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NEWS!

2:40 pm August 30, 2010

Many thanks to everyone who came to the solo album launch at the Brecknock - as you can imagine, the more people in the audience the more fun the gig is - so we had a lot of fun, thank you.

Also good news - the Brecknock's not closing until the New Year (so we'll have more bookings there soon) - and it's only closing temporarily for renovations - it's not turning into a restaurant or anything - these Adelaide rumours!

Also good news on the finger! While I wasn't able to play brilliantly well (or for very long) on Saturday night I am now sort of able to play guitar - a bit...The important thing for me is that it proves, without a doubt, that I will be able to play guitar again - I wont have to learn left-handed or anything - I should get back to how I was before which is a great relief - up until this past week my guitar playing future has been in doubt and I'm very, very relieved!

10:21 pm August 16, 2010

Sadly August 28th will be our last gig at the Brecknock Hotel before it closes down...Also I will be launching an album of solo acoustic guitar blues songs - more info can be found here.

I'm planning to try a short solo set on the 28th if I can work out enough tunes to play nine fingered, I should be able to do something anyway...

Also the trio album will be released on the 10th of September at the Semaphore Worker's Club, some preview tracks can be heard here.

12:34 am August 7, 2010

Here's the latest picture of the fingers...and yes my two hands really are different colours! For the past four months my left hand has been red and my right hand comparatively yellow! Still, the good news is my Hammond playing is not affected AT ALL - not in the slightest noticeable (even to me) way.

I can also play piano again, even the Boogie-Woogie stuff and over the last few days I've even been able to play a little bit of guitar - it's painful and difficult but it sort of works...

11:16 pm May 13, 2010

Good news everyone! I don't need the cast anymore! My middle finger and index finger are now individually wrapped and I can use my other three fingers to play bass. So I'll be playing Tuesday the 25th at the Lion (Melbourne Street 7:00 - 11:00).

There's obviously a long way until I get back to where I was before and there's still a good chance the bone graft wont work (as there was only the tiniest piece of bone left there to attach to) in which case they'll have to cut the finger off at the joint at a later date.

If it comes to that I'l still be able to play Hammond - I just might have to learn guitar left handed - which I can do if I have to - my right handed handwriting is about as good as my left (just a lot slower)...

Anyway for now I'm enjoying being able to make my own cups of tea, butter toast, turn on the oven, do up my shoelaces, drive the car - it's fantastic!

2:14 am May 12, 2010

I know it's been nearly a year since I put anything on this "news" page - but I thought I'd use this space to keep people informed on my recent injury - I appreciate all the sympathy and kind words I've received, it really is helpful in keeping a positive outlook - and I have been very positive, it's just getting very frustrating doing everything with one hand (doing up trousers is the hardest thing but I refuse to wear tracksuit pants! The next hardest is buttering bread!).

However I know a lot of people are curious to know more details and to be honest, the more I explain it, the worse I feel about it! So I'll explain it all here...

On the 23rd of April I was sawing some wood on my table saw and it was starting to get dark but I was nearly finished (you can see it coming now) so I just concentrated a bit harder as it got darker - when I finished I hit the stop button and put the off-cut down on the table - touching the still spinning blade as I did so...

Now I should explain that I've always been wary of table saws because of all the people I've met with missing fingers only one was a butcher - all the rest were done on table saws - and being a musician of course you can't really afford to lose any part of your hand - you'd rather lose a leg than a finger-tip! (although a Hammond organist can't lose a leg either...)

So, paradoxically my extra fear and caution caused me to relax too much once I hit the stop button - I was so relieved not to have cut my fingers off that I cut my finger off!

Anyhow I felt the blade go through my left index finger and I felt a chunk of wood or finger hit my arm and it really felt like I'd cut my whole finger off at the knuckle.

But very fortunately it was only the one finger and I either moved it very quickly or it was flung very fast away from the blade - a lot of saw table injuries occur when you're really using your muscles to push a piece of wood through...

So the cut went through like this -
















So the surgeons took some of the bone from the "amputated remnant" and stuck it onto that tiny sliver of distal phalanx you can see remaining. The amazingly lucky part is that, as you can see from the outline of my finger, the entire pad is still there as is the tendon - so I could both move and feel the end of my finger even though it was almost completely filleted!

The worse news is that the bone that was cut out was really trashed (and indeed some of it is still missing or was disintegrated) so it wasn't a matter of just sticking my finger-tip back on.

Instead they had to stick as much bone back on there as they could and hope it grows onto the remaining part properly. Then, to fill in the missing flesh part they made a "cross finger flap" where they flip a chunk of middle finger over onto the index finger, covering the bone graft. This flap remained attached to the middle finger for ten days while it grew into the index finger (they were sewn together during this time).

Then the fingers were separated and my arm put back in a cast - I had hoped that, after the separation they might be wrapped less constrictively and I might be able to gig with my other eight fingers but, of course, the tendon in that finger is as strong as it ever was and by bending my finger even very slightly it could rip that bone graft right apart...So it's completely immobilised for at least six weeks and I'm probably not supposed to use it for some months after that...

