Back in May I returned to the workshops of Luthier Richard Osborne in Llanidloes , to build a new Acoustic guitar as my main instrument. 4 years ago I went there and built my guitar bouzouki , which has been a fantastic instrument , and the experience was fabulous as well as resulting in in a first class instrument
Over the last few years I have been having issues with the tendons and joints in my left hand which has started to inhibit my playing , so I had the idea of building a guitar with an easy action and shorter scale to hopefully extend my playing time.
In February I went over and met with Richard and after measuring a number of instruments, we came up with a specification for the neck , agreed on the body size, scale length and the woods for the soundboard , back and sides to give a guitar which would suit my playing style and capable of being both driven hard and gently fingerpicked.
So in May I spent a month producing this wonderful instrument :
The one month guitar course run by Richard operates 3 or 4 times a year and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Not only do you get to build a custom instrument worth significantly more than the cost of the course, but it’s always a great experience to work with someone so skilled in his art and a small group(3) of generally like minded people . Added to that Llanidloes is a fabulous place to spend a month. I camped on a farm site on the banks of the River Severn , which was tranquil and 5 minutes bike ride from the workshop ! Not only that but there are a number of local music sessions you can join in the evenings ! I would recommend this course to anyone. http://www.osborneguitars.co.uk
So I played this guitar for the first time at my daughter Rowena’s wedding and it is now my main instrument. Here is a shot of it in action at The How the Light gets In Festival in Hay :
Now I have a pair of beautiful unique instruments :
During the periods of lockdown with little chance of playing any live music, I got involved in a lot of recording projects , both of my songs and with those of Ted Fordney back in Florida, using the time to educate ourselves on the wonders of Logic Pro.
At the end of that time I had 12 songs recorded , a mix of old songs re-visited, 9 entirely new songs and an appropriate cover song by Janis Ian. Having listened to them through a few times I decided that it might be worth putting them out as a digital album, and following some time re-mixing and mastering these will be available as a download album “One Life” from my bandcamp page from July 16th onwards. https://alanmaskell.bandcamp.com/
This album is also now free to listen to and download from my web page , just go to the tab in the menu !
The track listing is as follows : 1- It shouldn’t be this Way, 2- Dust upon the Hill, 3- Country Flowers, 4- Breakfast with the King, 5- Moving On, 6- Perfect Mistake, 7- Gemini, 8- Twelfth Night, 9- 50 shades of Grey, 10- Haul Away, 11- One Life, 12- Better Times
All tracks feature Ted on bass , and a number on backing vocals , and Pete Young plays piano on Breakfast , but I play or programme everything else. The tracks cover a wide range of styles and instrumentation.
I will produce a lyric sheet at some point to accompany the download .
Well spring is upon us and life is stumbling towards a sort of post-covid normality as live music comes out of hibernation.
I’m keeping playing open mics regularly around Hereford and occasionally further afield along with a few up and coming gigs .
May 1st : Die Koffee Pot, Hereford : this will be a full 2 hour set of mainly original acoustic songs . It’s a great outdoor venue for the summer and this time I hope the sun is shining . When I played in February it was so cold after 2 hours that I could hardly move or feel my fingers !!!
May 29th: The Seven Stars , Bristol : After the disappointment of having to cancel couple of weeks ago due to the impact of Covid , I’ll be back there with Pete Young on Keyboards and Gus Mills on bass for an upbeat afternoon which promises to be fun as ever .
In the meantime just to whet your appetite here is a video of Gus and I playing a recent open mic at The Shoulder of Mutton in Wantage, as a warm up for the gig that didn’t happen.
The most exciting gig coming up is a solo set at the How the Light Gets In Festival in June at Hay on Wye. I’ll be playing 1pm on Saturday 4th June in the Blue Moon Tent and this will be an original acoustic set .
Hoping to get some more dates later in the Summer , but my other news is that I’m returning to Richard Osbornes workshop in Wales for a month in April/May to build an Acoustic Guitar to use as my main live guitar, and compensate for my tendon issues in my left hand so I can hopefully keep playing as long as possible.
I’ll post a report and pictures on here at some point !!!
