Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Present

I had not particular plans to write another post this year, but I experienced another wonderful evening of music at The Duchess in Battersea Park on Thursday and couldn't let it pass unrecorded. The open mic night at The Duchess is hosted by Will O'Durkan who always gets the evening off to a great start with a couple of tunes. We used to play down by the gents loos (which was always entertaining when someone started up the hand dryer - the whole stage shook), but recently the stage was moved to near the door and it's a much better place to play. I was second on after Will and, despite my half-pint of Guiness slightly skewwing my timing, felt I played well. I played Lightkeeper, The Fool I Am and I Need Your Love. A quick audience poll (picking between happy and up-beat, or sad and Christmassy) chose When The Snow Fell In Denver as the last tune (guess which one of the two that is!!). Of course I can't really comment on my set, but if any performers or listeners are reading this, feel free to leave your review as a Blog comment.

After that the performers all hit a really high mark. I don't remember the exact order, but praise must go to Ashley Cowan (great first tune, pictured above), Dog Boy (super sing-a-long to the tune My Love Is Subject To Change), Tobacco Brown (multi-talented picker hailing from Vancouver and Croydon - I particularly liked the rhythmic guitar tapping), Tammay (lovely strong voice) and Steve the harp-playing, box thumping osteopath!

In the end I got so into the whole event that I had to run for my train... and missed it anyway! But even the overly long journey home could not diminish what had been a top drawer night of entertainment. And you don't even have to pay to get in!! I'm really looking forward to more nights there in the new year - perhaps I'll see you there too?

All the best,


P.S. Have just been over to Giggles blog, and had to give a mention to the gold-hearted Nitebyrd - who not only said very nice things about my music in her Blog, but also has just played Santa with a lovely gift. Visit her now and spread the love!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Surface Unsigned Festival - 1st February 2009

I am playing on the 1st February 2009 as part of the Surface Unsigned Festival 09.

1st February 2009, 9.30pm
Surface Unsigned Music Festival, Boston Music Room, 178 Junction Rd, Tufnell Park, N19 5QQ

This is a large series of gigs that support and promote unsigned acts all across the UK. However, in order to get through to the more exciting latter rounds you have to survive the earlier "battle of the bands" style rounds. Which is were you can help in one of two ways:

1) If you are free on the 1st February and can get to north London (Tufnell Park) - then please come along to my heat and give your support. I'm on at 9.30pm and you will get a chance to vote for your favourite act of the evening. If you can attend then please get your ticket(s) from me as this will save £1 on the door fee. Please add a comment to this post or email me (music @ - remove the spaces) with the number of tickets required and an address to send them to. Tickets are £6 each, please bring the money with you on the night).

2) If you cannot get to the gig, then you can support me by text message. To vote for me text "LONDON 6004" to 64343. (You must be 16+ to vote, texts cost £1.00 plus standard network charges. Please get permission from the bill payer. Customer services: or contact us on 0800 434 6076). You can vote any time from now right up to the gig and the votes will be counted on the night and added to my score in the venue.

Many thanks in advance for your support, I will send out more reminders in the new year, but thought I would send this invite out early in the hope that as many people as possible can make it along.

Can I also take this chance to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Thank you for all your support and love in 2008, see you all in 2009 if not before,


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

900 Seconds (approx.)

Short post today, as tomorrow I start a campaign to drum up support for a competition I'm entering. Just to say that Sunday's gig at the 15 Minute Club @ Prohibition was another excellent night. All the acts were really strong and the atmosphere was excellent. If you haven't yet been to one of their nights then I cannot recommend them enough. They are run at three venues (two in London and one in Oxford) and are free to get into. You always get 5 up and coming acoustic acts, plus music from the hosts, and often a musical jam at the end. Check out their MySpace site (below) for more information. I'm playing at all the venues (including a trip out to Oxford) and those dates are below.

And here is when I'm playing there:

11th January 2009, 8.00pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living Room Oxford
1 Oxford Castle, Oxford, OX1 1AY

25th January 2009, 8.00pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living Room
18-26 Essex Road,Islington, N1 8LN

1st February 2009, 9.30pm
Surface Unsigned Music Festival
More on this tomorrow!

22nd February 2009, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition
St. Katherine's Docks, London, E1W 1AA


P.S. I'm one short of 40 fans on Facebook - go on, make my year and add yourself!! 40 seems appropriate somehow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All Elbows And Arms

This week I played two gigs in two days. Wednesday was a last minute fill-in at the Fiddler's Elbow in Chalk Farm. I enjoy playing there as the sound is good and you actually have monitors on the stage so I can hear what I'm doing. It was a very cold night, but a good crowd came out and we had a really good evening. Had a bit of a technical disaster during Denver. There is a spot when I have to change patch on my voice processor and then sing a note and then stop playing. The idea is that the note rings out in the gap at a tempo that I've tapped in earlier (are you following this?!) I then join in playing at the same speed. Unfortunately I managed to not change the patch, so I sang the note, stopped playing and... nothing! Nightmare, still I think I got away with it. You can hear how it should sound here:

Daren's Videos

Thursday night took me to the fabulous Montague Arms in New Cross. This was the last of my birthday celebrations and boy did we celebrate in style. The event was billed as a Masquerade Ball and it was great that so many people got into the spirit and either brought masks, or made them at the craft table (pictured above). All the artists that performed were excellent: Anne-Marie Sanderson, Eddy Jay, Steve Antoni and Wayne Myers - thank you all. Many even played in masks, which is quite a feat! I didn't manage that as my mask kept hitting the microphone! My set was interrupted by the arrival of a wonderful homemade birthday cake (yes, with 40 candles!!) - thank you Victoria!! I was also somewhat spooked out by all the posters and "Daren" masks that people were wearing.

The night was capped by the arrival of Uncle Santa (Santa's lesser known reindeer loving brother) and a sing-a-long with karaoke Santa too! Quite frankly the whole evening was excellent, and it all carried on afterwards back at Frog and Vicky's place with Doctor Who and Strawberry flavoured vodka (and the world's cheapest Scotch!). If you've not yet been to 2nd Thursdays at the Montague Arms - then get along. It's every 2nd Thursday of the month and it always fun and interesting.

Don't forget to ink in 1st February for my gig in Tufnell Park - more details to follow next week and look out for some more excellent live shots from Kris Gruber.

This Sunday I'm at Prohibition for 15 Minute Club. Do come down!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Music Mayhem

This week is the last chance to officially celebrate my birthday, but what a lot of chances there are!!

First and foremost is the fantastic - Masquerade Ball at the Montague Arms in New Cross. It's part of a series of wonderful and enjoyable events that are run every 2nd Thursday in the month. This time around you need to be wearing a mask to get fully into the vibe, for those unable to organise one before the night there will be a craft table to make your own. Yes, at the Montague you really do get to be a kid again. Since this event is partly to celebrate my birthday I've chosen all the acts, so you will be able to listen to and flirt with anonymously: Fit & The Conniptions (half inscrutable Guinness slurping Wayne Myers and half hilariously self-deprecating webcomic!), Steve Antoni (singer, songwriter, guitarist, inspirational teacher and published poet), Jacen Bruce (the spirit of Rock'n'Roll incarnate), Anne-Marie Sanderson (acoustic angel of the north), Eddy Jay (talented folk picker extraordinaire), Frog Morris (he's a big Doctor Who fan y'know) and myself. Now if that line-up hasn't got you salivating then there is a buffet too! Yes, this is the place to be alright. So be there - this Thursday 11th December - kick off is around 8pm.

If you really can't make it to the masked mayhem on Thursday, then you can catch me at one of the following other gigs:

7th December, 8.30pm
The Horn, Victoria Street, St. Albans, AL1 3TE
- a return to the open mic night at this lively venue

10th December, 8.00pm
The Fiddler's Elbow, 1 Malden Road, London, NW5 3HS

11th December, 8.30pm
Montague Arms, 289 Queens Rd, New Cross, London, SE15 2PA
- have I mentioned this yet?

14th December, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, St. Katherine's Docks, London, E1W 1AA

18th December, 8.00pm
The Duchess, Battersea Park
- the last Open Mic night of the year!

