Saturday, May 31, 2008

Blagging It In Notting Hill

The Blag Club was not what I was expecting. I've played at places called the Something Wonderful Club or similar before, and they are not really "clubs" at all, but just a name for a particular booker's night at a pub or venue. But the Blag Club really is a private club! The first clue I got was when I walked past the entrance completely as it was a small nondescript door next to Rymans in Notting Hill Gate. The next clue (and this was kinda the clincher) was the big sign on this door that said Private Member's Club. There was a buzzer, that I duly rang and in turn was duly buzzed in.

It was a super little place actually. Everyone was very friendly and the stage (though small) had a proper monitor and the PA was clear and loud. They operate a system whereby they decide what order the acts play on the night by how many people they get through the door by 9pm. This is all fine and dandy, but of course quite hard to tell people who are eating up the road what time they should arrive by in order to hear my set. I plumped for 8.45 to be on the safe side and then revised to 9.00 when I realised that that was the earliest I would actually be playing.

I ended up in the middle of three excellent acts (Laura & Cornelia were the others), which meant I didn't actually play 'til about 9.40. The set went well, and included a number of firsts: 1) A brand new song 2) My first use of the tambourine (played with my foot) on stage 3) New jeans (H&M - £39) 4) A new haircut (Strandz - £15). Now you don't often get that many premieres for £4!

Here is the set (with links to the songs on my website, so you can click and play the set for yourselves at home):

I Need Your Love
When The Snow Fell In Denver
The End Of The World pt 1 (this recording is just a demo)
The Fool I Am

I just want to add a BIG, BIG THANK YOU to all those who came down and made the evening really fun, most especially Peachy, Alex, Adrian, Tudor and Chris.

I can't wait for the next gig now, see you there!!


P.S. The free CD offer still holds... just drop me a line.

P.P.S. I forgot take any pictures of the venue (oops), so instead I've uploaded a picture of my loft being lagged.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Start...

Well, here it is. Rough as anything, and I'll probably only leave it up like this for a bit, as I have big plans for this song. But I hope you enjoy it as much as the fox in my garden, who rubbed his nose in the grass and then trotted off without so much as a "by your leave". This is one take, guitar and vocals, with only one tiny overdub (can you spot where?) - I still haven't got the feel for the lyrics, or the guitar part 100%, but it's a start. The stray tambourine sound near the end is when I threw my pick away to hit the rhythm part, it just happened to hit my tambourine lying nearby.

So over to you... let me know what you make of it.

The End Of The World part one MP3


P.S. Don't forget you can hear this song live for the very first time TONIGHT - Weds 28th May 2008 - Notting Hill Blag Club - 1st Floor, 68 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3HT - nearest tube Notting Hill Gate. Be there for 8pm.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The End Of The World pt1

I started writing this song a month or so ago whilst watching The Day After Tomorrow The chord sequence suggested itself straightaway, along with a strong urge to sing "It's not the end of the world", at the refrain at the end of the verse. I thought at the time that this was a bit cliched, especially as I ended up writing global-warming-is-upon-us kinda lyrics, inspired by the theme of the film. After the initial burst of interest, I shelved it as it wasn't really inspiring me.

Weeks later I improvised some new lyrics to the chords and it started to be about something else entirely... now it kind of conjures up the idea of a person suffering from mental illness or possibly hallucinations, and the verses started to shape from there. I've been on both sides of the mental illness equation and I know that it often affects the people around the person suffering more than the victim themselves, especially in cases of mania, schizophrenia or Alzheimer's. Recent play-throughs have been interesting as I manage to work myself up through the refrains... not actually singing, but kind of implying the words "I'm waiting for the end of my world" that the title suggests. I may or may not sing that bit live, it all depends. I really like the "How can we stop you screaming?" line, which is actually inspired by Whitley Schrieber's book Communion, and a man who believes he was abducted by aliens. At least I think it's from there... it might have been from a dream.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the lyrics. Demo to follow when I have the rest of the second verse and the melody/form pinned down. I will definitely play a version of it on Wednesday at the Blag Club in Notting Hill - even unfinished I have a lot of belief in it.

The End Of The World pt1

There's a hole in my heart,
Where the blood runs cold.
I've been told that I better calm down,
But I never could do what I'm told

So I'm looking down on myself,
And I can't feel my own skin.
I hear this clown say I really feel down,
But the joke is wearing thin

I'm really struggling here...

