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2024 and a Happy New Year People

Posted 16/1/2024

So as we hurtled into 2024, I had planned to pull together my Toyshop Murders Project, restore my Roland JD800, revisit my keyboard rig, pull together my Toyshop Murders Project and draw up plans for 2024. I am hopeful it'll be an exciting year.

 

After the decision not to join It Bites, I was inundated with requests for work. Some didn't come to fruition. Some shows took off, some recording. It's always great to start the new year with a BANG. On the 4th January 2024, i travelled to Nuremberg for 2 shows.  I'm not a fan of performing Solo as I feel I'm exposed. I guess that comes from Confidence.....

 

This ladies and gentlemen  …. is Guy Wilkinson with myself and My Roland JD800.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An electronic genius he is. 

I first discovered Guy after a frantic search across the net for someone to repair my faithful Roland JD800. 

As most of you( if not all), my JD has been with me for 32 years. I saw Keith Emerson was using one and so I set about getting one. It didn’t take long for me to find one. 

 

It would grace pretty much every show and recording I did from that point onwards. 

To all Mal Pope and the Jacks band members, presets were affectionately named and my “ Sad Pad 67” became a term often heard in our recording sessions. 

The JD has been to Russia, across Germany, France, top of a ski jumping resort, The Netherlands/Denmark and most of Europe, to Canada and in modes of transport such as Car, Train, Boat, Aeroplane, Van, Tour bus, Tour trucks, helicopter, military plane, golf carts, forklift, physically carried across canals, bridges, football and rugby pitches and it lived to tell the tale. 

It has had ceiling tiles collapse upon it, fallen 8ft or so off a stage, endured freezing Baltic temperatures, endured a Georgian hurricane during an outdoor gig, been subjected to 40 degree heat, had fake snow cover it, 

Had fake paper snow inside it, been a support for countless cuddly toys, had its inners stripped and splayed out over the entire floor, all its patches converted to SYS EX( midi information in code) and transmitted into the Roland cloud software version of the JD800( for which, it doesn’t sound close to) and dumped into my JD990 module, which was kindly donated to me by my great friend and band member/ guitarist/engineer extraordinaire Tim Hamill. 

At Various times, keys would snap or the Modulation bender would need to be replaced. Sometimes it would have moments where I’d use my full force to entice a hint of vibrato out of it with aftertouch. 

Back in 2013 I was contacted by Roland UK to tell me it needed a new keybed as they had discovered the red glue that was used to seat the metal strips under the keys to add weight to the keyboard had started to fail. 

Peoples JD’s would sit in a flight case or at home and when it got warmer, the glue would melt and then seep between the keys, and then harden. 

So the next time you went to

Play it, the keys wouldn’t move. 

They were stuck together and to the frame. It was like playing a kitchen work surface. 

Roland offered a free replacement, which I accepted. Thanks Roland. 

One such conversation with the great Rick Wakeman took place during “ Celebrating Jon Lord” concert whilst in the final rehearsals at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2014. I suggested to  Rick to get in touch with Roland to get his JD keyboard replaced. Hopefully he did. 

2017 and my JD started to develop an issue where there was no output during the London Palladium show soundcheck with Chris de Burgh. 

Ian Lloyd Bisley our faithful and lovely tour manager plus my brilliant  keyboard tech Jan Wendeler found another in London and they cabbed it across the city to grab it for the show. 

And then there were two JDs. 

So in 2019 my JD developed an issue again. This time with the power supply so Jan and I started to replace bits on my JD800 from a donor JD. 

It was resembling “ Trigger’s broom”. 

We toured in 2019 from September to December the Chris de Burgh “ classic Albums” tour. 

Little did we know the pandemic was about to encapsulate the world and halt everything in its tracks. 

The JD was left in the lock up until 2022 where we embarked upon the CdeB tour rehearsals. We then discovered my JD had one note malfunctioning and sadly with all our trying and fault finding, it didn’t work. 

I had to reside myself to the fact that this was possibly - the end of an era. I searched and searched for answers. The JD has remained in its flight case ———- until last December where upon numerous conversations with Guy Wilkinson, I eventually took my JD800 up to him. 

He had design and been 3D printing the Printed circuit boards ( PCBs) for the JD keyboard. 

