A very Happy New Year to you all.
This year starts with a new Top 10 award for a song 'You Knew it Anyway' which I wrote with a friend many years back. I wanted to record it again and did so recently, using a range of BBC orchestral sounds to build the mood. You can have a Spotify listen here Thank you World Songwriting Awards for a much-appreciated placement.
I'm really looking forward to this year, but also like to keep some memorabilia to remind me of my musical past. So, for a bit of New Year fun, I thought I'd share a photo of part of my music room where I write a lot of my songs - I like blank sheets of paper for that, but not blank walls!
1. Sunderland Football Club mini guitar - many a Saturday afternoon spent at Roker Park when I lived in the area
2. Executive decision-making spinner for inspiration
3. Led Zeppelin poster from the New Musical Express 1969 (I was a young teenager at the Newcastle gig when they were a new band on the scene - 67.5 pence entrance I recall)
4. A new song idea on the laptop
5. My recent cds - Onward Journeys and Circles & Seasons
6. Some new lyrics scribbled out about the Wolf Moon a few days back
7. Table adverts made by the bar staff for an old solo gig in a local pub
8. For some reason, my graduation photo (Microbiology & Virol0gy, Warwick Uni)
9. Cover for Christmas on Our Street - my 2021 seasonal single. Thanks to Ali Davis for the cover painting
10. Recent WSA placement certificate (see above)
11. Earlier WSA placement certificates since 2020
12. Painting for cover of 'Industrial Gypsies' single, again by Ali
13. Arial photo of our family home in Houghton-le-Spring in the NE of England, where I didn't practice classical piano very much, but did practice blues and rock, as well as teaching myself guitar
14. Drawing of St Michael's church in Houghton-le-Spring where I was a choirboy for many years and my Grandad was organist and choirmaster - learnt a lot about harmony there
15. Advert for a pub Irish evening I played with a friend, Andrew, a few years back
16. One of my Mum's last etchings before she passed away. She was a piano teacher and award winning violinist
17. 'Grandad, You Rock' plaque given to me by grandson Henry (now I'm a Grandad!)
18. Renovated picture of 6 famous classical composers (l to r Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Mozart) which used to glare down on me in my Grandad's music room when he tried to teach me classical piano. Interestingly, behind it is a 1908 Northern Echo newspaper, which is now visible as I've had the whole thing re-framed with a perspex back. I assume my Grandad mounted it in the original frame - he would have been 23 years old in 1908
19. One of my favourite French posters for a 1906 Balloon Race over the Pyrenees, picked up in a junk shop
20. My one and only sporting award - University 5-a-side Football champions
21. Cuban maracas bought on honeymoon in Havana - bumped into Will Young in our hotel!
22. Old Houghton Grammar School exercise books converted into lyric books and used quite a bit in early bands. I learnt a lot musically at school as well, being in choirs and bands
Anyway, that's it - the reason quite a bit of this stuff is on show is because we moved house last year and I sort of re-discovered it. I hope you've enjoyed the tour of my music room walls and see you later in 2023!
July 22 - New album and single releases
I'm very pleased to let you know that my new album is due for release over the next few days. It's called 'Circles and Seasons'. This reflects the fact that all the songs originated from my membership of songwriting circles, and also many of them reflect the season in which they were written. I'll give you an example - last September the topic of the month for one circle was 'red' and I came up with 'Autumn Red'. December was 'Winter Nation', so you get the idea!
After a bit of debate with myself, I've released the whole album on download sites such as Amazon Music, iTunes etc. However, for Spotify, I've released the tracks as individual singles. Maybe this better suits Spotify's 'playlist' approach, and over the coming months I'll turn the spotlight on different songs. The first is 'Summer Days' for obvious reasons and hopefully you can enjoy it along with the sunshine.
It's been quite a long road getting the album together. As usual, I've done it all myself (apart from the art of Mastering). My understanding of Cubase has developed and I seemed particularly at home with bass, keys and drum pads - perhaps it was the style of the songs that lent themselves to solid rhythms. Acoustic guitar recording has also developed and I'm feeling now that I have a sound which suits the vibe of my songwriting. I hope you think so as well....enjoy the Summer!
A DIFFERENT START TO 2022
2022 has started off very busy.....moving house! This has meant dismantling the various music rooms and setting everything back up in a different way. The aim is to increasingly achieve a more refined acoustic sound from the guitars and vocals whilst retaining the bass/keyboard and percussion from before.
It seems to be working - I've started recording some of the songs I've written in the past six months, many from my songwriting circle , where someone chooses a topic each month and off you go - write your song.
Apart from the hassle of packing and unpacking etc, my new environment is realeasing some creative vibe and I'm back in songwriting mode!
I'm working on 5 songs at the moment, and this one is called Autumn Red. The recording needs a few final tweaks then mastering, but here's the nearly completed version from today - I added vocal harmonies this sunny Sunday morning!
Lots of people seem to be going back to YouTube out of choice, so I've set up an Alan Garmonsway channel and will be posting my progress towards what is hopefully a new ep sometime over the summer.