Artists featured on “All is fine ’til the world goes pop”

Nick Cody & Towse

We are close to completing “All is fine til the world goes pop”, the first of four very different albums and I am blown away by the contributions of amazing musicians from all over the globe.

Here are the musicians who made this album possible. This album is different to anything I have done before. One of the biggest gamechangers are the vocal contributions from Towse, who is an extraordinary artist giving this material a new edge that is a genuine surprise and complete inspiration in developing this project. We both worked on this material during covid and didn’t actually meet in real life for two years. This made for some fascinating tracks and I’m delighted with the results.

Originally I planned a single album, but the material became so wonderfully diverse, it was clear that we needed a second album which was more pop in nature and reminded me of the classic Talking Heads “Remain in Light” period. The second album ‘Take Heart” will be released in 2023 and 40% of that album is already completed.

I thank all of you listed below from the bottom of my heart for helping making this such a terrific album.

Towse CA USA – vocals

Michael Ross Nashville USA – guitar

Laurent Zeller France – violin

Manitoba Hal Canada – slide guitar/vocals

Corwin Zekley USA – fiddle

Fergus Quill UK – bass

David Bowie Jnr UK – bass

Howard Taylor UK – bass

Agi from UK – backing vocals

Emily Mercer UK – keys and backing vocals

Rich Ferdi UK – percussion

Josh Burnell UK – keys

Sharon Cannings UK – backing vocals

Michael Ross from Nashville
Laurent Zeller from France

The album will be released via Green Eyed Records this Sept, will live appearance Oct 7th

Covid times and covid musical adjustments

The last two years have meant covid musical adjustments with the advent of covid 19. For almost two years I only played one live gig which was the debut with the Heartache. It was a slightly surreal affair to suddently be playing to a full room of 120+ individuals. It was a great set and an absolute joy to be back playing, especially with the new electric material

I started rehearsing The Small Change Diaries ahead of a major future support slot and we’ve all been super careful to do lateral flow tests ahead of each and every rehearsal. In the UK currently more than one in 15 people have covid and although if you’ve been vaccinated it probably won’t kill you, it can still mean 10 days of being out of action and personally I can’t afford to roll the dice on that happening. This has meant cancelling a bunch of live activities I was looking forward to attending, but next week I’m in the studio on Monday working on the Towse collaboration, interviewing Sylvie Simmons on Wednesday, doing a band rehearsal on Thursday, so I can’t take the chance of missing any of these engagements.

I’m also hearing of many events being cancelled and I’m amazed at some close quarters indoor events still happening. With the Ukraine situation it seems many folks imagine covid has disappeared which of course is pure nonsense. This means making covid musical adjustments and taking as few risks as possible. I’m already seeing some festivals being cancelled due to covid and have great sympathy for all those artists who are touring and need to play out to maintain some income streams.

Multiple music projects for 2022

If 2020 and 2021 was the period for writing and recording music, 2022 is going to be a bumper year for music releases. I’ll be working across four main projects, which are the duet material with Towse, the resurrections of The Small Change Diaries acoustic ensemble, the Code E1 remix electronic work and the all electric Nick Cody and the Heartache band.

This means a lot of rehearsal time and a great deal of time working with a creative team for music, video production as well as social media. All music will be distributed through Green Eyed Records and we’ll be looking at digital and physical products.

The importance of a great creative team, plus time and money

Running one band is time consuming, but working with two ensembles as well as other projects requires a great deal of organisation and planning. The heart of all these projects is having an excellent producer and sound engineer, Carl Rosamond. This was never more evident than soundchecking the Heartache under very tight time constraints at a recent live performance. The whole sound check with five members took just 15 minutes and many people commented on how great the sound was. I’ve used Carl for all music releases to date and he remains an essential ingredient to all four projects. Similarly Karen Turner has been the photographer for all ensembles to date and has captured many great photos including those from overseas festivals.

I’d love to think that great music alone would be enough to reach a wider audience, but that’s simply not true. Any music distribution and promotion requires time and money. The recent downtime with Facebook and Instagram highlights the importance of having your own web presence online and not relying on third party social media platforms. I recently decided to use Kycker for all music distribution as the company is far more user friendly and personable that those I have used before. I’ve also started to hire external radio promoters and digital media specialists to increase audience reach and this is working really well. One of the keys to success is to only work with professionals and skilled individuals. Its also crucial to work with people with good communication skills as recording and promoting music requires a lot of coordination. I’m lucky to have a longstanding core team that get the job done and are a pleasure to work with,


Can’t Stop radio plays to date

“Can’t Stop” now has the most radio plays of all tracks to date. Special thanks to Neil Atkinson for radio publicity and for Nick Bloomfield in creating such a terrific video for this track.

