West Coast....views from a Van.

4th July 2013

 

                    I travelled over to San Francisco with ABC a couple of weeks ago to perform 3 concerts. It seemed like a long way to go just to perform 3 gigs however I love playing in the states so it's really more of a pleasure than 'work'. It's so encouraging to meet people that are as enthusiastic about music as the people out in the US seem to be. Of course they have amazing weather on the west coast which means they can hold great concerts outside without the fear of rain storms. How very un-british. Flying out was a day flight which I much prefer. I can't stand night flights where you get a couple of hours service and then all the lights are turned off and we are all expected to just sleep. I don't sleep and continue to pass the time by consuming too much on-board hospitality whilst at no point ever feeling like sleeping.

US - Collage

                  In the bottom right hand corner of the collage pic you can see the window view I had of us flying over far northern Canada heading over Augusta where it finally starts to get a little warmer. It's truly stunning to see a land that is hardly inhabited and so harsh!  I went to the back of the plane sat on the jump seat and enjoyed staring out of the window. Only 7 hours to go...hmmm

             We landed safely and I managed to get through homeland security without any problems. I recommend San Fran airport they seem very chilled out! Upon arriving at the hotel in Santa Cruz I decided to go to my room and chill whilst the others went out to a restaurant. At this point it was about 5pm US time and 9am UK time. Basically you have been up for 2 days at this point so I just had to make it through to about 9pm then I could sleep and hopefully that would see me through until the morning. Of course it didn't work out that way with , I awoke at 3.30am and ended up sending out emails until the day started properly. Below I have included a picture which I feel kind of sums up a lot of the music industry. Sitting in a vehicle....The following day we were met by our crew guy, tour manager and sound engineer. The first gig was on a beach in Santa Cruz. Upon arrival we were shown to the dressing room which was literally in the middle of the beach! As you can see below I soon realized I had some saxophone competition.

santa cruz

US - VAN

 

 

     

                                            After the gig we returned to the hotel to chill and prepare for tomorrows 6 hour drive down to LA. This really isn't a sight seeing tour other than from the window of a van. Hence my many van pictures....obvious I know! The scenery on the drive from Santa Cruz to north LA was stunning. California is such a wealthy state due to having oil fields, wineries and good fertile  agricultural land as well as huge industrial plants. In fact if Cali were a country it would be the 8th wealthiest in the world. Love facts like that, not really sure if it's 100% but it sounds good!

 

US train

US scape

Oil

 Industry

 The second gig went well at a cool club called the Canyon Club in North LA.  A really interesting venue with loads of carpets, comfy sofas and cool decor. I thought 'what an interesting and  individual club' -  only then to be told they are a chain across the US all laid out and decorated in the same way in every club...it is truly a corporate world. It's so hard to stay 'up' for the gig because I was still on UK time which is 8 hours ahead so at 9pm as you're about to go on your body is telling you it's 5am.

           Here's a bit of Matt Backer sound checking his intro in for the tune Datestamp by ABC.

 

After the gig the cold reality of a very busy town is you can"t always book the hotels you want.  A hotel booking at the last minute  became apparent. We managed to find ourselves a very, very creepy motel. The weird thing about motels is (if you have seen them on TV they don't look that inviting anyway) to actually close your very flimsy door to the outside world then turning and seeing your bed is a strange feeling. It doesn't make you feel like you have any privacy or safety. On the upside....

 

  Here's an ABC song we performed at the Canyon Club in the Agoura Hills.

 

 Anyway I survived (obviously) however to top off the experience my diet for the day started with a breakfast of choice cooked by Mr Donald or another equally fast food  establishment. I've noticed in the states on the food front you can get really good food but you have to hunt. Our tour manger who was fab but was obviously trying to keep 'all the kittens in the basket' as he put it didn't give us an opportunity to find the healthier side. Hence my picture of the Inferno sauce at the top of this blog. We had a shorter drive today down to south LA to play another club this time with genuine character the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. Now this place was definitly not a chain. It's been around since 1982 and looks amazing inside. I love playing venues with character and history, just something very humbling about it. If you look hard enough at the below right hand picture you can see all the pictures on the wall signed by the artists that have played in the club. Also at the back of the pic the venue has cute little boxes you can pre pay and watch from. It's nothing new but to have that in a hot and sweaty club is a great idea, you could bring your nan!

