Sunday, 22 December 2013

Fairytale Of New York (Cover)

Merry Christmas Everyone. Did this last year a bit of an improvement this time round. Could hardly do an F chord or swap around.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

Believe it or not the first one is a Christmas Song.

1. River - Joni Mitchell - Blue
2. Shot Of Life - Franc Cinelli - I Have Not Yet Begun To Fight
3. Rita Payne - Don't Misuse Me - Stories From A Suitcase

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Rita Payne & Lizzie Goddard

I saw two acts on Saturday Courtesy of ScunnyMusic. Another wonderfully ambient, intimate, little gig and this time there was food put on as well, chilli and nibbles (doubly good because it didn't run up against my stupid dairy allergy like buffets usually do, major kudos, at least from me.) I should have given them the credit for the Brooks Williams gig but I didn't understand the set up then.

Lizzie Goddard

The first act was Lizzie Goddard a young lass from Gainsborough. Pretty face, big hair, but I noticed none of this because of her amazing guitar - A Black Yamaha APX 500. Yeah I know, I know! What do you mean you don't know. (#whisper#  its the same as my guitar except mines a sunburst) Yeah. So obviously a young lady of taste and distinction.

She had a great voice, it was massive, and the songs she put out were of a level worthy of consideration Considering she's only 17 this was an accomplished set. The songs I remember most were "Eyes Like Those" really beautiful, as well as the song about "Home" but that's not its right name sorry (I should really start taking a pen to gigs and writing stuff down). "Skint" a song about the eponymous TV series properly struck a chord with me. I hated that programme, it totally misrepresented Scunny folk. I couldn't watch it, I got too wound up. I should have written a song about it instead of getting angry. Lizzie got it spot on. She finished with a great cover that showed you only need the bare minimum if what you have is quality. Here it is Lorde - Royals

What I thought and I don't think I am alone in this, is that Lizzie was very good with a few rough edges. What I am looking forward to is what she will be putting out in a years time or two years time, with a tiny bit more polish to her songs and a bit more life under her belt. She came across as smart enough to know all this and have a plan, so I don't feel like I'm being critical, what I'm really saying is watch this space. Take nothing away from her Saturday night she was very entertaining but she has the potential to be very good indeed, its quite exciting really. And I hope she does it because she has a very fine guitar. What! I'm not being biased.

Here's The Lizzie Goddard Facebook page

Rita Payne

The Head-liners were Rita Payne. No that's not a grammatical error. Rita Payne are a duo; Pete Sowerby Vocals and Rhiannon Scutt playing Guitar and Suitcase. No that's not an auto-correct. They had a (very nice) battered little suitcase that doubled up as a drum.

Now these two were very good. Great voice from the fellah and some good tales especially the impression of the artsy american; scintillating guitar from the lady. (At one point she did this move, I don't even know what you call it. It was like a super fast four-step hammer-on pull-off riffle. Well it impressed me anyway)   By turns Country, Folk, and Blues. Easy to listen to but not "Easy-Listening". I bought a copy of the album, Stories From A Suitcase, at half time as they had already convinced me. The best bit being that after the interval they stepped up another level and went from solidly entertaining to stirring, emotive and plain foot-stomping hand-clapping rocking. They got the audience to sing back some lyrics that were more complicated than the usual "Hey Ho" "La-la-la's" you get in audience participation. Rather than finding this a little daunting, I appreciated the trust and respect they put in the audience. And I like singing anyway even if it is la-la-la but it wasn't, and it worked. I would go see these again. And in fact I might at either Kirton Lindsey Town Hall on 8th February 2014, or I'll head over to Sheffield and see them at the Greystones on either the 21st Feb or 1st March. Now that seems like a really heavy-handed plug for their gigs but its actually what I hope to do. And to prove it they're playing Swindon in between, I'm not off there I saw the roundabout once, I've done Swindon. 

Here is the Rita Payne facebook page btw. and of course their website -

This is my favourite off the album so far. But they're all good and I'm still listening really.

I would highly recommend Rita Payne, they were so genuine when I spoke to them as well, sometimes you get that road weary "I've heard this all every night up to now" from touring artists, but these two were just happy to say hello like folks in a pub (which strangely enough we were hah) And I would recommend Lizzie Goddard as well if you get the chance to see either. I promise I will at some point give someone a bad review. I am trying.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

No 3 is from the Terry Pratchett concept album based on one of his stories. The chorus puts a smile on my face as his books tend to do.

1. Blackbird - Ben Ottewell - Shapes & Shadows
2. Low Light Buddy Of Mine - Iron & Wine - Ghost on Ghost
3. The Dark Morris Song - Steel Eye Span - The Wintersmith

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Bonfire Heart Cover

I had to redo it. It was a bit fast but I started to hate the sound of my original cover. This is a slower version. but the timing is a little inconsistent as it goes along. But it sounds OK and I'm really happy with the piano.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

China Drum - The Return

Apparently in 1995 Steve Lamacq, noted Radio 1 DJ, referred to China Drum as "The Best Band in Britain". You shouldn't say stuff like that lightly. And it may have been slightly provocative, after all he wanted to stir interest in his listeners, its his job, and how long this opinion remained true for him I don't know, but I believe he meant what he said, when he said it.

