Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A sneaky peek...Especially for you for Christmas

Well, we know that its Christmas, and so especially for you, we've uploaded a track onto Audioboo.

The track from our forthcoming album is called "Boatswains Call" and is one that we've played here and there for a while now. Its a song that started out at around 8 minutes long, but we trimmed and chopped, shuffling things around and eventually settled on the version you'll find in the link.

I won't go into a long story about it.. I shall let the song speak for itself...

Merry Christmas to everyone and peace and goodwill for 2014..

Boatswain's Call



Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Its all been happening here.. well, almost.

Hi folks..
Time for another blog update (I hear a few groans at the back... ), now listen up here.. there's stuff to tell dontcha know..

Saturday 23rd November - The New Empire, Swadlincote
Always set out with a keen sense of adventure, is something that could be said for Rain. We'll try our best never to pass up an opportunity to play, so when the opportunity came to play The New Empire, I thought, why  not?? I thought, ooh, its close to Ashbourne... erm.. well, not really.. Its closer to Burton and therefore a bit of a trek to get there. Thankfully due to Graeme's keen map reading skills and ability to memorise said maps we successfully arrived in "Swad" (as its known locally). The New Empire used to be a cinema, and in that respect its quite a large venue, well, largish, with a nice stage area, lighting rig and the like. We set up our gear and looked somewhat lost on the stage, we had far too much space to play with.. Still it made a nice change. The venue itself is a rock/metal pub, though in the words of the bar staff "We just like music here, so just play and we'll enjoy it".. *gulp*.. With this in mind, we set to playing our first set, replete in the knowledge that the jukebox had been pumping out Metallica, Korn and Slipknot prior to our taking to the stage. Poor Graeme felt a little ill at ease.. How I looked at it, its a venue, if they want us, then great.. If they hate us, we'll soon find out. So we kicked in and did our first set... With only one round of whinging from one particuarly drunken individual. During our break we chatted to a fella who was an IT/Telecoms engineer (sorry fella, I forgot your name, think it was Martin.. Oh heck.. me and names..) who was very enthusiastic about our set of songs.. and he was looking forward to the second set... The rest of the room seemed nonplussed, well, it wasn't heaving, so the pool table saw more action.. During the second set, our more lively set, we were treated to several groups of people coming in, and the mood lifted.. Several ladies around one table astutely singing along.. which was really encouraging to hear. We finished off with our usual Who numbers to rapturous applause and lots of very positive comments from the assembled crowd..
Overall then, not too bad a gig really.

The dreaded "lurgy" struck me then.. meaning we had to cancel a few events that we were hoping to take part in :-( There's no point in me singing when I'm wheezing, snotty, coughing and grotty, so some evenings have been postponed until new year.

Thursday 5th December - Arthur's Table Showcase, The Glebe

I still wasn't feeling 100%, but because we'd been asked to do the showcase meaning it would only be a 30 minute set at most.. then I agreed to it.. Tried out a few "new" songs on the crowd.. which contained its usual motley crew, but with the addition of a friend who I'd not seen for around 20 years... who is a fellow musician.. It was rather pleasing knowing that I had completely blown his socks off.. as he'd never known I could sing. As always Arthur's Table is a stunning night, filled with amazing talent and well worth just going to and admiring the musical talent of Stoke on Trent.

Sunday 8th December - Late Selector Christmas Open Mic, Nakatcha, Nantwich

So the Festivities have started.. Stevie P Abbott, DJ extrordinaire hosted the Late Selector Christmas Open Mic.. the proviso was to do a Christmas song.. sadly, the two songs we would have done, were chosen by other people.. and we couldn't be bothered to learn some more.. so we just played 3 new songs to the crowd.. It was a great evening though.. with some brilliant performances all round.. plus it all gets recorded and played on This is the Cat Radio on Thursday 12th December!! I was getting ready to go and I was asked by Scott D Thompson to do some backing vocals for him.. along with the eminently talented Hayley Strangelove.. we whooped and howled our way through Earth Song.. heaven knows what that's going to sound like.. Guess we'll find out on Thursday.

Monday 9th December

No gig.. but a chance to return to the studio to do some mixing of the tracks.. well 3 tracks to be precise, namely Goodwood (which we've been invited to put on a movie soundtrack!!.. which is enormously exciting news!!), Bosun's Call and Mary Go Round.. with my bed calling me, I voted to leave the studio and we've booked to go back in January, to get the rest of the tracks finished, mixed and hopefully mastered ready to get the cd's done!! Of course artwork and all that has to be considered, and we'll be employing the amazingly talented Jon Aldersea to do that, he's done some brilliant work down the years..so we know it'll be in good hands.

So, that's us up to date for now. More gigs and stuff coming up.. so watch this space.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Remember remember the 8th of November onwards...

Well folks, never one to sit on my laurels, its about time I updated the blog again.. giving you a clue of what we've been up to.

Friday 8th November
We received a call from Viva Music, who very kindly offered us a last minute gig at The Longton and Meir British Legion club.. Not being our usual kind of venue, we thought, "why not?".. and duly set off. We were received with slight caution, as another band had been booked, but sadly couldn't make it, and we were the replacement. Of course, they were cautious, they had never had an acoustic night before.. Turns out we'd been asked to sort out an acoustic night.. So we waited for other folk to turn up.. and ended up doing our usual round of covers for the assembled crowd. What was quiet caution soon turned into warm applause.. With people asking if we knew various songs.. which was usually met with us saying, "we don't know that, but we do know this!"... Anyway, we did our bit and chatted to the assembled crowd after, who were very appreciative and grateful for a great evening of entertainment. Hopefully we'll get booked to play there again soon.

Saturday 9th November 
We'd been booked for a few months to play at The White Lion in Penkhull, so were pleased when our chance to play came around. Its a fairly local venue for us to play, and we've seen a few people play there, so knew it would be good. Anyway we did our thing and received applause, and had a generally lovely evening, people came, people went.. as is the way with many pubs, rarely keeping a steady audience..anyway, its a great venue to play and after the locals all gave their positive support and looks like we'll be going back again..

Friday 15th November
Viva Music once again pulled out the stops and provided us with a gig at short notice, which is brilliant really and always welcome, espescially if we're not booked to play somewhere. Anyhoo, we were so chuffed, as we'd never played Sandbach before.. the evening was made more special by the turning up of our good friend Thomas Schultz, the amazing double bass player, who had a rare evening off and decided to join us, adding an extra dimension to our set! Immediately we were noticeably different, giving a fuller sound and a more "band like" output, made the gig something else really. One of the locals adopted us and spent the evening chewing my ear about The Stone Roses, music in general and spending Christmas alone.. which was rather sad, some people really go through it at this time of year and it was a timely reminder of how lucky some of us are that we have family and friends who we can depend upon to be around. Anyway, we had a new fan, which was lovely and made sure we acknowledged Martin when we wound up the set.

As always we have been busy learning new songs, adding in some absolute corkers into the set, which are an absolute joy to learn. OK, they're covers, but covers have their place and played well and interpreted in our way, makes them special, to us, at least.
I've had an hiatus from writing.. writers block, I suppose, but that seems to have let up and have managed to get another one written.. Graeme now has a backlog of around 15 songs to work through and make "our own"... its been such a challenge writing, but also great fun and somehow liberating.

We had to cancel a gig on Tuesday 19th, due to my not being well.. even I succumb to illness from time to time, I'd much rather cancel a gig than sing it badly because I'm not well..Nothing worse for me than a chest infection/cold/manflu for really taking the wind out of my proverbial sails.. however I'll bounce back.. I always do and you'll be seeing Rain out and about again soon.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Baby Just Cares For Me - Rain - Nakatcha Live

Check out our version of My Baby Just Cares for Me, recorded at Nakatcha in Nantwich for The Late Selector radio show.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did performing it :-)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Beer Beer we want more Beer..Oh and nice things to eat.

