Blog #2….still getting my head around the idea of having a website and a Facebook page, and how they work together…so if you see things here (especially photos) that you might have seen on FB already, apologies…or alternatively, lucky old you! I’m aware that to certain people Facebook is “the devil’s work”, and would rather check out a website; I was indeed one of those who used to say “what do I need a FB page for?”…now I’m hooked, and it’s been so useful for people to be able get hold of me to book gigs/workshops etc, or just to amuse me with their witty, pithy or pertinent comments…but in order to encourage interaction here on this site, we’ve now enabled comments below, in case you wish to remark on any of my musings.
This last month was busy-busy (hence my tardiness in sorting out this blog): vinyl release, 2 launch gigs to promote it, then a return to my new “job” as purveyor of school song-writing workshops to the fine kids of this country!
It was so exciting to finally get my hands on a copy of the re-released vinyl version of my album “The Chronicles of Modern Life”; the way the artwork looks on the generous gatefold sleeve, being able to actually read the print inside, and then, to cap it all, it sounds so good! I put the above pic on my FB page, and within hours had a copicat “reply” from my good friend and band member Martin Peirson (see pic, right)…nice one Martin, touché, and a work of genius! Everyone, please feel free to keep this one going, and post on my FB wall…all you need is a Hen cap, and of course a copy of the vinyl album (available in “Shop” here)…see what I did there?…just a blatant & cunning plan to sell more copies.. that’s yeeeeeeearrs of experience in this sordid music biz coming to the fore!
Anyway, the 2 launch gigs were amazing: I managed to sell out The Processed Pea Folk Club in Etton in East Yorkshire for the 4th year running (just a mile from where my Mum lived), and was joined onstage by my usual East Coast posse “The Men of a Certain Age” (Martin Peirson on guitar and Pete Robinson on bass), plus a wealth of talent guesting on the odd number: Pip Jopling on some exquisite fiddle, my brother Will on guitar, and his partner Micaela Haslam who’s a BBC Radio 3 singer (more used to the Royal Albert Hall than the Royal Dragoon pub), so she “upped the ante” culture-wise a bit (mind you the moment I open my mouth I manage to lower said “culture ante” immediately)! Quite how we managed to squeeze the six of us plus a crowd of 75 people into that tiny room is beyond me.
Later in the month another “launch” gig (sic) took place on the opposite coast in Liverpool…made even more thrilling by being on board the Mersey Ferry “The Royal Daffodil”…totally different band for this one: joined by my old compadre Pete Riley for the whole set, but in soundcheck, on a whim, we suddenly thought wouldn’t it be great if we got the support band Shamona up for a few songs; so they basically learned the tunes in 10 mins (my songs are that easy!) and Pete would nod when the endings were coming up. Some might say risky, but the audience (and me!) loved it..see the joy and youthful enthusiam on the face of Pete Riley Jnr (on bass), while his dad beams proudly on the right.
Last two weeks I’ve travelled over 1600 miles doing school song-writing workshops, visiting such places as Ryarsh, Whitstable, Maidstone, Worksop, Southampton, Bridport, Poole and Honiton (now you realise why my album’s taking so long!)…most of these were to Primary schools, though the Maidstone one was a Secondary school.
When it’s a Secondary school the students are usually proficient enough on instruments (these ones definitely were) to go away and write their own songs, so after my initial presentation I spend the day going from group to group offering guidance, and often learning a few things myself!
At the Primary schools there are ususally 30 kids, and I split them into groups of 5 or 6 and get them to re-write the lyrics to my own song “Don’t You Love Me No More”.
At the moment I’m encouraging them to come up with themes based around the Olympics, which is going down great, The Games really did inspire the kids…some brilliant lyrics keep coming up, possibly the most amusing being (to be sung to chorus of D.Y.L.M.N.M.)…
“The Olympics are here, Everybody let’s cheer, The Queen’ll be there in her best underwear, today, hey hey!”
…I then perform each groups’ song (accompanied by the writers) at the end of the session to the other groups, by which time we’re all pretty heartily sick of my damn tune!!..
Have to say a big thanks to my friends who gave me fine bed and board on my South Coast trip, especially Jinder & Charlie (from The Dewhursts) , who took this pic when we gatecrashed the Bridport Folk Club: we gave ‘em a rousing rendition of True Believer (as featured in the video page on this site)…
Anyway, I’m back home now exhausted but excited about cracking on with my 2nd album…I took a rough CD of “where I’m up to” on the road with me, and I’ve plucked up courage to start playing rough versions to friends, and d’you know what, it doesn’t sound half-bad (“tho’ I say it myself but shouldn’t”, as my Mum used to say!)….still need to put vocals on a few, add harmonies and the odd extra instrument, but we’re getting there…so enough of this typing…back to work.
Bye for now