Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It's been a month of real highs and occasional lows. I've had some great gigs and some ordinary ones, but the good ones are outweighing the others. The band gigs have been especially enjoyable. Last week on the 23rd we played at Power's Bar again and it was a tough gig to play with the audience either a) not being into us or b) not being there. But we still played our best gig yet. Haydn was on sensational form and Wayne too (despite a trapped nerve in his shoulder). We played like there were a couple of thousand people there to see us, rather than the dozen or so that were left by the end. That is, after all, how you should play every gig, so we felt good and energised if just faintly disappointed that we didn't get a bigger crowd. It was a quiet time of year anyway, so we're expecting better things in 2010.

Which brings me on to plug our two next gigs, which are both really exciting. Firstly we'll be at THE WHITE HART, Whitechapel (Mile End Road) on the 21st January. We are the only band on, so will be using Haydn's full kit again and really looking forward to it. The gig is upstairs, and we will be on between 9.30pm and 10pm, so plenty of time to come down after work. Do come along if you can.

Then on the 16th March we have a really excellent line-up for you at the TROUBADOUR in Earl's Court. We will be headlining, and the other acts will be Charlie Savigar and the 15 year old singing sensation - Luke Jackson. We are really hoping that Frog Morris will be able to be the host and perform sketches and poetry and there will be one more opening act. This night is NOT TO BE MISSED!!!!! You've had plenty of warning, so get it in your diary now, and make sure you are there.

Meanwhile my solo gigs continue. Best way to see those is to check out my website:

Gig List

I'll try and do another post early in 2010, but for now, I'd like to wish you a fantastic and music filled 2010. Make sure you get to see as many bands as possible and support unsigned and up-and-coming bands.

All the best!


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Farewell Prohibition

Andy Warhol said that in the future we will all be famous for fifteen minutes. It was way back in June of 2008 that I first played an acoustic set for the 15 Minute Club at Prohibition near Tower Bridge in London. Since that first 15 Minute Club appearance I've gone on to play at their venues in Islington, Birmingham and Oxford and the night's have always been excellent. They must have liked me too, as this year they asked me to take over the regular hosting of the Prohibition night. This was something that I was very happy to do, but it took a while to find my feet. The biggest problem was thinking what to say as I introduced the acts... I finally got the hang of it after a few weeks.

So it was with some sadness that I was there for the last 15 Minute Club of the year, and possibly the last one ever! If it does turn out to be the end of their nights there then it really is the end of an era. Mind you we went out in some style. We had nine live acts on the last night, including myself and everyone played really well. We even finished with the traditional 15 Minute Club jam (one of the things that make it very special and fun for musicians and audience alike), when both Laurence and Rae performed too. It was probably one of the most successful nights that I've been involved in there, and we can only hope that they are back next year. In the meantime though they have a new night kicking off at the Hoxton Pony on December 2nd... I won't be at that one though, 'cos it's my birthday and I'll be celebrating elsewhere!!

I certainly enjoyed my time working there, all the acts were great (thank you!) and the jams were always entertaining. It was interesting to see the difference in the way the acts treated me when I was just another performer and when I was the host! They tend to look up to the host a lot more, but it was fun to have that extra responsibility. It was a really good experience.

In other news, I've posted one more video from the gig at the Power's Bar... here it is:

I'm currently working on trying to book a few more band gigs, with some really strong line-ups, including Luke Jackson and Charlie Savigar, so stay tuned for more news on that.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Power

The gig on the 11th went very well. Many thanks to all those who came to support us.

Next two Callow Youth gigs are:

15th December 2009
161-165 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London, W10 6HJ

21st January 2010
1 Mile End Road, Whitechapel, London, E1 4TP

Bookmark our homepage and join the mailing list here:

My next solo gigs start tonight at Prohibition, St. Katharine's docks then:

1st December 2009, 8pm (solo)
Liquid Nation, 161-165 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London, W10 6HJ

9th December 2009, 8pm (solo)
Powers Bar, 332 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, NW6 2QN

17th December 2009, 8pm (solo)
The Edinburgh Cellars, 125 Newington Green Road, Islington, N1 4RA

27th December 2009, 8pm (solo)
The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G OPP

See you very soon!


Monday, November 02, 2009

Callow Youth - 11th November

With great excitement I can announce that my new band will be called Callow Youth. The band is myself on guitar and vocals, Haydn Callow on drums and percussion and Wayne Myers on bass.

Out first gig will be at Power's Bar, Kilburn on the 11th November.

There will be more news and a website coming soon. But for now, stay tuned to this Blog for all the latest recording and live news.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Faith Album - The Launch

Wow, is it really only a week? This time a week ago I had just got home from the Faith! album launch in Margate. It really was an excellent night at the Lido - a fantastic old seaside night club. I got there nice and early and there was plenty of time for main man - Lee Robson - to show me to my guest room and let me prepare for my performance. When I got back to the venue the soundman had temporarily disappeared, but it was wonderful to see Luke Jackson and his dad Paul, as well as Charlie Savigar, who I hadn't seen for about 2 years!

Soon it was time to get underway, as the lights came down and the people came in. I was opening the night, so had to hit the stage running and get things moving. I opened up with I Need Your Love and then played The Fool I Am, After All and finished with the track off the album - Lightkeeper. It all seemed to go well, so I was pleased that I'd done my bit for the night and could relax and watch the other acts. In fact everyone rose to the occasion. The first half of the night belonged to the unsigned acts, with excellent performances from Dan Cropper, Kayley Weller, Billy & Laura Page (over from Texas) and Johan Nøkland Lund (over from Norway I believe). I must admit to be slightly biased but my own personal favourites where Charlie and her band, and the mighty Luke Jackson who played a storming, professional and passionate set, that totally belied his age!!

After a short break it was the chance for the TV talent to show their thing. I believe that Ben Mills, Shaughnessy and our host, Daniel Evans have been involved in some TV show called X Factor, now since I've never seen it, it's hard for me to comment, but they certainly went down very well. I think it's pretty safe to say that Daniel was the crowd favourite by a long way... his spontaneous jam with Ben Mills, was another highlight. Oh, I almost forgot even my mate Eddy Johns managed to make it and perform a short set. Before we knew it, it was all over, just time for a group photograph and it was time to head to bed. I must say it was a very enjoyable and worthwhile project and I loved being part of it...

...but it's not over yet. This was, after all, only the launch of the album, now it's over to you. We are very pleased to say that the CD of the album is now available to purchase for just £9.99 with free postage in the UK and postage of only £1.50 everywhere else in the world. The CD has 18 tracks that have been donated by the artists and professionally packages and produced. My own track is a unique version of Lightkeeper that you can't get anywhere else, and there are also tracks by Luke Jackson, Charlie Savigar, Kayley Weller and Eddy Johns as well as many others. Even if you don't like all the tracks you should still buy a copy. As I said to a friend of mine, it only needs one of the artists to "make it" and you got something really valuable and special - and even if they don't you are helping a great cause. All profits from the sale of the album go to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

So don't delay, Christmas is coming, so treat yourself and buy a few extra copies for your friends!!

I'm off now to host a night at Prohibition (Sunday), and then there will be another post on Monday when I have an exciting announcement. So come back then!!


Photo courtesy of 121 Pics:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Faith Album - It's Nearly Time!

Several months ago a chap by the name of Lee Robson had an idea. He really wanted to raise money to help the sufferers of Cystic Fibrosis and approached a number of acts to provide songs for a compilation album. The artists came back with songs and the project grew to include a single release and an album launch concert to be held in Margate.

I decided to re-record one of my favourite songs - Lightkeeper - and drafted in Haydn Callow to play drums and Paul Tkachenko to play bass. You can read more about the progress by viewing these previous blog posts. Please note that this unique mix of Lightkeeper WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE ON THIS ALBUM! So if you would like it in your record collection, this is the only way to get it.

The other bands and artists on the album are as follows: he Dunnos (Germany), Anders Fransson (USA), Anglo Saxon (UK), Charlie Savigar (UK), Dan Cropper (UK), Billy Page (USA), Eddy Johns (UK), Johan Nokland Lund (Norway) Unfolds (UK), Kayley Weller (UK), Mike Hirst (USA) and 11 year old Jordan Jansen (Australia). Jordan’s song ‘I Wish’ which was written by Jordan and is dedicated to everyone who lost a loved one with CF.

