The growth of the jam

If soloists tried singing and accompanying themselves
on their own songs
and singer songwriters tried soloing
along with others’ voice
then when the jam came
they would know to throw to a solo
let it build to a climax
they would know when to vamp
and when simply NOT to play
This is how we listen to each other
This is how we make each other shine
This is the growth of the jam

Face The Truth – Live 7-1-15

I wrote Face The Truth in 1990, partly in support of gay friends and media attitudes, mostly as an intravert’s lament that people just “leave me alone”

[a theme also captured in Truth Told (Brutal) – not that I was keeping anything back from someone at the time, you understand ;) ]

and definitely as recognition of others’ reaction to my own artistic weirdness.

I never performed Face The Truth live until last night at Common Ground Open Mic

[and, truthfully, don’t know that I’ll play it live again]

and I’m pleased to offer this 25-yr old song in support of friends I know, and those I have yet to meet, who are now a little more free to love without condemnation.


If he doesn’t hurt you
Why do you intrude?
If he doesn’t cause you pain
by just trying to be happy?

The world just keeps on piling
more problems into his life
And the floating doesn’t come easy
When he finds waves his only view

He’s just a normal man
and he’s getting pleasure
in what ways he can
He’s just a normal man
And he’s not like you
Can’t you face the truth?

You take your moral standpoint
and you ram it down his throat
When all the time it’s just your insecurity
that makes you fear what you don’t know

Can’t you see he’s hurting no-one?
It’s a private affair, not any of your care
You are the intrusion
Can’t you just let him be?

He’s just a normal man
and he’s getting pleasure
in what ways he can
He’s just a normal man
And he’s not like you
Can’t you face the truth?

And if he doesn’t hurt you
why do you intrude?

Want to get things done?

In my other life, I’m very happy to be a consultant and coach to some cool clients

[any chance I get to help people, teams and organizations get better at what they do, I’ll take it!]

Much of my work is face-to-face, and video/tele-con based, though I also get my fair share of off-line stuff to do. For the past little while, I’ve been using Writers Flow – Music For Writing as a musical backdrop to my working hours

[as well as for writing, its specific intended use]

and can confirm that it’s really, really good for that too!

I just sent out a revised statement of work, written and finalized while Old Soul played in the background

[in fact, it’s just coming to an end as I write this]

and the time and thoughts just flew – it’s a fascinating feeling to fall into sub-conscious thought so easily, connecting dots and advancing ideas so cleanly. Long may it continue!

Fancy getting yourself 75 minutes of focus and productivity?

Buy Writers Flow


Vince Sig 131x89

Snippet 6/17/2015

Talk to me about divinity
I’ve seen more honour
in a single drop of blood
for the cause of care
of unquestioning
the greater of ourselves

Turquoise Cyan Sapphire Working Mixes

Since the release of Grope, I’ve been working pretty solidly on the follow-up, Turquoise Cyan Sapphire

[although I did take a little detour into Writers Flow – Music For Writing along the way]

I’m really pleased with how the 10 tracks are shaping up and, barring last minute production rethinks

[I don’t think there’ll be any, but you never know]

I’m pleased to be moving into final mixing.

My Facebook followers have been getting links to rough mixes for the last few weeks and I decided to make that more formal by officially compiling a playlist where I’ll keep the latest mix ahead of closing the project and sending it off to mastering:

It’s the first time I’ve been so transparent about the mixing phase, and I’ve got to say it’s a bittersweet decision – driven by a brutal look in the mirror of commercial realities for independent musicians.

I’ll be writing more about where I’m at, but here’s the skinny: people don’t buy music, so why pretend that’s still the model to follow when it comes to my own records? I wish it were otherwise, but it isn’t – so I’d rather not lie to myself

[delusion has never been a comfortable cloak for me to wear]

So, listen away – there’s a tip-jar up there at the top of the page if you want to say thank you – and links to the records if you still want to do the decent thing and buy a copy

[as I do, because #IBuyMusic]

I will, of course, be writing more about Turquoise Cyan Sapphire as I approach release date, and hope you’ll stick with me through the process.


Vince Sig 131x89

Meanwhile, outside, the sun shone

The pats on the back
are done
kicking in
just like yesterday
before the grin
This rictus
but little
One truth
one beautiful
clearly spoken
measure of
this man’s love
We abide
and end
all else
Egos fed
the sun shone

Guitar Stuff | A new pedalboard build

Over the past few years, I’ve been simplifying

[well, that’s one word for it]

my guitar effects boards, and had ended up at a ‘big board’ which had lots of options, and a ‘small board’, which did the basics

[both of them very well]

More often than not, it was the small board that I ended up playing, because I used the effects on the big-board on only one or two songs during a multi-set gig.

Now that the new line-up for Monkey68 is practising regularly, I’m getting to revisit my approach to pedals; mainly in light of the fact that, as the lead singer in a rock trio, it’s really hard to tap-dance on pedals – and I need to get back to my point-and-click approach.

So, with all that said, what did I play at practice last night?

