Saturday, July 14, 2018

Alsager Music Festival 2018

The really rather wonderful Alsager Music Festival once again in high summer and another gig in this extraordinary heatwave of Summer 2018.
It was great fun doing it last year with the full band, always more fun with your 'gang' of course, but this time, although solo for much of the set, I enlisted the help of some very talented youngsters on guitar and backing vocals for 'No Tobacco', a couple of very talented students of mine, namely the Bugg brothers, Owain and Dylan Bugg.
They have so much raw talent and charisma... Watch out world!

Many thanks to the multi-talented music-man Marc Gallagher for doing such professional and efficient work on the live sound (and photos, including the ones of me here and the close-up of my acoustic which I can't seem to caption right now, do check out what Marc's up to though, via his social media pages, especially his own gigs).
Special thanks to, to the old friends and new, who turned up to my set.
Big crowds in the sun.

The crowd  in between sets at The Sunken Garden Stage.


Many thanks to Marc Gallagher for this photo.
Soul and his good friend Joe came along 😀
The Bugg Brothers stole the show.
L - Owain, R - Dylan


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Mixin in the Kitchen.

29/06/2018

Last night our producer for current recording project with The Blue Yellows,  Mr Tim Lee, was back with us to do some sterling work getting some tracks fixed up and mixed down.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

When The Piper plays...





A free gig like this can go either way, or indeed along any point between those ways, so I
Photo: Will Riding
was thankful that the sunny weather brought a fair crowd out. I was also thankful that the more extreme heat that we have had at times over the Spring, and is perhaps back on the way again, kept at bay for today at least, making lumping two guitars around on public transport and on fair walking distances much more pleasant than it could have been.

Chester Live Festival, of which this was a part, is a well organised affair if this, the Acoustic Summer Party at The Piper is anything to go by, with lots of calm and professional staff (or volunteers) doing their work calmly and expertly, making sure the sound is good and the public are well informed and so many other things that have gone on for months before the event.

I was also really knocked out by the wonderfully poignant and beautifully considered songwriting skills of one Will Riding, I especially loved a song inspired by his autistic son, 'Favourite Shoes'. Do check his stuff out.
Thanks as ever to those who listened, commented and bought CDs.
Until next time!
A content summer crowd enjoy Will Riding.

I also played 'Flamingos', not on the setlist...

Sunday, June 17, 2018

F-A-B ... 'Thunderbirds are GO!'

"FAB Fest" is an obvious reference to the heritage of this great event (as the Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival) as well as being a decisive break from it, such that it will never please everyone, as change never does.

In some ways, the kind of weirdness factor of all the different types of bizarre and wonderful morris dancers around this town at festival time, along with many dyed-in-the-wool folkies who would appear en masse from all over the country, with feathers in hats and other quirks that set them out as 'trad-folkies' is to be missed, although there were still a few to be seen, just not in the great numbers that there used to be when this was more of an out and out folk festival with just a few other types of acts that were perhaps more on the contemporary side of things.

On the other hand, a huge fan of folk music who used to run a record shop in Chester used to say to me "What is 'folk music' anyway?.. It's music for folks, it encompasses all kinds of music".


Nevertheless, plenty of the same vibrancy and excitement in the crowds remain as does plenty of quality music from all kinds of acts, from folk to rock and even pure pop, such that this is one of the key music festivals of the whole region, ranked in the Top 10 of the smaller festivals by The Guardian a few years ago.

This year's event was headlined by Peter Hook and The Light, and our fringe event by the enthusiastic hardworking and talented (not to mention award-winning) bunch that are Middlewich Music. Our set went a bit off piste in places a few times in the first half, we are still pretty under-rehearsed for lots of new songs and sounds we are putting in the set at the moment, though things improved through the set and by the second half we seem to have found our form (which is definitely the right way round to do things if you're going to have a couple of dodgy moments!), but our finding ourselves back in the flow again was not least in thanks to an enthusiastic crowd, good friends and new ones who turned up and gave us a good time.
Thank you all! XX

Set list FabFest 18

Venue Poster
Our Poster
Pic by Adam Roberts


Saturday, June 02, 2018

Transmission Belper!


