A simple video filmed where I recorded ‘A Day’ which is now available to pre-order here:
I was going to wait a few more weeks before I made this but then I realised that I have a little time right now so it didn’t make sense to sit around looking at the stuff and listening over and over to the thing.
So, you can buy it now and you’ll get a download of the song ‘Now We Know How We Don’t’ today and the rest of the album on the 21st. I’ve made a physical edition too which will be sent out at the same time. I’ll write more about that in a few days but this morning it looks like this:
If you’ve signed up to the newsletter I’ll send you a free download of an exclusive track before the album is released and you can do that here.
Recording this album was an intense, joyful experience. A concentrated but loose 24 hours. Writing fast and seeing how things fell. I really try not to think too much or try to make perfect music but rather keep a record of how things go and this is certainly one of those.
Anyway, more later as ever - have a lovely weekend.
Back home yesterday evening and will be here for a few days, principally to wash or burn all the clothes I’ve been wearing in the heat of the past week. I have concerts in Freiburg, Thun and Schaffhausen next week and in between a drive down to Italy to buy teaspoons. Yep.
Back to wrap up my time at the Folk Festival in Arbogast and the Sunday found me scheduled to play a concert in the Dunkelkammer, or the photography darkroom. Taped up windows and no light getting in and sure enough pitch black and couldn’t even see my hands. I was set to play at 3pm and by quarter past I had an audience of 2. The sun was high and hot and other music being played outside and really no surprise that most people wouldn’t want to shut themselves in a black room with me and listen to me in my element. It was dark, somehow it went darker.
After ten minutes one of my audience had to leave (she did well to last that long) and so I gather it was me playing to one lady. It was like playing alone, but with a purpose. I lost myself a little and had such strange fun. Felt my way through everything, tripping up from moment to moment but no matter and it’s really just the shape changing all the time.
Shortly after this the heat got to me so I took a nap in my room. When I woke two hours later the audience had completely changed, most of everyone that I had got to know over the previous two days had left and there was a string group playing lovely African music in the sunshine in front of the stage. Backstage was deserted, the fridge empty and catering nowhere to be seen. I missed something for sure.
To be honest over the weekend I had sometimes felt that I was missing out on playing and on a couple of occasions my slot just vanished. When I had been scheduled to play 6 concerts over two days I had only played 3. It was a bit weird to not be able to play to people as often as I had liked to or as often as had been planned, but of course I understand that festival programs have a habit of changing and there are always casualties.
But I was conscious of being invited to be in residence there so it was important for me that I really made something of my time. That I was productive if not giving a concert. So at around midnight I took my things into the chapel up the hill and set up at the altar. Deathly silent outside and full of warm, fat echo within I recorded in it’s own particular darkness for two hours. I was anything but quiet and I do believe I have another album out of that time. This will have to wait.
Anyway if anyone connected is reading this then I’d like to say thanks to all who made me feel welcome and in good company. Particularly Johannes for the invitation of course - will visit you next year if not before.
Have a nice evening all
ps - seems like I appeared on Austrian television which you can see here. I’m told that’s something.
I have showered 4 times each day and sit here now in my darkened room dripping and sliding about the place. We have shade under the trees but the sun burns through. The heat is incredible, I suppose this week the most common thing to say and hear pretty much anywhere in Europe.
I’m still at St Arbogast Folk Festival - it’s Sunday afternoon but I’m going to write some words about Friday night and Saturday here and then I’m off to find ice cream and the breeze. I remember such a thing.
Friday night Buntspecht played on the main stage in the evening and killed it. Fantastic players, brilliant performance all the good stuff and I’m already looking forward to seeing them again in a couple of weeks somewhere in Germany. Some of the performance stuff is a little too cabaret for my taste but they all play so well and this night it just grew and grew and had such momentum and dynamics. Amazing.
Earlier Paul Plut had made a great racket too and basically I have been well happy to be surprised with enjoying hearing new people for the first time. I don’t really get to go to festivals and generally tend not to like most music I hear played live. I’m sure I don’t try hard enough to make the effort and I suppose I have a bit of a grumpy attitude problem.
