What an incredible few months I've had! The Katie Melua tour has finally finished but not before covering over 10,000 miles across mainland Europe and the UK. I've had some wonderful experiences in Germany, Austria, Portugal and Poland to name just a few. Including driving at madcap speed along rainy autobahns, diversions into the Czech Republic and meeting a whole bunch of very friendly and interesting people. It would make a whole Blog of it's own and I can only apologise for not writing up more of it. Unfortunately this was a self-drive tour, and time was at a premium. I'm sure I'll share a few tales now I'm back and have some more time.
On top of all of this I came back to the UK in mid-tour to take part in two special events in my role as guitarist and backing singer for Charlie Savigar. Firstly we trooped off to Monmouth in Wales to perform on the Sunday at the Rockfield Country Music Festival. This was a great event to be part of and the band really rose to the occasion. At the end of the day we certainly weren't everybody's can of beans, but the response we got was great and we'd love to play there again.
Following on swiftly from that we dodged showers in Harrow to film a new video. It was an all day event including shots of us in the van, driving up and down the road (many times) and miming in front of a green screen. We were working with a young director called Maximilian White and he did us and himself proud with a really fun video. Enough talk - check it out here:
It was an incredibly long day of filming considering that it's a 2 minutes 40 seconds pop song, but the result was worth all the effort. Many thanks go out to Max and second cameraman Rob along with Michelle who did Charlie's make-up. We also should thank my dad Alan and step-mum Lorraine who lent us their house and Autocruise Pace mobile home for the day!! It was particularly poignant day for my brother (drums) and myself as we filmed the vast majority of it at the house where we used to live, and also practice with our first band. The ending was particularly serendipitous as we had originally planned to venture out to Chesham and film us arriving at the Elgiva Theatre, but rain delays thwarted us and so we opted to try filming at Brent Town Hall instead. As we drove over the hill towards the venue we had a vision of the white arch through the showers. It seemed like the perfect ending and indeed it was.
To check out a little more of what went on behind the scenes then check out this link. We'll be adding more to coincide with the official launch gig/party next week, details below (do come along and party with us). Btw, if you like the video when please do pass the link on to your friends, we need all the publicity for the band we can get - thanks guys!!
In other news Charlie is now a Rotosound Strings endorsee and we're really looking forward to an article they are preparing on her. Please do check out all her Summer gigs here and come along if you can.
Have fun! Daren xxx
OFFICIAL VIDEO LAUNCH PARTY
27th July 2011 - 8.30pm
18 Kentish Town Road, London, NW1 9NX
Friday, July 22, 2011
Sunday, March 06, 2011
I've had a really fun week as Charlie and I embarked on a mini-tour of London with our duo - Dare To Be Charlie - which ends tonight at The Living Room, Tower Bridge. We've really enjoyed both our dates so far which included a bar under a railway in Brixton (Brixton Bar & Grill) and a tent over Kensington with Flamingos nearby (Roof Gardens).
Tonight we take our guitars and show to the Living Room, which used to be Prohibition. Really looking forward to this one as we'll see some old friends from the 15 Minute Club and get another chance to play our songs. The set is really strong these days with a great mix of Charlie's songs, my songs and the co-written material. Talking of which we have a co-written song in the pipeline for release on iTunes later in the year. I'm also really looking forward to recording new versions of live favourites - Lightkeeper and When The Snow Fell On Denver under the D2BC banner. We'll be releasing these later in the year as singles with some new songs - all featuring Haydn Callow on drums and Alex Lofoco on bass.
So if you're at a loose end do come down and check us out at the Living Room tonight, it will be a fab night of music. If you can't make it, then do check out the link below and see some pics by the fabulous Victoria Morris from our set at the Roof Gardens:
Dare To Be Charlie Live At The Roof Gardens
Catch you later.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I have to say I really love The New Root. I first saw their lead singer - Trish Boothby - perform at the 15 Minute Club in Hoxton. She had a very different style singing haunting songs in a vaguely Chrissie Hynde style whilst picking on a Fender Telecaster. It's great to see a female singer-songwriter on these nights which are often male dominated, but even better to see them playing electric guitar. It turned out that Trish quite enjoyed my songs too, so we stayed in touch and I finally got to she her full band - The New Root - when Dare To Be Charlie supported them at a gig in Bristol. I have to confess I was blown away! As well as Trish the band consists of a very tight rhythm section - a dreadlocked Joel Mines on drums and an occasionally be-hatted Craig Livings on bass - and the real icing on the cake for me (who loves the use of effects on guitars) - David Boothby on guitar. After seeing them live I coined the phrase - Kate Bush meets Radiohead - and that just about sums them up in a nutshell. As an added bonus there is a real depth to the lyrics and a great energy on stage that means they have the complete package. To cap it all their self-recorded album is excellent and well worth whatever you pay for it.
