writer, performer, musician, wine drinker

Monthly Archives: September 2017

Not All About The Bass

As I’ve gone through my musical journey of the last, oh, nine or so years, rediscovering my love of writing and playing it, a few things have surprised me, not least how different people hear music in different ways. Kenny Mackay, for example, claims never to listen to the lyrics – bad news for a lyricist such as me, of course, but understandable with the most quintessentially lead guitarist-like of my friends and musical associates.

One of the things I’ve noticed most is how I hear things differently to others: and specifically, how my hearing of music is biased towards the treble end. When I record my own music, I very rarely put any bass guitar on it. If I put anything on in the lower range at all, it’s strings.

Now, you bass guitar players out there may find this shocking – and don’t get me wrong, I recognise that, especially playing live, the bass is an essential element in making the floor shake. However, despite knowing two fine exponents of the four (usually) string’s art in Murray Ramone and Mark Allan, I’ve just never attempted it.

So, as an experiment, I’ve put what the synth calls ’90’s bass’ on my newest track. Is ’90’s bass’ a thing? All I know is it’s the closest I’ll get to the sound of a bass guitar on the Korg, which is a quicker option than getting Mark or Murray through to record the real thing. Maybe for the final version.

…and having made it so that you’ll now focus when listening to the track to the bass part, what makes the song for me is the interplay between the ‘real’ guitars, namely my brand new baby, the Epiphone EJ200, and the jangle of the Danelectro 12 string I have on semi-permanent loan from Mark so that his missus won’t know the true number of guitars he actually owns. (Shh! Don’t tell Susan!)

Oh, and the words, I suppose. I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I didn’t put in some words. Although Kenny probably won’t hear them.















everything below this is advertising wibble from wordpress. with no added bass.


Glenrothes: be part of her story

I’ve been thinking about my home town quite a bit recently, for various reasons, not least because next year is its 70th anniversary. Which is quite a landmark for what’s still called a ‘New Town.’

I was thinking about it this way the other day: if Glenrothes was a person, let’s just say for the sake of argument a woman, her life story would be something like this: born in 1948, at the start of the baby boom, the product of the same desire to create a brave new world that brought us a National Health Service and a town and country planning system to name only two other bold post-war bits of legislation.

Growing up in the grim 1950s, her heyday was the Sixties and Seventies, when she blossomed, developing fast in every way. She was ambitious; she had plenty of money; all the things that made her beautiful – all that landscaping and green space – were there for all to see.

Even then there were problems – heart problems, you could say: the town centre never really worked properly as a place for people to meet and circulate, at least not at night. There were tougher times ahead in the 1980s, and then in the mid-Nineties the analogy gets even more strained: the winding up of the Development Corporation that had shaped the town up to then was like – what? A divorce? A bereavement? Some sort of mid-life crisis?

The truth is, Glenrothes has never quite been the same since. Fife Council, my employer, may have done its best, but it was never going to be able to give the poor old girl the same care and attention – not to mention money – that her own Corporation had. Besides which, key decisions taken in 1995/6 – the selling off of many of the town’s assets to balance central governmental books, especially – continue to have an effect today.

Glenrothes still retains some of her beauty, even as she approaches 70. Much of the green infrastructure has matured, even if some of the bricks and mortar – not to mention the concrete and tar macadam – needs some work that goes beyond cosmetic surgery.

Anyway, enough of all that – if you’re still reading, it’s probably because you’ve some sort of interest in Glenrothes, and her back story. And here’s the thing: you have an opportunity to tell your own version of that tale. Dan Brown (no, not that one, the other one) is currently running a project whereby you can have your story, recollection, whatever you call it, about the town, recorded professionally and put up online, with video, a slideshow, or whatever you want really. There’s more info about it here.

Thing is, take up has been slow so far, and I think I know why – it’s the ‘storytelling’ bit. It makes it sound like you have to make up some wee story about a West Highland Terrier called Colin who one day buried his bone in the bus station landscaping and then couldn’t find it. It’s not! It’s about true life stories – YOUR true life story. There’s more about the digital storytelling concept here. It’s an American idea.

So please, please get involved! This is a great chance for Glenrothes – by which I mean its people, ordinary folk who’ve lived in the town, to tell its true story, good and bad, warts  and all. But it’ll only work if you get involved.

You can contact Dan at He’s a good guy, who’s been converted to the Glenrothes cause.

Tell him I sent you.