Anmeldelse: Starlite Campbell Band: Blueberry pie

Our first review of our new British Blues album ‘Blueberry Pie’ by the Starlite Campbell Band on MUSIKSYN – written by the wonderful, talented and thoughtful Jakob Wandam!

It’s in Danish and I love that!!  Thank you so very very much!!!

We are feeling rather emotional….

MUSIKSYN

Starlite Campbell Band er britisk duo bestående af ægteparret Suzy Starlite (bas, vokal) og Simon Campbell (guitar, vokal). Blueberry pie er parrets første album, om end de tidligere har udsendt ambient-kompositionen ”Happiness in halos” og samarbejdet i hinandens bands.

Blueberry pie er det dog ikke ambient, der er på programmet, men derimod blues og bluesrock. Der lægges hårdt ud med ”Walkin’ out the door” med et Hammondorgel-drevet groove, der er en åbenlys hilsen til Booker T & the MG’s’ klassiker ”Green onions”. Snart sætter nogle onde guitar-licks dog ind, og sammen bygger guitar og orgel en stadig mere intens atmosfære op frem mod et dundrende crescendo. Et rigtig godt åbningsnummer!

Atmosfære er der også masser af på næste nummer, ”I need a light”, stadig med orglet – spillet af Jonny Henderson – i en central rolle, suppleret af en funky basgang, ringlende bækkener og wah-wah-pedal. Det er lækkert…

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‘Blueberry Pie’ – A Fresh Taste of British Blues: Now Ready For Audio Tasting!

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YEY!! ‘Blueberry Pie’ a fresh taste of British Blues by the Starlite Campbell Band is now available to listen and pre-order.

‘Blueberry Pie’ features:

  • Simon Campbell – Guitar / Vocals / Percussion (British Blues Awards Nominee)
  • Suzy Starlite – Bass / Vocals / Percussion (Megiddo / Starlite)
  • Jonny Henderson: Hammond Organ / Wurlitzer Electric Piano (Robben Ford / Matt Schofield / Otis Rush)
  • Steve Gibson – Drums / Percussion (Van Morrison / Chris Farlowe / Jack Bruce)
  • Special guest: Danny Boy Sánchez – Harmonica

It’s the first album release that Simon and I have written together and it has been a dream come true for me!

It would be great if you would have a listen to our preview track ‘Walkin’ Out The Door’ and hear for yourself what we have been up to! 🙂

“It has a light and succulent crust of electric and acoustic guitars, long and short scale basses, vintage amplifiers, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, harmonica, drums and natural voices.
The filling is made of stories of loss, love, despair and most importantly, lots of hope – drenched in a sweet and sour sauce of British Blues; you can almost smell the vintage amps.”

You can also pre-order your own personal copy of ‘Blueberry Pie’ which is set for release on 1st February, 2017;  much like a gig ticket, it could be a Christmas / birthday gift to look forward to – we can always write a special personalised message if you let us know.

I know this is a word based site – but on this occasion, I would like the music to do the talking… 🙂

Thank you so much for listening and supporting independently crafted music and the musicians that strive to create it!

Starlite x

Jonny Henderson & Steve Gibson record ‘Blueberry Pie’ – the new blues album by The Starlite Campbell Band at Supertone.

“The best thing about being a full-time musician is that music is like your best friend that introduces you to people you probably would never have met if you didn’t have a love of music in common…”

How true that statement is when double British Blues Award winner Jonny Henderson flew out to join us at our Supertone Studio in August to work with producer Simon Campbell and I on the recording of our Starlite Campbell Band new blues album ‘Blueberry Pie.’

We had never met in person before but Jonny is steeped in the Blues! He has been voted Keyboard Player of the Year in both the 2010 and 2011 British Blues Awards and has toured with blues guitarist Matt Schofield, the legendary Robben Ford and singer Ian Siegal.

This, along with his work in the studio with Matt, Ian and Otis Rush made him the perfect choice to record Hammond Organ and Wurlitzer electric piano parts on our new record.

jonny-henderson-simon-campbell-supertone-blueberry-pie-1600Producer / musician Simon Campbell and Jonny Henderson.

