to hear GF's recent appearance on Bob Harris's BBC R2 show
CLICK PLAY BELOW TO HEAR A 3 MIN TASTER OF THE FORTHCOMING ALBUM THEN CLICK ON 'AUDIO/VIDEO' TO HEAR AND SEE MORE!
In the middle of some great dates with The Blues Band currently so no time to hustle GF solo or GFB gigs thus not much to report in that regard. However the 'In solitary' album in particular seems to be selling reasonably well, perhaps in the light of some of the positive reviews it's received so my programme of world domination continues in a modest fashion!
Very much looking forward to playing the Great British Folk Festival in Skegness on sunday Dec 1st. Tom Leary who played with the GFB over the summer is joining me on stage for part of the set and we've got together a couple of times in the last few weeks to work up the songs for this. His violin playing fits really well on my stuff so it should be a good show.
I believe I actually played the first ever set (Fri lunchtime I think) at the GBFF's inaugural event in 2010 (or was it '11?) and the event survived that trauma!
I still struggle to see the real value in social media etc but nonetheless I do manage to get around to posting sometimes on my Facebook page - more frequently than here in fact. At least Facebook does offer the opportunity to respond so always happy to reply to any comments etc. My Twitter usage however is very infrequent so apologies to anyone who's 'following' me expecting regular tweets.
Only other thing to mention is to get your tickets quick if you're planning on coming to the gig with Hughie Flint, Tom Leary, Alan Glen and myself at the Crooked Billet in Stoke Row - selling fast I believe!
The new albums - 'Giant From the Blue' and 'In Solitary' - available on download from iTunes and CD via this website - both got 4 star reviews by Maverick magazine. R2 magazine also gave GFtB a 4 star review whilst Blues Matters, Blues in the Northwest and various other online media have been generous in their comments re the albums.
The GFB gigs in July and August were fun to play though the July dates fell into the hottest week of the year so it was sweaty(!) work to audience numbers which would have benefited from cooler climes. Band was fantastic to play in front of - Tom Leary's violin adds new colour to the songs whilst Sam Kelly's drumming and Steve Simpson's guitar contributions were truly inspiring.
Jack did a first class job of conducting the stops and starts etc to the new guys as well as play his usual great bass lines.
Did quite a few radio sessions supporting the new CDs including the excellent Dave Raven's BFBS show recorded on his boat on the Thames - that was a treat!
Blew the cobwebs off of my race gear with a Formula Ford 1600 race on the Brands Hatch GP circuit in August and raced an Elise at Silverstone in September. BH was good fun but unfortunately the Elise blew its clutch to pieces after only 11 laps so end of play. Tried a BMW Production E30 one make series car last weekend and had a whale of a time - but crikey they're not an easy car to drive!
Off on the road with The Blues Band now until the first week of December - maybe see you there!
The GFB gig at Jagz in Ascot Sat July 13th has been cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control. Many apologies to those who had been planning to come.
The GFB 'Giant from the blue' album is now available for download from CD Baby at http://cdbaby.com/cd/garyfletcher.
My solo voice and guitar only album 'In solitary' is also available from CD Baby at http://cdbaby.com/cd/garyfletcher2
Both albums will also be available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc within the next couple of weeks or so.
CD copies of the 'Giant from the blue' album are available via the Shop page on this website.
The 'In solitary' CD will be also available via this site within the next day or two.
Another date is confirmed for the small run of gigs for the GFB in July - Jagz in Ascot on Saturday 13th July. The Ealing Blues Festival gig is confirmed for the afternoon of Sunday July 21st.
At last I've made some decent progress on getting the GFB 'Giant From the Blue' album released - the running order's been changed from the version that I had a few copies made to sell at the Skegness Rock and Blues Festival in 2011 plus there's new artwork for the 'digipak' package.
Also nearly ready for manufacture is my voice and guitar only album 'In Solitary' so after waiting ages for one, two albums are coming along at the same time!
In addition to all this album activity BGO Records have just released one of their '3 for 2' packages which features my first 3 'solo' albums - 'Feud of love' by The Relatives, 'The Official Gary Fletcher Bootleg Album' and 'Human Spirit'. It's available from their website http://www.bgo-records.com/albums/bgocd1029-feud-of-love-bootleg-album-human-spirit.
At last! Got my arse in gear and put some dates in for July. Unfortunately regular guitarist extraordinaire Steve Ling had to bale out of my gig at the Frome Festival on Fri 12th July so the very wonderful Steve Simpson (he of Slim Chance, Roger Chapman, Meal Ticket, Frankie Miller etc etc) has kindly agreed to step in and for continuity's sake will do the other shows that weekend too.
Steve features on my 'Human Spirit' album on guitar, mandolin and fiddle so I can't wait to hear him play my stuff live! Also joining me for one or two gigs is Tom Leary from Feast of Fiddles. Tom's an amazing fiddle player and has a great feel for the kind of bluesy tinge that some of my songs have. He also plays great lap steel and mandolin.
