Well, what happened in 2013? What new original songs did I write and release? What new covers did I attempt? What collaborations did I start with who? Where did I play? What new skills did I start learning? Who cares? Along with video/song links, here is a year long review of someone who "likes to strum" in some of his spare time...
(Last year I wrote something similar, including my Top 80 acoustic covers I performed in 2012, many of which I've probably performed this year too, but I'll focus on what's new this year.)
Getting that difficult second album out was the big thing for me in 2013. Theory Of Everything (solo acoustic) was released in August 2013, and contained 12 new original songs. Some of the songs I had started writing in 2012, some were written in 2013, some 2013 songs replaced other 2012 songs, to give the album better cohesion.
The result was an acoustic pop album of 12 catchy songs I'm very pleased and very proud of, all songs performed solo acoustically (no multiple layers, for that true live solo acoustic feel), DIY recorded/edited/mastered at home, with a mix of genres from punk rock to easy listening ballad, from hip hop rap to Jewish-folk-gypsy-klezmer-punk, from country blues to trance dance, from rock to pop.
The final order of songs on the album ended up as, with links to audio and some live video performances (some first time live performances):
01. I Worry (audio) (live video)
02. Come Back (audio) (live video)
03. The Moon Is Awfully Bright (audio) (live video)
04. You (audio) (live video)
05. Spinning Around (audio)
06. Sitting On A Barstool (audio) (live video)
07. Mi Amor (audio) (live video)
08. Long Time Coming (audio) (live video)
09. You're The One For Me (audio)
10. Theory Of Everything (audio) (live video)
11. Falling On Deaf Ears (audio)
12. Talent Shows (audio) (live video)
The album Theory Of Everything (solo acoustic) is available at downloadable music stores like iTunes and Amazon, and on Spotify. I also carry a few CDs when I'm out gigging too (fiver each, with song lyrics and chords CD insert).
There is a VIP section for page likers only on my facebook music page where you can see videos of all the songs as they recorded at home, including lyrics.
The plan was to take a break from songwriting for the rest of the year after the album release in the summer, but that was never to happen. As well as thinking up some songs for a third album (2014 release maybe?), I was fortunate enough to start writing a couple of songs with guitarist Mark Gill, see collaborations below...
a. Songwriting with Mark Gill
In September/October 2013, I listened to a couple of guitar instrumentals local guitarist Mark Gill had composed, and I contacted Mark to see if I could add some lyrics (and vocals for the first drafts). Luckily Mark said yes, and here are the two early first draft songs:
b. Acoustic Duo with lead guitarist Phil Sheridan
I met Phil in late May at the Welcome Inn open mic Rushden, on that night we jammed some covers including Ice Cream Man and some of my original songs too, and since then we've been playing quite regularly as a duo at open mics and some feature artist spots. Here are some videos of Phil and me performing covers and my original songs:
01. Bobby Hebb Boney M Sunny (live video)
02. Tom Waits Ice Cream Man (live video)
03. I Worry (original song) (live video)
04. Come Back (original song) (live video)
05. Sitting On A Barstool (original song) (live video)
06. The Zombies She's Not There (live video)
07. Karl Phillips and the Midnight Ramblers (local song cover!) (live video)
c. Other Ad-hoc Jams
It's definitely worth noting these other enjoyable jams/ad-hoc collaborations too, at open mic nights:
01. George Gershwin Summertime jam/cover with Stephen Wilkins (live video)
02. Tenpole Tudor Swords Of A Thousand Men cover with Rob Matheson (live video)
03. Rage Against The Machine Bullet In The Head open mic cover with Coleen (not so much an ah-hoc jam with this song, but more a thought out acoustic arrangement)
04. Countless other jams at David Peters's open mic at the Welcome Inn, Rushden
