Workshops and Songwriting Interview

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!

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Beatles Day…continued

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 compère was Jimmy Savile.

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!

 

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Beatles Day

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…!

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2013…

…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!

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2012…

…was a busy year! I started it by submitting the History Of Song module presentation video for my MMus course and then continued straight into a series of enjoyable and successful collaborations with some  highly talented writers for the next module. After that came the biggie double module, a 12-song portfolio of studio recordings, which formed the final submission. For me this was the whole raison d’être of doing the course.

The portfolio formed the basis of two demo CDs I was able to take on a promo visit to the US, a trip for which I have to thank Graham Turner for taking the time to organise, and Daisy Manners for being such a lovely companion.

The Taxi Rally in LA was a smörgåsbord of enlightening seminars and networking. After that came some great collaborations in LA, which will hopefully be finished in the New Year, and closing the show at The Mint with renditions of Evening Sun and Juniper Juice. Apart from that the line ‘LA is a great big freeway’ proved to be entirely true!

After LA and a hair-raising night-time drive from Nashville airport we met up with Lorna of Lorna Flowers Productions in The Gulf Shores for two days of enjoyable shows at The Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival and Lorna then generously introduced us to the ways of Nashville. There were some interesting experiences at an Alabama gas station, being caught speeding by a cop and running out of gas (literally and metaphorically) the afternoon before Thanksgiving. Playing two songwriter rounds in Nashville at Red Roosters and Douglas Corner Cafe was also a huge highlight for me.

It was great to get some good reactions from publishers and supervisors on the trip and from the UK as well, so I’m hoping that next year will be a period of consolidation.

On top of all that we at London Songwriters held 13 highly enjoyable and successful meetups and we are looking forward to 2013’s events.

Oh…and I got to go to Munich for Chelsea’s Champion’s League triumph :-)

All the best for the coming year!

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America

Here I am in LA waiting in a queue for the Taxi Road Rally registration. It should be an interesting and hopefully fruitful three days of seminars and networking. After a couple of further days in LA we will be flying to Nashville and driving to Gulf Shores, Alabama for the Frank Brown Songwriting Festival and then back to Nashville

It’s my first time in The States and I’m amazed it seems quite real rather than like in the movies :-) But then I’m amazed when I go north of Watford that they have normal things like petrol stations and supermarkets.

It’s been a mad busy time since I last wrote. I finished my Masters Degree with a 12-song portfolio, which received some great feedback. London Songwriters continued with regular meetups culminating in a highly successful appearance at The Bloomsbury festival, where we had a stall and provided individual open mic performances in the street.

The busyness continues!

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Major Projects….

Hard to believe it’s been three months since my last update but that’s what songwriting Masters Degree course deadlines, impromptu day trips to Munich for the Champions League Final and 18-day holidays to Provence do!

It was a rush to get my five collaborations in for the MMus but they were demo’d successfully and the module passed! Very pleased with all of them and the inevitable rewrites will make them even better.

The latter will undoubtedly form part of the culmination of the MMus which is a 40 minute recorded showcase of 12 or so songs by the end of September. A daunting schedule of recording awaits me this summer, so, new bass, acoustic and electric guitar strings have been ordered and fitted, software upgraded, songs short-listed, rewriting quill sharpened…

Flights have also been booked for a trip to LA and Nashville in November…my first visit to the States!

Meanwhile myself and my co-organisers continue to lead the London Songwriters Meetup group. A fantastic talk by pro-songwriter Jez Ashurst in June on the realities of the music business was highly appreciated by all those who attended.

And now…the studio is calling me…

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Publishing

What a busy month!

I attended a number of industry events, one of which led to an offer to publish one of my songs. Four days later I also received another offer for a different song, which resulted from a SongLink pitch.

I attended two more city Showcase events and am continuing to co-write with a number of partners, mostly on a modern pop tip.

There were two London Songwriters events, both of which were well attended and highly enjoyable. The second was at the Garnish School Of Sound in Hackney, featuring the ‘Hit Formula’ devised by the knowledgeable and entertaining songwriting teacher Alex Von Soos.

Yesterday was the second in BASCA’s very informative Professional Development series of seminars chaired by Stuart Worthington and featuring a panel of Sarah Rodges, Julian Nott, Jake Gosling, Malcom Buckland and Kevin O’Byrne of Kobalt Music. The subject was…publishing!

On top of all that the sun is shining and for the moment Chelsea’s fortunes have seemingly revived! Write on :-)

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Networking

I attended a masterclass hosted by City Showcase at the offices of PPL in London on Wednesday. I didn’t know what to expect but it was great to be sat with 25 other songwriters in a room with a panel of four industry experts.  Sean Devine, Tim Fraser, Paul Tipler and Julian Hinton spoke about what general attributes were important to a song’s success and took the time to critique pretty much everyone’s songs by the end of the evening. It was nice to have my song Evening Sun appreciated too.

For a cost of £9 per year I would recommend joining City Showcase to all aspiring artists and Songwriters.

I have a number of collaborations already on the go or in the planning stage – very excited at the prospect of what songs might come out of it all!

March’s London Songwriters Meetup is set for Sunday the 11th with special guest speaker Sophie Daniels from The Institute Of Contemporary Music Performance.

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Bath Spa MMus…

I spent last week at Corsham Court attending a series of introductory lectures for the latest module of my Master’s degree in Songwriting. They were full of useful information from Davey Ray Moor, Joe Bennett, Richard Parfitt, Jez Ashurst, Caryl Parry-Jones, Cliff Jones, David Stoll, Chrysalis Publishing and the incomparable David McAlmont, who sang an amazing set of past and present showstoppers to close the week.

My recording laptop died in the middle of it all, so that will be away with HP for ten days or so – frustrating! The hard drives are perfectly fine and no data is lost (so far!) but it’s disappointing that something as fundamental as the motherboard or CPU or video chip should go after only two years.

Sunday saw the latest London Songwriters meetup group get-together and thanks to everybody who contributed so splendidly to a wonderful afternoon of collaboration, networking and songshare. Looking forward to next month!

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