Anti-Racist Instrumental Music - Thoughts On Grace And Gratitude

Back around the time of the 2004 European Elections, I was utterly incensed by the appearance of UKIP - the UK Independence Party. 

Their figurehead was the patently ridiculous Robert Killroy-Silk - a man who actually had a past in real politics, but having been sacked from his various TV and newspaper roles for being an ill-thought-out racist loon, he turned his hand to the plight of the White And Wealthy - a whole load of aging British overwhelmingly-white millionaires blaming the world's poorest people for all their imagined problems. 

I blogged about it extensively - a lot about UKIP, and a bit about the BNP who at the time were less mainstream than now in their profile (though their neo-fascist intentions and policies haven't changed a bit).

But I was also in the process of making a record, and my thinking about the state of play with the ungrateful bastards in UKIP changed the course of the record. I realised that ranting about what arse-holes they were/are was only part of the picture, and that recognising what was wrong and being the opposite was also a big part of being the change you want to see happen. 

So, given that they were so ungrateful for all that they had - I set about making a record themed on all the things in life I was grateful for. And called it Grace And Gratitude - Grace being 'unmerited favour' - of all the things in my own life I was grateful for, I realised that I - like the UKIP dickheads - hadn't earned any of them. 

The track list for the most part speaks for itself, and when listening to the album again on a train through Holland last weekend (I hadn't listened to it in a couple of years) I once again felt those same feelings. Overwhelming Gratitude for what I had, and a desire to see that sense of Grace/Serendipity/Luck permeate the political arena in the UK, where we vote knowing that we're SO lucky, and we owe it to the poor both here and abroad to vote with them in mind. 

Here's the album - it's lots of people's favourite of mine - have a listen, feel free to download it and pay anything - any amount you see fit, what you can afford, what you think it's worth. Enjoy it, pass it onto your friends:">Grace And Gratitude by Steve Lawson">Grace And Gratitude by Steve Lawson

Steve and Lobelia Live In Nebraska EP now on Bandcamp!

Yay! Finally, thanks to the great help of Kevin Quickle, I've managed to get the Live In Nebraska EP up to bandcamp for proper magic high res download. 

This is very exciting - every time we've pressed CDs of this, they've sold out in just 2 or 3 gigs - so much so that we didn't even have a copy to rip to put up on Bandcamp (Bandcamp requires CD-quality WAVs, not the high-res MP3s I had that were for sale in my old online shop...) 

So here it is - it's one of the musical things I'm most proud of that I've done, and captures just how well we were playing on that US tour really well. It's a great recording, thanks to us actually playing the show in a recording studio - Power Base Studios in Wisner, Nebraska. Great job done by Dan Kane on sound. 

Here it is - listen, share it, embed any of the tracks that you particularly like in your own blog posts if you wish, and if you want to download it, pay whatever you think it's worth. 

Waiting For Flapjack - the soundtrack

Finally recorded something I like! Yay!

It's a pretty low res recording, cos I did it on my Nokia N97, just using the voice recorder, but given that, it's actually pretty good :)

The loop was recorded and I was playing over it, then decided to record it, so I stopped it, hit record and re-triggered the loop. Everything else is as I played it...

Enjoy - this is the sound of waiting. :)

Collecting together this year's musical experiments Pt 1

This year, I haven't put out any 'official' music. No album, no EP - nothing. End of last year was the Lawson/Dodds/Wood album, which I'm hugely proud of. 

But I have been documenting some of my experiments along the way, most notably with Audioboo and Vimeo, but also and a Youtube video or two. 

So here are some of the Audioboos, for you and I to both recap as I think about recording a new solo album in the near future. I'll add the Video stuff to a later post. 

Playing fretted bass for the first time in AGES!

Haven't had some moderate musical successes over the last few days on fretless bass, I thought today I'd have a play with my 6 string fretted bass - it's an awesome instrument, sounding and feeling unlike any bass I've ever played (it is a one-off...) 

I hadn't played it for quite a few months, given that I usually only take one bass to gigs these days and it's the fretless, hence I practice on it too... 

But it was fun to have a play around (despite the bass really needing a set-up). 

Here's a little snippet of what I was playing, recorded to audioboo. 3 loops - the first one a rhythm track, second one some chords, third one gnarly distorted tremolo sound. 

Enjoy :) 

The Things That House Concerts Allow That Other Gigs Don't

Thanks to just getting a comment on the video, I've been watching this video of me playing Jimmy James, from a house concert in north London last year. 

Apart from the slight weirdness of me sitting watching myself on Youtube (I was watching to see what sounds I used in order to answer the question in the comment), I was struck by the really slow build on the loops. Then realised that the reason it sounded unfamiliar is that it's only at house concerts where I can get away with playing that slow, that measured, where I can give each layer and musical idea the room to grow that it deserves. 

The reason is this - for music to work, the silence in the room needs to sound good. If what happens when you're not playing is nasty background noise - whether it's traffic or coffee-machines or people talking, or air-con units... whatever it is, the music can't have holes because it's primary purpose becomes covering up that other noise. After that, you get to be good, interesting or whatever... 

Have a listen, tell me what you think - I love the pacing of this, and it's inspiring me to want to get some new music written, with lots of holes in it. Swiss Cheese music. :) 

Lobelia and I got lucky...

Every now and again music and opportunity line up. Doesn't happen often - live albums are rarely of the best night on the tour, unless the band is recording every night. Often, the tech and the tunes are on different calendars.

However, for Lobelia and I, the planets aligned when we played a house concert in Nebraska a couple of years ago - it wasn't actually in a 'house', it was in a recording studio, doubling up as a venue.

We played the best we'd ever played and got an awesome recording of it.

It's not on bandcamp yet, sadly, but will be soon - til then, here's one of the tracks on


I've got a broken bass u-huh ooooo miss-quote the Pixies.

Actually, I haven't. I've got a fixed bass. Fixed because it was smashed up by British Airways, who paid for it to be fixed. But it sounds different. I love the sound of the bass as it is now, but just occasionally I go back and watch vids like this recorded before the accident, and miss the sound. There was something pretty miraculous about the bass as it was...

Maybe I'll grow to love the sound now as much, especially as I start recording a new album soon.

Till then I'll just have to remember to not stop Believin' ;)

The bass playing I'm most proud of from the last couple of years....

Well, there are two things I'm really proud of. One is the Lawson Dodds Wood album, which isn't on bandcamp.. .yet... 

The other is this track by Miriam Jones. It's called Routine Runaway, it's a heart-meltingly joyous song, and I really love the way the arrangement came out. A lot of it was my idea, arrangement-wise, and I'm grateful that Miriam trusted me when the first time we tried it it sounded like arse... Jez Carr's piano on it is fab too... 

have a listen, then go buy the EP. :)">Routine Runaway by Miriam Jones">Routine Runaway by Miriam Jones