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.