Awasu » 2005 » January
Sunday 30th January 2005 11:55 AM [General]

Here's the Bangkok Post's report of the Koh Samui Blues and World Music Festival that I performed at last month.

The pretty young thing playing sax in the last photo is the long-lost student of mine I bumped into that I mentioned in my original post. It's a sad fact of life that if you're blonde, pretty and female, you don't actually have to play all that well to get gigs. Ugly sods like me have to practice... :-(

Wednesday 26th January 2005 8:42 PM [General]

A good question.

Feel free to add your own thoughts :-)

Saturday 22nd January 2005 1:28 PM [Awasu News]

I'm delighted to announce the release of Awasu 2.1. This is a full, non-expiring, non-beta release i.e. it's the real thing. Woo hoo! It comes with an installer that will automatically upgrade your installation so if you're running 2.0 or earlier, just back everything up and then download and run the EXE. There is a link in the release notes for Advanced Edition users that will let them get their download.

IMPORTANT: Please read the release notes since there have been some changes that may affect you! You can also find a list of major changes since 2.0 here.

This release also sees the introduction of the Professional Edition, together with a gentle reminder that this is the only version of Awasu that is licensed for commercial use. We'll be doing the same thing with the Pro Edition as we did with the Advanced Edition last year - start it off at a low price that will gradually increase as features are added. So if you're thinking of getting the Pro Edition, get it now while it's cheap :-)

At last, it's out! I am now going to (finally) allow myself to get a copy of Half Life 2 so you probably won't be hearing from me for a few weeks :roll: Talk amongst yourself for a while... :-)

Wednesday 12th January 2005 9:18 PM [General]

Awasu is, of course, an Australian company, based in Melbourne to be exact.

Today, I stumbled across Mark Nottingham's "An opinionated guide to Melbourne which is chock-full of handy hints for those of you who might be planning to make an antipodean visit and would like to take this opportunity to re-iterate and confirm his comments on Foster's beer:

Please note; Australians don't really drink Foster's. If you buy someone one, they'll think you're either a) a tourist b) stupid or c) offensive. These possibilities are not mutually exclusive.

There's a good reason why we export the damn stuff :mad:

Of course, if you're planning to visit Australia, you may want to read this first. Laugh, you may, but it is in fact true. Every last word.

Wednesday 12th January 2005 8:20 AM [Awasu News]

The first release candidate of 2.1 is now available here. Please make sure you read the release notes since there have been a few changes that may affect you. The updated help is here (HTML only, no CHM).

We've come a long way since 2.0 and it feels GOOD to be on the final leg to getting this one out the door!

Sunday 9th January 2005 2:39 PM [General]

As you probably gathered, I completely enjoyed myself at the Koh Samui Blues and World Music Festival. I had such a good time playing with some awesome musicians, beating all these girls off with a stick (I play with a wireless mike which means I can wander around the audience and dance with the prettiest ones :-)), catching up with old friends. But it started something ticking over in my head (hence yesterday's post) and I wasn't quite sure what nor why until this showed up in my Awasu later in the day.

I'm quite conservative when it comes to managing my finances and so diverging from a conventional IT career and taking time off to play music and write Awasu and all the other stuff I'm doing now was a bit of a risk, from my point of view. I've had two accidents that I've been amazingly lucky to survive (although the second one was somewhat mundane (being hit by a car) and I had gotten a bit blasé about these near-death episodes by then anyway :-)) so this idea in the article really resonated with me:

Time is so much more precious than money. You can afford to lose all your money in the pursuit of your dreams. You can go broke over and over and just keep on going. But what you cannot afford to lose is time. Money can be restored. Time cannot. Even if you have no money at all, you can still think and take action. But when you run out of time, that's it - game over. Each day of your life that passes is another day gone, never to return again. If you are paralyzing yourself with an external definition of security, you're squandering your life away. If you aren't spending your precious time working on your dreams - today, right now - then you're just counting the days until you die. That external security will never come. The external factors will never be just right. If you are waiting for external security, you're waiting for death. And in the meantime, you're forgetting to live.

I remember giving a friend of mine a hard time when he turned thirty (I was about 21) but he said that he didn't mind because his thirties were going to be the best years of his life. I never forgot that and when I turned thirty myself, I promised myself that they would be my best years as well. (Of course, now I wonder what he said when he turned forty :-))

Read the article for yourself and take from it what you will. I was in two minds about whether I should post this blog entry but Steve put up a follow-on piece here that's also well worth reading.

Have a great new year.

Saturday 8th January 2005 12:42 PM [General]

I can't believe it's over.

Somehow, I made it through the festival without passing out from alcohol poisoning exhaustion, driving my motorbike off a cliff, or otherwise dying and/or embarrassing myself. I wasn't going to blog about it but I had such an amazing time, I find myself wanting to sit down and think about what just happened and if I'm going to do that, I might as well share it with y'all as I go.