But the good news (besides not losing more fingers) is that, as long as everything goes well, my finger will only less than a centimetre shorter which I could definitely get used to on organ and probably on piano - I really don't know if or when it would be strong enough to play guitar again but time will tell I guess.

That's about all I know for now, I'll keep this up to date anyway.


12:27 pm June 4, 2009

The "CD's for Sale" page is back! I was going to wait until I had one of these new albums out before I put the old ones back up - but now there are torrents of all my old albums and I realise I can't complain about illegal downloads of my albums unless I have a legitimate option for obtaining them!

Maybe free downloads are the future of music - maybe musicians will pay all the studio costs out of their own shallow pockets for the love of music and then give it away in a spirit of sharing and freedom of ideas and all that (actually I believe that might be the case in all seriousness and it has good and bad points just like the current business model has) - however these previous three albums still have a lot of money tied up in them - as well as an untold amount of grief, stress and heartache - one day I'll tell the true story of these albums and it might turn your hair white like it did mine!

2:04 am June 1, 2009

This isn't exactly news - I really ought to start a blog for this kind of thing but I gotta say it...

We had a great gig on Friday night! For one thing, my Hammond and Leslie were sounding better than they have done in forty years! I installed new percussion switches, a new key comb (to stop keys "clacking" together) and most importantly - I replaced all 43 capacitors on the tone generator - these capacitors form part of a tuned circuit for half the tone-wheels in the organ - the tonewheels produce the sine waves which combine to make up the 256,000,000 tones available - the tuned circuit is to filter out unwanted frequencies, motor rumble etc. from these sine waves - as they age they filter less and less of this unwanted noise - as well as filtering out more and more of the frequencies you actually do want!

The difference is staggering - all the tones are much more even in volume now, they're less blurry, clearer, more defined, breathier, cleaner and much louder - so I was able to back the preamp drive level back from 100% and the treble control from 100% to about 30%...

Anyhow all of this enables me to play with much more confidence - so I can try more difficult things - and is generally much more fun to play...and it was a lot of fun before!

Also I replaced the crossover in the Leslie speaker and the bass is a lot cleaner and tighter now, with a better balance between bass and treble - also I replaced the missing speaker carpet underneath the top baffle - I don't know exactly what it's for, but Don Leslie put it there for a reason - so I put it back...

As well as that, however - I've always wanted to put the Hammond back in the place where it really excelled through the 1950's and 1960's - now I don't mean trying to historically recreate the music of that era - but the Hammond used to be a popular as a good-time, grooving, party instrument - then it became so popular (in the late 1960's - 1970's) that a bunch of hacks jumped on the bandwagon and made cheesy "Hammond Hits" albums - these were people with no love or understanding of the instrument or the techniques developed by the master jazz organists in the previous decades - and the Hammond itself became unfairly associated with corny, cheesy, daggy music...

On the other hand there has been a (greatly welcomed) resurgence of Hammond music in the jazz world but this world is inaccessible to a lot of regular folks - which the 1950's - 60's Hammond trios used to cater to - so I'm very proud to say that I think we're starting to bring the Hammond organ back into the front bars it used to frequent and make it do what it does best - create a groove people can have fun to...

12:07 am March 13, 2009

I apologize for the lack of news once again (if anybody ever reads this! There's no counter on this page!) There have been no new bookings in the past six weeks so there have been no mailing list mailouts or anything new to report...

Except that the "Live At The Wheatsheaf" album is moving ahead - I'm dropping off the first hard disc tomorrow for evaluating and preliminary mixing - and we're organising the printing and cover photos and all that...

Also - on a less musical note - I've spent the last month or two designing my CNC machine which may enable Two Tone Electronics to break even! At the moment I make effects pedals by laser printing the circuit board designs onto junk mail (seriously this works much better than the commercial iron-on PCB material!), iron it onto copper clad fibreglass board, etch the board in Ferric Chloride or Ammonium Persulphate and then drill the holes on a Dremel drill press - this works very well and produces fantastic sounding effects - but there are two major problems - it takes a couple of days to make each pedal and then I still have to do the lettering! The pedal lettering I have done very successfully with decal paper from art supply stores - but this scratches off fairly easily, the sheets cost quite a bit, and they seem to react unfavourably to any lacquer or protective coating...

So the CNC machine will be able to engrave the lettering or cut stencils for spray painting, as well as drilling the holes and milling the circuit boards etc...I only mention this here because sometimes I run into people who seem to think that I do absolutely nothing in between the two times they've seen me! But there just aren't as many gigs around as they used to be!

Also I've been fixing my cars! One rainy night several months ago the master cylinder finally died and I ran the 1968 Beetle into a post - and we've been too broke to fix it since then - so we've relied on the 1976 Kombi since then until finally the clutch cable broke. But for AU$57 we put a new clutch cable, clevis pin and conduit tube in and it's better than when we bought it - so I ruined one Op-Shop shirt crawling around under the car - try doing that with a new car! Plus my five year old daughter threaded the cable through from the front for me (for a dollar!) so I didn't have to crawl in and out so much...