September and October have proved themselves to be quite a busy time in Rain-land.. Lets cut to the chase and get on with the gigs:

Thursday 17th October - Stoke Beer Festival
Invited to play a showcase at The 33rd CAMRA Beer Festival in Stoke on Trent, what a thoroughly enjoyable event to play..Neon Tiger promotions had organised the entertainment and invited ex- Spinner Hughie Jones down to entertain the crowds, then we, plus several other acts were to be his support.. A wide mix of acts occcupied the stage.. the lovely Nichola Jayne Chirnside kicked things off with her rather upbeat and funky set, such a young girl with such amazing talent, she deserves to go a long way, up next were Wenglish Urban Cowboys, delivering their usual mix of covers and some orginal songs in their own unique manner. then Hughie Jones came on and did a set of folk tunes.. the guy is amazing, in his 80's and he held the crowd in the palm of his hand. We were up next doing our usual brand of stuff, followed by the ever amazing Hayley Stranglelove.. who had to do the "Barley Mow" song with her jug of ale in hand... Its a Beer Festival.. of course you have to have a drinking song!! And she does it so well! Hughie then returned to the stage for a few singalong numbers with the crowd before the doors closed and we were all ushered out. I have to say I've not been to a proper CAMRA beer festival for a few years, and this time being allowed to play the Opening night was a priveledge.. we were given a card each with some "free" beer .. well in our case, cider and perry.. including the amusingly titled "Fanny's Bramble".. and some rather tasty Elderflower Perry. Overall it was good to see old friends from CAMRA, Lyn and her team of Ale Angels, plus Neon Tiger's Rich who managed to pull the sound off despite a few hitches initially... and deliver a really enjoyable evening all round.. Thanks to Sarah for recommending the perry's..(hic)

Thursday 24th October - The Freebird Freehouse
The Freebird, owned by the rather curmudgeonly Buff (and he'll happily admit to that too.. lol) wasn't our usual venue to play either.. so, we thought.. why not.. we were warned beforehand "Its club night, so the bikers will be in".. which was cool, being a bit of a rock/metal chick in my wild tempestuous youth, I just shrugged and said "no problem".. Well, what a night it ended up being in there. The bikers kept themselves to themselves, which is primarily their way, imho, and those that were in the bar throughly enjoyed our two sets.. we decided to liven up our set a bit anyway and take out some of the slower numbers.. instead throwing in "Queen Bitch" and the Who songs.. and we literally got people dancing!! Hurrah!! Chatting with the crowd after was lovely, so warm and welcoming and engaging, making new suggestions and praising our abilities.. I was worried I wouldn't be able to get my head out of the door!!! We made some new friends, which is always a bonus and even made Buff smile a few times... which was worth it. Definately enjoyed playing there. Oh the Freebird is a Freehouse.. and had some very nice ale on.. Ginger something or other.. which was a dark porter with a hint of ginger.. very nice it was too.

Wednesday 30th October - Frank and Friends The Swan, Burslem
Frank Cerioni is one of the really nice guys on the music scene. He writes whimsical songs, with a twist and delivers them in a style unique to him, which is refreshing. There's no posturing with Frank, just a genuine, honest love of music. Both he and Dee, his GF, were sporting matching colds, so much snuffling was going on during the evening, however undaunted we all trooped on. We'd been invited to do a showcase, and how could we refuse, with the promise of beer and shepherds pie..
We performed for around an hour, doing what we do best.. and coming off to applause and positive comments, which are always lovely to hear. Well, the evenings events took an interesting turn shortly after Dave took to the stage..another customer, decided to make it his business to get on everyone's nerves and started shouting abuse at people.. Luckily for us, Kay, the manageress, took things into her own hands and evicted the offender, leaving us to enjoy a now undisturbed night.. So Dave started playing, and I joined in on backing/harmonies, and we enjoyed a set, singing and harmonising into the night. This is definately a night to get to, Frank makes a very gracious host, and The Swan have beer offers on, plus the added bonus of a hot meal makes it well worthwhile a visit.

Thursday 31st October - Arthur's Table - The Glebe, Stoke
Considering we'd not been for a while, we figured it was time to pay a visit to Arthur's Table.. Hosted by the ever charitable Arthur Righteous. With it being Halloween, the theme was Rocky Horror.. so there were ghouls and ghosties abroad, the place swarming with Transylvanian party goers... However, always being ones to go against the crowd.. we went as ourselves.. only topped by Gaz Williams, who turned up as Dylan Moran in Black Books.. replete with dodgy hair (wig) and a "on phone" label stapled to his lapel. The pub was heaving, and it was also Jason and Sally's 3rd anniversary in the pub, which was worthy of celebrating in its own right. Everyone took turns to sing songs, some with a horror/Rocky Horror theme...the showcase was by Baxter, who turned up as Brad and Janet and did  a marvellous rendition of "Dammit Janet".. worthy of a prize all by themselves. All in all a pretty usual night at The Glebe, loads of food available.. hot chilli and chips for everyone too.. Arthur's Table, just keeps going from strength to strength!

Saturday 2nd November - Rode Hall Farmer's Market
The delightful Rode Hall is set in the Cheshire countryside, close to the border with North Staffordshire and it plays host to a Farmer's Market on the first Saturday in the month. To say that Rode Hall is beautiful and its grounds stunning, is an understatement. Its a relic of bygone days, but is still a family home. To say that Rode Hall Farmer's Market is a small affair does not do it justice, its not that small, 2 barns hold the stalls, with a courtyard and path area holding stalls too, there's plenty to see and buy, from gifts to locally produced food, game and cakes. Playing there was a pleasure, despite the weather, which consisted of freezing breezes and eventually bucketloads of rain! Overall we played for 3 hours, with a couple of short breaks to grab a quick cuppa. After 20 minutes I couldn't feel my toes.. but carried on in the manner of a true professional. Each song bringing praise from the crowd with several singing along for good measure to the covers. Once the skies opened, we were half way through "Alone".. and decided enough was enough as all the equipment was getting soaked.. so we packed up in superquick time and then bought some scrummhy foods from the Farmer's market. The bread stall kindly gave us a bag of bread each, which contributed to lunch when we got back home. Definately one for the diary.

So, there you go.. gig diaries up to date.. wonder where we'll turn up next??

You'll just have to wait and see. :-)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Studio line.. studio time

You know how it is, you plan and plan and then life gets in the way.. well that's how its been for us recently, we hadn't been in the studio for ages and thought about it. I (Sheena) decided that it would be wise to book in advance, as either the studio wasn't available, or the other people we wanted to work with were.. So after a few weeks of chasing people down, we managed to synchronise diaries and set a date for 26th October.

Seeing as we were planning to put down a couple of tracks with Drums of Clogger, Rich, we needed to get him rehearsed up.. so we did that  just before going into the studio. Considering that he'd never played the songs before he managed to come up with drum parts that were just the ticket in an incredibly short space of time.. so still warm from the rehearsal we all sidled off to Tremolo studios to pester Dan for a few hours.
A couple of run throughs and a couple of recordings and we had the basics of the tracks "Better View" and "Let's Go Out" down and Rich could go back home to his lovely wife.

Meanwhile we set to adding guitars and vocals, including harmonies and bass parts.. suddenly the tracks have developed in a way we wouldn't have thought of. Including changing chords to one of them to give it a different feel and return it to something like its original format. We left the studio, shattered  and ready for bed!

Anyway... we're getting closer to finishing the CD, which is what its all for!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Its been a long time coming....Its gonna be a long time gone...

I know I know, I promised not to leave writing the blog too long and I've kind of gone back on my word somewhat... but that's what happens when you're a busy person! I'm only one (well, OK there's two of us in the duo, but only one doing the blogging!), so only have a finite amount of time on my hands, so, between looking at High Schools, rehearsing, writing and generally doing the day to day stuff.. I finally found a smidgen (my current favourite word) of time to dedicate to updating...so without further adieu I shall carry on where I left off last time.

Tuesday 17th September.

Well.. this day, well evening found us sloping off to Nantwich to appear on This is the Cat Radio, more specifically the Late Selector radio show. After navigating the country lanes (I lie.. the Bypass!) we found ourselves roaming around an estate of very nice buildings. "We're definately in the right place, its ..... House" (the name escapes me at present, no doubt I'll get reminded later). The car park was a tad deserted, which was worrying, so I suggested parking next to the Porsche Carerra, inferring that should anyone wish to steal a car, or break into one, they would be better off with the Porsche than Graeme's Fiat Panda. After texting our host and simply being told "Press the button".. we searched for light to find the said button. There's not a great deal of lighting on said car park... Anyway, cutting a long story short.. we gained access, then had to work out where we were going, taking the option of climbing as high as we could until we hit civilisation. Luckily we found our way to the studio, with literally minutes before we were due on air.
The evening descended from there.... Fortunately not in a bad way, but in a rather hilarious, riotous, giggling chaos of a show, for which Steve is famous.. well, I say famous, certainly on This is the Cat Radio he is. We managed to play a few songs for good measure and equally descended into more hilarity. The whole experience was incredible. Steve put us completely at ease, enouraged Graeme not to swear.. which of course didn't last long, and played some incredible local music. Overall it was a brilliant night and one we hope to repeat soon.