I really enjoyed their recent gig at the Bull & Gate, which was just an outstanding night. It went straight into my top 10 gigs of all time! Every song was strong, with my only slight criticism being that they played my favourite number - American Tale - quite early in the set. I also particularly enjoyed their new song but I don't know the name of that one yet. I became so absorbed in watching them that I didn't even notice the venue filling up behind me.
Everyone I play their songs too seems to like them as well, so I do hope you check them out and give this band from Bristol the leg up they strongly deserve.
The New Root Offical Website
The New Root on MySpace
The New Root on iTunes
Sunday, February 20, 2011
It's taken 4 months, but it's finally here! The next EP release from my musical partner in crime - Charlie Savigar. Unlike the last EP - Long Way Home, which was recorded at Francis Rossi's home studio and produced by Gregg Jackman where I sang a few backing vocals - I had a slightly bigger role in bringing this one to fruition. I had a hand in the engineering, production and mixing, as well as playing guitar and singing on all the tracks!
Aside from this the majority of the singing and playing is done by Charlie herself. She sung all the vocals and played guitar and all keyboards on all the tracks (she's a very skilful piano player, which we don't get to show off live yet). The final two musicians on the tracks are my brother - Haydn Callow - who played all the drums and Italian bass player - Alex Lofoco - who supplied all the low end notes. As is the modern way the songs were recorded in a number of locations including Acton and Clapham and then mixed in my own home studio. Charlie is one of those artists who can't really be pigeon-holed into one genre and she writes in a number of musical styles. So here's a quick breakdown of what to look out for on each track:
1) ANYWHERE AT ALL
This is a toe-tapping Country rock number. As with most of these songs - Charlie's guitar is on the right and my guitar on the left (the same as we stand on stage). This was actually the last of the songs that we recorded and I felt we got the best snare sound on this track. I had a very small contribution to the writing of this song as I came up with the "anywhere at all" lyric when we were jamming it originally.
This song is a full out rocker and the heaviest song we play in the set. In this case my guitar is double-tracked and Charlie's picked guitar part moves from the left to the right. We shortened the intro to make the song more immediate and we play it a little different in the live show. We had great fun getting the "heys" in the middle 8 echoing from left to right in the stereo mix. This was also Haydn's first recording playing double kick drum pedal (ie he plays kick drum with both feet, for that rolling drum sound).
3) NO GOOD FOR ME
This is a song that people often pick out as their favourite song in the live set. It makes use of a lot of harmonics on the guitar (where you touch the string lightly and pluck it so it rings like a bell or a chime). It's also a great lyric, which you might not guess is about alcohol and not being able to find the drink you like! We had fun at the end of the song as mostly it's played to a click track, but the drums and bass slow down and we had to slow our guitar parts and vocals to match what they've done.
4) BLUE DAY
Again another different feel for this song which is part rock, part blues and part ballad. It's also in 3/4 time which is a bit unusual for a rock number. The end of this song originally had a 4/4 section, but we decided to change this fairly early on in the recording process and keep the 3/4 feel all the way through. Originally it also had my overdriven guitar part played all the way through, but we gradually cut it out from parts of the song to create a sparser arrangement. We also had lots of problems with one of the sung days (the first one after the guitar solo) which had an annoying "click" right in the middle of it! In the end Charlie had to re-sing that one word!! You might also be interested to know that the guitar solo is actually three different takes edited together - hopefully you'll never know that now. I have to say I really like the ending of this track where the piano chords, bass and guitar all resolve back to the root chord. The sliding guitar stop at the end is from my very first guide guitar part.
Well there you go, that's a brief summary of each track and now, I hope, you are wondering where you can get hold of the EP!! Well check out this link:
Where you can download the tracks in MP3 format or a number of others. Also if you are quick you can buy one of a limited edition of the EP on CD. These CDs (pictured above) are individually numbered and signed by Charlie herself! Move quick if you'd like one of these as there are only 30 or so left (from 50 to start with). If you are happy to wait Charlie's EP will shortly be on iTunes and so on, and you can also download her first 3 track EP - Long Way Home from there:
Charlie Savigar on iTunes
Hope you enjoy the songs!
P.S. For those of you born in the CD/MP3 age you might be interested to know what EP stands for. It's actually short for "extended play" and comes from the days when 7" vinyl singles could be made to play at 33 1/3 rpm instead of 45 rpm. Slowing down the spin allowed more music to be put on the smaller format - hence the extended play moniker.