Anyway at some point in the afternoon, I’m not sure when but the sun was certainly high and hot, I played under the linden tree to a lovely little crowd gathered in it’s shade. As I wrote yesterday I’ve been approaching this weekend with the idea that I could play different songs and it’s true that’s been happening. That being said here’s a song I know by now recorded under the tree.
Right after this, another shower and then I played back up the hill in the woods. A scrappy, messy set and little worth sharing from this I’m afraid. Can listen again and check later. Met some fine people up there and it was nice enough. Afterwards I retreated back to the dark room, another shower of course and then I recorded some songs in here for an hour and I think I’ll have stuff to share from that in the future.
I hope you’re having a fine weekend too,
I’m at the Folk Festival in St Arbogast, near Götzis, Austria for the weekend. It’s absolutely scorching hot, people are being super nice and the area is very beautiful. I have a three day residence here and trying to play and write as much as I can - the weather and the countryside are distracting and inspiring in equal measure.
I played a short set in the woods yesterday afternoon and here are a couple of recordings from that. I’ve been preparing some folk songs and unfamiliar material to play for this weekend and if ‘The Royal Canal’ isn’t so new for me at least ‘Soldier Johny’ isn’t a song I’ve not really played before and is kind of based on a traditional song. This was a simple acoustic concert, sitting on a log in front of 20 people in the middle of the forest and perhaps there are photos and videos to follow but this should give some impression if that’s what you’re after.
I’ll write some more words about the weekend when I get the chance but I’m scheduled to play three more concerts today, more again tomorrow and there are some locations here where music could sound grand so hopefully more recordings to come from this most pleasant place.
Anyhow, good morning and more later. Have a lovely Sunday,
There was an error with this compilation but this is just a quick update to say I got on it and I’ve fixed it and now all songs are where they should be and hopefully working as intended.
Apologies for the break in service and please download again.
That is all, love from the sunny west of Austria where I will have more to share later.
Recently I wanted to put something new together for subscribers of my mailing list so I thought I’d start making regular compilations that will change every couple of months. Exclusive mixtapes, downloadable diary entries, what have you. This here’s the first - a 14 song set of songs played at various concerts in April 2019. I played a bunch of enjoyable shows that month and these recordings are from nice nights in Karlsruhe, Luzern, Bern, Thun and Baden. The track list goes like this:
The River Of Men Flows Without End (Karlsruhe)
The Royal Canal (Luzern)
Boys, I Am Worried (Baden, with Sophia Basler on Violin)
Pretty Peggy-O (Luzern)
Song For Fee (Karlsruhe)
Suit Of Stones (Thun)
If You Build It They Will Come (Baden, with Sophia Basler on Violin)
Make Each Other Anew (Thun)
There Is Joy Yet Between The Pages (Luzern)
Super Good Advice (Luzern)
We Could Have We Should Have We Didn’t (Bern)
We Swam A Little Song (Karlsruhe)
Whilst there aren’t any train wrecks here I didn’t pick these as any kind of perfect version or anything like that - rather there was something about each one that I liked and felt was worth keeping. Some of them are recorded purely acoustic in the room, whilst others are with a mixing desk and microphones and all. I’ve tried to put it together so it flows but no one’s going to think this is a seamless single concert. It’s a collection of moments I enjoyed at tasty places. Hopefully there’ll be more in the future.
Previously when people subscribe I’ve been giving out download codes for the Stitch compilation, but that feels a little out of date now and not really how things sound these days. My plan is to change it every 3 or 4 months and it will only be available to people on the mailing list. It’s free to sign up and I don’t spam people with emails every week or anything like that. If you like the sound of this the form is below. I’ll send a mail out on Sunday with the password to grab this release.
In other news I hope you’re enjoying the summer and getting out in it as much as you can. Take care and be well,
Here’s an impression of my evening in Dresden last Thursday, playing outside in the courtyard of the Jazzclub Tonne. Swallows feeding overhead. I played new songs from the next album and had a very nice time of it. Thank you to all who made it along - I’ll be back in town next month so perhaps see you around then.
In the meantime I have something new and exclusively available for subscribers of my newsletter by the end of this week - more about that later but if you’d like to receive this please think about signing up here.