These stations have all played this track so far, with more to follow

  1. 920 WON: The Apple
  2. Access North West Radio
  3. Baks Radio 
  4. Big Ear Radio 
  5. Channel Radio 
  6. CJB Radio
  7. Eagles Nest  
  8. Exile Fm 
  9. Forest Fm 
  10. K107 
  11. KDUB Radio
  12. KL Radio 
  13. Miawpukek First Nation Radio
  14. Neptune Community Radio
  15. Nova Radio
  16. Power 91 
  17. Quasar The Album Station
  18. Radio Deeside
  19. Radio Candy
  20. Radio Saltier
  21. Radio Shields  
  22. Real Radio UK
  23. RKC 
  24. Seabird Radio
  25. Shaky Radio
  26. Shoreditch Radio
  27. Source FM
  28. Sound Radio Wales  
  29. Surgery Records Radio 
  30. Valley Radio 
  31. Valley Radio Grand Falls Windsor
  32. Vixen 101 

Can’t Stop is available HERE

Sound Explorations and a Few Pet Hates

Amplification Challenges

One of the challenges in playing small bodied instruments is figuring out how best to amplify them in a live gig setting. Different musicians have different takes on this, but my personal view is to simply amplify the natural sound of the instrument in a straightforward manner. This is far easier said than done of course. Many of the standard amps for acoustic instruments makes by Marshall, AER, Fishman etc are “ok” to my ears but really not great sonically. I previously used Schertler amps which were expensive and heavy, but did a good job. The top end Unico Deluxe did the best job.

Then along came Henriksen with The Bud and now The Blu and it was game over. Both these units are so far ahead sonically that there really is no contest. Yes, they are more of a financial investment, but its like night and day sonically. I’m currently exploring a stereo amp setup option with Henriksens and I used the new lighter Blu at the New York gigs to great effect. Both the Henriksen Blu and the Bud are 120w output and can be used as stand alon amps or as monitors with a line out to a PA system. The superb Fire Eye Red preamps are great for boosting signal and of course Mogami cables unsure the best sound connection.

Sound Recording in the Studio

One of the benefits of sitting in on mastering and mixing sessions is that I am able to better understand and appreciate “music production” I have previously blogged about UAD plugins and how these are real game changers for the recording musician. UAD like Henriksen have achieved a new level of sonic quality that previously didn'[t exist and I use UAD in my home studio as well as the big studio for all final recordings.

Creating a great sound is like baking, you need to balance all the ingredients and in this case ensure that playback works equally well on a range of playback systems from a laptop to a really high end system. Having an experienced producer is the difference between an ok album and a great album.

Pet Hates – The Dreaded Reverb done to excess…

My previous pet hate for album production was engineers mastering everything so it was sonically as loud as possible and in this pursuit, really destroyed any subtlety in the music. My current pet hate is excessive reverb on recordings which make the singers sound like they are performing at the bottom of a well. When I hear the phrase “ethereal sounds” all too often this means a wash of reverb that kills any dynamics in the music. Check out any Grace VanderWaal videos and you’ll hear this. Some newer aspiring uke artists have also gone down this max the reverb route and of course many folks love it, but personally I’d rather push bamboo shoots through my fingers than be subjected to such a sonic onslaught.

Great sound engineers knew how to use reverb and even engineers with a reputation for enthusiastically adding reverb such as Daniel Lanois, knew exactly how to make it work with the artist. Lanois’s work with Dylan and Emmylou Harris is outstanding, but he has mad skills when it comes to production and always ensured that the reverb didn’t totally kill the expression in the vocals.

Final Thoughts

I fully admit that I am not in the majority when it comes to musical taste. These dayes I’d far rather see an act in the small venue playing original material than attending a stadium gig. I love writing with the ukulele, but most ukulele based music is really not great and the quirky cover versions are almost as bad as the excessive use of reverb. That said I applaud anyone creating and performing music even if its not to my personal taste. These days although I still write on the uke, I am far more interested in incorporating other instruments to ensure there is much better sonic range for an audience. 


New York Reflections

Just back from an amazing trip to New York.During this time I managed to see Bill Frissell twice at The Vanguard as well as Fred Hersh. There really is no better venue for live music with a capacity of 125 attendees and superb acoustics. I was literally a few feet away from the artists. The Bill Frissell Trio with Thomas Morgan and Rudy Royston is quite amazing. These are three artists at the very top of their game and as a band are quite unique. I also saw the superb Ronnie Earl at BB Kings. Ronnie is an exceptional artist and I have been a fan of his music for many years. The two gigs in Harlem went really well and it was a lot of fun to play at Shrine and Silvana. I also saw some amazing musicians on this visit and highly recommend The Red Dog on Monday night for their weekly blues jam. 

