New Year, new songs

So. It’s been a while. I know. Sorry.

Happy New Year! (Woohoo, cheering, fireworks, etc.) πŸΎπŸŽ‰

I have just written my first song of this year this evening.

It is called Fading Memory and is written on Dolly the dulcimer. I set myself a challenge to write another song for Dolly because she only had one (Side by Side). And this evening I wrote one in just under 2 hours. It is a little sad but I think may resonate with anyone who has visited a care home.

My last song of 2016 was written just before the end of December, which we plan to record tomorrow, and may just record this new one as well. If I can practise enough in the morning.

My New Year song is called One Second, and is about that moment when one year turns into the next, and wondering how the new year can be any different from the old one. I wrote it with Georgie my soprano ukulele.

2016 was a pretty awesome year for us, recording our EP, selling some CDs of said EP (still makes my day when someone buys one), playing some amazing gigs and festivals, and writing lots of songs. I just wondered out loud how many songs I wrote last year so at some point I will figure that out.

We are busy applying for this summer’s festivals and booking up gigs, so keep an eye on the website for announcements. πŸ™‚

Back to the music 🎢

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Well now…

So this is a little bit exciting. Our EP is being duplicated AS I TYPE. 😁

EEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKK.

As soon as the CDs are available to buy I will let you know so please do watch this space.

So now I need to look into getting these tracks on the old interweb. Which is what I will be investigating as soon as I have finished typing this. Woop!

***Edited to add: since publishing this post earlier today, I have now uploaded the EP to Bandcamp and you can find it >>HERE<< 😁 So that means it is released into the big wide world! (Slightly scary but SO PROUD!) And we must thank Garfy at Semi-Echo for the recording wizardry and for putting up with us and doing a fantastic job!***

We have had a fair few gigs since I last did a blog post (oops) and from before that, so here’s the rundown…

I realised that I haven’t mentioned anything about our first few festivals of the summer which seem Such A Long Time Ago now. At the end of April we played on the River Stage at Cosmic Puffin on Mersea Island, which was in a lovely little cosy tent with a very large fish hanging above the stage. It was pretty cold. (The weather, not the fish.) img_0415In June we played on the new acoustic stage at Alive & V-Dubbin at Jimmy’s Farm, which we particularly enjoyed being dubbers ourselves. Unfortunately just as we were performing it was raining hellishly so most sensible people were hiding in their vans rather than listening to us. (We are used to terrible weather at outdoor gigs. We seem to take it with us.) On the same bill were some amazing bands deserving of a mention as they blew us away with their talent – Gentlemen of Few and Heath. Awesome.

Oh we played at The Apex too! How did I miss that… img_2800We were asked by The Milkmaid Folk Club to perform a supporting set in the bar, on the night that Blazin’ Fiddles were playing in the main auditorium. We had never heard of them before but oh my word they were amazing. Crazy fiddle skills.

Dubs At The Hall was our next festival, in Norfolk, (where it also rained a lot – spot the wellies) and we were on the main stage this time which was brilliant. img_2801We had most of July gig-free, during which we went to Latitude and had an amazing time there. I did a little impromptu gig in the Piano Garden, which was fun. There was a small audience there!img_2802August was busy again, starting with the Ipswich Waterfront Celebration, where we played on a boat (that was definitely a first) and it was so windy! Another lovely Acoustic Afternoon at The Brewery Tap in Sudbury followed that, then the one we had been looking forward to All Year – FolkEast. We were booked to play on the Soapbox stage, then in the week before we were also asked to play for the Milkmaid Folk Club, on the Broad Roots Club stage. So that made it even more exciting! It was an awesome weekend, during which we discovered many new (to us) bands and poets, including Alden, Patterson & Dashwood, Piers Harrison-Reid, Jayd Green, The Malingerers, Jess Morgan, Rura, Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys, Solana, The Hut People, and The Georgia Shackleton Trio. Some of these we saw twice on different stages which was even better. We came away with some new CDs, and would have bought a few more if we hadn’t run out of money!

