Mostly theatre composition this year. Reruns of Frankenstein and Le Petit Prince, both touring in Europe and the Far East. Half Broke Horses was a brand new piece in February. This gave me a chance to use a fantastic virtual banjo instrument from Bolder Sounds - great fun!
A more serious project was Lieve Meter featuring popular songs and poetry from Belgium during the First World War, coinciding with other 100 year Battle of the Somme anniversary events.Very interesting concerts with moments of great sadness yet at times some of the trench humour was allowed to lighten the mood. Not a regular gig for me but nonetheless very enjoyable to recreate the style of those times.
The summer also saw me with the Groovy Sisters again, some great gigs with 15 girls (it's tough but someone has to do it) especially at the Gentsefeest.
Coming up at the end of the year is Dinner For One yet again. This time at the fabulous Gasteig venue in Munich
The latest CD I'm involved with (on Hammond and Rhodes) - Bassclubbin' by Bert Candries - has just been released (April). You can hear some examples here.
Back in 1995 I played with Hugh Hopper (legendary bassist and founder member of Soft Machine) and a gig at The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen was recorded straight off the mixing desk. This performance has now been released as part of a 10 CD tribute to Hugh. It's Vol.3, North & South. All unheard material (unless you were at the gig!) and I hadn't heard it myself since then either! It's distributed worldwide so available on Amazon, iTunes etc..
The start of the year sees me back in Munich to rehearse two new theatre pieces I've written the music for - Le Petit Prince and Peter Pan. Both shows are touring in Germany, Austria and Switzerland until the Spring, and both shows will be retoured in 2016. The new ADGE production of Goya is postponed until 2016 because there simply isn't time for the company to pull it all together for the start of this season.
Great to see that the Marc Moulin concert from last November looks like being made into a DVD/TV presentation. A few clips have started appearing on YouTube which you can find them here. Very nicely recorded, both sound and visuals. Coming up in the Autumn is a new tour of Frankenstein and negotiations have begun for a new music-theatre production about Goya next year. More info will appear when I know more myself!
It was an honour to be invited to be part of Jos Knaepens 'Jazz Musicians of Belgium' photoshoot in May. This was inspired by a photo in Harlem, New York taken in 1958 featuring some of the great jazz players of the day.
I am now a Hip-Hop legend! Well, not quite, but I am featured on a track (Stedelijke Verstekeling) - on Vakmansklap, and album by Belgian slam poetry artists Droge Piet en Mon. And it's a voice track not Hammond! Hey, "words matter"...
January saw a couple of gigs with My Groovy Sisters before Ilse left for an extended trip round Italy. Not a bad time to go! More theatre work with the final tour of 'One Language, Many Voices' for ADGE. This has been touring for six years now, much longer than first imagined.
Frankenstein started its tour in September for The American Drama Group and the year ended, as has become traditional these days, with another successful tour of Dinner For One.
One of the highlights of the year - playing for the Marc Moulin tribute concert at Flagey in Brussels in November. Many of Belgium's great musicians were playing and surprise guests were Sparks! Most of us had not seen them in years but they haven't changed! It was a privilege to be part of this sold out concert and keep the spitit of Marc Moulin alive.
July sees me playing the Gentsefeest again with Ilse Duyck to help to promote the album, and then a couple of concerts with Frank Galan (Belgium's Julio Inglasias) including the famous RimpelRock Festival. Compositions are well under way for Jeckyll & Hyde ready for the start of a twenty week tour at the end of September. Meanwhile Neil Armstrong's video installation about the Hartlepool Rink is showing at the Hartlepool Art Gallery until 1st September and parts of the interview I did with Neil about the Rink are used in the seven video projections.
Some years ago in Scotland I played a couple of gigs with Hugh Hopper (Soft Machine and many other great bands) and a live recording was made. This temporary band was called 'North and South'. I was recently asked if one of the tracks could be used on a tribute album to benefit Hugh's family. It was an honour to have performed with such a great artist so my reply was not in doubt! More news later as and when the album is released.
February and March found me busy in the studio mixing and producing the new Ilse Duyck CD 'Someday', which is now finished and available to buy! Great original songs and vocals from Ilse, and plenty of Hammond on this one, too.
January started with five shows getting on the road from the American Drama Group; Much Ado About Nothing, Many Voices, Macbeth (again!) along with the continuing tours of Brave New World and Gulliver's Travels. Scheduled for later in the year are a new version of Jekyll & Hyde plus a rerun of Frankenstein.
The year is nearly over but I have just been playing organ and piano on Ilse Duyck's new CD 'Someday' which should be ready around the end of March 2013. In the run up to New Year I'll once again be performing in 'Dinner For One' in Germany and Switzerland. We do an extended version of the original starring Freddie Frinton. If you don't know this piece, which is an institution at New Year in Germany, you can find the original sketch on YouTube. (There's no piano in the original!)
November saw the reunion of The Fiesta Club, Stockton on Tees. Everyone who was anyone played at the Fiesta which was one of the most famous night clubs in the U.K. We managed to get the original band together for the reunion - great to play some Steeley Dan again after all this time!
Brave New World is now on the road in Scandanavia and will tour most European countries during its 25-week tour. Gulliver's Travels begins in October with a tour of Malaysia and Hong Kong. Two great shows; for more details have a look at the American Drama Group website. More 'My Groovy Sisters' concerts in September, this time with only 12 girls ;-)
Just been in U.K. (June) to do an interview for BBC Tees about my musical career since the early dance hall and night club days, and my time working as music producer at Radio Tees, the first commercial station in that area. Great fun. While I was 'up north' I also got along to the Hartlepool 'Rink Revival' afternoon and did an interview for a documentary being made by Neil Armstrong about those days when all the famous groups of the era were appearing at the Rink - Manfred Mann, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Lulu, Dave Berry, The Undertakers, Jimmy James and hundreds of others. Good days and great to be a part of (I was very young, by the way!) Listen to the interview here.
