Friday, December 11, 2015

Pedal to the metal.

L-R Electro-Harmonix Holy Grial, TC Electronics Flashback Mini,
Electro-Harmonix Worm, Rowin Octopus, Electro-Harmonix Soul Food
I've been experimenting a lot lately with some different guitar parts which may or may not become bits of songs or work their way into my playing generally. I've also been really wanting to get an octave pedal onto my mini-board (so handy for traveling with), which has resulted in me swapping my 'normal sized' delay pedal for a mini one and then managing to cram in an octave mini-pedal, while maintaining the travel-friendly aspect of the pedal-train nano. More fun than ever per square millimeter! 

A partial view of my larger pedal-board is in an earlier post HERE.

There's also an earlier version of this mini-pedalboard set up in my video below;

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Shining Bright.

27th November, 2015

Nantwich Civic Hall was the venue for another charitable outing as Christmas approaches, this time in aid of The Shine Bright Foundation. Have a read about the heart-wrenching reason for this charity's  existence HERE

The exciting promise of a pre-gig stage.

Thanks to Terryoke Entertainments for this photo from my set.

So, a great cause plus top entertainment courtesy of the following artists, please click on the name to find out more about these super-talented folk, Sharmane's vocals were especially outstanding, top night;

Stephen Robinson (anyone know an artist-website link for Stephen?)
Amy Dockery (anyone know an artist-website link for Amy?)

 Terryoke entertainments rounded up the night with stomping tunes to keep 'em dancing before the end. 
With talk already of a similar event next year, should be good!
Thanks to everyone who came along for making it so successful and to Marc Gallagher who was busy all night both as sound engineer, and as one half of Maple Clouds. Cheers!

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Real Santa.

Tim Lee, who played wonderfully before us,  and drummer Dave set up behind the curtain.

'Curtain up' or rather, open.
22nd November, 2015

Another charity concert for the Blue Yellows gang, this one with a definite Christmassy feel and another important cause; Crisis, the charity for single, homeless people. This being the relatively spacious environs, the Morton Jubilee Hall, Macclesfield.

Majenta was the wonderful organiser, a highly talented multi-disciplinary artist in her own right. A variety of acts and stalls entertained, including the young stars from Stagecoach and Santa himself. Indeed, Santa (clearly the real one) proved to be a nimble mover on the dance floor during our take on 'These boots are made for walking'!

In the circumstances we had to do a mega-quick set up and mega-minimal sound-check, which compromised our stage sound significantly, so most of the band couldn't hear various other instruments and/or themselves. I'm told it all sounded A-OK out front though, and the important thing on this occasion being the need to raise money for homeless people this Christmas. Well done all!

A further significant point. my first mince pie of the season!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A lovely booking.

A lovely book-shop audience. Especially Lola here!

My poultry-loving-poet friend (everyone should have one) Helen Kay asked me to do a kind of support/accompanying role for her reading at Nantwich Bookshop. Now poets have an even harder time than songwriters in trying to make a living from their art, but you would never had guessed it if you had been to this event.

Although clearly not as large as most music venues, the bookshop event was sold out and had to turn further interested people away. Helen performed from her recent publication 'A Poultry Lover's Guide to Poetry', entertaining the audience along with her side-kick Nigella (a puppet-Hen!).

As her other side-kick, I was to provide some atmospheric guitar accompaniment to some of her poems,  rhythmic, staccato and, well 'clucky' in one case and more melancholic and atmospheric in another. Before going on to perform my song 'Just Us Chickens' which was inspired by Helen's work. Although this was written as a one-off piece for a previous gig where we shared the bill, as requested this has now become a two-off, perhaps with more to come.

Notice how I cunningly avoided all the poultry-related puns in this article? Well, almost.

Helen's book.
Click HERE to buy.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Love is the Answer.

Bit of pedal-envy.
Derek from Brave New World's effects,
& the feet that will operate them.

To get back from a fun gig to the horrific news of the butchery in Paris last night was deeply upsetting. 

We should though perhaps have in our minds, the thought that actually most people have good intentions to one another most of the time, and such was the case surrounding this event, and no doubt many others around our planet that night. This was a fundraising event for The Alzheimer's Society. An area that is 'unsexy', underfunded and drastically affected by severe government cuts to care recently. 

