Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Local music for local people ??

There was a meeting last night in Plymouth about the state of the music biz. I didn't go because I'd been to similar before. These sort of things usually end up as a bun fight or a love it, people being all chummy for a hour then back to every man for himself. I have never been part of the music 'scene' as such though I have lived here for 10 years. Most of my live work is all over the UK. but I though I'd share a few thoughts about why live music is in decline with some specific references to Plymouth.
1) All live music is in decline at the grass roots level. Has been even since the inception of the internet. Computer Games ate the new rock and roll for the youth. When I was a teenager everyone was dressed in their favourite band T-Shirt. Teenager these days are not like that, they are more likely to have a T Shirt for a film, TV Show or computer game than a band. 

2) Because of the internet the concept of paying for music is an alien concept, second to that the internet is saturated with music that there is too much choice ad when there is too much out there people cant be bothered to look. 

3) Toilet venue gigs are just that, they serve a purpose, but people have less disposable income so they have to pick and choose what they go and see.  Major acts are always going to get the audience as do festivals, many people now will go to 2 or 3 festivals in the summer and that will be their musical intake for the year. 

4) Venues do not help themselves. Not replying to emails, making bands sell tickets, not bothering to advertise beyond a few facebook posts. Booking bands based on social media reach rather than on musical content. 

5) Music costs money and you need investment. People will not pay money to see a band in a pub or small club if the drinks are poor, the toilets are dirty and the pa system isn’t good. 

6) Its 2016 and not 1986 ‘Local’ music is an alien concept when most people have access to music all over the world. Yes its sad that if you are a band that you cant get a local gig now and again, or regular local gigs to build up a local following but that’s gone. If you want a following you have to record good music, only put out the very best product online, be prepared to travel vast distances if you want a live following and do something that isn’t done 1000 times before. 

7) The word is saturated with Teenage Girls / Boys with guitar singing covers people don’t care. 

8) Plymouth has sadly a long history of being know as a city to get drunk in on stag and hen nights but not a city for live music like Exeter. Plymouth does not have a proper arts centre like Exeter, Its university does not open its doors to the public for live events like Exeter does. Plymouth does not have a venue like The Cavern that has been putting on underground bands for over 25 years. Plymouth does have a live music scene based on a small number of bands and artists playing the same venues week in week out. Its very much a closed shop and has been for the 10 years I have lived here. I myself find it easier to book a show in London or Birmingham than I can in Plymouth.  Ironically 20 years ago it was far easier to get a show. For example The Cooperage was the main club venue, and it was run by several independent promoters that knew their audience and the place was always busy and vibrant. Then a lottery winner bought it, sacked the promoters and it went downhill from there.  In my opinion if Plymouth is seen to be a city for live music and culture then it needs investment it needs an Academy venue something big that does regular events that will get people out from behind their playstations and x box’s and go and see bands and artists. Once you have something big in place then naturally other things will spark off it. 

9) Too much has been made blaming Plymouth City Council. My only beef with them that I have is the ludicrous car parking charges after 6pm. If Plymouth wants a night-time economy that isn’t just drunks on the barbican (and even that is dwindling) then please drop the parking charges. Playing out 5-6 quid just to park your car for a few hours is barking, for that I can drive to exeter and park for free something I prefer to do  

I'm sure there is more but there is a few thoughts to be going on with. 

This is my blog, its for the public to see but not for you to copy. Yes you Plymouth Herald.. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Matthews end of year blog.

Well 2015 has been a busy and productive year for me. 

I released 2 solo albums this year, one my third album of improvised music ‘Valentine 3’ that was recorded at the Phoenix in Exeter this was then followed up by a compilation album called ‘Singles and Sessions’ where I compiled all the digital only material to a full length CD album. In between these two albums I released 2 singles ‘When you cry’ and ‘I See You’ described by the BBC as ‘Love it, Love it, Love it’.


Most of my musical year has been taken up with performing with the Mike Westbrook band. The piece we have been performing ‘A Bigger Show’ started out last year, though it has many refinements and tweaks since then including one additional song. Later in the year we had the good fortune to record this album live with producer Jon Hiseman. Since then the live shows have been getting better and better and I do hope that we travel further afield in 2016. 