He stripped my JD and Keybed and then installed his beautiful new PCB and as Tommy Cooper famously said “ just like that”, my baby came back to life. It was alive. It was such a wonderful moment. 

So, I am ever grateful to Guy for breathing new life into this legend. 

Some People talk of Analog and they focus and fixate on “ analog” like it is more important than anything in the whole world when in fact, they should focus on the music. The instruments are tools. This whole analog/ digital  thing is utter bollocks. Yes Tape and analog is warmer than Digital computer recordings and sounds  but time moves on. It’s 2024 and gone are your 1980s. That’s 40 years or more ago. 

As some say 

“ GarBage in, GarBage out”. 

It’s what you do either it and most people actually don’t care to be frank. 

The JD800 isn’t a classic analog synthesizer like the MiniMoog, a Yamaha CS80, or the Prophet 5 or the ARP2600, it was PCM short sample based waveforms… but sounded somewhere between the Roland JX3p and the D50 but for me, it is a classic. 

Thanks to Guy Wilkinson once again. His work is incredible and I’m so glad to have found a witch doctor of Synths. Keep an eye out for his work.  

Thanks to all those who have helped carry, marveled at, butchered, leaned against, allowed my contributions with, dropped, breathed on, spat upon, cried upon, kissed and carried my JD. 

I thank you all. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"ALL CHANGE"

Posted 5/12/2023

 

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Tombstone Dunnery

Posted 8/8/2023

Just finishing up the Tombstone Dunnery album( Francis's Blues Project). It's been interesting to learn the blues, and how different it is between 1960's to 1970 to modern day blues. 

I've also been working on Mal Pope's music too. It's been great to know Mal is celebrating 50 years in the industry this year and to celebrate, Mal Pope and The Jacks will play a concert at The Swansea grand Theatre on the 3rd October 2023. 

 

Chris de Burgh has a concert in Marbella on the 30th September this year and fingers crossed, it goes ahead. 
Going to try and get the piano Transciptions for The Journey album up onto Bandcamp soon..but as soon as I can finish Tombstone Dunnery and Mal's new songs.

Francis's dates are up on his site for the Tombstone Dunnery gigs and Then we start working on the new FD It Bites album....It's gonna be great fun.

 

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Spirit

Posted 21/7/2023

 

Today, we release the video for "Spirit", taken from my album "The Journey" featuring the gorgeous voice of Steve Balsamo. The actors are Steve Balsamo and Llinos Daniel.

It's available on Youtube. 

https://youtu.be/rq4-YhYTRPg

 

 

I'm so excited for both Steve and myself ( and Nervous too).
Steve sang so beautifully and with his usual incredible emotive delivery...it's sure to raise a few goosebumps and tears.
It's one of the most poignant songs for me.
Steve lost his dad last December.
 
"The Journey" CD
(10 songs written by Chris de Burgh, arranged for Piano) 
Available on both CD and digital download.
 
 
There will be piano parts going up onto Bandcamp to accompany the release. It's a Physical release and a digital download.
 
 
The reason for delay of the official release date of the CD and the video is because I've been so busy gigging over the last few months with Chris de Burgh, Bonnie Tyler and Francis Dunnery, that I wanted to be at home when they were both released. NOW, I am.
 
Nige .
 
 
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It Bites

Posted 22/5/2023

Apparently, I'm the new keyboards player in  Francis Dunnery's IT BITES.

I've always admired Francis Dunnery. The first time I heard of them was when I was touring the North West near their home town of EGREMONT. Cut to scene years later, after hearing a few of Francis's solo albums...I heard that FD's IT BITES were back out on the scene..Why take so bloody long to grace the stage?.

 

I had a 90 minute conversation with Francis over Christmas about Prog, music, birth signs, horses...you name it....

Most importantly though was a connection over love for music and authenticity. I had some FaceTime calls (whilst I was attempting to do gym time) and I'm happy to say the connection grew. I saw them in January and then of late, found out in a text it was announced on social media, that I was the new boy (hardly a boy anymore-except for in my head). I head up to see Francis June where we shall have a jam, talk bollocks and hopefully we'll be doing some writing together. It's all exciting after the last two months where I've played 5 weeks in Canada with Chris de Burgh, a Bonnie Tyler show at sea, Blown my BMW up, heading to get a few little tattoos done...and have managed to rescue my Neve Summing mixer from Blowing up....ENOUGH BLOWING UP NOW PLEASE. 