US - Noddy

CC

 So honestly do I have much else to show for my trip...no. I have to confess it was great fun but I got to see very little. The nature of gigging sometimes. Anyway I am heading back there with ABC in September so I hope to be slightly (don't want to over do it!) more cultured. I will leave you with a glorious pic of my departing plane and then not such a glorious pic of the plane's toilets!  What a classy way to end.

Plane

Toilet

ABC @ Open

8th June
I played with ABC in Norwich recently at a really cool venue called Open. The venue used to be a bank's head quarters. I'm blogging about it as I highly recommend you have a look at it the next time you are in the land of Mr Partridge (sorry, I'm sure the people of Norwich don't appreciate said character being affiliated with their town). Anyway here's someone's YouTube from the night with us performing the track 'Datestamp'.

Steven Wilson Tour

A friend of mine Theo Travis ( a great Sax and Flute player) is currently on a world tour with  Porcupine Tree member Steven Wilson.  I don't know much about prog rock but having checked out Steven's album I have to say I think I could be a fan. Have a listen to this fabulous track 'The Watchmaker'

 

     If you like this then they are performing at the Albert Hall on Sunday 20th Oct 2013. I'm intend to go and check out the gig. What a great band!

Bangkok

1st June 2013

It's taken me an embarrassingly long time to get around to writing this. In March I travelled Bangkok in Thailand to perform a concert with various artists. It was a long way to travel to play one concert and therefore hard work. However I did get a morning free where I took a river boat to the floating market in Bangkok. A lot of the river boats are thin vessels with shallow bottoms and very powerful ex Vietnam war, American jeep engines. All this resulted in a very interesting journey to say the least. These things are seriously over powered.

 

 
  I didn't expect Bangkok to have so many small water ways within the city. I did have to be careful not to swallow the very dodgy looking river water however! I'm pretty sure EVERYTHING gets dumped into the river. We were being taken to a floating market away from the main river. The market was surrounded by overhead roads and railways which looked like something out of a Mad Max film. It was in a fascinating area which you can see on the video below. Although it did dawn on me at this point that we were not the only tourists that get brought here. The place was busy!

 

 
 
 Once on "dry land" I found the floating market fascinating; the below video shows a traditional Thai music club which seemed to me to be there to entertain the workers in the market as well as us tourists. They didn't really seem interested in being tipped (at least I think not). I have no idea as to the name of the instrument the chap in the video is playing but I liked it (I think I liked it).

 

  Every nook and cranny was filled with a floating restaurantno room for anyone to sit on the tiny food prep boats so the meals were passed up onto a larger restaurant style area. Very well put together I thought. Anyway all of this didn't last long and sadly we had to return to the hotel to prepare to fly home. Below is a little clip of what I was up to at the gig the night before. On this gig I play some keyboards, sax and back up vocals which is enjoyable as it's very different from playing sax all the way through a concert.

Dubai

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                       Recently flew over to Dubai to play a concert which was a short but much needed relief from the British weather. This winter in the UK has definitely been one of the longest, wettest and coldest. It's really started to get me down. So 3 days in Dubai ought to fix it? I have to confess I have never had a strong desire to visit Dubai due to the massive amount of money spent on a city that really hasn't been thought out. The place has had so much money invested into it and yet is so characterless because of it. The amount of fuel based energy used per person in Dubai is larger than any person in any other city in the world. Lots of air con basically! I did see a very interesting programme on my return to the UK which was about a smaller town outside of Dubai which has been designed in a more Eco friendly way. The buildings and apartments were built so that each floor shadowed the floor below to block out the sun. The streets were narrow so that the sun light could not glare down onto you, also air vents were feeding fresh air mixed with water spray (not air con)  down from the top of the buildings to street level to keep the streets cool. Dubai as you may have guessed has not gone for this. Everything is indoors and air conned to death. Anyways the concert went well and I returned to a cold London town, I now understand why people go there for short trips to recharge their vit D count. The pic below is from the concert.