New York is an extraordinary city and I managed to catch the Bowie exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum. Bowie is a wonderful example of an artist full of creativity and the exhibition was a superb showcase of his work. I grew up with Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust as well as Station to Station. Low and Heroes. Each album was very different and quite brilliant. The event got rave reviews and it was a somewhat surreal experience to be literally immersed in Bowie for over two hours. Every attendee had the opportunity to wear a set of headphones which sychronised with the exhibition material. I was especially fascinated by Bowie’s writing process and looking as many of his handwritten transcripts of lyrics.

I also had the chance to work on “the big project” while there and there will be more news about that later this year. There are many moving parts to this and it will take the best part of a year to organise before the launch. I was massively impressed by the standard of musicianship of all the performers I met there, all of which had an obvious love for music.

First outing for new material, in Harlem USA

Last night I had the opportunity to play Shrine in Harlem with my good friends Doug O Brien on keyboards, Alan Thornton on uke and vocals and Terri Thornton on bass. As “Throckmorton” they wonderfully opened the evening. This was the first time I played material off my solo album “Tales of Dark and Light” and we opened with Dunning Kruger Blues” Later in the set we also did “Grey Skies” which I have yet to record. Both of these tracks are really groove based, think ‘Papa was a rolling stone” coupled with the Doors “Break on Though” The guys did a great job making these tracks really swing and I am looking forward to recording Grey Skies with a cast of many great musicians back in the UK this April.

This was also an opportunity to try out the new Henriksen Blu and it did not disappoint. I ran my ukulele through the fire eye red pre amp straight into the Blu and it sounded great. I have yet to find any amp that works as well as Henriken gear. The Bud and the Blu work perfectly to amplify the natural sound of the instrument. There’s nothing worse that an instrument that doesn’t sound good and with the ukulele its tough to get a really great sound and I’ve been to festivals where the sound its really terrible. The Henriksens have massive EQ options (which you rarely need) and a line out from the amp to a PA is just heaven.

Saturday night we’ll be playing the second gig at Silvana in Harlem. This is like The Cavern in Liverpool and should be a lot of fun. Its a real joy to play with other talented musicians and my wife Sue took some great photos of us in action..

2017 Looking back at some great times!


This year has been a fascinating year full of many terrific memories. I have been overseas on nine separate occasions and had the opportunity to play music in the USA and Japan as well as the UK. In Jan 2017 I had a terrific week in New York meeting up with old friends. I also bought an amazing 1920s Martin soprano ukulele from Zeke who was working at Matt Umanov Guitars. This is a truly wonderful instrument and the first Martin I have bought.

I was back in New York in March and caught some amazing shows by Bill Frissell at The Vanguard. Bill is a constant inspiration and quite brilliant player. 

In April I was in the studio with the band finalizing tracks for our second album “Lullabies for Cynics” I was delighted to have some really brilliant musicians guest on this release including Laurent Zeller, Phill Doleman and Kev Bishop. 

Alan and Terri Thornton came to stay for a week and we talked a great deal about the OUS platform. I also ran an open house for all OUS artists and had the brilliant Victoria Vox and Jack Maher play in my kitchen. They are a shining example of how to really deliver a performance and did a brilliant job. I named them OUS artists of the year.

I also had the chance to see the wonderful Percy Copley in action and we co wrote this track

I continue to meet up with Martin Simpson for 1 – 1 tuition and he has become a big influence on my own work. 

In early June I traveled to Vienna and met up with Gregor Nowak and fell in love with one of his instruments that is featured on my forthcoming 2018 EP. Gregor is a superb builder and I’ll be sure to check in with him when I am back in Austria.


In July I headed once again to Japan and met up with my good friend an brilliant builder Shimo. Unsurprisingly I bought another one of his instruments a concert pineapple ukulele, that is quite wonderful.

I also had the chance to visit The Ohana uke store and pick up a wonderful soprano 

On the same trip I played a duo set in Nagoya with my good friend Brian Cullen. This was my first opportunity to play in Japan and I loved it. We played some of the SCD material and some old classics


In September I traveled to Austin, Nashville and back to NYC. This was a terrific trip and I ended up buying a great Waterloo acoustic from Hill Country Guitars.

Nashville was fantastic and myself, my wife and my good friends Michael and Liz Ross spent a mindblowing afternoon with Van Fketcher, Jake Shimabokuro’s manager.  We heard some unreleased material and let me just say “World watch out, you’ve hear

In October I played my first solo gig at the “We will Overcome” day at The Grove in Leeds. This was the first time I played material from my forthcoming solo project and it was a great evening.

