John's Blogs

22nd February 2022

Well, the world seems to be moving from one form of madness to another. We're all cosy in our homes, watching horrors unfold on our tv screens and internet devices, but underneath our normality, many of us will be watching and getting fearful. Back in the days of the cold war, the arms race, Vietnam and the Falklands and more, there were protest songs - from Masters Of War to Shipbuilding. Who is writing these songs now? Who dares to perform them? I don't hear many songs with an 'edge' these days. Is that because back then we were young and fiery whereas now we have grown old and comfortable? I wish I could write something - I'll try - but I think I've forgotten how. If I did, would anyone want to listen?
30th December 2021

Another strange year comes to a close and, it seems to me, everyone you ask has a different opinion on how we should deal with this troubled world. Despite it all, life goes on and so does music. I've been to some excellent gigs and sat at the mixing desk for some others - all good fun. I've also played at Northwich Folk Club and, after lazy habits crept in during our Zoom nights, I'm trying to perform from memory rather than from a handy sheet of paper as a prompt. A highlight was doing a 25 minute spot at the club as support for Wet The Tea. There will be another 25 minute spot on the 18th February as part of a club showcase night. Meanwhile, more trips to the studio are planned for what will now be a double album release, hopefully later in 2022. Financially foolish but what the heck... Until next time, have a Happy New Year and stay safe.
8th October 2021

Today would have been Ailsa's birthday and, while I pause for a moment to reflect, I also consider where my life is going and I am cautiously optimistic. I am still recording songs, occasionally writing something new, playing every now and then at my local folk club (now meeting in person again, at last - though I am not with them tonight due to a cold!) However, I have been learning (or at least, developing) new skills. I have looked after sound systems before, but over the last few months, I have been a "sound engineer" for an eight piece covers band (in which my good friend, Lucy, plays saxophone and sings backing vocals). This is quite a step up and I have had to deal with more cables, more knobs and sliders, more complications than ever before. It's been fun! Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
20th May 2021

I've been so grateful in these interesting times that my favourite recording studio has been able to open (it's a commercial thing so it's allowed) and I've been able to spend some time down at Orchard Studios working on new music, another collection of original songs, again some new, some not so new. One track I worked on I have made available now as a free download because it is almost the anniversary of the death of George Floyd - and that's what prompted me to write the song. I know it's not going to change the world - and heaven knows, we need it to change - but it's me making a statement in the same way as hundreds of protest songwriters before me. Check it out on the Recordings page.
The other songs will be finished soon and handed over to the dark arts of mixing and mastering. I am slowly getting a feel for what happens in mastering but please don't ask me to explain!
15th March 2021

It's almost a year since we hit our first lockdown - I know, you didn't need me to tell you that. It's also nearly a year since our 'live' music experience has been confined to Zoom and the like. It's not the same, and most of us, I'm sure, can't wait to get back to our favourite venues to enjoy live music amongst friends. However, there has been one surprising bonus that has come about because of internet folk sessions and that is distant friends. We have had visitors from all over the world (nearly), many of whom would never have had reason to visit us otherwise - and whether it be Canada, the USA, Israel or the wilds of Bromsgrove, we have welcomed them all and can now count these people as friends. Hooray for something positive! I'll still be glad to be able to see and hear people in our club venue - but I may be more inclined to drop in on clubs further afield too. Music fans are friends. Agree?
9th October 2020

The world has changed and who knows if it will ever change back? I'm sure there are plenty of adjustments still to be made. Meanwhile, music still matters to me and I'm still working on new material, still visiting the recording studio, still finding new stuff to listen to. I do wonder what I'm going to do with it all. I don't do Spotify, I don't keep my music collection on my phone - I still play vinyl! If I can't play cds in the car, I'll need help to make long journeys bearable! As for live music, I want to be amongst friends while I enjoy - and I want to be amongst friends when I perform. But will future artists focus more on videos, YouTube and Facebook? Oh, I hope not...
3rd July 2020

Three and a bit months into lockdown and anyone with any soul is missing live music and still no idea when it'll return. In some places, I'm sure, it'll be gone for good. My worry is that all the focus will be on big music, things like Glastonbury, the Proms, tours by Coldplay or Ed Sheeran, filling the big arenas. But those aren't the areas that are suffering most. These have sponsors, million pound contracts and global audiences. But what about the little theatres, pubs and clubs where the next generation learn their craft? What about the artists who barely get by when times are good? What about those who do it for love, because it's in their blood? And what about the managers, roadies, sound engineers, producers and recording engineers and all the rest who earn their (often meagre) wages from these lower rungs of the ladder?

I just hope there's enough possibility left when this is all over. I'm pretty sure there'll be the desire, the passion for live music, but we can't all be buskers.

Stay safe.