I'm finding it very hard to write today. It's difficult to talk about anything positive after the events of the past week with regards to the terrorist attacks on Beirut and Paris.
I remember the planes hitting the two towers and I remember the fear in my gut and everyone just standing silently shaken watching the TV and I felt that same jolt of fear Saturday morning. I was attending the AFO Conference, eager to play and show the festival organisers what I could do but then I saw the TV and 'all I could do' seemed so trivial as all I wanted to do was cry. Although I did meet some nice people and have a pretty good time I still felt guilty for laughing or enjoying myself and I'm sure I wasn't alone as there seemed to be a permanent semi-circle of people glued to the television. It is hard to carry on but it is important to as a life lived in fear is a life half-lived or perhaps not lived at all so I will try and get a bit more positive on you now!
Let's back track slightly as I haven't updated in a while and at the beginning of November I did a small in-situ set at the Lion's Club Firework Display in Bideford. They were raising money for the hospice and it was a lovely night with superb apple crumble and brilliant fireworks. I've also been up to Bristol again, I know, I might as well live there really! I dropped in on the seven stars to see the refreshingly quirky Sumita play (I am a die hard fan) and she did me the honour of playing my request so that pretty much made my day. Fast forward to the evening and I had a great yet brief time at the Golden Guinea performing solely on mandolin (can't remember the last time I did that... possibly at The Imp 3 years ago!). It was lovely to reconnect with Mark Venus and hear all his good news, congratulations again sir, and yet again 'Dragonfly' sent a hush over the crowd. It's funny 'cause I never thought that song was any good but I heard someone yell, "that's a bloody good song!" so maybe I'll play it more.
Album update: I have been told there was a jam in the pressing machine and delivery has been put back a few weeks so please don't panic kickstarter backers, I have not forgotten you and as soon as I have all the copies they will be assembled with your other rewards and posted off to you, most likely just in time for Christmas.
...and my love affair with Bristol continues...
Autumn is definitely my favourite time of year to visit, it's just leaves, leaves, markets and more leaves and so I spent most of Saturday, you guessed it, kicking around leaves and rambling through markets. I proudly sampled some prawn tempura (Ben had the falafel) and found myself an indian rug for a crazy small amount (£2 ?!?!?!) so yes I remain completely infatuated with the city on water. I love love LOVE Bristol.
Now I ought to actually talk about the music... We ran through the rain and finally found the seven stars on the other side of the river nestled behind some pirate graffiti. I was quite annoyed to find my stick on mic-mantle had come unstuck from my Dulcimer but thankfully after a pint of cider and some reassurance the landlady located some bluetac which saved the day. I wasn't planning on opening my set with Dulce but I was advised to as apparently people like to talk a lot there, it being a pub I wasn't going to be offended if
they did but I'm happy to report they were a great, attentive audience and The Thatcher went down spectacularly well (which was rather nice seeing as I wrote it in Bedminster). They all went down rather well actually which was very nice indeed and I got a lot of positive feedback - always love to play Bristol. I was able to sell an album so that paid for parking (a whopping £15... we really must find somewhere else to park in Bristol when we visit!) but every little helps and it was a lovely day.
So what else have I been up to? Well Ben is finally happy with the artwork and the album is now in the hands of the manufacturers (YAY!) and
we are expecting it to land in mid-November. All being well we are hoping to launch in January but as always in the meantime I am working on getting all the rewards ready for my kickstarter backers. I'm pretty much just waiting for the CDs now as the bags, hearts and lyrics are all done but hey you've got to have the full package ;)
So now we play the waiting game...
ps. Thanks to everyone who came to see me at the Seven Stars, particularly Dan as that pretty much made my day. I'm very much looking forward to returning to Bristol in November (8th Golden Guinea) :-)
Now I've left this entry for a couple weeks as I wanted to gather some positivity and not just moan about deadlines and work engulfing all my energy so here I am, back on form!
Let's start with the fun I had playing on Colin's show on the Voice FM last Saturday :-) It is always an absolute joy to see that man chuckling away on the microphone and looking on in wonder as I struggle to identify the tracks on 'what's-the-word.' I do know loads of genres and artists, honest, it's just they never seem to be in that segment... Anyway thank you for the advice given on facebook I did indeed play the Thatcher as requested and mixed it up with a bit of banjo on the last track, Anchor... but that's not what everyone is talking about. I've had three separate people rip it out of me this week for not knowing where to get tickets for my own gig. Alright alright :-) So I'm as dense as some celestial atmosphere but hey at least Ben was there, that is one of his primary roles after all, making sure I don't completely screw things up ;-).
Remarkably people did find tickets and it was a packed yet cosy atmosphere in St. Mary's Hall last night. I'd had a crazy day teaching, working and negotiating lifts which left me with little time for anything else so by the time I reached the venue I had no set list and some very grubby boots on.
