In which I take a photo every day that I'm 50, and post it here on this blog, with a bit of related blurb.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Day 365 - The Last Post

thank you, and goodnight

Well, here we are...I'm glad you're with me dear reader, here at the end of all things...or the end of this blog, at any rate.

It's been quite a journey over the last 365 days, and it wouldn't have been the same without you along for the ride.

Quite the rollercoaster, it's been - lots of exciting peaks, and a few deep troughs...but my life, it seems, has a backdrop that is cool green (outdoors) and warm red (indoors), usually contains one Anna, and is otherwise filled with friends and relations, dogs and cats, and a smorgasbord of flora and fauna...

Animal antics are ever present...

These are usually stories or incidents involving my boyz Jazz, Bluez and The Boy Wonder, or my girlz, Loz and Maisie...but often events concerning characters such as Frankie, or The intruder, or Cat on a Post, or local sheep...

And with equal frequency, the surprisingly diverse species of wildlife that share their habitat with us...trees and mammals, and birds and flowers, and insects and molluscs, and fungi, and shrubs and spiders can all be found liberally scattered amongst these pages...

Adventures and challenges have also been high on the agenda...

I've ridden a horse on the beach, and climbed a dramatic multi-pitch route in the Lake District...I've slept in a tent (ok. it was a yurt, definitely glamping...but hey, grab those ticks where you can!), and driven a single seater racing car...I've learned to slackline a little, and skateboarded down the lane for the first time in 35 years or so...I've sport climbed in Spain and bouldered in France - in both cases to a higher standard than I've climbed before...I've learned Tai Chi, and picked up some basic photography skills.

And I completed my 50@50 Challenge - to solo 50 rock climbs in a day...of which I'm quite proud, despite its relative triviality in the greater scheme of things.

So last night a few friends joined me to celebrate all of this, and the ending of this blog, exactly one year after it all started.

Anna, Christina and Caroline decorated the place, including these cool ceiling decorations (which now poke me in the eye as I walk around the house...)...


shapes and shadows

There was just about enough room in the lounge, as long as you weren't too fussy about sitting on the floor...of course, Matt hogged the sofa...


matt'll tell ya summat else!
Jezz couldn't resist the photo-bombing opportunity - a trait that is well documented in this series of blogs...

the bomb

Similarly, Kim can't resist pulling a face for the camera at any opportunity...

Or maybe it's the forced smile of trying to remain polite after having read 364 consecutive blog posts written by your dad?!


face punch

I was delighted that Top Commenter Andy decided at the last minute to cycle ten miles through the dark, frosty night to join in the celebrations...

jazzy boy! oh, and me and andy

And I was doubly delighted that as a gift, he'd produced this amazing oil painting, which completely captures the essence of my boy Jazzy B...thanks Andy, I love it!  It's definitely going up somewhere in the lounge...

Mainly, as I mentioned last night, it was my chance to hold sway over a captive audience...mwahahah!

hear me now

True to the emergent style of 5oh1aday, when it came time for me to speak, I was completely unprepared...so spent half an hour or so rambling incoherently about fings wot I have learnt from this 'ere blog...and much fun was had by all...

By which of course I mean, much fun was had by me!  ;-p

Now those photos from last night are all well and good, but I need a photo from today...I'm not going to break my rule on the very last post!

Early afternoon, we took Robin for a long walk around a circuit we only do once or twice a year.

It's a couple of miles or so, nothing major, but takes in a lot more woods and a small, picturesque lake...

eyup

There were many ducks on the water, including these three pairs of mallards...nice to include a taste of wildlife on this post. 

Whilst up in the woods, Anna had the brilliant idea of grabbing a final challenge tick of the year (other than the take a photo every day challenge, which morphed into the 5oh1aday blog before I knew what was happening)...she suggested I climb a tree.
  
Seizing the potential for a sneaky extra tick, and one last handy blog fodder to boot, I looked for a potential tree, and quickly found this one...
 
slabby

It had a slabby start, requiring delicate balance on small foot holds, with nothing much for hands to hold on to.   I really enjoy this sort of climbing challenge, but it's fair to say that wellies covered in thick mud, on a green, damp tree trunk do not appropriate climbing footwear make!