When he rocked up to the studio early evening, the first thing we said was let’s relax, cook some food and hang out before we even think about the music.

Over the next few days Jonny laid down some cracking parts on Hammond organ and Wurlitzer electric piano, with a few surprises too! He is such a talented musician and by the time he left we knew we had done some great work together and made a new friend…

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Steve Gibson

Joining us on drums for the album is Steve Gibson, one of the tightest and hardest working drummers out there and again very much steeped in the blues: he plays one of the best shuffles in the business!

He was a member of two bands signed to major labels and has played with the Icicle Works, Buzzcocks, Maggie Bell, Larry Garner, Madeleine Bell, Van Morrison, Larry Garner, Chris Farlowe and Jack Bruce. He is an endorsee of both Paiste CymbalsSAKAE Drums and Code Drum Heads.

steve-gibson-2-starlite-campbell-supertone-recordsPhoto: Simon Taylor

Simon and Steve go way back having been a part of the Manchester music scene years ago. They know a lot of the same people but had not seen each other for over twenty years so there was a lot of catching up to do… 🙂

I’d never met or played bass with Steve before so we spent the first two days playing through the songs, listening to each other and finding our groove!

Simon and I have co-written the album and words can’t express how inspiring it was to hear our songs come to life; I was like a kid in a sweet shop – wearing the biggest grin all week! Who wouldn’t be when you’re playing bass and working with such a fantastic drummer who is also great company and a top bloke!

suzy-starlite-simon-taylor-supertone.jpgPhoto: Simon Taylor

To whet your appetite about ‘Blueberry Pie’

The style and feel of the music is inspired by the the mid-late 60’s electric blues with a contemporary fusion of rock, blues, folk and our heartbeat.

It has a light and succulent crust of electric and acoustic guitars, long and short scale basses, vintage amplifiers, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, harmonica, drums and natural voices.

It has attitude – will dry your hair faster than a hair dryer! It has feel! It has groove and the lyrics are written with the thoughtful pen of a storytelling poet.

The guitar tones are experimented with and applied akin to a painter and their relationship with canvas; Simon seriously kicks ass on guitar – you can smell the vintage amps.

…and it’s beautifully recorded.

Thanks for reading and please share with your friends… we value your support!

Starlite x

‘Blueberry Pie’ by the Starlite Campbell Band will be released by Supertone Records on 1st February, 2017 and available to pre-order on CD and vinyl from 30th November, 2016.

The Supertone Show Podcast – Producer Series: Glyn Johns

This week on The Supertone Show Podcast Simon Campbell  and I chat about the work of multi-award winning engineer and producer Glyn Johns.

This episode explores Glyn’s engineering and production work from his apprenticeship at London’s IBC Studios in 1959 to working with legendary bands that would spearhead the British Invasion of the Sixties including: The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin.

The show also features music by The Clash, Neil Young, The Faces, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Ryan Adams and The Who.

A ‘must-listen’ for engineers, producers and music lovers!

Listen here and hope you enjoy the show.

 

The Supertone Show Podcast – Producer Series: Daniel Lanois

We have started a new podcast series featuring the work of inspirational Producers on The Supertone Show.

In this new episode, Simon Campbell and I chat about and play music relating to the work of enigmatic and multi-GRAMMY Award winning artist and producer Daniel Lanois.

From humble beginnings setting up his first recording studio in the basement of his parents house to working with Brian Eno, Brian Blade, Mark Howard, Bob  Dylan and U2; the show is an exploration of his production, song-writing, collaborations, guitar playing and creative approach.

It also features music by Daniel Lanois, U2, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Robbie Robertson and The Neville Brothers

A must-listen show for engineers, producers and music lovers!

Listen here …and I hope you find it as inspirational as we did.