I saw them at The Lead Mill in Sheffield, Tuesday 18th October 1994 (I was 17 please call the cops) in support of Green Day, it cost £7 for a ticket or was it £6. It was £6. You read that right, it'll probably cost you £60 today. It was the first (and only) time that I stage-dived - but I went and waved when I did, "Looked like you was waving to your mam" they said. I did, shame on me. Before that I took an accidental head-butt from a guy moshing like mad next to me during the first support act. No apparent injuries, 3 hours later after the encore I collapsed from concussion... remains to this day the best gig I have ever seen. I've seen more than a few since, I don't say it lightly.

China Drum were the second act. Now I have something to confess. At the time of the gig I didn't know their name. As is proved by the picture below: an excerpt from The John Leggott College magazine for which I proudly wrote (badly) a review of the night. I have kept it all these years, It was the first (and only) article that I ever did - (I didn't wave to my mam while writing it). It wasn't like today, we didn't have the internet back then like we do now to look it up. Yeah I could have found out I suppose but I was 17 I had more important things to worry about (beer) than tardy journalism.

Just in case you wondered if I was a nobhead back then as well. I was.
It just proves quality will shine through, you don't have to know something's name or know what something is to know its good and enjoy it (I've been a big fan of Findus Lasagne for years as well)

I'm still friends with the people who went to that gig it was one of the most memorable nights of my life. I saw China Drum again I'm not sure how many times. But I remember at one gig where I met Adam Lee the lead singer after they had finished playing and I must have done what I refer to as the "belly trick" (A party trick where I used to stick my belly out like some kind of mutant bullfrog - haha I had forgot I used to do that until I wrote this) because he wrote on my 6" vinyl of Wuthering Heights "Fat Bastards Unite and Eat". 19 years later I don't look back and think "how sad" I think "That was amazing, it made my day, what a fucking legend". That's how you keep fans for 19 years.

So its last Sunday night 1/12/2013, The Adelphi Club in Hull ( The Adelphi is a one of a kind venue. No seriously there is nowhere like it. No. Seriously. Here's a pic of the flaking front door. Its like one of those secret clubs you see in film where the dingy door hides a mad party, with lasers and pole dancers, unicorns with afro's and Jesus playing a Les Paul in shades and.. er... except the Adelphi is not quite like that inside

Its small, its basically a converted terrace house with the ground floor knocked through. Its intimate. Maybe you shouldn't describe a punk gig as intimate its connotations are too romantic but then again maybe you should, there was a lot of love in the room.

Openers were Attack The Embassy, a good name. They suffered a bit from "Very loud but not very good" syndrome of gig openers the world over. But I was into in parts, there was potential there they just need to get tighter and work on their sound. ( Second support was Menshevik, the front man was full on and it was heavy to start off with, the first band that came to mind was Slayer but thats misleading it was punk at the hard fast end, I didn't like it and the singer was right off the stage in amongst the crowd up on tables. In your grill. I started thinking what the hell have I come to here, what is he doing, what is going on, maybe if I close my eyes he won't see me. Honest energy though and skill and just being fully entertaining will win you over every time. Menshevik just got better and better. The singer was actual the model of an extrovert front man and that's what you want. Heavier than I normally like but I genuinely enjoyed their set. (

And then it was time... I recognised them I'll say that, but a lot has changed in 19 years since that Lead Mill night. Of course it has. There's not much that doesn't change in 19 years. But 19 years is good amount of time to perfect your art. These were older, more professional, experienced, musicians, it sounded superb, you could tell. They played all the classics. I love Biscuit Barrel personally (and I'm thinking about ruining it with a cover even haha). They had the northern chat, it was like watching a bunch of your mates on stage you could tell they were having a good time, it makes a difference to the spectator, elevates the experience. Bill McQueen the guitarist wasn't there, but was replaced by John Steel who was top notch. There was no reason given but there's a link to a short documentary below which suggests that he probably couldn't get the time off ==> If you're a fan of China Drum or just a general lover of music check it out its quite short and it is interesting. Another change was Kate Stephenson replacing Adam on the drums. I don't know how he ever drummed and sang, I know trying to play guitar and sing is bad enough. Dave McQueen was excellent on Bass a proper lad taking photos on his phone and chipping in on Adam Lee's banter. (

Going back to what it says in the college magazine I don't know if they played A Minor I think they played Meaning though. They finished with what in my opinion is one of the most inspired cover versions of all time Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights. They played Erasure's A Little Respect as the final song, its a disgracefully singable song and they do a good version but Wuthering Heights is the real genius choice. This was a great great gig for many different reasons.

Leading up to the gig it was a bit of nostalgia - Lets go see The Drum for old times sake. And after, well it was - When are they playing again? This better not be over!!! 

A song to finish...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

Back to normal. Back to listening. Back to the right day.

1. Frank Delandry - Brooks Williams -  Baby O!
2. Sorrow - Winter Mountain - Winter Mountain
3. Cosmic Love - Florence And The Machine - MTV Unplugged

Monday, 2 December 2013

Brooks Williams & The Crash Blossoms.

Went to my local venue The Baths Hall ( ) for a gig this weekend. To see Brooks Williams and also in support The Crash Blossoms. I didn't know what to expect. To be honest it was just an excuse to see some live music. All I had heard was that Brooks was one of the top 100 acoustic guitarists in the world. I've been to the Baths before, as a drunken youth 20 years ago (but we'll not go into that today) and I saw Seth Lakeman the previous October in the main room (one of my top 3 gigs ever, don't knock folk music until you've seen Seth) but this show was in the Bar Lounge, a very chilled out place to watch music. Tea lights and sofas, ambient would be a good word for it.

