Archive for JB Newman

Some of what I’ve been up to in the last year.

Posted in Creativity, Me Oh My, Songwriting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2014 by Gideon K

Gideon K @ Velvet Tongue Autumn 2013

As you’ve seen I’ve  not been blogging much, but I guess I’ve been actually DOING a lot of stuff. Mostly musical projects:

Black Hay:

After finishing the EP and then putting it out earlier last year, I spent a heap of time finishing off a full-length Black Hay album. It was a lot of work because I wrote and arranged everything, and then played all the guitar and bass on it, as well as doing all the singing. In fact for the most part, it was just myself and David working on the tracks. There are a number of tracks with drums on where we enlisted the ever-reliable Guillaume to smash the tubs, and a few cameos by some mates of mine, but other than that it was pretty much a solo thing. It is a good thing because now I’ve mostly got that out of my system and can get on with making band music.

Also, regarding Black Hay, I’ve finally found a semi-solid lineup and we’re releasing a single, made a video directed by Josh, and featuring Missa Blue.

JB Newman & The Black Letter Band:

Since late 2012 I’ve been playing bass and upright bass with my padre JB Newman and his band. We’ve done a fair bit of gigging, most of which have been amongst the liveliest shows any of us have ever played. We recorded a bunch of tracks in march 2013 at River Rat Studios and have put out a single and an ep since then and played some incredible shows. One of the best bands I’ve played in.

4-Track Tape-Traders Club:

On top of all this, I’ve got a bit of a curveball to throw in. I started a 4-Track tape chain-mail group with a bunch of guys I found on soundcloud as well as some guys I already knew. It’s the furthest I’ve been into ‘experimental’ music and the project I have the least amount of control over. It’s gloriously unpredictable and you can hear some of the sonic chaos over here.

More on this little project soon…

I’ve been doing some session work here and there as well as writing more songs, and doing the occasional bit of poetry. I’ve become a regular at the amazing and still relatively unknown (erotic) literary event Velvet Tongue. I’ve done a bunch of different poems at their open mics that have gone down really well and have my first feature-length slot as a poet in May this year.

I’m intending to outdo myself this year.


Finish writing another album and record it with the band. Play lots more shows with Black hay and JB, do more tape collaborations, work on some films, make some videos. You name it, I’ll try it. I’ve got too many ideas to fit into one year ahead of me.

It’s Just a Box With Strings On It

Posted in Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2011 by Gideon K

Over the past year playing with my last band, I’ve been privileged to have some great experiences learning from other people.

When Jim, my fellow vocalist and guitarist and I went to Ireland in October to do some overdubs and mixing of our songs, we spent a few evenings up in Tom Newman’s living room huddled round the fireplace, drinking way too much whisky, singing songs and collectively purging our various blues and nursing existential woes.

Tom was reminiscing a bit. The story goes that he was in the studio somewhere with Mike Oldfield, who picked up a fiddle and turned to Tom, standing 10-15 feet away and said “catch”.

He then threw the instrument right at Tom, who caught the instrument simply on instinct, without thinking.

“You’ve just caught a Stradivarius.” Says Mike.

Now, this story alone would give most classical violinists a heart-attack, or at the very least some level of serious trauma. Stradivarius violins are esteemed beyond pretty much any other instruments in tone, respect and above all market value. The price of that little box would’ve been at least a quarter of a million, and that’s back in the 80s or early 90s when this story took place.

Tom said at that moment his perception of Mike Oldfield changed, and he started to think ‘you know, this guy is pretty cool’.

As much as musicians, mythologise their instruments or have fetishes for them, ultimately a guitar or a violin is just a box with some strings on it.

All that matters is what you do with it.

And it was this logic by which Tom managed to convince himself out of having a stroke when the roudy Irishman he was entertaining on this particular occasion started fooling around with a 300 year old, £300,000 Nicolò Amati viola Tom was doing a repair job on at the time, playing it like a ukulele, or using a hacksaw blade as a make-shift violin bow.

(There’s video footage of it somewhere if you don’t believe me)

But that’s another story…

Anyway, it’s just a box with some strings on.