Sunday, September 16, 2018

Happy Juice Records

Note that all music by Jonathan, The Blue Yellows and any associated artists will now be available directly from Happy Juice Records (as well as the usual, but more expensive online music streaming/downloading sites); 

https://happyjuicerecords.bandcamp.com

Saturday, September 01, 2018

My 1st Record Shop Gig (about time!)

A modern, if not even hipsteresque trend I am absolutely in favour of is that for record shop gigs. No hipsters here though; just friendly, down-to-earth people and seriously good songwriters, what more could you want?

An unexpectedly seriously hot day (when you take into account lots of walking and lugging equipment around), but a lovely event at 81 Renshaw Street in the might Liverpool; A record store which also has a bar, cafe, and seriously decent live music venue in the basement, and what's more this was an event organised by the fab folks at Liverpool Acoustic.
Just lovely to be a small part of this today.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Another lovely Garden Party gig.

Once again The Blue Yellows and many of the musical great and good in these parts and beyond were asked to play at a private garden party with people our talented hosts; Martin, Elaine and family who have become good friends. The day also included another partner in crime Dayve Dean working hard on the (great) sound all day as well as playing a set of his enchanting self-penned songs.   

A real highlight, I think all would agree was poet, and guest of Helen Kay, Joy France. Joy said that when people see her at a poetry event, "..they expect daffodils" and when at a slam or rap/slam event, the other artists involved (if they don't know her yet) have been known to inform her that she ended up in the wrong place, and politely tell her where the loos are...

Well, if you are in any doubt of the poetic powers of this woman, check this out!



A snippet of our set..

Saturday, August 04, 2018

GlastonLee Festival - Made of Love.

I know it takes a dedicated team of people to work on a festival as a full-on commitment for the best part of (if not a full) year to make it this sort of success. Well this, Glastonlee Festival one was put lovingly put together by family members of Lee Belsham (of Dr Phibes fame), in his memory and honour, and to raise money for St Luke's Hospice which did so much to care for Lee, as with so many others. A festival indeed, made of love.

The ongoing heatwave, which has been making life so uncomfortable in many ways, was of course a further blessing for an event like this, and although tickets sold well online, plenty more paid on the gate as the day went on. A great day, and night!
A pleasure, an honour,  to be a part of this.


Evert act I head sounded great! This was Brave New World, kicking the whole day off.



Mark Barnett with relaxed audience.

Not needed thankfully.

Our salubrious back-stage area.



Sunday, July 29, 2018

The BIG Day Out, just across the road.



Memphis, Chicago, California, Birmingham, Andalusia, the North West of England.

Sometimes we need reminding that if you are a music fan, and you live in the North West of England you are in an incredibly lucky minority of the World's population to live in one of the globe's capitals of popular music.
Even though here in Nantwich, I'm in a relatively countryfied, indeed gentrified backwater, if I stand on my narrowboat roof, I can actually see Manchester, and Liverpool is just as near (or even nearer if train fares are anything to go by). Both iconic cities on this planet's musical map. Birmingham, the birth place of all things metal, is less than half a day's bike ride away (if you're serious about bike-riding anyway). Some of the world's biggest music names on this little planet of ours will play within an hour or two travelling time of here every time they tour the world and we should NEVER EVER take that for granted.
I remember an interview with one of my musical heroes Flea (he of The Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) recently, saying that it's pretty tough playing in Manchester, England and even in their home town of Los Angeles, as such cities are so blessed with mega-heroes of music playing in these places week in and week out, there can be a tendency to for audiences to feel quite blasé about it, whereas if they play in Mexico, or a country in South America, the crowds are absolutely wild with excitement; dancing, crying and singing every word at the top of their voices and in a two hour joyous state of pure ecstasy in their one and only chance, in their one and only city in which they can ever see their heroes.

DON'T. TAKE. IT. FOR. GRANTED.

Anyroadup, although there weren't too many about for my set at Big Day Out Cheshire I felt the surrealness and the pure luck of being born in the right place to have an experience like this, of playing my little set, then walking a few steps to a see a band whose music I have grown up with as part of the background soundscape to my life/our lives on the radio at home, on the coach or wherever. What a thing!

I also greatly enjoyed a superb set by Tim Lee, especially a new song which I think was called 'Performance', the always brilliant Photo Booth Smile and the inimitable brilliance of Baxter!

Thanks to all involved, especially that very busy Lizzy and the whole team surrounding Redshift Radio who seem to have a lot to do with it all.
Tim Lee in great acoustic form,

The ever-awesome Baxter!

The expanded line-up and even bigger sounding Photo Booth Smile.

I played a lot more than is on my surliest here!

Many Thanks to Tim for this photo!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Melted Cheese.

The day is once again upon us where the average Nantwich resident, or for that matter any of today's many visitors to The Nantwich Show increase their cheese intake by approximately a thousand percent.
I was asked to perform by Liz, of supporter of all-things-Nantwich Redshift Radio.
It was good again to see a few familiar faces in the audience, the only thing making things difficult being the continuing extreme heat, but I guess it brings the crowds out!
Sound check.

The sun brought mor out for the show itself.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The taming of Shrew(sbury)

Played a pub gig tonight in an (at last, to be honest) very rainy Shrewsbury  with those consummate professionals, Dayve and Dan in Rickety Wireless.
Although we finished loading out in the early hours Dan had studio work to do on some equipment immediately following the gig and Dayve had an early start to get to Surrey for his next solo gig.
There's just no rest for the wicked!
The Rickety Rack!

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?