Check out This is the Cat Radio at: http://thisisthecat.com

Saturday 21st September

We received a call on Friday 20th September, "Can you do a gig for me? You'll be helping me out of a mess, if you do!". The call came from an agency, "What sort of stuff do you do?".. which was met with our stock response "A bit of our own stuff, a bit of this, a bit of that, some 70's singer/songwriter tunes and a few Who tracks".. "Great, I'll tell the pub you can do it".
I hasten to add, I'm not going to name the agency, nor the pub, as I presume it was a case of crossed wires... we're Rain Acoustic Duo from Stoke, otherwise known here and there as "Rain"... well, it turns out there's another duo called "Rain", well, they call themselves a duo, which is technically true, however, they utilise backing tracks, so they're technically a duo with a full band in a box. I can presume this is where the mishap may have started. 
We arrived at the venue, pleased to have a gig booked, but felt rather uneasy after chatting to the manager and bar staff. However, not to cause a fuss, we set up and began playing.
We played a full usual 2 x 45 minute slots, but it felt much longer. The room was virtually empty (I blame Strictly and whatever current real-life become a celeb show is on TV on a Saturday night). The people that were there were hard to crack, we've all had crowds like that. Lets just say they were less than impressed with us and we were less than impressed with them. We were simply the wrong band for the venue. As we'd not booked it ourselves, I suppose we could gain some satisfaction from it. However, it was not anyone's fault, simply a misunderstanding. The agency thought they were booking another act, the pub were expecting another act and we were not it! Apparently someone who walked out said to the landlord "We came out to have a great night out, instead we had someone that would go down well at a funeral!". I hasten to add, we might go down well at some funerals, but equally we usually go down very well wherever we play. The landlord did apologise and so did we. To add insult to injury the agent turned up and apparently fell out with the landlord and his staff too, which wasn't good. We bid a hasty retreat and vowed never to return to that particular venue. 

Wednesday 25th September

After the previous weeks problems we decided to make ourselves feel better by going along to The Open Mic at The Nags Head in Crewe, one of our favourite venues and one of our favourite Open Mic nights. Run by Al Dean, a man who defies description, who is so generous to everyone who turns up. We found ourselves in a moderately quiet one, which made a change. Its a very intimate venue is the Nags, rather akin to playing in someone's lounge, but with a stage, lighting rig and full PA! We shared a stage with such greats on the scene as Rivers and Kelly, the utterly awesome Angus McTwangstick and someone called Sandy (who's name I've forgotten).. when she got up to perform, half the audience performed with her.. which meant she didn't play to as many as everyone else..But still a lovely mix of music, surrounded by cool people and the usual treat of a hot meal provided by the very lovely Jacqui. We do enjoy playing there, hopefully we'll be back there soon enough. 

Saturday 28th September

The Boughey Arms decided to have a a Beer Festival and we were called to provide the entertainment. Again The Boughey is another favourite venue to play, its a lovely place with lovely people and well worth the trek. The audience were so receptive, singing along to some of the newer songs in the set list and pleasantly surprised by a few, one table playing "Name that Tune".. but without Tom O'Connor. lol. (Showing my age, I know!) Once we did our thing we ended up chatting to one table and another, everyone fully appreciative of what we'd done and singing our praises, which was lovely to hear and I'm always humbled by. Turns out one of the couples at a table live in the house next door and thoroughly enjoyed our rendition of Pinball Wizard at the Acoustic event there, they were pleasantly surprised to find out that we were the "couple with the great guitar playing and beautiful singing voice" who had indeed played the Acoustic Festival. I remember thinking back to the Festival and there were two heads peeking over the wall. They commented that they were a little worried when the Festival was on this year as the previous year they'd been witness to another act,who, in their words "the noise was so bad, we had to close not just our patio doors, but the whole of the rest of the doors and windows to escape from the racket that the singer was making". I was saddened to hear that, as I always figured the Boughey were good with their music policy and they said "Normally we don't have any issues with it at all and enjoy live music, but that was just awful"  It left me feeling heavy hearted as no-one should have to feel that they're cutting themself off from great music and The Boughey is usually very good at picking its acts to play. Maybe the act in question was having a bad day, maybe the sound wasn't quite right. Could be a million reasons. However the couple have a renewed faith in The Boughey after this years festival and after seeing us perform, so its all good. We made some other friends too, a great couple, the husband of which used to live around the corner from me when I was growing up. Ever a reminder that its a very small world we live in. 

Sunday 29th September

Still full of enthusiasm and with a night off we decided to go along to Arthur's Table Open Mic at The Swan in Burslem. We also like the Swan, a beautiful pub, which is an incredibly stylish place, rather akin to a European cafe bar. Anyway, the night started great. The pub across the road had a karaoke night that descended into chaos.. no, worse than that, tables were thrown, chairs and stools were thrown, people were crying and shouting. The bar staff from The Swan went to the aid of some of the injured and the police arrived swiftly, arresting offending individuals and drawing the excitement to a sudden end. Oh well, life goes on, and so we played there, alongside Arthur, Gaz Williams, Frank Cerioni, Bill, and loads of others, a wonderful night.. made more special when we played "Won't Get Fooled Again".. at which point, during the opening bars, the place erupted. Fortunately it didn't erupt in the same way as the pub across the road, but people started bopping about and singing along.. always good when you know you've done something right.

Friday 4th October

Back in the studio. Phew, we'd been meaning to get back in the studio for a while, but had put it off as we'd reached an impasse with the CD, we knew we wanted to do more, but were stuck on what to do with the songs we had. Then Graeme had a brain wave, "I want it to be an orchestral piece".. Seeing as we're rather lacking in the orchestra department, being only an acoustic duo, we only had one choice "Daaaaaan.... can you play us something for this track"... Dan, of Tremolo Studios is a truly unassuming guy, utterly brilliant behind the mixing desk and a true genius, "What? Oh, you mean something like this"... Dan placed his fingers on the keys, caressing them gently, he came up with exactly what we'd been looking for. Simply without the need for direction, he simply played a piece and it fitted beautifully. "Now do the same with violins".. which he did.. "Now, we want something else, not a trumpet.. no flute... so Oboe!!!!".. up he stepped once more and played a piece "Is that OK?" "OK???" chimed Graeme and I in unison, "its brilliant!!" However, I was sleepy and needed to get home to bed... we promised to return on Sunday.

Sunday 6th October

We returned as promised on Friday, to Tremolo studios with a view to finish off the track we started on Friday.. which we did. Adding in electric guitar, bass guitar, vocals, harmonies and a few bits of percussion.. It was starting to sound complete "Do you think we need drums on this?" asked Graeme, "I think its a bit late for drums now!" I replied "anyway, its sounding amazing as it is and we don't want to overegg the pudding". (which has become the stock phrase for the studio). We walked out with a rough demo to listen to in the coming weeks to see if there's anything else needed.. We'll do that with the other tracks too.. Only 2 more tracks to record and only when Drums of Clogger Rich Raizada is free to do it. We're in no rush to finish it, we've been working on it since February and rather than rush it in a weekend, with their only being two of us, we can't really rush it. We have to do a bit, step back from it, listen to it, then prod around in its internal organs until it becomes something else, something greater than the sum of its parts. Its been a great journey so far, it would be a shame to rush the rest of it. We've decided that February might be a good time to release it..By which time it should be finished!! :-) We hope! 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Holidays in the Sun and the start of the Autumn cool down

Once more its been a while since I sat behind the laptop and wrote a blog for Rain.. I'm getting a bit slack in my old age (no jokes please!!).. Graeme and I took a few days well earned holiday in mid August, taking in the sights, smells and tastes of the Highlands of Scotland. Staying at the marvellous Glen Nevis, just at the foothills of Ben Nevis... I shall say no more other than I was utterly rendered speechless by the awesomeness of the place... anyway, without further adieu.. lets get onto Rain's news...

Saturday 17th August, fresh from our visit to Scotland saw us once more in Alsager, this time performing a set at The Farmers Market... The legendary Stath Kyrantonis rigged up the gear, and sorry to say the weather got the better of everyone, it was cool, breezy and most unlike the recent hot and sunny weather we'd been having.. However, undeterred we carried on and played to the various shoppers who stood, applauded and were incredibly appreciative. Was lovely to be back in Alsager, a couple of people recognised us from the recent Alsager Music Festival, which is encouraging... or is it?? :-)

We did our usual trick of being booked to do more than one event in a day, and undeterred by the cold windyness of it all, took ourselves off to the Freespirit Festival in Newcastle under Lyme.. a small gathering of like minded souls, apparently there had been workshops all day, but we'd not been able to get there earlier due to Alsager.. however we were made warmly welcome and managed to see a lovely set by Mel Ellis.. In fact I (Sheena) jumped up and added some harmonies to a couple of her songs.. which went down well.. What also went down well was the delightful fruit crumble that had been created that day by the people taking part.. it was divine, there was also vegan food samples, a tent which housed information and stuff to buy (recycled stuff rather akin to a car boot stall).. then were up. I neglected to mention that during Mel's set the heavens opened and it threw it down.. so the PA was quickly unplugged and we did our set acoustically.. received some lovely feedback from the crowd, some of whom had never seen us before, others who had only ever seen us "plugged in" as it were and were very positive about an unplugged Rain..

