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Another great episode from the duo. Making it real with a bit of tech bias. Drop in sometime.

Inspired by other lists that also picked some of my favourites I thought I’d gather a list of my own.
It’s been a year of missing live performances and staying in and music has been a great solace.

So, in no particular order, here are my 2020 earworms. Hope you find something new.


Alabaster DePlume – To Cy & Lee. Instrumentals Vol 1 Bandcamp
I saw him perform a brief set at the Union Chapel and could see he was going in an interesting direction. Then this album came out in Feb 2020 and became a bedrock during lockdown. Undefinable and comforting.

SAULT – UNTITLED (Black Is) Bandcamp
One of the most important albums of the year. Amazing music, hopefulness and resistance – and all profits to charity.

Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again YouTube
Just a great voice and a lovely album. What’s not to like.

Matthew Haslsall & The Gondwana Orchestra – Into Forever Bandcamp
Originally from 2015, but I’m working through the back-catalogue now. So many great albums. Spiritual jazz.

Matthew Bourne – 1674 Bandcamp
New release this year from the brilliantly inventive keyboard player. Great soundscapes and spaces. Lots more in the back catalogue.

Ed Dowie – The Adjustable Arm EP Bandcamp
Another Union Chapel find. New album coming in 2021 but I needed more now! It’s been three years since ‘The Uncle Sold’, so I picked this up from 2014. Filling that Robert Wyatt space but making it his own.

Nat Birchall – Mysticism Of Sound Bandcamp
Anther 2020 release. He plays everything himself this time. Cosmic!

Ranjana Ghatak – The Butterfly Effect Bandcamp
Just a beautiful voice. Sanskrit / devotional / mystic / inspired. See her live if you ever get a chance.

Gia Margaret – Mia Gargaret Bandcamp
Another find. Her second album, released this summer. Uplifting instrumentals with a bit of Alan Watts voiceover.

Emily A. Sprague – Hill, Flower, Fog Bandcamp
Another American instrumentalist who delivered this year. Full of soft squeaks and drips, a warm cocoon.

Steve Lawson – The Best Of Steve Lawson Pt1 Bandcamp
Where has he been hiding? Superb British solo bass player with 20 years of releases. He generally releases everything under a lifetime subscription model but I think this was a pay-what-you-can release.

Christine and the Queens – La Vita Nuova YouTube
Surely the soundtrack of the year. We played it a lot. Thanks Chris.

Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces of a Man YouTube
Been working my way through his back catalogue and this one is still as fresh and relevant as it was in 1971.

What a year…

Who used all the teaspoons! Why are they all in the dishwasher first? Just rince and dry unless it really messed up, 😏

Bruce Lee image - Peace in strengthOne that I have posted before, but it resonated again today given the current circumstances in several areas of concern.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”, Bruce Lee

I’m finding ‘martial’ arts, and related thinking (eg. Daoism),  to be a great bedrock at present.

Train hard, be gentle.

On the way to the DWSA advanced course I stopped off at Otley to participate in my first competition.

Day 1. After a short prep talk by our instructor Andy Loudon, the course participants split into two groups. One group of 4 doing cheek ends, the other two practicing a lunkey wall. Other bursary students were on site as well practicing for their level 3 exams.

The rain drifted in about 30 min later and then stayed with us for almost the whole day. The site got muddy. Stones slippy.  But we stuck it out.

Tips. When stripping out a wall, consider how to do this as fast as possible. After all you get paid for building a wall not for taking it down!

Setting up lines and pins – keep it simple.

Home wet. Remember to put overtrousers on when it rains next time. Some showers last all day!

Day 2. This ran as a mock exam. We stripped back what we had build and rebuilt it again – aiming for 7 hours completion time.  I still had a few layers to do by the end of the day. So will finish tomorrow morning. 

I am doing one fundraiser this year, this time for Breast Cancer Care www.breastcancercare.org.uk.

It means I have to cycle fast around a route on a very small bike, with some hills, in a suit; and do it twice.  It’s next Sunday (21 Aug) and I just got signed up.

Please spare a few moments to donate something that will help provide support to people, and their families, who get this disease.  You can donate at this page: http://www.justgiving.com/gerald-baxter/

Thanks.

Here is how I finished my last attempt at the same event in 2009

Some resonant words from Seth Godin

Expectations: Word of mouth comes directly from expectations. Low expectations are a terrific shortcut, because when you exceed them, people are so amazed that they can’t help but talk about it.

But low expectations are dangerous, because if you fly too low, you’re invisible. Worse, when people expect little of you, they often don’t bother listening at all.

So most of the time, you’re challenged with this: high expectations that must be beat.

Broadway shows. Apple products. Expensive consulting services. Promise big and deliver bigger seems to be the only reliable strategy.

It’s time for a holiday from Networks and PCs for a week or two!

I recently booked ticket on thetrainline from London to Lancaster. I was offered options on the screen to choose seating direction, type of seat (airline / table) and quiet zone or not. I made my choices. I got on the train and found the assigned seat was completely the opposite to my preferences.

Completely hopeless and annoying. Why even bother raising expectations they cannot even attempt to match them?

Yes, the booking site has a standard disclaimer about options are not guaranteed… but there were plenty of unassigned seats in that carriage that would have met my request!

Result: I’m not going to enthuse about Trainline unless they do something exceptional. In fact, being disappointed enough to post this blog  is their reward for such sloppy service.

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