Saturday, February 28, 2009

Music Around London

Busy, busy week. So here's a quick round up.


Open mic night at The Eagle near Old Street. Nice to be playing in a different place and to a fairly big crowd. Also good to see my friend Anne-Marie Sanderson on great form.


Back to the River Bar on a very, very busy night. Played my two tunes, met some nice people and hung around to see the rest of the night.


This one deserves more than just a single line... I was very excited to play for Jazzman John up at the Fused Lounge Bar in Lewisham. This was partly because it's an easy bus ride for me to get there, but also because it promised to be a great night and I wasn't disappointed. First up was a fantastic trombone three-piece, who really entertained us and finished with a cover of the Star Trek theme! I was next up, and despite a really dodgy mic played through four of my songs. The evening went from strength to strength as performer after performer produced some really memorable moments. Sometimes Jasmine improvised with an electric cello, loops and effects, and Dan Razer played some great guitar and very evocative songs. The evening ended with Jazzman John himself rapping over improvised guitar, cello and saxophone (pictured above). It was and excellent night, and I do recommend it highly.


Oh yeah, that's today... I have finally recorded my new song called A Song About Pain - I will Blog on this properly tomorrow and give you a chance to hear it.

Next gig is on Monday when I head to the Abbey Tavern in Kentish Town for the RAW open mic night.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Meetings And Partings

Life is made up of meetings and partings (name the film). And always more partings.

Last night saw the final performance of 15 Minute Club at the Living Room in Islington. The reason for this is Islington Council changing their rules on music licensing due to an incident on a packed Saturday night disco. The venue now has to have TWO paid doormen on any music night, even the sleepy Sundays that the 15 Minute Club acoustic acts put on. The economics don't add up, so the (unpaid) musicians have to move on. Ours was a quiet, family friendly night where acts of any age got their 15 minutes and then relaxed and watched the other acts perform, and it is no more. So much for the support of original music in the UK. One person and a lot of bureaucracy have closed an exciting and fresh venue.

I actually feel sadder about it today than I did last night, because it was a surreal night for another reason which I'll come to. All the acts performed to their best for the Sunday night eaters and drinkers. My set featured a new song (more on that very soon) and an new piece of percussion (any guesses?). I really enjoyed all the acts Denai Moore, Harley Moon Kemp, Amy Wyke and two other chaps who's name I didn't manage to retain (sorry guys) - if they get in touch I'll rectify that. The jam at the end was great fun too as I improvised 15 Minute Club related lyrics to Get Back!

The weirdest part of the night came just after I had met Harley. A guy walks into the bar who is the spitting image of one of two brothers that used to be in a very successful 80s band that I grew up listening to. After a little bit of covert glancing on my behalf he came over and sat next to me. He asked if I was one of the other performers and I became increasingly convinced that he was one of the two men in question, or just an amazing dead ringer. I quickly formulated a plan to find out: if I introduced myself to him then he would give me his name and I would know. So I did and I could have sworn that he said his name was Neil! That's my rubbish hearing for you, he did though say he was Harley's dad (and her mum introduced herself too) and when she was introduced as Harley Moon Kemp my heart gave a little start. I had, as you all probably guessed already, just shook the hand of Martin Kemp the bass player with Spandau Ballet and, it should be noted, Shirlie Holliman - one half of Pepsi & Shirlie. I missed out on the chance to perform my songs for him, as they left with Harlery and her friends shortly after she finished playing, but I have to say he seemed like a thoroughly nice man. I suspect he probably thought I did recognise him, but I'm glad that in my naive way I just introduced myself as if he was any guy. Which in way, of course, we all are.

Meetings and partings indeed.

In other news, I'm playing twice this week. On Tuesday I'm going to try my hand at the open mic night at The Eagle, and then on Thursday I'm a featured act at the Fused Bar in Lewisham. I've also booked a featured artist slot at the White Hart in Whitechapel on March 26th - this will be a full electro-acoustic gig and I promise will be a must see (and hear, obviously).

Don't forget that the Shrek Rap CD is still available and all proceeds go to Autism related charities.

