July 2009 News Update
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
RECENT CONCERTS OF NOTE.
There have been some cracking concerts this month that I should like to make mention of here in no particular order.
BEYOND THE BARRICADE.
There are times when sometimes an artist is required to step outside of his or her comfort zone and attempt something completely different to what they are known for. This was true of my performance at The Symphony Hall Birmingham on Friday the 26th with my friends Beyond The Barricade.
I have to tell you that although I was only required to perform three songs from Les Miserables with them, it was one of the most challenging and nerve wracking moments of my career. I had never attempted anything like this before and one of the songs was in E flat for goodness sake! I must have spent every waking hour trying to get to grips with three of the most beautiful songs written for the theatre:'Bring him Home','I Dreamed a Dream' and 'Empty Chairs at Empty Tables'.
I was terrified about the old nerves taking over and screwing the whole thing up for all concerned. I'm relieved to report that they didn't, and my contribution was received favourably by this warm Birmingham crowd. This packed Symphony Hall crowd were behind us all the way, and my two chosen solos of 'The Dodo's Dream' and 'Heartsong' pretty much raised the rafters.
It was a joy and a privilege to be on stage with a great band and some of the finest singers to grace the West End stage over the years. My love and thanks go to the following people for allowing to grace the same stage as them. Andy Reiss, David Fawcett, Katie Leeming, Becci Morrell (vocals) Russ Kennedy (bass guitar) Mark Allis (drums)Steve Clark (keyboards) Trevor Heyworth (sound) Ed Railton (lights)
To read about the night from Andy's point of view, see some YouTube footage and a gallery of photos from the event, visit their website www.beyondthebarricade.com
If you love musicals, great singing, great songs, a stunning stage show and a generally entertaining evening go and see them, you won't regret it.
FOUR CHURCHES FESTIVAL.
When the sun shines on this green and pleasant land like it did over the weekend of the 30th of May there is truly nothing to beat it!
Hilary and I set off in stunning weather for my concert for my good friend Rick Wakeman at his Four Churches Festival at St Andrews church in Scole. This was to be my second appearance at the festival, the last being two years ago. Sadly last year's event was cancelled. It is always a pleasure to do anything that Rick is involved with because as an artist one is always looked after so well. My concert was the final one of the four events, the first one featuring an evening of comedy with Joe Goodman and Charles Garland at St Leonard's, Billingford on Wednesday the 27th of May followed by Nicholas Parsons at All Saints, Thorpe Abbotts on the 28th. On the 29th at St Peter and St Paul, Brockdish hosted 'Just a Minute' featuring the team of this now legendary show, Keith Skues, Charles Garland, Christopher Strauli and of course Rick Wakeman.
Scole is a beautiful little village in the heart of Norfolk and is currently Rick's home here in the UK. I was delighted that both my shows were a sell-out, in fact Rick told me later that it had sold out in a matter of days once the tickets went on sale. I obviously did something right the first time round...grin!
When Hilary and I arrived, our friend Malc Welch was there waiting to help unload the gear and to lend a helping hand with setting up and selling our merchandise (thanks Malc). Rick's sound guys Paul and Ginger were already there setting up a pretty impressive sound system and lighting rig in this beautiful little village church. The stage area close to the altar was pretty small with just enough space to set up my pedal board and six guitars, but we managed it ok.
Once I had sound checked it was time to chill out and await the Wakeman's arrival. By five o'clock Rick arrived on his push bike and there were warm greetings all round and a chance to catch up on news and gossip. Rick was still recovering from his amazing Hampton Court concerts and in all honesty he looked exhausted, which wasn't surprising! We did a brief sound check and a once through of Maddie Goes West, my tune of choice for our spot together.
Rick explained the format for the evening, requesting that I do half an hour with a fifteen minute break followed by the raffle and then another half hour which would bring us up to eight o'clock when the audience would be ushered out to make way for the second lot of approximately one hundred and fifty people for a repeat performance, this time commencing at about eight fifteen. I know it sounds pretty fragmented but it worked fine.
I must tell you a funny thing...during my first performance I invited Rick up to do our spot (Rick's keyboard was set up in the pulpit by the way, and it looked great) only to be told that he had forgotten to take his antibiotics and was feeling a bit weird so he had to leap home and take them. I announced that we would do our spot in the second half which we did, and I have to say that for me that second half had the edge on the first of the two performances (hope your keeping up with all of this)! I just adore Rick's piano playing and it never fails to give me and I'm sure the audience that 'tingle factor.' I love his playing SO much on Maddie Goes West that I have asked him to record a guitar and piano version for my new album due for completion and release in early 2010, but more of that later.
