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Bebop Spoken There

Steve Fishwick: “I can’t get behind the attitude that new is always somehow better than old”. (Jazz Journal, April 15, 2019).

The Things They Say!

Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

Rupert Burley (Dynamic Agency): "BSH just goes from strength to strength".

'606' Club: "A toast to Lance Liddle of the terrific jazz blog 'Bebop Spoken Here'"

The Strictly Smokin' Big Band included Be Bop Spoken Here (sic) in their 5 Favourite Jazz Blogs.

Ann Braithwaite (Braithwaite & Katz Communications) You’re the BEST!

Holly Cooper, Mouthpiece Music: "Lance writes pull quotes like no one else!"

Simon Spillett: A lovely review from the dean of jazz bloggers, Lance Liddle...

Josh Weir: I love the writing on bebop spoken here... I think the work you are doing is amazing.


16542 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 422 of them this year alone and, so far, 29 this month (June 17).

From This Moment On ...


Sat 22: Jason Isaacs @ Stack, Seaburn SR6 8AA. 12:30-2:30pm. Free.
Sat 22: Abbie Finn Trio @ The Vault, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free.
Sat 22: Hejira: Celebrating Joni Mitchell @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 7:30pm (doors). £22.50.
Sat 22: Rockin’ Turner Bros. @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Sun 23: Paul Skerritt @ Hibou Blanc, Newcastle. 2:00pm.
Sun 23: More Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free.
Sun 23: Matt Carmichael @ St Mary’s Church, Wooler. 3:00pm. Carmichael (saxophone), Fergus McCreadie (piano), Charlie Stewart (fiddle). ‘Scottish jazz, folk-roots & landscape’ Wooler Arts: Summer Concerts.
Sun 23: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 23: Tweed River Jazz Band @ Barrels Ale House, Berwick. 7:00pm. Free.
Sun 23: Bede Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 23: Leeway @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Sun 23: Jazz Jam @ Fabio’s Bar, Saddler St., Durham. 8:00pm. Free. A Durham University Jazz Society event. All welcome.

Mon 24: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 24: Remy CB @ The Hoppings, Newcastle Town Moor NE2 3NH. 5:00-7:00pm.

Tue 25: Louise Dodds & Elchin Shirinov @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Wed 26: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 26: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 26: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Thu 27: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 27: Jeremy McMurray & the Pocket Jazz Orchestra @ Arc, Stockton. 8:00pm.
Thu 27: The Joni Project @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Joni Mitchell.
Thu 27: Lindsay Hannon’s Tom Waits for No Man @ Harbour View, Roker, Sunderland. 8:00pm.
Thu 27: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. Ragtime piano. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 27: Loco House Band @ Bar Loco, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free.
Thu 27: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Richie Emmerson (tenor sax); Neil Brodie (trumpet); Garry Hadfield (keys); Adrian Beadnell (bass)

Fri 28: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 28: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 28: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 28: Pete Tanton’s Chet Set @ Warkworth War Memorial Hall. 7:30pm. £10.00.
Fri 28: Paul Edis @ St Cuthbert’s Centre, Crook. 7:30pm.
Fri 28: Ant Law, Alex Hitchcock, Jasper Høiby & Sun-Mi Hong @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm. £15.40., £13.20.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Michael Lamb on Lockdown videos, Live Streaming & Crowd funders & Big Bands in Covid

Originally posted at

I'm not particularly prone to to writing articles - in fact, since this new section of our web site was started this is the first actual blog that's been written - all other posts are reviews and photographs (excellent reviews though - many from the super Bebop Spoken Here).

We're lucky.

Unlike many other bands and venues the dosh earned at Strictly Smokin' doesn't directly pay the bills for the musicians who play in it.  It certainly contributes to many, but it's nobody's base income.  That means after our gig at Flat Caps Coffee on Friday 13th(!) March (which we suspect was one of the final live gigs in Newcastle) we were able to shut down and wait it out.

Lots of dates to rearrange and diaries to alter (especially tricky for those functions and weddings we were booked for) - but it was all doable and we managed to get everything in line.  And that was that - the plan was to shut down and see how things progressed.

A few weeks in, we had the obligatory Zoom quiz with most of the band and their spouse on screen.  It was fun and brilliant to catch up with everyone, but it didn't quite cut the music-making-mustard.

We realised that not only were we missing making the music, but our audience were missing hearing it, so a plan was hatched to attempt some remote recordings with video, and to present some free online streams where each member of the band would play from their own home - we'd have four performers on each stream which would allow enough variety to entertain an online audience for an hour, or so.

This was another of my 'why did I start this' moments - neither of these pursuits were going to turn out to be an easy ride!

Lockdown Videos

Strictly Smokin' have made five remote videos since March, we're happy with them all, but the first and last are particular hi lights for me.

In terms of recording prowess, they started out very rudimentary!  Everyone, apart form guitarist Pav (who couldn't help himself but use a DI and mic), used their mobile phone to record both the audio and video.  I realised this was probably an okay method of recording something when I saw trombonist Nick Mills' tribute to Horace Silver earlier in March at Cafe Posk in London.  Martin Shaw was playing trumpet with Vasilis Xenopoulos on tenor, and I couldn't resist a sneaky 30 second recording on my phone as a little souvenir of the evening.  It sounded great... horns up front, rhythm section nicely behind, bass sat great and solos sang through perfectly.  Of course, if nothing else, that was testament to those great players.  Anyway, I enjoyed listening to it back on the Tube and duly noted in my head that, although not preferable, if I was ever stuck I could probably make the phone work as a half decent recording device.  Little did I know that less than a fortnight later that's exactly what would be happening!

