Well, it’s been a while – last post was in July 2015, which is very poor behaviour on my part. It’s not because nothing’s been happening (quite the opposite!) but just because I’m a lazy so-and-so.
Since I last wrote, life has changed immeasurably for the better with the birth of my grandson Roddy on the 8th of August 2015. A feisty, noisy bundle of energy with already an insatiable curiosity for the World around him, he’s an absolutely beautiful wee human being, and the centre of our universe, but I won’t go on, as every proud Papa is the same – I’ll find other ways of boring you!
We had a few nice gigs toward the end of the year, and started 2016 with an appearance in the Scotia Nova show at the Strathclyde Suite during Celtic Connections. Just one song, it was ‘The Pioneers’ which Cy and I wrote as a track on an album project for Greentrax Recordings. The album celebrates the ‘new’ Scotland (although it didn’t quite happen in 2014, sadly) with songs about the early days of a new nation. Ours is the story of the Pardesi, the immigrants from the Indian sub-continent who arrived in Scotland in the middle of the 20th century, and who transformed our culture for the better, and whose families are now second- and third-generation Scots. Based loosely on the story of the late Bashir Ahmed, our first Asian MSP, we’re very proud of the song, and feel it typifies all thats good and inclusive about Scottish society. The album ‘Scotia Nova’ is available on Greentrax, and features a number of prominent Scottish songwriters and artists.
After Celtic Connections, things get a bit quieter. We played two or three Burns events, including a fantastic wee night at Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum and then…..nothing….our next bookings aren’t until the Balerno Festival and a concert in Strathblane, both in October. This is in part due to life being so hectic on the domestic front – gigs rarely land on the doorstep, so it’s necessary to go out and try to get them, which I just haven’t had the time or energy to do. I absolutely love singing and playing live, that hour or so on the stage is such a joy and an adrenaline rush, however I don’t enjoy the other bits so much – the marketing, fee negotiations, organising PA, making sure everyone in the band can do the dates, worrying about soundchecks, arranging leaflets, posters etc, so I’ve been lazily quite enjoying the break. Two months on from the last gig though, and withdrawal symptoms are kicking in, so I’ve started putting out a few feelers, and I’m hopeful of two or three new gigs happening between now and October, I’ll keep you posted.
On the writing front, Cy and I are a bit busier. We’re currently writing an album’s worth of acoustic music for film and TV, on commission from a London publisher, so that’s very enjoyable. It may not be as fulfilling as writing songs for ourselves, but our incidental music pops up regularly on all manner of high-profile TV programmes, such as ‘Coast’, Monty Hall’s Great Irish Adventure’, ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’ and many other programmes around the globe, so it’s always a buzz to hear something you wrote on the telly. We haven’t written enough songs for my next album yet, but I’m hopeful I can make something happen in 2017 – I’m very happy with a couple of of our recent ones, and Id like to get them out online at the very least.
With regard to my ‘day job’ looking after the PRS for Music/MCPS office in Glasgow, I decided to reduce my working day to three days per week from 1st January 2016. I’m still getting used to it, to be honest, and predictions that I wouldn’t be able to switch off on my ‘non-working’ days have proved quite accurate! The problem is that I really love my job. No two days are ever the same, and I get to spend my working life among songwriters, musicians, artists and composers, as well as record company folk, TV producers, managers and the like. Kindred spirits for the most part, and in Scotland invariably really nice, friendly people. I’m quite addicted to the job, and, while I’m enjoying having some more time to myself, I can’t imagine life without work. It may be that I’m living vicariously through the young writers and bands, enjoying the new music I hear continuously, rather than concentrating on keeping my own music flowing, who knows?
Right, I’ll make myself a (probably hollow) promise to get back on the case with my blogs, if only because it’s good exercise for me. Spring is here, and Summer not far away, so I’ll try to harness as much energy as I can and get out to play more. In the meantime, please let me know any ideas for gigs out there, we’re easy to deal with!
Enjoy the longer days, and I hope the sun shines on you all through 2016.