So there you have it. Hope to see you all at a gig very soon - I'm off to practice for my floorspot at The Horn tonight.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008


1968 - what a year that was: Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy are assassinated, protests against the Vietnam war continue - the Beatles and Stones rule the airwaves. Iconic images appear everywhere: the black power salute at the Mexican Olympics, the tanks rolling into Prague and the world changing Earthrise picture taken by William Anders from Apollo 8 - the first manned spaceflight to the Moon (or anywhere that wasn't Earth for that matter).

And on 2nd December that year a boy was born in the Barony Hospital in Nantwich, Cheshire.

If you have a drink in your hand at any point today, then drink a toast to me and wish me a happy birthday - I'll know when you do, and thank you all for your support and love over the last year.

Here's to the children of '68!


Friday, November 28, 2008

From The Heep To The Duchess

Another fun and busy music week. On Sunday I was privileged to be a guest of the legendary band that is Uriah Heep at The Astoria. As much as I enjoyed their set, I did find myself reflecting back on the other bands that I've seen and heard at this iconic venue. Is this the last band I will see there? I hope not, but things do close and the world moves on.

The Astoria is a real "old school" rock venue, that actually used to be a dance hall way back in the day. My good friend and boss - Mike - told me that his parents actually met there many years back at a dance! How many people have met at one gig or another, I wonder. Highlights of my days at the Astoria include: seeing Gene's last ever gig (where Martin Rossiter scratched away the Gene logo on the kick drum so it read "Gone" - poignant); meeting one of my heroes - Steve Lukather of Toto - in the upstairs bar (thanks Andie!!) and the climactic ending to the Longview song Further - with all the band (and most of the audience joining in) - good times.

The Heep themselves were obviously used to playing on much bigger stages, the actions were all big and the songs dramatic. Great harmonies and no compromises on being a big rock band. I couldn't help feeling though that if this wasn't the main influence for Spinal Tap, I don't know who was!

Yesterday (Thursday) saw the return of the open mic night at The Duchess. It was great to see Will again after the birth of his bubbling baby boy - Sonny. He'd moved the stage to a great new position near the door and it was great to be able to play five songs in total. A rare outing for Lullabies From The Wheels Of The Bus was dedicated to Sonny and also my friend Sarah and her baby - Harry. Much love to you all. It was fun (if a little nerve-wracking) to play in front of an audience again, but I really enjoyed it and it all seemed to go down well. The other acts were all enjoyable too, and I must give a big mention to EdMan - who has really moved his playing on since I last saw him: his album will be out very soon.

Thanks for the Bourbon Edman!!

As you might expect, if you know me at all, the birthday celebrations began in earnest last night and will continue tomorrow (Saturday) - at the Royal Oak in Borough. Come along if you can!

Right, this week's task is to write a new song - stay tuned!! Oh and if you haven't checked out all my live videos, please do - and leave me a comment!

Have a great weekend,


Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Prophet / Lightkeeper

This is the last video from the Monkey Chews gig and features a medley of The Prophet and Lightkeeper. The former features the harmony vocals of my TC Helicon VoiceLive box, and again it was all created live with a Boss LoopStation pedal.

Although I didn't know it at the time the line "Where did all the money go?" now does seem rather chillingly prophetic!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Music Magic

Last night I was in Alexandra Palace to see a band: majestic soundscape, incomprehensible high-pitched lyrics, a Les Paul played with a violin bow... could it be? No, not an impromptu Led Zeppelin reunion, but those doyens of ambient music and the current coolest Scandinavian band on the planet - Sigur Rós. Of course the lyrics were only incomprehensible as I don't actually speak Icelandic, and I must confess to being pretty much a Sigur Rós virgin.

As mentioned the setting was Alexandra Palace, and it has been a while since I was there last. Considering how cold it was, it was great that they had a continuous loop of courtesy buses to ship the (mostly young and European, if I'm not mistaken) audience to the venue. A couple of queues aside it was a mostly painless process and even the buy-your-tokens-here-swap-them-for-booze-over-there system at the bar was tolerable.

The band themselves arrived unheralded (apart from bi-lingual roadies testing mics in Icelandic - "einn, tveir, einn, tveir anyone?") and the previously described music commenced. The backdrop for the band appeared to be a series of over-sized Chinese lanterns (presumably from Ikea), which glowed ominously in time with the sounds. There was no video screens in the traditional sense but the band and various other images were converted into a kind of pseudo-art and projected from time to time. I have to say the effect was about right, and I imagine if I had been on something stronger than white wine I would have been utterly swept away by it all. The music itself was weird without ever being unbearable, and there were some particularly cinematic moments that had me tapping my feet and nodding in approval. Since I'm not familiar with songs themselves I can't say a lot more, and have no idea what they actually played, but I enjoyed the experience. They also did some unusual things with smoke and lights, and the waterfall and snow effects were quite wonderful and, since I do love a good visual/sound combination, my highlights of the night.

Musical mention this week must also go to Wayne Myers who played at the Blag Club on Wednesday. This Sunday I'm off to see Uriah Heap, now there's a band for ya!

I must also take this opportunity to congratulate Peachy on the birth of her baby boy - Harry Peach (7lbs 12oz) on Tuesday this week. Lots of love and best wishes to you both.

Oh, and while I think of it... stick the date Sunday 1st February in your diary, more details to follow.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When The Snow Fell In Denver - video

As promised here is the third of the four videos from the Monkey Chews gig. It's the full live version of When The Snow Fell In Denver, complete with false ending and the big electronic finish! It's worth pointing out that everything you hear on the track is created live (and has been mixed pretty much straight off the desk) - there are no overdubs or extra parts added. The looped guitars and kick drum are via a Boss LoopStation RC-20 and the infinite echo and "girl" harmony parts are via a TC Helicon VoiceLive box. You can just about see it at the end when the camera pans down to show me on the floor.

It's a pretty tricky song to play (and create, if you like) and it shows as I'm a little nervous at the start and very relieved at the end. Anyway, enough words - enjoy!

There is one more pair of songs to come and another creative use of electronics, so look out for that towards the end of the week.

More news to come soon about Surface Unsigned and other gigs, but for now I just thought I'd mention that I'm heading to the CD launch for Fit & The Conniptions tonight at the Blag Club in Notting Hill Gate, in case anyone else fancies coming along.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

December Gigs

Hi all,

several great chances to see me play coming up in December - and help me celebrate my birthday too!

4th December, 8.00pm
The White Hart, 1 Mile End Road, Whitechapel, E1 4TP
- this is a combined open mic night and featured acts, there's always a high standard of music and this is my third appearance here. This is the best chance to see me play a full set with all the electronics, so do come along and enjoy the night. If you are an open mic performer, then get yourself on the bill too, but do mention that you've come to see me on the door.

7th December, 8.30pm
The Horn, Victoria Street, St. Albans, AL1 3TE
- a featured set at the renown St. Albans venue.

11th December, 8.30pm
Montague Arms, 289 Queens Rd, New Cross, London, SE15 2PA
- The Masquerade Ball - featuring Fit & The Conniptions, Jacen Bruce, Anne-Marie Sanderson, Frog Morris, Eddy Jay and others... I'll be playing a short set at the start of the night, the £5 door fee includes a buffet. Please wear a mask, prizes for the best ones.

14th December, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition, St. Katherine's Docks, London, E1W 1AA

Surface Unsigned Music Festival

It's not until February (date to be confirmed very shortly) but you will very shortly be able to start texting to support me. Just text "LONDON 6004" to 64343 to vote.

(You must be 16+ to vote, texts cost £1.00 plus standard network charges. Please get permission from the bill payer. Customer services: or contact us on 0800 434 6076).

Have fun!


Friday, November 14, 2008


I'm back in my home... and am relieved to discover that I can still play the guitar.

Now for some sleep.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Enjoy The View

Yesterday I was in Aberdeen. During a break in the day I took a walk out of the venue, over a mist shrouded links golf course. Warmed by the light of the setting sun, I climbed the last dune and was awe-struck by the sight of the North Sea bathed in the most extraordinary late afternoon light. In the distance were two oil tankers making their sedate way across the horizon (you can just make them out in the picture above, the guy on the shoreline is Michael one of the caterers), nearby the bobbing heads of seals and gulls. It was beautiful, incredible and chilling... and amazing sight.

