Blog.....Blog.....Blog.....

.....JUNE & JULY 

Hi all - I haven’t been inclined to travel too much, even with relaxation of lockdown rules, so my acoustic recording approach has continued over the past couple of months. After the ‘Carry the Torch’ release mentioned last time, I went even more into the acoustic world and recorded/released ‘Macky the Pit Pony’

This is also a newly-written song and was a nod to my Grandfather and that generation who spent many years working at the local colliery. I was lucky enough to have the story published in a great online magazine The Songwriters Journal with thanks to Jacqueline Jax . I really appreciated such a great write-up about how I wrote the song and its inspiration. Macky also found a keen audience with about 7k Spotify hits and another 4k reached on Facebook. The latter was much helped by the support of the National Coal Mining Museum of England, launching the Macky video on their website and who are also interested in using the video as part of their visitor resource centre show at their museum - many thanks to NCMME. The song and video were also very much inspired by the original paintings of Ali Davis , and I used a wide selection of these in the vid, plus some family photographs. Thanks Ali, it’s great to be able to put together original songs and art in this way, and long may it continue! 

 

Following Macky, I revisited and released another acoustic song, High Pressure, that I wrote earlier in the year. It’s about global warming and is also doing well, thank you AVA Live Radio  – also appearing on radio shows at Invisible Folk Club and Witney Radio so thank you also to John Bickley and Mr G at those respective stations!

Speaking of radio, Lilijan Rose and I also had a great one-hour live discussion with Martin Adams at Riverside Radio in SW London last week. We reviewed our releases to date, Saturday Morning and Vapour Trails and how we work together remotely, as well as one of Lilijan’s other releases, Faces, where I played keyboard. And speaking of Saturday Morning, we were also delighted and honoured to receive a 'Finalists' certificate from the World Songwriting Awards in their most recent listings for 'Best Song Duo'! That was a really nice surprise and makes all the effort very much worthwhile.

We’re looking forward to releasing a new track ‘See the Light’ in due course, and I have also a Garmonsway, Gibbon & Harrington song ready called ‘A Love Like This’. They are both looking like Autumn releases – I need a bit of an August breather to take stock of things! Thank you for all of your support and nice messages.

Alan

March, April and a bit of May 

Hello Everyone

It's hard to know where to start on this entry. Having been in France when the first major news of Covid19 hit the press regarding Italy, we kind of carried on as normal over there until the middle of March, when their lockdown was initiated. By that time I'd just finished recording a track called Western Winds, only to find out that our return ferry in April to the UK was cancelled indefinitely and the trains through the Channel Tunnel were rapidly being cancelled also. So we came back to the UK early, driving 500 miles across a deserted France and not-so-deserted UK. That evening the UK lockdown started and here we still are, so this is officially my 61st day.

Regarding music, it's left me with the challenge of improvising a 'studio' here out of a laptop and a few bits and pieces of equipment, although I'm ok for instruments. An early Facebook livestream by Richard Thompson inspired me to detune my 12 String and write 'We'll Carry the Torch for Each Other', an acoustic tribute to everyone, but especially musicians, feeling the effects of isolation. Although a simple guitar + voice recording (ok, with a couple of subtle overdubs!), I decided to release it and it's now nearing 25,000 streams on Spotify ,ably assisted by promotion from  AVA Live Radio , which is very gratifying. Closely running along with that is Saturday Morning with Lilijan Rose  starring on vocals, which is at nearly 20,000 hits. So all in all, it's been a really pleasing couple of months from that perspective.

I also took a look at all the individual tracks that had been recorded in the past year, and it made up a nice collection. So I've released that under the collective (and imaginative!) title of 'Singles'. They are all available individually on the usual streaming/download platforms, can be accessed as individual songs and are being aired on Lonely Oak Radio . There are some previously unreleased tracks as well as a couple of re-edited versions of some earlier songs to compliment the newer ones. These, such as South Chicago Line, sound a lot tighter for being made a bit shorter.