Saturday 24th August took us to Nantwich and The Leopard.. We'd been asked at short notice if we could fill in the slot, and us being us didn't refuse, we'd got a night off, so thought.. "why not?".. Anyway, it was quite quiet, for which the manager Steve, was apologetic.. However, we went down really well with those who were there. Bank Holiday weekends are hard to judge, places can either be heaving or quiet, we were told that there was an event on in Nantwich town, which most people had apparently gone to.. Oh well, it was a great place to play.. so much so we went back the following night ;-)

Sunday 25th August we returned to The Leopard in Nantwich for the very excellent Late Selector radio shows Open Mic night, where various acts turn up, do a spot and get recorded and videoed for the show. The place was packed and there were some amazing acts on... Just proving that music is for everyone and everyone received a great response from the crowd. We did our more up tempo songs.. and were persuaded by Steve Abbot to get back up and do Pinball Wizard.. joined on keyboards by the fabulous Markus Aurelianus (what a genius behind the black and whites!!) and Steve the landlord on Cahon... the crowd were shocked, stunned and then just let their hair down and joined in... A truly fabulous night, with new friends made and an invitation to go on the radio show as guests in September.

Monday 26th August took us to The Boughey Arms Acoustic Festival.. Flatbed truck and hay bales in place.. hog roast cooking away and some awesome music...plus gorgeous weather.. a reminder that it was still just about summer! We agreed to open the Festival, figuring that someone has to. It was nice to be back at The Boughey, its one of our favourite places.. the atmosphere is delightful, everyone friendly and just a lovely place to be. We were followed by the Boat Band, who delivered their usual Cajun inspired revelry and several other acts, including Slippery Hill Boys, The Mill, Providence Jug Band, Barrelhouse Jukes and many more.. all in all a lovely day.

Saturday 31st August meant only one thing.. Cloggerfest!!! Blythe Cricket Club was the venue for this amazing mini Festival.. with the sun shining and cricket being played, it was a rather English affair. The gurning competition was entered by many.. including us.. with me coming 3rd and Graeme not even being placed.. (how does that work??)... anyway it was riotously funny. The evening descended and the music began.. I can't remember the running order, but the music, as ever was awesome... Arthur Righteous, Gaz Williams Trio, Rain, Clair Brennan, Pickering White, Headsticks and headlining.. Sons of Clogger... there was dancing, singing and definately a festival atmosphere, it was lovely to be among our friends.. no agendas, no nastiness.. just everyone coming together to enjoy a good time.. Lets hope the do another one next year...

Sunday 8th September back over the border and into Derbyshire for the Wirksworth Arts Festival.. If you've never been to Wirksworth.. I encourage you to go... and if you've never been to the Arts Festival.. likewise.. the whole village is taken over by artists and musicians.. gallery's are set up in people' houses and people's gardens become live venues! We played there last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, and consequently jumped at the chance to play again. The first slot we played was at The Old Lock Up, which is now a bed and breakfast, but was once the local constabulary.. it has a nice stable block out the back, which had been converted into a mini beer Festival.. the area was dressed with hay bales and it gave it a definate vibe. A great place and we played to a full house! Received loads of compliments upon our finish and made some new friends.. which is always a bonus.. Our second slot was at The Stable Block, which is a courtyard performance area, and the acoustics are incredible.. lovely stone walls created a fantastic resonance chamber.. again positive feedback received.. definately went away glowing with pride.

Tuesday 10th September and we visited The Boughey Arms Open Mic.. if you've never been, then you simply must.. some of the best musicians in the area play there, its hosted by John Askey, who's a lovely fella, and I've been assured used to play bass for Sandy Shaw (back in the day)... One thing that sets this apart from a lot of other Open Mics is that its in a function room, away from the main body of the pub and the audience actually listen.. you can literally hear a pin drop when someone's playing.. which is encouraging..

Thats us up to date again.. I'll try and remember not to leave it too long until next time..

Monday, 5 August 2013

Summer Fun

Well folks, its been a while since I sat down at the laptop and wrote the blog for Rain.. Its been all "go" here.. well, not so much "all go" as go a bit, stop a bit and reflect on what, where and how we go about things. Yes, we've had a few gigs.. all needing blogging about and working behind the scenes, writing new material and the like..

Anyhoo, without further adieu...

Saturday 13th July.. a blisteringly hot day and the everso brilliant Alsager Music Festival. we were billed to play at 6.45 on the Acoustic Stage, which was set in a lovely sunken garden, away from the main stage area. Was such a delightful event to play, lots of folks we knew were there, The Slippery Hill Boys, Rick Ford, Bitter and Twisted and Sugar Rush.. the hard work of the team who put together this wonderful event really paid off, the park area was packed, we received a healthy audience and went down well, which, is as ever encouraging, with lots of positive feedback... reckon we'd be hard pressed to not do it again...should there be another one.Its definately one to go for when the weather is right... such a great space and used to its best. We were interviewed by Red Shift Radio too, asking us what we thought of the day, and well, what could we say, other than amazing!! Big thanks to Stath and his team for pulling it off.. well done guys, you deserve a medal!

Wednesday 17th July...Saw us taking part in the Rubber Soul Session at The Old Brown Jug, supporting Hannah Robinson, a very talented young lady from Bournemouth.. who has definate star quality (Jools Holland's show next year, we reckon!), we also shared the stage with a young girl called Hollie.. overall a delightful session and big thanks to Rob form Rubber Soul Records for booking us and to Gaz Williams for providing the sound.. Its always a bonus when you get a good sound guy!

Friday 26th July took us to The London Road Tavern, once quite a venue, but more recently being known for its food.. however, the owners were keen to put some entertainment on.. so we played, doing our usual 2 and half our set.. including a bundle of Who songs, which went down a treat with the crowd!! Was lovely to see some old friends in the audience too.

Saturday 27th July took us all over the place!! Firstly we played as part of Bidstock 13, a metal festival held in The Commercial Hotel, Wheelock, quite literally in the middle of nowhere! Well, in the village of Wheelock.. The Commercial Hotel was like stepping back in time, we played on the Snakey Jake Acoustic Stage following the utterly brilliant Hayley Strangelove. The Snakey Jake Acoustic stage was rather akin to playing in someone's living room.. old comfy sofas and chairs around the room, a welsh dresser against one wall.. very strange, but very lovely... We had a lovely crowd, who were very appreciative. Bidstock wasn't our usual kind of event, but never say never, there were some brilliant musicians there, who were undaunted by the rain and who had practically drunk the place dry!! Looking forward to working with the Bidstock team in the future too.
That evening, despite thunderstorms and driving rain, we managed to escape to Derby.. It had been a while since we'd supported The Longmen, and they invited us back for a long overdue visit. Well, we were in Bar One, which was entertaining a disco night when we arrived.. a short walk through to the beer garden revealed a covered oasis, with its own stage.. absolutely perfect for playing on.. with heated lighting, meaning it was toasty warm and dry, despite the thunderstorm overhead... Need to bring The Longmen to Stoke, as they are a cracking band.. sort of bluesy with a veritable Hugh Lloyd Langton on guitar in the shape of Ferrit! They really are a great bunch of guys and deserve to come this way soon.

Sunday 4th August, once more into Tremolo Studios to do some more work on the tracks we've recorded. This time joined by the mighty Kris Grainger.. who works magic on the fretless bass.. he's added the finishing touches to two tracks.. you don't realise what's missing from a song until you hear the final parts being added in, unfortunately we weren't able to stay there as long as we'd have liked, as its meant having to leave the rest of the songs too... We're unsure whether to add in any more songs, or whether to just leave it at 7.. The songs have begun to take on a life of their own, each having a depth and intricacy that we never imagined possible when we first went in. Heaven knows when the CD will be ready... Its looking likely that we may have to put the release date back again!! I hope not though!

Right, that's it from us for now... As you know, we never rest on our laurels and have more things in the pipeline.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Its oh so quiet.... Its oh so still... well not really.

Hi folks,

You may be wondering why we've not updated for a while.. well, its cos we've been busy doing stuff.

We should have played The Imp at Crewe on June 27th, but sadly Graeme had the lurgy, which prevented us from playing.. watch this space, or check out the gig guide page for details of where we're playing next! Hopefully we'll rebook for The Imp soon.