We chose Route 66 first because the band are familiar with it, it's not too tricky and it swings!  I've done a bit of editing before - but never like this... 18 lines of audio which needed lining up, editing and mixing.  I quickly realised that this wasn't something I could do on my own, so called on regular SSBB audio engineer Liam Gaughan who agreed to help out.  I would edit the audio and get everything in the right place, and he would mix and master it.  Although the editing was time consuming, much of the credit for these recordings sounding half-way decent goes to Liam who managed to EQ our mangled mobile phone audio into something good enough to publish!

We worked on another couple of videos, including 'A Tisket A Tasket', my arrangement of 'I Wish I Knew How It Felt To Be Free', 'Fascinating Rhythm' and finally 'St. Louis Blues' featuring Mike Lovatt - more about that one later.

Live Streaming

In amongst all this we made a start on the live streams.  It was horrifically complicated from most angles!  I'd seen a few excellent streams from musicians across the globe and really wanted to strike the balance between stream and gig.

The gig part was easy... variety of music, variety of players, a bit of 'banter' with each other when handing between songs etc.  But the stream part was hard!  Mainly because each musician who took part (there were 13 in the final stream) had an entirely different set up with their gear at home... literally no two were the same!  That's like a live gig with thirteen differing and separate PA systems set up in the same room attempting to co-ordinate with each other.

After hours of trial and error (mainly error), and what seemed like endless sound checks we were up and running... miraculously we managed to make Zoom stream to both Facebook and YouTube simultaneously without too many glitches, the musical results were pretty good and the response was excellent.  It felt good to be facilitating music making again, the guys were happy to be playing again, and we were back in touch with our audience, albeit, online and through a chat box.

By this time, though, we were in deepest darkest lock down and there were, and still are, serious concerns about the industry.  Theatres and venues closed, practitioners across every sector of the arts out of work with incomes suffering and little sign of any resolution - and soon, even though we're lucky to be able to close down without wages to pay or costs to foot,  it is going to bite. *

However, there have been some glimmers of hope.

I was thrilled to receive an e-mail from Mike Lovatt asking if we would consider doing a lockdown recording with him.  Of course, it was an offer we couldn't refuse and now that we'd got to grips with the audio recording and video editing we went for it.  Also by this point many of the guys had acquired proper recording gear which made the job much easier.  It took a while to get it together but the final video is great - we're really chuffed with it and over the moon that we got to collaborate again with Mike.

We were also approached by Tyne Theatre & Opera House to perform on their stage - as a full big band, to an empty auditorium as part of a live stream to help raise funds to keep the theatre afloat.  We were apprehensive, having not played as a unit for about 5 months, but we committed to that also.  And although there were a few hiccups, I'm glad we did because it started our path back to playing together regularly and organising the next phase of Lockdown Strictly Smokin'.

Crowd Funding

As many of you will have now seen, we have organised a crowd funder to help raise the money to record three new albums.  Ordinarily these types of projects would be funded through ticket sales and the slow build up of profits from gigs - these endeavours are also the reason Strictly Smokin' branched out into function and wedding work - all of those profits are ploughed back into the big band.

All of these revenue streams  have dried up and although Strictly Smokin' would continue to exist as an entity, we'd be forced to sit around twiddling our thumbs waiting for something to happen - so we've brought these three recording projects together and we hope they'll see us through until we're able to perform live again.

The biggest advantage already is that we can rehearse again with good reason and had a brilliant session last Thursday working on all new material for Alice Grace to sing on the 'Ella' disc.

The 'Great Day In Harlem' disc is going to take a chunk of our set from the show we produced at Gosforth Civic Theatre last April.  It's a story for another time, but our touring plans for GDIH have been scuppered with Covid-19... the story and the tour will have to wait!

Disc number three is going to feature a host of the incredible friends we've made with having guests visiting Newcastle over the last few years - its been humbling to receive such enthusiastic replies from those who I class as top-notch A-listers... Bruce Adams, Alan Barnes, Mike Lovatt and Mark Nightingale to name a few.  Most of our guest list are on board, and I'm working on the others!!

Of course, there is still along way to go - as I write the funder is at 11% meaning we still need another £4428.  I hope we can do it... having an end point of three studio days has brought us all back together and working towards something... it would be devastating to miss out.

Huge thanks to those who have supported the funder so far - and if you've fought your way to the end of this blog, surely the only logical next step if to chuck a few quid in the kitty [click]!

I'm pleased to say that I think, as a band, Strictly Smokin' has achieved more than most big bands during lockdown - of course, it's not about out-doing one another... but live streams, remote video recordings, actual full scale performance, new arrangements, and large scale project planning has gone along way to driving me absolutely crazy, but keeping me relatively sane during lockdown.


* For some more in-depth discussion about the effects of COVID-19 and lockdown on the industry, check out Newcastle Jazz Festival's recent panel with Paul Edis, Dennis Rollins, Jo Harrop and hosted by Alyn Shipton.


Hugh said...

Great piece, Michael and good luck with the project.

You think you've got problems with 13 contributions to put together.

I am participating in a Zoom Choir project with 4,000 participants across the globe. Admittedly not every registered participant will send in a recording, but they are all listened to in their entirety we are told by the editors!

Michael Lamb said...

Thanks Hugh! Good luck with the choir... I don't envy 4000!!!

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