What is The Work?
There’s nothing to buy or download, just ten little low-tech efforts with the goal of performing selected recent compositions live in front of a camera. The audio and video were at times scrappy or ill-considered, and I tried to offset this by using video and audio effects. Hopefully this makes the videos better but then again it’s not an art form I’m a great fan of (unlike the rest of the world, it seems.)
‘Straight to Camera Volume One’, made between March and May 2017, was my first foray into making moving image music videos. Volume Two, which took a lot longer and is hopefully more satisfying, is subtitled ‘The Work’ because these songs have been through the wringer, included on many grant applications I sent off in an attempt to get funding for an album, and each time I applied it was with a different theme or concept. I went through so many ideas that in the end all that was left was ‘The Work’.
Who are The Workers?
A big thank you to the following musical collaborators, new and old, who kindly agreed to participate:
Nick Aynsley and Andrew Pipe (‘Sweetheart’)
I met Nick and Andrew in 1983 when we were at school together in Hadleigh, Suffolk. They were playing rhythm and lead guitar respectively in a band that rehearsed in Nick’s parents’ front room in Hadleigh High Street. I think I was walking past, knocked on the door and joined in on piano. That’s when I started to try and come up with material and learn music. I might not be doing this, 36 years later, if it weren’t for them, so you know who to blame. Nick also plays bass on the recording of If You Want Love (Have Mine)
Julian Marley (‘A Few Crazy Days Each Year’)
Jules is a consummate guitarist and teacher. We got to know each other in 1988 while studying Indian flute, a course offered as part of the Graduate Diploma in Jazz and Contemporary Music course at Leeds College of Music. In 2009 we were part of the singing group Samzeo which took part in a short tour of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. This song is about the Georgian national character, if there is such a thing. Jules wears a hat I bought in Tbilisi.
Larry Potter (‘Atheist’)
As with the first video of mine Larry helped out on, the music sounded so good to me that no visual effects seemed necessary. Our paths first crossed in 2014 during the Saturday jazz sessions at Tartistry, Etobicoke. Not sure about his dress sense, though…
Ronny Shinder and Tal Davidson (‘My Bad’)
I’ve been playing with the acoustic covers band The Turnups now and again, which features these two gentlemen. Perhaps recording outside wasn’t the best idea. Then again, The Turnups are an outdoor band.
Gare Black and Greg Tunis (‘Stronger’)
Gary and I met at the Black Rooster, Toronto, in 1995 and played together as Ben and Gary’s Ice Cream Band a few years back. The musical ability of Greg Tunis speaks for itself. These chaps also helped me move house!
Professor Blitz and Mr Thistlestrum (‘Hangin’ With You’)
I did three gigs with these two fellows in 2017/18. The shot is basically of our rehearsal set-up. It doesn’t emphasize me but so what, check out the engine room.
Chris Northall (‘They’re Probably Just Falling in Love’)
This video was made barely more than a month ago in my home county of Suffolk, as were ‘Sweetheart’ and ‘Giving the Soul a Bad Name’. Chris is a superb classical guitarist, teacher and artist whom I met at a typically eccentric church variety concert in Great Waldingfield, Suffolk in 1993. And we’ve been eccentric ever since.
Not Strictly ‘Straight to Camera’
In a couple of instances playing the song on my own live was distinctly unimpressive. So I used homemade demos of the songs and coupled them with footage of me playing.
It’s been a pleasure sharing the story of ‘The Work’ with you.