I always used to think preparation was the key for a gig but I have to say writing a set list 20 mins before I went on seemed to work for me last night, as a friend said, it allowed for spontaneity which is 'what I'm all about.' Aww 'n'that nice? I did about six new songs and really mixed things up and somehow the chaos of the day dissolved into a delicate evening of thought therapy. I should mention a few of my typical faux pas though as they are, as usual, quite splendid. As I mentioned before I had very grubby cowboy boots on and so I'd packed my polish to sort them out after sound checking...what I didn't realise was that some of that polish had made its way onto my chest and I then spent the next 2 hours singing away with a red splodge on my boob. Sadly this was pointed out to me so no I didn't get away with it! Maybe next time I'll find a mirror before I go on, or not leave polishing to the very last minute! The second epic fail was when a friend got up to leave and, I thought, extended their arm as if to shake and I did-a-Cameron and half put my hand out to greet it but no such thing happened and it was instead left hanging awkwardly as I said goodbye. sssssss ouch! Whoops, hopefully the people still sitting down at this point were oblivious but I mean really, how do I manage it?
It was wonderful to see so many friends in the audience last night and I sold an astonishing amount of CDs which has really helped so here's where I do all my thank yous: Thank you to everyone who bought a CD, t to everyone who paid me a compliment as they left, to those who posted on social media how much they enjoyed it, and to Marcos and GTS in general for lending me their microphones, stands and cables as it was looking like an acoustic set 48hrs ago and I really could not of done it without them! Ben it goes without saying that I am forever in your debt, thank you for doing the sound despite not being a sound technician, you did a fantastic job and kept me very calm :-)
So now I am off of holiday for a week to recover and hopefully by the time I come back I will be able to give you an update on my new album 'Time' and where we are now. Lots of people last night were asking about it and I can reassure you it's on its way, another month perhaps and I should have it in my hand :-)
All the best, I'll see you in a week (or so!)
Where to begin! Well I had a little holiday, as you know, to Croatia and that was absolute bliss. I'd been feeling very stressed and worn out before but we booked a fairly last minute break and it was just what the doctor ordered. Lots of people expected me to write a bunch of songs out there but that's not really how my mind works and was too busy ostrich-ing in the sea watching all the fish swim by. Apparently I looked very silly and should learn to snorkel properly... maybe next time!
So we've been back a week putting the finishing touches on the album artwork for 'Time' and working hard to pay everything off. I'm very proud of all the hard work Ben, Nev and Jen have put into it as they've made me look fairly epic on the front so hopefully in a months time I'll have it in my hands and be able to look at where and when to launch.
I had a nice, quiet gig at Saunton Road Studios last night which was a nice way to end the week. It was lovely to finally meet Amy as we've exchanged emails over the years and I've obviously heard so many positive things about her. I have to say it's a great space for any musician, there's a very cool wood-chopped wall in the studio and I especially liked the paintbrush handle on the door...which I felt compelled to brush my hand with... I really can't not touch. It was a cosy atmosphere and a great opportunity to do some new songs; I pretty much gave up on the set list and just played what felt right and hoped they went down well. I even threw in a new cover that I proudly learned in 2 days - I can't even learn my own songs in 2 days! So I'm feeling refreshed, motivated and ready for Bristol next week - just can't decide what instruments to take!
So it's been a few weeks since my trek up north and I've been trying to get back into the swings of things since then, somewhat literally last weekend as we decided we were overdue some fun and hit the rides at the Dorset Steam Fair. I love all things old and brassy and this place blew me away. I saw my first monster truck show, which included a quad bike jumping over a semi through flames as well as a monster truck tuck o' war... with a car.... it was truly epic but I couldn't help but fear for the life of the stunt guy whenever he was lining up his approach to jump. The best part, I admit, was when night began to fall and the traction engines lit up and came to life, what a magical sight, even if I was at that point being suspended from a giant, swirling joy ride from hell! Sadly there are no pictures of that ride but you get the idea.
Work has been quieter which has made me a bit twitchy. They say, 'the devil makes work for idle hands' and I guess I've gone into overdrive with crafting for my kickstarter rewards as well as recording demos. I know, I know... let's get 'Time' finished first and yes I have been working on that too! This weekend was spent dressing me up in a polo neck and getting some moody shots *channeling Savage Garden and pretty much every 90s spread in a fashion mag.* I'm very pleased with the results and very grateful to Nev & Jen for painting my face and allowing us to shoot in their home. I guess I can't wreck the surprise too much if I show you me messing around with ideas in the mirror before I left... This is pre-makeup, hence the filter ;)
You know what I've learnt from having someone else do my makeup? I know nothing about makeup... I showed Jen the three products I use before I go on stage and it must've looked laughable compared to her entourage of magic. I use foundation (and even then very sparingly), mascara and lip stick but I've been learning about concealer, blusher, eye shadow... there's a whole world out there to explore! Think I might get a bit dramatic at the next gig. We also made the mistake of celebrating finishing the shoot with roulette Doritoes... I should've known I would get two simultaneously and be the first to do so thus looking a fool in front of everyone when I gasped for water.
What next then? I hear you cry! Well I'm aiming for the Voice FM on September 26th 9:30am to visit the lovely Colin Slatter and play him some tunes to promote Appledore Book Festival - or at least that's my excuse, I just want to see Colin again :P I'm working on building up an interesting set for the gig and lots of friends have said they will go so I guess I'm feeling a bit like a kid who knows their parents are coming to see their play -- an extra need to impress and not go all doritoe-face on them... Appledore is my last public gig of the year so far, though I'm hoping I can squeeze in a few more, so I'm determined to go out with a bang regardless!
So there you have it, my antics in a nutshell :) Thank you for reading and for your support as always and I'll be back with more news soon,