February 2019

February has had sunshine and it has had snow. It doesn’t seem to know what’s going on. It also went by really quickly!

February started with a trip to see the Transatlantic Sessions at the Barbican, my friend Helen had a last minute spare ticket which she kindly gave to me! The sessions are a mixture of artists from both the USA and the UK. Molly Tuttle was the standout for me. I hadn’t heard her before so it was such a nice, inspiring discovery.

February also saw my first proper gig of the year out playing at Dan’s The Punch House Open Mic in Ware. It was a really lovely evening, filled with good music and good friends. This is my favourite snap from the night – we are right in the middle of singing Didi’s “F**K off” song 🙂
Thanks to Tony Birch for capturing the moment

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February was also the month that saw my car go in for an MOT nnngh!, Lots of continued rehearsals with Said the Maiden (which reminds me I should post another Vlog!) and more ballet classes  (my New Year/New thing)

A standout weekend was the opportunity to travel to Southport to play at Love Folk Festival (Thanks to Neil and all at Fatea for that great opportunity) I got to stop off in Chester on the way and walk the ancient city walls, there was time in southport for chips at the end of the pier and then I went to Liverpool for some touristing – including my first trip to The Cavern Club! 🙂 Stopped off to see Granpa on the way home. Was a lovely weekend.
Thanks again go to Mr Tony Birch for capturing this snap from my set at Love Folk

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I also saw The Stables who were, as usual, super playing some older material I had never heard before as well as stuff from the latest album, I roller skated lots, saw friends, went for lunch and ate too much falafel with Helen, Emma and Marian from the library, took my niece shopping and drank coffee in the LP cafe with my dear old friend Sophie

Another highlight was I had my first Josie Dear event. I had run a campaign to raise money to get musicians in to prisons and the first event was in recognition of LGBT+ History month. I bought Miri along for performances and a Q&A. We visited two prisons in one day and both sessions went well. I think Miri made a really great impact. Here is one of my favorite bits of feedback from the day.  It is a little blurry so it says..

“Would you like to see more LGBT events happening here?”

“Yes without doubt as it felt like I had a normal life again”

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I am really pleased with the artists and events I have been able to line up with the funds that were raised and hope I’d be able to perhaps springboard the successes for his small campaign to go for some bigger funding in the future.

I have also been demoing my Football Ep as I go in to the studio at the end of March to start recording. I have been painting my kitchen which we started doing a makeover on in January – I sort of had this idea I would do a room a month as part of a New year overhaul but we are sneaking in to March now and I am still on the first room but nevermind. I have also been busy trying to introduce two new cats in to a house which already has a rabbit and a cat in it!! I know! It is going ok. Kind of.!

February 2019

January 2019

I stopped blogging so much, mostly because I started vlogging instead. However I really like having a blog I can look back on. I printed out my first year of blogs and put them in my memory box. I quite like the idea of being able to do that – it is even nicer if people do read and engage with the posts – so thank you so much if you are reading this.

So, I have made a few New Year’s Resolutions and one of them is to monthly blog. So here I am January 31st getting the first month down.

January started really well, surrounded by good friends at a small house party we welcomed in the New Year. I always make resolutions and find January has a nice “blank canvas” feel to it. I make a lot more resolutions than I keep but that’s by the by.

My first week of 2019 was full up with Music Technology teaching, the teacher I Job Share with had extended his time off over the Christmas/New year break so I got to take the class for a whole week for the first time. They were a new group as well and there was a *lot* of stumbling blocks and paperwork to unravel but I think I managed it. They are a really nice, and talented, group of guys so I am looking forward to working with them over the next few months.
I am doing a lot of learning on the job for this role and currently studying the Level 2 music tech course myself. It is quite nice to be learning alongside the men who come to the sessions, I am going in voluntarily a lot to try and learn as much as I can.

