One of my two elderly Simmons SDXs goes off to a new home. See question below.

Fourth of July holiday weekend, so everyone in the US will be snoozing – or, over here, catching up on Wimbledon.

By the way, for our Italian friends and Bruford watchers, Luigi Viva has sent this review of the Italian edition of my book, for which many thanks. My publisher is hoping to arrange a visit to Italy later in the year – November is suggested. We’re also working on trips to the US and Sweden around the same time. As always nothing is confirmed until it is confirmed on this site, and you’ll hear about it here first.

Campbell Laird – Date: 25.06.2011 – has found a curious Yes improv. “Any clues to what it is?”

Campbell – this is weird! I have very little recollection of this, but as someone commented, it’s an improv at the beginning of someone’s solo, or of a whole tune. Sounds like an intro to Every little Thing to me. I’d forgotten this, so it’s a treat to hear.

Joseph Jones – Date: 19.06.2011 wants to know – “what’s this about mr simmons and mr bruford looking for a tech to fix a sdx? great tool for composition those devices”.

Joseph; a gentleman in North Carolina USA has just become the proud owner of a Bruford SDX as used with KC and ABWH. The machine is elderly and in need of maintenance. It had been sitting in storage on the shelves at Tama’s warehouse in Bensalem PA for about thirteen years we reckon. Assuming you’re knowledgeable in this area, please write to the guestbook again with an email that can be passed to the purchaser and he can contact you direct if he wants or it’s necessary. Turns out there is quite a club of Simmons equipment aficionados who hunt down bits of kit from the 80s with the same vigour as those who pursue antique cars or vintage wines. The SDX was the flagship Simmons unit, a thing of great size, complexity and imagination. It was the basis of my kit for about 7 years – from Kazumi Watanabe’s ‘Spice of Life 2’ in 1988 through Yes / ABWH and on up to Thrack and subsequent tours with King Crimson in 1995-6.

Dave Dreyfus – Date: 07.06.2011 asks – “Are there points in every tour where the best performances just arrive or do these magical performances happen because the sound checks are inspired, dinners arrive on time and the musicians are extra excited to be playing in that particular city, at that particular Theater or Club?”

Dave; see book! This isn’t a cheap commercial plug, but I go into this sort of thing in some depth there. But it’s a good question. I think the best gigs are ‘point of discovery’ i.e. the gigs where you figure out how to do it. That may be personal to you on your instrument, or when two in a rhythm section, for example, find the best groove, or best of all, when all these things occur more or less simultaneously and the band is suffused with rightness and becomes unstoppable. If you’ve timed it about right, that’d be about quarter of the way in to the tour. The process of discovery is intoxicating. If the players are intoxicated (in the best way!), chances are they will transmit that to an audience.

Then again, who’s defining ‘best performances?’ The musicians couldn’t agree on what day of the week it was, let alone agree on a ‘best performance’. Best for whom – musician or listener? See? This stuff gets pretty murky very quickly!

There’s such a thing as being over-rehearsed, too. With Genesis in 1976 we’d booked a long hot ten days in Dallas to rehearse, and it felt like a lifetime. Seems like a very short time by today’s standards, but after about a week I felt I knew everything about the music that I was ever going to learn. At ten days I just wanted to go home, and we hadn’t even started the tour yet!

Dinner arriving on time usually helps!