First up though is my date on Apr 24th back at Paul Clerhugh's foody heaven - The Crooked Billet at Stoke Row. For the first time in over 30 years I'll be playing with my old colleage and friend Hughie Flint! Original drummer with The Blues Band, Hughie will playing bhodran and percussion. Apart from The Blues Band his CV is positively epic - Alexis Korner, John Mayall with Eric Clapton, Ronnie Lane, McGuinness Flint etc.
Also featuring is one of the nations very finest harmonica players, Alan Glen. I first met Alan when he was with Nine Below Zero - they toured with The Blues Band back in the day - and am really looking forward to working with him.
Tom Leary is also joining us for the gig so it's going to be an exciting and very eclectic evening I think!
Steve Ling will hopefully back for the Ealing Blues Festival gig on the weekend of 20th/21st July. We played the festival about 3 years ago and had a terrific time - as did a very nice audience.
Ealing's own Bob Salmons organises the bill for the event and, as someone who's done more than most for his local music scene, always succeeds in getting a great bill together. A.k.a Robert Hokum he has a number of really interesting musical guises himself which are definitely worth checking out.
I'm looking to add one or two more dates shortly so hope to see you at a show in the not too distant future.
A very happy New Year to one and all - hope to see you at a Blues Band gig or one of my solo/GF Band/Afton Satellites/duo with Tom Leary etc gigs which I am now getting booked in - more news will follow.
Apologies for being 'off air' these past months! Music wise it's been all Blues Band this year 'til now. In real life I've been sorting out lots of boring stuff, sadly to the exclusion of my own solo and band gig bookings.
I have finished a solo guitar and voice only album 'In solitary' though I haven't sorted out releasing it yet, a state of affairs which also applies to the GFB's 'Giant From the Blue' album. Given the fact the record business as we knew and loved it(!?) has effectively ceased to exist I'm going to have to go down the self release route I guess, though exactly when I'll get that organised depends on getting some time freed up to do it properly.
That's the 'new' stuff but 3 of the 'old' stuff i.e. The Relatives 'Feud of love', 'The Official Gary Fletcher Bootleg Album' and 'Human Spirit' are set for re-release in the form of a '3 for 2' set on BGO Records. Andy at BGO reckons it'll be available before Christmas! Watch this space!
Despite 'resting' the solo and GFB live work I am involved in a project of Andy Billups - erstwhile of The Hamsters - called The Afton Satellites (the name's to do with Afton Down on the Isle of Wight where the massive 600,000 people festival took place in 1970 and Andy's solo album is entitled 'Afton Down'). Also inolved is Tom Leary on violin and lap steel (he plays with The Feast of Fiddles) and Ray Brown - ex of the Illegal Eagles and possessed of an amazing voice of the Don Henley variety.
We play the first gig in a couple of days time on Weds 24th Oct at The Half Moon Putney. It's basically an acoustic outfit and we tend to switch around instruments - I play guitar, slide, banjo , bass and sing and contrary to the normal view of the male species everyone multi tasks. We play some of my stuff, some of Andy's wonderful tunes, one or two beautiful instrumentals written and played by fiddle player extraordinaire Tom and a particularly lovely tune from Ray's pen called 'Where your heart goes'.
Hope to see some of you there!
Tonight is the last night of The Blues Band's German tour and we play Cuxhaven the northern coast. It's been seriously cold throughout the past 11 days of the trip and when we were down in Bavaria earlier in the trip it was down to minus 15'C, though apart from a tiny flurry we hadn't seen any snow whatsoever! In fact it had been bright sunshine pretty much throughout and, unsurprisingly, the German transport network seemed to cope very well with the freezing conditions.
However it seems that back in Blighty things are now even colder plus serious doses of snow have descended, apparently causing the usual disruption etc.
Belated best wishes for 2012!
I'm not very keen on hearing my own musical outpourings (always think I could have done this or that better etc) but back in November I was in the car and turned on BBC R2's Blues programme and I thought 'that's sounds pretty good, what's that?'. It was only after a couple of minutes of listening that I realised it was the GFB recorded live at the Colne Festival back in August and I'd completely forgotten that it was going to be broadcast! Of course once I realised it was me I started to find all sorts of faults!
November 12th we played a lunchtime show at the Carlisle Festival which was a lot of fun - great organisation and venue, terrific audience, superb sound crew and just generally a great vibe created by main man Nick Westgarth. The GFB played what arguably may have been our best set to date - I certainly enjoyed it and didn't feel that I or anyone else made any mistakes etc. The vocal monitors were awesome and made it seem so easy to sing and actually enjoy what was coming back at me!
I then had to dash over to Livingston in Scotland for BB gig that night and then on to Kinross the next day with the GFB to play a great venue - Backstage at the Green Hotel - run by one of music's good guys David Mundell, who always creates such a good atmosphere and looks after musicians so well. One day I might actually make him some money! There's no denying the crowd was thin but they were great to play too nonetheless. I guess the good God-fearing folk of Kinross stay at home on the Sabbath! He keeps booking me so I guess he must like what I do.
