London Violinist, Viola Player & Arranger For Hire

Laying it down

Last Friday (9th March), I was back at Skyline Studios to do five hours of recording, alone in a live room. That covered almost all of my parts for the Kindred Spirit recording currently in progress, and it became a day of all acoustic instruments.

First off was mandolin, as above, a brief overdub (but it will become certainly my most public outing on that instrument!). Then came violin as joint lead instrument on all 6 tracks – recorded with my good acoustic instrument and a nice mike, but that doesn’t stop us from applying filthy rock overdrive for the final album, as achieved with electric instrument and stomp-box in gigs. Finally, my parts in my backing arrangements – first and second violins, double-tracked, for two tracks, and viola for two (but not the same two, confusingly). Tomorrow (16th), I need to go back and do a couple more background viola parts. Then I can pretty much sign off (though I think I will be joining the choir for their one song on Sunday (18th) as well), leaving guitar, vocals, flute, saxophones, bass and cello to be added respectively, over coming sessions.

Recording is always draining, particularly solo tracking where there is absolutely nowhere to hide, and I was glad I didn’t have to do this for much longer in the same day. Although the times were actually set by when engineer Jez had finished tidying up the drum tracks for me to dub over, and when I had to leave in order to manage the other half of my double whammy day – Oliver! in Chesham, which I also did twice (matinee and evening) the following evening.

Those double headers seem to be getting more common – today (Thursday 15th), I busk in Victoria over lunchtime then support Gryphon as one half of the Kindred Spirit Duo; tomorrow I finish Kindred Spirit recording and then play an evening gig with Dream Logic; Saturday I record and film a promo set and play a St Patrick’s Kindred Spirit Duo gig. Sunday’s one musical commitment and Monday’s driving test may seem comparative rests!

Extreme performance

Full marks for generosity, creativity and tenacity have to go to one passer-by in Victoria Thursday gone (8th March).

I was busking, and in the middle of John Williams’ main title theme to Schindler’s List, when an elderly gentleman with superb white hair approached me brandishing a £10 note. I thought he was simply drawing my attention to this (very generous! – the typical amount per punter is £1 in my experience) donation, then briefly wondered if he wanted to take some change from it (which wouldn’t have been unreasonable – in this era when few people have pocketfuls of coins, I’m always surprised more people don’t drop in a note and grab a few pound coins back). In fact, he was simply concerned it might blow away if dropped in my violin case. (I appreciate the problem – when I am given notes, I try and scoop a couple of coins on top of them at the end of that number.)

I know this to be the case because, when I simply nodded appreciatively and kept playing (I wasn’t going to interrupt the flow of what is more or less a piece of classical music if I could help it), he carefully folded the tenner in half and inserted it in the cuff of my left coat sleeve, mid-phrase, while I kept playing. Of course, once he was engaged in this I could do no better than make sure I didn’t waver musically until he finished, in a spirit of cooperation.

Besides doubtless being bizarre to watch, this gives me the notion of a cabaret double-act involving essentially one person playing, preferably fairly impressively, while the other carries out various careful operations on them – picking their pockets, changing their shoes, stuffing things into their clothing, adding hats, etc. What do you reckon? Better prospect than trying to get onto the freelance professional orchestra circuit?

Et in Arcadia ego

Last Saturday (3rd March) saw a slightly unusual and nice freelance job, for a variety of reasons.

One was that it was an excuse to go back to Oxford – and remember how conveniently tiny the place is compared to London’s sprawl, and how spoilt rotten Oxonians are for pocket-sized chapels and churches with excellent acoustics and well-maintained organs, as well as excellent musicians.

The real pleasures though were the musical ones. I was playing viola in a Biber (not Bieber!) Requiem setting. Of itself, this counts as unusual. I for some reason rarely get to combine my loves of viola and fairly authentic early music performance; getting to do so in a one-to-part near-chamber setting with off-the-beaten track repertoire is an extra bonus.