January 6th was my Nephew’s 13th Birthday! It is crazy he is now in to his teenage years! img_0382

I did the New Year thing of getting to the gym a lot more and I am hoping to keep this up. I am part of a Roller Derby league and have some fitness goals I really want to achieve this year. I also took up a Ballet Course which I am really enjoying. I hope it will help with my balance for Roller Derby! I am also really enjoying the music – we get to dance to ‘proper ballet music’ and it is all a lot harder than the ballerinas make it look.
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I was also pretty pleased to be invited along to play at a lovely event at Watford Museum where I got to sing love songs for two hours straight surrounded by beautiful artwork! The exhibition is still showing, if you are near Watford I highly recommend it.
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One of my favourite bits of January was working on a secret recording project which I can’t share right now but I have made a vlog all about it to share in due course 🙂

I also decided to set up my own charity.  It is in memory of my Grandma and I hope to run different campaigns and fundraisers to help spread a little joy now and then. The first fundraiser was to get more musicians in to prison settings. So many generous people donated and I am pleased to say I have already spent some of their money booking wonderful events – first one next month so I am sure to write about it in my next blog.
The fundraiser is still live if you would like to get involved/find out more at this link Josie Dear

I also ventured to my first Labour Women’s meeting. Another New Years resolution is to get more politically pro-active. They were a really nice group of people doing some great projects and I am going to be involved in their International Women’s Day celebrations in March which I am excited for.

I also got involved in a Street performance. Sue Hampton has written a short play about Climate change. I helped to put together a choir to sing the Extinction Rebellion song at the beginning and ending of the play. It was a great experience and I think the choir will be meeting again in the future to do more so watch this space.

Um another thing was I have set up this Creative Admin Club – we haven’t had our first meeting yet. It was inspired by a talk at the From Me to You conference. I plan on getting my creative friends together once a month to try and get some of our admin done – whatever that may look like – claiming PRS, emailing back clients, writing a blog?!, all those onliney things that can really help to spread your music, art, photography etc. to a wider audience but that you sometimes don’t do because you don’t find the time or you aren’t too sure – if you’re reading this, based near Hemel Hempstead and you maybe wanna join then give me a shout.

There’s been some other really lovely things happen but I am about to go and have a little glass of wine and a rest..it’s been a busy week and as the last day of January I think I can break my dry January right? But if you got this far – thanks for reading, please write back to tell me what you are up to, or link me to your blog if you have one.

 

Hope to see you sometime soon for a cup of tea or at a gig 🙂 x

 

January 2019

We want beans not goals

 

Spring should almost be springing (although I write this on a chilly Saturday, having had a radio show appearance cancelled due to snowy weather!) but spring is *almost* springing and with that comes plenty of lovely gigs. I have had a few magical ones to start the year already and am keen to get more. I have some lovely local ones and some really not local at all, need to take a plane to ones. I have some collaborative shows in the pipeline too and I am really excited to get things sorted so I can start promoting and badgering you to get a ticket and come along.

But in the meantime….

As some of you know (and i am guessing if you are a reader of my blog you may be one of those people) one of the projects I have up my sleeve is to release a record of Football songs – I am at the stage with that where it may  not seem like it’s happening, but it is. I am taking any opportunity – such as this weeks snowed in days off work to keep up the research and start nailing down the songs I want to rework/create/cover/pay tribute to on this record. I am SO excited about some of the ones I have discovered.

So here is a little update on things that are circling my head about this at the moment. 

 

Why do I want to do this? Well I am super fascinated with the oral tradition of folk tale – I did a whole masters degree in it – I am keen on that idea that some stories are somehow innate to us, I can’t remember being told Little Red Riding Hood, but I know it – maybe not the same version as you, but I know it, I love the way we twist them and change them and continue to share them and nobody takes credit for the original.  I like that the way we choose to talk about/kill off/forgive the wolf can say a lot about our society or us individually.

I’ve been increasingly more interested in Slave/Worker songs, I love to hear people reworking them in folk clubs, although ever growing in popularity it does still feel to me that these sort of musical moments are a niche, unique and special thing, sung by and listened to by, people who actively choose to engage in music and the tradition of shared stories through song.