As you can see there are a fantastic number of artists from several countries who have put time and effort into album, as well as Lee and all his team. Now we need YOUR help! A limited edition CD of the album is available for pre-order now. Please do go to the website (link below) and order a copy (or more, it would make a very nice Christmas present for that relation that you never know what to get). Even if you don't really like all the acts, we would urge to you buy anyway. It will also be available for purchase by download after the launch concert... which is the other way you can help.

Please do buy a ticket and come along to the launch. It's being held at the Lido in Margate on the 24th October. I'm very proud to be opening the show (at 7.40pm) which is hosted by Daniel Evans (X-Factor 2008), Daniel will also be performing along with Luke Jackson, Charlie Savigar, Dan Cropper and Kayley Weller.

Special Guests include Journey South (X-Factor 2005) and Ben Mills (X-Factor 2006), also coming direct from the USA just for this gig is Billy Page plus from Norway will be Johan Nokland Lund, with support from Shaughnessy and Michael Hinch.

I have to say that is quite some line-up and excellent value for just £6.50!!! This is one night of live music not to be missed. So I bet you are just itching to get the website address and find out more... well here it is:

Please do mention this album and launch concert on your blogs and websites, Twitter, Facebook wherever. Let's get a full house and sell many copies, it's a really good cause and I want us to raise as much money as possible. GO TO IT!!

The Band Begins

It's always been a dream of mine to put a three piece band together to play the songs I've been working on for the last two years. Originally I planned to start recruiting players next year, but a chance to play a headline set at the Montague Arms brought the plans forward. So it was that two weeks of rehearsals and planning started. The first part of the planning involved working out which songs to play and then get some friends in to help play them. I'd had an idea to take the best of the acoustic arrangements that I'd been playing, and combine them with performance ideas and rock instruments.

Given that I only had a small amount of time to get a band together and limited rehearsals, I chose just five songs to play with the band and a further three to do on my own or in collaboration with other artists. My brother Haydn stepped up to play drums and percussion, Wayne Myers (of Fit & The Conniptions) agreed to play guitar and Edward Kaye took up the challenge of playing bass.

I started the set myself playing The End Of The World part I using the looper pedal and TC Helicon VoiceLive box. Then I was very fortunate that Martin White agreed to play accordion on an acoustic version of After All. Following that the band stepped up to play The Fool I Am followed by Obsession that included spoken word parts by Daniel Lehan and Frog Morris.

After the poetry it was time for the four last songs and so we played Lightkeeper, When The Snow Fell In Denver, All I Want Is You (featuring a reluctant Stuart on tambourine) and finished with a triumphant I Need Your Love. Not everything worked perfectly, for example we managed to play Denver better in the soundcheck, but we did enough to get a genuine call for an encore, we obliged with a reprise of The Fool I Am. There is still lots of room for improvement, but there was enough there to show that we had some big potential. The hope is to play with more players and finalise the line-up later this year or early next year. The next band gig will be on the 11th November at Power's Bar in Kilburn - so come on down and see the progress.

A big thank you to Haydn, Ed, Wayne, Martin, Daniel and Frog for their contributions. It's been a good start, but the future is going to be even better.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Band Debut & Faith Album Launch

Hi friends, I just wanted to let you know about two exciting events that are coming up in October.

Firstly I am very excited to announce that I am putting together a small band to play at Frog Morris Presents on the 8th October. The band will consist of my brother Haydn Callow on drums, Edward Kaye on Bass and myself on acoustic and (shock! horror!) electric guitar, also performing with us will be Wayne Myers of Fit & The Conniptions on guitar and, hopefully, Martin White on accordion. I'm particularly excited about the chance to play with my brother again, he's played with many bands including, but certainly not limited to, Honeytunnel, Damien McCabe and The Barron Knights as well as many shows, and his own jazz trio. He's also taught at Drumtech and written for Drummer and Rhythm magazine - so he certainly knows his flam from his para-diddle!

We will be playing for about 40 minutes and the set will include solo numbers, full band numbers and one or two surprises. If you can make it down then please do, it should be an excellent evening. Martin White is also doing a set and I'm sure Frog will be doing a turn or two as well. I'm hoping to video our set too, so that I can share bits on YouTube, but please do come along if you can.

You can find the Montague Arms at 289 Queens Rd, London, SE14 5JN it's very near Queens Road Peckham station and not far from New Cross. Here is a map.

The second event I want to draw your attention to is the Faith Album which is launched on the 24th October and will be available to buy from the 26th October in aid of Cystic Fibrosis. I have recorded a special, full band version of Lightkeeper for this project. The recording again features Haydn on drums and Paul Tkachenko on bass, and will only be available on this album - it will not be released in this form via any other media.

The album, signature song ‘FAITH!’ will be performed by 15 year old singer / songwriter Luke Jackson who co-wrote the song with Charlie Mason in the USA. Charlie has co-written with some of the best stars around including "Hit 'N' Run" single, Billiam the UK supernova boy band with "The Beautiful Ones” their first top 40 hit single. Charlie has also scored co-writes with, among others, PJ Bianco (who hit No. 1 with the Jonas Bros.), Aussie hit maker Hayden Bell, Johan Aberg (of Christina Aguilera fame) and Westlife producer Niklas Jarl.

The other fantastic artists featured on the album are: The Dunnos (Germany), Anders Fransson (USA), Anglo Saxon (UK), Charlie Savigar (UK), Dan Cropper (UK), Billy Page (USA), Eddy Johns (UK), Johan Nokland Lund (Norway) Unfolds (UK), Kayley Weller (UK), Mike Hirst (USA) and 11 year old Jordan Jansen (Australia).

The album will be mastered right here in the UK by Ian Thompson of White Wolf Recording, Newcastle. Ian has over 25 years experience in the music/recording industry and has recorded artists including Erasure, The New London Symphonic, Floyd2 and many chart hit artists.

Sounds pretty exciting doesn't it? The album is available for pre-order on CD already and you can do this here:

All the money raised is going to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and it's only £9.99 plus an extra £1.50 for those outside the UK. So what are you waiting for? Go order a copy or two now! Those of you on Facebook can also join the Group for the album here.

If you are in the UK, you can also come to the launch night on October 24th at the Lido in Margate, tickets are on sale now, and can also be bought from the website above. Many of the acts on the album are playing, plus some special guests and it should be a really fun evening. I can't wait - will you be there?

And as if that wasn't enough I also have many acoustic gigs coming up in London, and hopefully some full band gigs soon too. Check out all my gigs here:

29th September 2009, 8pm
Liquid Nation, 161-165 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London, W10 6HJ

1st October 2009
Nine Bar, 146 Tanner Street, London, SE1 2HG

8th October 2009
Frog Morris Presents:
DAREN CALLOW + FRIENDS @ The Montague Arms, 289 Queens Rd, London, SE14 5JN

11th October 2009, 8pm
The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0PP

18th October 2009, 8pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, St Katherine's Docks, East Smithfield, E1W 1AA

24th October 2009
Faith! Cystic Fibrosis charity album launch - limited tickets BOOK NOW
The Lido, Ethelbert Terrace, Margate, CT9 1RX

1st November 2009, 8pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, St Katherine's Docks, East Smithfield, E1W 1AA

I'm also going to be hosting some nights for 15 Minute Club in Hoxton, so stay tuned for more news on all this.

See you very soon, better go prepare for tonight's gig now! Although since it's actually tomorrow (29th) I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, that's how excited I am!!


P.S. More updates on the band and all gigs on Twitter.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

This Happy Band

Yesterday I was playing as part of This Happy Band an art project / pub crawl arranged by Daniel Lehan as part of the Nunhead Festival. It was certainly a fun and slightly surreal experience. We all gathered outside the Old Nun's Head pub near Nunhead Green and what a motley crew we were. There were pirates, musicians, a human percussion instrument (also known as Calum F Kerr), a laughing bear, a pantomime horse, a poet or two and a man dressed head to toe in camouflage as a kind of latter day Greene Manne. We collectively clattered and strummed our way around three pubs performing as we went. Frog Morris chipped in with a poem or two (mostly about beer), I performed a few songs as did Tim, and Mr Solo. There were many highlights to the day, but the performances in the Nunhead Community centre, and our impromptu appearance on the festival stage certainly topped it off. There is a small video clip of this on YouTube: the saxophone player is Viv and the ukelele is played by Tim.

We all ended up in the Man Of Kent for one more performance in front of the bemused locals. My version of Do You Want To Dance? was nearly drowned out by miscellaneous percussive noises. We all performed a final item and then relaxed with a few well deserved beers.

I'm just about recovered now and doing some practice before tomorrow's gig at the Camden Head - if you are free come along from 9pm - 100 Camden High Street.


