this, on the radio
I’ve got an hour of spoken word and live music coming out on Radio Reverb, hopefully on Sun 27 July at 11pm (then repeated three times the following week). A preview of the first two and a half minutes can be heard here. That’s 97.2FM kids.*
It was a buzz to put together – and very nice to be asked, obviously – kind of nerve-wracking too, as there’s lots of improv and split-second decisions… If I manage to hold yr attention, unsettle you a bit: good. For sixty minutes, though? Well, I think it holds up. Listen in, see if you agree.
Otherwise, got some gigs coming – including a London leg of Waterghosts. It’s all getting very interesting.
And once again – because you’re no-one if you aren’t selling a piece of yrself nowadays (NB. I have no problem with this)… Do check out this recently-released album, which features a track of mine.
The radio programme, of course, is free.
*& it’s now going out on Sun 24th August. Not sure what happened there, but it’s being broadcast sometime soon, anyway.
I’m doing a free gig tonight in Brighton, at the Northern Lights – doors 8pm, info here. It’s a great lineup, going to be a lot of fun: got new songs to play.
Longer-term, just heard that a new track of mine’s going on a compilation CD/download album assembled by J Peel’s superb spiritual heirs, Container Drivers Radio. They’re working on it with a US label called Russian Winter, and it’s all looking very good so far. Track’s called Stroke of Noon, and I’m very happy with it (this is completely separate to the three tracks for release with The Animal Farm, btw).
More details to follow.
Waterghosts was a success; both on its own terms and going by audience reaction, plus advance review buzz. Jamie Sturrock, awkward visionary, I salute you (many people can talk a good game about stuff like this, very few actually risk doing it).
It was exciting to read out my writing in the pulpit, and to work with so many talented musicians and performers; sitting in the engine room and feeling all that improvised sonic magic strafing the church was wonderful.
Now I’ve got some gigs, first one Sunday 1 June. Details here.
a few Waterghosts pics – more on my Facebook page:
visitation of an American Poet
I’m playing at a Lou Reed tribute night in Kemptown, (At The) Coach House. It starts at 7pm, on Sat 7th Dec. Here’s the address:
There’ll be loads of people playing songs from all across his incredible body of work. I’m doing… Actually, no. If you want to find out, you’ll have to come along. Anyway, it promises to be a fantastic celebration (in a unique venue, too).
Doing a free gig on Wed 17th July in New Cross, London, at the Amersham Arms – Facebook event pg here.
For those who abominate Facebk & all its blandishments, here’s the info:
Amersham Arms, 388 New X Rd SE14
doors 8pm – tax £0.00
…Think I’m on 2nd, not sure yet. Fairly low-key, but should be a good night – not gigged a huge amount lately, as I’ve been concentrating on getting more energy-waves onto record & other things creative (more news about all that soon, btw)… On with it, then.
A few pics from Saturday’s gig At The Coach House:
…As you can see, it’s an interesting place, the kind worth playing Just Because (that thing in the 3rd photo’s a beyond-vintage speaker, not a municipal radiator, btw… and check that mixing desk). Gig went well and got recorded – might stick it on Soundcloud, whole or in part, in the near future.
A track of mine can be heard on Container Drivers Radio, Fri April 13th:
Playlist – Part 1
- The Beat – Stand Down Margaret
- Edwyn Collins – Carry On, Carry On
- Matt Finucane – Degenerate Son
- Rollor – Minority of the Opulent
- Spacemen 3 – Take Me To The Other Side
- Jaguar Love – Up All Night
- King Khan and The Shrines – Land of the Freak
- Flies on You – Spain
- Woodpecker Wooliams – Sparrow
- The John Knox Sex Club – The Devil’s in Your Hands
- Monoganon – Eternal See You Soon
- Pokey LaFarge – Mr. Nobody
- 3th Floor Elevators – Levitation
- The Fall – Spinetrak
Playlist – Part 2
- Dengue Fever – Glass of Wine
- Young Marble Giants – N.I.T.A.