Saturday 29th June took us to The Bank Corner pub in Alsager for the Pre-gig warm up for Alsager Festival. What a great evening it turned out to be... starting with Maddy Storm, who plays a number of heartwarming songs in her own unique way proved to be an excellent opener, followed by us, we gave them a number of original and covers and went down brilliantly. Following us were the excellent Sea Based Turtles, who really brought the place to life, with their funk rock numbers. Leading the proceedings were the truly marvellous Sugar Rush who kept the venue dancing into the night with a splendid array of covers. Might I just add that Stath from Sugar Rush is one of the main organisers of the Alsager Festival and that he's a top bloke, along with Pete Weatherburn, who was taking photos for posterity.
It proved to be an excellent warm-up to the Festival, which starts on 13th July.. we'll be hitting the Acoustic Stage at 6.15pm!

Thursday 4th of July, and we made an appearance at Arthur's Table Open Mic night.. a truly fabulous night, with the cream of the talent in Stoke in attendance. We'd recently learned another couple of covers, and decided to play them to the ever appreciative audience.. Showcasing that evening were the veritable bastions of chapness "Sons of Clogger"..who delivered their usual rambunctiousness to the delighted crowd. They never fail to please and are gearing up for their upcoming CD official launch parties!

After this we took a well earned and deserved break to the south coast, just a couple of days to de-stress... well and for Graeme to acquire a new guitar.. which I have to admit is really rather nice and I'm looking forward to him airing it at the next gig.

So we'll hopefully catch you all at Alsager Music Festival on 13th July!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Its Studio Time!!

Crikey, doesn't time fly, there we were doing loads of gigs, suddenly we found ourselves with a bit more time on our hands! So, rather than waste it, it was time to go back to Tremolo Studios and set to work on trying to finish off the tracks we'd started.

Saturday 22nd June, there we sat with Dan mulling over recordings and deciding over what we should do next to the tracks we'd already put down. So, Graeme set to work putting bass lines down on a couple of the songs and adding some extra twangy guitars to Alone. The main job of the evening was to lay basslines, guitars and vocals on Mary Go Round, one of our newer songs. Surprisingly it all went smoothly, overlaying guitars and vocals, harmonies, etc and weaving what started out as quite a plain sounding track into something rather beautiful. In 3 hours we'd completed work on 2 other songs and pretty much completed Mary Go Round.

Sunday 23rd June, Back into Tremolo, despite thinking we wouldn't get back for a couple of weeks.. More basslines completed, so there's only 2 songs requiring the skillful dexterity of Kris Grainger and his amazing fretless bass.. Not saying that Graeme isn't skillful, or dexterous, because he is, but in a different way, plus one more requiring a banjo part, which is yet to be written!

The idea of using other musicians on the tracks, not only means that someone else gets some credit somewhere, but that we like organic instruments. Synths and the like have their place in the music scene, just for us, this time around, we decided on an organic approach, and when you have such talent around Stoke, why waste it?? Why not put it to good use. So where we can, we've allowed the other musicians free reign to construct a piece of music to fit into the songs, allowing them to shine as brightly as us. Plus, it helps them too, they can say "Hey I've played on such and such".. Not saying that we'll become millionaire's off it, but you never know.. stranger things have happened, what's more likely, is that they'll become famous and we'll end up saying "Hey, they played on our CD"..

Its all coming together nicely, and hopefully the finished product will be ready very very soon.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

London Road Festival weekend and studio times.

So, the time of year was upon us, London Road Festival weekend, we'd played there last year on the main stage and were looking forward to playing again... anyway, here's the weekend, broken down into bitesize pieces :-)

Saturday 8th June, we decided it was time to return to Tremolo Studios and do some more work on the tracks for the CD. It had been some weeks (11 to be precise) since we'd had enough free time to book a spot and do some work, such are the joys of gigging regularly! Still, can't complain, as its what we love to do. Anyway, back to the studio. Basically we were going back to overdub on the tracks that we'd laid the bare bones down to and to add in extra bits to some that needed it. Also in attendance was Katharine Luff, a rather talented brass player who had written some parts for one of the songs, all I'll say is we had given her the song and the remit "mariachi style please" and as before, she delivered, bringing life to a piece that we would have struggled with otherwise. The song "Falling" has a kind of Spanish/Spaghetti Western feel to it, rather like "Alone Again Or"..or something in that vein.. for those of you that have heard us play it live, maybe you can hear it too, or maybe not?? Anyway, its sounding really rather good, just some final touches and it'll be complete.
What I like about being in the studio, is the being able to break a song down into its component parts, and then glueing them back together, adding in flourishes, touches, depth and colour, where there was none before. The beauty of being in a duo is that, yes it can be as simple as just us two, guitar and vocals, or as complex as we like. We're adding in so much at the moment, we know that at some point during the editing stage we'll have to start taking away too.
We also worked on "That Brief Encounter", Graeme adding in Spanish guitar (some very nice pieces, if I say so myself) and the vocals..including some nice harmonies. So the newer tracks are beginning to take shape.
Another few sessions in the studio and we should be done with the CD.. but don't hold your breath anytime soon.. I know we keep saying we'll get it done, first it was May, then June.. now we're thinking September.. But we'll see. We need to record a couple more tracks for it and work on them, finish off the ones that we already have and then set about mixing them.. so who knows, maybe it'll be ready by Christmas!!

Sunday 9th June, Wow.. London Road Festival. There had been a few mix-ups with this festival initially. We'd said from the get go that we were interested in playing the main stage again, seeing as we did it last year and were looking forward to going back and initially we weren't booked to do that, nor were we booked to play in any of the pubs, then within a few days before, we were asked, could we play The Oak Tree and then 2 days before.. could we play the main stage. Being us, we said yes!
On the main stage we decided to try something a bit different. Graeme, who was trying out his friend Raj's Rickenbacker 330 (it needed fixing and Graeme fixed it so needed to try it out) and me.. with hair extensions in, did a couple of our numbers, followed by The Who's "1921" and "Pinball Wizard", which went down well with the crowd, following with "Northern Lights" and ending our set with the usual "Je Ne Regrette Rien"... The assembled crowd were incredibly receptive and even in the hot sun saw to give us tumultuous applause. The newly eletrified Rain had arrived :-). We were sandwiched between The Jake Leg Jug Blues Band and The Legendry Lonnie Band, so knew we had to pull off something different to make an impact. If the sight of me in my hair extensions wasn't enough, Graeme was even wearing shorts.. :-O
Later that day, well 7pm to be precise, we set up to play The Oak Tree, however the poor landlord was feeling a bit down, he had put on a craft fair during the day as part of the Festival, but sadly no-one had come to it.. we played for about 40 minutes and he said "Look guys, lets call it a day".. so we summarily packed up. We played well to the few folk, who were stall holders for the craft fair, that they were supportive, but we were flogging a dead horse and we knew it. Not one person put their foot through the door, which was such a pity, as The Oak Tree is rather a nice pub inside.. recently having been refurbished and looking quite contemporary now. Once packed we said our goodbyes and rather than go home discouraged took ourselves off to The Swan in Burslem for Arthur's Table Open Mic. Where we stayed for a while, listened to the delights of Arthur, Tony Roberts, Trent Vale Poet and some guy called Keith (I think, terrible memory for names!) and then played a few songs for the crowd. It was a pretty good end to a pretty busy day.
While this weekend has had ups and downs, I would say the ups have definately out weighed the downs an its all a learning curve, eh?

Anyway, we'll get back to you with more news as and when we have some..

Friday, 7 June 2013

And into Flaming June

Phew, talk about a change in the weather.. June has brought sunshine aplenty and about time too.

Saturday 1st June
This morning we played at Wirksworth Farmers Market, at the request of the very lovely Brian Boothby (who is local to Wirksworth and does quite a bit in the music scene there.. check out his website: http://www.brianboothby.co.uk) and a glorious day it was too..
We followed a hurdy gurdy player, who played ancient tunes and sang some plainsong.. can't remember her name though, which is rather remiss of me. Let's just say she was excellent. We were given the slot of mid morning, which is apparently when the market is quite busy, and suffice to say it was. A steady stream of people milled past, giving the thumbs up, or stayed and listened for a while as we delivered our songs. Once we'd finished we were allowed to keep the few pounds we'd raised, Brian had kindly put a hat down for us, so we were off around the market to purchase our lunch. Farmer's Markets are great places to visit, with many local producers coming from local farms to sell their wares, which isn't just meat, milk, cheese and eggs, but a whole plethora of culinary delights. We're hoping to go back to Wirksworth again sometime as it is such a lovely village, with such a community spirit, vital in these times.

Saturday 1st of June
Yes, not content with one gig in a day, we found ourselves with two! The White Hart at Tean is a delightful pub with loads of character and friendly locals who welcomed us into their abode. We set off playing a bunch of our songs, which went down well, but things brightened up when we began our second set, which was all the cover songs we do. We played and played and played, the crowd kept asking for more.. so we gave them just that... Everything that we do!!! We ran out of songs and gave some half remembered covers.. and they still wanted more!!! An insatiable crowd. We had a few conversations after the gig with some of the locals, which made it even more memorable. In total, I think we played for well over 2 and a half hours, ending the set with a medley of Who songs. I'm most grateful to the audience who were very keen to sing along to the words that I forgot...Its that which makes gigs special.