Off to Germany with the BB Feb 1st for a dozen or so gigs. I always like working in Germany and with the BB's new album now available we look forward to being able to provide our supporters with some long overdue new music!
When we get back there's 2 or 3 BB gigs then a couple of GF solo gigs which I'm really looking forward to - Weds 22nd Feb at the Square and Compass, nr Ilminster and Thurs 23rd at Otterton Mill, nr Exeter - details on my 'gigs' page. Although it can be a bit daunting I love playing on my own but it's a while since I played a solo set so I will definitely be putting some practice in! Should manage a couple of new songs too.
I've been having a bit of grief with my website recently and have had to change the 'gigs' page to a .pdf file rather than a normal .htm file. If you've already glazed over re the techy stuff fear not - as long as you have Adobe Reader on your computer/phone and most people do you'll be able to automatically read the page, no problem. I'm trying to figure out an update on the look of the site and have got a posh new programme to help which I haven't yet made hide nor hare(!?) of but will in due course hopefully.
Played through some tunes with a couple of guys earlier this week which might lead to a new project breaking cover in a few months time. They're both players currently in reasonably well known gigging bands but from slightly differing fields and the sound that we came up with is a little different to what you might expect from the individuals in question. I'm quite excited by the prospect - more on this later!
Gigs are quite tricky to put together at the moment - the arts centres have severe funding issues and other venues are really finding it tough but I have some dates on the boil, TBA, and if anyone out there is looking to add to their venue/club's programme do give me a shout!
Hope to see you further on down the road - as they say.
GFB plays Farnham Maltings Thurs 20th Oct and St Harmonica's in Southgate N London Fri 21st Oct. Rob Townsend will be in the drum seat for these gigs and it will be great to play my stuff with him again after his brilliant performance with us when we played the Maltings last time!
As I write this we're just about to rehearse(!) for these gigs so no excuses! Hope to see you there.
The continuing saga of pukka release date for the GFB 'Giant From the Blue' CD, err...... continues! So in the absence of decisions from the mighty I've had a quantity pressed up to supply those who have written in asking when it's going to available to buy and also to sell at the forthcoming gigs. I should have it available online from the 'shop' page on this website shortly.
Hot news in The Blues Band department is that the new album 'Few Short Lines' is being released within the next few weeks together with a new double CD 'Best of' collection. Repertoire Records are the label and they will be re-releasing the first two BB albums in the New Year too. Sleeve notes for the 'Best of' are being written by Chris Welch - one of the best music journos ever I think - I used to read all his stuff in Melody Maker etc!
Only the four upcoming GFB gigs and one solo show with Graham Robins at the High Barn in Essex Oct 27th but The Blues Band hits the road in November fairly intensively, the tour dates running into December too.
On the racing front had a lot of fun doing the recent Britcar 24hr race at Silverstone in a Civic Type R with three other great guys in the driving team, Malcolm Edeson, Bob Stockley and Nick Bowers. We did finish despite being hit twice by other cars doing idiotic things, once in the day and once at night! See www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7UFmh39cEs&feature=watch_response_rev and www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3j19ks_8Yk&feature=related. The car was run by the amazing Daniels Motorsport team who repaired all the damage and got us to the end. Also had some good races in Paul Jenkin's (engineer extraordinaire) historic (like the driver) Formula Ford 2000 at Brands Hatch.
Despite some difficult things to deal with this year I've actually managed to tick one or two of those 'must do' boxes such as the 24hr race and also I cycled to the coast which I've been meaning to do for years but never quite got around to! Only from Guildford to Shoreham admittedly but I did it and have got the sore arse to prove it!
Thank you to everyone who came to the GFB show at the mighty Colne
Festival on the Sunday of August bank holiday. It was a rather hectic
build up to showtime on the day as Jack wasn't feeling at all well in
the hour or two before playing. However as is so often the case he
surmounted his difficulties, girded his loins(!) and boarded the stage
and let the infamous Dr Footlights do his thing! Steve had been depping
for Boys Own(!) the previous night in Inverness and it was always a bit
'nip and tuck' to get him to Colne for our 3.30pm set on time via a
fairly convoluted travel plan involving flying to Luton and driving a
hire car up to Lancs. He made it with minutes to spare! By this time,
what with one thing and another, your correspondent was not in the most
relaxed frames of mind so when at the end of our show ace BBC producer
Paul Long gave me a CD of our set I felt that it was likely that we
might struggle to get a single track of broadcastable(!?) quality since,
at that point, I felt things hadn't gone as well as they might have
No time to ponder however as I had to relocate my guitars etc to the
acoustic stage for a 45 min solo set at 5.45pm! After still feeling
rather pumped up and somehat stressed still for the first couple of
tunes I did manage to relax and really enjoyed playing to an absolutely
fantastic listening audience! Thank you so much to all who were there -
you made my day and gave me a bit of faith that it is worthwhile
perservering and wading on against the tide of covers and X factor with
my own stuff!
