...it was not a few months until I wrote my next blog-post, it was over six.
After almost three years of failed attempts to get things sorted, I have finally managed to assemble a band of really talented friends. We have been rehearsing regularly and we've played a few shows. Including myself, it's a six-piece line-up with Gabriel Minnikin on electric guitar (who, as I've already mentioned in a previous blogpost, is a fabulous songwriter in his own right), Ben Playford on piano (another great songwriter), Chris Hillman on pedal Steel guitar and Ben Price and Charlie Garson of I am Blackbird on Bass and drums respectively. I'll keep the Myspace, &c, updated regarding our next show, but I expect it'll be some time around May.
For some time now, I've been working with a Manchester-based charity
organisation called Manchester aid to Kosovo, contributing a track to their fantastic album 'ten' and playing several shows with them. It's
been an incredible thing to be a part of, not only because of my respect for the work the group have done in Kosovo, the continuation of which
will be partly funded by the sales of the record, but also because it has
been an honour to work alongside some of the musicians involved- Liam Frost, The Travelling Band, Cherry Ghost, Badly Drawn Boy, Elbow, Josephine, Gideon Conn, Silverclub, Jim Noir and Liz Green to name only a
The details for the release and the work that MAK has been doing can be found on their website.
I am Blackbird
Another thing that's entered my world since the last time I could find the willpower to update this thing six months ago is my involvement with I am Blackbird. For those of you new to the band, you can check them out (without me) on their myspace here. I've been playing piano, organ and electric guitar and we'll probably do something together soon (with me). The plan, in the vaguest sense, is to do an E.P over the next few months and release it sometime after the middle of the year. Again, I'll be keeping y'all posted.
Since every time prior to this that I have made some grand statement about doing an E.P or a record, any notion of the project has dwindled and disappeared without mention or acknowledgement, you'd be forgiven for never trusting me again, perhaps about anything. It's your choice but this time I'm getting involved with an aspiring and insane young producer and the band, of course to finally finish the fucking thing once and for all, most likely over the next few months. The idea is to do the whole thing using exclusively analogue gear and almost entirely live. Once again, I'll keep you posted on developments as they come. We'll be making the preliminary demos and talking specifics over the next few weeks.
I supported Simone Felice at St. Ann's church in Manchester the other day, and somebody filmed a lovely video...
Ok, so I've been shit with the blog. If anybody cares about that I'm sorry. In fact, lately, I've been shit with most of it. I think that in the last post I did (which must have been several months ago now), I boasted that things were more stable, and what actually followed were several more months of decided instability. Two moves. More job moving around, etc. I don't want to get personal or start making excuses, but the blog has not been the first thing on my mind for quite some time. Touchwood, things are far more settled now, and there's a lot to report.
The First Aid Kit show
This was so long ago, it feels odd to comment on it, but of all the gigs I have played over the last few months, this one was by far the lovliest. Partly because of the bulk of the set itself, but mainly because Klara and Johanna Soderberg, with Gabriel Minnikin too (whose praises I couldn't possibly sing enough) joined me for the final song- a cover of Gram Parson's 'A Song For You'. Someone was kind enough to post a video on the YouTube.
There were a few great moments at the Liam Frost show, and many others that I will struggle to remember. Some good, and some completly abysmal, but that's the way it goes. I have enjoyed playing with the Minnikins a whole lot, as I will continue to be doing in the near future.
What's happening now.
I have been talking with a friend of a friend Steve, who is a producer from Manchester I met through a friend. A pretty enthusiastic dude with a lot of time and a lot of resources. He's clearly brilliant, though visably insane, and I can't say that there's anything about that that doesn't appeal to me. We will probably set about doing something real and concrete in the new year. In the meantime, I am focusing on bringing a smaller and more manageable band together in the coming months leading up to the studio time. As usual, the people I have the opportunity to play with are all fucking stunning musicians and good friends, so I'm excited to finally be playing with people again. Of course I'm writing again. Any demos I do will eventually emerge on the blog as per usual. I'll dig the four-track out.