The Crash Blossoms

The show opened with The Crash Blossoms a capable and endearing three pisoece from Hull who made some good choices of songs to cover. The main man had some good chat and had "less fat on him than a chip" as one of my fellow watchers described him but he could definitely sing very well despite his slightness and having a bit of a sore throat, which you never caught a hint of when he was singing.

They filled in a second slot as one of the other acts was a no-show. So respect to them for that. Their slow version of I Don't Like Mondays was spellbinding. In fact all their covers were solid, a downbeat Freefalling, and a version of All Along The Watch Tower to finish off their first slot. My dad said they would open with Forever Young for their second slot to which I said "No way will they do two Bob Dylan covers in one set especially not effectively one after the other". They then struck up. "Haha" said my Dad "Told You. Dylan. Forever Young"...

...It was Serve Somebody.

So half right. And that was probably my favourite song of their set. The shame was they didn't play more of their own stuff. The first song they did of their own Simple Enough was very good. I wasn't so much a fan of the second one but that might have been because they told me what it was about before they played it. Its a bit of niggle with me. So here, check it out without a description. (sorry its a link it won't let me find the video)

and here's their website

I bought their The Covered Up Sessions EP which has the following music on it - Freefalling by Tom Petty, Waiting For The Storm by Richard Shindell, I Don't Like Mondays by Bob GeldofSea Breeze by Tyrone Wells, Satan & St.Paul by John Fullbright, Galway Girl by Steve Earle & Sharon Shannon. It is very nice. I just wish it had the Dylan songs on as well.

Brooks Williams

So what about the head-liner - Brooks Williams Well. As a (budding) guitarist some guitar playing makes you think, some inspires you and some just plain blows you away. I think Brooks did all three. He was excellent and he had a good voice to compliment the voice of the guitar. Some times you get the feeling that someone is so good they don't actually know the song they're just so versed in music and so experienced they just instinctually know what to play next, where to put there hands and fingers, like a typist that doesn't have to look down no matter what you tell them to write. At one with the music, in the zone. Jedi Guitar style. I noticed he was strumming in different positions to create a different sound, took note, thanks Brooks I will try that. At one point he changed the tuning of his guitar and it was literally two pegs turned once each doink, doink, and that was it. No other movement no corrections. That's what practice can do son hah, brilliant.

Brooks' tools of the trade.

I thoroughly enjoyed his set and I'm repeat playing the "merch" album I bought. I kind of bought it thinking I probably won't listen to it that much but I like you, you've entertained me, you've earned it. But its nicely produced and even though I'm not really a bluesy person (at least not yet) I find myself getting into it and its got some harmonica on it, so that's me sorted. The highlight for me was his instrumentals and being torn between wanting to close my eyes and just listen, or have a look and see what the hell he was doing. My favourite songs were his last before the encore Frank Delandry, and Walking You Off My Mind a proper blues song and it gave me an idea for a song of my own.

Here is his website lots of links to music and vids on there. Check it out especially if you like to appreciate some sweet playing, some slide guitar and a bit of the blues. All in all well worth it. I hope to see more stuff like this now. 

I'm lucky in having a great local venue the only criticism I have is that I knew nothing about this, if my dad hadn't mentioned it I wouldn't have gone. I'm not sure how he found out. I get emails from the Baths but don't think I saw this on there maybe I'm wrong but I'm not the only one. I've actually come across a lot of people complaining they never knew who was playing at the Baths and have missed out. Baths Hall there seems to be a hole somewhere in your promotion strategy that needs filling. Its such a great venue something for the town to be genuinely proud of it seems a shame that local people are missing out a little. Having said that the place was full and I had a great time. (I have since spoken to The Baths Hall they were very nice. Apparently all their comedy shows sell out so you wont be able to buy tickets at the time of the show the best thing to do is sign up to the mailing list and book early) 

Lets finish with a song. This is excellent

Friday, 29 November 2013

Fare Thee Well - Dink's Song

Well I thought I was going to definitely get sued for this one because its a Bob Dylan song and its the main song from a film about to be released but hey what's this its actually an old folk song. (I got a third party content warning for my cover of Radioactive - Imagine Dragons you know). Turns out I didn't go back far enough. Apparently it was originally heard being sung by an African American woman as she washed her clothes at a camp in Texas back in 1908. Her name was Dink of course.

Here's the wikipedia entry:'s_Song which also contains the full original lyrics, which have been changed by everyone it seems. Including me.

And here's my version. I'm off to stick the washer on.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

3 Day W3dn3sday

Ok I'm struggling. The best three most listened to songs are the same as the last couple of weeks. So here are some all time Wednesdayers on a rap theme.

1. The Unknown - Mark B and Blade - The Unknown
2. Quality Control - Jurassic 5 - Quality Control
3. It's All Good - De La Soul - Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Don't Get Cold an Original Song by Nick Akester

So here it is, this its only the first version. Don't Get Cold. What's it about I hear you say... Well... Its about 5m18s...

I don't like to explain songs for two reasons one it spoils peoples own interpretations of the song which they may like better than my own. And second If I'm doing my job of writing properly I shouldn't have to. And three you don't always have to understand a song to enjoy it... I Am Walrus, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds anything in another language, anything by Nelly. Plus you're no slouch you'll crack this one...

And for old times sake you know you wanna listen to this now...

