Days in the life of a songwriter 22

It hasn’t been a very eventful week, I have to say. Last Wednesday I went to the Vibe Bar on Brick Lane to see my friend Thury play an acoustic gig. Kristjan Eyjolfsson (gold/silversmith) who is a mutual friend was on the drums. He told me it was his first live gig in years. He did well. Thury had Valli along who also sang and played acoustic guitar like Thury. The sound guy had a couple of problems with Valli’s DI (hook-up to the desk) but it didn’t distract too much.

Worked on a couple of songs and my set on Thursday and Friday in between writing some invoices and other domestic chores like washing clothes, etc. … . On Sunday afternoon we went down to Hugo’s in Queen’s park, it’s a lovely little place in one of the little side streets in Queen’s Park (Lonsdale Road), expect Queen’s park prices though. They have Jazz on every Sunday night and after talking with one of the staff I was convinced that Michael Klein, who is an old mate of mine (and a fantastic mastering engineer at Radiance) is still doing the sound there for those Sunday nights. Bless. You might run into David Soul of Starsky and Hutch fame (the original in case you bed wetters are wondering), I think he has played there as well, but don’t quote me on it.

After that I met up with Olaf and we checked out the Debt starring Helen Mirren, who is good but doesn’t have a lot of screen time as the film jumps between 1967 and 1997 and the bulk is set in the past. Her younger self is played by Jessica Chastain who is frankly fantastic as one of the 3 young Nazi hunters (Sam Worthington is also there). I don’t think the poster or the campaign (at least what I saw of it) does the film justice. Olaf and I were pretty much blown away by this impressive gem of a film. Intricate psychology and mind games are part of the package too. Here’s the trailer.

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Days in the life of a songwriter 21

Right, tiny bit of entertainment before we get started. I’m not a huge fan of Carlsberg and the whole ‘probably’ thing but if you like good adverts and the odd guerilla approach then be good to yourself and check out this offering.

Did a little Pub Tour with a group of 29 peeps in Angel last week. We had exactly 2 hours 30 min to do three pubs in and we just about did it. The best moment was when I walked into the first one and said, “15 pints of Guiness please, 8 pints of ale, 3 pints of Cider……..”. The barman said, “you know, we joke about people coming in and saying what you just said!” and I said, “it must be your lucky day mate!” …..

Anyway, on Saturday afternoon I went along to Atul’s music/rock band meetup at the Comedy pub in Oxenden Street between Piccadilly and Leicester Square. Met a couple of fellow musicians, a guy who runs a rehearsal studio in Tottenham and had a couple of drinks. My mates Rick and Cris came along as well and it was a pleasant Saturday afternoon. There is the prospect of possibly promoting a gig together in the future.

Sunday night was Bollywood night (Star Parivaar) at the Wembley Arena and we went as well. We needed to help someone pick up an award and were rewarded with some great Bollywood dance performances as well as some great music by the great Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, here’s a little taster. I was less impressed by some of the guests’ unwillingness to stick to their ticket numbers. Well, our seats were occupied by some gentlemen who clearly thought that they were beyond reproach. Two stewards failed to make an impact and we found ourselves different seats, but for some reason a small Indian looking woman steward sorted them out in the interval. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. Bless her. We stuck to our new seats as we had already made much better friends there.

Monday night we had a little session with drummer Lloyd Musto, as we can’t always expect Jari to fly over from Finland for a gig. After that I went to Justin Wayne’s musician’s clinic in Camden at the Hawley Arms where I managed to catch the second half. Lawyer Leonard Lowy talked about management and when to get a lawyer and Atul and I were impressed by the ‘industry’ advice one could glean there. I shall be there next time and I’ll be on time. They listened to some demos that people had brought along. Their usual panel of experts is about 4-5. Good stuff.

Days in the life of a songwriter 20

On Sunday Amphibic played a gig at the Luxe at Spitalfiels market again. We were a four piece, consisting of cello, piano, violin and myself on guitar and vocals. I wasn’t happy with my guitar sound (a bit thin) but apart from that it worked quite well. The boys after us, Run Jack Run, borrowed my guitar as theirs had a flat battery…. . They really entertained us with their idiosyncratic mix of soul, hip hop and eye patch (one song only). But yes we loved them.