The CD of the GFB gig actually turned out to be much, much better than I
had feared and confirmed to me how lucky I am to have such great
players working with me who can carry the day even in circumstances
where my stress levels were off the Richter scale!
I understand that 2 or possibly 3 tracks will played out on the Monday
night BBC R2 Blues programme on Nov 7th at 7pm.
Only 4 gigs for the GFB left in the book for 2012 so I'm looking for GFB
and solo gigs for 2012 in earnest now so if any club bookers etc are
reading this out there please do get in touch if you'd be interested in
me playing your venue/festival etc.
I haven't updated here for some time, the prinicpal reason being that my ex-wife Hilary Fletcher passed away on March 30th 2011 following a brief stay in hospital. The focus of our family on the ensuing arrangements and dealing with all the issues that need addressing in such circumstances has obviously taken priority over normal day to day matters.
Hil and I wrote a number of songs together including one or two on early Blues Band albums and made the 'Feud of Love' CD under the name of The Relatives in '97. She also wrote a number of plays and was a great amateur actress herself. In addition she wrote and had published a spoof cookery book 'Careless Cooking' under the nom de plume of Val Pollicella and a fantastic book of letters between a friend who went to work on the Kibbutz and herself in the character of a very middle class Mum in affluent Richmand/Teddington which, ironically, may well be published shortly.
Stop press - the BBC R2 GFB session recorded with Guy Barker joining us back in July '10 is being broadcast on PJ's Blues programme at 7 pm on Monday Apr 11th.
While on the subject of radio I'm doing a 'live to air' solo spot on BBC Cambridgeshire on Monday Mar 7th around 8.20 pm ........I think! The host is the excellent Sue Marchant and I think the programme goes out on other bordering BBC local stations at the same time.
Hopefully this will 'plug' a solo gig I'm doing at Cambridge Folk Club on Fri Mar 11th appearing with Graham Robins. We'll each being playing about an hour long set plus we may get together for a number at the end of the evening. I'm really looking forward to it - I love playing folk/acoustic clubs!
4 great gigs with The Blues Band in Scotland last week (stayed a night at the excellent Mosspaul Hotel on the A7 between Langholm and Hawick) and then a very pleasant day or two ambling back south in my camper stopping off at the ruins of Fountains Abbey in N Yorkshire. All in all then I've quite got into this relaxing thing and currently having a bit of bother slipping out of it and back into the graft of getting work etc!
However I have managed to get the music links on this page to 'stream' rather than people having to wait for them to download so do try them!
Couple of BB gigs this week in Morecombe and Crosby respectively - do come and say hello if you're there.
I've been trying to get into this Twitter lark 'cos I keep being told that this type of 'viral marketing' (sounds like something one would need to go to a special clinic for!) is the way forward in the modern age. I'm really not too sure about it but I have dutifully started to Tweet a little more often so if you're into this come and follow me at @GFBand on Twitter - I think that's right.........
I'm also on Facebook for the same reason but I'm even less sure that it's of any real use to anyone, as all I seem to see on my 'wall' is utterly inane mutterings about what someone's mood is and whether they've caught a goat or whatever in a game!
Anyway that's quite enough rambling from me - got to get back into sorting out a GFB and solo tour in Oct/Nov - watch this space.
Audio from the Bob Harris BBC R2 show added to the site - click link at the top of the page to hear it.
Just back from sunny(?) Skegness where the GFB played at an unearthly 12 noon on Sunday at the Blues and Rock Festival held in the Butlins complex. That was after Steve, Jack and I had played some songs live on Bob Harris's Sunday show in the second hour of his show which started at midnight!
The gig was great and we were on in exactly the right place on the bill easing the audience fresh from 2 nights of relaxation and embibment (! is that a word?) in relatively gently with our tuneful ministrations before the heavy guns in the form of The Hamsters and Nine Below Zero cranked up. Really good reaction and sold all the CDs I had with me - not enough again! Astonishingly there were 7000 tickets sold for the weekend - certainly the centre stage where we played was rammed!
It was really nice to see Bob H again -surely the nations most enthusiastic music loving DJ. Along with Mark Lamarr and Steve Lemacq (there must be others somewhere) he offers the unusual calling card for a national radio DJ in the modern age of actually liking music! A novel approach but one that might one day catch on! Whilst most of the profession appear to reluctantly squeeze a truncated few seconds of a track in between their massively exciting and interesting personalities Bob and the good guys introduce us to genuinely interesting music - possibly even including mine!
Off on the road with the BB this month the dates are on my and the BB's gig pages. Do come and say hello!
Hope your new year is shaping up well at this early stage! Mine's OK so far - apart from the frustration of trying to get on the case with some new software designed to help me market myself more effectively - it's all still a mystery to me at this stage!
The 'live in the studio' appearance on Bob Harris's show on Jan 29th/30th (it starts at midnight!) approaches and although the new album won't be out officially until later in the 1st qtr I'll have a small quantity of pre-release copies available online from the 30th onwards, so if you're going to want one (you will!) head to my 'shop' page on the 30th and make me a happy man!