Biber belongs to what might be termed the middle Baroque; several decades later than Monteverdi transitioning out of the Renaissance but a good generation older than the late-Baroque core repertoire of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann. It’s an era that only fairly rarely crops up in concert programming and stylistically sounds relatively unfamiliar (alongside, to my subjective impressions, late medieval polyphony, the galant / very early Classical transition of the mid-18th century, and most composition from about 1920 to the 1960s). Sacred music, of course, clung to heavily polyphonic textures much more than the secular move to chord-based sounds at the start of the 17th century; the result is that a lot of this setting sounded fairly genuinely halfway between, say, Tallis and Bach. The original scoring is for two violins, continuo, optional trombones doubling the alto, tenor and bass voices, and treble, alto and tenor viols, besides voices; we were using a very light transcription which moved the viol parts over to three violas, and dispensing with the trombones.

The unexpected delight of the day really for me was the choir however. Arcadian Singers are a chamber-sized outfit, numbering 15 on this outing, mostly young though not explicitly a student ensemble. In the first half, when I wasn’t playing and could listen with undivided attention, they sang two Romantic pieces with decidedly non-straightforward twists and turns of chromaticism. Not only did they navigate these apparently completely unfazed, they produced a dependable, confident sound across a dynamic range from a controlled piano to a still-sweet-toned body of volume that would be beyond many choirs several times their size (even if the scale and acoustic of Brasenose College Chapel were in their favour).

The Biber is scored for SSATB soloists plus chorus. The choir shared out the solos among themselves (in general solo or multiple-soloist sections alternate with chorus, rather than the soloists singing over the top of the choir) and again fared admirably. It was particularly notable that the conductor had been at understandable pains to get us instrumentalists (one to a part strings, but on modern instruments, and chamber organ continuo) to play down during rehearsal before the choir joined us. In fact in performance this proved more or less unnecessary, the singers balancing a normal playing volume comfortably.

This appears to be the Lent of Baroque authentic performance. I have seen (and had to pass up, equipment lacking) multiple adverts for period-instrument players, mostly for the Saturday before Holy Week; however, I am managing to join authentic performance, modern instrument group Ashford Baroque Ensemble on 24th March to accompany Haydn’s ‘Nelson’ Mass and d’Astorga’s Stabat Mater.

Meanwhile this week I have been recording band parts and string and mandolin overdubs for the Kindred Spirit album, and playing in the pit (an actual orchestra pit this time!) for half of a run of Oliver! in Chesham. The contrast could hardly be greater – if variety is the spice of life, mine’s a vindaloo …

Hard at work

Two new bookings within the last few days have this month (March, snow and -3 in London notwithstanding!) set up to be a very busy and enjoyably varied one for my performing career.

Tomorrow, Saturday 3rd, I’m back to familiar territory in Oxford – joining the Arcadian Singers at Brasenose College Chapel for Biber’s Requiem in F minor, plus a couple of other choral pieces. That will be one for layering up if my experience of other medieval Oxford chapels is anything to go by!

On the 9th and (twice) 10th, I’m doing half of Panda Players’ run of Oliver! at the Elgiva in Chesham. I’m looking forward to reprising the violin cadenzas in ‘Reviewing the Situation’, and hope this Fagin has as much fun with them as the last one …

A rare weekday gig on Thursday 15th sees Elaine and I playing an originals set as Kindred Spirit Duo (itself a pretty rare occurrence), supporting (re-formed) notorious prog-early music-folk-rock outfit Gryphon at the Claygate Festival. We believe it’s a duo booking largely because of how much stage space and how many PA channels their rampant multi-instrumentalism requires!

The following night, Friday 16th, my viola takes up electronic company as part of a live string quartet helping realise the ambient / contemporary classical compositions of Dream Logic, aka Adam Fulford. It’s a support slot for VLMV‘s album launch gig (interestingly also to feature a string quartet!) at Archspace in Haggerston.

17th March is, of course, St Patrick’s Day and Kindred Spirit Duo are once again helping celebrate it with the Irish-oriented version of our folk and covers act at the Swan Inn in Isleworth. Expect much singing along and dancing and my infamous Shane McGowan impression on a slightly out-of-season ‘Fairytale of New York’ …

On the 20th, an unusual format of the Parlour Room project contributes to Conway Hall‘s La Belle et la Bête night with our ‘Requiems’ experience. This sees founder Sarah de Winter move from her usual cello seat to soprano solo for operatic arias accompanied by (my arrangements for!) string quartet, combined with digital projections in a multimedia performance that pushes well outside usual UK conceptions of what opera can be. We hope to carry it much further, but be there and say you saw it before it was trendy!