Things to listen to, read and watch
I much prefer to talk about things I'm into on this blog than I do talking about my own ventures, so I'm going to use the opportunity now to create a comprehensive list of everything that's inspired or entertained me lately. It's been so long, I couldn't very easily comment on each one, so instead I'll leave you with it. If you devoured everything on this list, I doubt it would be a fruitless experience for you, but it's probably less time-consuming to nibble on it, as it were. Dig:
It's been a long while since my last blog post. I find it really hard to believe that I haven't updated it since April 21st. To be honest, I've been neglecting almost every aspect of the music for some time, down to some pretty big things happening in my life, both mundane matters of employment and more profound personal shit that's made it very difficult for me to sit down with a guitar without accusing myself (wrongly) of being frivolous. It's been difficult, but I've pretty much landed on my feet with regular work and a new place to stay (something of a commune for musicians and eccentrics!), so I'm ready to get back into it and start writing again. I'm sure I've plenty to vent!
First Aid Kit Show (finally)
There are a few shows coming up soon, but one in particular which I'm looking forward to more, perhaps, that any gig in my life. On the 16th of July at the Manchester Deaf Institute, I'll be supporting my good friends First Aid Kit. They've been mentioned heaps in the blog so far and they've been a major source of inspiration to me over the past year in a way that only a handful of people have been. There's a possibility of us singing a few songs together, too. They're one of my favourite bands around at the minute and it's totally worth coming to see them play.
I will also be playing the Soup Kitchen on the 4th of July for a lovely little night set up by one of the most pleasant promoters in Manchester, Garry Thomas. The line-up looks really good. Kathryn Edwards' and Chris Butler of Butler Williams' new band We Are Willow will be playing, as well as Jake Flowers and Christopher Eatough, two lovely guys and incredible performers. It's free, also, so come if you can. The details are here.
Chew Lips @ Topman Control
I very recently played a show supporting Chew Lips at the Cardiff Arts Institute. They were kind enough to have me open for them. There's a video with some clips of the show on Youtube, which I can't watch without feeling totally dorkish and self-conscious. If this seems vain, it's only because I am, but it was a neat show and I thank Tigs and the guys as well as all the people who were involved and helped me out for the good night and the exposure.
Some things to check out...
Just a quick mention of a few things that are worth your time and/ or anticipation. Jo Dudderidge of The Travelling band gave me a special listen to their new record the other week, and I've gotta say that it's going to be amazing. There's no concrete release date but keep your ear to the ground on this one.
Also, a few blogs have leaked some new Arcade Fire songs that will be included on their new album, 'The Suburbs'. 'We used to wait' is particularly beautiful. I know this sounds corny, but I believe in the Arcade Fire. I can't wait for this record. One of the blogs is here. There's also a song on their website.
Finally coming to London! I'll be playing the Union Chapel for an afternoon show at about 2pm. That is, it starts at 2pm. I think I'm gonna be on at three or something, but it'll be worth coming for the other bands. Free entry! The show has been put on by my good friend of many years, Howard Mills, mastermind behind Humble Soul records (one of my favourite independent Manchester labels) and an honest man- a rare breed. The venue is beautiful, and there will be a real piano there that I'll probably do a few songs on. The other acts are The Miserable Rich and Cortina Deluxe. There's some more information on it here. Excited to be playing down South again!
Night & Day
I'll also be playing a charity show in Manchester that night at about 10pm. Its a benefit show for the Michael J Fox foundation. The current line-up is Christopher Eatough, Stations, me and 52 Teenagers. The event details are here. Apparently there will be a real Delorean parked outside, so if you don't come for the music, come for the Delorean and the cause.
Also, unbelievably, I'll be supporting the mighty Neal Casal at the Ruby Lounge on May the 30th. Neal is one of my favourite guitarists ever and it'll be a real honour to play a show with him. He also just published an amazing book of photographs documenting his time as a guitarist for the Cardinals. Event details for that show are here.