“Rockin’ the Path to Bass Enlightenment” – Walking the Bass Line #4

I didn’t start out playing bass as my first instrument and the funny thing is, a lot of other bass players didn’t either…

  • Lemmy had just joined Hawkwind as a guitar player when he found out he was surplus to requirements due to Dave Brock deciding he was going to play lead instead. But when the band’s bass player didn’t show up for one of their free gigs because he wasn’t getting paid, he had also inadvertently left his bass and amp in their van. So, Lemmy, stepped in, and played bass for the first time live on stage at a gig! (That does make me laugh…)
  • Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers started out playing trumpet and was pretty good at it too by all accounts.
  • The Who’s thunderous John Entwistle started out on piano, then moved onto trumpet and French horn before he picked up a bass guitar.
  • Jaco Pastorius was first and foremost a drummer and only stopped playing after a wrist injury on the soccer field made it more difficult to play – that, and a better drummer had rocked up on the scene, so he stepped aside for this guy to take his place in the band. It was only because the bass player left at the same time that he picked up the bass!
  • Carol Kaye played jazz guitar and by the knock of opportunity, moved onto bass when she filled in for a recording session when another musician didn’t show up!
  • Tina Weymouth – who provided the bass-bedrock of Talking Heads signature sound, started out playing hand bells – which has slightly freaked me out as I used to play them when I was a teenager too. Apparently, she taught herself guitar before picking up the bass when she formed the band with David Byrne and her now husband, drummer Chris Frantz.

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So there you have it – historically, bass is rarely the first go-to instrument of choice for many musicians and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Heck, the first instrument I dabbled with was the harmonica because it was affordable and I could easily play a tune on it; if I needed a singer, I just used to go outside and play loud in the garden where I was soon accompanied by our neighbours dog, fondly referred to as ‘Howling Socks’.

I started thinking why is the path to ‘bass enlightenment’ so heavily influenced by chance, opportunity and more often necessity when the ‘Land of the Low End’ is such a dynamic and inspirational sonic landscape? So perhaps a better question would be: Is the electric bass player understood?

Paul McCartney said:

“None of us wanted to be the bass player. In our minds he was the fat guy who always played at the back.”

Is it because people don’t want to be the bass player because of the perceived role, or not fully understanding what they actually do??

Cue bass jokes 😉

Anyway, being a bit of a geek when it comes to detail, I have been trying to pin things down in order to create a clear, concise job definition for myself: something that I could tell anyone and have a good chance of being understood. An elevator pitch so to speak!

Music has essentially three parts;

  • Melody – lead instrument (BASS/vocals/guitar/sax/piano/hammond/violin etc),
  • Harmony – accompaniment (BASS/guitar/piano/hammond/brass and string sections etc)
  • Rhythm – el groove (BASS/occasionally piano/drums/percussion)

The bass sets the foundation for both harmony and rhythm! Plus the occasional and dreaded bass solo…

Harmony: When you hear multiple notes at the same time (harmony) your mind uses the lowest note as a reference point, which influences or colours the way you hear the rest of the other notes being played! So, what it means is that the bass influences the feel of everything – and I mean everything!!

Rhythm: most people understand what the bass does in terms of the rhythm; like a tight drum it’s punchy and percussive, but much more than that, it contributes to the harmony, tonality and most importantly, creates movement within the song.


Where would these tracks be without the bass?

Chic ‘Good Times’

Talking Heads – ‘Take Me to the River’

Pink Floyd – Money

David Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie’

This is a good example as both the guitar and harmonica share the same melodic lines with the bass, and then they branch off, leaving the bass (which is locked in solidly all the way through) to keep the feel and movement going – great groove!

And then there’s full on BASS!! Thanks Lemmy – Rock on!!! 


So, in conclusion…

Next time you play some music, try and listen out to what the bass guitar is doing? It takes a little bit of getting used to, especially if you are listening using small earpieces. I think you’ll be amazed at what you’ll hear and be surprised on how loud and upfront it is in the mix…

This new appreciation of the low end world has changed and enhanced the way I hear and experience music; I hope you agree!

