(and the story of how I played my first gig)
When you are trying to promote your music I think it is customary to tell people before a major event takes place. For example if you are suddenly find you are about to play you first ever gig it is probably quite a good idea to let people know about it in advance. Unfortunately good ideas often pass me by and so 4 months after my first ever gig I find myself writing about how it happened…
4 years ago the more-lovely-than-I-can-describe Cosy Den Records released my EP. At the time they asked me if I would like to come and play in Sweden. It was such a nice kind offer and I daydreamed for some time before the coward in me turned it down.
I am afraid of many things ranging from the abstract fear of letting people down to nightmarish fear of people breaking into my house while I’m asleep and the slightly absurd fear of doctors, or needles, or doctors who have needles. However my most crippling fear has always been that I might find myself the centre of attention. In school my cheeks would burn brightly whenever I answered a question in class. In a social group I will loose my thread as soon as I notice I am the only one talking. And the idea of finding myself on stage – well that’s just plain terrifying. So naturally I let the pleasant daydream drift away consigned to the things I couldn’t possibly do.
Earlier this year Mattias announced the dates of the Cosy Den Festival. I’ve been wanting to go to this Festival ever since I first heard about it but boring stuff like work or money has got in the way in the past. This year though, I’d already got time booked off work and a quick search for flights told me that they weren’t so out of my price range. Fate! I told myself. And I formed and fixed a plan and set announced to my Swedish friends that I was coming.
Before long Mattias had asked me again if I wanted to play.
“I won’t be very good. I don’t know. Maybe?” shuffle, shuffle, mumble, mumble I replied.
“You can let me know nearer the time.” he said.
The months went by and I watched as bands got added to the rosta and I thought “If I just keep quiet I can just go to the festival and watch. I’ll stand in the dark in the crowd and be anonymous”
“Have you thought anymore about playing?” Mattias asked. Honestly, I really didn’t deserve such patience.
“umm… yes I think I want to. umm I’m not sure… When do I have to let you know by” And in that awkward sentence I realised how much I wanted to be brave enough to play.
Two weeks before I was due to fly out I spoke to Mattias again.
“ok I’ll do it.”
My heart was racing just at the idea of getting up on stage on my own. I felt dizzy when my name was added to the bill. I felt sick just looking at my guitar. What on earth was I thinking?
I don’t know if it is really possible to fall in love with a country or a place but that is the only way I can describe how I felt when I visited Stockholm for the first time a year ago. Something about the water and the light and the people made me feel like a taller more confident better version of me. Returning this summer felt like visiting an old friend. My fears about playing grew smaller just being there.
The festival wasn’t at all what I was expecting which is probably because I don’t have the imagination to conjure up anything quite so lovely. The gig was at a small yellow house near to a lake which I was reliably informed was an old punk venue.
I played quite early on. I can’t tell you a great deal about it. I kept my eyes shut pretty much the whole time. I shook a good deal. I came off stage in a daze unable to talk. Friends hugged me. Kind people told me they’d enjoyed my set. People poured wine for me and made room for me on their blanket.
And then slowly but surely realised I’d really done it and I could no longer think of myself as a person who couldn’t possibly play their songs live.
Later there was a bonfire, and people swam by moonlight, and we listened to a trumpet in the darkness as a bubble of happiness exploded inside of me.
I am really glad I listened to everyone who said that I should play. I can’t imagine it would have been possible to get a nicer more understanding audience anywhere else in the world. And I just can’t get over how lucky I was to play my first gig in such a beautiful place to such lovely people.
So now that I’m person who plays their songs live I plan to continue to doing this more often. The last couple of months I have been playing at some Open Mic nights and I hope to play some shows early next year. I’m not quite ready to cross “being on stage” from my list of fears but I it certainly lower down the list than it was.
PS If anyone has a show they would like me to play at I promise not to be as indecisive as I was with Mattias.
I am starting to think about what Blackberry Wine will do next. Here are some of the ideas that I have had. They are not the finished songs, or even the songs I will use on my next release but they do give some idea of where I’m heading:
The musical element of Blackberry Wine has been on hiatus for approximately 7 months because approximately 7 months ago my computer died. Although I replaced it with a lovely red laptop, the laptop was too modern and forward thinking my recording software etc and mixing desks and microphones sat around gathering dust. I thought about all the ways I could solve my recording problems but in the end decided to borrow a clunky old computer and mimic the recording setup that had served me so well on previous occasions.
Sometime last year I wrote on my MySpace page that I would be releasing an album about lovelorn sailors, stubborn old men and awkward customers early next year. Now we are in May which I’m sure you’ll agree is not really early in the year in fact it is more the middle of the year and I still haven’t released that album. This is maybe good because visitors to my MySpace page will start to think I mean 2010 which could well be the actual release date of that album.
I could tell you some lies about how I have been deeply engrossed in the whole mixing, mastering and finalising songs process but the truth is I have just been a bit swamped by other things for the last few months and just haven’t got around to finishing the thing.
However, to make up for my slackness I have decided to release a free download single. It contains two songs:
1) Life’s too Short (and if you don’t guess after hearing it – that’s the one about the awkward customers)
2) How Spring Conquered Winter (which will not be on the album)
You can download the single including artwork in one handy zip file here:
“How Spring Conquered Winter” is a song I wrote for a competition called “Science and Song”. The people organising the competition gave away some sound clips (like people playing ping pong or birds sings) and said turn these noises into music. I had great fun making it. If you would like to vote for my entry you can do so here:
(there are 4 days left I think)
And if you would just like to hear what other people did with the noises you can hear that here:
If I make it into the top 10 I will win a CD with a whole load more bleepy-clicky-pingy-pongy noises on it and that would be great!
Happy Thanksgiving Americans! It wasn’t Thanksgiving here today. It was just a normal day. I think we could do with a holiday in October/November in the UK though. If anyone reading this is involved in running the country perhaps you could give it some thought. I’d really appreciate it.
Anyway, I just thought I’d let you know that Series Two Records have released a Local Heroes/Blackberry Wine split CD. It is called “Museums For Memories” and contains 8 songs.
|The tracklisting is:1. Circle Line,
2. Yellow Streets,
3. I Talk To You,
4. How We Got By,
5. Grasshopper Wings (told by Phil Reynolds and Dan Ankers),
6. You Look To Me,
7. Lock Of Hair,
8. Lucy (told by Gordon McIntyre)
And if you have money to spend you can buy it here:
And if you don’t have money I’ll be putting some of the songs up on our MySpace pages over the next few days so you’ll be able to listen for free.
Hope everyone is safe and well,