P.P.S. You might also like to know where Charlie is in the Hotdisc chart as it's chart day again today. She was at #36 last week and #8 in the UK chart.
P.P.P.S. As a bit of fun there is no number #13 EP - instead there are two #14s in purple cases (Charlie's favourite colour).
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Sunday is the day that the Hotdisc charts are announced, and I can't help myself but get nervous. Some explanation is probably required: Hotdisc is a compilation CD of Country music tracks which is sent out to DJs, Magazines and other Country music people across the world. At the end of last year Charlie submitted her Country-tinged track - Long Way Home (recorded at Francis Rossi's home studio by Gregg Jackman and featuring myself on backing vocals and my brother Haydn on drums) - and this was included on disc 145 in January. As part of the package you get rated by everyone who receives the disc and this rating is used to compile the Hotdisc International and UK charts. Take a look here:
As I write this Blog Charlie is currently at number 20 in the International chart (down one) and unmoved at number 5 in the UK chart. But of course after midday today the position will have changed and eventually this song will drop out altogether. Hence my anxious wait to see where today's position will be. The first few weeks were very exciting. The song entered at number 38, then rose 9 places to 29 (the biggest mover that week), then four places up to 25, then another jump of 6 up to 19 and finally last week a drop of one place to the current position. The chart is revealed over the course of an hour long show that starts at midday and the tension builds as you get further into the show and your song has not been mentioned yet. Once we get the International position I also start frantically doing the maths to figure out where we are in the UK chart (this is published later in the day, and there is a show featuring these songs on Monday at 8PM on UKCountryRadio.com. This week will be especially nerve-wracking as we're expecting another a drop and we'll be hoping it won't be too great a fall.
Want to share the nerves with me? Well tune in from midday on a Sunday for the show hosted by the excellent Stuart Cameron:
CMR Nashville Radio
I do, of course, remember listening religiously to the chart show when I was a kid - tape recorder poised. The chart show was the one time when you could predict when certain songs would be on the radio and the trick was to press record just after the DJ's introduction and then pause it just before he started talking over the end! A real skill. This way you could record all your favourite tracks for enjoyment later. It's definitely a strange feeling to be listening to a chart show with a real interest in one of the songs! Let's hope for another good result this week.
One other part of the Hotdisc package is that you get 100 pieces of feedback from around the world. This is very interesting to see what people are saying about Charlie's track and where in the work her music is most liked. It seems we're very popular in Australia and New Zealand (what good taste you have) so who fancies organising us a tour down under? Good average scores from France, UK and Belgium are really encouraging whilst high individual scores from USA, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy and (most intriguingly) the Faroe Islands are just plain exiting.
Here's a collection of the very best feedback we received:
"Very good new act with a great voice."
John Morris, Trust AM Radio, UK
"Really enjoyable new act."
Petur Rouch, Faroya Radio, Faroe Islands
"Refreshing music and nice vocals with a tight production."
David Miller, Pukepatu Radio, New Zealand
"Likeable – more please from this gal."
Martin Van Der Laan, Radio Compagnie, Holland
"Liked Charlie but I would like to hear another song by her and I guess that will happen in the future – very promising effort."
Al Watts, Collingwood Radio, Australia
"Thanks to Hotdisc another new talent gets promoted. I liked it. Intrigued to hear what comes next from Charlie."
Tom Lambert, Variety Radio, Ireland
"She has a terrific voice. Very interesting song and great debut."
Gordon Davies, Radio Maldwyn, UK
"No doubt at all that Charlie is very talented and must be applauded for doing her own music. Some of the comments agree that possibly a more country sound would attract airplay and it will be interesting to see if she takes her music more into that direction. There is no doubt that there is a market there waiting for her to tap into, if that is what she wants to do. Her next move will be watched by many."
Stuart Cameron, CMR Nashville Radio, UK
"Well done Charlie – this is good and you are talented."
Ricky Lee, WCR FM, UK
"Great track and British too."
Graham Lees, Radio Fish, UK
"Promising artist, lovely voice."
Alan Potter, Tempo FM Radio, UK
"Certainly uplifting singing from Charlie, just proves how the home grown country music scene is growing and getting stronger all the time, with an abundance of hot new country artists such as Charlie. A new singer to keep our eyes and ears open to, with her own self penned hit material as well."
Tom Robinson, Kingston Radio, UK
Can I just say many thanks to everyone who said nice things, it's so encouraging for a new artist!
So has that got you as excited as me? I hope so, I'll drop a comment on this Blog later to let you know where we are. Plus, you can come and see Charlie and myself play this Friday 18th February at the Water Rats in London, UK.
Have a fun Sunday.