More later then, have a lovely Monday,
I’ve just released a new EP as a free download over on my Bandcamp site here. ‘The Woods’ was recorded a week or two ago in the forest near Baach, Germany. I set my audio recorder on the Hochsitz you see in the cover photo above and played for fifteen minutes or so. Three songs, including one that I also recorded for the new album coming next month. Much birdsong, a bee on the microphone, a plane overhead - all the good stuff, basically.
Here’s a simple video of the new song for those of you that can only listen whilst watching pictures move:
As with all this stuff, if you enjoy it please think about letting me know and if possible, share it somewhere online. All much appreciated.
That’s it, have a lovely Sunday evening.
Ceven at Komplex 7 has been arranging little concerts for my friends and I for some years now and this week he set me up with an acoustic gig in dreiunddreißig in Hannover. It was a warm evening but the tiny wine shop was full with a lovely crowd and I sat there and I stood there and I played all the songs. After the show we drank some smuggled beers, talked loads and shook hands and all the good stuff.
Later we drove off to Béi Chéz Heinz of course for more drinks and shouting behind the DJ booth watching younger people dance. Assumed the creepy uncle at a wedding position, pretty much
That night I got to sleep in the lovely Trekkers Huus again and always nice enough and the next morning a rubbish breakfast at the nearby supermarket and then I walked the few miles back across town to the station.
Saturday I travelled to Bonn for the only the second time playing in town. The first was at the M********e back in 2008 or something with Tristan Brusch - the less said about that the better and they don’t get a link here and I only mention it because I’m a completionist and a wannabe archivist, etc. Anyway, Timo has been at a bunch of my concerts at different places and invited me to his house for a special concert there. There was a lovely bunch of people for the good company and I sat and tried to break through the floor to the apartment below.
By the end of the set everyone else was joining in and so we have this sort of thing:
Since these shows I’ve been recording a lot and also putting together a live compilation from the concerts in April that I played. This will be exclusive and free for all subscribers to my newsletter so please sign up for that here and I’ll send you a link to download when it’s ready.
Has been a full and fun weekend in Hannover and last night in Bonn. Not enough sleep but nice concerts and very enjoyable evenings both of them. I’ll probably write more in the next couple of days but mostly big thanks to Ceven and to Timo for the invitations and the good company.
Tomorrow I’ll drive back up the hill to this beautiful little spot and hopefully spend a couple of days finishing the album I started last week. I’ve had a few days to listen to everything and decided to leave the songs as they were written but perhaps just play some more guitar and sing a little on some of them. Wanted to do everything in the same lovely place. Nothing feels in any way clever or too considered, which I like, but I do feel that some of the things could use a little more meat on the bones. Perhaps I pile it on and then take it all off and it comes out as just the recording I made in a day. Let’s see. In any rate, I’ll be here if you need me but the internet is off.
I hope you’ve had a fun weekend too, more soon.
The recording of the St Klara church concert is now available as a simple, hand stamped CDr through my Bandcamp page here. Nothing fancy, but for those of you that don’t do the download thing or would rather just have a physical disc this is for you. All Bandcamp sales include an immediate download anyway and I’ll be posting any of these orders out right after the weekend.
Also - 50% of all online sales of this album will go to the Strassenkreuzer charity, for whom this concert was a benefit. For more information about them and how to help please visit https://www.strassenkreuzer.info/foerdern-und-spenden
Also, also - I’ll be at Radio Z for an interview this afternoon. They have this release as their album of the week so I think we’ll be talking about it and who knows what else. You can listen live here from about 15:00 CET.
I’m heading to Hannover tomorrow for an acoustic concert at Dreiunddreißig. The Facebook event is here. I tend to have nice concerts in town so I’m looking forward to that. Saturday I’m in Bonn for a house concert - very rarely there so if you’d like to join that please drop me a line and I’ll send you the details.
Otherwise, have a lovely weekend and more later!
Here be two songs from Sunday night’s concert at the Sauschdall (also Wikipedia) in Ulm, Germany. I like this venue a lot - a super solid old fort building with massive walls and rather crazy acoustics inside. Jazz venue since the 1960’s. The resident sound technician Andreas, a very friendly and capable guy, is nice to work with but it has to be said has a taste for the reverb, the delay and the chorus. The colour, let’s say. At soundcheck, and again in the interval, I asked that we cut the delay and the chorus and keep things simple but I think he felt it necessary to stay busy throughout my set. It sounded a bit random and distracting on the night and going though my recording of this show this morning most of it is pretty unlistenable to my ears at least. Chorus appears out of nowhere on my guitar, some words I sang are repeated, clipped and randomly delayed. Sometimes it’s fine on the night in the room at least, but doesn’t stand up at all when listened later. So it is here.
