Full Time At Last

Ahhh, it feels so good to be able to finally write that title!

As of last month I am officially a full time professional musician. Its taken me many years of struggle, hard work and setbacks to reach my goal, but the important thing is that I never gave up. I’m lucky to be blessed with a dogged determination to get what I want at all costs – sometimes it means being endlessly frustrated; but ultimately I always get what I want because I’m willing to put in the work to make it happen.

So, now I am officially one of the house musicians at Smoke & Mirrors in Bristol, which means regular paid gigs for a pre-made appreciative audience. Coupling that with the success of my own open mic night at the Salthouse in Clevedon has meant that I was finally able to ditch the retail job that had been the source of so much misery for so long. I now have the right combination of guitar teaching, solo acoustic gigs and wedding band to make a comfortable living. It feels so good.

mattsmokeMy new job!

It also means I have a lot of free time during the week to pursue more of my originals music. I’m really pleased with how the first couple of tracks are sounding for my album, and I’m back in the recording studio with Charlie Grimsdale and the boys in a couple of weeks.

This year (hell, the last couple) has been pretty rough in many ways but things are on the up. Looking back at the start of this blog just two years ago, I’ve already come so far. I’ve released my first EP, gained praise from the likes of Frank Turner, completely changed my physical appearance and now moved into full time professional musicianship. Now its time to really push the original music.

Watch this space!

How Easily Things Can Fall Apart

Well now. I haven’t written a blog post since the start of February. It’s now June.

As I have written about several times in this blog; if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout this journey it’s that things can and will go wrong. And with me, they frequently do. My life and career seem to consist of a few minuscule peaks surrounded by a seemingly endless plethora of setbacks, failures and disappointments. Still, enough negativity – let me explain my absence.

Last time I checked in, my short lived Matt Reynolds Band lineup fell apart after our first gig. There have been no gigs since. Aside from two small solo acoustic shows I have played no original music since February. There have been some massive upheavals in my personal life over those last few months, some caused by myself and others out of my control. The Reynolds family was hit by yet more hard times as my father was diagnosed with cancer. And many other setbacks too numerous to mention.

I chose to deal with all this by drinking heavily and partying till all hours multiple times a week. I let the music slide, the fitness slide, the diet slide. I’ve pretty much been at my lowest point in about a decade. Midlife crisis crossed with more periods of mania and depression.

Happily I’m coming out the other side of it now. Just another rip roaring fun ride on the Matt ‘bipolarcoaster’ (and yes that is the album title if an album ever happens!). I need to hit the reset button and look at all the positives in my life and go from there.

I might not have played any more shows, but I have been in the recording studio with Nick and a new drummer by the name of Charlie Grimsdale. We met up and challenged ourselves to record a brand new song that none of us had rehearsed before. The results were really good, and the song ‘When I Fall (12 Hours By Plane) will be appearing on my next EP, coming soon. Charlie is a really great drummer, very relaxed and also a fantastic producer. He has also agreed to come onboard for live gigs too so great news!

Despite slacking off the last couple of months, my fitness regime has really paid off since I started it last year – I frequently get told I look like a different person now. I’ve really started to tighten up the diet this week to really make a push to lose the last bit of belly fat so I’m ready to start building muscle over the coming winter. My before and after picture is a pleasing testament to the work I’ve put in:

My musical career outside of the originals stuff is really picking up too – my covers band is playing loads of shows, I’ve joined a second band focussing on 90s hits, I’m getting more paid solo gigs, I now run a monthly open mic night at my local, and I’ve just found out I’m getting a residency at a great bar in Bristol. All this combined means that I finally get to leave my crappy retail job in the next couple of months!

So, even though there is still an element of residual sadness and frustration at the events of the last few months, things are hopefully on the up again. Then again, history does not fill me with confidence! Time will tell…

A Weekend of Highs and Lows

Wow.

What a rollercoaster ride of mixed emotions that was. I’ll start with the good stuff because its always nice to have something positive to take away from situations. Friday night was the debut gig for the Matt Reynolds Band, and I had the most fantastic evening.

I don’t really ever organise and promote gigs so this was a big deal personally; and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t experience some stress and headaches making it happen! But it all came together beautifully. At least I thought so…

Continue reading “A Weekend of Highs and Lows”

Preparing For The First Band Gig

Finally!

After 18 months of blogging this process and experiencing many ups and downs trying to put a band together, I now have the first gig with other musicians this week! Although the full lineup isn’t complete yet, we are ready and able to get out on the local circuit and dip our toes into the murky water of the originals scene again – my first time since 2012!

Continue reading “Preparing For The First Band Gig”

2017 – A Year Of Change

So that’s it then, another year has passed and another begins, full of promise and potential.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while then you’ll know that 2016 was a very tough year for me, as it was for many. It was so dismal that it pushed me to make some serious changes to the way I lived my life in 2017, and I’m very happy to be able to say that those changes largely stuck and allowed me to have a much happier and more productive time of things.

Continue reading “2017 – A Year Of Change”

Review: Mike Dennis – Junction 29 EP

Review: Mike Dennis – Junction 29 EP

After only a few short months Mike Dennis is back! The Junction 29 EP is the follow up to Mike’s Junction 19 EP, released earlier this year.

Whereas the first EP dealt with Mike’s love of Bristol; this one turns his attention to another place close to his heart – Cardiff. The opening title track fittingly begins with some celebratory soundbites. At the end of Junction 19 there was a tribute to the Full Moon; a venue important to Mike that had closed its doors. Happily a campaign to keep the venue alive was successful, and this track is a celebration of everything Mike loves about Cardiff. I’m not as familiar with the city as I am with Bristol, but this track paints a vivid picture, replete with a gorgeous violin hook in the chorus.

Continue reading “Review: Mike Dennis – Junction 29 EP”

Building The Band Part 2

I now have a permanent guitarist! I’m pleased to welcome Nick Poole to the band.

Nick is a very talented, intuitive guitarist who has come up with some really tasty parts to my songs. He picks things up quickly and has a great instinct for knowing what will work well with a song. I’m really looking forward to working with him in future!

Continue reading “Building The Band Part 2”