2015 was an interesting year.
It was certainly one of innovation. Three highly successful London Songwriters retreats in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside were attended by 35 writers, all of whom rated the overall experience 5 out of 5.
Alongside the monthly collaboration workshops I also inaugurated a songshare format for London Songwriters, which proved both popular and useful and we had some great industry speakers, including Norman Dolph, David Stark and Don Gallacher.
The two concerts we organised for the homeless charity Crisis At Christmas at the end of the year were a huge success and we raised £1062 at the same time via our Donation Page.
Organising these events took up the bulk of my time but I also made sure I did some of my own writing, which was gratifying. I even entered a song for the Eurovision Song Contest with the aid of a singer who contacted me. Boom-Bang-A-Bang!
Inevitably there were disappointments too but they say you should only carry forward the good memories, so here’s looking forward to a positive attitude to the challenges ahead and a happy 2016!
At the end of April I facilitated my first retreat for London Songwriters and 11 of us spent a wonderful week writing in the picturesque Derbyshire countryside. I have been attending retreats with a dozen or so friends every 6 months for the last 10 years and thought it would be a nice idea to share the experience with the London group.
Amongst the many positive testimonials was this one ‘‘I thoroughly enjoyed the retreat spending time in lovely surroundings with lovely people. Was impressed with the facilities provided for writing and performing our songs and the overall support of Murray for the whole time. Can’t wait ’til the next one!’
I will be hosting another retreat at the beginning of August – at the time of writing there are still a couple of places remaining if anyone wishes to contact me.
Alongside the regular monthly Collaboration and Songshare/Feedback events in May we also held a very successful Song Pitching special with NYC Lyricist/Publisher/Author Norman Dolph, who offered some highly constructive and gracious comments on the commercial pitchability of our members songs.
In between I have also found some time for writing and co-writing and I hope to be progressing the recording of more of my own catchy pop/rock and introspective folk songs
The year got off to a flying start with good attendances at London Songwriters and some highly productive collaboration sessions. I also started a new songshare-only format where we can discuss our songs in more detail with a smaller group.
In April London Songwriters will host its first retreat for 11 of us in the Derbyshire countryside. Exciting!
I have also been rewriting and tweaking some of my own songs so that they are ready for recording and pitching. One was shortlisted by Disney last year…hoping to improve on that achievement.
Onwards and upwards!
2014 ended with a repeat of last year’s collective London Songwriter’s performance initiative at a Crisis At Christmas homeless day centre. This year we did two performances instead of one, involving twice as many people and some of the guests also joined us on stage. Thank you to everyone who donated their time, talent and performances as well as those who sponsored us! The donation page is still open!
My completion of a Community Music PTLLS Music Leader teaching qualification meant that there hasn’t been a lot of time for my own music but I will resume this year.
Wishing everybody a Happy New Year and continued success throughout 2015!
April, May and June’s London Songwriters meetups continued the fun and productive sessions of the first three months of the year with good attendances, great collaborations and songshares. The collaboration themes were ‘Success’, ‘Courage’ and ‘Liberation’ respectively – somehow I find that inspiring and positive themes bring out the best in writers for these tasks!
I am also continuing to run a small fortnightly SongCircle group for 8 songwriters looking to improve and get feedback on their songs. These are practical, great fun and allow us to analyse songs in greater depth than our monthly meetups. Feedback has been more than enthusiastic – head over to the London Songwriters link on this site for testimonials.
I am continuing my own education by studying for a Community Workshop PTLLS teaching qualification and this will help inform the work I already do.
In other news I was also delighted to have one of my own songs included on the excellent alternative Nub country Records football compilation album Eat My Goal! out on June 9th.
London Songwriters 2014 workshops got off to a superbly busy start on January 12th and February 9th. The themes for the collaborations were ‘Faith’ and ‘Hope’ respectively and the songs written in 90 minutes were universally excellent. The songshares were also very busy and I for one found that the feedback I got on my own songs was invaluable.
Our next workshop is on Sunday 9th March.
As a direct result of running London Songwriters I was asked to facilitate a series of small group songwriting workshops based on detailed song analysis and writing exercises. I have been asked to continue running these indefinitely. If you are interested in similar workshops or London Songwriters news generally please sign up to the mailing list to your right!
I was also delighted to be interviewed recently by the lovely Felix XFile Macintosh for The Smart Musicians Club about London Songwriters and songwriting in general.
I continue to write and pitch my own songs and have some forwarded material currently under consideration by sync publishers and one song short-listed by the Disney Channel.
Exciting projects ahead!
Following on from my last post my best friend’s older sister Barbara has confirmed that it was ‘Another Beatles Christmas Show’ that I saw sometime between Christmas and New Year 1964, so I would have been 5, soon to be 6 in January 1965. She would have been 15 and has confirmed that she was indeed a screamer and doesn’t remember too much about it either My mum applied for 6 tickets, thinking there was no chance…
From the Beatles Bible
‘The guest performers including Freddie And The Dreamers, Sounds Incorporated, Elkie Brooks, The Yardbirds, Michael Haslam, The Mike Cotton Sound and Ray Fell.
The Beatles appeared in two sketches, one with Freddie Garrity of Freddie And The Dreamers, and another with Jimmy Savile. They closed the shows with an 11-song set: Twist And Shout, I’m A Loser, Baby’s In Black, Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby, Can’t Buy Me Love, Honey Don’t, I Feel Fine, She’s A Woman, A Hard Day’s Night, Rock And Roll Music and Long Tall Sally.’
So there you go!
I saw The Beatles live at The Odeon Hammersmith, London.
I am reminded of this fact as yesterday was designated Beatles Day in The States…50 years since the group played the Ed Sullivan show.
According to my mum the support act was either Freddie and The Dreamers or Gerry and The Pacemakers but it wasn’t one of their Christmas variety shows, so a little more detective work is needed to pin down the precise date.
I would like to give a comprehensive song by song review but I was only 5 or 6 and retain a rather vague recollection of lots of tall screaming girls – my mum says she wasn’t the screaming type but my best friend’s older sister was!
At that age I was becoming aware of popular music and remember hearing later hits on the radio like Reach Out (I’ll Be There), my phone’s current ringtone, and then miming guitar with a tennis racket to Junior Choice at 8:30 am on a weekend morning before taking my bike out or going to Saturday morning kids cinema.
I was wondering today at what age one’s musical tastes form. There is no doubt that 60s melodies have a huge influence on me, and contribute to whatever knack I might have of coming up with catchy tunes, but they say that it is the teenage years that form lasting musical tastes.
As a teenager, whilst Glam and various forms of Prog Rock dominated the 70s, I retreated back to 60s music and then became more contemporary as Punk and New Wave surfaced.
Ever the 3-minute Pop fan, me.
Er, happy Beatles Day…!
…was a year of big changes and a lot of time devoted to organising London Songwriters.
We ran 14 meetups throughout the year including some that were oversubscribed by as many as 20. The membership has grown to around 1200. David Stark came and spoke to us about SongLink and all things pitching – we appreciate his support. Finally, we had a gratifying fundraising community concert in aid of the homeless charity Crisis At Christmas on 28th December which had everybody clapping, singing and dancing along.
An absolute personal highlight was being presented with my Masters degree in Songwriting at Bath Spa University in July followed by a great weekend of wild river swimming in the Avon.
I went on a number of great music seminars throughout the year, managed a nice long holiday in France and have come to the end of the year tired but in one piece.
Next year will bring many challenges but bring them on!
Happy New Year!