So flaming June is here, well and truly.. much more coming up so there'll be much more to write about.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Jazzy Bluesyness

Well, Newcastle Jazz and Blues weekend arrived with all the extravaganza and ceremonious pomp that is part of the heritage of this lovely market town in Staffordshire. On the back of the old Newcastle Carnival, which was extraordinary in its day, and sadly came to a close some years ago.. the brainchild of the Newcastle Jazz and Blues came out of its embers rising like a pheonix from the flames. What Newcastle Jazz and Blues does mainly is showcase heaps of local talent, and people leave their homes and generally celebrate it in style...

So... the weekend arrived, and with it, some little spots for us to play..

Saturday 25th May, we played an impromptu spot at The Blackfriar's Open Mic evening, hosted by the very smiley Joe Bennett... We ran through a whole bunch of covers, and went down a storm, which was lovely and a pleasure. One guy in particular took to thanking us in person after each track, as it appears we may have actually found someone who listens to and has a liking for the tunes we picked to play! Either that, or he was full of the spirit of the Festival, which is based in pubs, so consequently leads to people drinking rather a few sherries. We were all done quite early on.. which was nice, giving us the rest of the night off.. We could have stayed in town, but promised we'd see a couple of friends... you know how it is.. hectic social lives... plus we had to plan for the next day.

Sunday 26th May, took us to The "Little" Vic, a rather friendly and welcoming hostelry in Brampton, to attend The Friendly Campaign's alternative to the Jazz and Blues weekend. Our PA was being used all day by the various acts.. and we took a sly opportunity to play early on, just to make sure that the sound was right.. as you do. We were deftly followed by John Oakes regaling songs of love with his 12 string. Clair Brennan, our local songstress, continued in the acoustic theme with her wonderful songs... and she went down a storm with the crowd. Interspersed between the acoustic acts was "London" Paul and his Rhythm and Blues collection, heaven knows where he found half of the songs from, no doubt some dark dusty cupboard somewhere! But it got the crowd dancing! As the sun began to slide low in the sky, the electric set began.. The Seers were set to play, however they were without their drummer!!! As luck would have it, in the room was a chap called Rob, a regular metronome and possibly one of the most natural drummers ever. Usually paired with "Tornado" Pete, Rob and he deliver fantastic Bragg-esque tunes about trains! Rob, having a day out in the pub to watch the bands, on his own was least prepared, but happily agreed to step in on drums. What a star, The Seers played their set, including a rather awesome version of "Neat Neat Neat"! Rob didn't miss a beat, placed all the fills deftly and without pause!! Think it was one of the highlights of the day!
Up next, The Friendly Campaign, a rather rowdy bunch of "N'er do wells", delivering their usual Pop/Punk songs with aplomb and deftness. (I hasten to add, both G and I are in The Friendly Campaign as well, so we are rather biased!). Taking things to another level, with the crowd merrily dancing away, some even dancing as aeroplanes, during "She Flies" was as sight to behold. TFC were testimony to the adage, practice loads and you'll get it right.. Managed to get through the whole set without a blip... "Sorrow" a perennial favourite, had the crowd singing along! TFC just know how to do it, and can pull the rabbit out of the hat every time!! More gigs now!!
Lastly and headlining were The Black Widows, down from the usual 7 to a 6 piece, they squeezed into the covered area and managed to pull out the stops and keep the mood lifted.. with their new additions to the band, and apparent CD release, they'll probably go quite far now!!
MC for the evening and general inbetween act during the evening sets was "Nervous" Dave, somewhat of a poet, recited his poetry and had the crowd in stitches!! Rather cleverly put together, with marvellous play on words Dave should get this work down onto CD and out there!!
Overall a wonderfully entertaining day!

Monday 27th May. Folk and Foam @ The Old Brown Jug, as part of the Newcastle Jazz and Blues Festival... Organised by the ever hard working Andy Tranter from Headsticks, we managed to sneak down earlier than our set to watch the fantastic Sons of Clogger, formed from the family of "Cloggers" Neil and David Owen... joined by Dave "Dougey" Brown on Bass and Rich Raizada on drums, we can be assured that if these guys don't make it big, then no-one will. They have raised the bar to which the rest of us have to now attain to achieving!!! They are full on, energised folk, with supercharged mandolin and lyrical stories, with a new CD out (which we just HAD to buy!!) and promoted onstage several times! We love the Cloggers! We had to follow them.. which is a tough job, as far as I'm concerned.. But we did quite well. Pulled out "The Telegram", which is a new song for us, at only 2 weeks old, its a veritable baby of a tune. Obviously having Rich from Sons of Clogger in the room, meant that we called him up for a few tunes, he's playing on our tracks which are in the studio, patiently waiting for us to go and finish them off! It was great playing on a proper stage again, inside a marquee, with the sound provided by Wayne from Artisan music in Hartshill, its one of the joys of playing different events, is the differing sound/stage set-ups you have to deal with. This one included proper fold-back monitors, which is not something encountered by acoustic acts in a number of venues, so it felt like being in a proper band. Cheered on by Dave and Dougey in the front row, we managed to get through the set with only minor giggles! Greeted by rapturous applause and lots of positive comments once leaving stage, it has once more given validity to what we're doing.
We stuck around for a couple of acts, namely Lucas Marks and Baxter, both giving it their all. Elsewhere in the pub itself, The Barrelhouse Jukes have a couple of hours of their time playing downhome Delta Blues and  their usual array of tunes. A chinese takeaway and a desire to warm up while watching Baxter (who is a duo comprising the enoromously talented Hayley Strangelove and the amazing Paul Senior of Sons of Shinobi) was just the ticket. We would have loved to have stuck around for the rest of the evening, as it featured Phil Maddocks and Nick Bayes, Giro Junkie and Headsticks, among others.. But family matters and time were against us, and something has to give sometimes.

Rightio.. that's the blog up to date again!! Phew!! I told you May was a crazy month for us!!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Mad Month of May

Well, May has turned out to be a crazy month in Rainland.. Seriously, its been mad. We've bee trying to learn new material, compose new songs, etc, but have had a plethora of gigs to do! Each weekend in May we've had at least one gig, more often 2-3, sometimes 2 on the same day!! But we, as ever, take it in our stride and just want to bring you more of our unique brand of craziness..

Sunday 12th May saw us going to The Gresley Arms Folk and Ale Festival, which is a fantastic event, brought to you by the Lovekins (yes that really is their surname, how ace is that??). They run a folk group at The Gresley, which is a kind of sing around session, which we had been to in April and they kindly asked us to come along and do a spot.. which we were more than happy to oblige. We managed to pack out the room, which was filled to the brim with enthusiastic faces and encouraging applause. Considering we only did 4 songs, we went down really well and were given a free meal and pint as a reward.. which is so wonderfully generous of them. We shall endeavour to return to the singaround night soon, as it was such a lovely welcoming atmosphere, and a truly lovely pub.

Saturday 18th May took us to The Olde Queen's Head in Talke. Have to say we were a bit anxious at going there, as we had never been there before, and were a little worried at what the reaction would be. Its never easy trying a new venue, espescially one that is used to having "pub singers/entertainers". We couldn't have been more wrong, what a superb crowd and fantastic reception! Apparently, according to some of the locals, who had drank rather a few beers, we made a refreshing change an they thought we were amazing!!! Something totally different to what they were used to, as they were a bit fed up of "those that sing along to backing tracks"... Even Graeme was asked to showcase his guitar playing, when someone asked "Do you know, Angie?"... he had to oblige, and dazzled the assembled crowd with a rendition of that and Albatross. We were definately on a winner there!

Sunday 19th May took us to Stafford Rangers Football Club, for a Health and Healing Day.. not the usual place you'd find us, but definately a fun day. We managed two sets, even after I (Sheena) fell unceremoniously off the stage and down the steps, bruising not just my bum, but my pride! And again, went down really well... We shared the stage with Clare Palmer, who is a truly lovely lady and who has written a song in aid of Stafford Hospital called, "50, 000 People Can't Be Wrong"... Let's hope she raises loads of money for it, she's someone we'd count as a new friend, as she writes lovely sings, and has a really powerful voice, yet is so unassuming. Also on the stage was Stuart Woolfenden, who had travelled up from Worcestershire to play, at only 15, he's already a singer/songwriter, rather punkish and definately someone to watch out for. All in all a fabulous day.

