Better Late Than Never | 2017
DISCLAIMER: You may be reading this into 2020...
I thought I would do a little (ahem) write up on what I achieved last year, as the title suggests, a little late, but still relevant.
I set out in January with the ambition to gig as much as possible and play in different cities and venues across the UK. I wanted to go to new areas, meet new people, and familiarise myself with the country. Not to mention getting to visit some wonderful people, places and stay with kind and generous friends along the way.
2017 began with a gig at the Nuneaton Folk club, a lovely place full of friendly faces and listening ears; a great way to start the year. This was followed by a performance live on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire's Introducing show with Brody Swain: a lovely charismatic gentleman, before playing a show at The Tin. January was littered with busking slots across London and although the weather was still freezing cold, I battled on. I started busking in 2016 and hadn't known what to expect. Busking can be very rewarding in many ways and you never know who you are going to meet, which at times can be great, but also quite dangerous; out on your own, visibly cornered with no place to go. I have encountered some very wonderful, and some very strange people across my time busking, people who do not understand the limits of personal space, personal hygiene, and also general manners. But on the whole it is a positive, fun thing to do.
Next I drove up to Leeds to play some support slots for Coffee House Sessions. It was great to finally visit Leeds and be able to visit one of my oldest friends, as well as my cousin. They let me stay in their warm homes as the snow fell outside, and despite the single glazing, I was incredibly grateful. I got the chance to busk in Leeds which made a nice change from London, however the North was bitterly cold and the snow soon gave me the cold shoulder.
As January drew to a close and February beckoned, I bounced between Nottingham and Leeds (because in my head they were somehow close together). I once again had the pleasure of staying with one of my oldest friends, practically brother, and his wife to be, alongside getting to play at Rescue Rooms and Roots Acoustic Evening in Notts. I secured some airplay performing live on Nottingham Trent University's Student Radio Fly fm as well as on Leeds Student Radio, and then headlined a music event at Huddersfield's Student Union. I finished my little northern tour back where I started in Leeds playing at Pyramid, a lovely evening with wonderful engaging students.
As February turned into March, having travelled back to London, I continued gigging and busking, playing at venues such as The Castle, The Half Moon and managed to play the Hard Rock Café and BOHO (Camden) on the same night. Although written nicely here, these gigs were peppered between slots back in Nottingham, Banbury, Northampton and Witney. It's safe to say March was turning into quite the busy month, with more Busking, another gig back in Nottingham, followed by gigs in London at The Ritzy and The Railway as well as playing at the Eat and Drink Festival in Olympia.
As the daffodils bloomed and winter laid itself to rest, April brought a moment of relief scattered with birthday celebrations. Whilst busking at the East 17 Village Market in London I met some wonderful locals, who having heard me play asked me to sing at their wedding; what an honour! A hometown show followed, getting to support my lovely talented friend Harry Pane at Also Known As in Banbury. I journeyed back to my homeland, getting to visit my Grandad on the way, before recording a music video with Cardiff Sessions, working with the incredibly talented and lovely Emily Jayne and Ben Rowe. I finished off the month by playing at North End Road Market in London followed by Springtide Festival in Oxford.
As spring sprung and rainclouds turned into a little sunshine, May welcomed me with open arms. I played gigs in Witney, Finsbury Park, Hootanannys and at a PR event with There She Goes (a female roaming band I am a part of) bumping into a friend from Uni, and the Royal Arsenal Farmer's Market.
I then played my favourite gig, ever.
I had the honour of supporting US indie cult teen favourite Vesperteen on his UK date for his European Tour, playing alongside fellow support act, the incredibly talented Joe Traxler. As I headed to The Courtyard to sound check, the number of vibrant people queuing up and waiting outside was incredible; bright flags littered with signatures, groups of teenagers meeting up and uniting to see their favourite band. How refreshing. A wave of nostalgia hit me and I longed for the days spent queuing for gigs and hanging out with my friends listening to music. I think as your brain changes it's easy to forget the little things that used to create absolute pleasure; the simplicity of meeting up with your friends and going to listen to music you love, played by talented people. It's the little things. So as I was saying, this gig was my favourite gig I have ever played; not only was Colin lovely, his entourage Jared, Jesse, Ashley, Andrew (and another lady I cannot remember her name, how awful, huge apologies) were really friendly, interesting and welcoming. Not forgetting the ultimate entourage of a SOLD OUT show, Vesperteen's incredible fans. The room was electric, buzzing with the heartbeat of over a hundred enigmatic teenagers and twenty-something’s. Never have I had a more receptive, polite and engaging audience. Never have I felt more rooted to a group of people in a place, time, or moment. I met some wonderful people from across the globe, a striking girl with a huge personality all the way from Russia, a truly gentle and warm-hearted girl from Holland, as well as lovely people from back in Oxford and Newport.
For a moment I really loved London and what it had to offer, a fleeting moment... Next stop, Swindon.
After the high of the night at The Courtyard, the snap back to reality in Swindon, I went on to play at Daylesford Summer Festival in the Cotswolds; I was sat in a barn with a cow mooing behind my shoulder. C'est la vie. This animal theme continued as I played the next day for an animal shelter's fundraiser, I saw a Great Dane in real life and my worrrrrd was it ginormous! I'm not sure how it managed living in London, I find it claustrophobic and it was twice the size of me!
