Singing Songs of Praise -III : Return of the piratical, prodigal son.

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10556255_954822757877578_3812250388156931428_nJust when you think you have set a personal bench mark (see – Singing Songs of Praise – II) within a week you only go and break it. Big time. Back in it’s regular Thursday slot this week we were pleased to have not only Land Pirate extraordinaire Gaz Brookfield back on his home patch but his locally sourced, ethically produced band The Company of Thieves. It was great that we managed to sell about pre-gig 50 tickets but we must have shifted double that on the night as well with people coming from as far as Reading, Oxford and even Cornwall. Not bad for a school night…god I hate that phrase.

Luke De-Sciscio opened the night with his soaring vocals and pin drop atmospherics this was followed by Lonely Tourist who had been tour support at all the recent Gaz gigs and who displayed a wonderful charm, wit and wisdom through a set of upbeat acoustic numbers.

But obviously it was really all about the main act. Gaz has gone from strength to strength in the last few years with supports to the likes of The Levellers and New Model Army and the relentless work ethic that you need to break through to the next level, which is exactly what is happening. Usually a solo act or at least a duo with brilliant fiddle player Ben Wain, we were lucky enough to be able to book the full band and the people loved it. An hour of poignant, witty, positive, honest and reflective songs, all of which should be a hit single if there were any justice in the world –  and whilst people are happy to devour vacuous pop divas and TV show dross there isn’t – and he even has a song about that.

It was also great to see post show the merchant desk doing great trade as people hovered up CDs and lets face it merchandise is often the difference between sustainability and defeat for the self funded music act.

So a great night all round and lots of examples to be followed, such as, nurture and support your struggling local acts and watch them grow into an act like Gaz. Buy CDs and merch. and keep these people on the road. Make the effort to travel to support your favourite acts. It takes a lot to put gigs on but ultimately it is about support but it isn’t a one way street and just being part of nights like this is enough to enable you to sleep easily at night plus you get to meet and reacquaint yourself with some of the most creative, funny, charming, mad, silly and brilliant people you are ever likely to meet. Supporting music is more than just putting the occasional banner on Facebook or ranting about the state of live music. Be positive, be supportive, the pay off is awesome.

Singing Songs of Praise – II : Saturday is the new Thursday… apparently!

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Songs of Praise normally takes place on a Thursday. Try as we might to persuade the powers that be otherwise it seems that Swindon is locked into the idea that the only things that will be successful on a weekend is cover and tribute bands and so an endless grind of people re-living the glory of Green Day, squeezing all of the spontaneity and originality from Nirvana and sadly reminding us just how awful Judas Priest actually were is our lot.

I was surprised then by the turn of events when Charlie Bath approached us looking for a live date for herself and a band she had been working with, but could we secure a specific Saturday. Slim chance I thought and probably said as much but when I approached the venue they agreed. Blimey! So with Ed having secured Colour The Atlas as headliners we ventured into pastures new, armed with a great line up and something to prove. Could original bands, one of which had never played Swindon before, draw in enough people to make the night a success. I will just leave you with the picture below and you can make your own mind up.

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Singing Songs of Praise – I : A potted history.

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10696186_973388062687714_1524614079169174509_n-1When I set this blog up I intended it to be a diary of my progress into self-sufficiency as a writer, music promoter, record company boss and what ever else it took to keep from returning to office based paper shuffling or pallet truck pulling boredom. I have been a bit lax in keeping things going I must confess. So in an effort to fill in the gaps, let me tell you about the night that I currently co-curate and organise.

Songs of Praise is a night of original music, held every 1st and 3rd Thursday at The Victoria in Swindon. It was the brain child of one Rich Craven, one of the people behind the equally successful Swindon Shuffle, both of which are now in their eighth year. About four years ago I myself took the plunge into promoting original music in venues that were either not known for original music or who were needing to find more acts to broaden their scope. For one reason or another, normally financial, these nights didn’t really fulfil early promise and so when Rich messaged me to say that he was moving back to Oxford and did I want to take over the running of the night, I obviously jumped at the chance.

So on Sep 3rd 2011 with Hello Lazarus, The Porn Issue and Kill Cassidy as my line up I took the reigns. Less than a year later I was joined by Ed Dyer and between us we have never looked back. WE have doubled the frequency of the shows, are booking bigger bands than ever, paying them more than the night ever managed to, we  occasionally make a bit of money ourselves and have even set up a record label on the back of it. Not bad for a couple of chancers who are just trying to bring (in our opinion) good music into town.

Linking Inkings – 11th Sep ’14

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writingIn the ever evolving journey to stay out of normal employment…I mean to earn my living as a full time writer, I have managed to pick up a couple of paying, one off, reviews outside my regular work plus the chance to write for a review site called The Sense of Doubt. No pay for that one but I do get sent some cool music and it does get my name around to a bigger audience than I could hope to do through my own blog.

So here are the gas bill payment settlers for this week.

Sounds Around Town (Swindon Advertiser gig guide)

Your Life is an Existentialist Dream – Sea Mammal (commission)

Remain Distracted – Kobadelta (The Sense of Doubt)

Crashing Angels – Louise Latham (commission)

 

Book blurb

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Quite pleased to have been asked to contribute some jacket blurb for Adam Crosland’s short booklet, “When I was Sixteen I Wanted to be Graham Coxon ” about his time served in Le Neon, an uncompromising slab of noisy, experimental art-punk that were signed to the prestigious Fierce Panda label. Nice to share a book jacket with the labels head honcho Simon Williams himself. (full review to follow shortly)10685547_10154471895805538_974933363737176015_n

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