I play.

Cavalo! You guessed it!
Ho intenzione di suonare il violin solo in un ristorante italiano.

Un cliente, è pieno come un uovo, will look up from his seat and there I'll be - in the middle of Vieni sul mar.

I hope he doesn't say, Sei sempre in mezzo come il prezzemolo.

sabato 15 luglio 2017

La fine di un era.

Finishing up with duolingo Italian today.
Level 25 / 820 day streak.
Thanks duolingo.

La ricerca continua.

mercoledì 12 luglio 2017

Colder than a duck's arse in Nuova Lazio.

The hairstyle is evidently known as a 
duck's arse. It must be very cold.

It is very cold.
I've just been out doing the documentation for my pensione.
I got there early and sat in the car for about two hours studying Italian. I got to the final level (25) on duolingo but, with the engine not running, the car got colder and colder.
The chap at the pensione office was very nice.

The PBs played a very good gig last night - Robert was in top form and stole the show on the final number Ashokan Farewell. Nice playing Roberto.

Looking forward to another good gig with the PBs next week.

It's so cold and wet now that I've wondered about inventing a hot water bottle suit.

martedì 11 luglio 2017

First Test Tonight

The PBs play their first test at the Upper Hutt Folk Club tonight, before playing the second test in a week's time in that Hutt stronghold The Bluegrass Society.
Robert gets a start on violin and has mainly been picked for his sight reading and tone. He will need to put it together quickly as Easy Ridin' Bros is expected to be first up.
Utility player Daryl will start on clarinet. He seems to be recovering well from a squeaky reed, which is good news for the team. Expect to see a good game from the young accordion player if he can just concentrate on his playing and resist turning the bass up when he is in that role.
Chris will captain the side and will no doubt be trying to set up some strong tempos. Richard, known as a running bassist, will probably have to play in the tight tonight to keep his captain happy. Song singing duties will be handed to mandolinist Rod a lot tonight and expect to see Richard coming off the bench for some violin solos. It's a good guess that Robert will be called on to play a significant part in the last number Ashokan Farewell because there will be some 'tired old legs' out there and that could start to show at the 45 minute mark.
The PBs will need to settle quickly tonight. They could struggle to use the mics properly and, if they do, expect Chris to be handing out a few harsh words at half time.
Predictions are that it could be a close one tonight because the PBs are short on game time. Most commentators agree that it will come down to the tight five doing their job. 

sabato 8 luglio 2017

The start of a new career.

Time to think about the future.

venerdì 7 luglio 2017

Last day.

1977 -2017.
RIP teaching career.

I walk off into the clouds to join The Curmudgeon.

Time to practise my instruments, time to paint the house, time to walk.
Time to post for Bin Hire, if Robert's blog doesn't come back.

sabato 1 luglio 2017


This is a Countdown store.
Richard (of RBB) counting down to the end
of full time employment while holding a
selfie stick.
Okay, I'm not going to continue my x days to go series. Suffice to say that the final week is about to get underway.
They should pass pretty quickly. The only hinderance standing in the way standing in the way is a farewell speech.
I don't look forward to this, but it would be bad form not to turn up.

The speech kicks off with people saying nice things about you and then one particular lady cries.
Then you (me this time) have to make a speech and be careful not to leave anybody out.

This time next week it will all be over and I'll sort of be like TheCurmudgeon, though he'll still have a greater knowledge of wine. I'll still be better than him at violin playing.
Who knows, I might even resort to writing some of those banal posts he pumps out.

Waking up in Nuova Lazio can be quite an experience. The view of the harbour is stunning this time of the year.
I decided to take a walk near the bridge. Nuova Lazio bridge has always been a special place for me because I remember running across it when The Curmudgeon was at Marist Newtown.
On this day the view from the bridge was quite spectacular. Afterwards I made dinner and drank a 1956 Pinot Noir.  It had a peach and egg taste. Delicious.

Later that same day...
I felt a bit like handyman Robert today. I took the plumbing off the bathroom hand basin this afternoon to clean it all out. Turns out that the parts were in bad condition and needed replacing. A quick trip to Mitre 10 followed to find the parts (all the plumbing shops were closed). Got it back together just as wine time (4pm) approached.
Holding up so far. Fingers crossed.