I'm looking forward to a solo gig tomorrow night in N London at St Harmonica's, a club I haven't played before. I've got a couple of new things to unleash on the unsuspecting audience tomorrow night which I've been trying to remember lyrics for all week! I'll probably still have to bluff some of 'em!
The GFB plays Monica Madgwick's excellent Thursday night club at Farnham Maltings on Jan 20th and I'm really pleased to have my BB pal Rob Townsend on drums for that gig! It's a great venue and the beer is usually spot on so hope to see you there!
Finally this month the GFB plays the Butlins Rock and Blues Festival at Skegness on Sunday 30th at 12 noon I believe. I guess most of the audience will be nursing hangovers or still in bed even! However when I played the Folk Festival there last month I was first on and really enjoyed myself with a great audience so here's hoping for a repeat reception!
A very Happy Christmas and New Year to one and all - here's to a peaceful 2011.
You don't need me to tell you that the end of 2010 has brought some wild weather and whilst I managed to make the solo gigs mentioned earlier in snow covered December, things didn't work out so well with The Blues Band gigs on Fri 17th at Bexhill and Sat 18th at Blackheath.
Tom made it to Bexhill on the train, albeit after some delays and having to use a replacement bus service and Lari and the PA guys, who have to be at venue several hours before the band of course, also got there. However road conditions worsened in the afternoon and the rest of us got to within 7 miles of Bexhill, but no further, due to snow and accidents on the road between Eastbourne and Bexhill. It took me over 5 hours to get to that point (a journey that normally be under 2 hours) only to then be told at around what should have been stage time to go home - the gig was off.
The following day the gig at Blackheath was called off much earlier due primarily to Paul being marooned in his house (it's in a fairly rural location) with snow and serious ice preventing any access in or out for what at that time was the forseeable future. Indeed I believe it was some 24 hours before conditions improved and he was able to move from his house at all!
Clearly it was very frustrating not to be able to play the shows and no doubt the gig goers of Bexhill and Blackheath were disappointed for their evenings to not go to plan. It is planned to have the shows rescheduled as soon as possible in the new year.
Thanks for the e-mail messages - do keep in touch via email@example.com.
Well I did make Skegness last Friday and, amazingly, the journey from Twickenham was OK. Well more than OK in that the M25 was empty and the A1 was pretty clear and I drove much of the trip in lovely, bright, winter sunshine! There was a lot of snow on the ground as I drove away from the A1 into Lincolnshire but the road itself was clear. Did any of the audience make it Skeggy? They certainly did!
It turned out that my solo spot was the first performance of the entire festival (the very first Skegness Folk Roots Festival so perhaps I'll find a place in the history books like Stackridge did for being the first band to play Glastonbury all those years ago!) and when the curtain went up there were approx 2500 faces looking straight at me, presumably hoping that they were going to be entertained!
Well despite the best efforts of a dodgy guitar lead I really enjoyed playing the gig and I got a fantastic, extremely generous response from the audience including a sizeable group to my right of the stage who actually stood up to clap. Perhaps they were just on their way to the bar..........
Several people took the trouble to come up and say hello after my set, in particular Mick Peterson with whom I enjoyed a very interesting chat, and also when I was having breakfast the next morning - notably a guy whose name I'm ashamed to say I can't remember but I do recall that he's got a '62 Strat that was originally his Dads'!
It really does mean a great deal to us fragile 'creative' souls when you get feedback like this - so many thanks to everyone that I spoke to.
The following night, after much gnashing of both my and the promoter's teeth as to whether to go ahead with the gig or not, I played a solo gig in the upstairs room of Ripley Town Hall in N Yorkshire for the wonderful Andy Herrington and his Ripley Blues club. Thirty one very hardy souls made it to the venue, through rather tougher conditions than those at Skegness, and since the upstairs room isn't very large it didn't look too bad. Edinburgh based Simon Currie played a great opening set and was so keen to play for Andy that he'd driven down through all sorts of tricky weather to be there.
I premiered a new tune which utilises my new pedalboard! I'm not really into effects pedals or equipment in general really but I was always fascinated by John Martyn's amazing use of an Echoplex tape delay unit during his period of experimentation with such things when he was playing with Danny Thompson. So I've got tooled up with a pedal that digitally simulates what the bulky and fairly unreliable Echoplex unit did plus a 'loop' pedal into which you record segments of guitar or percussion etc as you go along building up an accompaniment. I think it's a thin line I straddle here between pre-recorded backing tracks - the thought of which I hate - and the creative possibilities offered up by such electronic voodoo! The fact that all that emerges during the course of the song I performed was played live, just keeps the exercise on the right side of skullduggery for my sensitive artistic disposition!
In truth the real highlight of what turned out to be a really good weekend's work, despite the expectations of weather intrusion etc, was Mrs Herrington's hotpot! She very kindly had made this amazing dish and put it in the oven downstairs in the Town Hall and at the risk of offending generations of Fletcher cooks residing in that great kitchen in the sky, I can confidentally say that Mrs H's hotpot was the best ever tasted by your correspondent!