I did hope that to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the d├ębut All Living Fear album that we might have had a one off reunion, and though we were offered a show not everyone wanted to do it, I think its safe to say now that there will never be any more All Living Fear shows of any description, Though in 2016 we may well have a couple one off Corrosion gigs. 

Later in the year I started going to a few Jam nights with some friends at the Sorry Head pub in Exeter, out of this I have put together a trio, this is the first time that I have ever had a band under my own name, I have initially called it ‘Matthew North’s Pathfinder’ as while driving to Exeter I drove past Pathfinder Village and the name stuck. With myself Richard Maydon on Bass and Matt Bacon on Drums we will be playing our first gig proper in London on the 24th January. Very much a work in progress but if it works out there will be more. 

I have played a fair number of solo shows in 2015 one of the most enjoyable gigs was at the Looe Music festival, I was performing in a small bar, and at the start of the gig it was empty and at the end of my 2 hour set it was full. One great thing about playing a long set is the chance to improvise and experiment a bit as a creative musician that something the best thing especially if the audience enjoy what you are doing. 


The final thing is my musical moments of 2015 is that after best part of 4 years there is now a finished Secrets For September album. We decided to have a go with Crowdfunding and I had real reservations about it but I needn’t have worried as within a month we had hit our target to press a CD and it will be out early next year. You can still pre order it here http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/secretsforseptember you can even have your name on the CD sleeve.

Well here is looking forward to more exciting musical adventures in 2016 and if you do not subscribe to my newsletter here is some best of's 2015. 

Albums of note  
David Gilmour - Rattle that Lock (the song 'In Any Tongue' one of his very best) 
Lana Del Ray - Honeymoon 
Roger Waters - The Wall Soundtrack (and Blu Ray) 
Martin Turner - Written in the Stars 

Re Issues 
The Beatles 1 - Lovely new Mix's of songs like Paperback Writer and the Blu Ray has loads of cracking stuff on it. 
Courtyard Music Group - Just our way of saying hello 
Rolling Stones - From the Vaults Marquee 71 
Roger Waters - Amused to Death 
Curtis Knight Feat Jimi Hendrix - You cant use my name 

Singles 
Ringo Star - Postcards from Paradise 
The Darkness - Open Fire 

Best gigs of 2015 
Fish at Cropredy 
Crosby Stills and Nash in Cardiff 
David Gilmour in Brighton and the Albert Hall 
Yardbirds at 100 Club 
 Colosseum & Malcolm Bruce - London 
Jerry Lee Lewis - London 
King Crimson - Cardiff 
Tom Bailey (and most of the other acts) - Lets Rock Exeter 

Best Films 
Star Wars 
James Bond 
Whiplash 

Best TV 
Nashville 
Top of the Pops 1980! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Single out today 'When You Cry'


Well its been a long journey but today I have a new single out called 'When You Cry'. Im not sure what will be next for me but I think for now I'm not going to record any more solo stuff. I have a busy year with the Mike Westbrook band as well as working on Secrets For September recordings. 

Anyhow take a listen here. 




Buy it from

Bandcamp : iTunes : Amazon UK : Amazon.com HMV Digital

Monday, January 05, 2015

My musical year 2014


2014 was a very strange year. It was the first year in music where I went into the year without any kind of ‘Band’ on the go. I decided to have a go and see if I could do a solo gig a week to try and up my game at the singer / songwriter thing though I did kick off the year playing a one off show as guitarist to National Pastime this was my only show of 2014 that I played electric guitar.

In February I did the second Department Factory ‘Valentine’ show this time I was accompanied by Michael Soundy on Djembe this turned out to be the last time that I played live with Mike as he decided to leave Secrets For September. I felt that the performance was much better this year and the CD came out very well even if it wasn't a massive seller.

I had been offered a solo gig in the south east for later in the year so I decided as the solo gigs were going not too badly to do a small tour, and to go with this I also recorded some solo material. Initially was going to be just a couple singles or maybe an EP but it ended up being a full album called ‘still THINKING still DREAMING?’ Making albums are always fun to do and this one was dead easy as it was mostly acoustic based with 4 part strings arranged by a friend on a couple tracks and there was drums that I played on 2 other songs. Reception to it was good from people that heard it. I followed this up with an ep called 'Still Waiting' that included my version of John Barleycorn. 