Kindred Spirit‘s first 2018 gig as a full band is on 23rd March at Twickenham’s Exchange arts and community venue (coincidentally about three minutes’ walk from my new flat!). We’ll be previewing tracks from our next album (my first with the band – recording under way now!) and delivering a full evening’s entertainment in this new venue, hopefully setting a trend for it promoting local bands and original music. Tickets can be bought and seats reserved online here, or at Twickenham’s Eel Pie Records (who are also doing a special deal on the Kindred Spirit back catalogue!).

On Saturday 24th, I head a little way further out to the south and west of London, to stiffen the forces of Ashford Baroque Ensemble accompanying Spelthorne Choral Society at St Peter’s Church in Staines. We’ll be performing Haydn’s well-known ‘Nelson’ Mass and the much more obscure d’Astorga’s Stabat Mater and I’m looking forward to deploying my authentic performance practice skills again (sadly not period instrument, until I find myself able to make a rather massive investment in that niche area of my career).

That brings us to this year’s early Easter, and to another month’s gigging. But I hope to see you before then anyway!


This post concerns two things I do that I wasn’t previously sure were actually doing me any good at all.

Firstly, when out busking since the start of this year, I’ve had a sign* in my case with a strapline, my email address and the web address of this site. From the way some people come up to look at it and then look disappointed and walk away again, I suspect they may expect it to read something along the lines of either ‘raising money for cancer research’ or ‘need £18 for 2 weeks in the night shelter’. Sorry folks, I rent a flat (shared with my partner) and all the money is effectively going to that …
(*I say a sign. Technically a piece of b+w printed A4 paper, reinforced by being Sellotaped to a piece of card of the same size that used to be the front cover of a pad of manuscript paper, inside a clear plastic wallet. Does the job while keeping that shabby (chic) busker vibe. Honest.)

Secondly, maintaining a comprehensive (OK, besides busking), even if it then seems decidedly heterogeneous, list of public performances on the home page of my website. All right, it evidently makes anyone arriving at the site feel I must be an active working professional or there wouldn’t be items on the list (and I always send the link with applications, so I hope at least some potential clients follow it!); but I wasn’t sure it actually led to anyone showing up that wouldn’t have done otherwise, let alone paying money and so indirectly furthering my career.

Those uncertainties rather changed towards the end of a freezing cold 2 hours busking in Victoria station yesterday.

A tall, middle-aged man I didn’t consciously recognise (though it appears I should have done if I had a photographic memory) approached me and said between numbers ‘We’re coming to see you at the Exchange.’ Besides the level of background noise on a station concourse, it was so out of context for me that it took another few lines of conversation for me to realise the exact significance. He had seen me busking previously, been impressed and made a note of the web address (perhaps photographed the sign –  this is very common as a substitute for taking a business card, though I have those out when busking too). I was clearly memorable enough that he actually looked up the site afterwards too; found the gig list; and went through it looking for one on a free date and at a plausible location for him (and whoever else constitutes ‘we’) to show up. That he’s prepared to pay £8 for the privilege only makes the story all the more flattering!

The gig in question is Kindred Spirit‘s on Friday 23rd March at the (still very new) Exchange cultural centre in  Twickenham (just over the  bridge from the Cabbage Patch!). It will be a full evening (well, as full as local noise curfews will permit) of our full-band original music, including several tracks from the forthcoming new album. The performance space holds 300 and tickets can be bought and seats reserved online here, so don’t be backward in coming forward (and please get seats near the front so we can actually see you!).

And more generally, clearly marketing across different audiences works. So if you’re a regular blog reader, why not look at the gig list and see if there’s anything you’d like to come to? Or, if it’s all just too far away, consider buying the Filthy Spectacula album, or pledging to buy the next Kindred Spirit one? Either way hope to see you somewhere slightly unexpected soon!

Guides, sketches and tracks

It’s been a while since I was involved in any recording as a collaborator ‘ full-time member – I did a mixed bag of recording at the tail end of last year as a session musician / bumper / hired hand, but that’s rather different.

Sunday, however, saw vital foundations being laid for the next Kindred Spirit recording (or six tracks of it – it is increasingly likely that this will be about half of a full-length album with the rest being not only recorded later but currently mostly unwritten!) at Skyline Studios in Ashford, Surrey.