Once the concert was over folk were once again ushered out of the building to make way for tables of food and drink to be set up for the after concert party that anyone could attend for a modest £5 per head, which always helps to swell the coffers for this worthwhile charity.
So there you have it, a splendid end to a splendid day. On a personal note I would like to thank Rick for inviting me to perform at this cracking festival and I sincerely hope I can make another appearance at future events connected with Rick and this charity. My thanks go to Rick (of course) Mad Malc, Paul, Paul the soundman, Ginger on lights, the reverend Trevor Reiss and all those lovely volunteers who made Hilary and I SO welcome.
We were put up at the delightful 400 year old Scole Inn, and the following morning spent a very pleasant time chatting to a delightful family from Chesterfield who attended the concerts, so my thanks go to Russ, Linda and their boys Adam and James for travelling all that way to see me...Bless yer!
FOLK ON THE COASTon the 6th of June was a rather rain soaked affair but for all that was most enjoyable featuring some great artists over the weekend including Show of Hands and Mike Silver. It was a pleasure to chat to Mike after my concert and catch up with a bit of nostalgia. Mike and I have TWO major things in common...we both made albums entitled TROUBADOUR and were both produced by that genius Del Newman. Go and see Mike if you can, he is truly one of the great British songwriters.
My gig in SALTBURN for Rosie Potter was a delight in as much as Saltburn is a lovely seaside town where time appears to have stood still, the venue was great and Hilary and I were put up there after the show which made it doubly enjoyable for us, and of course the audience were SO welcoming.
BRIDGWATER ARTS CENTRE has always been a favourite venue of mine and I'm pleased to say is always well attended when I play there. Somehow for me this particular concert was supercharged with fun and energy right from the start, the audience were a gift, and I have always maintained the half the success of any show is down to how well the crowd receives you. This crowd made me SO welcome and I look forward to treading those boards again.
LOWDHAM BOOK FESTIVAL.
Words cannot express the beauty of the location for this outstanding festival and the superb organisation that went into making this night such a great success. A packed St Mary's church were with me from the first notes of 'A Dublin Day'. My thanks go to everyone involved for looking after me so well with the lovely food and fresh strawberries. Thanks go to David and Paul (The Nottingham Boys) for selling my merchandise for me - THANKS GUYS.
DENT BEER FESTIVAL.
This year was the very first year that the Dent Beer Festival was staged and what a festival it was. Dent is situated in the Yorkshire Dales and must be one of the most beautiful places you could wish to visit. It was a totally FREE festival and the organisers wanted to book a name act to sort of give the whole affair a degree of credibility (their words not mine) The main aim was to break even financially and to cover the 12 grand plus it cost to put on. I'm SO pleased to report that the festival raised in excess of £28,000.... This is such great news for all the hard work put in to create something for the local community. My hour and a quarter set was such fun and once again the Dent crowd were a gift. Our dear friend Maddie Martyn of'Maddie Goes West' fame played a stunning set just before me BUT I managed to inveigle myself into her set with friends Rob on guitar and the lovely Theresa on flute and vocals and joined them for three tunes. There will DEFINITELY be another festival next year and there are major plans afoot for a GG related event in Dent (God willing) for 2010...watch this space folks! Special thanks go to our lovely hosts Elaine and Gerry Johnson at Whernside Manor.
AS IT HAPPENS
I'm delighted to report that my double live album of two years ago AS IT HAPPENS is now out there and available again. It was originally released on Panacy records, a small independent label set up by the journalist Graham Hazelwood. It is now released through Voiceprint.
This album contains not ONE but TWO versions of The Dodo's Dream, a piece that really without a doubt has become somewhat of a highlight of my live shows and has been for the last couple of years really, since I FINALLY got to grips with technology!
The Double Vision album will hopefully be re-released in August on Floating World records with brand new artwork and the new title of DOUBLE VISIONS. Watch this space!
Three new guitars this month. A CSL Les Paul recording copy from the early 70s with a replacement Seymour Duncan pickup in the neck position. It sounds amazing.
A Peavy 7 string electric bought just for fun and to see what it MAY bring forth.
Most importantly a brand new small bodied parlour guitar built by Roger Williams along the lines and proportions as my quirky Car Boot guitar that I use to play 'Appalachian Dreaming' and 'Rain in the Doorway'. This guitar is such a delicate sounding instrument and has the added features of optional partial capo facility on the first string 5/7/10 and 12th fret. This really is an experimental guitar that I believe could have great inventive possibilities It is also a very beautiful looking little instrument. There will be some photos for the website later.
GUITARS FOR SALE
There are still a number of cracking ex GG guitars for sale with my friends at Guitar Junction down there in sunny Worthing by the sea. Many of them have some serious GG history attached to them so do check them out all you guitar anoraks out there..
See you next month and in the meantime.....Be Well.