The summer also saw me starting to play bass with my friend Scott Morrison he writes really good songs and I enjoy playing with him and Ishy.
Phonic FM in Exeter decided to do a 2 hour radio show about me and my involvement in music, was fun to do and I got to play a lot of tunes from my back catalogue as well as a couple songs live and many tunes from friends and influences.

Probably the biggest and most surprising thing that happened was being asked to join Mike Westbrooks band. I have been a fan of his music since I was a teenager and a couple years ago never thought I’d get to meet him let alone be in his band. The piece that I am involved with is called ‘A Bigger Show’ and is a fantastic piece of music. We did a test gig in the summer but since then more as been developed with the piece and it will be played live throughout the year.

I have still been doing a bit of musical film making mostly with the Westbrook band as well as some other musicians. I have built up my portable recording setup and can now do 16 tracks at once. Some of the recordings I have made I’m very proud of.

My Radio work carried on and I was even reporting live from various great shows inc Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltry in London, The Yardbirds and The Cure. I enjoy talking about new music and there has been a wealth of great albums in 2014 to talk about. My 2 albums of the year are Lana Del Reys Ultraviolence and Pink Floyds The Endless River.

I have also been going through my archive the first thing I did was dub off everything on Dat and Mini disk this included several years of Whitby Goth Weekend recordings as well as all my demos, I then moved on to dubbing off all the recordings made between 1990 and 1996 on my 6 track machine I found a lot of good stuff some of which I fully intend to do something with at some point.

In the Autumn I was very lucky to have been asked by my friend Reeves Gabrels to open for him at his show in Birmingham. This was the first time I had played in Brum for 11 years since the last time All Living Fear were there in 2003. Birmingham has changed so much in that time and the poor old Mercat where we used to play is all boarded up.  Another show that stands out for me was playing the Main stage at the Phoenix in Exeter, I only went along as an audience member but was asked to do a set, it was great to play on a really big stage with a top Pa and the set went down really well. I also ended up playing on the finale of ‘The Big Gig’ at Bictonfest.

Secrets For September only played 2 shows this year one was opening for Arthur Brown in Totnes and was the first time that I have ever played in Totnes seeing it’s so close to my home town. Though Mike had left the band he agreed to do the recording session that I had booked at Sound Gallery initially we were going to record drums for one track and then release that as a single, but I managed to get him to play a whole bunch of stuff that we tracked bass and Drums live this giving us around 12 new pieces of music to work from and added to the 4 songs that we already have recorded the best bits will form the Secrets For September album. This will be a long process but I hope that it will be released some time in 2015. Secrets has also been on the back burner as Ellie relocated to Cardiff.

I also started re assessing the All Living Fear collection as we put out a new mix of Crimson as our first release on Spotify. 

So that’s pretty much my year in music. I did do my 52 solo gigs and around a dozen shows with other people. I released 2 CD and 2 digital downloads as well as going to a lot of gigs and making a lot of friends and even saw out the year in the Pub with Andy Racher from All Living Fear whom I had not seen for 5 years and No there is no All Living Fear reunion. What does 2015 hold I have no Idea. I miss Secrets a lot and would like to get a new version of the band together and I would also like to play sessions with other bands as I do miss playing Electric guitar a lot. Lets see what happens. 

Well the year started with me being voted no 23 on the EKR Radio top 100 of 2014. http://www.ekr.net/blog/index.php/ekr-rock-stream-top-100-result-2014/

http://matthewnorth.bandcamp.com Listen to the album and buy from here
http://secretsforseptember.bandcamp.com
http://alllivingfear.bandcamp.com

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Queen and Adam Lambert one for the moaners

So the question is how many bands that have been around almost 50 years still have the same line up and have never broken up ? Answer not many the closest is probably U2. 

