The surreal life during covid 19

This has been a very surreal five months, during covid 19. Like all musicians I had to cancel all live gigs for myself and for music events I host with Music for The Head and Heart. With the lockdown, the whole world was suddently on pause and we have and continue to be in uncharted territory. I’ve driven 45 miles in 5 months, so am totally doing my bit for the carbon footprint as I also cancelled 8 overseas trips for my non musical work.

Music creation and recording

To my great surprise this has been an amazing period for writing and recording new material. Just as lockdown appeared I grabbed a number of new items for my home studio that have been used to great effect. I’ve already blogged on the Acme DI and the Ear Trumpet Myrtle mic and I’ve also been using Fulltone trem units and my Henriksen Buds for recording via the excellent UAD Arrow unit. I’m actually working on two totally different music projects at the same time with two different producers.

For the first time everything is on electric guitar, which is a first. Usually I’ll put down some sketch ideas, then work them up into a demo before starting to adlib and figure lyrics. I’ve been using my weekly meetings with Agi to do live takes of vocal tracks and I now have 14 tracks mixed and “in the vault” for one of the albums, and there will be very different versions of these tracks for a second album.

Gathering like musical minds

One of the few benefits of covid 19 is that there are many artists sitting at home neding work. I suspect that live work won’t appear until 2022 and in the meantime streaming will only increase, but that’s a very different experience. Social media has been great for locating session musicians to add to a core group that are generally my ‘go too folks” for any projects. I’m lucky to be working with two brilliant producers who have never been so busy. Its clear to me that that the role of any producer is essential in creating the very best music. Often music may be mixed but not actually mastered

Tracks “in the vault”

These tracks are already mixed and in the vault, with four more tracks in the pipeline

All is fine till the world goes pop 4.19
Gather round 6.57
Nothing here sounds good 3.21
All Kinds of Crazy 5.24
Your chosen one is coming 4.12
Please take this time 4.24
321 Lockdown 3.41
Hold that thought 3.30
Sticks and stones 3.40
The world is burning 3.39
That gals as cool as fuck 3.25
All about her lies 3.29
Maybe 5.04
Come on down 3.51

Special thanks to everyone who has helped with creating these tracks to date

That Gal’s as cool as Fuck

We just finished mastering a full band track called “That gal’s as cool as fuck” The song is about Scarlet Rivera who was the violinist on Bob Dylan’s 1975 Rolling Thunder Tour. My good friend Kit Bailey on seeing the movie wonderfully commented on social media

“That gal’s as cool as fuck!” and I thought “What a great title for a song!”

I loved Dylan’s work from that period and especially the album “Desire” Scarlet’s violin work really made that album and I wrote this track about her meeting with Dylan. Here are the lyrics

That Gal’s as cool as fuck


There’s a rolling thunder, sweeping through this town,
Marty’ s got his camera, to get the whole thing down
A hard rain is falling, to wash this sad away,
Music from the heavens playing night and day

Chorus
When Bobby sings with scarlet strings, the audience’s in luck
Sweetest sounds are ringing from the gal – that’s cool as fuck

She’s dancing with the twins respectful for the space,
Wild, withdrawn and silent behind this painted face,
Heading down to Brooklyn, for a taste of blue,
This simple twist of fate reveals all that’s true.

Chorus

A desire is forming down he Bitter End,
Isis in the headlights, messages to send
One more cup of coffee, sets aside the shy
A crossing of the stars, no time to wonder why

Chorus

scarlet rivera

Laurent Zeller

In 2016 my band The Small Change Diaries were invited to play at The Lagoa Guitar Festival in Portugal. This was the first full band outing overseas and it was a wonderful experience for us all.

We were supporting a french trio Les Kostards and met up with the musicians the night before as we were both staying in the same hotel. Little did I know that this would spark a great friendship and some wonderful musical collaborations!

This is when I first met violinist Laurent Zeller. At this time I had not heard Laurent play, but we got on well and both shared an obvious enthusiasm for photography. Our host took both bands on a wonderful tour of Lagoa prior to the gig and were able to see some wonderful scenery.

On the day of the gig I was blown away by his playing. Below is an example of this 

The Les Kostards set at the festival was extraordinary and the guys rocked the house. Prior to the gig we met up to see if we could do a group jam on the night and I am delighted that Laurent agreed. We decided to play “Slow News Day” as an encore and as you can see from the clip below his solo during this track is extraordinary. Fast forward to 3 min to see him in action

The following day I asked him if he would contribute to some tracks for our next album. These tracks included a version of “Birdman” and his wonderful violin part can be heard on the movie short of this track seen below

Laurent then contributed to some additional tracks on “Lullabies for Cynics” “Not one of us” as well as “Draw you out” His playing is just extraordinary and I am delighted that he is going to be joining us for the album launch on November 3rd in Leeds – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/music-for-the-head-and-heart-tickets-37057548124

He is also featured on my next solo project and we will be recording more tracks in two week’s time in our Leeds studio.