Football Chants  seem to me to be one of the lasting oral traditions of our time that are not sought out by local historians or musicians but are sung almost religiously on the weekends by hundreds of thousands of people who do not consider themselves ‘folkys’ ‘musicians’ ‘social commentators’

If you know a football fan who attends matches, who says they aren’t into folk music, perhaps start singing the Wild Rover or something similar at them – I bet they’ll know how to join in. They aren’t likely to be singing the same lyrics. It’s much like Little Red Riding Hood in that way !

So football chants are pretty much designed to encourage your team on to a win, or discredit and distract the opposing team! Some of them are mean, angry, offensive, some of them are encouraging, social commentary, heartfelt, proud – just like the people who sing them-they have their light and their dark.  But where there is hate there is often social commentary – for example, the line of a chant
“I’d hate to be a Scouse, eating rats in a council house”

is pretty offensive – but a quick google search of poverty in liverpool in the early 90s and it gets you to realising that perhaps even these chants have something honest to say about our history in the UK.  I don’t know? but it’s something that interests me.

You’ll hear things you instantly recognise but wont necessarily know why. My favourite to hear is “Oh when the Saints Go Marching in” because it is a song I have heard my Grandad play and sing, and also a song my mum occasionally sings around the house.

There is something about familiar lyrics or even just melodies that feel like home. And I think when a lot of people all start singing something you instantly recognise then that feels really magical to me. I feel a surge of energy and excitement – much more than I do when any goal is scored! – The songs aren’t spontaneously written on the spot but they sort of feel it, they feel like we all know them by heart just like we know how to breathe! This is my favourite part of a live game,  I am perhaps a football fan for all the wrong reasons. I recall similar feelings when I have been in church and everyone sings together. I honestly think if we all stand on a picket line and sing with all our hearts we could change the whole world. 

In my ‘research’ so far, it has been hard to pin down who ‘owns’ a particular football chant or where they have originally come from. They beg and borrow from every genre known, from call and response work songs, hymns, pop, rock, music hall, nursery rhyme – it is all there. Many players have received the Seven Nation Army Treatment way before it became the unofficial anthem for Jeremy Corbyn.

Teams will happily take a chant from other fans if a player with a decent chant transfers to them – it is often just a case of singing a new colour, someone can easily be “Born to be Blue” one season and then “Born to be Red” another!
Club specific songs are hard to pin down – I have already had some great conversations with people who insist that a chant is “theirs” rather than someone elses – seems every single manager has at some point in their career had an “army” that was “barmy”

So far my conversations with Fans/Chanters have been casual but as part of this project I would like to document that too somehow? Maybe some vlogs?

Of course some of the chants are more complete songs you’d know and weren’t necessarily written with the team in mind but they nevertheless belong to that team and there is a football chanters unwritten code that you wouldn’t take it – I guess Liverpool’s ‘You’ll never walk alone’ would be the obvious example of that

It is SUCH an interesting ‘genre’ / way of sharing music with it’s own sort of unwritten rules, ways of being, crediting, sharing, performing. I am obsessed with it! 🙂

 

So I am working on ideas, plans, schemes to put a record together. I want to work with other people, hear from other people, create something wonderful as a tribute to my new favourite genre of what I see as some of the last standing oral tradition we have.
So please get in touch if you want to be involved in some way/any way or have any advice or guidance.

 

And yes, everybody has already recommended I do the John Barnes rap! 

 

We want beans not goals

Germany and Luxembourg October 2017

I say to people “this tour has really snuck up on me. Where does the time go?” But that’s not entirely true. I’ve been all to aware that this tour was just around the corner and that I hadn’t really finalised plans and sorted things out for it. Somewhere between starting a new job, planning an album launch and all the other usual life things I was just running out of time. But I made it! Rushing around like a mad person last minute to get my guitar set up, pants packed and some rehearsals for the gigs done. I arrived at Zoe Konez’s place in London late on Monday night. I’m already 20 minutes late. She’s running later and zips round the corner on her scooter. Some instructions around where the bathroom is and which cat can’t be let out and then we sleep.