Have a good week!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

15 Minute Club @ The Living Room

I'm off to Islington tonight to play at the last 15 Minute Club gig at the Living Room. It's the last 15 Minute Club at the Living Room so it's sure to be an emotional night! If you would like to follow my preparations then tune in via Twitter:

Planning to play my new song again (I did play it at Prohibition last week, but it's moved on since then) and stay tuned to this Blog for a chance to help name the song again. I also have a new piece of percussion that I'm going to use for the first time tonight. Really looking forward to it, so do come down and support:

22nd February 2009, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living Room, Islington, N1 8LN

In other news, I've also got a great gig booked up at the White Hart, 1 Mile End Road, Whitechapel - if you've never seen my full electro-acoustic gig (looper pedal, VoiceLive box, percussion etc...) this is the one to come to. I promise to put on the best show I can. The date is 26th March - keep it free!

More on tonight's gig later.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Real Brits

So we are living in a golden age of British music? Well that may well be true but if it is it certainly has little to do with major record labels, especially at the grassroots.

Which is where I was again this Sunday just gone at Prohibition. I was there to witness the excellent original music of Byron Johnstone (pictured) and Sala. Both produced fun, exciting sets albeit in very different ways.

Byron Johnstone is a solo guitarist with heavy Flamenco leanings (but that's not the total of it) - he is also a great user of technology, with a looper pedal and reverb pedal being used to full effect. A great mixture of technique and textures and rhythms. He doesn't just play the strings, he creates rhythm parts, of surprising complexity, from hitting and tapping parts of his guitar. It's quite mesmerizing and brilliantly performed. The Flamenco pieces certainly went down well with the high percentage of genuinely Spanish people in the audience. On top of this he's a good looking chap and very nice person. I consoled myself with the fact that at least my lyrics are better than his (ha ha).

Sala speaks at least three languages (I actually heard him talking fluently in all three), as a large number of very attractive female fans and can play guitar and especially piano with are real flair and a great deal of enjoyment. He was a pleasure to meet too and I hope to see him again soon. Check them both out here:

Byron Johnstone


All this fun (and my set too, of course) was brought to you by the excellent 15 Minute Club, and I'm appearing for them again this Sunday at the Living Room (not Prohibition as previously billed). For the really keen I am also at the River Bar again tonight, and The Duchess in Battersea Park tomorrow (Thursday) night.

Loads of gigs coming up, so I've posted them below.

See you at a gig really soon.


22nd February 2009, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living Room, Islington, N1 8LN

26th February 2009, 8.00pm
Fused Lounge Bar, 21 Lee High Road, Lewisham, SE13 5LD

8th March 2009, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, St. Katherine's Docks, nr Tower Bridge, E1W 1AA

12th March 2009, 9.00pm
2nd Thursdays @ The Montague Arms
- one-off performance of a Daniel Lehan piece

14th March 2009 - 8.00pm
Fiestaval @ Poco Loco, 58 High Street, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4DS

8th April 2009 - 8.00pm
Strangers On A Train @ Fahrenheit 55, 3 Milkhouse Gate, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3EZ

12th April 2009 - 8.00pm
The Horn, Victoria Street, St. Albans, AL1 3TE

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In The Shadow Of Tower Bridge

Wednesday I played two songs at the Live In London open mic at the River Bar. Friday I'm back playing six songs to a packed bar. I made some mistakes, but gave it all I had. I met some old friends, I made some new ones. It was good.

Tonight I go back to Prohibition in St. Katherine's docks. I have a new song. I'm not sure whether to play it or not, but I think I might have to. Just to see what happens.

I hope to see you there.


Friday, February 13, 2009


I can't really describe the antics at the Montague Arms last night, and I'm quite sure you wouldn't believe me if I told you. So here's a picture instead.

Captions or suggestions at to what was happening are welcome!

Meanwhile, don't forget tonight's super gig at the River Bar, 206 - 208 Tower Bridge Road, music kicks off at 8pm. It promises to be a super night.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Friday Live At The River Bar

Last night I ventured to the open mic night at the River Bar near Tower Bridge. It was a really good night, and all the better for me as I now have a gig on a Friday night in London!! The only downside (there had to be a catch) is that it's TOMORROW NIGHT! So no notice at all, but it's looking like being a really, really good gig. So if you have no plans or even just loose plans - change them and make your way to the River Bar:

Friday 13th February 2009 - 8pm
LONDON NIGHTS LIVE downstairs at The River Bar
206 - 208 London Bridge Road, London, SE1 2UP

The venue is in the downstairs bar, there are five hand-picked acts playing 25 minute sets and IT'S ON A FRIDAY!

