My earliest memory of playing music before even working as Nick Cody, was busking in Guildford city centre in the UK in 1975, playing a beat up acoustic Kay guitar. I played cover versions from my favorite artists from that period and the money was good, generally around three quid an hour. Vinyl albums cost less than two pounds fifty pence, so this was one way to build my album collection! The 1970s were for me a golden era of singer songwriter music and I was avidly listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “4 Way Street”, Tom Wait’s “Closing Time” and Bob Dylan’s sublime “Blood on the Tracks”.
Amazingly I still listen to these classic albums some forty years later and have realised that my love for music centres around a great set of lyrics and a great tune. In 2000 I was involved in creating mostly world and ambient style music, some of which was used on TV and radio, including an award-winning C4 movie short, “My Amersham.”
In 2008 I attended a workshop with Martin Simpson in Sheffield and began having guitar lessons with him on a regular basis. He opened my mind to the world of altered tunings and the possibilities of playing other instruments. In subsequent years we have had and continue to have wonderful inspirational sessions and discussing all manner of music. Crucially I was able to see a brilliant songwriter up close writing countless brilliant songs. It’s been a real privilege to meet Martin, who has been one of my main musical inspirations behind me creating “The Small Change Diaries”
A year later while in New York I bought my first ukulele from Matt Umanov guitars on Bleeker Street. It was purely an impulse buy. Matt had brought back one of the very first pre-production Collings concert ukuleles from the Namm Show. It wasn’t however until 2013 that I decided that I really must learn to play this instrument and began to look locally for a teacher. I began getting some ukulele lessons and to my amazement found a real love for the ukulele as an instrument.
Since then I have accumulated an amazing collection of instruments from all over the planet and these have become central to creating a host of different songs. Each instrument can sound very different and inspires very different kinds of playing. I confess to being totally seduced by the ukulele as an instrument and do most of my writing on ukes. As of 2019 here is a list of all the original tracks I have written and recorded to date with various music ensembles – SONGS TO DATE
Bands and Ensembles
I have long ago realised that the traditional model of being in a band with fixed members, has its limitations. Instead I favour creating ensembles that will suit particular musical projects. Some members may appear in various ensemble incarnations, but I’m essentially always at the hub of the wheel and not reliant on having to have certain musicians permanently available which IMO doesn’t work so well in the creative process. I’m also keen to be an independent artist and not signed and/or working for any record business. Again this gives me 100 flexibility, although I have to be totally self reliant and that means “playing the long game”
Nick Cody and “The Small Change Diaries”
Within a few months, I started to write material for what was to become “The Small Change Diaries” I am delighted that Jessica, Adrian and Richard, all seasoned musicians, agreed to be part of the ensemble and the four of us are busy writing and rehearsing original material. Our first album “Adam blames Eve” contains all original acoustic material. Since then we have continued to work on new material and expand the SCD sound with the help of our excellent producer Carl Rosamond.
Many of these tracks from the first album have been played on BBC Introducing and we are currently exploring video shorts for many of the tracks featured on the album. Check out The Small Change Diaries. In 2016 we also released the “Protest Songs” EP and are now working on a new album with many special guests from the UK and overseas. I also am the founder of “Original Ukulele Songs” (OUS) which has a FB platform with over 2700 members in just 18 months and a central site featuring artists from all over the globe. See www.originalukulelesongs.com
The second SCD album “Lullabies for Cynics” was released in 2017
Nick Cody and The Caravan of Dreams
My latest release is a new album “Tales of Dark and Light” This is with a different ensemble of musicians including Agi on joint vocals and harmony vocals. Dave Bowie and Adrian Knowles play double bass on the album recordings to date, with Laurent Zeller on violin, Phil Doleman on banjo and lap steel, John Burr on harmonica and Rich Ferdi on percussion.
The sound of this album is in many ways a departure from the SCD sound and on some tracks, I simply focus on vocals rather than playing any instruments. The material is much darker than anything I have written before and some of the music is more complex while other tracks are more stripped back than anything else I have released to date. I’m keen to explore new sonic territory and although the tracks were all written on ukuleles, the uke is definitely not central to the sound.
Its an absolute pleasure to play with so many superb artists and I am writing at a whole new level. For live work in the UK, I have recruited Jed Bevington on violin and Fergus Quill on double bass. These guys bring a wonderful new energy to the ensemble and I’m absolutely delighted with how the material is turning out. Carl Rosamond continues to do a brilliant job in production, ensuring we get the best possible sound
I deliberately named this ensemble “Nick Cody and the Caravan of Dreams” as it allows great flexibility in terms of who is part of “the Caravan.” My producer Carl calls this this “The Steely Dan model” In 2020 there will be new Caravan members and more recording in the studio.