All the more wonderful then that so many turned up to Willaston Club,  donated their money, brought their children or gave their time in support of this cause. My gang and our stage-sharers for the evening, Brave New Worldprovided the live music, plus Kirsty & Chris from The Cat Radio spun some indie-discs & did some announcing.

Many thanks to all who came out to support this, I heard from the organiser that hundreds of pounds were raised.

You can also read a local news report about the event by Jonathan White, HERE.
Brave New World & The Blue Yellows share the stage.
Photo by Jonathan White.

Singing Rockin in the Free World together for a grade finale.
Photo by Jonathan White.

A bit of our setlist.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Easy like a Sunday Morning.

This morning I braved the now more November-like weather to pop onto Redshift Radio to chat to presenter Paul Boniface on his regular show, 'Easy Like Sunday Morning'.
This was to chat specifically about Friday's upcoming gig.

The gig will be a fundraiser for The Alzheimer's Society, a cause which not only does vital work, but is increasingly important during this era of an aging population and severe cuts to care funding. My gang, The Blue Yellows and Psychedelic Indie-rocksters Brave New World will be playing, there will also be Indie tunes both before and in between bands from DJ (plus presenter and journalist) Kirsty Rollings

It's this Friday, November 13th at Willaston Club, Near Nantwich (7 Wistaston Rd, Nantwich CW5 6PU).
Doors are at 6.30pm, Live Music from 7.30pm
Tickets £5 adults, children Free!
You can text Derek on 07852300101 to reserve tickets (in case of the show selling out) or pay on the door. 

Listen again to the radio show here (I'm on from about 1hr 33mins in).

Official poster.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Piracy is(n't always) killing music.

Nov 6th, 2015

A night off from performing as The Blue Yellows (well not exactly, as we did a full rehearsal for our next BYs gig before heading out to this one) to perform as pirate band - The Blue Beards! Yes, indeed me hearties. 
This bussman's holiday was in aid of Zebu, the historic ship docked in Liverpool which recently sank, and is now in much need of funds now that she's been re-floated. This all took place at The Forest View Inn somewhere pretty much in Delamere Forest, and took some serious navigating down some windy wooded lanes to find.
Well worth it and felt more like a night out than a gig.

Read more about Zebu's re-floating and the need to raise funding for her HERE.

Thanks to Cap'n Dave 'The Groove' for the photos. 

Shipmate Simon guzzles the grog.
Jellyfish Jonnie &
Eaglesnest Emma.

Capt'n Coomer prepares to
punish the cajon.

The 'Blue Beards' hauling some keel.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Espresso Bongo.

Sunday, Oct 18th 2015

Photo by Chris Driver.
To Enzo, purveyors of the finest espressos and pizzas around, again hosted a lovely Words and Music Festival afternoon. Producer/percussionist Dan Logan was in the hot seat driving, well, not bongos (that just makes for a better headline, perhaps), but a rather fabulous mini drum kit.

On top of all this loveliness, we had the most fantastically talented special guests in the form of on their names to link to them and check them out!.. Tracey Browne, poet Oliver Lomax and hot properties in the folk world right now, Gilmore and Roberts

Musical and poetic brilliance, went down a storm of course.
Thanks everyone who came along and to a brilliant songster in his own right, Tim Lee, on the sound.

Photo by Mike Willacy of The Shop Sessions fame.

With 'Red Severn', before the show.
Thanks to Kirsty Rollings of The Cat FM for the photo

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Oxjam, Nantwich.

Sound-checking in the square.
Photo by Andrew Roach
Please see for more of his work.

Photo by Jonathan White
The paving of Nantwich town square formed the stage for The Blue Yellows. This was an Oxjam event in association with The Words and Music Festival

Radio Two favourites, The Reads also played and  a bucket of cash was raised for Oxfam.
A couple of great photos from the event here, by Jonathan white and the extraordinary fish-eye like photo of us sound-checking in the square by Andrew Roach, you can check out more about his photography HERE.
Emma - photo by Jonathan White
Simon - photo by Jonathan White

Dave - photo by Jonathan White

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cabaret time...

Oct 14th 2015.

Photo by Dick Jones.

It was post-gig anniversary night of The Words and Music Festival with a range of festival performers putting in some decidedly off-piste performances in celebration of this Eighth year, hence the song-themes of bronze, lace and all things railway in honor of our hosts and festival supporters, The Railway Hotel, Nantwich.