Friday, September 18, 2009

All The Way There And Back Again

It's been an emotional and creative roller-coaster for the past month, and it's been way too long since my last confession. I've been up north to Edinburgh, out east to Thetford(ish) and played and watched a whole variety of interesting performances. Here's some highlights:

Edinburgh Fringe
Where to start?! It was an amazing few days, lots of flyering on the Royal Mile (mostly in the rain) - late nights with friends, acquaintances and even the odd celebrity (failing to flyer Marcus Brigstock for example). Lots of good shows: I chiefly enjoyed Short Intention Span (especially all dressed up as Wally, and the creepy guy returning the condom), Moon Chavs, extremely sexy poetry with Richard Tyrone Jones & friends @ Utter, Robin Ince losing his mind onstage (downstairs at Negociants where I first played the Edinburgh Fringe in 1994), a mesmeric and intimate performance from Edwyn Collins, the filthy penis-obsessed Kunt & The Gang and, of course, the seminal, unforgettable, unexplainable and utterly unfathamable A Young Man Dressed As A Gorilla Dressed As An Old Man Sits In A Rocking Chair For 56 Minutes (about which plenty has been said already).

I must also mention TWINLESS by Charlotte Young - which was, after all, the reason why I was up there in the first place. Charlotte's piece was a combination of video and performance that certainly wasn't to everyone's taste. It concerned the death of her twin sister in a hideous tandom bicycle accident and how she dealt with the loss of a sibling and comedic partner. The performances all took place in the Crypt (very apt) below the Jekyll and Hyde pub in Hanover Street, after the comedy and before the eclectic A-Band. It was good to have a late evening slot as the subject matter was quite dark. Despite our efforts to warn people (my flyering technique of "It's about death, it's very funny" seemed to go down quite well) kind of, it was clear that the few people who had come expecting stand-up comedy or the like were to be very bemused as Charlotte shuffled in in her pyjamas and stood mostly in silence whilst the video ran. Those of us that got the humour though, found it utterly hilarious and wonderful, and this encouraged an initially nervous Charlotte to add extra lines during her raffle sections. The, totally ad-libbed, line of "It's that time again" spoken dead-pan made me laugh so much I nearly had an injury. The quietest night (just three people) was also excellent as they all won a prize and it was the only time that Charlotte almost lost it with laughter on stage... priceless.

It was with great sadness that I was unable to complete the run due to a family illness, but I just want to say many thanks for Richard Soames for stepping in to complete the run. It was a fabulous experience and it only remains for me to say THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS to Charlotte for a fantastic first Edinburgh Fringe run... may there be many more.

Oh, and also there are still t-shirts available for £7 if anyone would like one (pictured above).

After spending time with my family, I slowly managed to get back into playing and seeing shows. I fitted in a short performance at the Kiss Of A Lifetime (by Mike Chavez Dawson et al) and a trip to the Tate to see a Pil & Galia performance. Next stop:


Frogstock is one of those sublime english traditions that has survived in various formats for many years now. Last year I played at the acoustic, cut-down version and was regaled by Frog and Victoria with stories of fields full of stages, giant campfires, stalls selling all kinds of wonderous things, and young love (ah sigh). Frog swept his arm in front of him describing a marvellous field with a trailor mounted main stage, dance tent and many other wonders... ah how I envied experiencing these hedonistic delights... forward a year and there I was, walking into just such and arena of dreams (am I building this up enough yet?). This year the Swan pub in Coney Weston took up the mantle and lo! there was the main stage, lo! there was the acoustic / comedy stage, lot! there was the dance tent, bouncy castle, giant bonfire, stalls, food vans, t-shirt stand, impromptu performances, REAL ALE BY THE BARREL-LOAD and glorious english sunshine to cap it all.

It was a day about which only good things will be remembered. Young Henry playing on both the acoustic and main-stage, all the t-shirts selling out by mid-afternoon, impromptu Saxa-boom jamming, the Blo' Boys back to their best (pictured below), glasses of beer with friends in a field... what could be better? My own performance (at about 5pm on the mainstage) could not even be mired by a few sound glitches in the first song, or my glasses nearly falling off due to sweat (the stage faced directly into the setting sun). It was nice to revive All I Want Is Stu for another year, and songs like Lightkeeper were made for a festival atmosphere.

I even got the train back home after Deference Engine's performance, so was able to cap the whole experience by sleeping in my own bed rather than in a tent. Roll on next year, when I'm hoping I will have a band to perform with!

Well that's the major round up, off to catch up with a few Blogs now. Make sure you check out some of my up-and-coming gigs below and I hope to see you soon.


19th September 2009, 2 - 5pm
Nunhead Festival, Nunhead

21st September 2009, 9pm
RAW GEMS @ The Camden Head, 100 Camden High Street, NW1 0UL

28th September 2009, 8pm
Liquid Nation, 161-165 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London, W10 6HJ

1st October 2009, TBC
Nine Bar, 146 Tanner Street, London, SE1 2HG

8th October 2009
Frog Morris Presents:
DAREN CALLOW + FRIENDS @ The Montague Arms, 289 Queens Rd, London, SE14 5JN

11th October 2009, 8pm
The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0PP

18th October 2009, 8pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, St Katherine's Docks, East Smithfield, E1W 1AA

24th October 2009
Faith! charity album launch - limited tickets BOOK NOW
The Lido, Ethelbert Terrace, Margate, CT9 1RX

1st November 2009, 8pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, St Katherine's Docks, East Smithfield, E1W 1AA

Monday, August 17, 2009

Twins, Wine and Frogs.

I'm off to Edinburgh today, to provide technical support to my friend Charlotte Young and her show TWINLESS. The show deals with the sudden death of her twin sister and comedy partner Emily, and features a specially produced video and a raffle (with big prizes). My role is to make sure you can hear the sound and turn lights on and off and stuff... oh and sell t-shirts... something I have a fair amount of experience of. Since I'm very closely involved in the show I'm sure that you'd expect me to say it's very good and you should come and see it, so I won't. Instead I'll just mention that my bestest mate (m) James thought it was THE BEST THING HE'D EVER SEEN, EVER, and he's totally unbiased.

Anyway, here's some details of when and where you can see it in Edinburgh. It's free to get in, 10p per ticket for the raffle and the t-shirts are a mere £7. It runs from 25th - 29th August and starts at 23:00. See you there!!

It's not the first time I've ever been involved in a show on the Edinburgh Fringe. On August 21st 1994 I played in a bar called Negociants with my then band - Air. Rather bonkersly we decided to drive there, do the gig, and then drive back home (to Harrow) all in the space of a day. Somehow we survived without crashing the van, but I have no idea how. This time I'm going by Easyjet.

After I return from Edinburgh, I have just one day at home before flying to LA. I'm going to meet my bestest mate (f) Peachy there for a tour of the vineyards of California and such like. I'm sure it will be very civilised and we won't get drunk at all. Not even once.

After this mad-cap road trip I'm back in the UK with just a few days to prepare for the festival of the year. Yes indeed it's the return of Frogstock, bigger and bolder than ever. It's on Saturday 12th September and features the usual mix of music, comedy, performance art, ale, badgers and, almost certainly, more ale. It's in a pub this time, which indicates to me that there will probably be more ale than normal. Although that may be technically impossible.

More info here:

I'll try and keep you all updated from the festival, best wishes to you all.


P.S. You can find the rest of my gigs here:

P.P.S. Do also check out my friend Daniel Lehan's Blog from Finland: I'm performing with Daniel at the Nunhead Festival on the 19th September.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Influences... Ultravox

Music is a magical thing. It's remarkable how a tune, a melody or a lyric can transport you to another place, or bring back a vivid memory. So it is for me and Ultravox. Hearing any song off the Quartet album instantly re-locates me to Sheffield on Boxing Day many years past. We went to visit my dad's auntie Margaret and uncle Stan at Christmas for a few years when we lived in Liverpool. Since it was Christmas I always had a new tape to listen to (or one year a MW radio that never left my ear) and Ultravox is the one I really associate with this time.*

I'm sure most of you will be familiar with Ultravox from their, oh so nearly, hit song - Vienna. The combination of synthesizers, violin, drum machine and European imagery was certainly a mixture that appealed to me. In truth Vienna was not totally typical of what they did... for three golden albums (Vienna, Rage In Eden and Quartet) they mixed cinematic soundscapes, synthetic sounds and rock guitar to amazing effect. They were always inventive: detuned radios are switched off with click (Rage In Eden), delay soaked drums from the end of one song start another (The Ascent) and a range of swirling effects and noises. They also introduced me to a love of drums that go pfft, tic, dop and fah (as opposed to the usual rock: snap, crack and pop), which I've never lost. In truth I didn't think all that much of Vienna at the time, but fell in love with Hymn (from Quartet) - and then rediscovered the back catalogue. It wasn't just me they influenced, Depeche Mode were fans too, and I would imagine that bands like Muse and MGMT were heavily influenced as well.