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Mark Kroos and some scary stuff from behind the curtain.

First saw this guys Duelling Banjos video which got me to subscribe to his channel. He plays it with himself on a double necked guitar

But some of his own arrangements are fantastic.

Worth a watch for inspiration or pleasure.

Its OK seeing someone who is better than you at guitar, I don't know about you but I don't get jealous I just get inspired. Unless its this...

Its not just that they are better players than me its that they're all playing in time with each other!!!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

...And then two come along at once

In the space of an evening I've written a song called Don't Get Cold it's about my Mum and Dad. That sentence will give you totally the wrong idea so wait to hear it. I say an evening but its really just the coalescing of all the little ideas I've had over time. Here's what I want to get across to you: Make Notes. When you have an idea put it down somewhere and go back to your thoughts when you need them. When I came up with the chords I turned to the notebook and the song just about wrote itself. It's gutting when you remember having a great idea and can't remember what the idea was. WRITE STUFF DOWN. Roald Dahl once had an idea for a story while driving and for lack of pen and paper he got out and wrote the idea in the dirt on the boot of his car. It became one of his major novels I think it was James and the Giant Peach but I could be wrong. Don't learn the hard way as I did.

So that's two new songs not one. I feel an EP coming on haha.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

Yes they're all from the same person. No its not a special because she is 70 this month, its because she's 70 that it reminded me to get some of her stuff. I've always had her on my list to listen to but I never got round to it. (what! have you been waiting for?! I know I know!). I have to say I have had A Case of You for years but never listened to anything else. The real issue was which 3 to choose. What a superb songwriter... I must try harder.

1. Carey - Joni Mitchell - Blue
2. Woodstock - Joni Mitchell - Ladies Of The Canyon
3. Both Sides Now - Joni Mitchell - Clouds

We are stardust we are golden...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Final Score

Did the charity busk for Children in Need. Messed up but also nailed it. Overall good and earned £103.29. Not bad for a couple hours work. The songs I didn't practice were the ones I messed up but I added some at the last minute to bulk out my set. This was a mistake I should have just repeated my best ones. Having said that half the problem was getting distracted by stuff going on around me. It was a busy town centre on a Saturday afternoon. I wasn't so much nervous as just not used to the environment I was playing in. But I hope this will be something that I get used to as I do more gigs, I think it will be.

Now I had to be told this as I sing with my eyes closed but the diversity of people donating money was great, those you would think would have the least: Pensioners, Teenagers, Kids, Young lads and lasses were putting in as much as anyone if not more. It was really touching and made me proud to live in a town full of such kind and gracious people. I've always said Scunthorpe people were fine lot.
From reading up on busking I was expecting people would come and speak to me and ask about the music but no-one did. This had made me resolve to be better next time... or it could have been because I had my eyes closed hah.
The best thing for me personally besides the fact that we earned so much for charity in such a short time is that when I started to sing some songs there was a palpable hushing of the general hubbub as people started to listen.
A big thanks goes out to everyone who came down. To Paul and Becky and my Dad for their logistical assistance. For my niece and nephew for their artistic contribution
The last song I played was this... From the Film Inside Llewyn Davis that I've mentioned in the Music Film post and this weeks Wednesday pick.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

I posted this on Wednesday it even linked to Google+ and for some reason it unposted it and reverted to an earlier draft version. This has given me a bit of rage. Anyway listening to these might calm me down.

1. Fare Thee Well (Dink's Song) - Oscar Isaacs & Marcus Mumford - Inside Llewyn Davis Movie Soundtrack Album
2. Dirty Paws - Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
3. Why'd You Only Call Me When Your High - Arctic Monkeys - AM

Mission Permission III

Well it looks like I have permission in principle from the council - license to be picked up Saturday morning. On way to pick up a battery now.

As the man says "I love it when a plan comes together"

The only problem is its become real now. I had sort of convinced myself I wouldn't have to do it... And now I'm bricking it.

But as the other man says "It's better to do a thing than live with the fear of it"

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Mission Permission II

I have permission to busk!!! I spoke to the manager today.
However I don't have permission to do it for charity. I need to get a collections licence. This could be a problem if I want to get one in time for Saturday. I also need to get that battery and charger now as there is definitely nowhere to plug in.
We'll see how it goes.

I can be issued a license today but it requires authorisation from the charity. Trouble is CiN is not a registered charity so can't authorise but hopefully evidence of contact will be enough for the council.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Hallelujah Cover

Its better than watching X Factor. I'm not really that religious but its a good song.

Mission Permission

I collared the local security and Community support officer today in the town centre and asked about busking for charity. They said I need the shopping centre managers permission... but she was not at work that day... but if its for charity then they will probably say yes. And hopefully in that case they will let me plug in.

I will know by Monday.

Friday, 8 November 2013

The Best Films about Music (Not Musicals) Part 1

So there are two sorts of films about music - Documentaries and Stories. Let's leave documentaries for now and concentrate on stories. So stories; biopics, comedies or, you know, just stories, and then of course there is Moonwalker, which is something else entirely.

Now wherever you have a "best of" involved there is always opinion in the mix so rather than do a chart I'll just do a list in no particular order. There are a fair few that could be number 1 and rather than pick one above all others it would be better if we can just agree what is up there at the top of the pile of DVDS. In fact its not really about that its about finding something good to watch. I realise that most charts in magazines are supposed to be a little provocative to spark discussion and interest. I don't want to go down this route because its not very honest. For example the NME chart of 50 best musical films had Twenty-Four Hour Party People at number 1. Its only my opinion but... What, no way! Steve Coogan's performance stands out maybe, but "Best music film ever", I don't think so.