In between time, I'm tuning in to as many webinars as I can on different aspects of songwriting, mixing, mastering etc, which are good at informing me of how much I don't know! Also, we have a village project going on to virtually record 'The Streets of London', so my next job today is to add 15 independent vocal tracks (all done on phones) to the instrumental contributions to bring the whole thing together for the full music track. Then it's the video guy's turn!

Hopefully by the next blog, we might be approaching something closer to normality, but who knows. In the meantime, stay safe and well. If you'd like to keep up to speed with all my latest ideas and posts, planned and impromptu, then the best place for this is on my Instagram site - just click here!

JAN/FEB 2020 

The first part of the year has just zipped by! In the past couple of months, I think I can only remember around three days of sunshine and many days of dull, wet and windy weather, so it's been a time for hunkering down and preparing songs and ideas.

Despite this, I am delighted to let you know that Liljan Rose and I are today releasing our second single, Saturday Morning! I wrote this a while back and Lilijan has brought a new and fresh approach to the vocals (both lead and harmonies), so we're really happy to have it out there for you. We've had a great write up in this week's  AVA Live Radio review which also explains how the song was recorded and produced, which is really interesting. So, watch out for trailers coming later today & beyond, and you can hear the full track on all the major platforms; streaming, such as Spotify - Saturday Morning  or download, such as Amazon - Saturday Morning , iTunes etc. The more observant of you will see that the Amazon link above is amazon.fr, as I am writing this from France right now (and it's still wet)!   

It hadn't occurred to me until this week what a powerful marketing tool a title like 'Saturday Morning' is; before then it was just the name of my song. But the temptation to use phrases such as 'Are you ready for Saturday Morning' and 'Worked all week? Bring on Saturday Morning' etc are just too good to resist, especially as we think we've captured that easy and relaxed Saturday morning feeling! What's in a song title, eh?

Other than this, I'm also working on other new material for release later in the year - more of that later but there's some really nice music with my close and much-respected musical friends and colleagues. In the meantime, Saturday Morning gets its first UK radio airing on Witney Radio - Mr G's New Music Show on Sunday 8 March about half way through the show (5.25pm ish, UK GMT time) and I'm regularly getting a wide variety of my tracks played on Lonely Oak Radio from California.

So thanks to them all, and to yourselves, for all the support and good vibes. It's really appreaciated as I pick my  way through the maze of being an independent artist!        

Nov/Dec 2019 - My Year - Songs, Collaborations and Releases! 

A big 'thank you' to everyone contributing to my musical year - musical collaborators and colleagues, artists, graphic designers, photographers, producers, marketing gurus, radio presenters, friends, viewers, listeners, followers, 'commenters',  'likers', 'retweeters' and anyone else that I've missed! I thought I'd finish off my blogging year with a look back at some of my musical highlights over 2019, so here they are, and as close to chronological order as I can remember:-

- Seven Facebook livestreams to play and introduce fifty (yes, 50!) of my original songs. I played these live on piano and 12 String to nothing but an iPhone, which was an experience in itself! It was really nice to see the positive comments as they arrived on the phone as I was playing, although this led to quite a bit of eye squinting, leading to a few dodgey notes! They're still on Facebook somewhere - I've found one of them here.

- Releasing the 'Norheast' ep with my friends Franky Gibbon and Al Harrington, with five of my original tracks, plus releasing some of them as singles as well. Thank you so much AVA Live Radio for the great publicity for the album and singles!

- Many thanks to my longstanding musical team-mate Anne Cunningham on releasing Severn's Hidden Mysteries , our first single release since the Ridgeway album in 2017. Such and emotive song, and enhanced (as was the Northeast album) by my longstanding friend, Ali Davis and her wonderful watercolour paintings.

- The Atlantic Ocean is no problem when it comes to collaborating musically. I was lucky enough to be asked by Randy Wayne Belt in the US to contribute piano and synth to his new Barley Station album Passing Through Time  on a track 'Fallin'  (third one in on the promo vid). Thanks Randy - an honour to be involved! Also, my marketing mentor Jacqueline Jax has been using some piano track covers I played and recorded for her - I appreciate you using these Jacqueline. In both cases, the piano was recorded in Europe to add to the tracks in the US - just shut your eyes while you're playing and imagine you're all in the studio together!

