February tends to be the worst month of the year in England and this year the weather excelled itself with buckets of rain and some really stormy weekends .
As we wait to move house I’ve managed to finish the recording work for the new album with some beautiful cello on 3 songs played by Tess , and the final song Wildflowers recorded live with just a piano played by Pete. Ted provided the finishing touches with some backing vocals to add to his already superb bass tracks.
Now we are in the process of mixing which will take a few weeks and visits to Andy’s studio, but for now as promised here’s the provisional track listing :
Darker Side of paradise
Lost in a Moment
Up in the Clouds
A Life in Words
Learn to be Still
Sunrise after the Storm
Yes, there really are 15 tracks and a running time of 75 minutes as it stands. In the old days of Albums, this would probably warrant a double . The title for the album is still in debate, so that will wait till next month when work on the sleeve starts.
I have kept up my new song a month regime for 2020 and this month’s offering is called “Gemini” . This is still very much a work in progress , but as ever I recorded a simple demo , this time playing the Bouzouki . My star sign is Gemini and whilst not in the schizophrenic bracket, I definitely can have two quite different sides and the song picks up on that theme.
Next Month will be a busy one as we finally get to move to Herefordshire and our new house and village , but I still hope to complete another song as I already have a couple of themes I’m working on . Will be playing a solo gig in Bristol at The Seven Stars mid-month again before joining Pete and Gus there for a mini band reunion in April .
Two years ago , encouraged by Ted Fordney, I set out to write one song a month in part as a distraction to the ongoing medical treatment . I made it through to June and the songs from that period will form part of the the new acoustic album I’m looking to complete later in the spring . I’ve decided that it is a really good discipline to focus on at least one new song idea per month and this year I intend to go one step further and as well as writing the song, record a demo version to put into a monthly posting on this site.
To start this process this month is a topical song “Twelfth Night” written around the night of the same name . This is a emotionally charged night as it is the closing of Christmas celebrations , the real starting of a New Year and also the start of the worst two months of the year in the UK where it is damp, grey and just a waiting period for Spring. Anyway this year there was the added irony that the christian origin of twelfth night is the coming of the wise men bringing gifts from Persia ( Iran and Iraq).
So here is a rough first demo recording of Twelfth night which will continue to develop over the year .
For many years I have played with Pete Young on keyboards , both in Ulterior Motives and in acoustic duo/trio formats . One standard in our set since the early 80’s has been a version of Swan Lake (From Tchaikosky’s Nutcracker) with a reggae feel, which originally came from Madness. It was often a set closer or encore and Andy Boyd discovered he had something like 20 versions on video through the years , from shows and rehearsals. Anyway he recently had some spare time so put together a compilation of Swan Lake through the ages and the 23 minute version is here : Swan Lake
Finally on 12th January we played a 30 minute set in The Seven Stars pub in Bristol where Andy once again shot a superb HD video so I thought I’d post it here as well for anyone who missed it on Facebook .
And so now as we also prepare to move house I’m busy working on a slightly longer than planned acoustic album , tentatively titled “Wildflowers” but that could yet change. Will confirm the track listing in next months post .
Well we’re back in the UK now after 5 mainly enjoyable years in Florida.
We made lots of great friends who we’ll miss, so will have to make trips back to visit them periodically.
I plan to have a quiet summer musically although I played at The Seven Stars in Bristol with Pete Young on the 11th August .
For those that missed it the show was recorded by Andy Boyd and can be seen here :Seven Stars 11.8.19
I just starting work this week on a new recording project which will be a return to a much more acoustic sound than Harvey . I provisionally have 10 brand new songs, a couple of older songs to be re-visited and a surprise cover, in the working version of the album. Working Title is “Wildflowers” but that may change .
We’ve temporarily converted our living room at the barn to a studio and Andy Boyd and I are recording day long sessions over the next few weeks .This room has a great natural ambience and sound for recording. On Monday we completed the basic tracks for 4 songs , set up templates and a working protocol, as well as the odd demo for Pete to use to develop a piano part.
Plan is to use a variety of guest musicians over the next few months to add some variety to the tracks, and news of some of those will follow !
It’s a while since I posted so thought I should put something new on here.
I’ve been back in the UK for a while and getting used to the Bouzouki whilst playing a few open mics and meeting up with my old musical partners Pete Young and Gus Mills and even Jim Stewart before his departure to India.
Here are a couple of clips from those nights courtesy as ever of Andy Boyd ! Full Psychedelic Set from the Swan Christmas Open Mic Overload at the Shoulder of Mutton
This saturday I’m playing the Seven Stars in Bristol, which for those that haven’t visited is an Old Pub near Bristol Docks with historic associations with the Slave Trade . It always has an ever changing selection of great and unusual beers and on saturday and sunday afternoons features acoustic music shows which have been hosted Alfie Kingston for more than 10 years.There is always a good mix of some of the best local artists who are all booked to play 30 minute slots. Saturday I’ll be playing with Pete Young on keyboards for a mix of old and new songs and possibly even a Russian Folk Song.