The main priority was getting Les Binks’ drum parts recorded (hence why in the above photo he is out of sight in the live room to the right, with Elaine, myself and engineer Jez Larder crammed into the control room).

But even with a click track, drum parts are pointlessly hard to record in isolation. So the band were there to play the songs and record guide tracks to help us navigate the tracks when we come to overdub our parts (and, in my case, some overdubs born of my relentless arranging itch) for real.

The observant will notice that even with drums out of shot, some of a five-piece band seem to be missing. Cat Cooper is still recovering from surgery on ill-mannered wisdom teeth; Mike Hislop had been laid low by one of the many strains of flu that have been rampaging this winter. This left Elaine (thankfully!) and myself to try and sketch out enough vocals, guitar and lead line framework to let Les and, later, the rest of us navigate six tracks – roughly, two straightforward pop-type songs, one issue-driven classic heartfelt anthem, and three deliberately prog journeys.

One of the particularly interesting bits for me (which hadn’t been done recording with The Filthy Spectacula in the past) was Les’s willingness to do one take as a trio, and then keep mine and Elaine’s guide parts from that, plus click, and amend or even entirely redo his drum parts with those in his ears – a slightly paradoxical-seeming situation of the drum parts, which will be followed by everyone else, following the guide track. On one track, which had had less rehearsal and possesses a particular diversity of time signatures, speeds and moods, Elaine and I recorded a ‘sketch’ track to the click and Les then experimented with drum parts from there.

My overdubs (electric violin, acoustic violin, viola and mandolin, sometimes multiple parts and double-tracked!) will hopefully be done on two Fridays next month. Also to do: flute, upper saxes and backing vocals (Cat); bass guitar and double bass (Mike); guest cello and perhaps baritone sax (Stevie); and a choir! Going to be epic.

Tuneful busking

Busking in several of London’s big train termini continues to provide a stream of bizarre, sometimes insightful, sometimes frustrating, little human snapshots, as well as a valuable though surprisingly unpredictable stream of income. Being photographed or filmed is not uncommon (though sadly no repeat of being recorded for a broadcast on BBC Radio  4 yet!); heckled occasional; applauded rare but not unknown; danced to, with varying degrees of ability and usually for about 20 seconds, common.

I’m still not sure how much of what I think are my observations about tendencies of people who stop and give money to buskers are real and how many reflect my prejudices. Are more of them elderly (perhaps the elderly like folk and classical, the mainstays of my busking repertoire, more?), perhaps simply because of being less likely to be cutting it fine for a train, or because the idea of buskers is familiar, or because they carry cash, or because they are less likely to have headphones on? Are they really more likely to be women (perhaps something about culturally ingrained gendering of compassion here, since it is always hard to distinguish whether buskers are paid out of appreciation or pity), or (dark suspicion) do I just remember more of those? Similarly, is it a high proportion of adults with young(ish) children who stop to actually listen, or are the ones who do stop just much more memorable than the ones that walk on? (Admittedly, I do still think the families with little kids are a disproportionately large share of the few people that actually stop to listen to buskers.) Are musicians actually less likely to give to buskers (because they’re probably cash-strapped, they are more likely to listen critically, they may be buskers themselves and recycling cash among buskers doesn’t really gain anything) or is it just that people with music cases are more likely to grab my attention than anyone else who doesn’t take notice of me, and therefore I notice more of the musicians passing by than other people? That said, the other day I did get a couple of handfuls of change from a violinist and a bassoonist who turned out to be going to a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsal; besides being gratifying to my musical ego, a salutary reminder that none of these trends are absolute even if any of them are real.

Requests are always a strange one. Many of them I actually use as prompts on what to memorise next (most recently, the title theme from John Williams’ score to Schindler’s List), though the recurrence rate of specific requests is so low that this is more a stab at playing things that people know and recognise (and so are more likely to pay for) than a guarantee of it. Though I haven’t done anything about the request (encountered a couple of times) for ‘anything Italian’. Suggestions of well-known Italian tunes / songs with a strong enough melody to be recognised instrumentally and unaccompanied welcome (and no, I don’t think the requesters meant Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, though you never know).