Performances from me, Thea Gilmore, Nigel Stonier, Jim Kirkpatrick, Chris Capel, Poet Helen Kay and a hot property in the folk world right now, Kelly Oliver. All the artists performed something especially for the occasion, including a new song from me, "Butterfly (on the railway line)".

Thea Gilmore playing in a pub!? Only here. :)
With producer/songwriter Nigel Stonier.

Friday, October 09, 2015

It's all about to happen in Nantwich.

Oct 6th, 2015 (Updated 12/10/15)

My appearances at The Words and Music Festival this week;

Wednesday, Oct' 14th 9.30 - The Railway Hotel, Nantwich - Festival Anniversary Night (expect the unexpected).

Saturday, October 17th 10.30am Oxjam opener with The Blue Yellows, Nantwich Square.

Sunday, October 18th 2pm - Enzo Coffee Shop, Nantwich with Dan Logan (& guests).

The other night I went on Steven Bebe's show on Redshift Radio to talk about the upcoming Words and Music Festival and it's fantastic line up including Super-furry front man Gruff Rhys, Frazey Ford, Barbara Dixon, Mark Chadwick and talented super (not-so-furry) talented buddy, Tim Lee
I really think Gruff's American Interior show is going to be unforgettable, perhaps the last time he'll perform this in Northern Europe. I'd recommend finding out a bit more about it, which you can do at I'm lucky enough to be going to this show and I feel a bit like a 7 year old a week before Christmas.
The Blue Yellows are also playing (see poster) and I'm doing a special show with Dan Logan at the award winning independent coffee shop, Enzo, where I'll also introduce some top talent including UK Folk Award nominees Gilmore and Roberts. That's on Sunday, October 18th from 2pm.

Steve also played a couple of tracks from Attachment Theories.

Listen again here;

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Oxjam by Tram.

Oct 3rd, 2015

My first ever ride on a Manchester tram and I couldn't fault this wonderful service, one arrived as soon as I got to the tram station a couple of minutes after leaving the train at Piccadilly, same on the return, are they always that regular!? Clean, quiet, plenty of seats and cheap. Every town and city should have this.
There was a gorgeous, misty backdrop to the canals and buildings of Manchester from the often high vantage-point of the tram window, quite beautiful really, you could almost forget that the evil ones were arriving in town.

My stop was Chorlton, for the Oxjam Manchester Takeover. A great event and all for a good cause, my gig taking place in a cool and characterful bar, Strange Brew, were I enjoyed a gorgeous pre-gig black coffee (espreso-esque in it's tastiness) and one of the fabulous ales to keep the vocal cords lubricated, during.

I also got to see Richard Lomax perform, brilliant lyrics and tunes and not at all an Ed Sheeran sound-alike, unlike almost every other 'original' songwriter these days!

Talking of Oxjam, it's a good excuse to mention my next gig with The Blue Yellows and another one for the charity, in association with the fantastic Words and Music Festival, Nantwich. Radio Two favourites The Reads will also be performing.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

To the Edge! Wilmslow & Alderley Beer & Wine Festival.

September 26th, 2015Wilmslow & Alderley Beer & Wine Festival.
Sadie Pickering entertains the festival goers.
 A full band show for The Blue Yellows, in semi-acoustic mode, and a lovely festival, a first time for us (& may have also been the first one of this particular festival, if so, it was a great success and would have no doubt they will do it again).

Sadie Pickering, who you may know as an accomplished actor having been in Waterloo Road, Splintered and 24 Seven among other things, is also a soulfully-voiced, talented singer songwriter. She entertained the crowds and introduced us, and the other acts who included Liam McClair who had impressed so much at The King's Arms Festival and the astounding vocal-percussion artist, Kimmy Beatbox.
Being a beer and wine festival there was of course more quality drinking (and eating) to be done than anyone could have any right to expect.
With a similar atmosphere, this felt like to me as the other book-end to the lovely Milefest earlier in the year, as we'll be lucky to get such a summery-feeling outdoor show again this year.
Thanks to the people from The Yard on The Edge and all the fantastic young dancers who entertained us!
Sadie Pickering.
The Blue Yellows in semi-acoustic mode. Thanks to Wilmslow & Alderley Beer & Wine Fest for the photo.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Birmingham, following in the footsteps of giants...

September 13th, 2015

 My first gig in the second city and I was following in the footsteps of music giants along the Broad Street walk of stars. 