- The Midlands in the UK is no distance from where I live compared to the US, so it was a delight to start a new collaboration later in the year with vocalist  Lilijan Rose  on one of my songs, Vapour Trails . We started the collaboration via Instagram, and Lilijan brings a very different recording perspective to the mix. This is sounding really positive and is a great opportunity -  we are already lining up some more songs for 2020. Thank you Lilijan.

- In November, I travelled back to my native Northeast England to attend a Remembrance service at Houghton-le-Spring Parish Church  , where the choir and organist played a hymn I wrote a few years back 'Remember Them Forever' as part of a co-written musical play called 'Of Heroic Hearts'. To add to the atmosphere, I used to be part of the choir there as a schoolboy and also my Grandfather was organist and choirmaster there for many years, so it was quite emotional being there.

Phew, well that's almost it! My days are taken up not only on the recording, but with marketing and the numerous social media posts -  I really like the impromptu Instagram posts which forces me to think about 50-second soundbites! Also, I'd like to add my appreciation to Lonely Oak Radio , which regularly plays my songs on their shows. And finally.....Anne Cunningham and I have just re-released  City Park Christmas for the festive season, so watch this space. We played it live on Chiltern Voice Radio a couple of weeks back, so it seemed a good move to get the single back out there!

Thanks again for all your support and I hope you all have a very enjoyable Christmas, Happy New Year, and see you in 2020!                 

OCTOBER (ish) 

Hi All

I've left my October blog a few days into November as a few noteable things happened this week.

First and foremost, let me introduce Lilijan Rose via her Instagram page. Lilijan and I have started a new collaboration, with her contributing both lead and backing vocals to my songs (I play the instrumental parts). Lilijan is a very versatile and distinctive vocalist and our first single is called Vapour Trails, released this week - here's a sneak preview of a promo vid going out later. Thanks Lilijan, it's great to be working with you and look forward to more releases in 2020! Our collaboration started through making comments and offering support on our respective Instagram posts - a positive power of social media!

The vapour trails song I wrote in June this year, sitting in the back garden, looking up at the sky and wondering where all those people in the planes above were heading off to, who were they meeting, what were their stories.... A couple of years ago I also took a photo of a triangle of vapour trails around the moon (it's in the vid) and it did remind me a bit of a well known 70s album about the moon! So the whole idea came together in the song. No doubt you'll see bits of the promo on social media, and we're also being featured soon on AVA Live Radio          

Also this week, I attended St Michael's Church, Houghton-le-Spring , my original home town about 300 miles North of where I now live, for their Remembrance service. My Grandfather was organist and choirmaster there for over 50 years, I was also a choirboy there and the current organist and one of the choir members were the head choirboys when I joined as a nine-year-old, so plenty of connections. They played and sung my hymn 'Remember Them Forever' from a musical play called  Of Heroic Hearts which I co-wrote in 2016 for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. It was very moving being back there and it evoked a lot of memories of music, family, friends and school, some happy, some sad.

Whilst I was up there I also met up with Franky Gibbon to discuss a new ep, having released the Northeast album earlier this year. We're still at the song-choosing stage, but one new song, A Love Like This, has charged through the ranks and looks to be our first single of 2020. More on that later.        

Last, but not least, our friends at Barley Station in the US have just released a new album, Passing Through Time. I was very happy and honoured to be asked to play piano and synth for one of their songs, Fallin   Enjoy!

SEPTEMBER 

Hi Everyone

September's had quite a bit going on! Earlier in the month we launched our single 'Severn's Hidden Mysteries' collaboration with Anne Cunningham. It was promoted by AVA Live Radio and we hit over 3,000 plays on Spotify, which was very pleasing. We also used the usual Social Media promotion routes - you can see our Facebook  promo vid  here and if you want to add to our Spotify tally, just click on this Spotify Link .

Thank you everyone for your support with this - it's great to get back into some acoustic folk music. The song is about the River Severn, and started life as a photograph taken by Anne and put on Facebook with the heading 'Big sky over Gloucestershire'. I mentioned that it was a good line for a song, and that's how it started, and here's the picture (thanks Anne!).