Next week we're at Newcastle Jazz and Blues weekend.. should be a good one.. watch this space for updates!! :-)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Featured on a website!

Yes folks, you heard it, we've been featured, albeit very briefly on the Leek Post and Times website for the event that we performed at on Sunday 5th May! Nice couple of pics and a mention. Which is nice and of course good to be a part of something so positive.

Here's the link anyway...



Monday, 6 May 2013

Mayday Mayday! Well, Bank Holiday weekend

Well folks, I know the title of this posts suggests a cry for help this last weekend and it certainly felt like that at times, however, we've just had a rather different kind of Bank Holiday weekend in Rain-land.

Saturday's gig at The Cumberland Arms had to be postponed, due to Graeme spending the day in bed, feeling all "fluey". He was sent to bed with painkillers and orange juice and ordered to stay put, Sam from The Cumberland is a top bloke and has postponed the gig till August, we'll post the date at a later point..

Sunday and Graeme had made a recovery of sorts, and despite still feeling offside, we went to our two gigs of the day! (Which later became three.. of a fashion)

The first gig was at Leek Arts Festival, in the Market place.. despite the sunshine, it was in fact really rather chilly, due to a nice Easterly wind blowing down the High Street... We suffered the chilly breeze, wrapped up in coats and gloves and gave it our all, thankfully a crowd gathered and we were applauded every step of the way, which is lovely, feeling the warmth and appreciation from the crowd.

Second gig of the day (after a brief lunch) was at Burslem Arts Festival, we had been told we'd be playing the "Acoustic Stage" outside The Swan, however, upon arriving, poor Lee (one of the orgnisers) was running down the street, having frantically tried to get hold of us all morning to tell us that we were in fact playing on the mainstage!! How about that then??

The mainstage at Burslem was rather akin to a bouncy castle... well, the outside of it was.. the temptation to run and bounce off the walls was tempting, but we simply didn't have the time. What was refreshing was playing through a very large PA!! A very lively monster of a machine that picked up every nuance, but sounded beautiful.. Decent equipment is always worth it, in my mind, rather than just scrimping by.. The stage area felt huge and I felt that we were a little lost on it really, but it was a rather enjoyable experience, seeing how more popular musicians live, as it were. (A short aside, we can now say that we have played on the same billing as Simon Townshend, as he played the Festival on the Monday, but we don't really go in for all that kudos collecting.) Again we were well received, particularly by our good friends Pete and Paul, who had come along to lend support with raucous applause.

Sunday evening we decided to pop along to the ever popular Acoustic night in the Swan in Burslem, which is run by the multi talented Arthur Righteous, a warm and welcoming man, in an equally warm and welcoming pub. It was a bit of a surprise, to be honest, as we kind of expected a somewhat smaller audience, but the place was packed!! Which was lovely.. A great number of musicians, and three showcases..Graham Dawson, Pickering White and the utterly brilliant Sons of Clogger... a fantastic night, everyone on top form, with a few songs from us for good measure.. Just makes me remember how lucky we are to have such a plethora of creativity in this great City of ours.

Monday, 29 April 2013

A pair of April Fools - quite possibly

Well, phew! What a weekend that was in the world of Rain! Crazy busy, but loving every minute of it!

Friday 26th April took us to The Grove House in Chesterton, run by the ever so lovely Phil... Both of us had been there independently of each other in around 2008-2009 to take part in Open Mic nights there,so it was rather amusing to think that we hadn't bumped into each other before.. With thoughts of this we set up and performed our usual set, though taking a break part way through, to chat to a couple (Jo and Ian) who had taken the time to look us up on You Tube, liked what they heard, so came along to watch.. which was lovely of them. They were joined by a few other folk.. however, The Grove House is a bit of a strange pub.. not in a bad way, but the majority of folk prefer to drink in the bar and listen to the music from bands playing in the other room.. Which I have to say is a bit odd.. But we went down well, so all was not lost. Poor Phil kept apologising for there not being many people in, and we chatted about the state of the economy, how more and more people are staying home and not going to listen to live local music, etc.. Overall though a great night, with new friends made and the like.

Saturday 27th April and we were invited by Geoff Berrow from The Slippery Hill Boys to play at his lovely wife, Dawn's 50th birthday bash, also on the bill was Graham Dawson, who was aided by a couple of The Slippery's (as they shall now be known on this blog!), Phil Maddocks and Nick Bayes, and of course the main attraction The Slippery Hill Boys. We had both made the mistake of eating before getting there, however were tempted by the amazing Slippery Hill Chilli's and extremely hot salsa (designed to take the lining off your entire gastric system!) which were divine and the recipe is on the website, so is a must try...
Check it out here: http://www.slipperyhill.co.uk/chilli.php
Graham Dawson kicked off the evening, with some easy listening, East Coast vibes.. did he throw in an Eagles cover?? I don't know.. but gently led us into the evening of entertainment. We were up next and gave them some of our covers, Crazy being one of the most well received of the evening.. that and Je ne Regrette Rien, which always goes down well.. The crowd were warm and appreciative, but we couldn't stay on stage all night and gave way to Maddocks and Bayes, who performed some amazing tunes, in a kind of country/folk style. They were followed by The Slippery Hill Boys... who just HAVE to be seen!! They're made up of such a bunch of extremely talented guys, playing their own blend of Americana, with intertwining melodies and harmonies that left me (Sheena) quite speechless. They were also joined on stage by Bearfoot's violinist, who's name escapes me, just adding more to that Country vibe...
Bumped into a few friends there (other than the musicians), as its always interesting to find out who knows who, and realise that the world is a whole lot smaller than we might think. I sincerely hope that Dawn had a fantastic night, as it was a pleasure to play for her.

Some links you might want to check out:
 Sorry, couldn't find a link for Graham Dawson...

Sunday 28th March - Phew! What a day, we'd been invited by Georgina Salt to provide the PA and do a few numbers for the Ballroom Boutique event at The George Hotel in Burslem.. How could we refuse??
The Ballroom Boutique is an annual vintage and handmade fair, where people with various trinkets turn up and display their wares.. This one was going to be different as it was in aid of The Lullaby Trust (http://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/). Raising funds for charity is never easy in these austere times and Georgina put together a fantastic event, worked really hard to organise everything, and be a full time mum to a 9 month old!!! She even sorted out the other acts, and the running order, so all we had to do was turn up, set up and play... We were the first to play, followed by Shotokan Disco, an acoustic covers act performed by Mark Dixon. He covered old favourites, and more modern tunes in his own style, anyway don't take my word for it, check out his MySpace...http://www.myspace.com/shotokandisco
Following him were String of Pearls, bringing a taste of the 1940's, 50's and 60's to life.. both Sarah and Mark were dressed straight from the 1940's and delivered a brilliant set of songs, check them out online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1zKR6adjgg and their facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/String-Of-Pearls/353567211327958
They were followed by the One Production Theatre Company, who gave us some show tunes, from diverse shows such as The Sound of Music, Rent, Chess and Les Mis.. a fabulous blending of harmonies and top notch performers, I hope they get picked up for the big theatres, as they're fantastic!! I can't find a link for them (sorry guys :-( )
Next up were The Mill another acoustic duo (yes folks we have serious competition!), a very talented couple , with a hint of Eva Cassidy.. sorry guys.. no weblink either.. :-(
We met up with some old friends.. Jetsunn designs (https://www.facebook.com/JetsunnDesigns?fref=ts) Asgot simmering salts (https://www.facebook.com/Asgotsalt?fref=ts) and made some new friends, specifically Julia from Tribble Trinkets (https://www.facebook.com/TribbleTrinkets?fref=ts) who managed to put up with having her display moved around while we organised things for the stage..

Anyway, I can't believe how smoothly it all went, all power to Georgina and her amazing organisational ability!! If you fancy popping along to the next one, here's the facebook page:

What a weekend, and nothing new for us... I guess we're either gluttons for punishment or just love this so much that we can't help ourselves!!

I'll let you decide.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Its nearly May, and now things get moving!

Well folks, don't you just love the sunshine?? We've been lucky enough to have a change of weather here in Sunny Stoke, and its most welcome after the dreariness of the cold wintry weather of late. However, not to be downhearted, we know that Summer is around the corner and with it plenty of gigs! So check out the Gig page for more updated info on that!