It all went a bit wrong after they released Lament and then decided that the next step should be to fire their drummer (Warren Cann) and embrace world music. What followed was possibly the worst album of all time - U-Vox. Fortunately there has been a recent change of heart, and for their reunion tour, they reformed the optimum middle line-up (Cann, Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Midge Ure) and played all the hits from the three albums mentioned above.

I've rediscovered the joys of disappearing into a world of Ultravox music in the iPod age. It's a revelation to hear the details of the music now, that the cassette / Walkman combination conspired to obscure. Do check out a few tracks on Spotify or the like, and see what you think.

One final anecdote, my dearly departed friend Andy Hewitt was a big fan too. One day many years back he tuned into a radio programme and immediately identified Ultravox drummer Warren Cann as the guest on the show. After listening for a while he realised that he was a "mystery guest" and listeners were failing to identify who he was, it made him laugh as there was no mystery at all, just a voice he recognised and knew. If only he'd been near a phone to call in!

To hear the Ultravox influence, check out my songs: Lightkeeper, or Minneapolis Hungover Tired Awake.


P.S. I am very happy to say that I have actually seen Ultravox live... last year at Hammersmith Apollo, that's where the picture is from.

*Interesting fact: it was also this time of my life that I was initially thrown back to when standing in the back of a truck in 2006... when the snow (nearly) fell on Denver (okay Detroit actually).

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Coming Up For Air

Ever get the feeling that you're a bit too busy?! I've just found a few minutes to write up my Blog after playing three gigs in five days, and I've got two more coming this week alone.

On Thursday last week I made a trip to the Edinburgh Cellars for a show and then hot-footed it to the Duchess to attend my mate Will's last open mic session there. Will's night was one of the first I ever did as an acoustic artist, way back in February 2008. So there were definitely mixed emotions as I took to the stage with a five song set. Hopefully open mic night will continue in September, but it's uncertain at the moment.

Sunday night and I was at Prohibition in St. Katherine's docks. It was a really special night as Laurence (the co-host with Rae) was celebrating his birthday. He'd hand-picked all the acts and it was certainly a very fun night. I particularly enjoyed The Hall Of Mirrors and Sala, but all the acts put on really good shows. Even Rae joined in at the end as we performed an impromptu version of California Dreamin' with Sala on guitar, and the lovely Lyllou on violin.

Btw, make sure you check out Rae's new tune - Persuasion, which is currently being played by Pete Tong amongst others.

For some reason that I can't quite recall right now, I decided to play at RAW on Monday night. I was pretty tired that day, but still managed to get there and play. It was another very enjoyable night and I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures on the RAW site very soon.

And it's not over yet: TONIGHT I'm playing at the Powers Bar in Kilburn and tomorrow night, I'm heading to the Nine Bar in London Bridge Road. Both gigs promise to be really good, so do come along if you can. More details here.

You should also check out this show: TWINLESS that was previewed in London Lite yesterday, my friend Charlotte is performing it and I'm helping do something technical or other... highly recommended.

More soon,


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Prohibition: Sunday

This is just a quick post to plug a big show on Sunday 2nd August. It's 15 Minute Club at Prohibition, St. Katharine's docks again, but this time it's Laurence the co-host's birthday! The line-up has been hand selected and there are likely to be a few surprise songs and jams taking place. Come on down from about 7.30pm and be part of the fun.

I'm also playing at the Edinburgh Cellars tomorrow night (Thursday 30th July) and might see if I can sneak off to The Duchess in Battersea afterwards, where my friend Will is running his last open mic night there. It was one of the first ones I ever did, and it's still one of the best.

I'll be busy with gigs next week too: on Monday 3rd I'm going to do the RAW night at the Abbey Tavern in Kentish Town. Wednesday I'll be at the Powers Bar in Kilburn, and Thursday at the Nine Bar (near Tower Bridge again). Phew!

In other news I've been offered the chance to be tour manager for a band who will hopefully be supporting Status Quo through November and December. Sounds like an opportunity too good to miss!!

Hope you are all doing well, catch you later.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Down Under The Station

We all had a feeling it was going to be an interesting gig. Even getting into the place was a challenge. Perhaps you've been to London Bridge recently and seen a long queue of people seemingly waiting to get into some part of the station basement. Well I know what they are waiting for now, and it's called Shunt.

Shunt is hard to define, it's part work space, part theatre, part art installation, part night club. The atmosphere is damp and humid, like being in a cave or some sort of Victorian England slum experience. It's no coincidence that the London Dungeon share the same space in the dank arches under the station. I arrived at the entrance in Stainer Street and then was led through a reception, bar, theatre and huge video installation that takes up about 10 arches to the far side of this eclectic venue. We were performing in the Speakeasy, which is a little pub sized room with a small bar and a big PA. The chairs and tables didn't match anything - least of all each other, and the whole vibe was easy going. The artists were all nervous and excited, we had no idea what the audience reaction would be to the mixed line-up that our host - Frog Morris - on behalf of Utrophia had assembled.

In the end we had no worries at all (apart from the odd technical glitch). The audience came in and out, but often stayed and crowded around the door to catch what was happening. We didn't disappoint them.

Frog was first on as host: Dave the security guard, who has an interesting line in safety information and an unhealthy relationship with his dogs! The first section of the show was dedicated to art. Daniel Lehan, becoming an increasingly confident performer, amused and entertained with poems and stories about sex, Sting and an interactive poem about buses in London. Next up was another gob-smacking performance from Duncan Ward. It's very hard to give a full flavour of what Duncan does in mere words, but suffice to say it involved, bags of compost, a bottle of champagne, leaves and other foliage, a paper aeroplane and, well, a fair about of mess. As with the last time I saw him at the Montague Arms, the audience were hushed into mesmerised silence, and the doorway was crammed with people trying to get a view.

After the art, it was the turn of the comedians, and James W. Smith, with musings on philosophy and sex and Aaron Barshak, the self-styled Comedy Terrorist, helped us understand religion a little more completely. There was also an appearance by the renown medium - Mystic Huere.

Finally it was time for the music! I was up first and went for the more performance art end of my repertoire. It all seemed to go down pretty well, despite one small equipment glitch. The full set was:

The End Of The World Part I
The Prophet
The End Of The World Part II
After All
When The Snow Fell In Denver
(extended version including a spoken verse from Obsession)
The Doctor Who Theme Tune (Oh yes!)
I Need Your Love

I was very pleased to get some great feedback after the set, and sold quite a few CDs.

Last, but not least, was Deference Engine who despite one or two problems with the backing track played a storming set. In the end all that was left to do was sing a rousing chorus or two of Angry Badger (pictured above, Deference Engine just off) and we were on our way out of the venue into the south London night.

It was such a great event and, although we are unlikely to ever get the chance to perform at Shunt again, you can see similar nights to this EVERY MONTH - on the 2nd Thursday at the Montague Arms in Peckham.

Or if you want to catch my songs sooner, then I'll be at Prohibition (a mere stone's throw from Shunt in the St. Katharine's docks near Tower Bridge) tonight!


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Not Prohibited Anymore

It always amuses me when bars make some reference to abstinence or temperance. For example near Clapham Common there is actually a bar in an old Temperance Hall. Another example is one of my favourite venues to play - Prohibition Bar & Grill. I've been to two excellent Sunday nights there recently both courtesy of the wonderful people involved with 15 Minute Club.

Two Sundays ago I played an excellent night there with just two other acts including the lovely Liz Fyfe band, who were all very friendly people. Last Sunday I caught my mate - Acoustic Ashley (pictured above, he doesn't have a beard, that's a harmonica) doing some excellent looping there and also the talented and beautiful Linn Öberg. Both were really good nights with a good, appreciative crowd creating a fabulous vibe. I'm heading back there to play again this Sunday, so do come down if you want to be part of a fun and exciting night.

I also have to mention 15 Minute Club's night at the Living Room in Birmingham. I've played there twice now and both times the vibe was very friendly and relaxed. Looking forward to getting back there before too long.

