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: 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.