OK what's going to be solidly in there on any list:-

Spinal Tap - brilliant film, much quoted and full of stuff musicians and music lovers anywhere can relate to.

The Blues Brothers - another timeless piece of genius. There is a temptation to dive into Quotes and Trivia here but I'll resist.

Now I have to admit I haven't seen all the films in the world (I know, it's terrible, I feel I've let everyone down) so I can't add any more all time classics but here are some really really good films about music. Before I get into this thanks to all the folks who suggested good films to me. Also I'll try not to give away any real spoilers.

In no particular order...

Almost Famous - Its a semi-biopic based on the experiences of the director Cameron Crowe as a young music journalist (and I mean young). Its a bit sentimental but I really enjoyed it. And without giving anything away; the scene on the plane is a one off.

The Commitments - Probably my favourite film on the list. I'd like to put it on the all time list. Its a comedy but its also a great story and an honest love of music comes through in almost every scene.

School of Rock - There are enough films out there with the "put a school band together for the big competition" format (including Bandslam oh yes). but this one stands out. Jack Black is just Jack Black in it. But in this film that's what makes it.

Walk the Line - I love how Johnny Cash sits and messes about to write his songs (probably because that's how I do it), I love how his songs are mean as well as touching. This film is not just about Johnny Cash  its as much about June Carter as well. (This film made me finally read The Prophet by Khalil Gibran worth it for that alone.)

8 Mile - Eminem and 2Pac would have been lyrical poets if they had lived 300 years ago, quaffing and being melancholic and dying of syphallus and all that we would be groaningly learning about them in English lessons today. But they weren't. A film about giving people off the cuff abuse to a beat. (2Pac's not in it by the way. What's that film he's in... Gridlock'd I have seen it. I can't remember it. That maybe says it all)

Step Brothers - people will say "that's not a music film". I can't argue why it is without spoiling it. And my argument isn't that he plays the drums in a novel way. Boats & Hoes.

About A Boy - Maybe this isn't about music either but I've spoiled it at least twice in my Blog (ahem sorry about that). Major story points revolve around music so I'm sticking it in, because even if its not about music its still a good film. Yes it has Hugh Grant in it. But he OK in this one.

Yellow Submarine - I used to love this film as a young kid, which is the last time I saw it. But I still remember loads of it. The bit where the fish (was it a fish) eats everything and then eats itself and there's nothing left but a blank white existentialist vacuum. That used to blow my tiny mind every time, it was like the "but what's outside the universe?" question. As a kid I used to lay awake because of stuff like that, wide-eyed, staring into the night.

OK this list is going to take me ages so I'll stop here for now and break it up into parts it will also give me a chance to watch some of the films recommended to me... Except Moonwalker...

And if you haven't watched any of the aforementioned then it will give you a chance to GET WATCHING!!

(sorry caught the CAPS LOCK there...)

One thing I am looking forward to is this film (about music) out early next year - Inside Llewyn Davis. The soundtrack is out next week.

In the best Hollywood tradition...

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

Its that time again. Give these a listen, and if you've already heard them get nostalgic while listening again.

1. Brothers In Arms - Alex Cornish - The Saturday Sessions
2. How I Got Over - The Roots - How I Got Over
3. Make A Little Room - Al Lewis - Battles

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Follow On

OK here is a US Californian award winning artist called Dessy Di Lauro who's genre is, well, I don't know really, but its some kind of swing, Its a Great Gatsby vibe. Its from the album  This Is Neo-Ragtime so I guess that's what it is. Its not quite my bag baby but you know what, I don't mind it either, I'm sure its something some folks will really like. (There's a bit where the barman spills the flaming brandy. I think that wasn't meant to happen and they left it in for a laugh)

And this is an Australian Jazz, Funk R&B fusion band called the Electric Empire. Who I've watched a few videos of and I'm quite impressed. They remind me a little of The Roots but that's no bad comparison. Original song Changin' which looks like its from an EP of the same name. Their only other previous album being the self-titled Electric Empire which I'm thinking of checking out. So why's he riding the little bike...

and a cover of No Church In The Wild by the same band.

So why have I shared these two disparate musical choices with you. Well its sort of to pay them back in a way. You see - perhaps inexplicably - they both started following me on Twitter.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Bonfire Heart

James Blunt has a certain stigma attached to him as a bit of a cheesemeister. People hate, and I mean hate, Beautiful, I don't mind it but that "my life is brilliant" line gets on my nerves a bit. But he's actually a decent funny guy and his songs aren't that bad (Did you hear that, that was the sound of my credibility vanishing). 1973 is a great tune (no its totally gone). Just watch him on Never Mind The Buzzcocks he's all right. So what he sounds posh. You can't blame some one for where they were born. He's actually down to earth and most important, a good measure of anyone is if they can laugh at themselves and he can.

I learnt Bonfire Heart cos its easy its C, Em, F, Am C, G (although I capo the second fret cos it suits me better) and its current and its good for busking. I really like the chorus structure, I wish I had come up with it.

I stand by what I say If you think I have no credibility now then read back about the other stuff I like and read on in the future. But to be honest I can live with it. Its just your opinion, as this is mine. I respect it. Don't be afraid to like what you like, be yourself don't hide parts of yourself away for fear of what other people will think.