In fact - a lot of people don't know how much an air-cooled Volkswagen nut I am but I've had the same 1968 Beetle for more than ten years (in fact the exact model and colour! that's on the cover of "Abbey Road") and I've replaced the transmission once, had the replacement one rebuilt!, replaced the 1500cc engine with a 1600cc myself (because it was becoming insanely difficult to find 1500 parts) - then removed and rebuilt the 1600 engine, replacing the pushrod tubes, cylinders, pistons, rings, cylinder heads and all the seals and rubbers, as well as the clutch components - the aircooled Beetle is a masterpiece of design - they have a reputation for being noisy, unreliable and for spontaneous combustion - but this is simply because they are so reliable that people never adjust the valves, check the fuel lines, make sure the battery cover is still there (the first time someone takes out a Beetle battery, they lose the cover - and, because it's under the steel sprung, horsehair (or whatever it is) filled seat - as soon as you get a heavy person or four in the back seat, the metal springs contact the battery terminals and ignite the horsehair or shredded coconut or whatever that stuff is! - what is that stuff?)

Anyhow, treat your Volkswagen nice and it will be nice to you - adjust the valves when it's nice and cold, check the points, the timing, change the oil and it will last forever...I feel an "article" coming on...

2:59 am Jan 24, 2009

Sorry there hasn't been any news for a while - the reason is that my Rhythm Aces Revival Experiment was a total disaster! Musically I mean - I know I've revived this band three or four times since I first realized it's time had passed! It's just that the overwhelming majority of people tell me I should keep doing it and that they prefer that band to my newer material - and there's a terrible paradox at the heart of the job of being a live musician - the audience aren't irrelevant as they may be in some of the so-called higher arts! (I don't believe there's an art higher than music!) - but you can't just play what the majority of people want either - or every band would be a Cold Chisel, AC/DC cover band...

So occasionally I've decided to revive the Rhythm Aces and "give the people what they want" - but I'm just not excited or even interested in it anymore - while I can completely see what people liked about the old band - and I'm very thankful for their appreciation also - It's just not interesting for me musically anymore - and it's not going to go anywhere musically...

So, the gig at Bachuus went very well and people seemed to really like it - but it's just not the sort of music I want to play anymore...so we're stuck with the Hammond trio..

Which is another thing - the John Citizen Trio (formerly the Jesse Deane-Freeman Trio) is now the Jesse Deane-Freeman Trio again... I know, I'm sorry!

The original reason was that we used to do both bands at once and people would be disappointed that it wasn't the Rhythm Aces - but now every band gig is going to be the Hammond trio and every solo gig is me on the National guitar....

11:14 pm Dec 15, 2008

The Rhythm Aces are returning to the place where many South Australians saw them first - Bachuus Wine Bar in Henley Beach. After the Grace Emily Hotel, this was the first S.A. venue we played after my time in Cairns. We'll be back on Sunday the 28th of December and if we're going to be able to re-re-relaunch the Rhythm Aces successfully we really need a lot of people to turn up that day! So if it's possible to make it down please do - we'll put on a vintage Rhythm Ace show for you! (If you can't make it, at least ring to ask what time we'll be on!)

10:47 am Dec 7, 2008

We're now booking all three acts - my solo acoustic set, The John Citizen Trio and The Rhythm Aces - nothing actually booked yet! But check the gigs page.

6:18 pm Oct 3, 2008

Here's one of the songs rescued from the hard disk here (9MB - it's quite a long song!)

11:00 pm Oct 1, 2008

We finished recording on Friday and had a good time at last - I relaxed a bit more, maybe too much! But I thank you all for coming along and hope you enjoyed it - the trouble with recording is it's hard to concentrate properly on the gig itself - serious music and good entertainment are not always the same thing - they don't have to be mutually exclusive though and I think I got the balance a bit better on the last gig!

However, since then I've been messing about with IDE hard drives trying to recover the audio from that gig! We've been recording with an Alesis HD24 which is a very handy machine - fairly similar in operation to a tape machine but of course an almost unlimited amount of time on the "tape" - it uses IDE drives (the standard hard disk drive in your PC) in caddies as removable "tapes" - but you can fit quinquagintillions of hours of audio on there...

However, as you record, the audio is written to a data section of the disk and only when you press "stop", a header is written providing the system information such as the length of the song, number of tracks, the place(s) where the audio files are stored etc.

If you don't get to press stop (for example if you were chatting to people and forgot to press the button - just hypothetically) and the power gets switched off (say...) then the header doesn't get written and the song is described as having a length of zero seconds!

And because the HD24 formats the drive in it's own proprietary way, it can't be read by a computer or anything else...Unless - you find this fantastic program with which you can put the HD24 drive in yer PC and the program can read it, copy the files (including the "missing" ones) onto your computer's hardrive and then back onto your HD24 drive - or another spare one - you can also back up your drives and do all kinds of cool stuff - all I know is our whole gig vanished and now it's back!

So I've been taking old computers apart and swapping drives around and that kind of fun stuff - I'm just recording three hours of silence onto another hard drive so I can copy the gig onto that one (it has to overwrite an existing recording) and then I'll be able to make a rough mix an put an example up here...

Also I'll have a "not news" page up later tonight - a reincarnation of the old "stuff" page for those who've been here before...