There was a mistake on the gigs page which offered a gig on both Fri Dec 4th and Sat Dec 4th! I really must check these things more thoroughly! Thus I hope to see you in Skegness on Friday 3rd and Ripley, N Yorks on Saturday 4th - weather permitting etc!
The 'Giant From the Blue' GFB album is now finished - finally - and running order, gaps between the tracks and mastering has been done today! The hope is that it will be available not long after the turn of the year. Having gone through my usual agaonising of 'is this any good - no it's rubbish - no it's not - it's good' etc etc I'm now really chuffed with it and proud of the songs and the work the guys have put into it. Bill Gautier has done a fantastic job on the production and engineering side of things - his patience appears to know no bounds!
Still working on securing gigs for 2011 although there's no denying it's tough out there with arts centres, clubs etc worried about funding more than ever and being very hesitant in committing. There are one or two gigs going in with singer songwriter Graham Robins and will take the form of an individual solo set from each of us with a short set with both of us to close the evening. He writes some great songs and sings with big conviction. We're not too similar so it should make for a good evening's entertainment. Check his website and myspace out.
October was quiet on the music front apart from a couple of BB gigs at the start of the month before I then swanned off to New Zealand! With good intentions the original plan had been to do a few solo gigs during what was basically a holiday and see the country. In practice the gigs didn't happen
and I got fully into the concept of not working and actually relaxing! I really did not want to get on the plane to come home - 3 weeks in this incredible country had me completely seduced. However reality prevailed and after another 24 hours total in the air it was back to work!
The GFB played 3 great gigs during the first week of November - a rare 3 piece outing (sans drummer) at Paul Clerhugh's amazing Crooked Billet venue and gourmet eatery, a great night at the Square and Compass Barn nr Ilminster where we were looked after really well by hosts Chris and Janet Slow and the Forest Arts Centre, New Milton albeit to a small audience attributable to the fact it was bonfire night! I never learn - I made exactly the same mistake last year!
The rest of the month will be taken up with the business of getting GFB/solo gigs for next year which I should have been doing for some months now but being away so much this year brings the catch 22 of doing the gigs that you work hard to get but while you're on the road and away it's difficult to put the time and effort in to getting future work! C'est la vie eh!
December sees a couple of solo gigs, a GFB gig (the wonderful Half Moon Putney) and seven Blues Band gigs leading into the Xmas holiday period. Do come and say hello if you make any of the shows.
Finally my race on the old Silverstone GP track in the Lola Duratec Sports 2000 race car lived up to expectations with a good race on the Saturday in the dry. Passed plenty of cars after a disappointing qualy session in what were undoubtedly the wettest, most horrible conditions I've ever driven in! On one corner the water actually came over the side of the car like a bow wave!
Finished off my little stint opening solo for Denis L which I thoroughly enjoyed. This was more of a 'song' audience rather than blues fans and the less bluesy stuff definitely went down the best.
Also the BB were in Brecon and Ripley last weekend and then Maidstone (where traffic dramas on the M25 meant a delayed start) with a terrific GFB gig in Cheltenham (at Vonnies run by the wonderful Dave Jones raising money for some excellent charities) thrown in too.
This missive is being written from the comfort(?!) of a van driving 542km from Gavle to Ulricehamn in Sweden with the BB heading for a gig which the GFB played back in April. As if that wasn't long enough we have another couple of big mileage trips during this short tour (9 gigs) including one monstrous 660km effort! - It's the glamour that does for you in the end!
Seems as though some recent gigs by the GFB and solo have fired up a bit of interest from promoters and some more gigs should be firmed up for the new year shortly. The GFB album final mix is done and we're now agonising over whether to put it out in November or wait until Jan/Feb to avoid getting buried in the Xmas madness.
Just got a drive in a Sports 2000 Duratec at the Britcar 24hr meeting over the first weekend of October sorted out so that will be it for this year racing wise I think. I've raced a Tiga SC80 Pinto engined car quite a lot and always wanted to try out the faster Duratec powered cars with their 215bhp as opposed to the 130bhp of the Pinto and now's me chance!
STOP PRESS! - Finally managed to get up on the 'Photos' page some great pictures taken and sent to me by top Swedish photographer Hans Ivarsson of the GFB's gig in Sodershamns Teater back in April. A big thank you to Hans for the fine photographs. Check them out by clicking on the button on the left. Hans has been a pro for many years and took some terrific pictures of The Blues Band back in 1980 which appeared in a number of publications and, I think, can be seen on the photos pages on The Blues Band's website.
The last minute Boom Boom Club date on the 21st didn't set any attendance records but was a great gig nonetheless! Dep drummer James Osborne (Oz to his mates) played a stormer and the small but perfectly formed audience bought albums at the astonishing ratio of one album per every two gig goers! Thanks to promoter Pete Feenstra there are still some decent gigs to play around the London area and they're worth checking out at www.feenstra.co.uk.