The Dark Matter project about Lady Macbeth is being submitted to the Raindance Film Festival in London so Gail and I are crossing our fingers for a good response.
Ardei will be appearing at the Gentse Feest festival (in Gent, Belgium) on July 20th.
This year has already seen successful reruns of 'Much Ado About Nothing', 'Canterville Ghost', 'One Language Many Voices', 'Don Quixote' and 'La Casa De Bernada Alba' - all featuring my specially composed music. About to begin rehearsals is 'Macbeth' followed later in the year by 'Brave New World' and 'Gulliver's Travels'. The 'Dark Matter' video/installation project is now finished and Gail and I are optimistic about finding presentation spaces. An example from the piece (mp4 quality for download speed) can be seen here, and more information is available on Gail Sixsmith's website. I'll be performing (and recording a new CD) with Ilse Duyck during the first half of this year as well as performing with her 15-girl group 'My Groovy Sisters', and Ardei will be making a remix track of 'Jeanneke Boon' to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Belgian writer Louis Paul Boon.
Two more theatre productions are finished and out on the road! 'Much Ado About Nothing', which is currently touring in China, and 'La Casa De Bernada Alba', this year's Spanish production. For some of this I used the Best Service Accordion software which features Piazzola's Bandoneon - great sound! 'Don Quixote', last year's production, will tour again in South America later this year. Also took the Hammond out for the first time this year with my new guitar-killing :-) tube amp in the Leslie 147. It's been fully rebuilt by Benjamin Massey who certainly knows his Hammonds and Leslies - an invaluable guy to know! The gig was with Ilse Duyck, at De Zeyp in Brussels. Great piano there, by the way.
I am currently writing the music for a video/dance project which explores the character of Lady Macbeth. This is the creation of Gail Sixsmith who has played the role of Lady Macbeth all over the world with the American Drama Group Europe. I'll post some examples here as soon as the project is completed, meanwhile take a look at Gail's website.
Rehearsals are about to begin in Munich on 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' and 'Death Of A Salesman' both featuring my compositions. Just in time for the Oktoberfest!
Don Quixote is currently in production in Costa Rica using my score from the German touring version and will tour shortly in Costa Rica and Equador
Ménage Artois will play 7 dates for Lundi D'hortense in May/June 2010. See the list here (pdf format).
Just finished touring with 'The Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe' from the American Drama Group/TNT Theatre. We played major theatres in Germany and Switzerland for four weeks in March 2010. I played a lunatic as well as piano...
I composed the music for a new Spanish language version of Don Quixote for The American Drama Group Europe which is touring Germany in February and March 2010. See my Theatre page for more info.
The new Johan Verminnen CD 'from the tour 'Solozeiler' is now finished and released. I'm very pleased to be part of this group and the Hammond is well featured throughout, as well as a solo from the Hammond '44' melodion.
I was invited to play Hammond on Albert Niland's latest CD 'The Hungry Ghost' which is now available. Great singer/songwriter who was solo guitarist with the world famous 'Riverdance' show. The Hammond XK3 is used on all the tracks (plus occasional piano fills) and even gets a solo on 'Hermit On The Hill'!
Just received one of the new Hammond 44 melodions - fantastic sound, even volume across its range and smooth top end, not harsh like some melodicas can be. Can't wait to try it through my Sherman Filter! Hammond Suzuki Europe have put a demo track I made (XK3/Hammond44) on their website. Follow the links to the downloads and click on 'Happy Birthday 44'.
Finally, after quite a wait since the live concert was recorded, the Igloo Records CD of 'L'Enfer En Trois Mouvements' is available. This features Ménage Artois (Hammond, Piano, Drums) with the Ensemble Musique Nouvelles chamber orchestra. More info on this site soon.
I've been invited to play accordion and Hammond on the new Johan Verminnen tour 'Solozeiler' which begins in September 2008. Johan is one of the best known Belgian singer/songwriters and it's a great pleasure to work with him for the first time
More accordion gigs for me with Belgian Folk/Lounge group 'Ardei' have a look at their website and hear some of the music.
Also for September 2008 I'm just completing the music for the American Drama Group Europe's version of 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. More info on the Theatre page.
The site has been unavailable for a while due to the server changing the IP address but not telling me! Sorry...
I've been busy in Munich rehearsing The American Drama Group Europe's production of 'Harold & Maude' for which I've written the music. Great show and currently touring Germany and Switzerland.
The Ménage Artois concert at the Sigean Jazz Festival in the south of France, 22nd July 2007 was a great success. We have been invited to play again in Sigean in May 2008. Our next concert is for Mogno Records at the BRT Flagey Building, Brussels on October 5th. Here is (currently) a clip from a garden party we played at while in the Sigean area - great fun! Scroll down to see the video clip. Sound quality as expected from a video recorder but could be worse!
The American Drama Group Europe's production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', for which I wrote the music, will play at the Peking Theatre Festival at the beginning of May, followed by a tour of major theatres in Japan.
I found this review of the 'new' Hammond in a January 1937 Mayerl School magazine recently. The reviewer couldn't have imagined where it would all lead...
One of the actors on the road with Fahrenheit 451 has been writing an entertaining blog in The Guardian about their touring life. This one says very nice things about me but please read the rest!
News: I was 'Organist Of The Month' during November 2006 on the IAJO Website. The page is reproduced here.
I'm just finding time to put a few of my theatre music examples on the site. Go to the Theatre page and have a listen - no Hammonds, I'm afraid!