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Buy my new album here.

RobHughesLive-medium

                                                                                           
This is my latest album which was recorded at Pizza Express in London. You can buy a hard copy  from here or buy it on itunes where you can hear some preview tracks. The album feutures

Roger Beujolais - Vibraphone

Francesco Mendolia - Drums

Rick Laughlin - Piano

Henrik Jensen - Double Bass

Randolph Matthews - Vocals

ABC with Orchestra

ABC 5

 

 

December brought a fantastic gig with ABC and the Southbank Sinfonia playing the Lexicon Of Love on it's 30th anniversary. I had the pleasure of playing the gig at the very old and interesting Drury Lane theatre. The concert sold out on the day of sale so I hope we get to do some more as it's an amazing sound. Playing with an orchestra always brings about it's own idiosyncrasys as an orchestra is used to following the conductor. This can clash with a band as the musicians in a band always follow the drums. Anne Dudley was conducting the orchestra and made the joining toegther of two different styles seamless.

ABC 1

             Martin Fry put in a fantastic performance which had the audience both on their feet swaying but also listening intently. I guess the thing about reliving an old favourite album for some people is that the music is known so well by the audience that they sometimes know it better than the musicians!

ABC 3

Recording Session

January 2013

Happy new year! I can't believe it's 2013 already, 2013 sounds like something out a futuristic space movie! Anyway I hope it's going to be fun. Last year (that sounds like ages ago now) I put a camera up in a studio to capture what goes on during a recording session. On this occasion I was recording for Pete Cox's new album. As you can see in the video I built up some horn lines and the added a solo at the end and talked a lot! I hope you find it interesting. Pete's album will be available to buy from itunes on the 13th Jan 2013.

 

Cape Town and Jo'burg

I flew out to South Africa in November to play 3 concerts with various artists. On a day off we were driven outside of Cape Town to a winery owned by Ernie Els. It was my first time to a winery and I have to say it was a delight. The countryside as you can see is amazing, truly breath taking. Below are a selection of pictures from our trip. Whilst getting over the fact that I was being asked to drink throughout day I was also being taught about how the different wines are made. I have to say some of that information has now strangely disappeared from my memory. It was fab to walk/stagger into the cellars where the wine is stored. On some of the more expensive red wines the barrels are only used once and then disposed of or used to hold less luxuriante wine.

             The pictures at the bottom show the stage during soundcheck as well as myself and Vinzenz (bass) relaxing at the rather wierdly styled venetian style hotel we stayed in when we played Jo'burg. However at this point in my life being able to lie by a pool is rare so I loved it. Finally there is a great shot from one of the gigs taken by Benitha Vlok out in Cape Town.

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Album Launch

Live - Rob Hughes

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  Here are a few pictures taken by audience members who attended my album lauch on the 28th October, thank you to everyone that came down. Top left is Roger Beujolais on Vibraphone, myself in the middle and Rick Laughlin top right. The band also consisted of Paul Carmichael  on double bass (in the picture below) and Sophie Alloway on drums (her head is popping into view in the pic below) with speacial guests Rueben Fowler on Trumpet and Zeetiah on vocals. The ever on going 'change of season' cold that seems to come round more often than the seasons change was upon me so I was feeling very sorry for myself. However musically there were some great moments. I really enjoyed playing at this venue, the guys who run the Forge do a good job. I wasn't aware until the gig that it is a non profit making venue (No that's not because it hosts jazz!).  The acoustics are great if your line up is not too loud. P1040330

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