Robin initially wanted to join me, but quickly saw the pointlessness of it...


nothing for feet

Once I'd fallen off a couple of times (through feet slipping off at critical moments), I concurred with his canine wisdom and went looking for alternative options.

Before long I found a suitable candidate...not the tallest of trees, nor the most challenging of climbing - but tricky enough, in the aforementioned wellingtons and damp conditions.


solid hands

Handholds were a bit better on this tree, although it involved some high steps for feet...something that definitely doesn't fall within the scope of my climbing strengths...but using a little technique and a smidgeon of experience, I was soon working my way upwards...


high steps

The Boy Wonder was perplexed with my strange behaviour, and was torn between closely watching, and running back to Anna for reassurance...(it will be interesting to see how he responds to us climbing rock...).

In truth, I didn't get all that high up the tree... 


half a tick

But in mitigation, may I again present as evidence muddy wellies, and mossy, damp, slippery bark?

On balance, I think I can claim at least a solid half a tick, in the Climb a Tree Challenge.

Finally, I just have to thank Anna, without whom I couldn't have completed this epic challenge...as well as providing extensive blog fodder (see labels on the right), she has shown remarkable patience throughout the year, given the level of time and attention it's demanded of me...

Here is the lovely Anna, with The Boy Wonder, next to a huge, ancient tree trunk we discovered on our walk today...

anna and the boy

Thanks babe, I love you...  :-*

As a last little parting shot...

For the full effect, click on the video below (no need to watch, just let it play as you read) before reading the final paragraph of this final entry, The Last Post, in the 5oh1aday Blog.





So this is it...we really are about done here...

It's been a deeply personal and profound experience, these 365 posts...A Year in the Life of Me...

I'm sincerely grateful to all those of you who have read, commented, participated or otherwise been part of this blog, or indeed my life, over this last year - you're all amazing and I feel honoured to have shared it with you.

Perhaps as you go about your lives, now and then you may remember some little story from this blog...a random fact about evolution, or ecology, or climbing...you might recognise a bird, or maybe you'll notice a little more of the wildlife around you...maybe you'll simply marvel at how liberating it is to have back all those minutes you used to spend reading 5oh1aday!

Should that come to pass, then my time here will not have been in vain...

Now all that is to be said has been said (please!), and all that remains is for me to bid you good night for the last time...

It's been emotional...

Peace, out.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Day 364 - Zero Points of Contact

fly like a dog

This photo perfectly captures the way I've been feeling for the last few days, and the nearer I get to the end of my mammoth blog...racing towards the finishing post, floating a few inches off the ground!

It was very cold overnight, and there was a heavy frost...apparently!  I was only up early enough to catch the tail end of it, and Anna missed it completely...

By the time we were out with The Boy Wonder, late morning, it was a beautiful day - crisp, clear, sunny and not too chilly. 

I'm not really sure how many will turn up for my little end-of-blog celebration this evening, but I think we're about ready for them!

It hasn't been all plain sailing, to be sure...

Most notably, last night I finally killed the hoover...one of the electric motors burned out, sparking and smoking and stinking the house out.  Even though it's a Dyson Animal (not a cheap vacuum cleaner, and designed specifically for dealing with, you know, animals), it seems that after years of heavy use (and abuse), dealing with Jazz, Bluez, Loz and Maisie fur...the thicker, coarser hair of Robin (The Boy Wonder) proved just too much for it. 

Anna has accumulated enough Nectar points to more or less buy a replacement, so we booked one for collection from Argos today...no way can we have a party without hoovering through!

So Anna just nipped off to Argos to collect it...valiantly fought her way through the Xmas shopping masses, parked, went into the shop, got in the queue...and realised she'd forgotten her Nectar card...D'oh!!!

That puts our schedule, already way behind (natch), even further out of kilter.

Ah well, none of it really matters, does it?   Which is nicely in keeping with this whole blog, I suppose!