The rest of the month has been about preparation - I've been pulling together six new and previously unrecorded songs for the next project with Messers Gibbon and Harrington, so that is starting to take shape. Here's a little bit of instrumental from one of the songs, Don't Bother Me, on my Instagram link .

 

Also I'm in the later phases of recording a new single as another collaboration (to be reveled shortly!) and we're hoping for a late November release. It's looking and sounding really promising! In the meantime, enjoy your October!

 

 

AUGUST 

Hope you have all had a good Summer. I've been reflecting in August on my collaborations with other artists. It's amazing how many like-minded independent artists there are around the World, and I'm lucky enough to be working with some of them.

First up is US based  Randy Wayne Belt of Barley Station   - I recently played piano on one of the tracks for the forthcoming Barley Station new album, and a clip of this can be heard on  his Facebook page  , thus proving that a 3000 mile distance in recording studios is no object!    

In a similar vein, a little while back, I recorded some piano tracks for Toronto based Jacqueline Jax at AVA Live Radio , and she is currently working on one of these tracks, Randy Newman's classic 'Feels Like Home to Me' , so here's a short clip of her video .

Many thanks, Randy & Jacqueline, for inviting me to add piano to your work, albeit at a distance! It's really great to be involved with your recordings.

Closer to home we continue to promote the 'Northeast' album, my face-to-face collaboration with my old friends from Northeast England, Franky Gibbon and Al Harrington. I'm writing new material guys, so looking forward to our next venture. In the meantime, I had the opportunity to play a couple of the Northeast songs live at an open-air gig in August as well - see this link here!  It was at a dog rescue centre annual event, hence the yapping - I've never seen so many dogs together in one place!

Last, but by no means least, I've teamed up again with Anne Cunningham (we released the Ridgeway album together less than two short years ago) to release a new single 'Severn's Hidden Mysteries'. I wrote it after Anne posted some glorious pictures of her walks by the River Severn, one of which was titled 'Big sky over Gloucestershire'. I joked at the time it would make a good song, and shortly afterwards the song was born! It's in our classic folk/ballad style and there's a short clip from the lyrics video. The song is about the two faces of the River Severn, its beauty but also it's danger from tidal currents.

It's due for some release publicity in the next few days, and thanks also to Tom Wildy, who played flute, and Ali Davis who, once again, provided a great painting for the cover art. Thank you so much, guys!

So, all in all, a much more varied August than I anticipated, but thanks for all your support and following! I'm looking forward to more news and updates in the Autumn.    

JULY 

Hi Everyone

July has been busy marketing and releasing individual tracks from our 'Northeast' album! We've had tracks played on AVA Live Radio  based in Torronto, Lonely Oak Radio based in LA, and Invisible Folk Club , based in Buckinghamshire and broadcasting on four different UK stations. In addition, Lonely Oak Radio keeps playing earlier tracks I've submitted, so I'm having an ever-growing presence on there with different tracks from different albums. Also, AVA Live Radio has featured our songs a number of times, and if you pop over to the news section of this website, you'll see a link to a feature they did for a US magazine called British Invasion!

As we've been releasing some of the Northeast tracks as singles, I thought I would give a big shoutout to Ali Davis who is a good school friend from our progressive rock days and now, as an artist, very kindly offered to paint a picture not only for the album cover, but also for each track! That's been really useful as we've been able to use them on the single releases and also expand our collaboration into the sphere of art as well as music. Thank you so much Ali, and we feature your great work on this month's picture! Be sure to visit Ali's art site by clicking on her name above, and the link will take you straight there.

Looking to the future, it's a great time to take stock and decide what to do next. So, I've been looking at more tracks for Garmonsway, Gibbon and Harrington to record, but also in September, I'll be releasing a single with Anne Cunningham called Severn's Hidden Mysteries. It's about the two sides of the River Severn, beautiful and dangerous, and was inspired by some photos Anne took on her walks around that area. More of that in September, and again, Ali is involved in some stunning artwork.

Also, I'm hoping for another collaboration with another lady vocalist over the Autumn too, but more of that later. In the meantime I'm just getting on with writing a few more songs and enjoying the Summer - hope you are all doing so too!