Squeeze the Lemon – Walking the Bass Line #3

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A lemon is great for killing parasites in chicken, a zesty addition to a large vodka and tonic and also apparently an age old tradition in the playfulness of sexual innuendo in Blues music: way back in 1929,  Joe Williams was singing “You Squeezed my lemon/Caused my juice to run” in the song ‘I Want it Awful Bad.’

But all that pales into a smoothie of citric insignificance when you consider the mightiest lemon of all time for players of the electric bass guitar – ‘The Lemon Song’ from the album Led Zeppelin II.

Here’s the back-story:

There I was in my own little world of wonderment – in the throes of first love with playing my bass guitar; enjoying the simple lines and losing myself in the groove when I asked my husband Simon that fateful question: “Got any ideas on what you think I could learn next?”

Being a professional musician and guitar player with a British Blues Award nomination under his belt, I am always grateful for his input and his encouragement has served as a rocket up my ass on many occasion…. but when he suggested Led Zeppelin’s The Lemon Song – I listened to it with the innocence akin to that of the child accepting a lollipop from the Child Catcher in the film ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ and then I heard a mighty CLANK!! The world went dark and my whole musical world momentarily imploded!!

There was absolutely no way I could play that!!!  No bloody way!!! And that was that!!!!

A couple of months later – I decided to lift the carpet that I had firmly nailed to the floorboards and take another sneaky peak at the song to see if there was any way I could conquer this mountain of a song! I kept reminding myself of a note I had pinned to my wall when I was at Uni which read:

“It’s only difficult because you haven’t learned it yet!”

and tried to listen to the song with fresh ears!  But, again I had the same response and thought there is no way I can do this!

But, not one to give up easily when I knew it would dramatically improve my bass playing – I also thought:

“A mountain is conquered one step at a time”

and that is where I started –  one phrase at a time!

Starting at the beginning I would play a phrase of the song over and over and over again trying to work out what notes were being played, then tried to cross-reference with any half-decent videos that were out there to make sure I was playing in the right place of the neck, then unlearning phrases because I had made a pigs ear of it and made things doubly difficult (at times impossible) for myself …and so it continued for months! And by months I mean half a year!

I would fall asleep with the bass line running through my head – and wake up with the same bloody line there to greet me: like a cross between the Cheshire Cat and Jack Nicholson’s big happy sinister grin of obsessive toothy joy – MORNING!!! LET’S PLAY BASS AGAIN!!

It almost drove me crazy!! Don’t get me wrong – I love playing but this was an absolute brain mangler at times – especially dissecting the faster parts – it made me feel like I was spinning on a never-ending mad fairground ride!

And to now!

Tomorrow night Simon and I have been invited to play a few songs as part of a massive Daze of Dawn & Friends ‘Rock Party’ at 16 Toneladas in Valencia ! I think there are over 25 musician guests playing with the band and it will be my first outing playing The Lemon Song on bass!

Key of E! Wish me luck – or better still – wish me ROCK!!!!

P.S. All I can say is if I ever meet John Paul Jones in person, I won’t know whether to hug him … or throttle him!!

Keeping it Simple – Walking the Bass Line #2

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“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” Isaac Newton, 1676

A lot of music leaves me feeling detached and unengaged because, putting it simply, it doesn’t make me feel anything.  Sometimes it’s just that the song is not that great, but there are plenty of times when that has not been the case.

I was trying to work out why that is as the world seems to be full of technically proficient bass players and I think part of the reason is that there is not enough space left within the song itself to allow it to breathe.

If you think about music like colours painted on a blank canvas, sometimes things can be unnecessarily ‘busy’ which can detract from the overall perception and experience of the piece.

What I have really enjoyed about learning the bass and appreciating its role within a song is the absolute joy experienced by keeping things simple. There is always a little pressure in the back of your mind to up your game and play more advanced and complicated lines and I appreciate that, but sometimes, simple is all that is required.

“As a session musician, I can never remember being asked to play more notes or play slap!” – Andy Seward

As a case in point, when studying a couple of Beatles songs for a celebratory gig in Valencia I have been invited to play at, ‘My Guitar Gently Weeps’ completely mesmerised me and hooked deep into my soul. The haunting McCartney bass line is simple, sublime and melts me every time…

New personal mantra:

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!”