I think I've been here before?
On the slide or roundabout.
There's something I've been meaning to say,
But the words just won't come out.

I'm really struggling here...

How can we stop you screaming?
(We're only trying to help.)
How can we stop you screaming?

I really shouldn't be here,
This is all a mistake.
I think I might even know who you are,
If I can just recognise your face.

Why is my brain speeding up?
Why is the room changing size?
I'm sure that we can clear this all up,
If the doctor's stop telling me lies

I'm really struggling here...
I'm waiting for the end of my world.
I'm really struggling here...
I'm waiting for the end of my word

How can we stop you screaming?
How can we stop you screaming?

I'm really struggling here...
I'm waiting for the end of my world.
I'm really struggling here...
I'm waiting for the end of my word

(D. Callow 2008)

Yesterday I saw the slides of Nan Goldin set to the (live) music of John Kelly and Patrick Wolf in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. A very inspiring performance, especially by Patrick Wolf, whom I had not heard of before, but is a very talented multi-instrumentalist with a fantastic vocal range. Apart from getting a sore bum from inadequate cushioning, it was a very uplifting evening.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Who's Fit?

On Tuesday I was in Kentish Town (how can a town be Kent... ish? I can't say I spotted any oast houses or fields of Oilseed Rape), for another splendid SoundBites night at The Abbey. I was treated to some very tuneful and skilful playing. I didn't catch the name of the first act, but it included a very good Djembe player. Slightly scarily the second act, Craig Brauns, had quite a high pitched voice and from the loos it sounded like a girl singing, but it turned out to be a bloke in a hat and flares. Nice voice though, kinda like Rod Stewart on reflection.

After these turns was my friend Wayne with his band Fit & The Conniptions, I never did ask him who was Fit and who was the Conniptions... it's all nonsense anyway! I have to say that his band were excellent, featuring multi-instrumentalist Paul Tkachenko on bass, and a super drummer (name TBA) who arrived ten minutes before they played. As if in recognition of their excellent playing Wayne decided to wear a tie for the occasion. I was pretty impressed enough to blurt at the drummer that I'd like to employ him, before stumbling off to the loo (again! Well Guinness will do that to you).

The final act included a new harmonica (apparantly the others had given up the ghost because he didn't warm them up! Consequently much warming up of the new harmonica was in evidence) and a kazoo... plus some creative heckling from the audience. Regrettably I had to leave to head home before the end, but it was still a fun evening.

Btw, I have a horrible feeling that Frog Morris and I are the Statler and Waldorf of the contempory art scene in the UK... check us out halfway through this great video from Alex Staiger.

Actually that's probably unfair on Frog.

I've also been booking some more gigs this week, full list below.

Have fun!


P.S. A have another new song on the way, lyrics and demo to be posted here first!

28th May, 8pm - Notting Hill Blag Club
1st Floor, 68 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3HT

12th June, 8.30pm - Montague Arms
289 Queens Road, New Cross, SE15 2PA

15th June, 8.00pm - 15 Minute Club
Prohibition Bar & Grill, Unit 1 Tower Bridge House, St. Katharine Docks, East Smithfield, E1W 1AA

29th June, 6.00pm - Whitstable Biennale
The Smack Inn, Middle Wall, Whitstable, Kent

9th July, 8.30pm - Montague Arms
289 Queens Road, New Cross, SE15 2PA

16th July, 8.00pm - Club Fabulous
The Fiddler’s Elbow, 1 Malden Road, Chalk Farm, NW5 3HS

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Art Art Art... oh, and Music

On Thursday I ventured up to Bethnal Green to the first birthday bash of Art Art Art. This was at the VINEspace gallery in Vyner St and was another eye-opening event. Chief amongst the highlights were Lee Campbell sticking Evening Standard posters to the wall whilst playing What A Wonderful World This Would Be, then chanting the headlines and shouting into the world's worst megaphone before setting off down the road on a one man protest, shouting Down Down! I also really enjoyed the performance from Holly Darton and Jenny Hunt, which was practically indescribable, but featured dance moves, exercises, overheard phone conversations and party poppers!

After some delicious cake the main events were over, but as we loitered outside the Victory pub it turned out there was one more piece to view. Broadcast live from the Bun House pub in Peckham onto a screen in the pub was what could only be described as a female crotch shot. We discussed what it could be, was she about to give birth, or was it porn masquerading as art?! The answer turned out to be that that it was a close-up of a life drawing class as was soon revealed when the camera changed shot.