June - Introducing Garmonsway, Gibbon & Harrington  

This month is dedicated to launching a new ep, Northeast, which has been made with three good and longstanding friends, all of whom live in the Northeast of England (which is where I was originally from as well). Franky Gibbon and Al Harrington are my musical collaborators. We are also joined by Ali Davis, who has contributed some stunning watercolour paintings, one for each of the five tracks and an album cover painting as well. I'm busy setting up publicity and recently had an interview on AVA Live Radio

The tracks are also being played each day for the next month or so on Lonely Oak Radio

We're really pleased with the album, I wrote all of the songs, but Franky's arrangements and musicianship plus Al's distinctive vocals and Ali's distictive art make it a pleaure to have brought it all together. Needless to say, we are planning a follow-up and some new songs have also been written, together with some interesting older ones that would work well with this approach!

We've done a limited run of cds as well, so if you want to purchase a copy, please send me a message via the site. They're £6 (UK postage included or postage additional if outsde the UK).

EARLY MAY (& THE 50th SONG) 

I did it! My 50 Original songs livestreams were completed with a 6-string Martin acoustic and my mother's trusty Chappell upright piano last week. The 50th song was 'Lady Mary' and there's a clip of that on my Instagram page as well as the whole livestream on Facebook. I'll be putting together a compilation video for Youtube as well over the next couple of weeks, and here's the full setlist.....

Heads up in May/June for our new collaboration ep called 'Northeast' which is in the very final throes of mixing. 'Our' is myself, Franky Gibbon and Al Harrington, both top musical guys from the Northeast of England. All visuals are designed and will be with you shortly - I've also asked one of my Northeast friends Ali Davis to provide original paintings as visuals for all of the songs. Thank you to all who have been working so hard on the project - the whole package looks and sounds great!

What else? Ah, also, I'm working on a new song about the River Severn and have just persuaded a whistle and flute player to join in the recording session in France. The single Lighthouse is doing well and had a play on the Invisible Folk Club show which broadcasts across a number of radio stations in the UK.

Blog...Blog...Blog...

DECEMBER AND REFLECTIONS

I thought it would be nice to take stock of this year, seeing as it has come to a close and we start another 'turning of the year'. 2018 saw me start out with a new album Ridgeway in the early stages of marketing, and nothing much else. So, I can happily add the highlights over the course of this year have been...

- a new website (this one!) where I can let you know what's going on and get your feedback,
- releasing two further eps, City Canvas and The Bridge. I've gone for ep's this year as I like to theme a few songs together if I can, but often with a full 12/13 track album, some of the songs often are lost, as promotion activities always seem to focus on one or two songs from an album. Hence ep's for me is the happy medium!
- a big focus on Instagram for me. I quite like the one minute video approach and the spontaneity that can bring as you're writing and  recording songs, so take a look at my page at www.instagram.com/alan_garmonsway . Also, I've started to pick the best of those one-minute sessions for the bestroomsongs YouTube page.
- revisiting some of the Ridgeway songs and also earlier songs commemorating the centenary of World War 1 through podcasts, broadcasts and live performances with colleagues from Invisible Folk Club (they have tons of music and information on Facebook and other social media sites), Anne Cunningham (co-artist on Ridgeway) and others,
- writing about a dozen new songs for further development in 2019, and
-  spending 3 days in a studio near Durham, UK where an ep of 5 of my favourite self-penned songs are being worked on at this pont in time. I'll be heading up there in March to finalise things, but that is sounding like a really nice collaboration and bringing in new ideas to some of my songs.

So, Happy New Year, may it be very successful for you and thanks to you all for your help, assistance, support and taking the time to have a read or listen. It's much appreciated and I'm setting my plans in place for 2019, so I hope you'll all be part of this.

 

NOVEMBER

I had a really busy November! It all started with a week visit to the North East of England to record four of my tracks for the next EP. There's still a way to go but was really pleased to see the old home town and catch up with longstanding friends.

I also performed some of my musical play songs with other friends 300 miles further south in a night called 'Songs From the Front', to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War 1. The photo is from that evening. December looks equally busy - more on that later!