The following weekend we played at DukeFest (The Grand Old Duke of York in Ipswich) and EddyFest (Edwardstone White Horse), bringing an end to the summer festivals. It has been a good summer and as well as discovering lots of new music we have performed on the same bills as plenty of local talented musicians we have the pleasure of knowing already – EllY Tree, Keith Sadler, Fern Teather, Meg Burrows, Jordan Hay, Peter Hepworth, Chloe Hawes, The Broken Maps, Aartwork, Meg Hughes, Charlie Law, Tilly Dalglish, and probably more that I have forgotten. There are so many! It’s really great to have such a wealth of talent in Suffolk and surrounding areas.

We also played at a private party this weekend which was another first for us. I wasn’t quite sure how to react when one man said after one song, ‘that one was really good, the best one so far, your voice sounds lovely’…it wasn’t a song of mine… πŸ˜† ah well. It was still a compliment.

I have been playing a couple of new songs in recent weeks, one being my accidentally political song Side by Side, written on Dolly the dulcimer, and the other being my sunshiney summery song Let’s Go Outside that seems to make the sun go away every time I sing it! β˜€οΈπŸŒ§

So our next gig coming up is UkeEast in Norwich which I am really looking forward to. I feel it is our best one, surrounded by fellow ukuleleists who are all just as crazy as me and Jim (although he felt a little left out last year being a drummer…) and it is a mix of extra pressure because they all play my instrument and no pressure because they are all lovely people. Hopefully the EP CDs will have arrived by then and we may even sell a few!

So keep an eye out on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for news of the CDs appearing and other exciting stuff.

Back to the music 🎢

New family member

So the next bit of exciting news is that while we were away during half term we accidentally stumbled into a music shop in Newcastle. Actually that’s a lie, we made a beeline for it. I was looking for a smaller keyboard, because I only take my digital piano to gigs when we do longer than a 40 minute set as it doesn’t seem worth the effort for anything shorter. It’s so heavy and big. Ukuleles are far more portable, which is why I wanted to play one in the first place. So I have a lot of piano songs that I don’t play very often at all. I would love to have a smaller lightweight keyboard so I can still do my piano songs at shorter gigs. (I have tried playing my piano songs on my ukes but they don’t all translate very well. It doesn’t help that I sometimes use far more complex chords in my piano songs that I simply can’t play on a uke!)

So I was looking at keyboards and Jim was looking at electric drum kits. I didn’t find anything I liked that wasn’t silly money so gave up. We were just thinking of leaving when under the spiral staircase I spotted an instrument hanging on the wall. I had no idea what it was but it looked interesting so I took it down. I discovered that the strings were tuned to a 5th chord (although couldn’t tell what chord) and started playing about with it. It sounded a little like a banjo but not, and just had such a unique sound that I instantly fell in love. (Don’t tell my uke girls…) The assistant came over and told me it was a dulcimer. Dulcimers are normally played on the lap, but this is a new design by Seagull Guitars aimed at people more used to a guitar/ukulele style of playing. They have called it a Merlin but I have named mine Dolly. And here she is. 

She has 4 hard metal strings (I am not technical, I just know they’re not nylon like my ukes), two of which are tuned to the same note and set very close together. The open chord is in fact D. 

So I have been playing and practising and starting to write my first dulcimer song. Watch this space to see how that goes. πŸ˜„

Back to the music 🎢

Recording happenings

I know, I know, it’s been a while. AGAIN. So I am going to do a few posts over the next couple of days to bring the blog up to date.

This one is about RECORDING.

I KNOW!!

We have recorded an EP!!!

It is super mega exciting and I was waiting until we had finished doing all our bits before blogging about it. And that point came and went a few weeks ago so it is about time I wrote about it.

We are lucky enough to have a lovely friend named Garfy (that’s his superhero name) who is a recording genius and only lives 15 minutes away. So we went to his house for a few recording sessions. Here’s a few pics from the first couple of sessions.

After that, Jim had done his bit so his role from that point onwards was listening, encouraging and suggesting things. Which he did very well. πŸ™‚ And of course taking the odd photo.

I have not played the clarinet for about 2 years so it made a nice change to play again. I really enjoyed working out some boopdedoopy melodies to weave into my songs.

There were high points and low points. It was essentially an emotional rollercoaster. On the first day I was over the moon to do a ukulele track in one take. In another session we felt like we wasted half the day by trying to do a really tricky song that neither of us could play very well, until we decided to replace it with a different song. (That one will be stashed away for a future recording maybe…) The last session was an awful lot of singing and a little bit of clarinet playing. And I was so tired by the end of the day, but at the same time on a high because I was so happy with what we had achieved.

