Christmas brought a few sad notes in cards, telling of deaths earlier during the year, with families having to cope – on top of all else – with constrained funerals amongst Covid-19 restrictions. One such death was that of Colin Bygrave, well-known in Norfolk as a painter and, especially, etcher. Colin was a friend and, for several years, a neighbour (I even have one of his aquatints of the side of our house viewed from his). Back in 2013 Colin and I made a film on etching. Divided into five short sections, this was intended as a guide to those interested in etching and, especially, aquatint, perhaps thinking of having a go themselves, so it follows a simple step-by-step structure. I’m so glad we did this, not just for the purpose of being a Youtube guide, but also since it captures something of Colin’s gentle enthusiasm and skill as a lifelong teacher.
Filming in Colin’s purpose-built garden studio was appropriately low-key, over a few shortish sessions (Colin was already over 80): I used a single Nikon DSLR, while another friend (Adam O’Grady) with an interest in etching (he had previously attended a course or two run by Colin) operated the boom mic.
As live music goes, this was about as easy as it gets for the sound-engineer: the band (Rattlebox) decided on a long weekend in the south of Spain in May 2019, to play a largely acoustic gig at a bar and to busk for the first time. That meant no PA and no mixing, but I tagged along for the craic and took the chance to make a short film. Not as simple as you might think: the handy flight from Norwich to Malaga was delayed, and we only arrived in La Tahá in the Alpujarras in the early hours, and there was never a chance to catch-up on sleep. The band kept pace with the lack of sleep and the booze, but, goodness, I felt rough: getting too old for the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle? And equipment-wise, things were tricky: it was nearly all hand luggage to keep costs low and to squeeze into the single seven-seater hire car, with underpants and socks stuffed into musical instruments, and my cabin baggage allocation mostly given over to the band. So I bought a Páramo Halkon traveller jacket with 15 pockets, which I stuffed with gear for that low-rent Hulk/shoplifter look. As for the gear, well that was mainly a Lumix GX80 camera with a Zhiyun Crane M gimbal, and a Sony M10 recorder with a stereo pair of Primo EM172-based Clippy mics): can’t get much more minimal than that.
It was a lively gig at the La Cueva de Mora Luna in Mecina Fondales on the Friday night, even if slightly surreal with cars driving past between the band and the audience. Spectacular pizzas afterwards on the house. The next night we were invited to a wake in the neighbouring hamlet of Ferreirola (never met the chap alive) and ended up muscling a grand piano down impossibly narrow streets followed by a local on her penny whistle. And on the Sunday we made it to Granada for busking. No time to visit the Alhambra, but made enough for dinner. Satisfying.
Anyway, here’s a rather rough and ready film that captures something of the weekend. The first song (Hares on the Mountain) was recorded back home in Norfolk, outside in the woods with a pair of Rode NT55s with the omni NT45-O capsules.