Today, as I write this, I'm on the 15th floor of the Radisson in Birmingham. I have a view of the city lights and rumbling traffic... and all across the sky the fireworks of Guy Fawkes night are exploding in technicolor flashes. Beautiful too, in it's own way.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Channel Fiver

Do you remember that I was involved in filming an Open Mic Night for Channel Fiver? Well it's for a show called Best Friend's Rehab and it's being shown on Monday at 10pm. Do check it out if you can and see if you can spot me, or even hear my songs being played. It's unlikely that I'll be anywhere near a cable TV at that time, so I'll have to rely on you guys letting me know if you spotted me.

Btw, I'm coming up to a big birthday, and I'd like to take this chance to invite you to a couple of celebrations:

Firstly to celebrate the end of my 30s, please join me at the Royal Oak in Borough (near London Bridge) 44, Tabard St, London, SE1 4JU - on Saturday 29th November from 7.30pm onwards.

(Keen people should contact me, as might well start drinking earlier in the area. Also, anyone who would like to stay over at my house is welcome.)

Secondly, to celebrate the start my 40th year, please join me for a Masquerade Ball at the Montague Arms in New Cross on Thursday December 11th from 8pm onwards. Entertainment will include, Fit & the Conniptions, Steve Antoni, Jacen Bruce, Anne-Marie Sanderson, Frog Morris and myself. Please wear a mask!

Friends and relations are welcome to either celebration.

You can also celebrate with me at any of my gigs in December:

4th December, 8.00pm
The White Hart, 1 Mile End Road, Whitechapel, E1 4TP

7th December, 8.30pm
The Horn, Victoria Street, St. Albans, AL1 3TE

11th December, 8.30pm
Montague Arms, 289 Queens Rd, New Cross, London, SE15 2PA

Have fun!

(in Newcastle)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Staying Alive

I'm in Paris today, on the last of three back-to-back shows. It's taking its toll a bit, I feel tired and run down, but tomorrow is a day off (hoorah!), although there is another drive tonight on the bus. I'm looking forward to a bath and a bed that doesn't bump up and down all night.

Yesterday I was in Groningen in Holland and I learnt an important first aid tip whilst going with the runner to get change. He'd been told that the correct speed for doing heart massage in CPR is 100bpm (beats per minute) and as luck would have it the Bee Gee's song Staying Alive is 100bpm and will do very nicely thank you as a tempo guide for, well, keeping someone alive. How good is that? You'll never forget it now either. Of course I'm already hatching a plot to write a song that is exactly 100bpm, annoyingly catchy and entitled in such a way that it becomes the de facto life saving song.

The picture on today's post is from a sports hall in Riga, Latvia. I think the idea is that drunk people can lean their heads against the basketballs to avoid falling over whilst peeing. Clever huh?

More soon,


Sunday, October 12, 2008

On The Road In Latvia

I'm back in Latvia, and I'm thinking that it must have been a flying visit last time as I remember nothing at all about it. It's a beautiful city though, currently wrapped in autumnal colours. As I took a walk yesterday through a mixture of ex-soviet and medieval streets the leaves were falling like Ochre snow.

The walk ignited my creative fire and there are some song lyrics bubbling up again. At the moment they are in that stream of consciousness stage (kind of like Jason Mraz if he was depressed) but they'll shape up pretty good. It's nice to have another set of ideas on the go. Unsurprisingly this tune has the working title of The End Of Empire (can't have more songs with End in the title, so that will have to change).

It's 10:22am here and I have 10 minutes or so before vacating my room, so just enough time for this quick post to say "hi" and read a couple of other Blogs. Will try and post more from the gig later.


Friday, October 03, 2008


Yes, that's where I am today. Randers, which is in Denmark. It's actually a quite picturesque town on the edge of a river. I took a very pleasant stroll to it's shores and watch a wonderful sunset over the wetlands. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of being on the road with a band. There are lots of similarities with my last tour, and many differences too. For one thing there are two real bands on this tour, and I'm hoping to make friends with most of them and find out what I need to be doing to get to their level. I only really miss two things from home, my friends (two in particular who are going through big changes in their lives) and my guitars. I miss practicing and writing songs, it's so much a part of my life these days that I feel quite bereft. Perhaps if I can befriend one of the guitarists I might be able to snatch some practice time.

Tonight will be an early night and, thankfully, I have a late call in the morning. I'm looking forward to the sleep and rest (I struggle to get good sleep on a tour bus) as tomorrow will be a busy day again.

Right off to read some Blogs and catch up.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Hit The Road...

So here is the news...

This Blog is going back to it's roots. By which I mean that I'm going back out on the road again to be a roadie and sell some t-shirts. Those that know me well will remember that I started this Blog as a way to stay in touch with friends and chronicle my exploits whilst touring with the Pet Shop Boys. Well here we go again, only this time it's with Katie Melua!

It looks like there are some new places and some old place on the route. A whole bunch of new crew members and merchandisers to meet along the way, and hopefully some songs to discover too. The downside is that all my gigs in October and November need to be rescheduled, but I'm sure the experience will make me even keener to play and record into the new year. Wish me luck!

As if that weren't enough, stay tuned too for details of my birthday exploits in December... it's one of those ones that ends in a zero... so you know what that means... PARTEY!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Moving On

Hi all. It's typical isn't it, just when I get awarded my first Blogging award (thanks Trixie!!) - I turn into the world's worst Blogger. Time for a quick round-up I think:

Lesstival - Where less is quite firmly and certainly, less. This whole festival was just slightly more disappointing than I expected. The Red Arrows display was certainly the low point, for one thing the cut-out arrows were definitely a shade of pink. Although as co-organiser Stuart Whitehead pointed out: "They're less red - right?" I had fun though, although not as much as I'd expected.

The Chequers, Fordham - Slightly daunting to play a 45 minute set of original music to a group of locals that are used to covers from the dexterous Jacen Bruce. But fair play to them, they stayed and clapped and even bought me a drink or two, so it must have gone well. It was nearly all over, however, when the double bass decided it wanted to join in and very nearly fell on my head. Quick thinking from an audience member saved the day.

Filming at The Duchess part 2 - This time it was for a Stella Artois advert or some beer or other. As usual though, they'd finished filming by the time I arrived! It was still an entertaining evening as I ended up jamming on a cover of The Doors' Light My Fire.

Other News - well there is some, but I can't tell you yet. I will know more later today, so stay tuned.


Friday, September 12, 2008

The End Of The Video Quest

It's taken me nearly a month and a lot of false starts, but yesterday I finally got my first proper clip up on YouTube! You'd think it would be quite easy these days, but no! Either the video was too dark, or the music unintelligible, or the picture was the wrong format, it just seemed to be one problem after another. Yesterday I finally cracked it though, and the first of four videos from my Monkey Chews gig went on-line. Enough talking, here it is:

There will be three more videos to come, so look out for them!

Okay, I promised not to mention it again, but there are only two more days of voting left for Orange Unsigned - so please pop over and give me two more votes (one each day) - if you haven't signed up yet, it's never too late!!

Lot's of great gigs coming up, including some out of town (Ely, St. Albans - and I'm hoping to get down to Brighton to play soon too) - for the full list go here. One in particular I'd like to draw your attention to is Thursday 25th September at the White Hart in Whitechapel (1 Mile End Road) - I played there a couple of months back and despite being hard to find (the stairs are behind two closed doors, one of which is marked Private!!!) boasts a great PA and a musician friendly atmosphere. I'm taking all my kit (weird voice box and looper included) to this one to create a big sound... hoping to video it too, so look out for that.

That's it for now,


Saturday, September 06, 2008

I Need Your Love (And Your Vote)

This is the last time I'll mention this, as I'm not hugely into doing on-line talent competitions. But please do sign up as a fan on the Orange Unsigned site and vote for me as often as you can spare the time... here are the official instructions:

Hello everyone.

It is with great pleasure we can announce that Orange unsignedAct
is now open for voting!

You can vote up to three times per day (one vote per act) – so
logon to now and give your favourite
acts the chance to win one of the 25 spots at the auditions and
the much sought after prize, thanks to Channel 4, Orange and
Sony Ericsson.

Remember, you can only vote if you're logged in as a fan, so if
you aren't one already – go to the site and sign up now.

You can vote each and every day until September 14th – so keep
coming back to the site and support the music you love.