Reverend Guitars Double Agent III

Reverend Guitars Double Agent


I am lucky enough to own and regularly play a number of great guitars and, for my money, at their price point Reverends are very, very hard to beat. The Double Agent pairs a classic humbucker in the bridge with a fat P-90 in the neck, and it snaps and growls in just the right way for what I do.

But you don’t want to hear about the guitar, you want to hear about the pedals! So…



Here’s the chain:

1) TC Electronic Polytune Mini – fantastic functionality, tiny footprint, what’s not to love?


2) Xotic EP Booster – I’ve written about this one before, but it’s always on at unity just to add it’s special sauce to my raw tone.

EP Booster

3) Dunlop MXR Phase 90 – did somebody say Gilmour?


4) Build Your Own Clone Silver Pony – A Klon Centaur clone for $79? Don’t mind if I do. One of the best overdrives I’ve owned.

5) TC Electronic Flashback Delay – using this as slapback on my clean settings, or as a specific front-of-house effect on particular songs.


6) Xotic X-blender – here’s where it gets interesting, and this is a new solution this week (* see below).



7) TC Electronic Spark Mini-booster – the best clean boost I’ve tried, for one you just need more!


* So what’s the X-blender all about.

With Monkey68, I wanted a lead tone that really cut through the mix, with a reasonable helping of extended delay (because things get EMPTY when the rhythm guitar stops in a trio). With all the pedals described above, and with my amps dirty channel thrown into the mix, I can get the sound BUT it takes three pedal presses, often while I’m singing the chorus or middle 8 leading into the solo.

Not good.

Similarly coming out of the solo, needing to hit the vocals strongly, while hoping I’m pressing the right thing off.

Bearing in mind that I really, really dislike presets

[I used a Line6 Pod way back in the day in front of my amp, and hated not being able to switch things in and out on the fly]

and just needed something that was always available over-and-above whatever sound I’ve got going on, for a long while, I’ve been considering wiring an expression pedal to deliver a parallel loop functionality – off in toe-up, full-on in toe-down. While I was researching, I came across the X-blender while researching and it does exactly what I need

[though I’d still prefer it in an expression pedal rather than the large blend knob]

So, in the loop of the X-blender, I have an Xotic BB Pre-amp Mid-boost model, set to deliver a mids-heavy boost, driving into a Dunlop MXR Carbon Copy analog delay. It’s a searing lead tone on its own, but with the blend at about 50-60% against the regular signal, it’s just the right amount of boost and effects for what I need to do.

And one true bypass switch on/off (i.e. it’s there or its not there)

Great stuff.

I’ll be playing with physical placement over the next few weeks, but given how it sounded last night

[particularly with the Reverend]

it’s very close to done.


I suddenly realized that, because my focus was on the pedalboard, and X-blender in particular, I didn’t mention the amp I was playing through last night!

It was my 1996 Marshall JTM-615:



[the picture isn’t of my amp, which is down in the practice space, so I can’t get a pic now]

It’s a 60W 2-channel amp, with independent channel volumes going into a single power stage master volume, and both series and parallel effects loops. Spring reverb with independent level controls for each channel. The transformer is UK-spec, but built to be rewired for 110V AC if necessary; an easy mod.

The main strength of the JTM-615 is that it has a clean channel to die for

[on the verge of break-up, it does just what you expect it would]

which takes pedals very, very well. I could gig quite easily on that channel alone, and have, because…

The gain channel isn’t much to write home about for what I play – it gets fizzy very quickly and, to my ears at least, the dirt sounds similar to a distortion pedal rather than valves getting pushed. OK, but not great.

Of course, I may be spoiled by the fact I’ve been playing Budda, Mesa-Boogie and Vox amps since I gigged the Marshall regularly with Grope, so I’ve got used to some pretty iconic tones

[and I’m also much better able to use those tones now]

The JTM-60 range of amps wasn’t around for long, just a couple of years. Came in a variety of head/cab sizes. Guitarist magazine gave it a great review and I got to try it at the London Music Show before plonking down my cash

[my original Sessionette:75 2×10 had blown up at a gig a week earlier]

I was mostly playing my Strat at the time and the 15-inch speaker rounded out its tone nicely. Even with that, it’s a very bright amp, particularly if you don’t angle it up

[a low level amp stand is a must for most gigs; if it’s pointing at your legs, it’s undoubtedly calling to every dog in the neighbourhood]

I think that Marshall thing of leaning towards all-frequencies-all-the-time is partly what makes the drive channel fizzy – dialling back the presence, treble and, particularly, the mids makes it much more workable

[which is why the Xotic BB MB booster cut through so well when kicked in]

The JTM-615 is my practice amp, and gives me what I need to woodshed tunes with Monkey68.

I do use it on a gig every so often now – ironically because it’s a great option when no pedals are on the ground; the guitar volume and tone controls can cover a lot of ground when both channels are used appropriately. Truth told, though, for live now, I much prefer my Mesa amps.

Still, last night, my little-big-old-UK Marshall brought the tone :)






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