An early start to head to Germany awaits and we are both already tired! The comfiest nights sleep at Zoe’s house is followed by a smooth drive to Folkestone to meet Will and then we are on the train and headed on our adventure! -after picking up some snacks in the misleadingly named “99p max” Store.

First gig was for sound garden concerts. It was a great experience. I love

House concerts. I love the whole concept and old fashioned community feel of them.

Our host has made pumpkin soup and it is so wonderful! I feel like any attempts the germs have been making to attack me for this tour have been put in their place by this soup. Followed by a small glass of Mirabelle from the Black Forest.

It was lovely to meet everyone that night! We had such a great time, there were people from all over the place (Netherlands, USA) and of course the wonderful and supportive Ralf who did a 150km round trip to come and see me! Thank you!!!

Before leaving Duisburg we have a look at the Turtle and tiger sculpture 🙂

On to Cowhide concert! A place I’ve visited twice before and am so excited to get back to. The usual warm welcome from Dietmar, Karin and their family greets us.

We learn they’ve had quite a tricky time lately, many people may have thought to cancel but not these two. House concerts is what they do and they do it so well.

It’s always such a pleasure to be in their company. I hope to be back

One day soon

the adventures continued and it was probably one of my favourite tours! Düsseldorf via koblenz, a stop off with the Polizei, dinner in the amazing Soul food, lucky cents being given to us at a gig some exploring of Düsseldorf.

We then headed to a gig at Spirit of music, a one night stop and only a few hours to explore but this was my first trip to Luxembourg and it was so so beautiful. Maybe I can go back one day and explore a little more 🙂

Then a trip to cafe lichtung in Cologne with a wonderful audience who made us not want to leave, I’m sure we will be back again soon.

Such a lovely time with Zoe and Will. Until the next tour 🙂 xx

Germany and Luxembourg October 2017

August 2017 

My blogging hasn’t been as on it as 2016! Due to mixture of being too busy with the stuff to write about the stuff but also not having wifi at home, or my own pc or laptop. You get an hour a day free wifi in my local library and I can use the laptop and my parents place and my wonderful friend DiDi lent me her old gaming laptop for a while but generally I’ve struggled a bit to keep up with emails and blogs and things which aren’t just in a handy little app. 

I was feeling pretty excited about getting a new computer as I’d managed to save a bit of money but then I’m leaving work on Monday evening, the brakes lock on my car, one trip to the garage later and all my savings are gone! 

Back to square one! 
So this months blog is another vlog made on a handy phone app! 
Hope you enjoy it!!!

Here be the link…..

Studio vlog!

August 2017 

F is for Football


“You’ve got time” 

“Don’t panic”

“Take your time” 

“Trust your feet”


Lessons for (football) life that were told to me by women who helped me to see the (flood)lights in the dark.

 

 

 
Primary School 

Football, in primary school, was an everybody thing. And it was mostly played out in PE sessions with a big yellow squidgy foam ball and seemed like fun.

Football in the playground however was already dominated by the boys -myself and the other girls were fully engaged in playing “horses” – this basically involved pretending to ride around on an imaginary horse?!

So yeh, I guess football was a “guy thing” even then, but we did play some football and we collected panini stickers and several of us had our own football…though mine was purple with a smiley face on it and smelt of grapes!

We already had popular kids even at that age,  and they were made up of the boy who was best at football (James) and his “girlfriend” at the time (Carly) I mean with hindsight it feels a shame that at a young age we sort of chose the popular girls based on the fact they were dating a “cool” guy – but outside of this she just was actually really quite cool and funny and would get a colourful hair braid over the summer holidays and had a great house we could all go and play in and she’s remained “cool” in to grown up life, so she’d still win any popularity contest in my eyes. She’s a thoroughly good human. We chose a good one to look up to.
(With regard to primary school dating I didn’t “date” until secondary school and depending on how you “validate” these things I can’t really say I had a “proper” boyfriend until AFTER I left university!! Slow burner! Anyways, moving on…)