It’s a funny thing with this simple acoustic setup sometimes - I have the feeling that sound technicians often feel like they have to do something throughout the concert, to stay busy. I get that it’s not the most exciting thing to manage my sound and perhaps some people love the use of ‘colour’ for dramatic effect at different times in different songs. To add dynamics or whatever, but for me personally when playing I like to get an idea of the sound and stick with it. Have a picture to rely on where it is, what the shape of it is and how things are going to come out.
Blah, blah. I’m rambling so anyway, here’s the first song of the night:
And here’s the second to last one an hour or so later. Played as a request, poorly but distracted as I said.
Bit of a shame as it really was a pleasure to play there, like I say the whole crew are super friendly and helpful and the place is great. The Diamond Family Archive will play there in October so if you’re about please make it down and have a listen. There’s opportunities for some really crazy shit going on with their sound for sure, wowee.
Halfway through the evening the thunder and the lightning and the downpour had started on. We left the place in a rainstorm, walked down the hill and a short while later I drove off onto a flooded motorway and all the uneasy feelings there upon.
I’ve spent the last two days living in this delightful little place on a hill in Esslingen, in the south of Germany. No internet but electricity, a wood oven and fierce running icy cold water. Power socket for the recorder. Surprisingly noisy from local farmers and flight path but a productive time nonetheless. Listen, I just got back to a warm shower and all that goes with it an hour ago so will write more later, but suffice to say I recorded the album of ten songs I wrote last week and will work on putting it together and seeing if I can live with it tomorrow. It might not come out, right now it sounds very intimate and I don’t know who the person singing is.
Oh, I’m playing in Thun this Friday with a drummer, in Ulm this Sunday night and next week in Erlangen at E-Werk. More on those things later, but for now good evening warm, fuzzy glow of the internet.
The recent live concert I played in the St Klara church in Nuremberg, Germany is now up on most digital services. I trimmed it a little to cut some chatting (me, not the audience) and I think the big echo sound is rather tasty. I would always rather people listen (or better yet, download) through my Bandcamp page but for here it is on the big two and everywhere else soon enough.
Soundcheck was a fairly stressful affair, or at least the sound in the big old room was something we had to work with in a particular way. I love me a bit of echo but I think anything amplified in there struggles a bit. Steffen at the desk did a fine job though, but in fact I ended up playing the start and the end of the concert acoustic in the room, without the microphones, When it came to the recording these were just a weird boomy mess, with people finding their seats or shuffling prayer books about who knows. Suffice to say those songs didn’t make this release. The same has to be said for the two quicker, or at least more rhythmic songs I played - both of these just bounced around on the recording and you’re really not missing anything by not hearing them either.
Stefanie from Vivian Void joined me for a beer on stage and a couple of songs. Playing in this space with the audience so far away can make the whole thing feel a bit dry so that certainly helped.
Selina sat in the audience and took some photos and that’s the cover and there it is. I got to play in another church in another country a few weeks later but this is the St Klara recording and go listen to that big mess of echo.
This was the last night of a two week tour I made in April and the only night where Sophia was able to join me with her violin. We didn’t get a chance to rehearse, instead just working out some basic arrangements in the other room right before we started. This level of preparation is fine for me but it does mean that the pair of us are kind of winging it on the songs we choose to do together. Keeps it interesting and wonderful for me to have some rare support (and surprises) whilst playing.
Anyway, these two I rarely play without Sophia so I thought they would be good to upload and share. Sophia wrote the original string parts for ‘If You Build It They Will Come’ when we made the ‘Turn Your Back On The Crown’ album together, but the music for ‘I Was In The North Before The Fall’ (from ‘The Good Men’) is new. We jump in and hang on, it is what it is.
I recorded almost every concert last month and plan to release an EP of things played in a week or so. Will be back with news on that if I can manage to make something listenable. Otherwise I’m finishing new songs and plan to record those as soon as the weather allows. I’ve my eye on a hut on a hill in which to record but I’m fearful of the cold there within. It was summer for a week but now it’s autumn in the south of Germany.