...But just let me make this clear there will be NO Justin Bieber posts

Just one note - I'm not happy with the sound of the guitar on this. I thought I had it sorted but not there yet. I worry it might be un-sortable without another microphone and a better pick-up in the guitar.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


I have reversed the decision to sing and play without amplification when busking. I got really good advice at Maplin today and have bought a 300W inverter to connect to a car battery. All I need now is an actual battery. Let's hope that cheeky beggar in the 4x4 parks in my drive again without permission.

Reach (Rough Version)

(Well that's a bit of a gimpy thumbnail.)

OK this is a "Rough Version" I do this so I can see how a song sounds from the outside. Its an essential thing to do as part of the creation process. It doesn't have to be amazing its just to get an idea. You could of course lay it down as an mp3 track but I find the camera is the quickest and its enough to show me what I'm looking, or should I say listening for. I also knowe that a few folks like to help out by watching these and giving me their own feedback.

(Warning: I swear at the end after the songs finish because I knock my stand over if you're of a gentle disposition)

I think this is probably the weakest of the songs I've got in the pipeline, mainly cos I feel its a little cheesy, but I aim to make it sound and sing it a bit more plaintively. Its also a case of getting it out of the way mentally so I can move onto something else. Any constructive comments on it would be welcome. Reach out.

copyright Nick Akester ©2013

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Track to the Future

Well after listening to that little snippet of a video on Tuesday I went back and bought Ben Ottewell's last album - Shapes and Shadows. Really loving it, his voice has a great sound to it. The lyrics are unusual in places but not quite odd there's something about an osprey's breast in there I find myself reminiscing on Vic & Bob's Mulligan and O Hare haha, I will avoid to my death the use of the word juxtaposition but if you wanted to compare the images some of the lines evoke you might be tempted to use it. But ignore me in my foibles, seriously, its a fine piece of music, loving some of the instruments and samples in there some great arrangements. Favourite song is probably Lightbulbs.

Its a bit short though.

Just as an aside. I had to download Afternoon Delight today. Not because of Anchorman, (its an OK film but people get over excited by it) but because of the episode in series 2 of Arrested Development. One of the finest comedy series you'll see and really, everyone should have that song stored somewhere for playing on rainy days.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

Whoa nearly missed it (actually I did miss it but I can fix the time)

1. We Don't Eat - James Vincent McMorrow - Early in the Morning
2. Tranquilize - The Killers Ft. Lou Reed - Sawdust
3. The Times They Are A-Changin - Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin
(Trying to learn it is why but this song is timeless and I mean that in its true sense not as a superlative)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A Bit of a Tease

Just stumbled across this. It sounds good. I'm as frustrated as you not to hear any more...

... so I thought I'd share that feeling. Haha. And the vid of course...

Sunday, 27 October 2013

What Lou Reed wrote

I have to be honest and say I don't know very much about Lou Reed so I'm definitely not going go into a full essay on his life. I just thought it would be respectful to put in a timely post about the things I remember about him. All I'll say is that what I do know is that he was a great musician, an innovator, a true original and that I didn't want him to die, and its really sad that he has gone. I love Perfect Day (the one without Bono), I've seen Trainspotting about a thousand times you see, but I realise it is only the smallest part of his lexicon of music and his deeds. I think we listened to Transformer in the car as kids when my dad was going through his listening to classic albums stage but I think it got denied airplay in the end by The Clash and The Stranglers that he preferred. When I heard that Lou Reed had died (through Twitter of course) the first thing I thought of was an article I had read (which I also found through Twitter), a review by Lou Reed of Kanye West's album Yeezus. Now here's me thinking why is this old guy reviewing a current rap album, he won't get it, he's going slate it as shallow, artless crap. But like I said I don't know much about him and he doesn't do that - what he does is he reviews it in such a refreshing way. It makes you love music again it makes you think I'm not too old for this shit, I'm never going to be too old for this shit, and this guy right here writing; he really knows his shit. It makes you want to open your eyes and try new things. There is a link below to the article, check it out for yourself (I think it was in the Guardian as well).

Rest in Peace Lou Reed

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Busking For Pudsey

I think I am going to go busking on either the 15th or 16th of November. And I'm going to do it for Children in Need. I figure that at least if I am crap the general public won't abuse me as I am doing it for charity. Their pity may even result in more pennies for a good cause hah.
Its looking like I'm going to have to busk unplugged, this mean sans reverb but I don't use much anyway. Its the volume I'm worried about, not sure how loud I will need to sing. This will either wear my throat out or make me sing crap or both a bit like the film... (~...Killing me softly with his song, telling my whole life with his words...~)

The painful bit in About A Boy

My amp is pretty big and you're not supposed to have them anyway. And I don't want to mess about with car batteries to power it even if I knew how to, or buy some mad generator. No I'm going to have to go au naturel. Just me, the guitar and the cuddly little bear.
Location will be Scunny not sure of best spot but there are plenty of closed shops to stand outside. Might try outside Costa then down near Subway.
I'm alright now I'll probably be bricking it at the time.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

A weird mix this week. You Gotta Be by Des'ree nearly made it in as well. I don't know what's going on...