It's just a bit of a fun get together this evening...primarily a chance for me to bang on about my blog a bit more, and force everyone to look through thousands of photo's which are of only passing interest to anyone who isn't me...

Mwahahaha, feel the power!

Oops, gave the game away a bit there...hopefully they won't read this before turning up, at which point it'll be too late - they will be mine!!

;-)

I'm going to wrap up this penultimate post with this lovely action shot...

release the hound!

The Boy was full of beans this morning, and could hardly contain himself once we were over the orchard...having been made to sit patiently for a few minutes, once released, his enthusiasm and exuberance were infectious.  

I hope this evening will be as enthusiastic and exuberant...and I hope that if I'm feeling that way, it will be in some small way infectious...I hope a good time will be had by all...

I'll see you back here tomorrow, for the final (and probably lengthy) 5oh1aday waffle...

Don't miss it!

:-)

Friday, 12 December 2014

Day 363 - Good Friday

tripod

Having finished work for the week, I'm now free to focus on the downhill ride all the way to the end of this 365 day long series of blog posts...and I'm really ready to get my freedy neet on!

Maisie featured predominantly in the very beginning of this blog - in fact she was the star of the Photo of the Day for the first two days...so I wanted to include her here in the last few days, to nicely bookend the whole thing.

But it turns out that getting a decent photo of her is quite a challenge...good photography is all about good light, and getting good light on a shiny black animal is not easy!

And in truth, cute as she is, Maisie isn't particularly photogenic - quirky little three-legged, runny-eyed furball that she is.

not amused

I absolutely love her to bits, but I can't get a decent shot of her for love nor money...at least in this one, you can see that she's looking at me with the appropriate amount of disdain.

She wasn't interested in the beads and baubles and pine cones that I scattered about to tempt her to play...in fact she really found the whole episode tiresome, and it was an effort to keep her attention.

treat me!

Even the lure of a tasty treat was only briefly interesting, and to be honest, she really just wanted to get it eaten and get the hell outta there.

I know how she feels!  

I'm so near the end of the blog now, and it's been an amazing, eye-opening, deeply satisfying ride...but now I'm on the last lap, and it's hard to keep stumbling on, a word at a time...I'm really running on empty at this point!

I still have so much to say, and there's masses of stuff that I've steered clear of...subjects that can't be covered adequately in a few hundred words, or in a squeezed hour or two of a single evening...

Yet at the same time, I'm almost out of small talk, and I'm hoping that sheer momentum will carry me through these last couple of days.

To help that momentum along...to grease the wheels, as it were, there's this:

something for the weekend

Now I'm not a big drinker, as you know...but this weekend, the usual rules do not apply!

I'm in party mode and in a party mood...anyone who's reading this is welcome tomorrow, at our house (in the corner of our field), at any time, to join me in a tipple to celebrate the completion of what turned out to be the challenge of my year, the 5oh1aday blog.  As a special bonus, you also get your photo on the final post on Sunday!

I'm so excited, it's reminiscent of finishing my 50@50 back in May - the sense of accomplishment, to be completing a tough challenge after a long and arduous journey.

The fact that there's no real point to it, no wider benefit to the world, is missing the point. 

I did this for the best reason in the world...

Just because!

:-)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Day 362 - Musical Muse

shoal of raindrops

I'm not sure what happened with this photo...but I quite like it, and in any case, it typifies my journey home this evening - it pretty much did look like this the whole way!

It is getting trickier to get a Photo of the Day, when I'm working long hours, and very busy at work...I don't get home until dark, and I've already photographed pretty much everything in the house at least once!

So (you may have noticed?!) I'm taking any opportunity I can get...

This evening I was sitting waiting for the traffic lights, halfway home...it's a nice place, quite picturesque - it's where recent pictures of cormorants and buzzards were taken!

But at this time of day, you can't see the river, or the trees, or the open fields, or the horses, or the numerous waterfowl that I regularly see in the mornings...all you can see are red and white lights and glare - it's almost the opposite of daytime.