Broad Street's own 'Free Love Club' was the venue, but on this occasion, the illustrious names along the pavement outside and the hard work of the organisers on the inside were not enough to command much of a crowd. This can be and often is, a problem everywhere, though I'm pleased to say the small bunch of music fans who were there made up for their lack of numbers in enthusiasm.
The view from mission control. 

If you find yourself in this great city, check the place out and support this endevour.
An earlier combo
preparing setlists.

Monday, September 07, 2015

The Beautiful North.

Saturday, Sept 5th, 2015

The King's Arms
Back-street wonderfulness.
On Saturday I headed for Salford to play Paul Heaton's (The Beautiful South/Housemartins) venue, the King's Arms for the annual music and comedy festival.

It was nearly a disaster for me actually thanks only to my own stupidity, having walked from Piccadilly station to the place I was convinced the venue was. For some reason I was wrong, very wrong.

With phone battery and access to google maps fading, I found myself running around various parts of Manchester & Salford before bearing's were finally got again, with the help of a few people I frantically asked.

With a very sweaty half hour to spare, I set up and tried to relax in a really lively, almost boisterous atmosphere. I could not have asked for a more wonderful audience, as soon as I started playing the chatting stopped, they listened, they 'whopped' excitedly during my solo-y bits, and cheered and applauded generously at the end. A wonderful, music-loving, fun-loving, giving bunch of people up for a great time,  if ever there was.
The most eclectic, fantastic talent in every corner of the place, upstairs and down and a great atmosphere all round. 
What - more - could - you - possibly - want!?!
Thank you Salford!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

All Jammed out at the Food Fest.

Friday, September 4th 2015

As with last year's gig here, drummer (not to mention producer/percussionist/all-round brilliant muso) Dan and myself had just one rehearsal together before attempting to nail it on the night, and he's just so damned good that's all he needs. 

Thanks to Liz from stage-sponsors Redshift Radio for this pic.
There were many moments when neither of us probably new quite how we were going to end a song, or do the middle eight or something, but we somehow managed to jam it out and it all seemed to go well, especially once the crowd had a few more glasses or prosecco or gorgeous real ales from the yummy Lymestone and Hafod breweries, stall's of which were handily close to the stage. Well, it would've been rude not to..

I got there in time to see Oli Ng's second set, Oli's a very talented musician and one to watch, as well as doing a lot of solo work he leads The Eyres and is also currently touring with Tom Seals. Look out for him, and them.

It was great fun, and with Dan's use of the full drum kit and a grittier-than-usual sound with my new axe Red Severn through my amazing little Laney Ironheart IRT-Pulse, it almost felt and sounded like a band gig rather than an acoustic duo. Great fun, not diminished by dancing minions, ninja turtles, lots of friendly faces in the crowd (Including Thea Gilmore - so no pressure..). The lovely and very well fed crowd became gradually more up for it as the night wore on more drinks went down. Thanks to all of you!
Rocking the 355(ish) copy, 'Red Severn'
Thanks to talented songsmith Tim Lee for the pic.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Home is where the Heart is - Nantwich Marina Open Day.

Another summer weekend of 2015, another gig by lovely hosts Redshift Radio, plus Jasper, Liz from Redshift's doggie, was celibrating a full year on the planet. Hopefully many more happy, tail-waggie years to come! 

Once again the always brilliant Tim Lee was playing as was Mr Tom Riddle who performed earlier but I unfortunately missed.

This could hardly have been more of a 'home' gig for me except as luck would have it, I am currently staying a whole 2 train rides away, never mind, at least the day was hot and sunny, before the traditional English summer evening monsoon which is going on now as I type! I am personally a big fan of thunder and lightning and heavy rain so no complains from me!

Big thanks to Nantwich Marina !
Tim Lee - always brilliant
unlike my photo, sorry Tim.

Next  gigs;

Sept' 4th - Nantwich Food and Drink Festival with Dan Logan 7-9pm
Sept 5th - The Kings Arms Festival, Salford (5pm) Ticket's HERE.
Sept 26th - with The Blue Yellows at Alderley & Wilmslow Beer & Wine Festival (5pm)
Sept 13th - The Free Love Club, Birmingham.
Oct 14th - TBA!
Oct 18th - TBA!

As you can see, there are some gigs awaiting announcement for Autumn that I cannot go into details of yet, so keep an eye on the gig list on the right hand side of this page (or my facebook, or my twitter, if you can).
J. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Plan, promote, prepare and PRACTICE.