1. 99 Problems - Hugo - Old Tyme Religion
2. The Shipping Song - Lisa Knapp - Hidden Seam
3. Way Back When - Kodaline - In A Perfect World

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Monday, 21 October 2013

Ashtray Hearts

A good friend of mine has been urging me to listen to an album; The Strangest Light by Ashtray Hearts. The problem is that I sometimes have so much to do or listen to that if I don't get round to playing it at the time that its recommended I forget about it. Either that or I like something else so much that I'm just listening to that on repeat to the exclusion of everything else. I bet I'm not alone in experiencing these two scenarios on a regular basis. It's a good thing in the main, its a sign that there are plenty of good sounds out there and also that you're rarely bored with your stereo. The downside is that at some point you're going to miss something good.

And this is exactly what happened. After Marko nagged me again I downloaded it and went to the shops with it on my headphones...

.. I repeated the first song on the album 3 times before I even got to the second. That says it all really. The sound won't be for everyone. It's all about the lead singer and songwriter Dan Richmond's voice, its all hung around that I feel. It has a melancholic bitter-sweet drop to it and the songs, even the more upbeat one's all sound kind of sad really. I guess its right there in the band's name, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It'll sweep you away in places, make you close your eyes or gently tap your foot in others. There are laments for what's lost or should have been and wistful and wry lyrics. I really like it. One criticism that could possibly be levelled is that it does all sound very much the same. I don't really mind this I like this particular sound (and if its one song on repeat it will sound the same hah).

One thing that seems strange and Marko pointed this out to me is that they are not bigger than they are. There's nothing on YouTube. I went looking for the chords on my guitar app (I use the ultimate guitar tabs one) and there was nothing not a single song not the bands name. That's the only time its ever happened and I've looked up some odd songs. I mean Snooker Loopy is on there. Snooker Loopy!

So I'm going to do my bit to share their music. Here's a link to there website, its nice looking arty and professional.

And here's a song, I hope you enjoy it...

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Busking Set List

I need 1.5 to 2 hours of music as the recommended amount of material to entertain while busking so as not to become repetitive. I need suggestions to learn please! I tend to either pick stuff a little melancholy or full cheese. I need some happy tunes and some more lively tunes.

These are what I can play so far:

Reminder - Mumford & Sons
Blowin' in the Wind - Bob Dylan
Knocking on Heavens Door - Bob Dylan
Pyro - Kings of Leon (not sure about this one as correct material)
Stuck on You - Lionel Richie
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) - Green Day
Traffic - Stereophonics
Wonderwall - Oasis
Slide Away - Oasis
Half the World Away - Oasis
Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley
Everything I Own - David Gates Bread.
Let It Be (the Jedi Version) - The Beatles (suppose I could learn the right words)
Radioactive - Imagine Dragons (not sure about this one as correct material)
Every Night So Far - Nick Akester
While The Light - Nick Akester
Disjunction - Nick Akester (definitely not sure about this one as correct material)
Fairy Tale of NewYork - The Pogues (xmas time only really)

At a rough guess there's just over an hour there taking out the ones that might not suit. So we need the same again...

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Acoustic Survivor

I've just put together an acoustic version of Eye of the Tiger as recommended by a friend of mine. Haven't sung it loud yet cos the neighbour is in so not sure exactly how it will sound but I've got a good feeling about this one. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

The songs that I am liking very much this week are...

1. Stand To Your Guns - The Full English - The Full English
2. Skinny Love - Birdy - Birdy or Skinny Love - Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (Either or Both)
3. Sophia - Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know

Monday, 14 October 2013

Connecting Folk

I've been listening to a lot of good music these last couple of months.  And a lot of its classed as folk but I don't want people to immediately think of the Hey Nonny No Morris Dancer stuff, the folk I'm referring to is rooted in all that but its given modern production, and the combination of old an new renders something quite stirring and energetic and beautiful. Now I'm no expert on anything really but this is good tunage. 

Folk and acoustic has its place these days, as it should. With the advent of Mumford & Sons and that sort of folky irish beat (dum dum da-da da-da, repeated fast, you know the one I mean) has established a footing in the mainstream. Avicii's hit Wake Me Up is like Mumford combined with dance. People always liked that beat even if they didn't know it, its a fine beat and folk has known it for a good many years. I actually quite like that track, dance has always sampled so its not really copying. As for Gavin Degraw's Best I Ever Had its got that beat but its plagiaristic of all of the above and more, its a bandwagon-jumpin-on abomination, its awful turn it off. But same beat; James Vincent McMorrow's Sparrow and the Wolf is excellent, don't avoid that.

So lets get to the folkin' point. This is what I've been listening to; Cara Dillon: her voice is pretty beautiful, her album Hill Of Thieves is eloquent and evocative.

I didn't know until after I had listened to it that it won the album of the year at the radio 2 folk awards in 2010. There are numerous collaborations on this including John Smith on guitar on the title track and Seth Lakeman on Spencer the Rover (the only song I know that mentions Rotherham). Both great songs. Now John Smith's album Great Lakes is another good album, his songs are catchy and his guitar playing is excellent and has its own unique style and sound. (Which you will notice straight away on Cara Dillon once you  know it's him) the only problem with this album is that an innocent guitar must have been ruined for the cover.

Now to Seth. I saw Seth Lakeman at Scunthorpe Baths Hall about a year ago. This was my starting point in folk. To be honest I just wanted to go to a gig (any gig) because I'd moved into town and the Baths Hall was new. So I saw Seth Lakeman on the bill and watched this excellent live version of Race To Be King to see what he was like.