I don't mind the drive though, even though conditions are horrible - I'm on winding country roads in the dark and in the rain, and there's lots of traffic, and numerous junctions and bottlenecks to negotiate. 

But I know the route reasonably well, I'm comfortable with my driving skills, and I don't rush too much (though I do get a bit of a hustle on now and then)...so I can relax, listen to the radio, and let my mind wander.

I'm going to try to come up with productive things I can do on the journey...audio books are one option, as are Podcasts...I've even considered buying a harmonica and jamming along to some blues on my way home.

I'm not sure I could do blues in the morning...you sing and play the blues in the evening, about the morning...waking up in the morning is what the blues are all about!

But I have found myself thinking about music a lot on my homeward drive, and I really do want to make it a priority next year.  I want to get stuck in to my looper, get my electric guitar going, and write and record some songs and grooves.  

Actually, I really do feel as though I've got my musical muse with me at the moment...sitting here typing, I have a great bluesy groove running through my head that I'd love to develop. 

There's no way I'll remember it by the time I get a guitar in my hands...

Yep, my muse was just interrupted for dinner, so now (an hour or so since I wrote the previous sentence), I have absolutely no clue what that riff was...

Still, the point is, I feel like being musical...I want to spend some of the time I get back through not having to blog daily, reviving my musical inclinations. 

I want to get Rock Band set up again (the game on the xbox, using my electronic drum kit) so I can drum along with the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Smashing Pumpkins...I really miss that!

I want to get my home recording studio really sorted, so that I can play, and practise, and jam, and groove, and record. 

I want to buy a bass guitar and start to play it properly...

Oh yeah, the muse is really with me just now...

I hope it lingers long enough for me to have time to indulge it a little!

B-)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Day 361 - Festive Fireplace

get your decs out

For the first time in living memory, I'm actually looking forward to Christmas, although I don't really know why, or what exactly I'm looking forward to.

The attentive amongst you will have gleaned that I'm not a Christian, so Christmas doesn't really mean anything to me from that perspective...even the less attentive will have gathered that I'm no fan of capitalism, and find the commercial side of Christmas distasteful in the extreme. 

Personally, I feel more affinity with the Pagan tradition, so my focus is more on the Solstice than the Nativity.  

Anna will tell you that as each year passes, I'm more keenly aware of where we are in relation to the shortest day...for instance, I know that today we are entering the darkest 3 weeks of the year...by the time this blog finishes on the day before my birthday, we'll be in the darkest fortnight (a week either side of the shortest day).

Increasingly, as I get older, the Solstice takes on more significance...it's the turning of the tide, and gives me a strong sense of new beginnings.

Maybe it's this blog, which has so profoundly shone a light on my life, such that I cannot fail to be acutely aware of how lucky I am to have such an engaging life...

Thus the point where the days start to lengthen again has become very much a time to look back...with deep sorrow for best friends lost, and with some relief for intense pain that is gradually passing...

Yet with sincere thanks for all the rewarding experiences I've had; with lasting joy at the huge variety of diverse creatures I've had the good fortune to commune with (human and otherwise); with a hint of pride at some of the things I've done; with humble surprise at how many great things I have in my life.

And whilst celebrating the last year (and the end of all this), over the next few days, I am also inclined to look ahead...to the lengthening of the days, the rising of the sun, new challenges and adventures to come.

Is there really any difference between the Christmas story, and the Pagan tradition of the Solstice, fundamentally?

Seems to me they're both about death and rebirth, gratitude for the past and hope for the future...and isn't it just Nature?  Isn't it simply the way the world works, here on Earth?

For these reasons (and probably others, notably Anna's claimed persuasive powers ;-p), I'm quite up for Christmas this year, and for the first time pretty much ever, I feel like celebrating!

So tonight we put the first of the decorations up, and it seems appropriate symbolism given that my blog and the solar year are closely coincident...and I'm even having a little tipple, which I never do on a work night!

Glad tidings to all of you, as we move into a last, meaningful couple of weeks for Pagans, Christians alike, for 2014, and of course for me and my blog!