- Netarine No 9 – Found Things
- The Donkeys – Lower The Heavens
- True Widow – Duelist
- Trapped Mice – Arthur’s Seat
- Battery Face – Pugsley
- The Monochrome Set – Ici Les Enfants
- King Tuff – Wild Desire
- Holograms – Apostate
- Cowboy 78 – The Wiseguys
- Richard Swift – Dracula (Hey Man !)
- Roberta Flack – I Told Jesus
…The programme’s up on their site for a while, so give it a listen. Apart from my song (a live acoustic track & B-side to Nemesis), there’s loads of cool stuff on the playlist – as you can see.
Sadly the Edinburgh gig, Tuesday 16th with Rollor, isn’t happening. Such is life…
Not only am I doing a London gig tomorrow nite (details here )…
…Also doing a 20-25 min live spot on Brighton & Hove Community Radio on Thursday 8th Nov. Their website’s here (with links to live broadcast & archived programmes). I’m on the 6 – 7pm “Under The Table” show, and will be performing a mix of live songs & spoken word. It’s a little different to previous radio stuff I’ve done, and should be a good brain-scorching listen.
So last night’s gig at The Brunswick - see below – went very well: which after recent torrid peaks and chasms, shooting stars and sucker-punches, actually did come as quite a shock. Okay, it’s hardly front-page stuff but even so – good to know I can still sustain a 40-min solo gig, play new material and grab the listener. Also, without compromising on intensity. Still got it – and still capable of acting like a pro. (It helps that the venue’s super-atmospheric and has the huge asset of a talented sound-engineer.) They’ve asked me back, too. Really, without wishing to sound all Hollywood, it’s stuff like this that makes it worthwhile. Till next time, mes braves.
signs of life…
And here’s another gig, back home at the Brunswick in Brighton – details here. Thur 20 Sept, doors 8pm, tickets £4 or £3 adv from Brunswick site (with unlimited cheap guestlist).
I’m closing the night from about 10:20, and get a 40-min set – which gives me a chance to play some stuff from album 2 that’s not been aired before. The other acts are Jessica Mary York and Daniel Powell. Thanks to Andy Hillion for promoting, and as it’s a nice atmospheric venue this should be a memorable night: looking forward to it.
The 13th August update of Unpeeled has very positive things to say about Glow in the Dark – “once in a blue one, you come across something of genuine interest”, for a start – and I’ve taken the liberty of quoting the entire review on the Press page. Go to the site, though, it’s all good writing (and they clearly have excellent taste, eh? Eh?!?).
Wish me luck – or a gloriously messy death. x
I haven’t fronted a band since Empty Vessels on 14th Dec 2006 at The Montague Arms (RIP): so what’s changed? Happily, very little.
Solo acoustic (or with perhaps one other musician, eg. keyboards) is a totally different animal – I’d forgotten how charged the atmosphere at a real gig can be. The New Cross Inn on Friday was vibey as ever; I, Ludicrous sounded good – well, their soundcheck did, we’d buggered off back to Brighton in the van by the time they went onstage – and the sheer power and physicality of the experience was… well, there aren’t any words, really. I just love feeling the drum-cracks and noise-shreds blast my spine, and aiming my voice right… through… the middle; worth every second, every minor discomfort and expediency.
It went over well, too; nice crowd. It’s good to be back. More to follow, soon.
oh, and many thanks to Andy Clarke, without whom…
introducing the band…
Here’s a Facebook Event pg, but for those of you who shun such things: £3 in, we’re on 9-ish, and – recent 4-song BBC session excepted – this is the full band’s 1st gig, playing a 30-35 min set.
