Monday, July 29, 2013

July 27th - Bidstock, The Snakey Jake Sessions.

I was lucky enough to be asked to play The Bidstock Festival, a small but very lively festival at Wheelock near Sandbach, not once but twice i.e. a solo acoustic set on the Saturday and with the band on the outdoor stage on Sunday.
My set on Saturday was as part of "The Snakey Jake Sessions". Pete Snakey Jake Johnson. Pete died in the spring this year, he was a renowned blues guitarist (see for example the book Ain't Bad for a Pink) and was also much loved and respected by musicians of all genre's throughout the North West of England as the owner of Custom Amplification in Crewe. Pete could always be relied upon to go the extra mile, if you went into his shop with a gig booked that evening, desperate for some spare PA bits and pieces, he would dig them out for you. In recent years I had become just as accustomed to seeing him around the canals as a fellow boater, looking very happy sat on the front of his narrowboat near Nantwich. 
Some great acts were playing including Phil Gemmell, Hayley Strangelove (who also joined me on a song), Rivers & Kelly (with a wonderfully and highly appropriate rootsy sounding set) and Christie Bratherton, awesome all.
Bidstock crowds.

Photo by Martin from Rivers & Kelly.

The man himself.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 21st - Liverpool Piracy with The Blood Red Roses.

Not piracy in a bad -not giving musicians their just desserts sort of way, but in a Liverpool Pirate Festival sort of way, something some of the regular band and friends have done annually for a while at various venues around the Albert Dock, Liverpool. It has a sort of busman's holiday feel to it, for instead of doing our "serious" band music we played pirate songs and sea shanties. Good fun. This year The Blood Red Roses was a smaller ensemble consisting of myself, Emma and Hayley from the band plus Pete (Emma's hubby) and their little one, Casper. It was still sweltering but at least we were regularly cooled to some extent by a reasonably perky breeze.

Another day, yet another railway platform.

My mini-guitar, Hayley's small Djembe and to the left, Casper's award-winning ship-pushchair, not seen from it's best angle. Photo by Emma.
Taking a breather by the mighty Mersey with Pirate Pete & the officially pronounced youngest pirate at the event, Casper! Photo by Emma.
This can only mean it's Liverpool again. Good things.

Serious train disruption on the way back, officially due to "signal failure" but sadly platform staff said it was due to a suicide on the track.

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 18th - Tiki Black's album launch (support at The Blue Cat Cafe, Stockport).

Regular readers may know that I shared a stage with Tiki recently. I was delighted that following this gig Tiki, as I've said before a true talent if ever there was one, asked me to support her at her album launch event for her incredible debut album "Out of the Black".
This was at the Blue Cat Cafe which I was delighted to say have a "no covers" policy, such is their commitment to the fostering of new music. Opening the show was the fantastic Darien Crossley all the way from Asheville, North Carolina. Sweet (and just occasionally bitter!) songs, beautifully sung and played. I must say during Darien's mine and Tiki's performances, that again the audience were really wonderful, hanging on to every note played or sung, you could hear a pin drop in the quiet moments and with great applause at the end of each song.

Tiki was of course, absolutely sensational again. I urge you to buy her album, you won't be dissapointed! I'm just sorry I had to go before the end to leave for the train.

Links to both these superb artists; 

Another day, another gig, another train.

Stockport near Heaton Chapel.

The rather bloody marvellous Blue Cat Cafe.

The sensational Tiki black (sorry for the poor photo quality Tiki).

Thanks to Paul Fogarty for uploading this live video of "Beachcombing".

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 13th - The Alsager Music Festival 2013.

Thanks to Abby Wallis for use of the photo.
Now in it's 4th year (I think), this festival just gets better and better, more scorching weather probably helped with the numbers of course. 
A lovely thing about being back at a fairly "local" festival to me is catching up with a lot of musical friends who either attended or played. This included Dayve Dean, Dan Logan, Dave Dove, Darren Poyzer and Lizzie from Bitter and Twisted (who all played at the event) plus musicians Mat and Abby (Abby also took some great photos-see below) from Human Condition, Martin Edwards from Rivers and Kelly, special thanks also to Simon, Alison and family, Dave and Vicky Myatt with family, Louise, Lynne and many others who came to soak up the music, sun... and beer! - A beer festival is also now a regular feature of this event, what is there not to love?
The sunken garden was the venue for the acoustic stage.
Lovely set also from Darren Poyzer
Great set from Dayve Dean & Dan Logan - Photo by Abby Wallis

The que for this ice-cream van was predictably long.

Photo by Abby Wallis

July 12th - The Eisteddfod has landed! - Folk Friday.

The Eisteddfod has landed!
Another (3rd in the year in a row I think) spot at the biggest event in my favourite country of Wales, no less; The International Eisteddfod

Last year it felt like winter, this year the heat was verging on the unbearable. The trains involved in my (low-carbon) solo gigs this time included some lovely cold air-conditioning, utter bliss! In the heat wave we're currently experiencing in England you understand why hot countries tend to have a slower pace of life, slowing down (or preferably stopping!) is the only way to cope.  Not during gigs however, there's no excuse for not giving your all and getting your sweat on! Lovely day.

Lost? Just follow the notes.
The Dee at Lovely Llangollen
You can rely on surprises around every corner at the Eisteddfod.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 7th - Trees, camera, ACTION!

The band along with a lovely assortment of friends and guests spent the whole day in the woods last Sunday in scorching conditions, though thankfully much cooler under the trees... Not that this was much help to our "extras" who were made to repeatedly run around and dance in the extreme (for the UK) temperatures. It was all in aid of recording a music video, we were in the expert hands of Jamie from Jamie Waddigton Films and his highly able crew Adrew and Elly. It was great fun. 
Me between scenes (hence the shoes).

8 yr old Soul had a leading role as the anthropologist.
More about this film later...

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

June 30th - A Slice Of Nice... yum.

Sunday afternoon.
I wasn't sure what to expect in the dark, but very cosey vaults of The Blackdog Ballroom in central Manchester. I say cosey, there were candles galore and squishy seating and just a couple of friendly organisers when I arrived out of the humid conditions above. The whole thing is in aid of the fantastic work of Forever Manchester who help local communities of this great city. Soon, others started to arrive and the room started to  fill up with music lovers and musicians... and what talent! I hope to catch up and hear the other artists who I missed this time round, but those I heard where inspiring.
I met Tiki Black who I have heard a lot over the internet and was delighted when i found, a few weeks earlier, that she would be doing a set so I would finally get to hear her live. Her debut album will be out soon and a "must buy" if ever there was one. 
First on was 19 year old Darien Crossley from North Carolina with a sweet, sweet voice and a nice way with mellow, dreamy lyrics and guitar with the odd nod to "bitter and twisted" from one so young. Very contemporary stuff. Then I caught Alex Carrington who was also great, but a complete contrast in style with jazzy chordings, and very percussive which got all the heads nodding and feet tapping.
Tiki Black, Majestic voice and piano.
Then came Tiki, the recordings I've heard were not to set me up for a disappointment, far from it. Tiki's performance was nothing less than mesmerising, majestic and deeply soulful. Her music and songs contain the wisdom of the mountains, or should I say volcanoes. As I said, her debut album is a must - but go see her live if you can too.
My own set, as with everyone else's was blessed with a warm, attentive audience who clearly love music, hanging on to every note during the performances and applauding enthusiastically after every song. What it's all about! Thank you to all involved and all who came along!

 Oh... there were cakes too!