 A little gap between gigs for a self-managed muso' means time to plan, promote, prepare and practice, among numerous other things.

One of the things on the list is a rehearsal with go-to percussionist (not to mention producer), Dan LoganDan has recorded & performed with the great and the good including Thea Gilmore, Jackie Trent, Rod Clements & Mike Herron as well as performing live on Radio 2 a number of times and  playing major festivals (including headling Cropredy with Thea).

So Dan and I have a couple of gigs booked as a duet, the second of which I'll be able to announce shortly, but the Nantwich Food Festival comes first on September the 4th, shortly followed by my gig at The King's Arms Festival, Salford the following day - tickets available HERE.

Rehearsal was great fun (I hope for Dan too, even though he'd been playing all day) and it was first opportunity for me to play 'Red Severn' in anger. She is my newly purchased Vintage guitar, based on classic guitars like the semi-acoustic Gibsons, but having tried out a few semi-acoustics at Salop Music Centre, this was, to my fingers and ears, the best in my budget. Vintage do very fine copies of classic instruments and Salop Music Centre is a really big music store with helpful, no-nonsense staff, plus a cornucopia of wonderful sound-making stuff that will remind any musician that as long as such a place exists, they will never be rich, as there will always be that coveted instrument just out of your price range that you really need in your life. Playing music is a kind of real wealth that money can't buy anyway.

'Red Severn' from Salop Music Centre.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Garden of Music and Words.

Sunday, August 9th 2015
I think this photo by host Martin, captures the relaxed atmosphere well.
L-R Tim Lee, Emma & Simon from The Blue Yellows before we played.
House parties are something both me and the band would love to do much more of, but this was very special by any standards. A garden party hosted by Martin & Elaine. Not only music fans, but the aforementioned Martin (Butterworth) is himself an accomplished musician and you can hear his amazing project Cheshire Plane, here

Delicious home made food and craft beers were provided and a wonderful, friendly atmosphere from all the fantastic musicians and poets mentioned in Martin's poster, below.
Just wonderful!
The Blue Yellows L-R Simon, Dave, myself and Em
Thanks to Martin again for the photo.
A bit of a break now for me after a good spate of summer festival gigs. When I say break what I mean by that really is booking winter shows and 2016 festivals, band rehearsals for Autumn 2015 gigs, practicing with Dan Logan for our food festival show, reporting gigs to the PRS, sorting new designs for fliers, badges, websites, social media, songwriting and guitar-practice of course, planning and a lot more besides (though I am getting away for 2 days), oh and involvement with a new video for one of my songs, yes!

My live Autumn Festival gigs start on September 4th (check to the right-hand side of this site for the gig-list confirmed so far).
See you around!

Monday, August 03, 2015

A Big Day Out.

2nd August 2015

You may be familiar with the Australian Big Day Out, well South Cheshire has it's own. Although a more chilled-out affair than the recent Nantwich Show, with the emphasis really on being a family-friendly day, and all in aid of charity, musically it was similar.

By that I mean that once again, Redshift were our lovely hosts and fabulous acts Tim Lee, Josh Whittaker and Lucy Ollier again performed, what's more, summer finally arrived!

My phone camera decided not to work this time around but Tim allowed me to use his pic of 'Kochanski' sunbathing(!). I've also embedded a supportive tweet of his, so if you're a tweet-meister and into what we do, do follow him.... and me!

A nearby local event
sounded less exciting ;)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Bigger Cheese.

July 29th, 2015

Thanks to Matt Jackson of  Redshift Radio for the photo.

Tim Lee, great songs.
Josh Whittaker, soulful.
Nantwich Show is apparently not only the biggest one-day event in Cheshire but also includes the biggest Cheese Festival in the entire world no less.

Luckily for music fans, although my experience of this lovely town includes lots of examples of very 'cheesy' 80s-rock type cover bands, the music here didn't include the usual levels of Cheddar (or I should say Cheshire).

I managed to catch the wonderfully soulful vocals of singer Josh Whittaker and the great songs of Tim Lee who was again sharing a stage, good news for everyone listening. Many thanks are due to all the wonderful people at Redshift Radio and especially Matt Jackson who was not only on the sound all day, but found time to take pictures and the vine below.

Competition time! Can you name the cover version, and for bonus points, 
what is the guitar tuning for this?
Thanks to Matt Jackson of  Redshift Radio for the vine.