The venue’s great – have played there in the past, so I’m not just blowing smoke – and it looks like a night to be remembered, to put it mildly. Come along, do.
sour grapes or the cold, sharp wine of truth? You decide. But it’ll cost ya… well, nothing actually
There’s a debate – which can only get more heated – about whether music should be free. About the dynamic created for makers and consumers of music by the Free Culture – or Freecult, as I prefer to call them because it sounds stoopider (of course, they’re too numerous to be an actual cult, and are in most cases motivated by the prevalent tech-enabled custom of lax, myopic greed rather than any coherent ideology). To clarify, these are the people who collect music like stamps – and never listen to 90% 0f it – rather than downloaders who then buy the product, or some of it anyway. Yes: Product.
Of course money should be involved in music. It’s been inextricably entwined with art since art existed; without patronage, no Iliad, no Odyssey, no Velvet Underground, no sustainable dance/electro music *ever* beyond the first amyl nitrate whiff of excitement, no X Factor (okay, baaad joke at the end there). True, the major labels are getting what they deserve. Unfortunately, the artists aren’t; while many I know or know of haven’t any problem in principle with giving stuff away – and this includes me – to “donate” the whole lot is, in essence, shutting out loads of artists who can’t afford to do that and sustain themselves or their work. As well as carrying a stigma of bargain-basement loserdom. This stuff tends to get downplayed in the current atmosphere of Future Boomer righteousness – or it did until recently. Strange that it’s taken so long to be examined at a grass-roots level: and what it took was a common enough, albeit unthinking, admission from a National Public Radio DJ (hardly the big bad Music Biz Man).
So yeah, £££. Obviously, it’s all in who the gelt comes from… corporate sponsorship, crowd-sourcing, arms deals… and who it goes to. On any lower echelon than superstar, it’s a vexed question (and I’m sick of labouring it, so will stop biting the hand that… sort-of… feeds now). Besides which, you can chop logic about the moral pros & cons all day, but personally? On a selfish level, I don’t really give a shit.
Perseverance for pennies: gotta be done, innit? Well, up to a point. Beyond that, it’s just slaughtering the golden goose.
If I could think of a viable strategy to get round this impasse, as hopefully someone will sooner or later, I’d be a fucking entrepreneur rather than a musician. Or possibly a writer for sites like Gizmodo.com who “refuted” David Lowery with a barrage of meaningless stats. But my point about sustainability – affordability – stands. In effect, it’s like a new form of something I’d hear horror stories about from the bad old days: Pay to Play. Who in their right mind wants that? (And uh, don’t quit the day job btw – assuming you’re lucky enough to have one.)
A Footnote: speaking of Pay to Play…
Putting together a tour without the cradle of logistic and booking support, I’ve noticed something interesting. I’m sure a lot of musicians in my kind of semi-legit position have run into something similar.
The era of literal Pay to Play (in London): a lot of venues demanded an upfront fee for the privilege of gigging to six uninterested alcoholics, the scarcely-more-animate sound engineer, and maybe two mates who were just there because they wanted into the keyboard player’s pants. A promoter with a great deal of sense and integrity (and taste, obviously, as an ally of mine) urged me on several occasions: Never, ever, ever, pay to play. It just encourages the practise, which must be stamped out. It’s clearly a self-defeating way to go, and I won’t insult your intelligence by hashing over why this individual was quite right. But a lot of venues – feeling the bite, so I fling no blame – are now getting into the habit of asking for a hire fee rather than actually promote a gig. Often, in context, this is fair enough; but the implications are uncomfortable.
This may seem rather off the point of the rant above. (God, I’m starting to moan as much as that St Saviour woman…) But it’s a symptom of the same fucked economic model. One alternative is free no-frills gigs, which in theory sounds nice but in practice means variable quality-control: there, see? Free stuff sucks. Can I buy some soil off you, please?
In August, the mighty Minotaur with full band again: 5 nights, 5 acts – it’ll be madness. Again, keep checking for fresh info. This promises to be unique.
Meantime, there are plans and gambits way into September – more details as and when they’re definite, but so far it’s looking good. Can’t keep up with all the new offers, which is a lovely problem to have.