Right, we also went to a film screening on Monday night to see a film that will be released in the UK this week, I believe. It’s called The Help and stars Emma Stone as the young attractive lead. To paraphrase Pete Daly, “it’s somewhere between Fried Green Tomatoes and Driving Miss Daisy”. I was impressed by the strong performances by all involved. Viola Davis is great as Aibileen but Octavia Spencer almost steals the show as Minny Jackson. Geraldine Moloney felt that the performances helped the film compensate for the slightly sentimental approach. In short a feelgood film that tackles the issue of  segregation in America’s South of the 60’s from the perspective of the housekeeper.

Was busy last week helping out with logistics for the WorldSkills event which was taking place at the Excel Centre in the Docklands in London. Well, we picked up the Swiss Candidates and also some family, press, politicians you get the idea. The event is basically a world championship for trades and professions. From carpentry and welding to repairing cars and stone masonry, IT  and CNC turning skill ….. 50 plus trades and there were competitors from 51 countries. Surprisinly, it was hardly advertised at all. But a lot of schools took the opportunity to take their kids there! Saturday was the last day and as I was off we went to have a look for ourselves. They had taken over the whole of the Excel which is huge in case you haven’t been. Afterwards we got to hang out at the House of Switzerland (housed in an Italian restaurant just outside) and sampled some Swiss hospitality and soaked up their wonderful team spirit. As we left the Norwegian minister for education (Kristin Halvorsen) arrived to check out the Swiss efforts. I almost said welcome Norway to her, but chickened out. If you’d like to see the results click here.

Days in the life of a songwriter 19

So yes, walked around the peaks in the Lake District near Kendal. We actually got to see Scotland from up there including some wind turbines on the sea. I had to suffer a bit due to  inadequate equipment (shoes) and general lack of fitness. Well, we took the half seven train to get back to London, only to be held at Rugby as some inconsiderate (or possibly reckless) person had stopped trains in and out of Euston by being under a train near Harrow. We ended up sharing a taxi to avoid getting back even later. This guy shared the taxi with us: He is a saxophone and cello playing classical composer, check him out. His name is Martino Scovacricchi.

I had been looking forward to Tuesday as Ariel Hyatt from CyberPr in New York was going to give a talk at PRS headquarters in Berners Street. She brought along some interesting panellists. Stephen King from Zimbalam (digital distributor), Matt Jamison from Amazing Radio, James from Deezer (online music platform growing like f***), Mark Muggeridge from Evil Genius (promoter and manager) and last but certainly not least, Jordan Reyne (singer songwriter who is making a living with her music by mainly performing online!!!) She is writing a book on this topic so keep your eyes peeled. Ariel’s talk was very good, all about what musicians need to do these days to survive and work towards making money from their art without the help of big record companies. The room was packed by the way, so yes, interest was great. Stephen King’s presentation was strong too and I will seriously consider his company when it becomes relevant in the near future. James from Deezer (who are already a big player in France) made a good impression but didn’t have an easy email at the company where he can be reached at. I think everyone was very interested what Jordan had to say especially as she wasn’t trying to sell a platform but was doing what a lot of people in the room aspire to do!! Playing music, making a living after ditching the day job, respect.

Afterwards we were all led down to the Champion by Atul and some banter and drinking of amber liquid ensued. Got to hear a great story of how one of the people present met Michael Jackson’s mum. Told the guy from Amazing radio how his CEO is married to my mate’s cousin. Mentioned my idea of possibly promoting some gigs myself to Lydia the pixie (Red Rose) and the Tall Poppies and Ariel took my address to send me the new version of her book as I had given her some grief about the typos. Oh, and also met an interesting podcaster from Suffolk. called Peter Clitheroe.

Right, playing a gig at the Luxe at Spitalfields market on Sunday and still need to finalise the line up…….. More on possibly playing some online gigs later. There will be some ‘How to do stuff’ sections as well soon!