Talking of returns, I'm also heading back to the Nine Bar on the 6th August. Coming up sooner I'll be at the trendy Shunt bar, down in the vaults at London Bridge. It's a night hosted by Frog Morris, who is also running his much talked about night at the Montague Arms - THIS THURSDAY. So do come down to any night you can make.

One other bit of news is that I'm finishing the Faith! mix of Lightkeeper today and tomorrow - it's sounding very good with real drums and bass now in place and I can't wait for you to hear it. Talking of which, I just found this video:

Live @ The Abbey Tavern

They got the captions slightly wrong, it is me and the song is definitely Lightkeeper.

Full list of upcoming gigs:

12th July 2009, 7.30pm onwards
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, St. Katharine's Docks, Nr. Tower Bridge, London

18th July 2009
UTROPHIA @ SHUNT, 20 Stainer St. London, SE1 9RL (Photo ID required for entry)

30th July 2009, 8.30pm
Stripped Bare @ Edinburgh Cellars, 125 Newington Green Road, Islington, N1 4RA

2nd August 2009, 7.30pm onwards
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, St. Katharine's Docks, Nr. Tower Bridge, London

5th August 2009, 8pm
Stripped Bare @ Powers Bar, 332 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, NW6 2QN

6th August 2009, 8pm
Nine Bar, 146 Tanner Street, London, SE1 2HG

24th October 2009
Faith! charity album launch: limited tickets - BOOK NOW
The Westcoast, 3-5 King Street, Margate, United Kingdom

See you very soon,


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Faith Album Launch

Work proceeds apace for the Faith charity album, and I am pleased to announce that the launch of the album will be on October 24th in Margate, Kent. The venue is called the West Coast and the night will feature acts like Charlie Savigar, Unfolds, Eddy Johns, Kayley Weller, Luke Jackson plus direct from USA: Billy Page. We will also have guest artists like Shaughnessy and, of course, myself playing on the night. I understand that tickets will be limited in number and will be on sale very soon. I will post more information here, but you can keep right up to date by checking out the album launch Facebook group.

Work on my new mix of Lightkeeper is progressing well, today I added and entirely new electric guitar part (Telecaster guitar pictured above). Now I just need a killer vocal and I should be there.

Don't forget that next Wednesday 1st July is my featured artist slot at the Loom Bar, 5 Clipstone Street, Great Portland Street, W1W 6BB. This will be a full electro-acoustic set with a new arrangement of After All featuring the loop pedal. It will be well worth coming down, doors open at 7pm, and there are seven hand-picked acts to watch. Get down early and enjoy the night!

Other gigs are as follows:

21st June 2009, open mic from 7.00pm onstage after 8.30pm
Stripped Bare @ The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G OPP

25th June 2009, open mic from 7.00pm onstage after 8.30pm
Stripped Bare @ Edinburgh Cellars, 125 Newington Green Road, Islington, N1 4RA

28th June 2009, doors 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, Unit 1 Tower Bridge House, St. Katharine Docks, E1W 1AA

I'm also hoping to help out with some production and mixing for Fit & The Conniptions new album, so stay tuned for more news on that.

See you at a gig really soon!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Seeing The Light

Technology is an amazing thing. These days I have more recording equipment and processing power available to me than many studios had in the hey-day of rock'n'roll in the 50s and 60s. Even the Beatles only had access to 4-track tape recorders in the early 1960s. My hard disk recorder can record eight inputs at a time, and play back up to 16 tracks, all in digital. To further complicate things, it also allows up to 8 takes per track. On my Apple Mac I can record as many tracks as the specification of my computer will allow. Currently the track count for my re-recording of Lightkeeper stands at 48 different "takes" on the hard disk recorder and track count on for the mix now stands at 32! It's only since the 1970s that so many tracks could be played back at mix time (on analogue tape) and, frankly, it's kind of mind-boggling.

It's further complicated by the fact that I am song-writer, guitarist, singer, studio engineer, producer and client! It's hard to step back from it all and just listen to the song and hear what it needs. This is why I've not listened to it for a day now, and will try and clear my mind before working on the mixes later this week. In case you didn't realise I'm working on this track for a charity album which will be released later this year. The album will be called "Faith" and includes a number of artists that I've seen or played with live, including Luke Jackson, Eddy Johns and Kayley Weller. It's in aid of Cystic Fibrosis and will contain 16 tracks in total. If you want to follow progress then check out their website here:

As mentioned my own contribution will be a new (and unique) mix of Lightkeeper, featuring Haydn Callow on drums, Paul Tkachenko on bass and, err, me on everything else. This recording will exist as two mixes, one shorter one for my use on demos and a longer "album" mix just for this record. So essentially if you want to hear that mix, you will have to buy the album. You can follow my own updates on the track here or on Twitter. I will also be working of a shorter version for my own purposes, and I'll let you know as soon as you can hear this version.

In other news, last Thursday was a cracking night down at the Montague Arms again. This month's highlights included a laughing bear, a horse comedian, a real human comedian, Aaron Barschak, pie roulette and the excellent Dead Victorians. The latter featuring a unicycling violinist and the maestro Paul Tkachenko (again) this time on accordion, saw and bells!

Quite frankly a full review would be impossible, but here are some video clips:

Next one is July 9th - be there for more of the same, only different.

In the meantime, I'm playing tonight at the Abbey Tavern in Kentish Town. Full list of gigs is as follows:

15th June 2009
RAW Rocks @ The Abbey Tavern, 124 Kentish Town Rd, London, NW1 9QB

21st June 2009, open mic from 7.00pm onstage after 8.30pm
Stripped Bare @ The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G OPP

25th June 2009, open mic from 7.00pm onstage after 8.30pm
Stripped Bare @ Edinburgh Cellars, 125 Newington Green Road, Islington, N1 4RA

28th June 2009, doors 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, Unit 1 Tower Bridge House, St. Katharine Docks, E1W 1AA

1st July 2009
Stripped Bare Acoustic Productions presents:
Wood 'N' Strings @ LOOM
featured act
Loom Bar, 5 Clipstone Street, London W1W 6BB

See you soon,


P.S. The picture is Paul Tkachenko (AGAIN!!) this time playing Sousaphone for the Jazz Kings as part of the Croydon Jazz & Blues Festival. He's a busy boy!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Summertime (Almost)

The Sun has made an appearance in London, and we've all been enjoying it while we can. It may not last long! This is partly why I've not written an update recently, but it's also partly because I've been very busy musically with gigs and recording for the charity album "Faith" in full swing.

Here's a bit of a round-up of what's been happening.

Duchess Showcase

It really was one of the nicest days of the year so far when I turned up to play at the infamous Duchess Showcase run by the excellent host Will O'Durkan. The Duchess has a stunning view of the looming Battersea Power Station (see picture above) and it's particularly impressive from the balcony where we hung out before the gig. The music itself was of the high standard that the Showcase prides itself on. Reuben Hollebon kicked things off with his enigmatic and individual vocal style. Laine Hines then played his retro blues eschewing microphones and amplified guitar to reach the room directly.

In total contrast to Liane I took to the stage with my VoiceLive box and looper pedal ready to go. In the end I didn't really use them as a combination of the vibe of the night and some monitoring problems meant they weren't really suitable to the evening. In the end a quiet version of After All seemed to go down the best. Many thanks to Frog and Victoria in particular who came down to support, and offered generous (and very polite) applause when Lightkeeper was introduced! A first for me.

The evening continued until quite late with first Tom Moriarty making the crowd swoon, and then Smile At Strangers making us, well, smile. Favourite moments were Tom giving up on a new song, which sounded excellent, but I guess was just debuted a little early. And then Tom (again) playing bongos for Smile At Strangers, a very relaxed and enjoyable evening all round.

Nine Bar

The Nine Bar is a new venue for me and also for the effervescent and tireless host Carl Chamberlain. Carl is one of live performer's champions and he really knows how to put on a good night and keep the crowd happy. I must confess I don't remember all the acts that played as amongst the sizeable crowd where my friends Alex, Seb, Rosie and (new friend) Ed. Now these guys are serious music lovers too, and made a point of listening, applauding and, occasionally, going to the front of the crowd to hear an act they really liked. All in all it was another extremely pleasant evening. The acts were strong, I got another sing-along going to The Fool I Am (first number of the night for me!! Lead by Carl, of course) and received some nice comments.

Carl usually does an much more indepth review of his nights than I can do here, so do follow his link above and check out his Blog.