Megaphones, cake, party poppers and naked models... that's what I want for MY birthday dammit.

Anyway, in other news... do stop by Global Icon and rate my tune The Fool I Am, which is currently lying at number 108 (hopefully not out of 108!!!!) in the Pop & Rock competition.

If you've not yet had the indubitable pleasure of singing along to It's Summertime... your next chance will be Thursday 12th June at the Montague Arms as part of the Old Chaps evening - featuring the sublime Mr B the Gentleman Rapper.

I've also been practicing very hard for the Blag Club gig on the 28th May, do come along as I think there will be a good crowd and I'm hoping to put on a really good show. Oh, and don't forget to email me if you want a free CD!!

Love to all,



You can now check out highlights of the evening on video:

Monday, May 12, 2008

From Kings Cross To Notting Hill

I had a good time at Cross Kings last night. I met some nice musicians and was chuffed that some friends made it down too. The full set was I Need Your Love, Lightkeeper, When The Snow Fell On Denver (my first live request!! Thanks Vicky!!) and The Fool I Am. There were some great acts on and the evening was highly enjoyable.

Next gig is a really good one too, so please do come along if you can make it!

Wednesday 28th May
Notting Hill Blag Club - 1st Floor, 68 Notting Hill Gate London W11 3HT

I even get paid some real cash money for everyone that comes to see me, so do let me know if you are thinking of coming along!!

All the best,


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Free Stuff

This week I've been mostly putting together packs to send to radio stations and to get gigs. Nothing too exciting, just a Sampler CD a piccie and a sheet with some basic info. In the course of doing this I usually end up with a few CDs that are "seconds", that is to say they didn't quite print right or the songs aren't in the right order. Rather than bin them I usually take them to gigs and give them away, but since I have friends and fans who can't often make it to gigs, I thought I'd see if anyone fancied a free CD. If you do just email me an address to music @ (you'll need to remove the spaces) and I'll post a CD to you. All I ask in return is some nice words about me on your Blog or (if you don't have a Blog) just to the people around you, ha ha.

Apart from pimping myself, I've also been to see a screening of Laurie Anderson's latest video work and got to see her in person doing a question and answer session. Very interesting and amusing person - I was very impressed. Talking of the art world, I'm also playing at the Whitstable Biennale with my friend Frog Morris on June 29th. This is actually quite a big deal in the UK art world, so I'm looking forward to it.

I'm also playing at the Notting Hill Blag Club on May 28th... but more on that later. The next gig is this Sunday at Cross Kings in King's Cross... 8pm.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Fool I Am - Demo

Here it is then in a more complete form. It's still just a demo, mind you. It needs real drums, real trumpet and a bass line of some description, but I'm pretty happy with it so far and thought I'd share. Hope you are having a good weekend!

The Fool I Am - MP3


Friday, May 02, 2008

You Win Some...

I played the Duchess again last night, it went well... there were two other acts worth checking out:

The Bee's Niece - all the way from Norway, via Manchester. Lovely delicate songs with very well thought out lyrics. Lovely girl too!

Simon Andrews - great songs and now, with the lovely Katie, gripping harmonies. Well worth a listen.

My set went okay, The Fool I Am is proving a winner, and Obsession and I Need Your Love went down well.

On Wednesday night I went to see Laurie Anderson play. Now, I always get a mite suspicious when I see musicians sitting down to play... but fortunately Laurie was standing and despite my seat being a bit uncomfortable it was a very mesmerising 2 hours of playing. The songs/pieces veered from funny to thought-provoking to sublime. Very interesting and entertaining, if occasionally quite hard going (it's not exactly Pop you understand). I came away very inspired, albeit with a numb bum.

Hoping to record The Fool I Am very soon, if not today. Curiously I noticed that my song I Can If You Can contains the line "If you want me to be a fool, then I am", I hadn't made the connection before.

Next few chances to see and hear me play:

11th May - Cross Kings, Kings Cross
15th May - The Duchess, Battersea
29th June - Whitstable Biennale

plus, I'll be at The Montague Arms, New Cross next Thursday lending my support to Second Thursdays.

...And You Lose Some

I really hope Boris doesn't get in. He's a funny guy and all that, but running the most cosmopolitan city in the world... please god no! As Will Self put it, I'd rather have a lizard in charge than a clown.