So in primary school, football existed for us all but for whatever reason it didn’t dawn on my friendship group of girls to play it in the same way the boys did. We’d go to Evergreen Football club on Friday nights when we were in year 6/7 somewhere in that summer transition between primary and secondary school. We’d hang about hoping to talk to one of the boys who played there? (I mean, again, not really me. I was there. I was aware that I felt funny emotions when I saw James’ older brother in a football kit, but essentially at this stage I was still riding imaginary horses and playing with Sylvianian families….but don’t worry Christmas of that year I get my first guitar and start to get a little Cooler) now Evergreen must have had a ladies team back then? They certainly have one now (actually I hear they have two?!) but I don’t remember seeing them? Or ever really meeting girls who played or being asked if we wanted to play.
I can’t  quite recall how old I was but my parents took me to my first football game. I can’t even remember the teams but our family friend John was playing.

It was exciting

It was noisy

There were snacks

I felt part of something

It took a long time to get started

I was wiggly

I was moany

It started

It was exciting

John unfortunately went for a header at the same time as another player and came off…in a stretcher if I remember right?! It was all rather traumatic!

We hated the other player

We were united in our desire to see him lose.

That was fun

We chanted louder for John’s team because he’d been injured and couldn’t play so surely it was only fair they’d win?

But they were losing

We chanted louder

They weren’t actually as good as the other team

We chanted louder.

Nothing feels sweeter than a goal by a team you have started to think won’t do a goal.

We chanted even louder.
I discovered that day. My desire to always support the underdog. That hasn’t gone away yet.
As a kid I did sit next to my Dad on the sofa and watch football occasionally. I found it slightly less mind numbing than watching the F1 with him.

I was there just to be near him and bug him probably, Almost everyone I’ve asked cites “watching football with Dad” as the reason they love football, but watching sports on telly with my Dad was rare and doesn’t really form a part of my football relationship – he rarely watched sport or anything on the telly. My Dad, in my memory, was either at work or playing with us. He was constantly playing with us. Building go karts, spray painting bmxs, taking us to building sites to play in the “trenches” (foundations) – and other such parenting activities that were allowed in the 80s and 90s that probably seem really unsafe now. He was (and still is) the best, so nope I don’t have many memories of watching football with my Dad because he was far too busy being my Dad for any of that stuff 🙂

Secondary school

We weren’t allowed to kick footballs about at school. I guess maybe they would be more likely to break a window?

But the boys (and it was mostly boys) of Kings Langley secondary school weren’t to be disheartened or discouraged by this rule so they used to play football every morning and break time with a tennis ball.

They played right across the main “quad” which, wherever you were coming from or going to, you had to pass at some point. It was a gauntlet of fear -I am not sure if you’ve ever been hit full whack on the back of the legs by a tennis ball kicked full pelt by a year 9 boy but it hurts! But accidents like these would happen with the tennis balls.

Accidents happen.

They seem to happen more often to unpopular annoying kids who wear nirvana tshirts and spend their breaks in the music department? Funny that?!
There was one guy, used to trap the tennis ball under his foot, give you a little nod of reassurance and keep it trapped until you safely crossed. Possibly he was my first crush. Possibly he has no recollection of doing that. From some detective work (Facebook stalking) I think he’s a happily married police officer now. I don’t think he plays anymore, not even 5 a side, but Facebook can’t tell you everything can it? So I like to think he still has a kick about and is the kind of gent who makes sure he doesn’t kick a ball at someone?! any way I digress. Again!

 
The girls don’t do football in PE .

The boys don’t do netball.

The girls don’t do cricket.

The boys don’t do hockey.

It’s weird isn’t it?

We ALL do cross country – but in reality only a handful of the good and sporty kids do that -the rest of them go smoke in the woods for a bit and then headback to school pretending they just did the run – this kind of cool rebellion was beyond me and I actually ran it with my other band camp mates!
Schools weird isn’t it!? But also great at the same time.