After a shattering couple of days with not much sleep (for reasons I won't delve into here), as well as being a natural night-owl, perhaps at my perceptive and physical peak between around 10pm and 3am (I hate going to bed at night as much as I hate leaving it in the morning), I find traveling to daytime gigs particularly exhausting.

However, as soon as I got to the sight at Belper Goes Green Festival, my spirit and energy levels were lifted (as well as the coffee kicking in!).

What a fantastically chilled-out, relaxed, friendly feeling festival this is. My first time here, I also got a nice 45  minute solo set, enough time to really get into it. The PA system I was going through was really unusual (and really loud!), run by a guy who makes wind-turbines, I really should have asked him more about it.
I also had time to enjoy some of the other great music at the event including the outstanding songwriter Lucy Milford... do check her stuff out, beautiful). I'd love to come back here with The Blue Yellows one year, great stuff.


Incidentally, this being a green festival is a good opportunity to mention that, as someone who travels to so many gigs and rehearsals by train, feeling as if I practically live on trains in fact, it's heartening to see so many other musicians, and even entire bands plus all their gear, traveling this way these days.


1st stop in Belper; double espresso.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

#BeMoreBennett

Audlem today.
Some people just seem more alive than others.

I know it's a cliché but Alex Bennett really was one of those few people who would light up any room or situation she walked into, would be the life and soul of every party or... would soon start a party if there wasn't one already. Never in a selfish 'look at me' way either, she was always thoughtful and wanted you to have a great time, too.

I met her as a fellow narrowboater, hearing her bell-like voice happily bellowing around the marina, before I even met her face to face a few minutes later. It soon became clear she was absolutely nuts about live music, and would on an average week, perhaps go to 4 or more live music events and in a festival week (like this weekend in Audlem), I'm not sure she even slept. She was the kind of person that, on persuading you to join her for a quick beer on a Tuesday night, it would soon be well after midnight and I'd start saying things like 'I'd love to but I've got to be up up at half 6', "you'll be FINE, I've got to be up at 5 tomorrow and I'm not going home"!

She cared and campaigned with a passionate vigour for her patients in her very demanding role in the NHS, she constantly moved not one, but two boats around the canal system along with her beloved rescue pooch Dexter, and seemed to be out 7 nights a week, and all weekend, dancing at the front of every gig she could get to. She was even making her first forays into musicianship in later months after buying a cajon, so that she could be part of the band on open mic nights and jam sessions.
Where she found the energy, I'll never know!

Although she had huge traumas and problems in her life, she was absolutely irrepressible, always fun fun fun to be with, and seemed to eke every nanosecond of possible pleasure available in life, hence the social-media hashtag #BeMoreBennett, a call to arms to all of us not to waste our lives but to make the most of every moment, and every person (including 4 legged people) we care about.
Today was a special event in honour of Alex as well as Dexter.
The wonderful artist and musician Michelle Martin also performed, and Paul joined me on Cajon, both were out with Alex having a great time with her on her last night alive before the horrible boat fire. There was also a raffle for her favourite charity MIND and there were stories, songs, a lovely poem and lots of anecdotes from about just some of the amazing scrapes and adventures she was constantly getting herself into.

Every one who knew her will miss her so much.



Saturday, May 12, 2018

Playing the Tracks.

Today I was out with the gang, The Blue Yellows playing amid the historic railway paraphernalia of Crewe Heritage Centre for Rock and Rails Festival. It was a struggle to get into the set for a while as we had a few sound issues that are sometimes inevitable at such events, but it was a good chance to practice some new songs on those who made it along.

Today we were in traditional 'national dress' The 'knotted hankey' being in jokey support of the UK for tonight's Eurovision Song contest, myself and Dave from the band having appeared in a crazy Eurovision-themed version of The Doorstep Mixtape on the radio, two nights beforehand, with Dave sporting the infamous head-gear.