This Week, Rob Reed's Sanctuary in Newbury. Always amazing to do the Sanctuary gig. Great musicians and wonderful people.....

 

IT BITES eh!.....who'd have thought!

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"The Journey"

Posted 22/5/2023

Last Summer, I was encouraged to make an album by my girlfriend Caroline and good friend Robert Reed, and so I decided to pursue the idea of a collection of songs by Chris de Burgh.

Finally finished in March 2023, the 10 song collection is nearly available for pre order.

"The Journey" features 

LAST NIGHT

DISCOVERY

A SPACEMAN CAME TRAVELLING

LOVE AND TIME

FATAL HESITATION

SPIRIT

DON'T PAY THE FERRYMAN

MISSING YOU

SHINE ON

THE LADY IN RED

 

All Recorded here at Home and featuring The voice of Steve Balsamo on "Spirit" and "Last Night" featuring Jonathan Mainwaring on Trumpet.

 

It was an amazing time in Canada and the first 100 copies ended up going.

 

I'll be staying on top of this website as much as I can...stay tuned.

 

 

 

Storm Eunoch/Eunice....whatever

Posted 18/2/2022

Today has been a funny old day. The wind was so bad that it was better to be indoors than out braving the weather. Lots of positives coming from messages regarding the MKII Mellotron Plugins.

 

I have had another think about what I'd like to do with an electronic project, and I think I'd like to start by doing some Nils Frahm style Piano improvisations to see where it leads me. I improvise daily, but rarely record anything. Maybe it's time to start putting ideas down. Hopefully everyone has remained safe during this crazy storm.

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G Force Software Mellotron MKII

Posted 6/2/2022

The one thing about plugins is that you can often find emulation of the most expensive instruments in the world, for a fraction of the price. The Mellotron MKII was introduced in 1964 and aimed at the home market. It was two manual and featured rhythm sets and accompaniment tapes on the left hand...coupled with lead sounds on the right. Used notably by King Crimson, The Beatles, The Moody Blues, Tony Banks and Genesis, The Move and many more...it was a machine aimed at the home market to compete with the organs that featured rhythms.

 

I have been lucky enough to be involved with Dave and Chris at G Force Software in the latter stages of the testing of the MKII and have done some demos for it. Keep an eye out for them on the G Force software website www.gforcesoftware.com and on their Facebook Page.

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A Website Crash demands new content

Posted 4/2/2022

The weird thing is....I only hovered over the icon and BOOOOOF, it was all gone. Thankfully a snapshot back to 2016....but most of it has gone, so maybe it's time to rebuild

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Blogs Blah Blah Blah

"Noodle Away" my son

Posted 16/2/2016

Prog Rock has started to see a resurgence in the recent years. Old progress are resurfacing to their adoring fans, and new music is in abundance. More often than not Prog is regarded as the plague when it comes to the music industry and sadly as sales dwindle on CD's, the leather trousered/caped crusaders are left scrambling to fund their love of a good noodle ( solo/improvise) with tickets sales at gigs/concerts. If noodling was a crime, the 70's progress would be locked up with the keys thrown away. These days, noodling is confined to a verse or a chorus, maybe an outro. Some may find the time to noodle on the extended mix version, but I do feel the general public and listeners have become accustomed to the Verse and Chorus style of song writing. "Bring back noodling" I say. Without solos, songs on the radio today are a constant barrage of vocals and beats.

 

One other thing I find strange is that the prog world are fond of a good concept album. You take a theme and you write 40-70 minutes worth of material around it. How do you actually decide on iTunes to download individual songs you like and leave the rest of the others behind?     That way, surely you are only getting part of the story and concept. Imagine what Rick Wakeman's 'The Myths and legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table' would sound like if you just downloaded 'Guinevere'? or you just downloaded 'Karn Evil 9 part 1 2nd impression' from ELP's 'Brain Salad Surgery'?

or even one track from 'The Snow Goose' by Camel? a totally insane thought!

You'd be missing out on all that other glory, but in particular....'The Concept', of which Prog Rock is the master of. 

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