Anyways. Football becomes the realm of a thing my brother does and also starts to represent a lot of things I think of as rubbish, corrupt and sexist – well done several premier league players of the 90s and 00s for making the beautiful game so utterly unappealing to young women! And there seemingly ends my interest in football.
School goes on. I live without football.
Life, friends weddings, university, nephews and nieces are born, travel, laughter, tears. All these things happen without football. It rears its head occasionally, after all World cup bets and celebrations are for everyone to get excited about right? My brothers still rolling home muddy or watching a game as I roll my eyes with the age old

“I could get that ball in the back of the net for the amount of money he is on”
( little do I know at this point that I couldn’t have been more wrong! One day I discover that I couldn’t get a ball in the back of the net if i joined a five aside league that was so badly attended you actually played rush goalie and one of the four women on the other team has never played football before -but cocky me of the past thinks it looks quite easy this football malarkey)
So yeh. I had a life without football in it.
Fast forward a bit
My friend Holly asks me to sing at Watford ladies as the half time entertainment. I’ve never been to see them play and that strikes me as weird, I mean at this stage I’m not even a football fan but I’ve seen watford men’s team twice? Why is that? Why haven’t I seen the ladies?

Anyways I’m excited! that’s a cool ground to play on!

Oh, they don’t play on that ground?

Of course they don’t?

They’re “just” the women’s team?

Clearly, I have a lot to learn.
It turns out to be the best afternoon I have had in a while. I’m inspired and excited and totally addicted to this game now. I start paying attention to football.

I slowly begin to see all the good bits about it that I hadn’t appreciate before. To the blindingly in my face obvious link between the game and music which never really crossed my mind before.

The addiction isn’t too strong at this point. I take a vague interest. I see two more Watford ladies games. Cos it’s close. Cos it’s cheap.Cos my boyfriend is away for four months and my grown up friends have lives. So I end up back at Watford ladies. Something to do.
My long term relationship starts to end. Before it finally does I actually googled “how to save your relationship”

One of the suggestions was “alphabet dating” basically it’s attempting to go on a series of dates with your partner but each has to begin with the letter of the  alphabet, the idea being it’ll help you try new things, rekindle the romance, that sort of thing and so we began….
A was for Aeroplanes and as he was a solider a trip to the RAF Museum was actually something he would like to do…super information gathering geek that he was it was like having a private tour of the museum with the curator themselves. We had fun on those dates. He liked them. But he stopped liking me.

So it was only five letters in to the alphabet that I was left with tickets to something he would never come to.

… and that’s where it really begins.
Because as you may have guessed .…F was for football. 
I’m not sure what he would have made of an arsenal game but I loved it. And back on google again this time with “how to get over a broken heart” it advised me to take up a new sport. Feeling inspired by arsenal ladies I found a local team that would be willing to take a fully grown, penguin footed, heartbroken, music geek and let them join them. The first team I try -Bedmond- welcome me. They, without knowing it, help build me back to something that resembles the me before he left. They are my floodlights in the dark and it isn’t until that team dispands and I try out for others and start playing 5 aside that I truly appreciate the chances of finding a team like that was actually unbelievably rare – don’t get me wrong, women’s football has the same ever lasting friendship bonds as any five a side or Sunday league or any sport at all for that matter- but these guys were something special. One player in particular – and she knows who she is – met me on those cold nights with supportive inappropriate banter that brought me back to life.

She talked to me the whole time we played, she passed me the ball, she encouraged me, she remembered to invite me to the Christmas meal.
She definitely knew something was amiss. She didn’t know what exactly but she must have just thought to herself. You don’t just all of a sudden discover football as a fully grown adult – this weird folk musician is here because she’s not quite sure where else to go!?

Either she thought that or she saw some sort of excellent potential in my future career as a right back and wanted to nurture it?!

I mean, it’s possible!?

So I’m kind of ending this story of my love of football where it began, and I’ll probably update one day from that moment to this current one where I’m planning a football EP but for now this blog is a long way of saying…..
I fell in love with football

For the simple reason that

F was for football.