Drum Recording

Those who follow my Blog regularly will know that I have been invited to submit a track for a charity compilation called Faith. Rather than submit an old track I decided to re-record a favourite from scratch. This time I would invite top musicians to play rather than do it all in Garage Band. Last Friday I recorded the drums played by the excellent session and live player - Haydn Callow. Who, of course, also happens to be my younger brother.

As an aside here, it is worth mentioning that none of this would be possible without my brother's influence. It is almost entirely because of him that I am playing and writing songs and performing these days. From a very young age he knew that he wanted to be a drummer and started getting a kit together as soon as he could persuade our parents to stump up the cash. In an effort to join in with him I first got a small keyboard and then, when this turned out to be not loud enough, an electric guitar. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

So it was a great pleasure to have him play drums for me on this recording. We set up the kit at a secret location in Hertfordshire and two hours later we had 5 good takes on disk for me to work through and add to the evolving mix of the song. Haydn's Yamaha kit sounds phenomenal and it's very easy to record, his playing is also accurate and original. The song is really coming on now and, after his suggestion, has both live drums and drum machine on it (plus a tambourine played entirely out of time by me). It's a very exciting prospect and this version of the song will only be available on the record, which will be available around October I believe.

Next stop on this trip is to record the bass with talented multi-instrumentalist Paul Tkachenko, before that though I'm hoping to add electric guitar and vocals today and tomorrow.

By the way, Paul and one of his acts: The Dead Victorians are playing at the Montague Arms - this Thursday 11th June. It's 2nd Thursdays hosted by Frog Morris that night, which is always a fun evening. I'll be there to support the night, so why not come down from about 8.30pm and be a part of the night which also features Pie Roulette!

Well that's all for now, catch you later.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Singalong If You Know Where I'm Coming From

You know how sometimes things just come together? Well this week has been a bit like that. On Tuesday I was down at Bacchus in Hoxton Street to play a few tunes for the enigmatic Andreas von Graant's singer-songwriter night. Admittedly it was a very quiet night due, no doubt, to a swathe of post-bank holiday hangovers. Those who were there, however, had an excellent night. Opening up was Rachel Waite who's guitar pick-up had once been in the same room as the Beatles! I think their spirit was definitely infecting us all as she kicked things off with a wonderful set of original and cover songs. She was coaxed back for two encores (the second at then end involved borrowing my guitar, which was slung a bit low for her, but she coped admirably.

Next up was Lou who was great company all night and turned out to be a remarkably good player if somewhat nervous! Like me he can't play covers, but he demonstrated quite a range of playing in his set. He also produced a rendition of We Could Be Anything That We Wanted To Be from Bugsy Malone later on when we were well into the Guinness. He is certainly a dark horse.

Finally it was my turn and although I had brought my looper pedal I decided to leave it to one side and concentrate on unembelished songs instead. It seemed to work very well especially when the audience (such as they were) sang along to both The Fool I Am and I Need Your Love. My friend Peter summed up the gig thus (whilst very drunk on the black stuff) - She was great (pointing to Rachel), you were really good (pointing to Lou), BUT YOU ROCKED!! (pointing at me) Well I'm just glad someone approved, ha ha. Peter was last seen heading for a smoke with Lou... I hope you guys had a good evening.

I had to leave at a reasonable hour as I have to practice very hard for a gig this weekend. I am very happy to confirm that I will be playing the prestigious Duchess Showcase this Sunday 31st May. Full address below. This is a super venue and the Showcase is always a well attended night of excellent music. I'm thrilled to be playing there and am planning a great set. Please do come and join us from about 8pm if you can. For all the keen ones out there I'm also heading there tonight (Thursday 28th May) for the open mic night, from about 8.30pm.

Otherwise see you at another gig soon, next Thursday's gig at the Nine Bar is another excellent choice. Come along and sing along!!

All the best,


31st May 2009, doors open 8pm
Showcase @ The Duchess, 101 Battersea Park Rd, Battersea, SW8 4DS

4th June 2009, music from 7.30pm
The Nine Bar, 146 Tanner Street, London, SE1 2HG

15th June 2009
RAW Rocks @ The Abbey Tavern, 124 Kentish Town Rd, London, NW1 9QB

21st June 2009, open mic from 7.00pm onstage after 9pm
Stripped Bare @ The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G OPP

28th June 2009, doors 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, Unit 1 Tower Bridge House, St. Katharine Docks, E1W 1AA

1st July 2009
Stripped Bare Acoustic Productions presents:
Wood 'N' Strings @ LOOM
featured act
Loom Bar, 5 Clipstone Street, London W1W 6BB

Monday, May 25, 2009

Influences... Morrissey

Morrissey has just turned 50 so it seems appropriate to say a few words, and what better person to kick off an occasional series on musical influences. I should say straight away that I wasn't a big fan of The Smiths, although I do own Big Mouth Strikes Again on 12" I prefer the live Morrissey version... "as her iPod started to melt". Somehow The Smiths were just too depressing in a pretty poor time for rock music in the UK.

Morrissey's solo music started in the same vein and then became more playful (if still willfully at odds with everything). I think the key difference though is the rest of his band, Boz Boorer and, particularly, Alain Whyte are big heros of mine and do, in fact, write most of the tunes on Morrissey's records. Ringleader of the Tormentors and You Are The Quarry are my favourite albums, but his band is also great live so check out the excellent Live At Earl's Court which sees them all at their peak (before Alain Whyte left the band) and includes some rare Morrissey tracks and some of the best Smiths songs too. This last record also includes one track that was never on an album but sums up the best of Morrissey's music for me, if you want one track to check out then listen to Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice - cracking tune, amusing yet caustic lyrics... perfect rock.

Of course I realise that Morrissey is much like that other British tradition that begins with M - Marmite. People tend to either love him or hate him - which is the sign of a truly radical artist, I could never court controversy the way he does, but I do try to be more creative than average in my lyrics. Whichever, it's good to see some real longevity in the UK music scene, so happy birthday you old bugger - I hope you have plenty more!

Some miscellaneous memories relating to Morrissey and (ahem) booze:

1) Drinking my friend Adrian's ENTIRE collection of red wine, whilst alternately playing and arguing for early or late period Morrissey songs as being the best. We agreed, drunkenly, to disagree.

2) Missing Morrissey's appearance at a Paris festival because Peachy and I didn't make it out of the hotel bar. What can I say, I enjoy getting drunk with friends... we did make it to see Radiohead the next day, and they were utterly fantastic.

To hear the Morrissey influence, check out my song: The Fool I Am

In other news, the recording for the charity record is full steam ahead. I'm very pleased that the peerless Haydn Callow and frighteningly brilliant Paul Tkachenko have agreed to play respectively drums and bass for me. I'm very, very excited about this. Now perhaps if I can just get Tony Visconti to produce it... hmmm. Much more news on this to follow.

The recording is leading to a slight lull in gigs, but I will be back stronger than ever with some new arrangements (although no new songs just yet) on the 4th June at the Nine Bar near Tower Bridge.

Full gig list:

4th June 2009, music from 7.30pm
The Nine Bar, 146 Tanner Street, London, SE1 2HG

15th June 2009
RAW Rocks @ The Abbey Tavern, 124 Kentish Town Rd, London, NW1 9QB

21st June 2009, open mic from 7.00pm onstage after 9pm
Stripped Bare @ The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G OPP

28th June 2009, doors 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, Unit 1 Tower Bridge House, St. Katharine Docks, E1W 1AA

1st July 2009
Stripped Bare Acoustic Productions presents:
Wood 'N' Strings @ LOOM featured act
Loom Bar, 5 Clipstone Street, London W1W 6BB

Best wishes to you all,


P.S. Shamefully I have never seen Morrissey live, so the picture above is me and Peachy missing Morrissey in Paris, August 2006.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Early Warning

As hinted at on Facebook (be-friend me here or become a fan of my music here) I was losing the will a bit. I'd had two good, but emotionally draining, gigs in London and had got home a 1am for the third night in a row. Then just as I was questioning myself some good things came along and it's time to share these with you.

Firstly I've got two good gigs coming up and I wanted to give you plenty of advance warning, if you can get into London on one of these dates, then please come and watch and listen. Firstly on the 4th June I'm playing as a headline act at the Nine Bar in SE1 (146 Tanner Street, London, SE1 2HG) close to Tower Bridge. There are four headline acts and five "surprise" slots, so it's going to be a super night of music. Get down for about 8pm.

Secondly I'm playing at the prestigious Loom Bar (5 Clipstone Street, London W1W 6BB) as a special guest on the 1st July (plenty of warning on this one!!). Doors open at 7pm and the show kicks off at 7.45. I'll be using all the gadgets (Voicelive box and looper) for this great show and there will be some surprises even if you've seen me recently. If you make it to one gig of mine over the Summer, then make it this one.