Thousands of talented artists are relying on you – be the best fan
ever and make a massive impact – get voting now and be a part of
music's future!

Hopefully you'll help bring my tunes to the attention of the judges, but I realise that it's all a bit arbitrary (ie those acts with hordes of internet-savvy fans will do best) - but hey, I'm in it, and I want to win it!!! So I really do need your love!!

Thank You so much to those that have voted and will vote!

Off to play at Lesstival today, the festival where less is definitely less.

Lots more gigs coming up, check them out here.


Monday, September 01, 2008


You know you've really arrived in the Blog world (and the world in general) - when you are featured in a RAT GiRL comic strip!! It was a total surprise and it's really made my day. Do check it out here:

The Adventures of RAT GiRL

Thank you sooo much Giggle!

Btw, the free sampler CD offer is on-going... and I'm just about to upgrade it to version II (mostly the same stuff, but with a new version of Lightkeeper, the live part of Denver, and a new "secret" track)... so if you'd like a copy winging its way to your mailbox (anywhere in the world) just email me a postal address to music @ darencallow . co . uk (remove the spaces) - and it shall be yours!! I can't guarantee choccies though, but if you write something nice about me, who knows...)

Speaking of famous, last night was 15 Minute Club @ The Living Room in Islington. I have to say it was another excellent night, those 15 Minute people put on a quite excellent show. All the acts were very good indeed, which made me quite nervous to be there, if you want to check them out here are some links:

Lisa Theunissen - the beautiful host of the evening, very powerful voice and songs.
Luke Jackson - yes he really is 14!! I was very impressed, he has a great voice and plays with total confidence. A real star in the making, and his dad (Paul) was lovely too.
Belinda Oakley - arrived late so had to go on without much preparation - didn't show though. She both looks and sounds beautiful - captivating!
Daren Callow - I hear he's really good (and well dressed) - but I missed his set as I was otherwise engaged. (ha ha)
Kirsten Thien & Galia Arad - two sassy chicks from NYC, they nearly didn't make it as one of them forgot that you might need your passport to get into the UK... they are heading to Ireland now.

There was also Lawrence and another chap on piano, but I didn't write his name down... sorry!

The evening ended with us all jamming on Oooo Take Another Little Bit Of My Heart Now Baby... (really) and then I ended up chatting to a chap called Karl who used to roadie for Culture Club and Depeche Mode (amongst others)... he has a tape somewhere on top of his wardrobe of the very first time that Sade played as Sade.

Phew. No wonder my head hurts this morning.

P.S. Please vote for me:

Friday, August 29, 2008

I Had A Dream

I knew it was ready.

I plugged in my headphones and listened to check the levels. As I listened I forgot what I was supposed to be checking and found I was just hearing the song. Emotions welled up inside me as I was catapulted back into my days working around Europe and the fractured emails and texts that make up some of the lyrics. It was all about the distance: the distance between people who are doing what they love but cannot be together. It made me think about the future too - and how it would happen all over again.

It's ready, please listen and enjoy:

Lightkeeper MP3 (3'40)

NB To get more of an album vibe, then you should also download The Prophet and The End Of The World Part II which come before and after it respectively.

Next job is to record Until We Pass This Way Again - as a DJ would say... Stay tuned!


I hope that you got home okay,
I had a coffee in Stockholm,
There are riots in Estonia,
And somewhere we are still at war.

I had a dream,
That I was the lightkeeper,
A beacon in the night,
I was the lightkeeper.

I've a fantasy to share with you,
But it's cold and it's wet,
They're burning cars at the airport,
But I can still get your text.

And I had a dream,
That I was the lightkeeper,
A beacon in the night,
I was the lightkeeper.

And the beautiful people were everywhere,
But they had no faces,
And you were blinded by the light,
And could only feel.

But you found me by my energy,
The days are long without you.
It's funny how when you find it,
You just can't live without it.

And I had a dream,
That I was the lightkeeper,
A beacon in the night,
I was the lightkeeper.

I hope that you got home okay,
I had a coffee in Stockholm,
There are riots in Estonia,
And somewhere, we are still at war...

(D. Callow / G.A. Staiger)

Next gigs (not all in London!!):

31st August, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living Room, 18-26 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LN

6th September, 7.30pm
Lesstival, somewhere in Kent
The most minimal festival of 2008, it's small, but beautifully formed.

17th September, 8.00pm
The Chequers, 58-62 Carter St, Fordham, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5JT
Taking my urban songs to a rural setting.

25th September, 9.30pm
The White Hart, 1 Mile End Road, Whitechapel, E1 4TP
Open mic night at the White Hart

2nd November, 8.30pm
The Horn, Victoria Street, St. Albans, AL1 3TE
Featured artist slot at this excellent St. Albans music venue.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Live On Your iPod

Well here it is. The videos are still a little way off, but the MP3 files are here (courtesy of Joel Armsden of I've also put together a cover with a live shot (from a previous gig) by Kris Gruber. I will probably do a second cover once I have a decent video still, so then you'll have a choice.

Enough preamble though, here are the 5 MP3 files (six tracks) for you to listen to. I've done a small commentary on each track below, but if you want to listen before being influenced by what I have to say then here you go:

Live In The Urban Jungle

1. The End Of The World Part I (Live) 4'35 (D. Callow)
2. The Prophet / Lightkeeper (Live) 7'11 (D. Callow)
3. Until We Pass This Way Again (Live) 4'20 (D. Callow)
4. When The Snow Fell In Denver (Live) 6'42 (D. Callow)
5. The Fool I Am (Live) 4'14 (D. Callow)

All songs recorded live at Monkey Chews, London, UK on 19th August 2008 performed by and copyright Daren Callow and mixed by Joel Armsden.

Okay, there are the tunes. Before I write a little bit about each song I just wanted to say that all these songs are pretty much as you would have heard them on the night (barring a few level adjustments) - there are NO overdubs and NO backing tracks. The extra noises and guitar lines were all played by me live on the night... I'll explain more as I cover each song.

1. The End Of The World Part I

I wrote this song whilst watching 28 Days Later, and originally it was going to be about environmental issues, but I decided that was just way too cliched, so instead it's about something else entirely. Please excuse my preamble on the MP3 file, I was a bit nervous to start with. The song features my tambourine (played with my foot, and cunningly taped to the floor this time!) and the Boss Loop Station (sampling footpedal) towards the end (the layered guitar parts, the first of which I play by hitting the strings with my hand). There are a couple of small mistakes, but I think I get away with it... just!

Interesting fact - the line "How can we stop you screaming" is influenced by Whitley Strieber's book - Communion.

2. The Prophet / Lightkeeper

There are two songs for the price of one here, but they can't be easily separated as they run into each other. The Prophet is a new song which heavily features my clever voice box and the Loop Station again. Lightkeeper is a song inspired by travelling with the Pet Shop Boys in 2006 / 2007. I really was in Estonia you know... I just about get the join between the two songs okay, but you can hear a slight click.

Interesting fact - the spoken words at the end of The Prophet are "Keine Krieg mehr bitte" - it's my pigeon German and was inspired by the man who decapitated the waxwork of Adolf Hitler in the German version of Madame Tussauds - it's supposed to mean "No more war thank you" but my German is not that good.

3. Until We Pass This Way Again

My second favourite song on this recording, this is the most recent song I've written. It's a kind of modern folk tune. Nothing much more to say other than it's about the passage of time, oh and I totally mess up the start!

Interesting fact: The noise at the end is Joel's dinner arriving. You'll see this on the video!

4. When Then Snow Fell In Denver

Please excuse the slightly cringe-worthy introduction! Also I mess up the start as I'm trying to play and tap a half-tempo rhythm with my foot at the same time! (I've changed the settings now so I can tap full tempo) Fortunately I didn't muck the ending up, which is my favourite piece of music (of mine) at the moment. The guitar layers are created with the Loop Station and the backing vocals and infinite echoes with my voice box. The backing vocals are mixed a little bit high for me, but they represent what you would have heard live, so I've not changed them. This song was the runt of the Lullabies From The Wheels Of The Bus litter, but I've grown to love it. I especially enjoy singing all the weird harmonies at the end. The kick drum is also supplied by the Loop Station, and it's always a good feeling when I turn it up to find that I've actually played in time!!