But it is done! And just today I have been listening to almost final mixes which is even more exciting.

I just found a pic of Garfy which must be from an early session because I can only see a couple of tracks on the screen! πŸ˜†2016-03-05 13.20.27

So that’s the recording malarkey done. We have had a couple of ideas for artwork and such but need to get back to that now, and look into duplication of CDs. Oh it’s so exciting! I can’t wait to be able to say at a gig ‘and if you would like to buy a CD please come see us afterwards’ 😊 I also had a Bex and Freda logo badge made so may get lots of those to sell too. I bought a few others at the same time which I feel pretty much sums up my life. πŸ˜„File 15-06-2016, 21 34 35

That will do for this post. More news in the next one.

Back to the music 🎢

NEWS and Stuff

Well hello again my lovelies and apologies for the long silence yet again. (I could do with a reminder sometimes I think – please give me a gentle poke if I haven’t posted in a while πŸ˜‰ )

So what have we been up to?

Firstly, we had a fairly busy February really, as Februarys go. Following on from the Acoustic Lounge on 21st January in Braintree, we then played again for the Acoustic Lounge on 7th February, but this time in Ipswich at The Kingfisher. It had a lovely big stage and we had a lovely time. Here’s a pic taken by Steve Ockenden who organises the Acoustic Lounge. ukulele, gig, cajon, acoustic, music, singer songwriter, song, songwriter, Bex and Freda, baritone ukulele

He also videoed a lot of the artists, and here is my version of ‘Everyone Says Hi’ by David Bowie.

On Valentine’s Day we played the acoustic afternoon at The Brewery Tap in Sudbury again, which was very loved up and lovely. So I played my lovey songs and also put in a few ranty hating grrrr anti-Valentines songs for good measure.

We then played for Bury Folk Collective on 21st February, for one of their Wired Folk nights, and they very kindly gave us the last slot of the evening. So that was a fun gig too.

I mentioned in my last post that I had been ukulele shopping.

So.

May I now introduce you (if you have not been acquainted already at a gig) to..

Georgie the butterfly!File 04-03-2016, 10 46 40

She is a Kala BFS Butterfly Soprano and she looks and sounds beautiful.

Isn’t she GORGEOUS?!?2016-02-24 10.43.55

And she has a lovely strap and a very funky hippy case too.

And here she is making her gig debut at The Brewery Tap on Valentine’s Day. IMG_2031

In case you’re wondering, Georgie is named after my grandma.

Since Georgie’s arrival I have started a couple of new songs (one of which is about her) so watch this space, or come to a gig sometime, to hear them. There aren’t many upcoming gigs listed on the website at the moment, but please keep checking back because we have applied to lots of festivals and events and will announce dates as soon as we can. 

And here’s the best news of all.

Tomorrow we will be RECORDING FOR THE EP!! Wooohooooo!

The attempts we made last year kind of didn’t really work. We got one track completely finished but didn’t manage to sort out the rest to a point where we were completely happy with them. So this time we are letting someone who knows what they are doing do the hard bit, and all we have to do is show up and play. And of course since then I have written many more songs, so the track listing has changed entirely. I actually have enough songs for two full length albums haha but that won’t be happening anytime soon. I am really looking forward to it, but also slightly nervous. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get things absolutely right, and in a recording situation where I don’t want to waste time by getting it wrong and having to do it again there is even more pressure. But hopefully it will all go smoothly and we will have fun too. After all, that’s what it’s really about.

I will leave you with a photo that Jim took before one of the recent gigs. I really like it. It was FREEZING that day. I do love my red coat. And Georgie’s awesome case. Bex and Freda, singer songwriter, song, songwriter, ukulele, soprano, eddy finn hippy case, red, DMs, boots, wall

Back to the music 🎢

New Year, new adventures

Well hello there and a Happy New Year to all who read my ramblings. We hope you had a fabulous festive time of the season and have recovered nicely. I didn’t realise quite how long it has been since my last post, so we have some catching up to do it seems…

Since my last post we have returned to The Brewery Tap in Sudbury for another Acoustic Sunday, attended 2 open mic nights and played our first gig of 2016. 

