The title of this blog could be easily misconstrued and I confess this was done on purpose.

I am referring to the touring that, I as a musician do, by meeting up with people who work in and are involved in the music scene. It forms a vital part of what we do, as a way to make connections and find out what is going on out there. Most of my best opportunities have come from a chance meeting with someone whilst I was out with someone else talking about something inherent to the music scene.

Now… this could also be seen as consistently touting for business – something musicians are regularly accused of, and occasionally fairly, but I was reminded recently of why I have always enjoyed this kind of ‘touring’.

I had a day of meeting up with an old friend to talk about business models and ideas and then went on to a festival where another of my old friends was playing. The nature of debate, discussion and genuine connection during the day was something that brings a smile to my face, and by the next day i felt renewed and re-energised. I had ideas for new songs, an impetus to put a video together and other random and inspirational ideas for the future.

Life has been somewhat full and not always easy of recent, and sometimes it becomes harder to maintain those connections in the wake of those experiences. I have been reminded how important they are, especially when things are tough.


One Sunny Day

As alluded to in an earlier blog I have been working on videos from our gig at The Bury Met this year. I do enjoy the creative process of bringing together a video alongside sound although the nature of not doing it enough always means I am relearning editing techniques.

We opened the gig with One Sunny Day as we did when we launched It Starts Again. It’s an upbeat tune that I wrote with a rhythm much like the Flamenco in mind. Interestingly it was one of those rare songs that had some of the lyrics written before the music – particularly the chorus. It stemmed from a conversation with a friend where she said – ‘One sunny day doesn’t make a summer,’ – at which I found myself furiously scribbling the quote in my notebook saying – that is one I am going to use!

The one thing the live version misses is the female counter voice as this is ultimately a song about relationships, but what it doesn’t miss is Mark Jones revisiting his beautifully played trumpet solo.

So, with that I am going back to editing some more of the tracks from that night and I hope you enjoy ‘One Sunny Day’ attached below:

Autumnal Beginnings

The title of this blog amused me somewhat and yet I think Spring and Autumn bring with them a period of reflectiveness and along with that a prompt into action. I have been quietly working behind the scenes on a number of small projects and ideas some of which are beginning to take shape.

The first thing I have been working on is a revamped website – you’ll notice when you visit that there is a new blog and the pages are a little simpler to access and navigate. Feeds from my blog, twitter, youtube and the like are all there – the joys of social media!

I have also been working on the live tracks and video from the gig at the Bury Met which happened back in March. I will be regularly releasing these videos onto Youtube and we are looking at the possibility of putting them on Spotify too. This is really exciting as we had a full horn section for the gig and the songs with the horn section sound amazing – so much so that I wish I had recorded them with horns originally.

Finally, we are looking at booking a run of gigs to accompany the release of the videos and the new website. We are hoping to gig in a number of different formats from acoustic and small scale up to the 8 piece band with horns that played the Bury Met earlier this year. So, as we ask each time we are planning to gig:

Is there anywhere you would like to see us play?
Would you like to book us for a house gig?
Are there any events you are hosting you would like us to play at?

Most of all feel free to get involved, we always enjoy working with others!

A Modern Musician’s Skills

Here I sit typing away on an old computer whilst my newer computer is working away on processing video and uploading some recently mixed live tracks from our gig at the Bury Met earlier this year.

When I came back to writing and recording music some 8 years ago, after a hiatus, I knew I was walking into an arena of change. The term DIY slowly became an increasing moniker for those of us unsigned in the industry whilst conferences often focussed on the change in the ‘industry’ and the impact it had on those of us out there creating and performing.

I often hear fellow musicians bemoaning their lot in life – they just came into this world to write and perform music, why must they do all this other dreary stuff which is a distraction from their calling? This line of thought led me to thinking about the recent debates on the state of English football – a preoccupation which fights for column inches alongside the signing of players from all over the world to the tune of the national debt.

Recent columns by Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Frank Lampard have highlighted the difference between the youth academies they were brought up in as footballers and those that exist now. They argue that getting a bus to your local training ground, mopping floors, cleaning players boots and taking the inevitable ‘stick’ as an ‘undergraduate’ at a football club enabled them to develop a mental toughness and a broader perspective as human beings. They go on to argue that in protecting young footballers from reality so that they can solely focus upon their talent we inevitably produce poorer quality footballers and poorer quality people.

This line of thought got me thinking about how this applies to the musician, out there plying their trade, coming through the ranks and creating in its broadest sense. DIY musicianship harks back towards the days of those football trainees mentioned above, and the steel, grit and necessary broader skill set required to make a success of the experience.

If you had asked me 8 years ago, I would have been amazed at the skill set I have amassed alongside my development as an artist. From navigating the back reaches of England to lonely acoustic gigs and making conversation with random strangers in pubs and clubs to developing the diplomatic skills of Kofi Annan in managing difficult promoters, disgruntled band members and precocious fellow musicians I have learned a set of skills which apply to all of life. In my time I have programmed websites, organised small scale gigs and multi-stage festivals, set up a music co-operative, debated and implemented business models, directed and edited videos and made friends from a variety of walks of life I would have never met otherwise.

Naturally this range of skills has contributed to my overall life in a positive way but has it helped me as a musician or would I have been better having others do this for me, enabling me to focus solely on my art? I would argue that I am more well rounded as a person in having all of those experiences and this has contributed to my ability to write and perform. It has meant that I am tougher when it comes to dealing with the inevitable naysayers but wise enough to listen to all around me and carefully weigh their input.

In my opinion, young musicians, like young footballers are open to a society which aims to monetise and capitalise on their product. The ‘industries’ of football and music wax lyrical about the sublime art of its exponents, but ultimately the aim of this waxing is to generate income from the product that these industries deliver. If people are going to survive in this world and maintain their creative process then a grounding in the grass roots of their profession and a development of skills which run alongside their chosen art form may just be one way of ensuring strength and well-roundedness in the future.