The rest of October was spent preparing for the album launch in November. We decided to make this a “pay as you feel event” so it was affordable for everyone. This was a terrific evening with over 200 tickets grabbed a few weeks before the actual event and more walk ins on the day.

Terrific support from Sleepy Kev, Phil Doleman, Laurent Zeller and Astraluna. 

During this week I spent two more days in the studio working on solo material and with Adrian Knowles being unwell, Dave Bowie from UOGB stood in and did a brilliant job. Laurent Zeller continues to maze me with his playing, just extraordinary. His work on my solo project alongside Rich Ferdi and Dave is amazing.

During 2017 the OUS platform grew to over 3000 members on FB and 100+ artists with their own pages on the main site. Despite this I have come to realise that the uke world is far too niche to attract a wider audience and interest in the UK has peaked. After some somewhat bizarre exchanges on social media earlier in the year I decided it was time to focus on a more diverse and expanded project which will be unveiled in 2018.  

Plans are already in place for some really exciting events in 2018 and the focus will be on quality of music and great entertainment. I am lucky to have a number of like minds who will be central to this project. Most of December will be working on this as I hibernate for a while with a wonderful new log burning stove at my Leeds home with Bill the cat and my wife.


As well as working to keep Bill in the life he is used to, I also continue to feed what seems like the entire bird population of the UK and those “peckers” get through 20k of sunflower seeds each month

I feel blessed to know so many great folks and to be able to travel around the world sharing a love of music and meeting so many amazing folks.


Studio update on Tales of Dark and Light EP

We have been very busy in the studio recording tracks for “Tales of Dark and Light”, a solo project that I have been working on for some time as a side project to The Small Change Diaries.

At the time of writing we have now completed all four tracks for “Tales of Dark and Light”

These are

  1. Dunning Kruger Blues
  2. He’s shooting blanks
  3. No more street parties
  4. Hear in the silence

The musicians on this project are Adrian Knowles/Dave Bowie Double bass, Laurent Zeller violin, Rich Ferdi percussion, Alice Higgins, Paul Conway piano, myself on vocals and stringed instruments. Carl Rosamond is producing the material.

The music is different to what I have recorded with The Small Change Diaries and as suggested in the title some of the lyrics are pretty dark. This is proving to be a fascinating project and an opportunity to stretch out sonically into some very different territory.

On “He’s shooting blanks” I don’t play any instruments, rather focusing on singing. This is a true murder ballad and one of my favorite tracks to date.  “Dunning Kruger Blues” reminds me of Steely Dan, which “Hear in the silence” has a  more Indian feel with some extraordinary playing from Laurent Zeller who is key to the main sound on this project. “No more street parties” is possibly the saddest song ever written, a commentary on Brexit.

“No more street parties on this little rock,

Pack away the bunting, brace for the shock”

 Many songs were written on the ukulele, but the final recordings to date contain very little uke, rather focusing on other instruments.

I am grateful to have the support of so many superb musicians and remain fascinated by the whole creative process. This material has “more bite” than what I have written and recorded to date and I plan to play this new material live in the UK and USA in 2018. I am also looking at a second EP for the back end of 2018 with different musicians and a different feel to this EP

Nick Cody 

Tales of Dark and Light by Nick Cody

The Small Change Diaries 2nd album “Lullabies for Cynics” is due for release in 2 week’s time. I’m also working on a solo album “Tales of Dark and Light” This project was initially intended as an EP, but I already have nine potential tracks and one “He’s shooting blanks” already mixed and mastered.  Tales of Dark and Light will have some familiar Small Change Diaries musicians, as well as some new folks.

“He’s shooting blanks” has Adrian Knowles on Double bass, Alice Higgins on piano, Laurent Zeller on violin and myself on vocals. Yes you read that correctly, unusually I don’t play any instruments on this track. This may change with additional material, but it certainly won’t be just ukuleles. At present there’s also a possibility of including mandolin and Gregor Novak’s wonderful guitarelle. 

I already have a gig scheduled in New York in 2018 and will be exploring other live opportunities. At a recent solo gig at “The Grove Inn” in Leeds I played “Here in the silence” which was well received. The graphics for this project are by Japanese illustrator Junko Hosomo who drew a sketch of me during a solo gig in Nagoya earlier this year which is just fantastic. I’ll be recording more tracks with SCD producer Carl Rosamond in the next few weeks and Laurent Zeller will be playing on the new material. This is an exciting new initiative and in many ways different to the Small Change Diaries material. The track “He’d shooting blanks” is probably the darkest set of lyrics I have penned to date and probably not for the fainthearted. 

The release date for this will be the back end of 2018 if all goes to plan.