Brighton Fringe comedy sketch show 25th-26th May

Brighton Burness Band gig coming up – Saturday 27th February 2016

Very close to Brighton train station, The Prince Albert, Saturday 27th February. Monty Oxymoron (from punk legends The Damned) on keyboards, Fudge Smith (ex-Pendragon and ex-Steve Hackett) on drums, Keith Hastings (Andalus) on bass guitar. And me!

RealMusicGig

Finishing the new album

photo 1Having begun with very rough musical sketches at the end of 2009, it’s quite hard to get my head around the idea that my new album is actually finished and just about ready to master after all this time. There have been several large gaps of many months in the process, here’s a couple of previous brief blogs from 2013 and 2010.

Since the first self-funded album (Burnessence) back in 1983, one of the reasons that I have not always been happy with finished material is the lack of time (and money) spent to get the production up to a reasonably high standard. The best results have been achieved when we’ve set the bar a bit higher, as on Finding New Ways To Love (2004). In more ways than one, the new album is a follow-up to that, even though I also released Vision On in 2007. Including the Burnessence LPs and the Infinite Ocean mini-album (1997), this will be my seventh album release altogether.

photo 3Co-producer and engineer Julian Tardo has been as supportive as ever at Church Road in Hove. Julian has had extensive experience with a wide range of successful contemporary acts, including work on sessions with The Antlers and The War On Drugs, amongst countless others. It’s a mystery as to how he has been able to put up with so much of my artistic madness for so long – top bloke! Based on his experience with my album, he has written a blog on Long Term Project Management, discussing such matters as how we began in Logic 8 and finished in Logic X. Between us, we’ve just about held things together.

View from the computer - Julian (right) and myself

View from the studio computer, on a good day

The album will probably go up on Bandcamp first, with perhaps something on Soundcloud as a taster. If there is sufficient interest, there will be a CD release to follow. What’s it like? Well… it’s very me. There’s some progrock, there’s some seventies, eighties and nineties influences from different genres. Having ditched the original title of Spirit Level after it popped up in the career of Brian Pern (the BBC3 parody of Peter Gabriel) I am currently going for…

Whose Dream Are You Living?

Tim Burness music on YouTube

Burnessence 1983

Burnessence 1983

 

We are about to upload some more tracks from my albums down the years. The following are already up on YouTube:- Touch Together and the experimental Wood Being Sawn (And Other Interesting Noises) are short instrumentals from my first album in 1983.

Poppadom Rock is an old live band favourite from the 1984 Burnessence album, I Am You Are Me. It features some nice violin and E-bow guitar.

I Am You Are Me 1984

I Am You Are Me 1984

I Don’t Know What’s Good For Me is a solo song featuring acoustic guitar and voice, released in 1997.

Unstoppable Waves Of Joy is a more upbeat progrock track from Finding New Ways To Love, released in 2004. There’s much more to go up on YouTube from this album.

 

 

Slowly but surely… the new album

Currently listening back to the latest mixes of my next album, “Spirit Level”. The title is taken from The Spirit Level, an influential book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett on the consequences of inequality in societies. With one or two exceptions, the tracks are all sounding jolly good, even though I do say so myself. Still a long way to go though, now hoping for a 2014 release.

Studio2band2013

Monty Oxymoron, Tim Burness, Fudge Smith and Keith Hastings

We made a big step forward in March, with around ten days with Julian Tardo in Church Road Recording Studios in Hove. Having originally worked on around thirty rough tracks since 2010, some ruthless decisions have been made, and it’s now down to ten or twelve. More than ever before, I have tried to put as much of my self into this album as possible. I’m trying to give it absolutely everything – I might not have many albums left in me! Musically, as with most of my material down the years, it is a mixture of “progressive rock”, pop, and electronic and experimental elements. A fair bit of my dubious sense of humour is in there too.

A few general influences on the album have been a fascinating biography of The Beatles by Sean Egan, the stunning opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, and a number of books such as the recently published The Future by Al Gore. Musically I have gone back over much of my own work down the years, aswell as listening very very carefully to many of my all-time favourite classic rock albums and artists.

There are scrillions of people making music these days, and much of it is of a high standard. A lot of great stuff is only heard by a very small audience. At this stage, I am just grateful for the opportunity to have a lot of fun expressing myself, with the help of some great musicians and friends. Drummer Fudge Smith and bassist Keith Hastings came down to Brighton for their final contributions in March. The next step is a bit of compositional homework with keyboard maestro Monty Oxymoron, then back into the studio in a few months time.

15 years of agency care and support work

My main income since the late nineties has involved just about every form (apart from more specialized and highly qualified roles) of care, nursing and support work that there is. It has been, and continues to be, an “interesting” journey, to put it mildly.

Like many people in care and nursing, I began with home care. For a couple of years I had three regular characters who I would cook and shop for, and in the case of the blind young man, occasionally take him down to the local pub. The retired chef from Bangladesh was always keen to tell me about his experiences with prostitutes. The self-styled “bastard in a wheelchair” of my own age was another great character, but I wasn’t surprised to hear that he later drank himself to death. From there I gradually moved into nursing homes and geriatric wards at a local hospital. Commonly known as “the poo wards”, they were wisely shut down some years later.

ModellingPad

Modelling an NHS incontinence pad, around 2003

Having already had experience of helping the mentally ill with both my mother’s and a friend’s troubles, next came extensive experience at two NHS psychiatric hospitals for a few years. Ah, the joy of death threats from psychotic schizophrenics. Round about the same time, I also started work at an excellent NHS neuro-rehab unit, some of my most enjoyable and genuinely rewarding experiences – partly because a lot of the patients would actually get better. They would come in with a stroke, or in a coma from a failed suicide attempt, or a brain haemorrage brought on by an extreme lifestyle, or a recurrence of multiple sclerosis symptoms. Even though I was still working for an agency, I felt very much part of the team. One actually made a difference in helping many people recover, even if only partly. Good times.WithStaffNurse

For several years I considered qualifying as either a general or psychiatric nurse. For a number of reasons I decided against it. As an unqualified “healthcare assistant” or “nursing auxiliary,” one is hands-on caring for people, not endlessly filling in paperwork and dispensing products from the pharmaceutical industry.

Other work involved experience of autism and challenging behaviour, general wards in several hospitals, also children’s homes. Round about 2007, I gradually moved into supported housing and working at homeless hostels run by the local council. Most residents at these places had a mix of mental health and drug and alcohol (“substance misuse” as they like to call it) problems. As nice as some of them were, dealing with heroin addicts on a regular basis will quickly wipe out any of the more romantic notions that anyone might have had about helping the homeless!

Following big management problems with my last agency (the local branch closed down), over the last year I have re-established myself through two different agencies – in care homes, some different NHS psychiatric units, hospitals and a few other places such as a home for the blind. It’s okay, mostly I do actually feel I’m making a difference. I wish it paid a bit more, and of course it can be physically and mentally exhausting at times. At least as an agency worker I get a bit more than many regular carers – many are on £6.50 or less an hour. Something not quite right there?

Next gig coming up