:-)

In late breaking Other News, Top Commenter Andy sent me this photo in response to my post yesterday:


eight for heaven

I make that eight magpies...all I can say is:

Bravo!!  *doffs hat and bows deferentially*

The modern version runs out after seven (for a secret never to be told), but the old version has eight for heaven...

Great effort, Andy!!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Day 360 - Four For The Boy

dump and run

I knew the morning was going to be a struggle when I arose to find this large concrete mixer dumping its load on the new drive they're installing next door - and completely blocking the only way out onto the road.

By the time it had been and gone, I was late leaving for work, although in truth I was a bit behind schedule anyway.

I had a relatively clear run up to Bretford, the halfway mark of my journey, and figured I might make up a little time for a change...as I zipped along the Fosse Way, I considered whether leaving a little later could in fact be a good strategy...

As I approached one of the usual bottlenecks, which was much less busy than usual, I spotted a buzzard sat high in what is becoming one of my favourite trees.


tiny buzzard

I took this shot with my phone as I waited for the lights to change, and I quite like the desolate feel of it...it's the same tree that the cormorant sat in a couple of weeks ago.

Even cropped to see the buzzard a little better, it retains some atmosphere I think:


big buzzard

Leaving Bretford, traffic in the opposite direction was significantly heavier than usual, and I wondered if there was a problem on the motorways...

In any case, I was glad to be travelling north...and then I ran into stationary traffic leaving Brinklow, where I knew I was probably a mile from the roadworks that have been up ahead for some weeks.

It took half an hour to cover said mile, and when I eventually got to the lights, I realised they were stuck on red...the other end of the lights were a few hundred yards away, round the corner and out of sight. 

Every few minutes some brave soul would say "sod it" and just go through the red light, catalysing a stream of followers who jumped right on the bandwagon. 

Drivers coming the other way were doing the same, so there were a few snarl-ups, but somehow we all gradually made it through.

As I sat near the lights, almost ready to take my turn, four magpies alighted in the tree next to me...

death or a boy

Seriously, there are four magpies in this shot - find them yourselves, if you can!

According to the popular kids TV show of the 70's, four magpies is for a boy...but in the older, original versions of the lyric, four is for death...

But what does that even mean?  

The death of the person who saw the four of them together?  Or the death of someone the person knows?  Or a death in the vicinity of the person?

But in what time frame?  Within how long of seeing them...a day, a week, a year?

Does it have to be a human death?  I'm fairly sure some poor creature will have died in the area around me today...but how far around me?

You see, if they're going to give these portents of doom any credibility at all, they're going to have to be a bit more specific with the prophecy. 

I mean, "four for death..."...am I supposed to be scared?

Even if it was more akin to, "Four for Death!!! Mwahahaha!", it still isn't at all clear on exactly what the threat is supposed to be, or to whom it's supposed to be threatening..

I think I'm inclined to go with four for the Boy (Wonder)...he'd like them, having had some early gun dog training, which involved being encouraged to be interested in birds.

He wouldn't find them in that photograph any more than you will, though...

:-)

Monday, 8 December 2014

Day 359 - A Dog's Life

chill, dawg

This was taken at 1am this morning, and features The Boy Wonder, falling asleep whilst reading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

I haven't read it, so can't comment...it looks interesting, so I'll have to read it at some point...

As I enter my final week of this epic quest that I've been on with my daily blog, I find myself looking back over the year...I'm constantly learning about myself as I become aware of certain trends and patterns in my life...the emerging labels are also an interesting reflection of the elements of which my life is fundamentally made.

Certain characteristics arise, subtley, over time, and one of these is happiness...I complain about very little through this blog, and I rarely express dissatisfaction or misery or depression. 

In some ways, it's been a really bad year - losing the good Sir Jazzy B was an intense low that lingers with me still...and the year began with intense lingering pain for My Boy Bluez...

Yet as gutted about losing them as I remain, I'm also profoundly grateful to have had thirteen brilliant years with the young pups/old fellas, and I have many sweet memories of them in our happy home.

