Monday, July 28, 2014

Lostock Fest.

July 26th 2014.

Although I'm not a fan of the oppressive heat Britian is currently "enjoying", I somehow think a good sweaty workout of a gig is appropriate for live music!

This was the inaugural Lostock Festival near Northwich.
It was a largely heavy-rock oriented event interspersed with acoustic acts over two stages, quite a handy way to avoid the dead-time during band changeovers.

I saw this lovely old cinema/bingo hall in the town.
I'd love it if some of these places became quality music venues, I'd love to play!
A stage-side shot of one of the bands.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The International Festival.

Majenta Dancer & her students.
July 13th, 2014

It was a genuine honour to play this event, the inaugural International Festival in Crewe, as it showcased some fine examples of dance, poetry and music with eclectic, international flavours. I was not sure how all this would go down so it was lovely to see the Crewe locals sitting down in the sun and taking this all in and enjoying. It was touching for me to see the Jacklin Frets Orchestra perform so beautifully with their assorted mandolins, guitars and other fretted instruments. This is a group I played in at times as a youngster, having been taught guitarfor a while by the wonderful Brian Jacklin himself. Anyone who ever met or was taught by Brian would never forget him, a wonderful, warm, big-hearted man and an amazing character with a tenacious love of music and teaching. Other notables that I managed to see and really enjoy were Magenta Dancer, her performances were mesmeric, spiritual and breathtaking. Wonderful stuff! The Jamaican via Liverpool poet, storyteller and consciousness-raiser Levi Tafari roused the crown, young and old, in fact he could hardly leave the stage due to a crowd of older children demanding his autograph before he left! 

Viva Flamenco! Several people have commented to me that a touch of Flamenco has seeped into my playing style, I think this can only have come from being surrounded by Spanish students, many from Andalusia for a few summers in a row, bringing with them lots of what sounds to me what I would call "Europop" but with some hints of traditional Spanish styles weaving through it. I hope I never forget a group of Spanish students performing Flamenco dancing in their traditional outfits, it was the first time I was really moved by watching dance in the same kind of"blown-away", transformative, spiritually-heightening way that music always does.

Something that was particularly wonderful was the music created by Amiruddin on Sarangi, Hanifji on Tabla and Adrian on Saxaphone (sorry, not sure of full names or links). As Adrian said in introducing the musicians, the Sarangi is "the sound of India", a fantastic fretted, stringed instrument played with a bow. Combined with the glooping percussive sounds of the tabla and with a jazz orientated saxophone giving making it a fusion of classical Indian sounds with more Jazzy Western (albeit in fact via Afro-Caribbean origins of course) fusion of styles. Amazing. 

I often feel like the outsider at events, brandishing my own style of sound-art, bending the rules of song-structure and playing styles, in a background of conventional Indie or rock but for once I felt like the middle-of-road guy with these eclectic offerings. I really hope this festival goes from strength to strength as it really has the makings of something special. 

Thanks to Hayley Strangelove for this photo of me.
Levi Tafari, a really chaming guy. He got the crowd going!
Incredible music from L-R Adrian, Hanifji and Amiruddin.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Alsager Music Festival, now a biggie!

July 12th-2014

I've been fortunate enough to play the Alsager Music Festival for the past few years and it's grown every year, this year seeing it really step up to a whole new level in every respect, great to see! 
One of the best aspects about all this is that for original acts like myself and many others playing the event, the audience here were a really enthusiastic and attentive, friendly bunch. A lovely experience. I can't help feeling that so many venues which stick to the old ways of putting on cover-only acts (many of which play the same hits as each-other) are missing out on this increasing mood for original sounds and new music. There seems to be an appetite for it everywhere. I was joined once again by the talented purcussion maestro Daniel J. Logan.

The talent in terms of the other acts I got to see was outstanding, please check out my recommendations below the photos! 
The big crowd enjoyed great weather and great music!
Dan (left) played with 2 other acts as well as me on the acoustic stage. He even dodged a football at one stage, without missing a beat! Thanks to Dave Myatt for the photo.
The inimitable Hayley Strangelove joined us for the final song with her daughter Cherry, surely the youngest performer at the festival! Thanks to Dave Myatt for the photo.

Recommended artists I managed to see, check these out;

Hayley Stangelove; She and Paul Senior's (together they are Baxter) crowd-pleasing brilliance seemed to almost start a new religion.

Sam Hollyman - of The Voice fame, but here doing some really quite rootsie, country-ish stuff with Dan and Narn. Brilliant!

Dirty Money No 5 - Kind of Funky, scratchy, groovy ska with ace musicianship and vocals. You can't not like it!

Sea based Turtles - We're deep in the funk here, you like funk? You'll love these!

Dayve Dean - Dayve has made a welcome return, bringing his heartfelt, melodic and tuneful brilliance back to the live circuit!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Solo album, The final mix!

Final Solo Album Mix - July 8th 2014;

I've been getting emails from Dan recently to give me the chance to have a listen to initial track mixes, feed-back (by email) any initial thoughts and also make note of any fine-tuning for the final mix-down which demanded a further visit to the studio.
Some of the emails from Dan - song-titles scrubbed out.
Dan doing some final tweaks to a mix at Orchard.

One of two (better safe than sorry) master-copies with some recent gig-memorabilia covering the album title.
I'm thinking of having a competition to guess the album-name (with clues and a CD as a prize).

Monday, July 07, 2014

MileFest 2014

July 5th; This was my first time playing MileFest and indeed my first ever visit to the lovely county of Gloucestershire. The event had an absolutely lovely atmosphere, some great artists played from all over the country and magically, even the rain held off for that day only! I was particularly impressed by The Torn Cloud who performed beautifully not long before I went on in "the Bedroom tent" (I placed my own pot-noodle, the following morning's breakfast, on the bedside cabinet to add realism!). Thanks to the lovely festival-goers who sang along to some of my tunes, you really made me feel welcome! The whole band have been asked back for next year so maybe I, with the rest of my gang, will get the chance come back then! I'm re-editing this now to add that more than £4000 was raised for charity at the festival. Well done all!
MileFest, lovely atmosphere
In "The Bedroom".
Acoustic Artists played in the "bedroom tent" (complete with bed and other furniture!)
This was Lotto from Northern Ireland, who was great.
I believe flew in from Northern Ireland especially for the festival.

The stunning Malvern Hills provided a backdrop to the festival carpark & campsite
There were also stunning waterside scenes, both along the canal (as in this shot) & the river Severn, near my hotel.
There was even a moored light-vessel on the canal (that didn't come out well in my attempt at a photo though).
Lots of herring gulls too, not to everyone's taste but I loved seeing and hearing them.