On March 9th I’ll be back at Common Grounds in Northport , Florida, but this time playing Mandolin and guitar on a few songs with Wendy Kaneko. Wendy has her own show that night called “A Journey of the Heart” and will also be joined by Rico and Kate on percussion and bass.Wendy is a great original and emotional singer and songwriter as well as a good friend.
The following weekend on March 16th I’ll be playing a show at the Elixir tea rooms in Sarasota. This is a small , intimate, but very relaxed venue and the chance to play a few rarer covers and original songs.
Looking forward now to the sunshine and warmth of Florida for a few weeks !!
During September and October 2018, I was lucky to be able to spend a month in the Workshop of Richard Osborne, a luthier in mid Wales(website), learning the art of guitar building. During that time I built a Guitar/Bouzouki which is a beautiful instrument. The soundboard is Sitka Spruce and the back and sides English Cherry , which is beautifully figured and will develop a rich Orange colour over time.
After we finished building , we went for a curry and some drinks, returning to the workshop late at night to collect and play our instruments and here is a video of Cornelius ( a friend of Richards) playing it on some traditional tunes.
Finally, I had about 24 hours to play the Guitar/bouzouki, before I flew to America, so I recorded a version of my song “Taken Away” on my phone , which although it’s in the wrong key and lacks bass is taster of what’s to come: Taken Away
Looking forward to getting back and really playing this instrument now !
Only just over a week to go until my show at Common Grounds with Ted Fordney. Looking forward to playing some new songs and covers and playing my first full show for a year. My hands are finally recovering after the medical treatment and I have new hard tips to my fingers !!
Hoping for a good turn out from our American friends and a good night.
Tickets can be purchased on-line: Click Here
After a summer recovering back in the UK I will be back in Florida in the Autumn with a new intimate live show at Common Grounds in Northport on Saturday 17th November .
Once again I will be joined by the fabulous Ted Fordney on Double Bass.
The show is called Stories , Ghost and Giant Rabbits and all will become clear on the night.
This show will feature songs from “Harvey” along with a selection of older material including some rarely played songs. In addition it’ll be the very first chance to hear a number of brand new songs .
Looking forward to being back performing again after a very quiet and difficult 12 months.
Tickets are available from :Common Grounds 11.17.18
All of you who’ve purchased my new CD Harvey will have found a hand drawn map in the centre of the cover and I though it was worth giving a bit more of an explanation of some of the places on the map and what they meant to me.
Fairfield Park : The area of Bath I grew up in is called Fairfield Park. Although within the City, it had a sort of Village feel to it and you could buy everything you needed in the small independent local shops. There was a Butchers at the end of our street and a short distance to the greengrocers and on Batstones Corner a family run general store , for everything else you would get from a supermarket these days
Queenwood Avenue: I grew up at 25 Queenwood Avenue , a small terraced house on a very steep hill.My grandparents (On my Fathers side) lived at number 29 so we saw lots of them whilst growing up, and also two other relatives ( Great Uncle and Aunt) on the opposite side of the street. In those days you knew and spoke with all your neighbours, and it was a very friendly community. My best friend Colin and his Sister Josie lived at the top of the street in Evelyn Terrace , and although the house is still there a road runs through the Garden we used to play in.I kept in touch with Colin and still meet up for a drink with him when I am able to.
My First musical adventures took place in back garden of Queenwood Avenue , where I used to do a Freddie and the Dreamers impersonation with shaggy wig and ukulele banjo. Not sure it’s a great look !
George’s Hill: At the top of the back lane behind the houses there was a gravel road leading to the Green , a small area of trees where we built dens, climbed trees and used to have battles throwing stones at each other ( Perhaps not the most sensible option).Leading down into the green was Georges Hill a steep stone and gravel road and there we used to race karts made from old prams, trying to stop at the bend at the bottom without falling off or crashing into anything.Again this seemed like great fun at the time, but in hindsight with no protection perhaps wasn’t the safest hobby although I don’t remember any major injuries , just lots of minor ones.
The Woods and the Common: Many evenings were spent heading up through the woods to The Common on Beacon Hill, where we would play football ( Soccer) or play on the swings and roundabout which were there. We stayed out until it was starting to get dark before heading home through the woods. I guess these days kids miss out on the opportunity to have this much freedom, as it is considered too un-safe. Final mention is of Perfect View which was at the bottom of the woods and a small terrace of houses which had the best view over the City of Bath and as we got older we used to go down there and sit and walk into town. Sadly I went back there recently and a row of trees was planted 20 years ago after a planning dispute and this now cuts out most of the view which is a great pity . Maybe one day a man with a chainsaw will restore this view to its former glory.