With the website up and running business has started to come in, so much so that I had to upgrade my web package because the demand for the music samples meant that the site exceeded its bandwidth limit. Two months ago I didn't know what bandwidth was - everyday is a school day here at Losiris Towers.
Recording and mastering for The Edinburgh Samba School CD was finished off halfway during the month and currently the artwork is being sorted out and the manufacturing will take a couple of weeks after that. The recording process gave me a piercing insight into why so many musicians go slightly off the rails - there's a lot of hanging around and mind numbing repetition involved, and there's only so many cups of tea a man can usefully drink in a 6 hour period. Still, all done now and soon the royalties will be rolling in heh heh.
I've been teaching for TESS aswell this month, inititating the current beginners course into the rites (and wrongs) of Maracatu. There's nothing like that sound of the alfaias nailing the toque and shaking the whole universe, then cutting to the song and building it all up again. Lots of smiling faces, good energy, jobs a good 'un.
The Glasgow/Edinburgh batucada project (hereafter referred to as the Weegiereekies) is up and running now as well. El Roddinho has proved himself yet again to be da man with the master plan, and we started off with Grande Rio 2003. The whole dynamic of a samba enredo is an amazing musical environment to find yourself in, and totally unlike the cheese fests that the recordings sometimes sound like - take a listen.
Gigs wise February's carnaval season was predictably busy, with top nights enjoyed at the Portugese Brazilian Society's annual shindig as well as TESS's very own carnaval party to say cheerio to Allysson, who's now back in Brasil.
So all in all another busy month, with work booked in for March already including RBS and the West Lothian Youth Theatre.
January started onstage at The Caves as part of Departure Lounge's Hogmanay bash, with The Edinburgh Samba School giving a 'balls out' (classical term, apparently) debut to a lot of new material in a very high profile setting. Mestre Allysson Velez from Recife in Brasil was on hand to guide us/change the arrangements at a moment's notice and the crowd seemed to have a blast...
Then it was dahn sairf to spend a weekend workshopping with Barak, Joe, Jerome and Jean-Christoph at F-ire in London. Hardcore samba batucada in a Mocidade style, lots of challenges and inspiring players to learn from and also the opportunity to get two-for-one roasts where the one costs £13! Thoroughly splendid to spend some quality time with the refined and genteel folk of Samba Ya Bamba over a cocktail or two as well. Exciting plans are afoot for a new Scottish batucada bateria as well, odds are currently 3-1 that the first enredo contains the words 'Buckfast' and 'Ya beauty'.
And just in case that wasn't enough drumming (a strange concept, but one that you encounter at Gala days sometimes) January has also seen some fairly intensive rehearsals and recording sessions for a new CD by The Edinburgh Samba School. Glamorous showbiz locations like Currie Youth Club and Rosyth have been involved, as well as angry hippies at The Forest having, like totally, issues, like, about the noise. Everyone's a critic, eh. Release date will be sometime in the Spring, and will be available from www.edinburghsambaschool.org.uk.
March - May 2007
Where to start? LOSIRIS is well and truly up and running, with business coming in from all sorts of places. The RBS workshop was a blast with a really enthusiastic and up for it group proving that "Everything is Possible"TM by going from absolute beginners to 110 person samba band in 45 mins!
The West Lothian Youth Theatre group was a very different session but just as rewarding, with 15 kids getting their first taste of drumming together and really responding to each other as well as having a lot of fun making as much noise as they wanted.
The Big Drum Adventure has also restarted, and I'm currently working with P6 classes in Kirkliston, Drumbrae and St Joseph's Primary Schools on a weekly basis. It's a great opportunity to build a band as well as providing the opportunity for the kids to make music and have a bash, and some epic performnaces will be gracing school assemblies at the end of term.
Independently of the BDA I spent a day working with Oli Furness and just about every child at Clermiston primary as part of their activity week. 7 sessions in a day from P2 to P7, loads of smiling and excited faces, rumbles aplenty and a whole new generation of John Bonhams starting on their way! Another school to embrace the LOSIRIS experience was St Joseph's in Inverness where myself and Stan Wiltshire (formerly of Brighton legends Flannel and Carnival Collective) spent a day working with a P7 class that ended in a cracking performance that was up there with Spike Island.
While up north I also spent a very enjoyable evening teaching some Maracatu to Carrumba, Carrbridge's very own bateria, and a top group they are too. I've also continued working with The Edinburgh Samba School's beginners group and led performances in Greyfriars Kirk and on Leith Links.
Another project I'm working on is for the WHALE Arts centre out in Wester Hales as part of a Carnival they're putting together for the end of June. An open access drumming course for teenagers in a part of town where there ain't a lot else legal to do has its own challenges but come the big day we'll be providing the rhythms for dancers and giant puppets to bring a bit of Rio to Auld Reekie, and hopefully the group will have the momentum to continue on its own afterwards. That would be absolutely brilliant and the best possible result - watch this space.
I think that's it, but to be honest I've been so busy that I might have forgotten something. Next up is my self assessment tax return - wish me luck!
June - September 2007
A busy, if rather damp, summer of drumming shenanigans has ensured that as LOSIRIS approaches its first official birthday the business continues to grow and to develop relationships with new and existing customers.
The WHALE carnival project concluded with a fabulous parade through Wester Hales at the end of June in GLORIOUS SUNSHINE! The drummers were joined by dancers, circus performers and giant puppets to bring some colour and excitement to West Edinburgh, and the event was an absolute pleasure to be part of.
Also in June I delivered a workshop as part of Midlothian Council's
Community Learning and Development presentation evening at Dalkeith Miners Club, leading a mixed group of children and adults in a demonstration of the power of group learning. Funky beats, happy faces and some really positive energy gave the event a fantastic finale, and kept me smiling while loading the van in the rain!
The summer has also seen LOSIRIS involved in various holiday activity sessions for children, including a great day at Roseburn primary school, working with groups of kids from 6 - 11 years old. It's always a challenge to build on the initial enthusiasm for the drums that young children display, and the Roseburn drummers showed just how much fun it can be learning and playing at the same time.
I've also had a busy summer of gigging with both The Edinburgh Samba School and Maracatu Escocia, with the undoubted highlight being the Notting Hill Carnival. Brazilian rhythms, Carribean food, an international cast of performers and a horn section aswell - who could ask for more?
October - December 2007
First of all, happy new year to you from LOSIRIS - why not make a Brazilian percussion course one of your new year's resolutions and get active without all that pesky going-to-the-gym palaver?
October and November saw a project for Edinburgh Council's South Edinburgh Learning Development Team, which saw a group of very talented young people from Liberton High School transformed into a samba bateria over the course of 2 weeks! The project ended with the band leading the Wee Autumn Festival's Lantern Parade from Gilmerton Community Centre, performing alongside a tePooka fire show and the Gilmerton Singers.
I've also been heavily involved with The Edinburgh Samba School during the autumn, running sessions in maracatu and ciranda rhythms, as well as leading a very enjoyable pre-Christmas busk for the beginners group on the Mound, which raised several hundred pounds for community music projects in Edinburgh and Brazil.
The year finished on a high with the Samba School's performance at Departure Lounge's Hogmanay party, where the atmosphere was incredible, the dancers glamorous and the crowd all seemed to want to join the band!