The next week just kept getting better... The guys I had met at the Vesperteen gig were back in London for the day and Ashley and Jesse, the creators of The Secret Midnight Press, had arranged a poetry reading and meet-up in the park in London. I got to spend the day with Jared, all round nice guy and amazingly talented photographer, and had the chance to meet up with Ashley, Jesse, Andrew and a small group of their poetry posse (did I just write posse? I think I just threw up a little). These out-of-town-ers, bringing London to life.
I went on to busk in London and play at The Green Note in Camden, a lovely venue, with a lovely audience. I journeyed back to my parents, played a gig in the local warming up for a weekend playing at Common People Oxford. I had an amazing time playing in my hometown at a big music festival. I played on both the Saturday and the Sunday and had a brilliant audience on both days, which grew throughout my sets along with the sunshine. May was non-stop, with stints in and out of London, Oxford and the Cotswolds. Because playing three days in a row wasn't quite enough, I finished off the month playing at Witney Music Festival and then back to London to play The Bedford.
It's only just June!?!!?
If you're still reading this, then bloody hell, good on you! I am exhausted writing this, I'm not sure how I survived the past 5 months... still, they keep on coming.
June: sunshine, sunglasses and a sense of summer soaring into festival season. Under blue skies I played local music festivals, including Offbeat in Oxford supporting Low Island, a number of weddings, and appeared on Made in Cardiff TV and Bay TV in Swansea. Then ventured across the pond for my first ever gig abroad, playing at a Facebook event in Cannes with There She Goes.
July welcomed more festivals, and consequently more fun. I played Cornbury’s Campfire Sessions for Jack.FM, then played the festival alongside friends ZURICH and Sam Martin on the Riverside Stage. It was so much fun getting to play with the guys and a welcome change getting to play onstage with friends. I continued my travels venturing across to Bristol playing at Mr Wolfs as well as making an appearance live on Made in Bristol, getting to meet the incredible human Ben Smith (401 Challenge) in the green room. I continued journeying all the way across to Ipswich to play Jimmy's Festival. The amazingly talented KT Tunstall was headlining and I had the chance to have a quick chat with the lovely lady who offered some advice and shared some of her musical experiences with me. I topped off the month headlining Riverside Festival with ZURICH and Sam Martin, and despite the torrential down pour, we had a whale of a time.
August broke my heart, and seasoned it with five weddings.
I played Fairport's Cropredy Convention Fringe Festival and the Brecon Fringe Festival followed. It was lovely to be able to play one of my favourite local festivals and then to be back in such a beautiful part of Wales playing to the most incredible view. I went on to play at Umbrella Fair Festival in Northampton and once again returned to Wales to play in Chepstow alongside my lovely friend Joe Dolman. Alongside all of this travelling, playing festivals and gigs across the country, I had begun recording songs for my EP with the incredible Adrian Banks (ZURICH).
Throughout September I played gigs all across Oxfordshire and the surrounding areas. I played The Shed in Leicester and my wonderful friend Livvy travelled all the way from London to watch me play. What a gal. I also had the opportunity of getting involved with the Oxjam takeover in Manchester, which was great fun; Manchester is such a great city with a real passion for music. I also played another wedding, another festival, and I got to see my favourite band The National play at The Hammersmith Apollo, not to mention squeezing in a little holiday with some of my best friends.
As summer turned to winter, and the ghosts came out to play, I carried on the tradition of going to and from London, back to Oxford, and managed to head back up to Manchester. October was quite a slow month for music as all the festivals had come to a close and Christmas hadn't quite sparked people’s minds, so I picked up a few shifts in my local pub to tide me over.
As a blanket of ice covered the country, November beckoned. I was lucky enough to join my lovely friend Sam Martin at the O2 Academy in Oxford to release his new EP. It was wonderful to play alongside him, I love Sam's music and it's so nice to be able to perform with other people, particularly such talented ones! I then found myself in Liverpool supporting Perfect Blue Sky on their UK tour at the Zanzibar Club, a great music venue in the heart of Liverpool with a passionate owner still fighting for the life of the live music scene. Not only did that mean I got the chance to play and spend a little time in Liverpool, it also meant I could reunite with the yin to my yang, my Twin. After my brief stint up North, I made my way to Coventry and played at the lovely Big Comfy Bookshop. Michael the owner and organiser, lovely guy, has created such a great space and community for music in Coventry. Having recently received the City of Culture award, I have no doubt that The Big Comfy Bookshop played a vital role in securing the title.
As the sound of sleigh bells rang out in the distance, it was all systems go from the very first day of December. I travelled to London to play at a charity event for Great Ormond Street Hospital, then sped straight back to Oxfordshire to kick off the festivities sprinkling Christmas music nights across the month. Mid December took me to London once more to join ZURICH playing at The Bedford. It was great to have Chris back from Hong Kong for the holidays, and to get to play together once more. I love Christmas and I really do love the old classic Christmas songs as they have such a beautiful quality and charm, but I was very glad when December the 24th rolled around and I could finally have a break for the rest of the year.
Looking back on 2017 I can’t quite believe what I have achieved, I also can’t quite believe how long this blog post has become, but it has been very therapeutic. 2017 was a whirlwind of a year for me in so many ways, and I have missed out most of my life details because I think that the music is more than enough, and otherwise this post would turn into a book, and nobody would want to read that! I’m really glad that I managed to play 130 shows, travelled the country, saw my friends and had a busy musical year. I am excited to release new music in the New Year and to have something new to share with everyone.
Here's to an exciting 2018...