I was sold and the tickets were bought. This guy is an accomplished musician and songwriter firmly grounded in the stories and heritage of the country. He was excellent live, one of my top 3 gigs I think, they even had a hammer and anvil (a full anvil!) as part of the percussion.

Seth has recently joined a collective known as The Full English. In fact their Self-Titled Album has just been released. They were created to produce a full album from the Full English itself: The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. The Library is The worlds largest FREE digital archive of English Traditional Folk Music and Dance Tunes. Check it out follow the link if you are interested. A place to be inspired and absorbed. Its not what I would call a folk super-group (although it is) because that word doesn't seem quite right for folk, a super-troupe perhaps.
The Line up:-

  • Fay Hield - Commissioned with creating the album, Vocals
  • Nancy Kerr - Fiddle, Vocals
  • Seth Lakeman - Vocals and anything with Strings, seriously
  • Martin Simpson - Guitar (from Scunthorpe so instant legend status)
  • Sam Sweeney - Fiddle
  • Rob Harbron - Concertina
  • Ben Nicholls - Double Bass (he played with Seth at the Baths Hall and On Cara Dillons album and he's in that video above as well)

Its a great album. I love old songs given a modern production. Apparently they each dived into the archive and found the stuff they like and then pulled it all together. You couldn't go far wrong for a folk starting point. 

As a final connection Martin Simpson's intricate playing of the guitar reminds me of John Martyn and didn't John Martyn punch Sid Vicious for heckling him. It seems Folk has connected with Punk as well...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

While The Light _ Original Song by Nick Akester

An attempt to add midi piano to the track. Happy with it but it could be better. Learnt a lot but alot still to learn. I could do with a real pianist... and a drummer... and a bassist... and a....

Thursday, 10 October 2013

I do my best thinking at night...

...Its why I never get enough sleep.

I have just finished the Lyrics (at last!) to my 5th Song. It has taken me ages to get the last couple of lines. But late night inspiration solved it. I'm going to multi-track this one for its first play. I'm excited because I'm really happy with the words. It has a double verse structure. A slower pre-verse following by a lively main verse.

Its called...


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

The 3 songs that have got the most play this week.

1. Hill of Thieves - Cara Dillon - Hill of Thieves
2. Ramble On - Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II
3. Feeling Better - Sugar - Beaster

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Return of The Jedi... Song

And here it is. I'm not entirely happy with it. I was playing it slower and it sounded great but I kept messing up the words. I was getting too hot in that stupid jedi hoodie hah and so I rushed it but got through it. But not without a mistake in timing at the end. One thing it does prove is that the recording gear works. I rushed it but I can do this and tweak it. be ready for Re-Return of the Jedi. And then I'm going to tweet it to famous geeks...

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Jedi Recording

Today I'm going to attempt a proper produced recording of Let It Be the Star Wars version. Here's the old version.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Photos from Paul & Becky's Night Do 27th September 2013

3 Song W3dn3sday

I have decided to list my favourite 3 songs of the week on a Wednesday. Because I like lists and choices and because and it might give me an excuse to buy a new album. Be warned though it could include anything. Quality to total cheese.

1. Comeback Story - Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bull
2. Sirens - Pearl Jam - Lightning Bolt
3. Bonfire Heart - James Blunt - Moon Landing

...I did warn you.

Monday, 30 September 2013

After Party

OK so the first gig went well. I judge this on how happy the bride and groom Paul and Becky were and that alone. They seemed pretty pleased, so there it is.

Learnt a few things preparing for this. First; I've realised that its far more nerve-racking to play to one person you know well, than a room of folks you don't. Second; practice will carry you through when you mess up. Third; don't assume anyone has told the DJ what is going on. Didn't get to play all the songs we had because he got confused. But still enjoyed it and most importantly the happy couple were happy. Did slip Lionel Richie in at the end though.  And here's the other song that didn't make it because I had had too many drinks by then to be able to play it. Thanks and respect to Tom and Jody who also played and were indeed awesome they did a brilliant cover of tainted love.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Staying On A Mechanical Bull

Been waiting for this, the new Kings of Leon album. Mechanical Bull. Was it worth it?

It's a different sound to before but it's still unmistakeably Kings. Personally I think it sounds very well produced, hard in places, sunny in places, a little bit country, a lot rock, was that an eighties riff, maybe. As an album its clean and sharp and smooth at the same time.

I think the songs are catchy and I think people will say its too mainstream because of this. Like they did before. But catchy doesn't equate to mainstream (with all its manufactured pop connotations). What "catchy" really means is that it's a good song. Mainstream is all about clichés. Caleb Followill doesn't shy away from clichés, he takes them, breaks them, plays with them, and teaches you a lesson for thinking you heard one.

If you doubt the Followills integrity go see them live. If you think they put sales before turning a crowd on, go see them live. It's worth it. Because they entertain. They want to entertain. And when I saw them at Birmingham NEC some dude got naked during the last song... er... if you like that sort of thing... ahem.

I like this album a lot. I've not been thrown yet.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

2 Days to very 1st Live Gig. A bit nervous. Practising like mad.

Reminder - Mumford and Sons
Blowin' in the Wind - Bob Dylan
While The Light - Nick Akester
Pyro - Kings Of Leon
Stuck On You - Lionel Richie
Every Night So Far - Nick Akester
(Snooker Loopy Vignette)
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) - Green Day

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A song about all the best nights you ever had and the ones yet to happen with Friends or Lovers, Sister or Brothers