Speaking of which, we also had the drainage debacle, which really upset our Summer to a significant degree...but that makes me realise how lucky we are, here in the First World, to be able to live somewhere like this in the first place.

But as I flick through earlier posts whilst labelling each one, I'm struck anew that my life seems to be built on a fundamental foundation of contentment.  

Check this out...

mo' mirrors

This time, Loz has mirrored Wonderboy (she was last in), which leads me to think that maybe it's inadvertent in this case...but still, a contented looking bunch, eh?

And rightly so, dozing off by a nice warm fire in the midst of your pack?  Brilliant!

I would have included another photo which has Anna more in the frame, but she looked at me like this:

she's got the look

I like the warm tones in this shot, if not in that look...so I'd better not post that one, then...

Oops, too late! Sorry, hun... ;-)

Anyway, it's clear that my blog, and therefore my life is filled with Anna and Kim, and home and garden, and dogs and cats, and climbing and adventures, and birds and bees, and green and red. 

How could I not be happy? 

Finally, continuing the new-found End of Day shots tradition (which started last night), Anna took a couple of beauties whilst walking Spongebob this afternoon:

dusky

Lovely light, and very cool silhouettes...and they really do seem to fit nicely into the dusk of my blog...

end of day

I'm really pleased to have some quality photos in my last few entries...it nicely opposes the amateurish nature of the first week's efforts!

Anyway, the point of all that is, I suppose:

I'm reet lucky, me!

:-)

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Day 358 - Phailed Photography

xl5?

The sun has definitely set on this blog, as I head into the final week...so a moonrise for a Photo of the Day seemed fitting.

We were walking The Boy Wonder down the lane at around 5.30pm this afternoon, weary from our weekly bouldering session, and the moon was a spectacular orange ball hovering just above the horizon.

The silhouetted trees on the skyline gave the moon a warm yet haunting look.

Of course, I only had my phone, and from my phone's perspective, it was just a tiny dot of light, 240,000 miles away, and it had no idea what to do with it.

I tried a variety of settings but this was the best I could get (and this is a small crop from a large photo)...but at least it captured the fireball aspect of the moon.

Still, I have a variety of other failed shots for your delectation and delight this evening!

Here's a selfie from our Christmas do last night:

yay photoshop

It's been heavily doctored, in order to try to make us look presentable, as you can no doubt see...but isn't that all the rage these days, with instagram and whatnot?

This morning, the sun came out around 11am and we figured we'd make the most of it and head over to the woods with Treacle SpongeBob

However, by the time we were ready to go, the sun had gone in again, and it had started to look like rain...and sure enough, as we got up towards the top of the woods (the furthest point from home, natch), it started to spit, and within minutes was fully raining.

I stuffed the camera into my coat to protect it, and we started to make our way home...when suddenly Robin shot off into the trees, as Anna too spotted a Roe deer making a sharp exit southwards. 

I hurriedly fumbled the camera out and was just in time to take some shaky shots of Wonderboy making his way back to us, having lost touch with the deer.

dog wood

I was clearly on a roll, so when Anna again spotted the deer off to the right in the orchard, I rattled off another riveting snapshot...

oh dear

At first (or second or third) glance, this may look like a pointless photo of a field from amongst some dark trees...but check again in the lower right quarter of the image...

oh, deer

That, my friends, is a small (and very hasty) roe deer, quickly exiting right before I can open the shutter again.

So there we have it - a range of decent photo opportunities, and not a single decent photo in sight.

Thank god I only have to do seven more entries for this blog. 

I'll be back tomorrow with my final Monday post...

:-)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Day 357 - Magnum

the elusive mr jackdaw

This week I'm doing my short Friday night post on Saturday...hey, I can have one easy post a week, can't I?

We're off out to our first Christmas Do of the season this evening, at some swanky place in Leicester, so I need to get a post done earlier in the day...so far, I'm well behind schedule!

