Days in the life of a songwriter 12

Had to go to Oxford and Stonehenge last Saturday and on the way there managed to get my good deed for the day in. We were travelling at over 60 mph when I noticed that we were approaching the end of a queue that was stationary. I huffed a short “watch out!” at the driver and he put his foot on the brake (quite firmly), I put my feet on the metal bar in front of me (crew seat) and braced myself. We managed to come to a halt with a couple of yards to spare. Later on the driver said to me, “you know we were struggling a bit down that hill”…….. He got me a nice cappuccino at Stonehenge.

Well I finally got Ariel’s book on the music business; about what an independent artist should do to further his/her cause. See link on the right here. She is very clued up on anything PR and online, hence the name ‘CyberPR’ for her company. Last night I created an account on Reverbnation and I have also put a few blogs on the blogroll here. I confirmed a few gigs in London and posted them on facebook earlier today. The bigger one will be at the Wilmington Arms on 22.09.11 and there will be a couple more, one at The Stag in Hampstead on 21.08.11 and it looks like there will be one at the Distiller’s Arms in Hammersmith too. The promoters are the good people at Musicborn, Earmusic and the Bedford…thanks guys. Am aiming to learn a lot from her book, Music Success in 9 Weeks.

Tomorrow I’ll be attending a vocal recording seminar/expo type thing organised by the Digital Village stores and run by Paul White from Sound on Sound magazine. It’ll be out in Romford tomorrow, am dreading the journey already. Anyway, let’s see.

The Jaguar Shoes bar in Shoreditch is doing something arty (again) tonight, it’s to do with surfaces. The name of the event is: Carnovsky. ‘Le Selva’ ‘RGB – The Black series’. Will check that out but have seen a bit already, looks like someone’s treated the wall and depending on the colour of light used on it, the wall will exhibit different images. It’s 32 Kingsland Road. 5 min walk from Old Street.

We had a lot of problems getting our broadband fixed this week, I’ll spare you the pain but I did learn that broadband companies limit the speed of your connection with NOISE. It’s all about the SNR (signal to noise ratio) that they pump onto your signal. It’s measured in decibels, obviously 😉  Right, will play through my set and put some info on the Reverbnation page….laters.

Days in the life of a songwriter 11

just a couple more impressions from Latitude. Saw Seasick Steve who was doing his amplified blues thing, (or a shrunk ZZ Top) sometimes on a cigar-box guitar. He did play his three string trance wonder guitar, he also had one with only one string. He was backed by Led Zeppelin’s bass player, John Paul Jones. Anyway, also saw Paolo Nutini who it seems has widened his musical repertoir (on top of singer songwriter) to Reggae, Rockabilly and an old school Rod Stewart approach. Good on him as it helped to turn him into a headline act. Didn’t buy the programme (9 squid) but shot myself in the foot as I missed ‘Bright Eyes’ ….. damn.  There was a lot of rain in between erratic sunshine which tested my trainers and toes to the limit. Latitude is quite a mature festival and apart from music, it does sport Cabaret, Literature, Comedy and even political debate, one of which we managed to catch. David Davies (Torys), Don Foster (Lib Dem), Jon Cruddas (for Labour), a journalist called Liz and someone from a campaign against the cuts were the panel. The moderator made a bit of a crude entry, destroying the gap-filling comedienne’s punch line. But to be fair she had just mangled some of the panelists names.

Left at 5pm on the Sunday missing The Eels (darn again), Suede and Hurts. I re-visited some of Hurts songs after getting back and decided that I didn’t miss that much. Suede I would have liked to see especially since our one time drummer, Sebastian Sternberg, used to play with Brett Andersson on his solo stuff before absconding to Marina and the Diamonds. Was very sad to have missed the Eels. My Morning Jacket were good and had a good sound, didn’t know they were from Kentucky. Saw Echo and the Hareboys but was slightly underwhelmed by them. Probably great lyrics over pedestrian chords. I know lots of people loved them but hey, can only tell you about my little feelings.

Bellowhead did their super folk thing, did it well and everyone at the Word Arena loved them. Always makes me think of a quote from the Amadeus film from way back “too many notes”….. and how close full on folk is to prog rock. Oh, I found a nice necklace in the mud. On that note, off to do some proper work.

Last band we saw was ‘The Waterboys’, it was great to hear ‘The Whole of the Moon” live after which we left fairly satisfied….

Days in the life of a songwriter 10

went to see a screening of a little dark Irish comedy starring Brendan Gleeson (Bruges) and Don Cheadle by John Michael McDonagh last week and absolutely loved it. If you loved Bruges go and see it, you won’t be disappointed. It’s about an Irish Policeman who has unorthodox views and methods and who is thrown together with American FBI man Don Cheadle (can’t remember the name of the character).

