Funny how a piece of work you make so long ago seems to resonate with some people.
One of my last uploads ‘Heart & Soul (To My Dearest Wife)’, was an old mix CD I put together for The Wife years ago.
Recently she’s been having a bit of a tough time, so in my bumbling, male way, I did what I know best – uploaded it as a musical love letter.
I’ve had some really positive responses – Thank You.
I’ve told The Wife – she says thank you too.
All I will say is things are slowly looking brighter
I could look to a number of reasons: I got a new PC together& built it myself (I could write a book about THAT particular episode…); family/personal stuff or work; fact is, just not enough time or focus to let me get on with it.
I’d initially started this as a single standalone piece. Having completed it & some time having passed, I’ve decided to make it a prelude to celebrating what would have been Stump Juice’s 20th anniversary. It in fact is also a salute to the much overlooked part of many club nights – the warm up session.
Like most guys getting into DJ’ing, I’d always be hungry for the ‘glory spot’, any part of the 2-3 hour peak period of most club sessions. When booked as a headlining guest, this generally isn’t a problem, as promoters usually place the DJ in this spot. At gigs where I worked with friends, there would always be a bit of a ‘bidding war’ for that spot.
However, I soon began to realise & came to enjoy the warm up session.
That period when a club’s open but before the punters come in is as valuable as time as when you’ve got them in the palm of your hand, whipping them into a frenzy at peak time.
I’d use this time almost as a ‘digging session’, locating the less-often played tracks in my box, stuff that wouldn’t normally make it into a regular or peak-time set, as well as new stuff I’d acquired. I’d also try out new mix ideas, without the ‘performance pressure’ when you’re in the middle of a packed out club.
It was also great when I got booked to play if we got to the venue early, often helping to set up then listening to the hosts/residents play their warm-up sets. Getting to hear another side to someone’s musical personality can be as inspiring listening for the hot new tunes they’d be dropping in a peak-time set.
Any aspiring DJ should be aware that this period is actually quite important & if given the chance to play it should do so – ok, you’re not exactly centre stage, BUT if used wisely, it’ll stand you well when you DO get there. I also think that established DJs should do it once in a while, just to see how it feels again to be just playing music.
There are times, like now, when I feel that there’s just not much point in anything. Not a stark, need-to-seriously-contemplate-checking-out-of-life type thing (‘though I’ve had a few of those moments in my time), but more of a general frustration at life’s bad timing and general ‘suckiness’.Errant technology, life’s minutiae, the little irritants & peeves, continued & conflicting demands, petty dramas & drama queens, draining your energy & taking up your time. |So much so, you look back & say “what the HELL have I actually done? Why do I put up with this @$!£ ?”
I’ve felt like this for a while, then I saw the documentary ‘Still Bill: The Bill Withers Story’ on the BBC iPlayer. This is one seriously cool guy.
He grew up in a (essentially) rural backwater in the Southern USA, with a stutter he didn’t lose until his 20’s in a period of intense social change becoming a recording star in his 30’s after being told he was too old. His outlook, as a consequence of his upbringing, reflects the type of personality I wish I had or the person I should aspire to be.
He simply stopped at what some would call at the peak of his popularity. He always said he never quit; he simply decided to do something else. Considering the number and range of jobs, including engineer, military serviceman, making aircraft toilets, before becoming a singer/songwriter, this isn’t exactly the talk of a bitter & twisted has-been (although at times the cynic in him did lay close to the surface).
That said, his apparent contrary nature always seemed rooted in a straightforward, pragmatic honesty. His erm, withering take on the nature of ‘celebrity culture’, working with other musicians (including his daughter); indeed talking to his children, he’s direct but fair & honest. One of the things he said stuck with me: “In order to be great, or even good at anything you have to pass through ‘Alright’ & when you get to ‘Alright’,stop & take a good look around, because it may be the best you’re gonna get.”
And yet, when he went to a centre for children with speech impediments, his concern & support of those students was all too evident, in complete contrast to his discussion with the interviewers elsewhere in the film.
Watching it hasn’t stopped me from being grumpy, but at least it helped give me a sense of perspective. That & I don’t stay too mad too long.
In ’95 I went home to see my family over Christmas, armed with a few tunes. I got bored on Christmas Eve & made a tape, using the vinyl that made the trip with me as well as selections from the family collection.
I got so inspired I was at it again Boxing Day……….