Thirdly there is a possibility that a new recording of mine will be on a charity compilation record (in aid of Cystic Fibrosis). Nothing definite yet, but I'll bring you more news as soon as I have it.

I'm also playing really good gigs at Prohibition and The Phoenix in central London, here are all the up-and-coming dates, put them in your diary now.

4th June 2009, music from 7.30pm
The Nine Bar, 146 Tanner Street, London, SE1 2HG

21st June 2009, open mic from 7.00pm onstage after 9pm
Stripped Bare @ The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G OPP

28th June 2009, doors 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, Unit 1 Tower Bridge House, St. Katharine Docks, E1W 1AA

1st July 2009
Stripped Bare Acoustic Productions presents:
Wood 'N' Strings @ LOOM featured act
Loom Bar, 5 Clipstone Street, London W1W 6BB

See you at a gig very soon.


P.S. The picture is from Ultravox live at Hammersmith back in April - I was literally in row Z, but I still enjoyed it very much.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


It's been another busy week, but very enjoyable and it has brought some great experiences. Last week on Monday I travelled up to Birmingham to play the 15 Minute Club @ The Living Room. It was one of those evenings where everybody was on top form, all the acts played well and the sound and atmosphere was great. I used the loop pedal for my set and was very pleased with the reaction. It was also great to see Johnny Ryder again, that lad has talent.

On Tuesday I was in Portsmouth, playing the Shrek Rap (by Casdok) again for the Portsmouth Autism Support Network. It was a very enjoyable evening and it was great the DJ Kirkby and Chris King were there to talk about DJ's book. It was interesting to increase my knowledge of the real world aspects of living with Autism and there is talk of another performance of the 'Rap soon.

Thursday I was playing at the Edinburgh Cellars and again it was an excellent night. I met the splendid Peter Paul Parker, and also a lady who sang about her sex doll (amongst other things).

Sunday night and I was back at Prohibition near Tower Bridge and actually witnessed the bridge opening to let a tall masted boat pass by on my way there. The show was, again, of a really high standard and Rae really gets the evening going with her compering. The highlight for me was jamming at the end with all the acts, but especially Tres Womack, who was over from Texas, USA to promote an Americana CD that he's on. He very kindly swapped his CD for mine and I have been enjoying playing it ever since. The track "Gather Round" which he wrote with his brother (I believe) is my favourite cut.

I have a small treat for you which I shot on my mobile phone on the way back home from Prohibition, but before that just time to plug my next gig:

13th May 2009, doors 7.30pm onstage after 9.00pm
Stripped Bare @ The Powers Bar, 332 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, NW6 2QN

Hope to see you there, for a full electro-acoustic set, loops, voices and new versions of songs for your delight.

Meantime, enjoy this rough and ready video shot on my phone on Sunday night.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

London, Midlands, South

I'm off on a little mini-adventure starting tonight, when I venture to The Phoenix in the heart of London. This will be a full showcase gig with all the bells and whistles (well vocal effects and loops anyway) - my friend Acoustic Ashley is playing too.

3rd May 2009, open mic from 7.30pm, featured acts from 8.30pm
Stripped Bare @ The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G OPP

Then tomorrow night I'm heading to the midlands to play a gig at the brand new 15 Minute Club venue in Birmingham. Do I have any fans in Birmingham? We'll find out tomorrow.

4th May 2009, music from 8pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living Room Birmingham, Unit 4 Regency Wharf 2, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2DS

Then on Tuesday there will be a return for the Shrek Rap (by Casdok) at a private autism support network event in Portsmouth. It's been fun to get practicing that again, and it's super that it's getting another hearing.

Will let you know how it goes on Wednesday when I've recovered!!

See you at at gig soon,


Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I'm back from LA and just about in one piece. Well apart from a severely bruised finger (I shut it in an industrial elevator door, yeah it did hurt). The last two weeks have been saturated with a host of experiences and emotions, way too much to document in detail, so here are a few snapshots (in no particular order, just as they come to me).

Waking up wedged into a airline seat, surprised to find that I've actually managed to sleep. Foolishly I start to watch another movie. Anyone know what happens at the end of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas? I can't help feeling it can only be bad. Just before we land I can swear that I hear the pilot say, "We hope to see you on another virgin soon".

Sitting on Zuma beach in Malibu, watching the sunset with Alex. I'm eating a picnic off a china plate with a knife and fork. Very civilised.

Walking downtown in LA in searing heat (they had a Spring heatwave just for me, it seems). It's a mixed area of very run down shops and beautiful old theatres. I walk for about 2 hours and am astonished to not see one MacDonalds.

Standing in a huge empty loft in the Toy District of downtown LA. Our voices echo around the walls. The view of the commercial district is stunning.

Trying not to laugh when a slightly camp real estate agent tells us that the apartment block we are viewing has a "breezeway".

More walking, this time on Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard. Checking out the handprints and the walk of fame. Is this the true mark of having made it? Curiously it kinda is just how I always imagined it would be, although I am slightly disappointed I didn't see C3-PO's footprints. There is a man dress up as Homer Simpson, apparently this is how he makes his living.

Watching the homeless people make camp for the night in the road next to our loft (whilst trying to avoid looking at the stuffed snake and mongoose diorama). There is a mission and a Police station just around the corner. It seems that they are allowed to sleep on the streets from 9pm to 6am. Prior to Hurricane Katrina the city aggressively moved them on, so I am looking at social progress (of a sort). It turns out we are actually living on Skid Row!

Champagne by the pool in the Standard Hotel on Sunset.

Wandering the lot at Rent-A-Wreck. They've told me that they rent cars to the movie industry. There is a green convertible Jaguar just like the one in Memento. I don't ask if it is the same one, I don't want to be disappointed. In my mind it is.

Getting lost in the LAX airport complex on the way to the car park. Twice.

Looking down in the blazing heat on the whole of LA from the observatory in Hollywood Hills. Wondering what would happen if there was an earthquake right now. Trying to take a picture of us with the Hollywood sign in the background. Failing comically... most especially when the passerby who volunteers to take the picture for us manages to get it right behind our heads.

Brunch (Dutch Babies and Mimosas) with a number of young defense attorneys in the suburbs of LA followed by table football (my team loses 1-2, but it's pretty close). Their descriptions of gangs and crime in the area makes Thornton Heath seem very safe.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

La La LA

More travels beckon as this week I'm off to LA and then it looks like I'm going back on the road as a roadie, but more news on that later.

First a round up of the last few gigs (mine for a change) which have all gone really well: last Wednesday I was in Guildford at a great bar called Fahrenheit 55 that has a great viewing area upstairs and I made full use of all my TC Helicon VoiceLive box and looper pedal during the set.

On Thursday I was up in Islington at the Edinburgh Cellars. Daniel, who promotes the Stripped Bare nights, had been let down by a couple of artists, and then on the night another had to pull out due to a death in the family! In the end there was just myself, Andy Page and my good friend CT, but we played our hearts out for the whole evening. I did two half hour sets and made use of the looper pedal again (despite a slightly dodgy PA) to entertain an increasingly enthusiastic crowd. The feedback from the evening was all really positive and I'm looking forward to getting back there soon. When I left Andy was still singing away with most of the audience joining in with his set of well performed covers!

Easter Sunday night brought me back to St. Albans were I first started out on the acoustic open mic scene. The Horn pub has just won an award as the Best Music Pub in the UK and it was fantastic to be able to use all my effects pedals with their excellent sounding PA and powerful monitors (the bits that let the artist onstage hear themselves... very important when you are building loops). The Sunday night crowd is very knowledgeable as most of them are veteran performers themselves, so it was particularly pleasing to have a good number of them come over to let me know they had enjoyed the set. Can't wait to get back there either!

Fancy hearing what everybody is talking about? Well you can tomorrow night, when I'm doing the full looping/VoiceLive show at the Powers Bar in Kilburn (332 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, NW6 2QN), I'll be on around 8.30pm. Alternatively you can check out my videos on YouTube:

Daren's YouTube Channel

There are new videos from an exclusive Whitechapel gig going up this week and next week.

You might also be interested to know that a written piece of mine has recently been published in A3 magazine. This is available free from many London galleries, plus I have a few copies that I can post to you if you'd like one. Leave me a comment if you are interested.

Right, better get rehearsing for tomorrow!