Most major bands have had so many line up changes over the years there may be only 1 or 2 original members left. Robert Smith is the only original member of the Cure, Dave Brock for Hawkwind, Nick Rhodes for Duran Duran & Chris Squire for Yes. Drummers Fair well in that the only long serving original members of Pink Floyd, the Yardbirds & The Animals are the Drummer. Nobody batters an eyelid in that Lynyrd Skynyrd have hardly any original members because of the fateful air crash. Or lack of original members of Big Country  or Thin Lizzy. So why last night was social media full of venom for what Queen are doing these days?

Freddie died in 1991 and the band carried on finishing off music and while John Deacon retired Brian and Roger carried on with various musical projects my answer is this Why the bloody hell shouldn’t they? It’s their job, its what they have done all their life. You don’t go to the Proms and moan because the London Symphony Orchestra should have split up when Sir Thomas Beecham Died. 

I though it was a pure stroke of genius when Queen joined forces with Paul Rodgers they were an outstanding live band and they made a brilliant studio album that the world couldn’t have cared less about. But Queen did 1 Very important thing, unlike many other bands who just used the brand name and that’s it they have ALWAYS maintained that is is Queen (Brian and Roger (and Spike)) + whoever is the vocalist. This is a very important and respectful distinction. 

The Doors were similar as they called themselves The Doors of the 21st Century (before the law suits). You will never replace Freddie, but why on earth can a band not be able to play the songs they wrote and recorded especially in a respectful way unlike the plethora of Tribute bands with Stick on Freddie moustaches where the sole intention is to make money for the tribute bands showing not an ounce of respect to the band in any way. 

The armchair Queen fans on social media last night are so into the band that they have forgotten that Adam Lambert has been involved with the band for 5 years. I also have it on good authority from a friend whom has played back up on his solo work that he has a right decent chap. 

Anyhow watching the show from last night on catch-up they put on a really good show. To my ears Adams vocal style is NOT trying to copy Freddie he’s singing in his own voice. He is Adam Lambert not a Freddie copycat. 

The set list is more of the Queens biggest hits, and I guess that’s what the audience want to hear, Me I’d live to heat the first 3 albums back to back but hey that’s never going to happen. But who cares Brian and Roger do what they do if you don’t like it stop moaning. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Missing Who footage appears online.

What a way to end 2014 with some missing footage of The Who Appearing. 

The show in question was transmitted on the 30th December 1970 called 'Into 71'

You can see a full line up of the show here. The 2 songs performed were 'I dont even know Myself' and 'Naked Eye' both played a lot in 1970 and were tipped to be part of the 'Lifehouse' album that ended up being 'Whos Next' Naked Eye has always been one of my favourite Who songs and though the music is on playback the vocals are live. 

I Don't Even Know Myself


Naked Eye

 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Who Hits 50 in Cardiff Motorpoint Arena 15th December 2014



So last night I went to the same venue I saw The Who at last year. Support band were called Slydigs they were one of those bands whom every song they played you knew exactly what records they has been listening to when writing their tunes bit of a disappointment esp knowing the excellent Standard Lamps had opened for the Who earlier on the tour. 

After they had finished it was a very quick turnaround and The Who were soon on . The first 4 bars of ‘I cant Explain’ already for me beat everything about the Quadropheania show. No disrespect to the stand ins, but with The Who now Pino and Zak are the perfect rhythm section for Pete and Roger. 


 




The augmentation of the band with extra keyboards and percussion really works well. A bit like the 89 tour except maybe not quite so over the top. The set was a great mixture hearing the Seeker again was a high point as was songs like So Sad about us and Pictures of Lilly both tunes I have never heard live before myself. Join Together was one of those moments where the additional musicians came into their own. 

There was a few missed cues here and there. But that just added to the excitement of a band not playing the standard set list. I was disappointed at no Naked Eye, and I had a feeling that A quick one wouldn’t be in the set for long sadly. The Quadropheania section was probably more enjoyable than the whole gig was last time. The synch up of John with Zak doing the 5:15 solo was immense.
Towards the end Roger announced that he has trouble with his voice due to a cold, so the audience sang along to Wont get Fooled again and Baba
O’Riley before the band ended with Magic Bus. Again a song I never thought I’d hear played live. All in all a great Who show, great banter between Pete and Roger all night.