Well it’s been a while since I last posted but I decided it was time to break the silence again and post an update on things .
2021 was a really mixed year although thankfully I was able to get out and play live a few times and hopefully that will continue now into 2022 .
I finished the year playing a set at The Seven Stars in Bristol with the complete Ulterior Motives lineup of me , Pete Young, Jim Stewart and Gus Mills in a stripped back format .It was a great afternoon as it was also Alfie Kingston’s birthday so there was a real party atmosphere . Here is one of the highlights from the day “Overload”:
If you want to watch more the whole set is on my Youtube channel.
I have continued to post demo songs on Soundcloud through the year and now plan to pull together a low budget on-line only album for release in the spring featuring many of these new songs after some re-recording and studio wizardry .https://soundcloud.com/alan-maskell-73896708
In terms of live dates up coming , the only immediate one is at Die Koffee Pot in Hereford as a rearranged show from last year on 16th January 22 between 1 and 3pm . This is outdoors so hoping for better weather than in November when it was cancelled due to high winds .
So after 18months in hibernation , including a house move and several lockdowns , venues are beginning to open up again and I’m getting back out playing . After several warm -up open mics to make sure I haven’t forgotten everything, I have two longer sets coming up :
Saturday 18th September : 7-8pm Wobbly Brewery Tap Room, Hereford
Sunday 10th October : 3-5pm ( 30 minute set ) Seven Stars, Thomas Lane, Bristol
A belated posting of this , but I thought I’d already done it .
Early in 2020 a good friend of ours in Sarasota finally lost a long standing battle with Cancer . Tony was a poet with whom we shared a connection, as he was born in Cirencester before moving to the USA. I met Tony at a music party hosted by Jean Bayou in Sarasota, not long after our move to the USA, and later at various open mics , and we became friends .
When I was also undergoing Chemo we spoke on the phone on a number of occasions , and formed a sort of bond.
On our last visit to the USA in November 2019 we met Tony for breakfast in a diner in Sarasota which was famous for a visit by Elvis Presley in the 1960’s and it appeared to have not changed too much since !. We had a good time and were glad we were able to see him for one last time .
I wrote this song for him using some of his poetry, both as a chorus and interspersed in the song and it is my small tribute to him .
A few weeks ago I decided to reactivate my Soundcloud account .
I plan to use this to publish un-released demos of mainly new songs , but also occasional versions of Old Songs . The first recording I put up was a new Acoustic recording of Rose Tattoo with Ted on bass , which was entered in The Talent is Timeless song competition, and was long listed , but sadly made it no further .
I also added 4 new demos including a brand new song written about John Prine called Perfect Mistake .
Amazingly it is 20 years since Ulterior Motives released their first album “Rooks”. After playing together as a live band ,with occasional breaks , since the early 80’s we finally got together to record and release this CD in 2001.
The album features : Alan Maskell; Guitar and Vocals, Pete Young ; Keyboards and Vocals, Gus Mills ; Bass and Vocals , John Hedgecock ; Drums . Additionally former band member Graham “Snowy” Taylor guests on Saxophone on three tracks .
We recorded in a number of locations in and around Wantage, with much of the final engineering and production by Andy Boyd.
We chose a mix of material covering the bands lifespan including old songs like “The Trap” and “Where do we Go “right through to the newest material like “Distant” and “Underdog”
We always felt this album was underrated and were limited in the amount of promotion we were able to give it .
To celebrate the 20th Anniversary, we decided to make Rooks available on all the commercial streaming services ( Which didn’t exist in 2001 ) so please give it a listen.
On Wednesday 7th April I’ll be broadcast a 30 minute “Live ” solo set as part of the Common Grounds weekly open mic on www.KDWradio.com .The set was recorded in a single take in my Shepherds Hut in Herefordshire so is complete with mistakes etc but felt that was the best way to capture it. The songs range from a re-vamp of the first song I ever wrote through to some less familiar tracks and a couple of older favourites .
As the show is broadcast in the middle of the night in the UK, I’ll put the show up live on my YouTube page the day afterwards through the following link : https://youtu.be/SO6IAMVR1K8