We decided to make an impromptu appearance at Arthur's Table, a most excellent Open Mic night on a Thursday evening at The Glebe in Stoke. Such is the plethora of talent in this amazing City, wyou'd find it hard to believe that we're in a recession really. The evening boasts a "showcase" meaning that each week there is a different act called on to showcase their work, around half an hour or so, giving everyone a taster of the scope of their music.. this week's was by the very excellent Frank Cerioni, a lovely lad, who writes beautiful songs. The usual suspects abounded, and the night was made special by the appearance of Sons of Clogger.. and to quote Graeme.. "Mark Radcliffe and BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2014"... We'll be surprised if they don't break through, their fuel filled, exciting folk style tunes wrapped with historical narrative lyrics and delivered with their usual aplomb make them one act you shouldn't miss!!
We did a few songs, accompanied by SOC drummer Rich, (who's brilliant BTW.. and lives to play drums!) and went down well.. applause stemming from all corners of the room, which is so lovely, knowing that we can still do "it" down there and know we're doing something right.. Of course our version of "Je Ne Regrette Rien" always goes down well.. so we pulled that one out for the last number.. just cos we can!

More songs are being written as I type too.. well, not at this precise moment, as I'm writing the blog.. but you catch my drift ;-) So creativity abounds..

On Saturday 20th we played D'arcy's in Fenton, somewhere we hadn't been before, but had been recommended by our good friend, Pete Latham from the Barrelhouse Jukes.. well, in fact, he phoned us up while at D'arcy's and passed us onto the Landlady, who was happy to book us just on Pete's recommendation, which was lovely.. we owe you one Pete!

Anyhoo, we'd also been warned.. "Don't play there.. I won't even go there.. ".. so we had visions of having to play behind a fence, as in The Blues Brothers.. and just repeating one song all night... However, we were surprised, we received a lovely warm welcome from the landlady Lynn and her staff, the locals were in good spirits and we played brilliantly, a full 2 and a quarter hour set, no breaks.. It was lovely to see our good friend's Deb and Paul, who haven't seen us in over a year! Poor Deb sat sobbing through the set.. apparently moved to tears by Sheena's singing. (I have to say, I'm not sure if I should take it as a compliment or not... lol) Some chap, who was rather legless seemed impressed too.. think he mentioned Alannah Myles and generally muttered something or other about The Beautiful South, I can only assume it was due to Stoke not losing a game that the poor chap was inebriated.. we can forgive him. General applause rang out around the room through our set and the shouts for more at the end were gratefully received.

So, once more another positive gig experience and one to put on record... What a delightful place D'arcy's was to play, lovely wooden floors and ornate bar make it a pleasure to play in too.

What's next? I hear you ask.. well, more gigs coming up, including a few spots at a local vintage and handmade fair.. which we're looking forward to.. Its all go in the Rain camp!! :-)

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The last week in the life of Rain...

Well, since our last post a lot has happened in Rain's world.
We did a photoshoot with Jane Palmer, a very talented and lovely lady, who agreed to give up a very cold Bank Holiday morning to indulge us...
Here's a snippet from the session:

There are loads of pics, these are two of our favourites. We're leaving the bulk of the pics in the capable hands of Jon Aldersea to see what magic he can create from them...

We then took a sabbatical to London, I would say a well earned rest, but we spent 2 frantic days rushing all over the place on the Tube to make the most of our time there. It was, as they say, "Just the ticket", spending a good deal of the time in Camden, which has to be the funkiest place I've been for a long while. 

On 6th April we played one of our absolute fabourite venues, The Nags Head in Crewe. Jacqui, who's the landlady, is an absolute star, and it has one of the best sound systems in place (no need for the PA, which is a bonus!). The atmosphere in the Nags is made possible via the dedicated locals and music fans who turn up and support Jacqui in providing an excellent venue. We chatted to a couple who had come to see us specially, they had missed us at Nantwich and were keen to catch us if we played Crewe, so were chuffed to bits that they could come and see us at The Nags. A rather rowdy crowd were in, celebrating some fella's birthday, who seemed surprisingly sober compared to his pals.. we did get chatting to several of the group, who despite being into rock and metal, were surprisingly supportive and we managed to win them over.. which is always a bonus, spending the latter part of the evening chatting to "John", who happened to be a strapping Glaswegian chap in a black kilt...

9th April took us to The Gresley, we'd been invited up by Pauline and John, who run the acoustic sing around night.. and crikey, what a night that was. It never ceases to amaze me how, when in a folk session, the plethora of talent and sheer lack of ego in the room. Everyone in there took part in one way or another, beautiful harmonies rang around the room, there were guitars, Bodrhans, pipes, melodians, violins, mandolins, etc... all taking part.. we also confirmed our slot for the Gresley Arms Folk and Ale Festival!! Brilliant...

We should have showcased at The Glebe for Arthur's Table on 11th April, but sadly, I (Sheena), have been taken ill :-( A sore throat and chest infection have meant that "Rain" has stopped play (groan)...Still, its better to rest and get better... than make myself more ill and end up having to cancel more gigs...
That's the latest.. More dates to be announced as and when they're confirmed :-) 

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Our Easter Sunday Offering

Firstly, a little review of The Residence, Nantwich

We'd been asked by Al Dean to play this venue at rather short notice to himself, as he was compiling the programme for Nantwich Jazz Blues and Music Festival that very day... and always being the helpful souls that we are, we said yes... because we can... and to be honest, the venue didn't disappoint.
Through the Georgian front door (Which is huge!!) and into the reception area where we were to play, Al along with Tom Seals and his band, were packing away.. and I (Sheena), stood aghast at the beauty of the place... Ornate fireplace, marble checkered floor deep gray walls, purple curtains.. WOW! Anyway don't take my word for it, check out the website....

We did a full 2 hour set and despite us not thinking we did that well, we went down a storm. Lots of people waving, singing along and giving us the thumbs up.. What a warm and welcoming crowd! It can be said that Nantwich Jazz Blues and Music Festival is simply one of the best events in the country. The whole town comes alive... I even chatted to a woman who had travelled all the way from Bristol with her husband and she was extolling our virtues.. which was lovely to hear. Managed to catch the amazing "Zoot Serious and the Bellyful of Bop" too in the marquee... which got the crowd started, jumping and jiving!!

We're playing The Malbank on Monday, looking forward to that one too!

Studio Time

Well, while the majority of people are snuggled up watching TV and eating chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday, we went off to Tremolo Studios to do some more work on our tracks, which are taking shape nicely, I hasten to add. We were ably abetted in our shenanigans by Katharine Lousie Luff, an amazingly talented young lady (I know she'll blush at that!), who is an outstanding brass player.. Not content with just playing Euphonium, she plays trombone, trumpet and soprano cornet (and is rather handy on guitar and a few other instruments too)...Anyway, I digress.. The purpose of the exercise today was to put some "brass bits" in a couple of the tracks...

In the studio time takes on a life of its own... Before we knew it 3 hours had passed and we were nowhere near completing the brass bits on just one song!! However, once Katharine had worked her magic, and layered up the varying bits that she had composed, and we listened back to it... It sounded, well.. just beautiful!

Just leaving Dan to work a little more of his magic, and with Graeme's ear, trimming, switching and generally making the song fabulous. Its still not finished... sadly, we ran out of time today.. However, we'll be back in soon and generally get to work on the other tracks to create a CD worthy of the creativity involved in its inception.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Rain in the studio on a snowy day.

Well, last night we traversed the snow and wind and made our way to Tremolo Studios in Silverdale where we began work on three new tracks.
We were joined in our little adventure by Richard Raizada (from Sons of Clogger).. who has helped us previously on a couple of tracks, and who we decided would provide a stable rhythm upon which we could place our tunes.
The evening started well, everyone wrapped up against the weather, emerging into the warmth of the studio and greeted with a nice hot cup of tea, and a very warm control room.. Just the thing when its wintery outside (despite it being spring!)
We spent the next couple of hours, recording, messing up, re-recording, and the like, such is the remit of any working artiste in the studio. Dan worked like a demon to mike everything up, and as always performed like a veritable wizard of the mixing desk. We had a strange set up, drums and guitar being recorded in the studio, whereas the vocals were recorded in the control room, so as not to "bleed" into the drum tracks.
Is quite amazing how much work goes into just putting down a blueprint track so that we can build upon it, layering vocals and guitars, adding in other instruments as and when, just to deliver something worthwhile ad enjoyable.
Once Rich had finished, he set off in the snow to his lovely warm home, while we stayed in the studio and listened through to what we'd done previously, two tracks nearly completed, another couple needing more musicians to add spice to the mix and then the vocals and guitars for the new tracks. Finally finishing off when we were all yawning and ready to go.. Tracks burned off for us to listen to and make notes of where we need to make changes, etc..
The recording studio really is a place where music can come alive, not in the same way that live music is alive and vital, but in a way where what starts as a simple tune with a vocal melody and a few chords really can take on a life of its own.
Watch this space for more news on our exploits.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Here we are...

Here's a little foray into the wilderness that is the internet.

Check back here for gig dates, videos, music links and all manner of goodness.

We shall put a biography up and do all the admin stuff to make this a great little site..

Isn't the internet great?