Interesting fact: It's entirely possible that I wrote this song in Detroit and not in Denver at all... oh, and it didn't actually snow.

5. The Fool I Am

Last song of the set, and a bit rushed as the adrenaline was definitely flowing after playing the end of Denver. This song is not about what you think it is.

Interesting fact: Someone in the audience was so amazed that I'd actually reached the end of the song that they broke a glass in celebration at the start.



P.S. If you don't have an MP3 player and would like a CD of this concert then just let me know your address and PayPal me a minimum donation of £2 and it shall be yours! PayPal button is at the bottom of this page: Music - and my email is music @ darencallow . co . uk - just remove the spaces. Oh, you'll also find lots of other files and album artwork to download on that page.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One Man, One Guitar, Five Nights...

Well I made it intact, five gigs in six days - including one in a shed. For those that missed it, here is a quick catch-up.

Unwrong Quiz, Montague Arms

Recently declared the Best Pub In Britain by the Rough Guide to Pubs - this eclectic pub is home to some of the best alternative and cross-over entertainment in the UK. The evening was a new version of the Unwrong Quiz night hosted by the unfathomable Mark Quinn, and unstoppable Frog Morris. As usual I was the serious music filler in a comedy sandwich and the audience barely knew what to make of me. It was a fun night all the same and it was great to play two long sets as well as debut our new song in tribute to the magnificent Montague - (Woo Hoo At The Montague!).

Highlights - Watching people sing along with All I Want Is You. Giggling my way through Woo Hoo. Finishing the complicated back-to-back songs The Prophet/Lightkeeper to stunned silence!

Frogstock, Blo Norton

In some ways I should have been prepared having done so many nights with Frog and his friends in pubs across London, but nothing really prepares you for Frogstock. Despite it's scaled down and re-branded appearance this year - as Acoustock - it's still a great event. It's almost too much to Blog in detail here, but suffice to say that the evening started with peacocks on the roof, an art tent and Quinn vs. Quinn Olympics (!) and ended with a live rave in a shed and blazing braziers and fire-jugglers lighting up the night.

My own contribution was very much in the middle of the evening, and with a wonderfully Heath Robinson boom mic stand rigged up I played though eight or so of my best songs as the sun began to set. It was great to be part of the evening and so good that everyone played drums and percussion and many acts formed loose bands as the night wore on.

Needless to say I was very tired the next day, but somehow made it to the train and back to rainy London.

Highlights - All I Want Is Stu - with THE Stuart himself on the duck maraca! Accidentally becoming one of the Blo Boys for life by joining in on their rendition of Angry Badger. The aforementioned shed-rave, with live rapping, beat box, and full band... IN A SHED!! When Frog poured a pint of real ale over my head... I knew it was a top night.

15 Minute Club, Prohibition

From the sublime and ridiculous to the sublime and sophisticated. Despite being somewhat tired (but fortunately not particularly hungover) - I was happy to be able to play at this very well organised night again. You get four songs and they went well if not particularly special. They invited me back, so it must have been okay.

Highlights - All the nice people I met, including Rae, Lawrence, Josh and all the performers.

Fiver Programme recording, The Duchess

Wow, this is turning into a long post... are you still with me?! So Monday night comes around and it's time to return to an old haunt - The Duchess pub in Battersea Park. Lurking in the shadow of Battersea Power Station this is the usual venue for the Thursday night open mic sessions, but this was Monday - so what was happening? Well as part of a TV show for Fiver an open mic night was required as a backdrop and my friend Will O'Durkan had been approached to put on an ad-hoc "open mic" night at this picturesque venue. So Will called, and we all responded - arriving in the early evening with our guitars and songs ready and a few nerves in the stomach. Now I've been filmed before and despite a slight fluttering in the stomach I'm usually not too badly effected, but this was for TV and we were all keen to impress, not just to do Will proud, but to give ourselves a chance of being on the goggle-box. The anticipation continued as we greeted fellow performers and signed release forms, it was odd to be involved in an open mic night where everyone was there by invitation. I cooled myself off by stepping out into the beer garden for a while and considered what two songs I might perform to impress, but not over do it. Nerves would make some songs difficult so I decided on a middle route... up tempo, but not over complicated.

As we all know, in life there are no re-takes, but on TV... well it's just re-take after re-take. Will started the evening off, only to be asked to do it all again, and again... until the producer was satisfied. Ashley - the first act - kicked off, and played well despite having had his wisdom teeth extracted only a day or two before. I was to be the third act...

...and my turn duly arrived (after the sublime Katie and Si) - and guess what?! Yep, the TV cameras all disappeared into the beer garden to film the "best friends" talking about their performance to come. Typical huh? So whatever editing takes place, you won't see me perform on TV (yet) - you might well hear me in the background and you will certainly see me standing at the bar and drinking Guinness (looking pretty good in my Jeffrey Bryant styled outfit, if I do say so myself) - so what can you do? Despite that it was a really good fun night, it was great to see Will and some of the other performers again - perhaps I should suggest to Will that he has invitational evenings more often!

Highlights - Katie and Si performing perfectly as always. Watching the poor girl who's TV show it was having to do re-take after re-take as they tried to capture her performance from every angle.

Live Recording, Monkey Chews

You'd think that that would be enough for one weekend... but no! I'd arranged to head up to Monkey Chews on the Tuesday to get a recording of my live set (and a video too). It all come together pretty well on the night (you will be able to hear the results later today), so I won't say much. I'll let you decide how I did.

Highlights - Seeing and old friend. Giving out a world record 14 CDs after the show. Getting slowly sozzled on white wine knowing that I'd had a really good 6 days.

Friday, August 15, 2008

We're S - H - O - P - P - I - N - G we're..., yup.

Rendezvous... Twelve noon... Oxford Circus... outside H&M... okay, on the face of it it doesn't sound too promising, but when the man you are meeting is the stylist, costume designer and wardrobe genius behind the the Rolling Stones (Voodoo Lounge 1984, Bridges of Babylon 1997), Pet Shop Boys (Discovery 1994, Nightlife 2001, Fundamental 2006-7), Tina Turner (Private Dancer 2001), Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun 1994) and Duran Duran (2008) then its a whole different manner... this is practically a once in a lifetime event... even for someone like me that really does not enjoy shopping.

Suffice to say that Jeffreeeeey (for that is his name, albeit with less e's) is a gentleman, a scream, a god of fashion and a total and utter star. Want to see the results...?!

Well come down to a gig... ha ha.


P.S. Or look out for the videos after Tuesday's recording.

P.P.S. Okay, perhaps that was too much of a tease, so here is a pic:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Here There And Everywhere

This weekend brings an exciting set of gigs, a mini-tour even. It all starts this Thursday 14th when I return to the Montague Arms in New Cross for a brand new Unwrong Quiz night. For those that don't know, the Unwrong Quiz is the invention of Frog Morris and Mark Quinn and involves rounds of questions which have no wrong or right answers! Instead prizes are given for creativity and humour (the more surreal the better) - which invariably means that everyone gets a prize. It's a funny and stimulating night, and what's more you get to see me play too! I will be doing at least two regular sets and then one set of sing-a-long favourites (Angry Badger etc...) to round off the whole evening. It's all good clean fun (mostly), and should be doubly so this time as fellow Blogger - Trixie - will be there with her sisters to celebrate her birthday (perhaps some other Bloggers too). Do come along and be part of it all! The Montague Arms is at 289 Queens Road, New Cross SE15 2PA - it's £3 on the door (£2 Concessions) and entertainment starts about 8.30pm.

After I've recovered from all the mayhem, I'll be catching a train out to the wilds of Blo Norton, near Diss (not dat, diss!) for the remains of Frogstock. Which is not much after the local council got a bit fed up last time, so it's been re-christened Acoustock this year, and apparently I have to play songs in the key of D, although I forget why.

After training it back from Diss, I'll be tubing it down to London Bridge to play 15 Minutes @ Prohibition on Sunday 17th, which is certainly somewhat different from a field in Norfolk. This is a showcase night for the best in acoustic music from the capitol. I will be getting my fifteen minutes, so why not come down and take a listen. I'm taking my VoiceLive box down this time and I promise to make it an unforgettable 900 seconds. Think you've seen singer-songwriters before?! Well if you've never seen a performer play guitar and sing whilst triggering 4 part harmonies from a computer, layering loops from a phrase sampler AND playing tambourine with his foot, then you have not seen this one! Prohibtion is in St. Katherine's docks near Tower Bridge. Be there from 8pm - entry is free, and the food is good too.