And I doubt anyone would have but if you’d kept a keen eye on my life for the last couple of years you’d have maybe noticed a growing collection of seemingly random experiences….they aren’t so random if you put them in order and look at their first letter.

How to get over a broken heart?

Carry on dating yourself….all the way to Z xxx

F is for Football

January 2017

This year couldn’t have started better. The first week I headed off to Cornwall to record with The Company of Players.  We were at Cube Recording  and had just under a week to get our debut album together.
It was such a great experience. My admiration for the other band members again rose, my own knowledge of  the recording  process grew, and I can’t tell you how great the songs are sounding and how incredibly proud of this record I feel – and it wasn’t even finished when I left.

Couldn’t fit all my thoughts about it in one blog but some of the things I wanted to chat about in my blog/ things I have learnt this week…

The Studio
This maybe sounds pretentious and high maintenance but a big % of making a great record is about feeling great when you go in to the studio, about that being the only thing you have to think about. I have had some great recording experiences but I have never had the luxury of being able to hire a studio and live on site for consecutive days. My recordings have always been about when I can afford to get in the studio – often a spread out process that involves working lots of hours to save the money and then finding snippets of studio time to try and get in and get stuff down. My last album was a great experience but it was also a substantial amount of time on the M25 in rush hour, taking that out of the equation and replacing it with waking up in a beautiful cottage, eating, showering in the nicest shower ever, throwing on some comfy pyjama-like clothes and walking a few feet over to the studio was just wonderful.

Recording over a few days in the studio without having to run off to do something, or have the producer have to finish up for another client at some point was a great process. It felt like a musical retreat that I came away from feeling all zenlike 🙂

The Studio itself was out of this world. The Microphone I sang in to was worth more than my car, guitars and other worldly goods put together (although not quite as much as my house!) It managed to record my voice perfectly with a really lovely up close sound but somehow didn’t pick up all those weird lip movements and over breathiness that you often get when you try to get such a close recording (although this may have something also to do with Sam and Ross who were driving the good ship that was the studio – I’ll get on to them later)

The set up with little sound-proof booths meant that we could all track songs together live but there wasn’t the pressure of thinking “Gah if I mess up I mess up everyone’s take” because we were all being recorded separately. As a 10 piece band this was so important to us to get the live feel as a big part of our record – oh and as a 10 piece band it was kind of important we could track more than one instrument at a time or we may have been there for quite some time!
So this was one of the best things about Cube but not only do the booths allow you to track “alone with the band” (best of both worlds) they also have clear double sided doors in them so that you can SEE your band members. I am the queen of visual cues and really like to be able to “jam” with my band members – the set up for this is perfect, you get the feeling this place was designed by a musician or someone who has been around musicians their whole life. It is no exaggeration to say that this studio is perfect. They’ve thought of everything.
There’s space to practice, to drink tea, there’s headsets which allow you to control your own guide track separately to anybody elses,  you can control the level of your own backing track throughout a take – I didn’t even know that was something I wanted in this life – but it is 🙂

The People

You probably know how I feel about the other 9 members of the band so here I shall just wibble on a bit about the people who helped record our Album.

Gareth – Gareth owns Cube Recordings. He designed it and made it what it is. The studio has some pretty impressive clients and achievements. It is fair to say he is kind of a big deal. He is also really down to earth, goofy looking in photos, welcoming, funny, friendly and has a magical way of making you feel like you’ve known him for years and you should instantly make yourself really comfortable in his studio.

Ross – Ross was our engineer for the week. He too had a really good way of making you feel like you’d known him ages, for that week he kind of became a band member and I will miss him not being part of our shenanigans. He was funny and sarcastic and enjoyed an unhealthy snack – all good traits of a Company of Players band member. He is also really really talented. I am not good with ages but looking at how comfortable he is as an engineer, as if he’s had years of experience, and just listening to him talk about his life experiences so far, I can only assume he is somewhere in the region of 108? or perhaps he is in his twenties and is just one of life’s over achievers? either way we were lucky to have his skill and his personality with us for the week.