The BYs Rhythm Section not messing about. Thanks to Tim Lee for the photo.

Don't laugh, you'll all be wearing them by next summer. 
Thanks to Martin Butterworth for this photo!


Thanks to Tim Lee for the photo.


Em somehow managed to look good in hers... not fair!
Thanks to Tim Lee for the photo.


A post shared by Bob (@wayofthebob) on

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Stanzas, Beers and a Song debut.

Chilling out at Alsager Mere, pre-gig.

Some unusual customers awaited my arrival

Copies of Petrol & Matches
A celebration of 10 years of the Words & Music Festival
were on sale too.
26th April, 2018

I've just come back from a lovely evening of poetry & pints at an an amazingly bohemian venue of the all-things weird and wonderful that prevails upstairs at The Lodge, in Alsager.
I enjoyed poems by the many talented local poets who gathered including Phillip Williams, Helen Kay who was on amazing form, and accomplished author Claire Bassi (who also runs the creative writing group and events, Nantwich Speakeasy)


I played, completely acoustically, not even a mic, to a lovely, not to mention talented, audience. Thanks all!
I played;
There She Moves
Valentine's Day (song debut)
Big Low Copper Moon

Galleries
Toast the Night
Watch Out! (or I'll Stick you in my Poem)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Storm of Crows

*14th April, 2018
(*updated 19th April 2018 to include photos & video)
Barney & friends
Just one bit of gorgeous Gordon

Last week I met back up with my very first musical collaborator from my very first band, The Storm Crows.
Barney was the founding member and co-songwriter with me, and after many years we met up recently and slid straight back into the easy jamming/writing mode we always had, as if we'd never stopped playing together. 


I appreciate even more now what a magically effortless this process was, and still is, after working with so many different people over the years. He also came along to last weekend's BYs gig.

Anyway, the jamming had some point to it, not that music-making needs any other point than itself, because I'd been invited to a big party gig of Barney's in his beautiful home village of Gordon in the Scottish Borders.
I was one of many guests, the talent in that room was something else, something special, but it was so great to be back on stage with my fellow Storm Crow for a bit.

We played together on old Storm Crows songs "2 B Loved", that I had written, and one of Barney's, "Gabrielle"... just like old times. After this I played a solo spot where I included a song called "Toast the Night", as it seemed appropriate enough for such a special occasion.

And what a night! Let's not leave it so long before next time!

Inside the lovely B&B

Pedals to the metal


Some gorgeous Gordon surroundings.

There are also a couple of instagram postings on this gig HERE and...  HERE

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Brewing up some new tunes.

Friday, April 6th 2018 (*updated 08/04/18 to include link to live review)

Last night I was out with The Blue Yellows playing long set with new songs. As we have, of late, been focusing on recording, we were under-rehearsed in terms of live performances of new songs and in some cases, any rehearsal at all of some of the longer-standing tunes in the set. Nevertheless, although our set may not have been technically perfect, we were definitely 'in the zone' as far as artistic expression, emotion and spirit are concerned, playing an absolute blinder from what I could tell. The lovely crowd packed into the bijou but gorgeous (with equally gorgeous beers and gins) Offbeat Brewery.
I dedicated a couple of songs to my good friend Alex an amazing tour de force of a character. She and her lovely doggie died in a horrible boat fire earlier in the year.
Thanks to everyone who made it along, you gave us a great night, and lovely to see so many old faces, and enthusiastic new ones!

*Marina is Red also wrote a review of this gig at https://www.marinaisred.com/2018/04/08/gig-review-the-blue-yellows/

Official Video ad'

Setlist - spot the new tunes?



Thursday, April 05, 2018

Well, Storm the Crows!

Another day, another train, this time to meet up with the founding member and joint songwriter of the very first band I was in, 'Barney'.