In other news I can confirm that will be playing at Fiestaval which is being held in the Poco Loco Mexican restaurant in Chatham, Kent. This will be on the 14th March and should be another crazy night. Unmissable if you are in Kent or, quite frankly, anywhere in the south east of England.

If you want to keep even more up-to-date with what I'm doing, you can now follow me on Twitter:

If I can figure out how to do the mobile phone updates then I can even report on the crazy goings on during the evenings that I Blog about here.

See you at a gig very soon, don't forget this Sunday and next Sunday at Prohibition (also near Tower Bridge)


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Life Goes On...

"...Sing-a-long if you know where I'm coming from"

It's been quite an intense couple of weeks in many ways, and I must say I'm certainly feeling it a bit. The last few days especially have been a time for reflection, re-motivating and re-starting. Last Sunday (1st) I played at the Surface Unsigned Festival in Tufnel Park. On the whole it was a fun experience, I met some cool bands (and one decidedly uncool singer) and I pitched my solo set (with voice effects and looper) against five rock bands! It was certainly a crazy thing to do and it was no huge surprise that I didn't get through to the next round, but all the same I was a bit disappointed. In the end the maths was just weighted against me, I'd relied on picking up some of the band votes (each band got two votes worth 20 points each) which I did (more than any other act) but just couldn't pull in the text votes and audience votes to get into the top 4. I have to say though I did well not to come last, and I am very grateful to all those who texted in and, especially, to Adrian, Olivia, Alan (my dad) and Lorraine who all come through the snow to vote for me in person. If you are interested you can see the full breakdown of the scores here:

As you can see I missed out on fourth place by just 14 votes! Mind you The JayWays, who pulled out on the day, are an excellent band who might well have displaced a few higher up. At least I was there, I competed (against bands) and did myself proud. It was hard work doing the looping and trying to sing in tune when the onstage monitoring was a bit iffy, but apparently it sounded good out front, so what else could I do?

After enjoying a couple of post-gig drinks and hearing the result I headed out to find that the whole of London had turned white! As you probably know, we don't get snow in London very often and we are never prepared for it. Consequently I arrived at Balham station (after a very pleasant journey with one of the other bands and four girls from the Czech Republic!) to find no trains running, no buses running and one of the two cab companies shutting up early! The other company had a queue and there was me with a guitar and a bag full of electronic equipment trying to get in whilst the snow fell on me. I couldn't actually get into the lobby, so I check the buses again (no joy) and was just beginning to think I might actually have to walk home (some 9 km or so) through the increasing piles of white. Fortunately the other cab company had space for me to enter now, so I did only to find out that the cab that had just left was my best bet. Fortunately they waited, and after a quick trudge around the corner I was finally in a vehicle that was able to get me home safely.

In other news, the videos from the Double Book Launch are now up and you have a choice of two, this is my favourite:

Taken by Casdok herself, this one skips the intro and gets straight into the performance. Cunningly this angle means that you can't see the music stand with the lyrics on it (with the pages the wrong way around). You can just about make out a cable running from the PA and up inside my jacket to my iPod headphones - used as cunning in-ear monitors - vital to making sure I could hear what I was doing. If you would like to hear the (slightly nervous) introduction to this piece, then check out this version:

Don't forget that you can buy a copy of the Shrek Rap single (either on CD or as a download) for a donation of just £3. We have already raised £17 this way and it would be great to get even more money for DJ Kirkby's local Autism network. Do get in touch via a comment or an email to music @ (without the spaces) and your very own copy will be on its way. It also includes two of my songs recorded especially for this release as an added incentive.

So what's next?

Well apart from a new version of Obsession and a new song called Life Goes On (see lyric at the very top), I'm also working on a piece for Daniel Lehan's show 50 Not Out at the Montague Arms on the 12th March. I'm also planing to record Until We Pass This Way Again and a new acoustic version of Lightkeeper. So there will be plenty to see and hear very soon - come along to Prohibition on the 15th February to hear some new things.


P.S. Do check out the radio show on South City Radio (see below) if you haven't already.