More soon then!
Sunday: Landau. Friends from Hamburg pick me up at the station and we walk through the redeveloped landscape of Landau to the RIVA bar where they plan an evening concert combined with Ben’s birthday drinks. A wonderful meal of home cooked comfort food and then a rather less than ideal concert experience. We tried it with me inside and the audience outside in the sunshine - bit weird and I could just hear the people at the bar - then we tried it inside but by then apparently the RIVA was the only bar open in town so everyone suddenly had to wear baseball hats on backwards and it was spring break. Anyhow sooner than planned done with and afterwards brilliant company and Lea plays songs and everyone drinks gin and tequila and it’s a fun visit just the same. Late to bed, early enough to rise and jump on the train back to Switzerland and the final night of this tour in Baden.
The journey down to Switzerland was a little fraught as I had opted for regional trains all the way and it was Easter Monday so many people were travelling. I sat with my guitar between my legs to Karlsruhe and then plonked myself in a dark corner most of the drop to Zürich. No matter, Severin picked me up at the familiar station in Baden and always a joy to see his friendly face. We drove the short way to the venue, Werkstatt - a reclaimed metal factory with a bar, studio space and a budget looking but long running nightclub called ‘Moonlight’.
We ate delicious vegan burgers prepared by Severin and Aicha (which you can find as Assa here) and then Sophia arrived and she and I worked out what we might play together. Sophia has been joining me on violin whenever we get the opportunity for a few years now and she also wrote and played the parts on the ‘Turn Your Back On The Crown’ album, for example:
I don’t enjoy rehearsing so much so we just decided on some keys and then the ramshackle room was full and we stood and played some sloppy songs for everyone. I don’t know if we played so good but it was certainly one of the most enjoyable concerts of the last weeks for me so here’s ‘Boys, I Am Worried’ as a free download from the thing:
After the concert I got to spend time with some friends I hadn’t seen in years and then was driven back out of town to Severin’s place and straight to bed and the sleep therein.
Next morning not enough time but some coffee and a mouthful of delicious breakfast and then sent on my way. I took a train to Zürich and another to Stuttgart, looked out the window all the way and that’s how it should go.
My next concert is in a couple of weeks would you believe it back in Switzerland - Thun on the 17th of May - then I’ll be in Ulm on the 19th, Erlangen on the 21st and Bonn around the 25th. I have much more to share from these last days coming later this week before that though. It’s so nice that you follow, thank you.
At Carmen’s apartment in Freiburg with an hour to go before I take a couple of trains and also a bus up and across to Landau for a concert at RIVA tonight. Quick update on the last couple of days and a free download from Thun.
Thursday: Thun. Back at the Mundwerk with all the good friends there and usually a fun, lovely night and this time no exception. A brilliantly clear afternoon and a walk with Reto up the hill to look upon the mountains for some time before a simple soundcheck and a delicious burger at the venue. Some concerns that the weather would keep everyone outside were pretty unfounded and the room had enough of a great audience to play to. Super quiet crowd and I tried a couple of requests but also played fair enough. I don’t do this song, from the ‘Woe’ album very often and it’s usually when I feel that it will work ok as it’s kind of long and quiet. ‘Make Each Other Anew’:
After the concert we sat upstairs and shared stories and gins and then I dragged the guitar up the tiny stairs of the most excellent Schwert hotel that Reto always puts me in and slept for England.
Next morning breakfast good as ever and then easy but very crowded train up to Basel and a day off with Joelle. Much needed washing and recuperation but also a couple of sunburnt hours by the wide Rhine, a sweet ferry across and back to her apartment and finally a random choice of brilliant Groundhog Day on the couch. Day off indeed.
Yesterday I took a short regional train up to Freiburg for a return to the KISS cellar for the third time. Micha sitting outside catching some rays and greeting everyone so we sat for an hour with a cold beer and caught up.
Soon enough the little cellar room was pretty full, surprisingly enough for such a warm, sunny evening and I played all the songs and took my sweet time about it.
Micha, Carmen and I went for a couple of drinks at the Babeuf until we all got too tired and I flopped into sleep and a lovely breakfast on the terrace and here we are.