Apart from that I started using a pic my mate Josh Staudach took of me in front of EMI Abbey Road studios last November, as a temporary cover when sending out the Fleetwood Road session tasters (a posh name for a posh demo). I have started sending out copies and will send out a lot more from now since most of the online stuff has been sorted out now. Twitter tick, blog tick, Facebook tick, Youtube tick. The next thing I’ll sort out will be a redirecting service to the Blog page from the old amphibic.co.uk address. There is nothing on there at the moment, so it might as well be used to find this page.

Wednesday last week saw me taking part in a songwriter masterclass organised by the good people at PRS (performing rights society). The speaker was Martin Sutton who has been writing and co-writing commercial songs for almost 20 years now. His focus was on writing for others (i.e. if you’re not the artist as well). I guess the main focus for me was a few pointers when it comes to networking and finding the right contacts as well as networking with whoever came to the event. Most of the audience went to the pub and I had a few good chats with fellow songwriters and hooked up with a couple on facebook. Trying to get more involved with whatever PRS are doing seems like a good idea as well.

A day later I went to a friend’s wedding anniversary for a couple of pints and bumped into someone who used to work for EMI and had an interesting chat with her. It’s all good, I always have business cards and/or CDs on me and have been peppering the world with them as of late.

The weekend was filled with the Latitude festival, I was pretty impressed with Paloma Faith and her gentle brand of being bonkers but have to add that she delivered on the music and performance front as well. Saw an interesting choir/band thing called Scala from Belgium (the full name is Scala & Kolacny brothers) who are a mixture of band and choir using about 40 female voices plus piano and band and I think I’ll send them an email later on to see whether they would consider some collaboration. They were on the Social Network film soundtrack with their cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. Right, need to do some work, more later.

Days in the life of a songwriter 9

I was invited to go to the premiere of the latest and last installment of the Harry Potter franchise last week. With an hour’s notice I have to add. Put on a black shirt, tie, me best shoes and a jacket and off we went. The red carpet was the longest I’ve seen so far. All the way from Trafalgar Square past the National Gallery to various cinemas around Leicester Square. They handed out sweets and water as you entered the cinema and one found the obligatory popcorn on one’s seat. I did enjoy the film even though I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan but it’s probably fair to say that they went out with a bang. The premiere was certainly very big. After the film we went on to the Old Billingsgate as we had also scored some afterparty tickets, yeah!! Where we mingled with actors, crew, hangers-on and media folk like us. I mean we were mainly left to our own devices scoffing our way through the food they kept bringing us and picking up the odd cocktail here and there. My personal favourites were probably Robbie Coltrane and Helena Bonham-Carter. As it was a school night we left to jump on to one of the last tubes. But maybe next time I’ll stay till the end to dance on the tables!!!

Days in the life of a songwriter 8

completely forgot to mention that I was inside the Thames Barrier 2 weeks ago. Booked as a translator for some dyke builders and flood defence people from Germany. So we were given this tour by Roger Vine who has been working there since 1975 …. . He was great and took us on to one of the piers in the middle of the river. In order to get there you need to walk through one of the two tubes that go through the foundation in the river to connect the different piers and also house all the supply lines (mains, data…) and walk up stairs to get to the top again. The gates lie dormant, flush with the foundation and the river bed unless they get cranked into position by these huge hydraulic arms and then shut off the river completely…..very simple but very cool.

Had a few more rehearsals with various players to prepare for the gig at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane on July 4th. Then the day came and everything seemed okay. Before I jumped into a taxi I received a text from the violin player saying she had been up all night and was sick and couldn’t play. Oh well, shit happens. 20 minutes later, en route to the venue, I get a text from the viola player that she had been stung by some wasp or something and couldn’t play. Oh well, shit happens. I get to the venue, we sound check (cello, guitar, vocals and piano), then the brass boys arrive, turns out no-one has printed out the music. Shit happens! So the boys were outside listening to the tracks on an i-phone just before we went on. Great! But we played a lovely set methinks (well done everyone!!!), Jari got there with half an hour to spare, but he had flown in from Finland….Rock and bloody Roll!!!!!!!

Apart from that I put a little piezo pickup under the bridge of my Seagull acoustic which went quite well and it sounds fab with an old Fishman preamp that I have. So I might be tempted to throw in the odd ‘even more’ acoustic gig…..

Might tell you about the Harry Potter premiere tomorrow. Nite nite.