Although I love playing my own songs, I'm also a sucker for learning, creating, and performing solo acoustic arrangements of my favourite songs by other artists too. Here are the 30 new covers I attempted in 2013, roughly in date order, with some live video links (some of first live performances of the songs, some of first live jam performances!):
01. Odyssey / Richie Havens - Going Back To My Roots (live video)
02. Randy Crawford / BB King - Same Old Story (live video)
03. Traditional/folk - Man Of Constant Sorrow (O Brother Where Art Thou)
04. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - UB40/Robert Palmer (Bob Dylan)
05. The Hollies - The Air That I Breathe
06. Rich Hall - George Foreman Grill (live video)
07. Morris Albert / Nina Simone - Feelings (live video)
08. Toots and the Maytals - Sweet and Dandy (live video)
09. Dawn Penn - You Don't Love Me (No No No) (live video)
10. The Pointer Sisters - Telegraph Your Love (live video)
11. David Bowie (Midge Ure) - The Man Who Sold The World (live video)
12. Queen - Don't Stop Me Now (live video)
13. Moloko - Sing It Back (live video)
14. Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall (live video)
15. Bob Marley - Jammin
16. Hip Hop Rap mash-up (Sugarhill Gang Rappers Delight, Ini Kamoze Here Comes The Hotstepper, The Fugees Ready Or Not, Snow Informer, Coolio Gangster's Paradise, Paul Strummer I Worry, Queen We Will Rock You) (live video)
17. The Prodigy - Firestarter (live video)
18. Anita Baker - Sweet Love (live video)
19. Bobby Hebb - Sunny (live video)
20. George Harrison / The Beatles - While My Guitar Gently Weeps (live video)
21. Patti Smith / Bruce Springsteen - Because The Night
22. The Box Tops - The Letter
23. Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know
24. Gorillaz - Dare
25. Donna Summer - Last Dance
26. Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody (live video)
27. The Snowman - Walking In The Air (live video)
28. Bad Manners - Just A Feeling
29. Bananarama - Cruel Summer
30. The Beatles (Paul McCartney) - For No One (live video)
Pretty much small scale for someone of my small fry standing! The majority of my live performances have been at open mic nights, which is a good way of keeping a regular flow of live performances and practice levels up, once or twice a week. In most cases I've kept things local, mainly Wellingborough's Horseshoe Inn Acoustic Club (open mic run by Rob Matheson every Wednesday) and Rushden's Welcome Inn (open mic/jam run by David Peters every Monday), but I have performed to open mics in London (Mary the Fairy's Parlour Party Harrow), Birmingham (Songwriter Sessions) and Shropshire too (whilst on a walking holiday short break). Other local open mics I've performed on more than one occasion include Wildfire Sessions (Stevie Jones) open mics, NiNi Events (Hannah Faulkner) open mics, Green Dragon Higham Ferrers (Kirsty Crawford) open mics, and Dan Hughes open mics.
I've performed some featured artist sets at Wildfire Sessions events, Dan Hughes events, Our Big Gig Nuneaton, and local beer festivals and charity days.
I've performed a couple of Saturday night pub gigs at the Welcome Inn Rushden, and one Friday night pub gig at the Black Horse, Braunstone Gate, Leicester (mad Friday before Christmas). In all of these cases the night was shared with one other solo acoustic singer songwriter/covers artist, Charlie Lock and Stevie Rigsby repectively.
The music events I've organised, promoted, got other acts involved, lugged my own PA system, done the sound, hosted, and performed, have local beer festival related! and include the three Acoustic Showcases at Wellingborough Hart Brewery beer fest, and two Acoustic Showcases at the Wellingborough Beer Festival (annual and special one for Waendel Walk). The recent ones have been 5 hours long! (on a Saturday afternoon)
The new album features some songs with fingerpicking (e.g. The Moon Is Awfully Bright), there are 2 songs on the new album played on 12 String guitar (Sitting On A Barstool, You're The One For Me), I've started playing around with harmonicas (on songs like Pink Floyd Another Brick In The Wall, Bobby Hebb/Boney M Sunny, Moloko Sing It Back), and I've started playing around with both looper and guitar improv scale solo-ing over strumming e.g. Guitar Gently Weeps (looping starts 3:15 in, soloing starts 4:00 in).