I played my Christmas song a few times in the relevant acceptable timeframe hehe, and it got better each time – I forgot the words the first time (but it was an open mic so didn’t matter TOO much…). We enjoyed getting festive with Jim’s jingle bells adding to the Christmassyness. 

One of the open mics was on my birthday, which was a very entertaining evening at The John Peel Centre in Stowmarket. As well as the brilliant music on show, there were a few ciders, lots of laughs and a small unintentional fire. You had to be there… πŸ˜‰

We had a lovely quiet Christmas followed by a hectic week of familyness. I got a new stand to hang Freda and Berti on, a subscription to UKE magazine and the UKE magazine calendar so I can look at beautiful ukes all year. 

Our first gig of 2016 was last Saturday when we headed into Essex for a change, to play at SlackFolk in Colchester. I had a cough over most of Christmas and was still not rid of it, but I managed to sing through all my songs without croaking too much. This helped a lot… 

The water that is, although Jim’s face also helps. πŸ˜‚ Not entirely sure what added electrolytes are, but I sang ok so they did their job. Pesky cough still hasn’t gone, and I now have a week to lose it before our next gig. 

Next week we will be heading over the border again to Braintree, to lend our noise to the Acoustic Lounge at The Swan pub.  

 

I shared this pic on my social media pages last week but I’m going to put it here too because it is so absolutely completely true.  

 

Music is my life and has been my whole life. The people I have met and continue to meet through musical connections are a constant inspiration. Some are the very best friends I’ve ever had. Some I don’t see as often as I’d like. Steady on, this might turn a bit emotional. I’m not sure where I’m heading but bear with me. It might just be that in the week when we lost one of the greatest musicians on the planet I’m just feeling hugely grateful for the gift of music and how it connects people. And super proud of what I have achieved with my music so far. 

This year is going to be a good one. In 2015 we played 37 gigs, not including all the open mics. I intend to up that figure this year. I also intend to finally record and release my EP which has been a sort of work in progress for getting on for 2 years…

We are busy applying for lots of gigs and festivals for this year so keep checking the website for updates and such. I have been wondering if a mailing list would be a good plan – let me know if getting my ramblings and gig dates in your inbox is something you would be interested in. 

Also if you read my blog and enjoy it, please let me know that I am not just talking to myself, by leaving a comment or sending me a message. I would very much appreciate it. 

AND. (Exciting) I hope to soon be introducing you to Freda and Berti’s new sibling. Yes I have been ukulele shopping… πŸ˜† watch this space for news!

Back to the music 🎢

It’s Christmas! (Nearly)

It is officially Christmas season now because I sang Christmas songs in public yesterday. And it is December tomorrow. So fairly almost very nearly Christmas. Yes. 

We went to Bury St Edmunds yesterday and nearly didn’t get to where we were meant to be in time because it was c.r.a.z.y. The Christmas Fayre was just insanely crowded. We joined in the busking organised by The Milkmaid folk club, thankfully indoors, in Moyses Hall Museum, to raise money for the new folk club building refurbishment.

It was very quiet but some money did appear in the bucket during our set so we did our bit ok. πŸ™‚ I am not too good at singing unplugged because I am too quiet so Jim did drown me out a tad, but we did our best. And Jim jingled his new jingle bells for my Christmas song. So we felt a bit festive for a short while. Until we then went out into the crowds to wander round the Fayre. It was hard work just walking, there were that many people. But I had some mulled cider (yummy) and we took advantage of the many free samples being handed out.  

I think the bloke behind Jim wants to go home too…

Last Sunday we played at The Brewery Tap in Sudbury for the first time, as part of their Acoustic Afternoon. It was good fun, and we had our own mini fan club consisting of the little man who behaved himself very well, reading his books in the corner and clapping us at appropriate moments. He says he wants to come to more gigs with Mummy and Jim. Only the daytime ones when I don’t play the sweary songs then…

During that gig we were playing Spider and I suddenly had a total mind blank in the third verse, ironically the line that goes ‘though what it is I still don’t know’ haha…and just stopped singing and skipped that line completely. Not sure what happened there, I’ve never forgotten Spider before. 

We hope to get to some Christmas open mic nights over the next few weeks to play some more Christmas songs because it is fun getting festive. Especially when there is cider involved. Mulled or otherwise… πŸ™‚

Back to the music 🎢