We had 11 gigs in 10 days and while the other guys in the band thought that sounded not too bad, I knew it was going to be tough. And tough it was, running around the island to the different venues, jamming with the other musicians (some 400 (!) of us altogether, I believe), dealing with weird rooms, crappy equipment, variable sound, petulant superstars and all the other usual hazards of the trade.

I must've joined the world's only blues band where no-one drinks; our lead singer has recently given up booze and the others only drink a tiny amount. Which suits me fine since I'm more than happy to pick up the slack and take care of the band's allotment of free drinks at each gig :evil:. Of course, that meant that I was getting fairly loaded each night and since we were getting up (relatively) early in the morning (the buffet breakfast at the resort was excellent :-)), I was only getting a few hours of sleep each night and the odd cat-nap during the day when I wasn't running around like a headless chook (usually trying to get online to do Awasu support :roll:). And the other guys in the band were moaning about being tired :mad:.

One of the highlights of the festival for me was being able to see both Tewan with his regular band and Khun Inn. Tewan is something of a fixture in the Thai music scene and has been around for years, playing saxophone and an assortment of other instruments. I had seen him before playing jazz but this was the first time I had been able to see him in the Thai-jazz fusion setting that he is known for.

It was stunning. So many bands try to pass themselves off as traditional-local-music-meets-contemporary-pop fusion outfits by playing whatever they normally play and chucking in a few traditional instruments and a wind chime. But these guys were highly skilled in both contemporary jazz and rock as well as traditional Thai music and to hear classic Thai folk tunes weaving in and out of all these different styles in the course of a song was a treat. Khun Inn was equally amazing, playing Thai xylophone backed by a small army of percussionists all dressed in black. Wow!

After gigs, one of the smaller bars became the place to be if you wanted to jam, and jam we did. The quality of musicians was astounding, not only the overseas "stars" but also the local talent and guys down from the Big Mango. Of course, a lot of us were pretty, um, "happy" by that time of the night but the music was still of an amazingly high quality.

It was, by far, the best thing about the festival. For the punters, it's great to be able to see such a wide variety of different bands but for the musos, it's all about getting the chance to play with a bunch of new people and seeing what we can come up with. The punters knew that as well and the bar was packed every night with people up dancing and cheering us on. It was wild. Thailand has a 1am closing time that they have, in recent years, started enforcing but the cops were generally fairly tolerant of us and gave us a lot of latitude for the festival and we usually didn't finish up until 5 or 6 in the morning.

Another buzz for me was being able to jam with Leena. I had caught one of her shows earlier in the festival and loved it but wasn't able to get to see any more since I was busy gigging myself. I have to admit to being a total sucker for female musicians who are even a little bit good at what they do. We make it so easy for women to get by on their looks and batting their eyelashes that when I see someone who's actually good at something, it's a real turn on :-)

And not only is she a great performer, but she's stunningly pretty as well. Thais refer to people with Thai-Western heritage as look kreung (literally "half child") and while twenty years ago it was something of an insult, once these kids started to grow up and everyone realized how amazingly attractive their mixed blood made them, it's now a very desirable thing to be. They are today's generation of pop stars and actors and it's almost getting to be you can't get a break in the entertainment industry unless you have a mixed heritage.

Sigh... Pretty and a good musician. I never stood a chance :-(. She had me at G/G/C7/G :-)

Another thing that blew me away was running into so many people I knew from earlier sojourns in S.E.Asia. I used to play with Flynn Adams (a big black dude on a 7-string bass) 6 or 7 years ago when I was in Hong Kong and I also bumped into an old student of mine and her S.O. who I also knew from that time. We had lost touch with each other and I was gob-smacked when they popped up in front of me during a gig - I totally messed up my solo :-). Then I ran into a bunch of guys working in one of the bars that I knew 12 years ago when I was living in Chiang Mai. And then there were all the people I knew when I was living in Samui myself 7 or 8 years ago, who were still on the island. I guess I get around a bit... Good grief :-|

Of course, there was the spectre of the tsunami that hung over everything during the festival. The island was full of people who had either come over from the other side or had changed their holiday plans and everyone knew someone who had been affected by it. The festival organizers pledged to donate a large percentage of the revenue to the Andaman Aid fund - I believe they ended up raising quite a large chunk of money - and there's talk of a benefit concert being put on in the very near future. After everyone recovers, I guess :-). I'm certainly going to do my best to be there.

The next festival is rumoured to be in September this year but this time with some major big-name acts (in case Zakiya Hooker and ex-Curtis Mayfield guys weren't big enough). So if you're thinking about taking a holiday around that time, keep your eyes open for The 2nd Koh Samui Blues & World Music Festival. It might be fun :-)