As if that were not all enough, I will be capping this mini-tour off by recording it for posterity. Tuesday 19th will see me playing at Monkey Chews in Chalk Farm, where the set will be recorded and videoed, so those that can't make it will have the chance to see me on YouTube and listen on the internet. To be a part of the recording, please be at the venue by 8pm prompt! As an incentive to attend, everyone who comes will get a copy of the set on CD - bargain!

Btw, at all these gigs I will be giving out my CD samplers and taking emails for my mailing list. If you cannot make it, but would like a CD please email me (music @ darencallow . co . uk - remove the spaces!).

Somebody Loves Me

Small things mean so much when you are a musician and songwriter. This morning someone on Last FM clicked a small icon to say that they "loved" one of my tracks. Thank you Samantha829x - you made my day! Btw, the track in question was After All - which in some ways leads me nicely on to...

Farewell Peacharse

My very bestest friend (f) and the reason why I am blogging here at all, is putting down her metaphorical pen for a while. She's soon to become a mother for the very first time and, as I'm sure many of you know, becoming a parent is not easy at the best of times but has been particularly fraught for Peachy, and it's understandable that she might need a break from being the UK's 50th most influential blogger (and as if this sentence wasn't long enough already, she has also had to change job and is currently buying a new place to live - world's three most stressful things anyone?!). She has hinted that she may return with a Baby Blog, but for now farewell. I love you sweetie, thanks for introducing me to this weird and wonderful world of Weblogs - come back soooooooon! Oh, and buy her book!!!!!!

Head here to send her some love of your own:

That's all (for now) folks!


STOP PRESS - As if that were not all enough, I have just found out this morning that on Monday I'll be performing at an ad-hoc Open Mic night for the benefit of Channel 5 cameras!! They are filming a new show called Best Friends Rehab and on the show a girl plays at an open mic night... well you get the drift. Should be on TV next year... HOW EXCITING IS THAT!!!!!!

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Day In The Smoke

The morning was barely stretching it's limbs as we emerged from London Bridge station. A short hop, skip and jump past one of my favourite views anywhere (across London Bridge towards Tower Bridge), a rumble along the tube from Bank and we're jumping in a car near Bethnal Green tube and heading for eagerly anticipated (especially by the drooling canines in the car) green spaces.

Minutes later we are walking happily on Hackney Marshes. One of London's hidden emeralds. A lush green space replete with a river (the Lea), wetlands (some thanks to bomb craters from back when the marshes were the destination of choice for unexploded WWII bombs), horses and gaggles of dog walkers. A little taste of old London that left us smiling, recharged and already looking forward to a return. Even one of England's typical summer downpours could not dampen our mood.

After this we took a trip in a vintage BMW into the art gallery district of Bethnal Green. Slight disappointment on realising that there were actually no exhibitions on, was tempered by a visit to an eclectic bar near Red Church Street. After this we went out separate ways, and my journey took me home again to (much needed) extra practice!

The evening brought me another journey back into town. This time to West Brompton and another (this time rainbow coloured) London gem that is The Troubadour. I was here to see the uber-busker Hadar Manor play in the basement venue. The gig was great fun, and my friend Wayne (Fit And The Conniptions) outdid himself with some quite excellent playing on his brand new Ibanez semi-acoustic. Praise must also go to the wonderful soul singer who (unaccompanied) entertained and amused us before Hadar's set. She had been pulled in at the last minute (hence the lack of band) when the Aussies who were supposed to be performing were turned back by UK Immigration!

After this entertaining (if expensive) evening, I trundled home via the Tube and tram (yeah, we are dead European here in Croydon) - with my thoughts occupied by new song ideas and visions of London past.


Next gigs:

14th August 2008, 8.30pm
Montague Arms, New Cross

17th August 2008, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition
Prohibition Bar & Grill, Unit 1 Tower Bridge House, St. Katharine Docks, East Smithfield, E1W 1AA

19th August 2008, 7.30pm
Monkey Chews, 2 Queen's Crescent, Chalk Farm, NW5 4DT

31st August, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living room
18-26 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LN

Saturday, August 02, 2008

White Noise

Three venues, three events.

Wednesday: The Blag Club in Notting Hill

A small venue hidden behind a wooden door, incongruously located next to Rymans. I'm early (as always), nervous about the new technology I'm using tonight. The soundcheck is quick, patchy, I'm not sure how it's going to sound. I have to remove all my equipment, this makes it worse, what if some important knob or switch gets knocked, some vital setting changed. I try not to worry, check out the other acts soundchecks and sit back to wait my turn to play.

The other acts do their bit - it's a hard night. The venue has bare walls, there is a birthday party in, the noise of the crowd is almost painful. It's supposed to be an acoustic venue, but the acoustics are amplifying the crowd's chatter, strangling the artists on the stage. Mentally I'm readjusting my set, putting in louder songs, resolving to stick to my guns as much as I can, use the technology. This is what I do, I've practised very hard for this moment, my 25 minutes of infamy infront of a largely indifferent group of individuals.

It's time, I move to the stage, feverishly plugging in leads, checking settings, double-checking tunings. Oh to have just a guitar and plug in and play. Too late. It strikes my frenzied brain that the electronics don't care about the crowd and their noise. The harmony voices are ready to soar above them, to follow my every utterance with a relish undimmed. The distortion pedal is ready to break up my guitar's beautiful tones, throw clipped rock notes into the space. A calm comes over me - what do I care? I have something to share. Songs based on experience, honed by a hundred performances, a thousand hours of sweaty practice. Here we go. I say something in the mic. A camera clicks in my face, the video rolls. I hit a G chord. It begins.

Thursday: The White Hart

Peace. Another upstairs room, a cool escape from the muggy Whitechapel streets. There is rain outside, I don't care. I'm onstage, playing to a hushed room. Every eye (mostly) on me, every ear sparing some listening space to hear the notes I'm creating. It's a new song. Delicate, picked guitar notes. A folky melody - not like me at all. But I play with confidence and feel relaxed. I'm relishing the silence in the room, using it, filling it. Letting notes ring longer, holding sustained notes, feeling my way. No electronics tonight, just a guitar, a voice and a tambourine. I didn't think it would be like this, I wish I had my electronics (the irony is not lost on me). It doesn't matter though, the songs work, stripped down, or padded up. The lyrics taste good on my tongue. How many hours have I worked on these lines? Every word has a value.

It's the last song, sweat pours off my face into my eye, it stings. I'm standing on one leg, playing tambourine with the other, playing guitar with both hands, singing, sweating. I close one eye, the pain doesn't go away. It's the hardest part of the simplest of songs. Try and stay with it! Try and finish well, you've worked hard. My fingers slip, but it's okay. It's near enough for rock'n'roll. I finish. I wipe my eyes dry. Sweat and tears? I leave the stage, heading towards the friendly welcoming eyes, and a slightly warm pint of Guinness. Not perfect, but still good. Deserved, I think.

Friday: Elevator Gallery

A night off. Beautiful company. A boat on the Thames, a glass of wine. A cocktail at the O2 dome, accompanied by Kylie. She's somewhere in the building, but we're in the bar. Tube - train. A lift in a warehouse, it's a performance night. There is a girl in the corridor, she's deep into a role. It's scary, too much to take. In the main space a man is playing a violin through a Heath Robinson invention, cassette tape machine innards ripped out and lashed together. Perhaps it's more Frankenstein? The noise comes down through loudspeakers in the ceiling. White noise. You can't avoid it. It's too much for tonight, too intense. We leave soon after we arrive, back into the cool air. The journey home is slightly too long. It's good to be home though. Very, very good.

Tomorrow the work starts again.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

We Heart The White Hart

Actually I have no idea if I (or indeed we) heart the White Hart at all, 'cos I've never been there. That will be remedied in double quick time as I'm going there tonight, to play a tune or five indeed! So if you fancy checking out the place, or you are a performer youself, do pop down and check out the Open Mic part of the evening as well as the featured acts (ie Me!!).