Anyway, there was a heavy frost over night, and when I got up (late, yay) this morning, and took The Boy Wonder outside for his morning constitutional, the lawn was still thick with ice...

stay frosty

Whilst I was stood out there in my dressing gown (shivering a little!), two jackdaw flew over and landed in the tree next door.  Usually they're very skittish, spooking at the slightest hint of human, but I seemed to be just in the right place at the right time, with my camera in my hands, and the right lens on it!

They are always about, and often raid the bird feeders in a mob of around a dozen.  They nest in the chimneys of local cottages, using ours a couple of times in the past...not the chimneys that vent our lounge fire of course, but the unused ones at the kitchen end of the house.

We took Wonderboy over to the orchard, then up to the woods to retrieve our trailcam - he was absolutely full of beans today, and had a lovely time charging about through the long, damp grass in the thin midday sunshine.

incoming!

This photo more or less encapsulates his enthusiasm!

Also, up in the woods, he found a little mouse, fatally wounded, by the path...

deadmaus

He left it alone without needing to be told, but I suppose something will make a snack of it before long. 

We did get plenty of good video on the trailcam - muntjac deer, fox and hare, as well as the usual suspects - squirrel, pheasant, and of course, badger.

I'll put them together into a short youtube clip when I have time...

Right, best go get my glad rags on!

Toodle pip.

:-)

PS I had a complete mind blank when trying to come up with a title for this post, so I just went with the flow...

Friday, 5 December 2014

Day 356 - Music Night

dark beauty

Whilst pondering the imbalance betwixt the amount of music in my blog and the amount of music I've been involved with in the last half a century, it occurred to me that Friday Night is Music Night!

This is my trusty Yamaha APX10 steel string acoustic guitar.  It's a beautiful thing, and one of the best things about it is that it's very similar in feel to an electric guitar.

I'm an electric bluesman at heart, and to be honest, I've never really got on with acoustic guitars...in fact I only bought this guitar so that I could play with Jezz, who is an acoustic guitarist through and through. 

But I'm no great shakes on the acoustic...I can play a bit, bang out a few chords or riffs, or a little solo here or there...but I can't really make it into a full performance - I always want drums and bass to be playing over!

But over the years I've come across a few brilliant acoustic guitarists, who manage to get a really full, complete sound out of a guitar, in a variety of ways.

First up is Foy Vance with a sublime cover of the Jimi Hendrix song Crosstown Traffic...the video is poor quality, and out of sync with the audio...

...but wow, what a storming performance this is:


That just completely blows me away every time I listen to it...what wouldn't I give to be able to sing like that?!   I can play the guitar part pretty convincingly, but those vocals...

In a completely difference style, Antonio Forcione doesn't sing, but instead conjures an impressive variety of sounds from a single guitar, and plays with such soulful, bluesy funk that you can't help but get drawn into it:



He also does a great job of playing a bass line with his thumb whilst playing chords, melody and licks with his fingers...again, I would love to get my guitar to sound like that (albeit he has the sound soaked in forgiving effects more commonly associated with an electric guitar).

Then of course there's Tommy Emmanuel, the Australian genius who can make a solo acoustic guitar sound like...well, like this:



That white boy sho' can play!!

It's incredible how he seems to manage to play bass, rhythm, melody and lead guitar, all at the same time...

And so many notes in so short a time - always a winner with other guitarists!

Now, I can't believe I'm going to do this after those three amazing video's, but here's my little addition to the party.

This wasn't really a performance, more a simple recording to help me to remember the arrangement I'd written for the classic Hendrix electric guitar song, Voodoo Child.

The point is, the sound quality is dubious, and it starts fairly tentatively, taking me about two minutes to relax and get into it...and I'm wearing my pyjama's...

But anyway, here it is:



Several things strike me, having just watched that for the first time in ages and ages...

  • Firstly - oh yeah, I do remember it now - so that worked!
  • Secondly, didn't I look a lot younger back then (around 9 years ago)?!
  • Thirdly, I'm sitting typing this in exactly the same place that I'm sitting playing that!

Somehow, that seems to conclusively prove that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Something like that, anyway.

Happy listening!

:-)