P.S. Heading to see Fit & the Conniptions at the Abbey in Kentish Town tonight, do come along if you fancy it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I'm off on my travels again, tonight the one man electro-acoustic cabaret hits Guildford. Now technically this is a local gig as Guildford is in my county of Surrey, but it's still a fair old trek. I have to say I'm really looking forward to it, the set is really strong now, and it's a great sign when I can't actually fit all the songs I really want to play into my 25 minute set. My use of the looper and voicebox is improving with practice all the time. For the most part I can now hit the buttons I need without looking down, this is a bit improvement as it really lets me concentrate on performing the song and not on the technology. It's always supposed to be complimentary to the song and not take it over.

If you want to come along to Guildford tonight, here are the details:

Strangers On A Train @ Fahrenheit 55
3 Milkhouse Gate, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3EZ

My good friend and excellent multi-instrumentalist, Wayne Myers (Fit & The Conniptions) came to a recent electro-acoustic gig and wrote some nice things. Thanks again Wayne, hope your throat gets better soon.

For those of you unable to get to UK gigs there is some good news. I'm halfway through downloading video from my recent White Hart gig. This involves two video camera views so the editing will take a little longer than usual, but I would expect to have 4 or 5 new videos up some time next week. You'll hear about it here, but you can also subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want the earliest possible chance to see them:

Daren's YouTube Page

Don't forget to give a star rating to any videos you like.

The rest of my gigs this week are as follows:

9th April 2009 - 8.00pm
Stripped Bare @ The Edinburgh Cellars, 125 Newington Green Road, Islington, N1 4RA

12th April 2009 - from 8.00pm onstage after 9.00pm
Blue Angel Acoustic Cafe @ The Horn, Victoria Street, St. Albans, AL1 3TE

15th April 2009 - open mic from 7.30
Stripped Bare @ The Powers Bar, 332 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, NW6 2QN

Last night I ventured to the Hen & Chickens Theatre in Highbury (nearest tube Highbury & Islington) and saw The Brazner performing "Ay Me!". I'd seen Charlotte and Tom do some of these sketches before, but they were all excellently performed and really suit the small theatre setting. They certainly made me (and the whole audience) laugh out loud at several points and the horse comedian they brought in for the night was a real bray! Their show runs all week and is well worth a trip:

Finally I just wanted to make mention of the excellent new album by Hadar Manor - "Crossing London". This is a self-produced effort with help from many very talented friends (Wayne Myers, Tom Fry, Daniel Spiller, Geoff Southall, Gemma Fuller and Hezron Chetty to name check but a few) and can be bought for just a tenner (plus postage) here:

The songs are all very good and recorded simply and with obvious enjoyment and a wicked sense of humour - drawing on her experience of busking and travelling across London. Some of the little bits of audio between tracks and the group singing on many tracks really shows this. It has to be said that all the tracks are tinged with a little sadness, so it never gets too sweet. In fact, having said that, some of the songs are downright heart-wrenching, but, hey, if you like a little pain with your pleasure (as I do) then this this is for you. A whole range of styles and sounds are presented here and I cannot recommend highly enough also seeing her live. Either with or without her talented band she is a mesmorising, beautiful, emotional and highly skilled performer.

Okay, that's all for now. See you on-line, see you at a gig - either way - see you soon!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where Am I?

Jet lag is real - I know, I'm feeling it right now. Monday night I flew the red eye back from Newark, NY and, despite having a full row of four seats to myself, got no sleep whatsoever. I did try, but a crying baby and proximity to the loo made it impossible. Still it was a novelty to be entirely horizontal on a jet plane - now I know how the first class passengers feel (they have some very natty bed/chair type thingies these days).

New York was good fun. It was fantastic to see Alex again, and I enjoyed staying in Brooklyn and traveling around different parts of the city on the subway. I really like New York, it's probably my third favourite city in the world (after London and Paris) and particular highlights this time were walking in Brooklyn Heights (great view of Manhattan), viewing art in Chelsea (Deitch Projects is always interesting), eating in 'the only diner in LIC' (that's Long Island City of course) and catching a funky Brazilian influenced jazz band in the West Village. I have to confess that I didn't make it to any open mic nights (boo!) - preferring instead to have a break from playing - which has really energised me for more gigs here.

After arriving home on Tuesday morning I got a text from my friend Wayne reminding me that it was Hadar Manor's album launch at the 12 Bar Club that night! Well I um'd and ah'd for about half an hour before deciding that I might as well fight the fatigue and go anyway. I have to say I am very glad I did. The 12 Bar Club is a very strange venue which used to be an old forge or something, and it's very hard to see some of the acts due to the close proximity of stage and balcony. All the same it was a very special night. The warm-up acts included a bagpipe player, a harpist, and several singer-songwriters who were all excellent. Hadar sat in with most of them, and I began to wonder how her set could match up - but I needn't have worried. When she finally took to the stage with her band (a little later than advertised) they produced one of the finest live performances I think I have ever seen. With the peerless Wayne Myers on guitar and Tom Fry on bass (sorry, don't know the drummer's name, but he was excellent too - AND he had a nice hat) they were joined by a succession of other musicians. Violin, trumpet, vocals, percussion, harp, keyboards and guitar accompanied a wonderful set that covered all the emotions and was constantly entertaining.

Here are the other artists who I saw that night: Vashti Anna, Sean Taylor, Bare Hat, Judith Haustein, Wayne Myers, Diego Lavardes, Daniel Spiller & The Broken Record Project, Gemma Fuller, Tom Fry, Geoff Southall, Spencer Pierce, The Entertainment, Beth Rowley...

(Pictured are Hadar Manor, Wayne Myers on guitar, drummer in nice hat and you can just about see Tom Fry on right of the shot)

Tiredness overtook me rapidly after Hadar finished so I headed home in a drowsy (but happy) haze.

I finally fell asleep at about midnight...

...and woke up at 3pm the next afternoon!!

Somehow, despite all this sleep/music induced euphoria, I managed to practice for tonight's gig at the White Hart in Whitechapel. It's easy to get to, just take a tube to Whitechapel station, turn left as you exit and walk up to Mile End Road... the venue is upstairs. There is music tonight from 7.30pm (open mic, including my mate Ashley Cowen) and then featured acts from 9.00pm - I'm due onstage at 9.30pm and will be off half an hour later so don't be late!!

I can promise some looped delights, weird vocals and carefully crafted songs both old and new... and that's just me!

See you there.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Playing Without Electricity

I have to say I really enjoy playing genuine "unplugged" gigs. I'm sure that some performers hearts sink when they see that there is no amplifier or microphone to use, but actually I find it very exciting. There is a rawness and emotional connection that you get when the music from your guitar and mouth are reaching the people sitting before you directly. It has the added advantage of meaning that the audience has to remain quiet in order to hear the songs and this allows you to use playing dynamics and your vocal range freely.

I have just done such a gig at The Jago in Shoreditch. It was an electric (!) night of spoken word, poetry and music in an intimate and enjoyable setting. I particularly enjoyed the work of John Zammit, Andreas, the singing bouncer (who came in, sung one number beautifully and then left to go back to work!), Failed Hearts (part blues, part punk - nice harp playing), Trinity (the DJ, who played real vinyl and some of my favourite tunes - Supertramp anyone?) and the co-hosts David Amery and Jazzman John Clarke. I sold a good number of CDs, including one to a lady who wanted me to sing her a cover song before parting with her cash. In the end I managed a pretty reasonable version of California Dreamin' and the deal was done. I played 6 songs in total and the night comes highly recommended: it's the first Saturday of every month (so also a rare weekend gig) and I'm back there to play again on the 4th April.

I've got some really exciting gigs coming up, in north, south, east and west London, Guildford, St. Albans and (possibly) New York. Plus, this coming Saturday is the excellent Fiestival in Chatham, Kent. Expect lots of mexican themed songs and performances and lots of latin-American themed fun. I'm also back at the Montague Arms this Thursday (12th March) - this time performing a one-off interpretation of one of Daniel Lehan's art pieces. This really is a one-off, if you are not there, you will not experience it! In fact there are so many gigs that I can't really do them justice here, and I don't always have the time to promote every gig properly, so PLEASE go to my gigs page on my website and scan the list, find one near you and COME ON DOWN!

If you haven't yet taken advantage of the free downloads from the site, then I would swing by there too and grab anything you like. I'm about to record some new songs and review what is available for free, and what I will be charging for: so get in there now!!

Have a great week.


P.S. The photograph is from the excellent Powers venue in Kilburn, I'm back there for a featured set on the 15th April. Perhaps the Angry Badger has been down that way.