Here's the details that ya need: The White Hart, 1 Mile End Road, Whitechapel, E14 4TP - come along 7.30 ish... and be prepared to hum along.


P.S. More on the Blag Club gig later.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back To The Blag

I'm heading back to the Blag Club in Notting Hill Gate tomorrow (Wednesday 30th July). It's a good place to play, usually it's a private member's club, but on some nights they throw the doors open and invite people in to see some great acoustic acts. The system they run is a little different than usual, the running order is decided on the night, based on how many people you get through the door. So if you are coming down make sure you are in the doors by about 8:45, so I have a good chance of playing something other than first on. As a bonus to the artist, this is one of the few venues that gives you money for everyone you bring through the door (no money for those that have come down to see no one in particular, and no split of the bar, but hey it's better than nothing).

Setwise I'm going to be using my VoiceLive box and looper pedal again, so the show should be really exciting and well worth seeing - oh, and a debut of the new tune!! Hope to see you there!


Friday, July 25, 2008

Until We Pass This Way Again

Yes, it seems I have found my folk roots, or perhaps I've just been hanging out with Eddy Jay too much. Either way, I now have a demo of Until We Pass This Way Again for your thoughts. It's certainly a bittersweet song, about passing of time, but also about the way that things move in cycles - no matter what happens the Sun will always rise in the morning and Spring will follow Winter. This is just a demo, vocals and guitar together in one take (via my TC Helicon VoiceBox, so the guitar is not as nice as it will be when mic'ed up) but I think it has enormous potential and I'm already hearing violin (perhaps just a single one) around the two-thirds mark. But anyway, without more ado here it is:

Until We Pass This Way Again (Demo) - MP3 (3'57)

Let me know what you think! (lyrics in post below)

Other News

It's been another busy culture week. On Monday I was in a photo studio in London Fields assisting on a shoot that involved two clowns, a ballerina and a bodybuilder... oh, and some marshmallow dumbbell sculptures!!! It could only be the latest project by Alex Staiger - watch her website to see the results in a week or so.

The Friday before I had great fun at Zero De Conduite at the Elevator Gallery in Hackney Wick. The highlights were the excellent Sculpture doing live tape loop mixing accompanied by visuals that involved a record player and a video camera. Really good stuff. Here's the first three minutes on You Tube.

I also enjoyed James III And The Puritan - who is an almost indescribable mix of live mixer, DJ, grunge guitarist and, well, weirdo in a very strange outfit of cape and multiple headwear!! The Home Office were also excellent cleverly playing along to a video soundtrack so they had synched videos for their songs. Also appearing and entertaining were Craig Template and a gaggle of performance artists.

This Wednesday just gone I was partying at the Notting Hill Blag Club with Wayne Myers (whose birthday it was), and doing a little bit of promotion for my gig there next week. Talking of which, here are the next few coming up, do come along if you can.

30th July 2008, 8.45pm
The Notting Hill Blag Club, 68 Notting Hill Gate London, W11 3HT
The last gig here was an excellent night, this promises to be even better.

31st July 2008, 8.30pm
White Hart, 1 Mile End Road, Whitechapel, E14 4TP
Featured artist at this open mic night in happening Whitechapel.

14th August 2008, 8.30pm
Montague Arms, New Cross
Lots of music and comedy at the Unwrong Quiz night.

17th August 2008, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ Prohibition
Prohibition Bar & Grill, Unit 1 Tower Bridge House, St. Katharine Docks, East Smithfield, E1W 1AA
Just 15 minutes of fame!

31st August, 7.30pm
15 Minute Club @ The Living room
18-26 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LN

Oh, one final thing. Why is it impossible to buy string anymore?! I mean, where do you get it from... no one has it!


Friday, July 18, 2008

Some Good Things

The gig at the Fiddler's Elbow went really well. I was nervous before as I'm using a voice processor and a looper to create effects and harmonies and it calls for quite a bit of co-ordination. I've been practising really hard and it's starting to pay off. I think I may have inadvertently invented a new form of exercise. One part of the set calls for me to stand on one leg, whilst playing the tambourine with my other leg, playing guitar and singing! It'd doing wonders for my core stability. Anyway, enough of the technical details, the point is that it all came together and, by all accounts, sounds great. It's a thrill to finally start hearing the songs the way I have in my head and headphones for a while now. Many thanks should go to Steve the sound guy who was very friendly and professional, and did a superb job. I really can't wait for the next gig - it's an exciting time.

I'm also working hard on a new song, the working lyrics are below and the chords are pretty much there. Not sure on a title yet though, so feel free to post your suggestions... Until We Pass This Way Again is one option, Like A Melody is another.

In the morning the Sun will rise again,
After noon it drys my falling rain,
Evening comes to soothe and cool,
And night-time falls on king and fool,
Will we see the dawn again?

But these moments they don't last long,
Just like a melody they linger fleetingly and then,
In a heartbeat they are gone,
'til we pass this way again.

In the Spring the trees will grow again,
I remember Summer days without an end,
In the Autumn we all fall down,
And Winter chills the frozen ground,
'Til the seasons start again.


We are born with wonder in our eyes,
As we grow we feel the pain of life,
In the middle some gain a frown,
And the last act brings the curtain down,
Who will remember we passed this way?

(D. Callow 2008)

As you may spot it's a bit of a digression from my usual writing, and the tune is quite folky (perhaps NiteByrd's comments have had an effect?). But I think it's a strong song, that may suit smaller more intimate gigs. If I get the lyrics finished over the weekend, I'll try and record a version for you to hear next week.

Love and peace to all,


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Summer Of Music

Much as I do enjoy the performance and art things that I get involved in, it's nice to get back to my first love from time to time. The last few weeks have been filled with playing and appreciating music of all kinds. On Thursday 3rd I headed to The Duchess in Battersea Park with my wonderful (and now glowing) friend Sarah Peach in tow. I've played a few times at this open mic night and it's always an enjoyable experience, in no small part due to the ebullient (and perhaps occasionally, slightly drunk - only slightly mind, and only occasionally) host - Will O'Durkin. For various reasons this was the last open mic night 'til September, so I really wanted to play. It turned out that one of those reasons was that Will and partner were having a baby, and as coincidence would have it, it's due on more or less the same day as Peachy's. In between the baby chat, I managed to play four tunes and was happy with how it went.

Next appointment was on Wednesday 9th when Peachy and I ventured out again, this time to the Jazz Cafe to see our friends Katrina and U'mau perform. True to form, we arrived too late to see Soul Bar, but did manage to catch a large part of the set by Tunday Akintan & The Yorubeat AllStars (catchy name that!) - who were an excellent set of funky musicians. U'mau was singing and the whole vibe was upbeat and infectious.

Thursday 10th brought a trip to New Cross for 2nd Thursdays at the Montague Arms. This evening was Ladies Night and once again the entertainment was diverse and interesting. The highlights were Holly & Jenny's montage of embarrassing situations and overhead mobile phone conversations and aerobics (highly enjoyable), Caroline De Lannoy's fragments of words and feelings to even more fragmented piano stabs (highly stimulating) and Jo Stevenson's songs and ukulele playing (highly hilarious). Her song about Hitler being her favourite dictator is a work of comic genius. Emma Leach was also giving medical advice to pub goers and performers alike, although by the time I got round to it she'd finished! I was also grilled (in the nicest possible way) by Felicity Mukherjee about safety and security in London, this might have actually been a performance art piece by Lucy Panesar, but as is often the case these days, it was kinda hard to tell. It seemed professional and off-beat enough to be entirely genuine.

Okay, slight art diversion there... back to the tunes. Sunday night saw me trekking a long way north to the Fiddler's Elbow near Chalk Farm station (how do you farm chalk exactly?). Two reasons for the trip, firstly to see my friend Johnny Ryder play (young, talented, good-looking, footloose, fancy free... ah he's just sooo like me... ha ha) play and secondly to check out the venue as I'm doing a set there myself this Wednesday (16th). Johnny was not having the best night, his acoustic guitar had given up the ghost, so he was forced to do his solo set on a borrowed electric guitar. It took him a while to warm up, but by song three he was cooking on gas. He sounds like a mixture of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Joan Armatrading, if you can imagine such a multi-headed musical beast. Following Johnny were Hedorah (sort of Garbage-lite - very pretty singer, moments of genius), Lost Gravity (lost in a rock-timewarp, the guitarist couldn't have been more Angus Young if he actually was Angus Young, and the bass player looked like an estate agent on his night off, great fun though. One of their fans had dreadlocks to his ankles, I kid you not!) and Thick As Thieves (super friendly guitarist - he loaned his guitar to Johnny - my personal favourite band of the night).