Sam – Sam. Sam Kelly. Sam F**ing Kelly. I don’t. I can’t. I struggle to sincerely put in to words my admiration for Sam after this week.  Sam is seemingly the most effortlessly talented musician you will ever meet, see, hear. Good sounds and songs seem to just flow from him in an almost annoying way.  He once played a Company of Players gig a little worse for ware. Before we went on stage I honestly have to say in my mind I was like “Can he do this?” but being a musician is as easy to Sam as breathing and he didn’t miss a beat. He is magical to watch and to listen to. He is a dream to play with. He is also a wonderful band mate who makes room for everybody.
Sam is producing the Company of Players album. Having seen him work this week I was blown away. Having seen him put in hours upon hours to support everyone to get their best performance, keep everyone happy, pay acute attention to the same track even after listening to it for the 800th time. He never once waned in his enthusiasm. He is so passionate about music and so wants to get this album right. I think he should be really proud of it. We all contribute so much to this band but I think we all left feeling like we owe a great debt to Sam for making this album come together. He’s as humble as he is talented so I will tell you how much work he did on this because I doubt he ever will.Actually he is still their now as I type this. We have all left but Sam’s there (with his beers left by thoughtful members of Said the Maiden) he’s there crafting all our takes into something wonderful. Music is as easy to Sam as breathing. But I don’t know anybody who works harder at helping other people to be their best and at finding ways of sharing that music with other people. I feel lucky to have worked on this project with him. I will remember it for a long time. I am a better musician for it. Thanks Sam, you big melon head 🙂 x

 

The Magic Moment

There was so much laughter and many memorable moments of the week. The Company of Players are a wonderful group of humans and I can Wax Lyrical about them forever but to save this blog from becoming even longer than it needs to be I will just tell you about one moment.

Kelly Oliver was laying her vocal track. It was quite late in the evening by this point so watching from the control room all I could see from the lamp light she had on in the booth was her hand. Her face was in darkness but I could see her hand as she waved it up and down following the melody of the words she was singing. She did several takes – although she could have used the first with no editing if she had wanted to – and each time she sang I actually didn’t even breathe. Maybe this sounds really over the top but I felt in that moment I was probably in the presence of somebody who is likely one of the  best folk musicians of our time and one day  I would be telling my Grandchildren how I sat on the floor of a control room, hot lemon in a mug, spellbound and mesmerised by her. And I imagine my Grandchildren would be crazy impressed because they probably have her poster on their wall and her records on CD – because my Grandchildren listen to CDs in an ironic retro way?!

I think we made a little bit of folk history. I am really proud of my part in it. I can not. Can not wait to share it with everyone 🙂 x

January 2017

Final blog of 2016 

My final blog of 2016 is a rough draft of a poem I sat and wrote this morning after my favourite superhero had visited me 🙂

Spending the morning with a superhero

6 months pregnant. She squats to the floor to be three year old height and plays the same imaginary game she’s played a zillion times. 

She doesn’t roll her eyes, or say “not now” or explain it’s hard for mummy to keep getting up and down. 

She asks about my day, my family, my job. We talk about New Years resolutions (because bringing a human life into the world isn’t enough) 

I ask her what it feels like when baby moves. Is it like being on a roller coaster? Does the whole world shake?
Yeh, it is actually, it’s just like that and it keeps me wide awake. 
And I wouldn’t have known. Because she never says and it never really shows. 

And I love playing with this one who has my superheroes face. But sometimes with a certain look that man is in her place.

They met when we were still in school. we joked he was the love of her life.
Seems he really was, but we didn’t know that at the time.

And we navigate the “do not touch” “be careful” and “that’s not a toy” 
As they enter into my totally unsuitable world. 

Where pets can’t be squeezed too tight and baubles can’t be pulled
off of trees.
My superhero navigates this terrain. To spend some time with me
xxxxx

Final blog of 2016