I had a particularly (to me) curious request the last time I was out. I was coming towards the end of a pair of Irish reels when a middle-aged-plus bloke approached and took up that hover people do when they want to speak to you but not to interrupt you playing. I gave him a (hopefully) friendly nod when I wrapped up, and he opened with:
‘Do you know any tunes?’
I should explain why this was so puzzling: in British folk circles, jigs, reels, hornpipes, etc., the instrumental dances of the traditional repertoire including the pair I had just finished playing, are called ‘tunes’ to distinguish them from songs. So it was odd to apparently be asked for what I had just been doing. Brain a bit fried (long week and over an hour’s solid unaccompanied playing already under my belt that session), I didn’t manage a more elegant expression of my confusion than:
‘What do you mean by tunes?’
‘You know, tunes. Greensleeves or something.’
I duly started up Greensleeves (what the customer, or rather prospective donor wants, the customer gets, if I can supply it) and his face immediately brightened; he dropped some money into my case, and then, after what felt like about 8 bars, wandered off.

Leaving aside the question of how he had spent so little time on hold in the Noughties to ever want to hear Greensleeves again, to a lot of people Irish fiddle dances are good tunes, though I can understand how they are in some senses less melodic than a traditional song tune. It just goes to show: however much I try and hone my set towards most pleasing the people most likely to give me money (by focusing on what seems to pull in the cash and the positive comments), you can please some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time…

Back on the wagon

Or the never-stopping tour bus …

Familiar territory Friday night, The Filthy Spectacula headlining Jamboree with the Swamp Stomp String Band supporting – all of which has happened before. Which isn’t to say that we didn’t kick 2018’s gig schedule off with a bang. Jake and George’s high-energy ‘fake hillbilly’ act is one of the few on the London circuit that can compete with us for sheer energy, fooling around (not even we dare stand on each other’s instruments, though none of us plays anything quite as practical to stand on as double bass) and songs about alcoholic excess and death, and Jamboree can always be counted on for an enthusiastic response and a good number of dancers. We hope to see you all again!

Next gig for me (barring busking spots) doesn’t come up till the weekend after next, when the duo form of Kindred Spirit return to the Cross Lances in Hounslow (after two gigs there as the full quintet). To keep up to date on forthcoming performances, see the list (now kept comprehensively up-to-date) on the home page.

A fortnight between gigs doesn’t mean a slow start to the year though:

  • The Filthy Spectacula are auditioning new bassists (as the Dreadful Helmsman’s departure for a more settled West Country homeowner existence is imminent), and starting to lay plans for our second album.
  • Kindred Spirit are going into the studio, for the first time since I joined, in just a couple of weeks; arrangements (including some tasty string section overdubs) are nearly finalised and perhaps the biggest question at the moment is whether the 7 tracks we’ve prepared will be a standalone download or the backbone of a full CD album.
  • Gratifyingly to my sense of classical viola career progression, I’m booked in for another performance with the Lincolnshire Chamber Orchestra, accompanying Louth Choral Society in a programme including Fauré’s Requiem
  • I’m finally learning to drive! Should save a lot of money and inconvenience on out-of-town or simply late-night gigs, and open up more options for weddings and other ‘site’ performances that aren’t in urban areas.

So watch this space …

Back on the streets

Well, technically back on the station concourses, but that doesn’t have quite the same ambiguous ring to it.

Conventional wisdom, particularly gigging band wisdom as opposed to classical or musical theatre (does that last include panto?), says there are never any gigs in January. And my diary for this year more or less bears that out – apart from the last half-hour or so of Kindred Spirit Duo‘s New Year’s Eve gig (entertaining Basingstoke’s Irish community!), and an early re-start for the Filthy Spectacula, gigging on the last Friday in the month at Jamboree, no paying conventional gigs this month.

However, I’m not given to letting the grass grow under my feet. That’s partly meant intensive work on some of the standard upper-end classical viola repertoire, notably the first Stamitz concerto (aka ‘the orchestral audition piece par excellence‘!); and keeping my orchestral hand in with a scratch play/sing-day on the Verdi Requiem (subs waived for me as a known pro, so it only cost me my lunch, which is fair gain I think).