Played solo at the Rhythm Festival Sun 22nd Aug and had a good gig plus got to see some great music too! 10cc closed the festival and played a fantastic set of pure music - no bullshit - just great songs, vocals, musicianship etc. It's a novel approach but it worked! From America the incredibly entitled Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams were really good as were 2 Canadian ladies - Dala. It's a really nice festival, eclectic music and a lovely atmosphere, vibe etc.
Played solo up at the Huntingdon Hall in Worcester last night opening for Dennis Locorriere. He has a great band which includes Joe Brown's son Pete on guitar. I guess a lot of folk go to see the old Dr Hook hits but his current material is much more interesting to my ears - his new 'Post Cool' album is definitely worth checking out. I've only got another 3 gigs with him on his current tour as I couldn't do any more dates 'cos of BB and GFB prior commitments.
No second Oulton Park Gold Cup win but Paul H and I did manage a doughty 2nd in class in his Alfa nonetheless.
There are several YouTube clips of the GFB or solo, none of which are anything to do with me. Some of them I think are not too bad, others I guess I wouldn't have chosen!
I just got sent links to some tracks filmed in the Akkurat club in Stockholm back in May which are by no means perfect (as if !) but the filming is in HD and although the sound fluctuates a little as the camera moves across the stage it's OK and I'm grateful to Tommie Ekstrom for sending them through! Check 'em out at........
Good news in the form of another BBC R2 session, this time it's a re-visit to the wonderful Bob Harris Saturday Show. I did it solo back in 2007 and this time we'll do it as the GFB albeit in acoustic form. The date's not confirmed but it will be either late Jan or early Feb next year.
Racing opportunities have been a bit thin on the ground and an appearance in an FF2000 single seater at the Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting on August bank holiday weekend was planned but the engine's not been sorted after a dismal run at Snetterton earlier in the year with no grunt! However step forward ace bloke Paul Hopkinson and his lovely 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT which he's kindly asked me to share with him in a 2 driver race at the Gold Cup meeting. We actually won our class last year and I have a Gold Cup on the sideboard which I'm very proud off and I hope to add another one this year! If you're there do come and say hello!
Late addition to gig page!
Sat 21st August the GFB is now playing at the Boom Boom Club in Sutton - details on the gigs page. This is an extra date at this excellent venue only just made available to London's finest and most hard working live music promoter, Pete Feenstra, so if you can make it we'd love to see you down there.
Finally managed to get around to trying to put some more GFB/solo dates in and there's a couple of new gigs over on the 'Gigs' page including a few dates opening solo for Dennis Locorriere! However I have been a little off the pace in this department 'cos of lack of time due to touring etc, so much still to do!
The BBC R2 session worked out really well - 5 tracks recorded, 3 for broadcast and 2 for online. Paul Long, the producer, and the ace engineer Mike Graham got us a great sound and we just recorded 'em straight live - no overdubs or fiddling around etc. Unfortunately my pal Mark Feltham couldn't make the session due to illness so it was just the usual GFB line-up plus the amazing Guy Barker on trumpet (of course!) joining us on 3 tracks including my favourite, the previously unrecorded 'You won't take it from me'. The session goes out on air in the autumn - end of Oct/early Nov at which time the new GFB album will be out.
A great singer songwriter name of Graham Robbins and I are planning to do some shows in the autumn and new year as a kind of singer/songwriter evening i.e. a solo set from each us and then a few tunes together to close the gig. I'll put the dates up as soon as anything is confirmed - it'll be a good combination I'm sure!
On the racing front Spa lived up to and beyond expectations - no wonder many of the F1 guys call it the best circuit in the world! Sadly however the car didn't in the sense that the engine ran a main bearing at the end of qualy which stopped play. So good qualifying session - 11 out of 49 - which I was very pleased with having neither sat in the car (Dallara F393) nor driven Spa before - but no race!
I gather that some people do actually read these mutterings so I will keep blathering on from time to time!
The BBC session is now fixed for July 6th and I've got all the guys lined up etc - even arranged a rehearsal(!) for the core band for the night before!
We're also just about to do the final mix of the 'Giant From the Blue' GFB album so we should get it out in the UK for Oct/Nov which will tie in well with the radio sessions etc plus I will put a bit of money into getting a good PR push on the record.
As ever still working on getting some more gigs for the autumn and beyond booked in and although a lot of folk are in summer hols mode already and not really at the races work wise, one or two dates have come together with more on the boil. Because of some problem with the previous layout of the gigs page I've had to change to a rather more basic looking effort, though at least I have managed to update it as well.
The Blues Band are in thick of a run of gigs at the moment - off to Fareham tonight - and we've played some good, fun gigs to mostly very good houses. We also managed to all get together for a new album 'work so far' listening session and, as a consequence, have decided what else needs doing which actually is not a lot. It's sounding good and we hope to get it out before the end of 2010 - though whether that'll happen or not is purely a matter of speculation!