Well that's a round up of my musical week or so. My turn to play at the Fiddler's Elbow on Wednesday 16th, do come down. It's a great little rock venue, and I'm really looking forward to playing loud and unrestrained. Be there - 8pm.

Love to all,


P.S. Pics top: U'mau with Tunday Akintan & The Yorubeat AllStars, bottom: Johnny Ryder

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Moment In Time

I have a fragment of a new lyric...

...Those feelings they don't last long,
Just like a melody, they linger fleetingly,
And then in a heartbeat, they are gone...

...and some chords. But no song... yet. Where do these words fit in? I have no idea, but I hope to find out.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside... II

First up I must must correct an omission from the last post. One of the other pieces I saw on the first day was Serena Korda's The Library of Secrets. This is a custom made portable library that looks like it was made in the 60s, the idea is that you select a book, and then write a secret and place it amongst the pages of the book, for someone to discover another time. I really like this idea, as I love discovering things left in books (plus I've also taken to leaving my gig flyers in appropriate books, as a random way of meeting new fans... possibly). I actually met Serena at the Seaside Cabaret and it turns out she's from the Harrow area where I used to live. She has a piece on Stanmore Station platform at the moment.

On with Sunday at Whitstable then. After a less than restful night at the artist house (the sound of hoovering at one in the morning turned out to be a pump for inflating blow-up beds!!), we headed back to the seaside for some lunch. Since this is the coast it was seafood we were after and we were not disappointed. We went to the Pearsons Arms and enjoyed a fine lunch of potted shrimp, scallops and local fish in the company of Vic Reeves (well he was in the restaurant at the same time as us, so that must count).

In the afternoon I caught some more video projections at the local museum (I saw the end of a Paul MaCarthy piece, I think) and the tail end of the Whitstable Tourist Board's tour of Whitstable Art, which it seems most people where not sure if it was a spoof or not. Since it was listed under the performance art pieces, I guess it must have been!

The Unwrong Quiz

A brief rest and a shower later and it was time to make my way back to The Smack to set up for the Unwrong Quiz. This is a format developed by Frog Morris and Mark Quinn which follows the standard pub quiz format except for the fact that there are no wrong or right answers. Creativity and originality rule the day and the answers are often very funny. In the company of many of the day's performers and artists the routine is to ask about 5 questions and then while Frog and Mark go through the answers I play some songs. An added twist this time around is that due to the nice weather we started out in the beer garden, so I did my first outdoor show for a while. Some of the songs are better suited to being al fresco than others, so I had to shift the set around to accommodate this situation. I was a little frustrated to start with as I'd brought all my clever kit with me to allow me to do harmonies, effects and loops and playing in the garden kinda prevented me from using them. I kept willing the weather to turn cold so we could all head indoors.

After three or four rounds (I won a set of emergency blankets!) we finally decamped to the warmth of the pub and I was able to use the equipment I'd brought with me. This produced a few nerves, but I feel that my first ever use of the VoiceLive box for my songs live went well. Even the use of the looper at the end of When The Snow Fell In Denver, which calls for accurate foot stamping whilst playing, went well. I can't wait to make use of this kit at full volume for a proper set, roll on The Fiddler's Elbow on the 16th... should be an exciting night! Despite the two location gig and the amount of kit involved I only repeated one song, which was I Need Your Love, this one works well both on it's own and with effects and harmonies, so I felt it deserved a reprise.

The final act of the evening was the sing-a-long, which we've been perfecting at the Montague Arms. We now have giant songsheets as well as handouts, so there is no excuse for people not joining in. First up was It's Summertime (which you can download here if you'd like to hear it) with harmonies and a delay effect it was a big sound and people certainly sang along with gusto. Finally another rousing chorus of Angry Badger (it's not my song... Frog maintains it's a traditional folk tune that he's arranged, but I'm not so sure... you can download a version from here if you'd like to check it out for yourself) wrapped the evening up - I even managed to play the chorus right and add the voice of doom!

So that was it, Whitstable was over for us and all that was left to do was pack the van and head back to the big smoke. If any of this sounds like your sort of thing, then do come down to Second Thursdays at the Montague Arms in New Cross (every 2nd Thursday of the month, next one is Ladies Night on the 10th July) or one of my gigs - next one is 16th July at The Fiddler's Elbow in Chalk Farm.

See you soon!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside... I

It's taken a few days to recover sufficiently to write this review of the Whitstable Biennale 2008. Not that I didn't enjoy every minute, but two weekends in a row of very little sleep have taken it out of me a bit. Undeterred though, here we go...

The Whitstable Arts Festival lasts about 3 weeks and comes around every two years. I had no idea what to expect, the last Biennale I went to was Documenta in Kassel, which is a very dreary German prison town. Whitstable on the other hand is a beautiful Kent seaside town on a picturesque pebbled bay. We even got lucky with the weather, sun and rolling clouds with no rain at all. Just as well as we were there to see the performance art, which was mostly outside.

When we arrived the first thing to do was hit the beach, where we came across the The Man From Above (otherwise known as Charlie Tweed) there to inform us of how to avoid being drowned by building a platform or occupying high ground. I was particularly taken by his survival outfit of wetsuit and welding mask that, he informed me, had been purchased from eBay! Also on the beach was a sea container featuring a video by Jananna Al-Ani. Video in a sea container is fine, but it was so bright outside that you couldn't see it unless the door was clanged shut behind you, visions of Kassel maximum security prison flashed through my mind! Leaving the beach behind us we checked out some more screenings and then had a well deserved rest.

Next appointment on the Saturday was to see Lee Campbell's performance - The Fall And Rise. This event had already enjoyed much publicity in the national press, and a call for volunteers had been very successful. The anticipation was immense as we waited on the beach with about 400 other passers-by and art lovers (we do love a good crowd in England, I'm sure half the people waiting had no idea at all what they were waiting for). We didn't have to wait too long, as Lee and several dozen volunteers marched towards the beach wearing suits and shouting slogans from the hit TV series The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin. "I didn't get where I am today by eating greasy sausages" or similar... as the cameras flashed and people gaped in amusement, they all made there way down to the lapping waves and then recreated the scene where Reggie strips off and runs into the sea to fake his own death. Unfortunately I had to leave at this point to start setting up for the evening, but I talked to the curator Frog Morris later and asked how it went. He replied that there was rather more full-frontal nudity than he'd been expecting, but general consensus was that it had been a fantastic event. And the day was not over yet!!!

Seaside Cabaret

The final event of the day was the Seaside Cabaret at The Smack. The Smack is a little (and I mean little) seaside Inn with a horseshoe bar, beer garden, pub dogs and a gaggle of bemused regulars. Their day was to become slightly surreal as a succession of performers and artists trooped through the door. First up was Princess Penang, aka Alex Staiger, who dressed in gold catsuit, tiara, kid's bikini and that strap-on and using a mixture of marshmallows, a lollipop, cake sprinkles, a trampoline and heavy metal guitar riffs (courtesy of yours truly) she proceeded to wow, stun and heal the locals and other passers-by. One of my highlights of the whole weekend was when she healed Das Schimmel and Herman Rarebell III. It was a truly unmissable and unique art moment.

After the pub garden healing we moved inside for more cabaret. The evening was hosted by Dawn Chalkley in full drag, and was kicked off by Frog Morris with his drawings and stand-up routine. After Frog it was Victor Mount with tin can guitar and more funny tales delivered in his usual laid back style. After him came the truly extraordinary Leigh Clarke, who does a quite jaw-dropping human beatbox performance. After this mesmerizing set the final act was Deference Engine, a prog-rock band from Norfolk. They wow'd the crowd again with a set of intriguing songs, finishing off with the crowd calling for Big, Big Sofa and a rousing chorus of Angry Badger!

After that it was back to the artist's house to sleep it off, and that was just the Saturday! More to come on the Sunday's hi-jinks later.