The Facebook link above has the necessary, but bare bones: it’s at The Hydrant in Brighton, suggested donation of £3 for entry, starts 7:30pm – I’m onstage 7:50ish. It’s also the last solo gig I’ll do for a while, all being well.*
It’s also, needless to say, in a good cause: ie. to help prevent Benefits being stripped from those who need them most by a bunch of blinkered, sociopathic Victorian mill-owner types… who wouldn’t know genuine, compassionately-motivated positive intervention if it lined them up against a wall, blindfolded and executed them by firing-squad. (Think it’s plain where I stand on this issue.) Anyway, enough frothing & ranting. There’s bands and comedians and stuff – should be a nice night.
*(See below: got a good band behind me now, locking down tracks from album #2. Speaking of 2nd album, I’ve got the rough mixes and they sound great. It’s a bold step forward musically, sharper and leaner – will be mastered and finished within a week.)
Not that I was ever off-track…
Met a very good guitarist & multi-instrumentalist last night for a rehearsal. We convened in a converted underground public toilet (yeah yeah, only in Brighton – insert puerile jokes here…). Went very well, took my acoustic songs and rocked them all to hell; got other musicians lined up to put together a live band.
ALSO, I’m doing a gig in December – see Live page for info.
ALSO ALSO, album #2 is very near completion and sounds almost unbearably exciting.
Said it before, but O I love this game.
…and for my next trick…
Last night’s Interrobang gig was great – good atmosphere and venue, receptive audience, lots of interesting stuff going on. A welcome reminder why I do this in the first place, and confirmation of the gut feeling I’ve been getting lately about what kind of gigs work best for me, and everyone else in the room.
So – a good place to stop, chill out for a week or two, and think carefully about how best to carry on. There’s only so much one guy with an acoustic guitar can do, after all; it’s kind of limiting the options. Might be good to try putting a band together… (Although ironically, the new material written for album #2 suits solo acoustic much better, so who knows? The last thing I want is to end up with yet another by-the-numbers indie band.)
With all kinds of ambitious but as-yet unformed ideas*, I’m taking time off from live stuff for a couple of months to try out different approaches. Last night was good enough to make me regret the decision, which proves it’s the right one, if that makes sense.
*About presentation, not format – you won’t see me turning music into an app, for instance. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, full of fear and envy for a future I don’t understand, yet want to skull-fuck… But instead of being exciting and meaningfully interactive, that just smells of focus groups and Tory Big Society outsourcing mentality to me: You do it, we can’t be arsed.
Anyway, more and better, coming soon.
PS: I’ll still be posting stuff on here, videos etc, and play a few open mics to keep my hand in. The Windmill in Brighton last week was particularly good fun.
Tue 27th Sept, 7:30 – 9:30, doors 7pm
@ The Book Club, 100-106 Leonard St EC2, London
Tax £5/3 concs
Stage-time? Not sure, possibly quite early; but anyway, this is the kind of night you want to see all of.
It’s also the last gig I’ll do for a while, say 2-3 months; some lateral thinking and re-defining’s needed on that front, like maybe some more musicians, as I’ve mithered on about before. So. Roll up, roll up…
It’s a lovely venue, they say; one I somehow missed when living in London. (Hmm – for someone who goes on about gratefully fleeing the city, I spend an awful lot of time there. Am I cheating on my new home with raddled, rouge-caked old London… behind my own back?)
so debt-o-geddon didn’t come. The world economy abides. Celebrate yr disposable income: see a gig
2 more gigs coming up soon – London on Tuesday 2nd, Brighton on Thursday 4th.
London gig’s in Camden & info can be found here…
doors 7:45pm – onstage 8:00pm
Right then. I’m playing a Club Fandango night tomorrow at the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town. Not only is Club Fandango “the undisputed daddy of London’s indie showcase scene” (sez Time Out), but the B&G itself holds a sentimental weight with me – well, as sentimental as I ever get over London nowadays. My old band in its various line-ups played there a lot, running the whole gamut from unbelievable triumph to unhinged, drunken, bleeding-all-over-the-guitar disaster. Anyway, it looks like a good night and is £6 in, or £5 advance or with flyer. In these debt-stricken times that can’t be bad.