We did a bit of catching up and playing some old songs, including ones I wrote for 'The Storm Crows', but haven't played for many years, so some of the lyrics are lost somewhere in the deeper recesses of my memory. But we basically jammed away on some old songs and new ones, which just the 'natural' way we arranged them years ago.

We will meet up again up in the Scottish Borders where he now lives to for a special birthday gig up there next week.
Should be a bit of an adventure!

Monday, April 02, 2018

Jazz Chords and Damp Guitars

Nantwich Jazz Festival - April 2nd 2018

I realised this was the first Rickety Wireless gig outside of Alsager, no less(!) and the wilds of Nantwich Jazz Festival we did brave.
A weird combination of very cold, wet conditions outside the venue, where our instruments had been 'waiting' and extremely warm, humid conditions within, meant our instruments were dripping wet with condensation when we removed their covers and bags. This caused a number of ongoing tuning issues as wood, metals and other materials adapted to this drastic change. In fact even Dan's mini drum set was suffering tuning issues, which is rare mid-gig.


Nevertheless neither this, nor our still 'under-rehearsed' condition didn't dampen the spirits of the crowds, who seemed to love it, singing along and sometimes dancing to much of the set. Thanks you lot, you made it great fun!



Monday, March 12, 2018

From recording to rehearsals!

Stinky and me at Rickety Wireless towers.
With some two hour shows coming up in Easter with both my original band The Blue Yellows and cover-pop trio Rickety Wireless, it's been time to get down to some serious rehearsals. In fact, with the BYs, we've been so pre-occupied with arranging and recording two new songs (see recent posts) that we were a bit 'all over the place' when rehearsing a new, long set for coming show, but we'll get there!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Garage Band - Blue Yellows mini-album project, Recording Session 3

Very close followers of this blog may know that my band The Blue Yellows have been intermittently recording over quite a few months, three days in all. If you are in need a of a quick catch-up (and WHY wouldn't you be, huh?!), you can do, via these links;

Blue Yellows mini-album project, Recording Day One


Blue Yellows mini-album project, Recording Day Two

and now...

24th February 2018

Blue Yellows mini-album project, Recording Day Three!

OK, fast-forward to the freezing but sunny February day that was yesterday (at the time of writing), with the 
burgeoning 'Best From the East' tapping on the garage door, the garage being that converted into a rehearsal studio by the amazing Sheena Bratt for her fab band Venus Rising. Many thanks for Sheena and family for letting us invade the place for the day!

Once again, we were in the capable hands of Tim Lee who was actually doing all the hard work of concentrating and focusing all day, while the rest of us could mainly wait around for our turn, although in my case, I needed to learn the lyrics of the newest song going in too. Today was the most rock of the days, style-wise and Tim shot some snippets of the day for youtube;


Of the three days all together, very spread-out through they've been, I think this has been the most smoothly productive, with some of the best ideas brought into the project from my fellow bandees in the BYs and especially from Tim, with the ideas he came up with during the day. It has been especially satisfying for us to get a brand new song in, that we barely know yet ourselves, and which I was still making a few lyrical adjustments to on the day!
Thanks to Em for this pic of me at the mic.

So, a great experience for us, and as if you have not had enough blog links to read yet, Tim has already made his own pretty comprehensive account of the day from his perspective on his recording blog post at https://timleesongs.wordpress.com/2018/02/25/producing-songs-for-the-blueyellows-24-02-18/
Read more about the day on
Tim Lee's blog post HERE
Em, from Tim's Instagram
Simon, laying down the bass
Photo by Em
The brilliant Dave 'The Groove' Coomer, who else!?
Photo by Em

Friday, January 26, 2018

Wireless for Sound.

L-R moi, Dan Logan and Dayve Dean at The Railway.
Many thanks to Louise Mather for this photo.
 A fun outing with rock/pop outfit Rickety Wireless in Alsager last night saw action from the double-bass, dobro, and even more importantly the talents of Dan Logan and Dayve Dean.
This pic from Alsager Music Festival's instagram page.
See more at instagram.com/alsagermusicfst

The band, the poster.