THE FIRST SOLO GIG AND THE BAND

So, its time to start!

Even when working solo; a large part of working on art is relying on others. I’m currently waiting to re-record my vocals for my EP – until that is done I can’t master it, make CDs, upload it anywhere, make a music video, or have anything to sell/give to people at gigs. So what can I do in the meantime? The answer is start preparing for the live shows. I am currently rehearsing my set every night. Its something I’ve never done before. I’ve always just rocked up to open mics, competitions etc having done no preparation, and then turned in a performance that is less than it could have been.

This time needs to be different. It all comes down to respect – first, as mentioned before, I need to learn to love and respect my own music. That ties in with respecting my audience – why should people bother coming to gigs (sometimes hopefully paying to do so) to watch someone who has such distain for his own material that he can’t be bothered to learn it properly and put on a good show? I need to be able to do this shit with my eyes closed. Its something that I have learned from my time in both my wedding band, and an acoustic wedding duo I also play in. The band has been a part of my life for four years now, and some of the covers we do I must have played live over two hundred times. My performance of them is rock solid every single time as a result.

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The band has improved me as a performer exponentially.

The duo was created and is managed by a chap called Alfie Kingston. Alfie is a singer-songwriter in his own right; a promoter of live acoustic showcases and the host of one of Bristol’s longest running and best loved open mic nights. I’ve known him on and off for over ten years, ever since he used to DJ at The Hatchet; Bristol’s oldest pub and a haven for all lovers of rock and metal. I used to request Stone Temple Pilots and go nuts when he blasted out ‘Sex Type Thing’.

He is also the ultimate perfectionist. I’ve learned a hell of a lot from him in the last year since I joined the duo. Every facet of the live sound and the performance of the songs has to be pitch perfect, and it has seriously kept me on my toes and made me up my game. We haven’t always seen eye to eye (I was once on his infamous ‘Wankers List’ for cancelling a showcase gig at the last minute – I’ve definitely learned since then!) but his advice on acoustic sound and gear has been invaluable.

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The infamous Alfie and I. He’s helped me a lot.

I take all this knowledge with me into this project. I’ve actually secured a semi-regular slot performing at a Bristol magic pub called Smoke & Mirrors – the first gig I played there was a two hour tribute to Bowie and STP; but I have a gig there this coming Thursday that is going to be my first gig with my original setlist. Oh, there’s covers too (I’m playing two 45 minute sets so way longer than my material stretches), but it will be an invaluable road test for the originals. They aren’t all quite up to perfection yet, but I have to start somewhere!

I am also beginning to assemble my own Avengers-style team of musicians for full-band solo shows. I am hoping to play with a backing band as often as I can, as the EP contains full arrangements. My first recruit is Chas Bacon; the drummer from Red Dust Road and also a post-rock band called Mind Museum. He’s currently in between different projects so I’m hoping to snap him up while I can. I’ll be sending him over the songs we’ll be doing after I finish writing this! The guy is a hard hitting player and a human metronome. My music is in safe hands with him. On the occasions he can’t do gigs I’m sure the drummer from my wedding band Ali Woodman will be happy to help out, he’s also a fantastic player and learns songs faster than any drummer I know.

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Chas Bacon. The man is a beast behind the kit.

I also have the services of two ex-Red Dust Road bass players at my disposal – Sam Drower (who I mentioned before – what I didn’t mention was that he was also in Zero Chance and Gaslamp Quarter, making him the person I’ve collaborated with most in my life!) and Andrew ‘Rocky’ Britton, a fucking great bassist and all round chilled out nice guy. I’ll probably end up working with Rocky more often, as Sam also has a new project on the go; the fantastic alt rock band The Parlour Scene – you can hear a track from their new EP below:

 My plan is to also recruit an electric guitarist, a keyboard player, and hopefully a violinist if I’m very lucky. I know of a couple of people I’m planning on asking; and another of this week’s tasks will be to create some adverts. Let’s get the band together and work towards some great shows!

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