But, none of that pays the rent as such, and a house move in December has pushed my accommodation expenses up, besides driving lessons (eyeing independent travel to and from engagements in a couple of months) and a desire not to expand the amount of my time and energy spent on publishing work. So, I’ve returned to the London train terminus busking scheme. A tighter focus on British fiddle dances – jigs, reels, hornpipes, etc. – with some classical lollipops as variation (if only to give my arms some change / rest!) seems to be paying dividends in more dependable income, and occasions when I’ve got lucky with which slots I was scheduled have been truly lucrative. If I keep up a couple of stints a week as at present, there is a genuine possibility busking might become my single biggest source of musical income for a while!

Curiously, this was (just) anticipated by a repeat of a Radio 4 programme on intellectual property – which features me playing and granting permission to be broadcast on condition of credit by name near the beginning. From the number of family and friends that caught it this time, the repeat seems to have enjoyed a substantially larger audience than the original broadcast. Well, it’s all good publicity …


La Folie recently did one concert in north-east London, followed by another just under a fortnight later in Chichester. The group pragmatically took advantage of the geographical separation (and therefore small chance of overlap in prospective audience) and chronological proximity to play almost the same programme twice, with very similar personnel (an oboe concerto was added for the second concert, along with its soloist, removing a violin sonata and one of a group of harpsichord solos; we changed over cello and double bass but no other players). The result (though there were other factors in this too) was a second concert that ranked high among that group’s performances, practically and musically, with ever-better intuition between players and tightness of accuracy.

Repeating programmes, or even works, in any close succession (excluding seasonal and pops concerts) is still rare enough in the classical world to be worthy of comment. This in contrast to many gigging bands that may have a performance-ready repertoire not much bigger than their longest set list. Classical critics in particular rarely stop asking why, and it’s a worthwhile point.

Partly, most orchestras are fairly static most of the year – they perhaps play at a home venue except for a summer tour, where they may well repeat much more material. If you’re essentially drawing from the same area’s audience, then arguably you have to have enough audience to fill your venue twice to bother playing the same programme twice. Most groups that repeat similar set lists (particularly originals acts) are a lot more mobile, so are effectively always as if on tour. Indeed, many originals promoters forbid playing in the same area within a fortnight or even a month of their booking, to avoid audiences seeing essentially the same show somewhere else.

But people do come back to see rock bands and others do very similar shows multiple times, maybe not within weeks but certainly within months, a few times a year – more often than most orchestras repeat the same concerto or symphony. Perhaps because, at grassroots level, non-classical music is usually a lot cheaper and so the investment is less. Perhaps because you can generally drink, dance and socialise more prolifically at a gig than a concert or recital and so your night can be good even with somewhat predictable music so long as you like it. Perhaps just because most people are less attentively picky about their rock, singer-songwriter or even jazz than their symphony orchestra repertoire.

But it is a shame that, at the middle range of performance where concerts are fairly frequent and rehearsals in effect paid, this means a lot of minimally prepared music. Sure, no problem for amateur orchestras who rehearse weekly for eight weeks or so for each concert – once you’ve spent that long with a piece you ought to be allowed five years off from it, and there will probably be several players still around in five years, or ten, who would rather do something new. But the number of concerts I have played on one rehearsal is staggering, and I can’t help but feel that a more creative approach, mixing and matching new and previously performed repertoire, might give on average a more thoroughly musical experience to the audience. Would it be worth travelling more (fairly short distances, but further than audiences are likely to venture) in order to play similar programmes to different listeners? Admittedly travel expenses for even a small orchestra are enough to give second thoughts. And we seem to live in a conservative world for the arts, where it is sadly less likely that people will turn out for a visiting group in order to hear something different, than it is that they will stay away because the new bunch are an unknown quantity. And all this only works if what is billed as the same ensemble actually chiefly contains the same players. Somewhere or other there in my head there is a grand scheme emerging from this for carefully vetted orchestra exchanges, with transport costs reduced by equipment sharing (not most instruments of course, but percussion, perhaps even harp if needed, and all other gear like music stands), a maintained brand reputation by only swapping with orchestras of similar standard, and concerts in towns a bearable journey from each other, allowing loyalty to something other than the specific orchestra and a slower rotation of more thoroughly known music. But it would require massive buy-in from organisations, effectively a step-change from how classical music runs at the moment.

In the mean time, here’s to the occasions that make it artistically and commercially feasible to repeat classical programmes, for the sake of us that get to perform or hear things better, clearer and with more thorough understanding that way. And to the gigging bands that change things up and give their members (and their most loyal followers) a varied time of it!