 

 

 

 

 

Walking the Bass Line #1

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The hardest part about playing a new instrument is trying to work out what direction to go in and really where to start.

When I decided to play the bass guitar this problem was promptly taken away from me as I was thrown into a bath of ice cold water overnight, becoming the bass player in Simon Campbell‘s band – faced with learning the parts from his albums ‘ThirtySix‘ and ‘The Knife.’

I knew all the songs really well having played keyboards live (and of course Simon and I are married), but the bass is a whole different badass world.

The bass player on Simon’s second album ‘The Knife’ was Andy Seward; one of the best bass players in the UK acoustic scene.

Listening to to the complex and interweaving lines terrified me!  But fortunately we have the isolated bass tracks from the original recordings and I went about learning everything. All I had was the music; there were no tabs or charts so I did it the old fashioned way – by listening.

Deciding to start with ‘The Man’ an upbeat Blues song, I sat down with my bass and played the music over and over and over and over…

A few days later having finally managed to work out the bass line, I quickly discovered that it wasn’t just a matter of identifying the notes but also working out where they are played on the neck and what shapes to apply to ensure that my technique was correct to allow my playing to flow smoothly. It was definitely a process of trial and error – sometimes, my fingers ended up in a right sticky mess, like a game of Twister, having made things far too hard than they needed to be.  

And so it continued, week after week, listening and writing and practising. I became totally hooked; to the extent that I would wake up with bass lines running through my head… until it was time to rehearse with the band.

You never feel that you are quite ready, always wishing for more time but that was simply not an option! In retrospect, I have to admit that I have learned so much more by getting out there and performing live as opposed to staying home, hidden in my room, trying to perfect my craft!

Anyway, a year later and here is a recording of The Man’ which was broadcast live from our recent UK Tour at The Convent Venue, Stroud.

Next week will feature some of the great players that I have been studying with some Carl Radle and Andy Fraser action 🙂

Hope you enjoy it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Horns and Tangos

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On the second day of thinking about the music that has inspired me, having started with the first gig I ever saw, (Stevie Wonder at the NEC in Birmingham) it naturally drew me back a little further to my childhood.

The more I hear stories from other people, it’s incredible just how powerful their memories are and why they love a particular song; usually introduced to those sounds by their siblings, parents or friends at school. Cars seem to have played a big part in this too; a captive audience on the move…

At primary school I played descant / treble recorders and was into percussion in a big way; I can still remember the rhythm I had to play on a tambor all the way through a song for our Christmas production when I was nine years old….and don’t get me started on the ‘one ting of the triangle’ story!

Then followed a term on the violin at Ross Grammar School which transformed into the mighty French horn for four years – a beast of a brass instrument whose tone I adored. The only reason I stopped playing was down to my orthodontist, who gave me a permanent set of railroad tracks which put the kibosh on playing any kind of wind instrument for a few years.

What I do appreciate now more so than at the time, was that playing in the school orchestra and brass band gave you a valuable insight into being a part of a wider musical landscape where the voicing of other instruments worked together in service of the music; a proper team effort. 

In all honesty, Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings is one of my all time favourite pieces but I find that it’s just too sad for repeated listening; it almost always makes me cry and have subsequently found myself walking out of shops as a result. Also, the piece is now so strongly associated with tragic world events and war films that I don’t want to revisit it from a place other than that of innocence.

This beautiful piece of music I happened to hear on the radio, sat on a train on my way back from University, and was immediately transfixed, sought it out and bought the album; Fionnuela Hunt – Tangos and Dances.

It tracks the art form from its origins in the bordellos and back streets of Buenos Aires to the concert platforms of the world. Tangos & Dances charts the history of Tango through the 1900s up to the present day, from its early dance form to the more jazz-inspired music of contemporary times.

There is a certain melancholic beauty, underpinned by a rhythmic movement that both holds and rocks you gently. Within the sadness also lies the inspiration for courage and the choosing of forgiveness in order to move on… Oblivion.