Had a race in a Formula Ford 2000 single seater at Snetterton June 6th but the engine was not right and despite changing carburettor and various other things it was well down on power so not a lot of fun racing it. As a result it looks as though we won't go to Zolder with the car in July though because the Alfa work at Goodwood has blown out, Spa in the '93 Dallara F3 car might be back on.
I've no idea if this column is of any interest to anyone out there but since it was suggested to me that this type of 'blog' thing was a good idea I'm giving it a go! If you have any comments or questions do contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll try and get back to you promptly.
Despite all the dramas of air travel disruption etc the GFB got back OK from Sweden May 3rd and ready for a rest. However 'no peace for the wicked' etc and it was off to Bewdley for a solo gig at great little gig called The Moonshine Room in Bewdley run by Deborah Hodgson - a great singer/songwriter herself and the landlord Paul. It's a small upstairs room in a very nice pub by the river in the town and I had a really enjoyable gig in this terrific and very intimate venue.
Getting back to the GFB's adventures in Sweden our uber guitar player Steve Ling amused himself a lot of the time by filming on his phone camera and he's compiled the first of what he threatens to be a two part opus as a video which can be found on You Tube at:-
After managing to do the domestics ie washing clothes etc there were two Blues Band gigs to play in Darvel in Scotland and then Cleethorpes before heading off to Germany with the BB for 9 gigs and as I write we've just checked into a rather posh hotel in Dortmund ready for the third gig of the tour. Swanky hotels are very nice etc but even if it doesn't appear at first sight as though we're paying for them it must come out in the wash, so to speak, when the nett earnings of the gig reveal themselves!
More interestingly perhaps I've been arranging the details of doing a session for BBC R2 by the GFB and after establishing the logistics of everyone's availability and that of the studio and BBC super producer Paul Long it looks as though we'll be in on either July 6th or 7th. Pick, Steve, Jack and I will be there, of course, but the really impressive news is that harmonica wizard Mark Feltham and jazz giant trumpeter Guy Barker will be with us too. the session won't be broadcast until the autumn to tie in with the pukka release of the GFB 'Giant From the Blue' album.
Unfortunately this means that I've had to bale out of an opportunity to race a '93 Dallara at Spa but I can still do the FF2000 race at Zolder ther following weekend. Some compensation however as I've just picked up a couple of days work at the Goodwood Festival of Speed instructing for Alfa Romeo who are celebrating their 100th anniversary at the Goodwood event!
However all these matters are diversions from the grind of trying to get gigs for the GFB and solo. We don't have an agent so it's all done to yours truly and whilst I have, over the years 'sold ice to eskimos etc' I am complete crap at selling myself. However no one else is going to do it so hopefully there'll be some decent dates from November onwards to go up on the gig page of this website in the coming weeks.
The GFB is currently touring Sweden. We've been here since Apr 2nd and play the last date of the tour on May 2nd at the Akkurat Club in Stockholm.
In the course of the month we've played village halls (Folket Hus), clubs, small theatres, arts centres and the audience reaction has consistently been great. The numbers haven't always been good but I guess we're new to the market in Sweden and in some places the local pre-gig promotion has not been as effective as it might have been.
We have a special Swedish tour limited edition version of the 'Giant From the Blue' GFB album with us and our hit rate in terms of sales to audience numbers has been excellent and, to date, we've sold a decent proportion of the 200 copies made. We will make some adjustments to the mixes of some of the tracks and probably mess with the running order before finalising things for the full launch of the CD in the autumn.
Most of the time we're staying in some very funky accomodation in what is actually a warehouse! It's really rather nice and there's loads of musical kit around to play, practice and rehearse with. Steve and Pick practise on their own quite a lot and Jack has been helping a local band mix their album in the onsite studio.
Me - well I've spent hours and hours, whether at base or in the van enroute to gigs, with the laptop on my knees sorting out the infection by malware and subsequent blacklisting of my own website and those of GTA Music Agents and The Blues Band. If I never see another page of HTML again it'll be too soon!
Giant From the Blue is the title of the GFB's new album which will be released in autumn 2010.
It features the current (since Jan 2007) line-up of the band - Steve Ling on lead guitar, Jack Fletcher on bass guitar, Pick Withers on drums and me on acoustic guitar, slide and vocals.
The album also benefits from contributions from the Kokomo singers (Frank Collins, Diane Birch, Paddy McHugh), Mark Feltham plays harmonica and jazz 'giant' Guy Barker plays trumpet.
11 of the 12 tracks are new songs ('Stop messing with my life' appeared in embryonic form on the GF Official Bootleg album) and with the exception of one track ('What have you done') the songs had all been well played in at live shows for some time before going into the studio to record and it shows! This is reflected in the 'feel' of the tracks and the assuredness of the individual performances and, in my opinion, produces a much better record than one written entirely from scratch in the studio and recorded without a note having previously been played live. Sometimes, of course, there's no alternative but when the opportunity arises to put something down that has been arranged, rehearsed and toured over a period if time it makes for a very satisfying experience.