Advance tickets here.
Or if you prefer, flyers can be found here.
Put the megaphone down and your hands up…
More fun in the capital. Every time I visit London now, a grimy wave of nostalgia passes over me – how could I have given up all this? The density, the dirt, the vivid sense of great things afoot? Well, I had little choice – but that’s another story. Besides, the feeling soon passes. It’s always good to come back for a gig, though.
So, played 93 Ft East on 28th March – and had a pretty good time, all considered. It’s interesting trying to convert a largely uncommitted audience who don’t know or much care who you are. It can go either way, but this time it worked; crested the uphill part of the gig, fought through the tumbleweed inertia moment, and by the end had largely drawn them in. Maybe it was the megaphone; I’ve always wanted to hassle people who bugger off for a smoke and a chat, and this is the ideal tool. In fact I’d better stop using it soon, or I’ll come to rely on it too much, turn it into a wacky novelty: uurgh. But it helped, which was funny.
Afterward, someone told me my lyrics are “too strong”, and “not what people want to hear” – whatever that’s supposed to mean. A compliment, in a way. YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!! Call me a pervert, but I was pleased. So I don’t – can’t – deal in reassuring, feel-good, love-struck platitudes; why is that any worse coming from a guy with an acoustic guitar than, say, two laptops and a strobe-light tied to his head? Someone’ll have to explain it to me. Ah what the hell – some people dug it, the rest… just had to sit tight for half an hour.
Spent the following day in Brighton Electric Studios shooting footage for a new music vid. This is to accompany Hands Up, the second single (due in July, shortly before the album). Still feels weird, miming – especially trying to play guitar at the same time and make it all look real, kinetic. Can’t deny it was fun; exhausting and weird, but fun, like some kind of sashaying whole-body Karaoke. And some people do this kind of thing a lot – what does that do to their minds?
Perhaps I’ll find out.
Every week should be this way.
Talk about worlds colliding. Last Monday, gigged the legendary rock oubliette Hope & Anchor, N1. I’ve a lot of affection for that place – my old band played it loads of times, and I’ve had some great nights there. It’s an old-school stripped-down rock sweatbox in the best sense – the power of crowd and sound focus into a great white wall of energy, driving you effortlessly, till you feel Olympian and mellow like a 1920’s crooner – even while screaming your fucking head off. Entranced!
Deliberate headlined and I guested on a few songs with them; and as before, Chris added laptop noise during my set to The Black Membrane. This time it was phenomenal – the whole room immersed in surging fog, floes and crackles. I love this shit, I truly do.
Then during the week I met up with a director about a lead part in a film. It was just one of those random things that falls into your lap out of nowhere, and would be foolish (and ungrateful to Luck, Chance, whoever) not to investigate. It seemed to click, so a few days later I went for the audition.
Not something I’ve ever done before. Daunting and alien. A very heightened experience, an atmosphere superficially informal but charged with intent. There was a camera, lights, a row of people sat watching, and a script I had 5 minutes to look at. I will never, ever take the piss out of actors again.
Did the scene opposite a middle-aged guy reading a girl’s part, then had to ad-lib. On-camera. Know what? Once I’d adjusted, I slipped right into it and absolutely loved it. Obliquely similar to the kind of buzz you get doing a gig – total awareness, total control on an almost sub-atomic level. Anyway, suddenly it was over, “we’ll let you know”, and there I was out in the street wondering what just happened. Much as it sounds like an acceptance speech for the Also-Ran’s Wooden Spoon Award, I enjoyed it so much it’s kind of irrelevant if I even get the part. As unexpected tangents in life go, this was hard to beat.
Anyway, must’ve done okay, because they want me back to screen-test with potential female leads.
And lest we forget – a still from my video (see previous entry). I didn’t do anything like this at the audition, I should add.