London gigs and CD news
It's been a musically rich last couple of weeks; wrote some new songs (I've posted demo recordings of them to my Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/dexterslim); played some really enjoyable gigs, including the launch of the 'Butterfly song' single, and finished the recordings for my next CD.
I needed to add fiddle to two of the tracks in my forthcoming CD (Down by the Wildwood and You don't know) - and luckily for me I found Kurt Baumer, a former Nashville Tour Fiddler. Kurt has added some fiddle magic to both tracks. I'm sure you will love what he has done; certainly I was blown away with his playing.
I've made some changes to the CD track list: the final list of songs will be:
- It's raining outside
- Down by the Wildwood
- You don't know
- Every day is sunshine
- Can't catch the Butterfly
- Don't go pissin' in the wind
- Tell me you love me again
- Always looked for the good in me
- Black sky blues
- Beneath these Scottish skies
The CD will be called 'Every day is sunshine' and will be released by Hillhead GWE Records. I'm excited about putting this album out, I think it's my best yet.
We need to think about a launch date, get the cover art done and think about how to promote it when it is released. If you have any ideas for spreading the word - don't keep them to yourself - or if you can help in any way it will be much appreciated.
A week past Thursday I played at the Glasgow Art Club (in Glasow obviously) and then on the Friday night I played at Blackheath Halls in London.
A particularly highlight of the Glasgow Art Club gig was Dinny singing backing vocals with me - and for the first time - singing the lead vocal on the song 'Every day is sunshine'.
Both had top-notch music from the other acts. At the Art Club I played with Jamie Flett and his brother Andy - and on the Friday the headline act was Benny Gallagher (famously part of the songwriting duo Gallagher and Lyle).
The supporting acts for the Blackheath Halls gig included Janette Geri (all the way from Australia) and Richard Llewellyn-Davies. It was a great night of music - we really enjoyed ourself. It was also nice that a few friends came along to provide support - including Mary and Alex; friends of Pat's who also put us up (or put up with us) while we were in London.
Pat has been doing all the work getting these great gigs - so thanks Pat; I wouldn't be playing anywhere at all if it was up to me. :-)
I have a few gigs coming up in Glasgow you might want to check out:
Next Wednesay 2nd June in Ivory Blacks 56 Oswald St supporting a band called Bitter Ruin http://www.myspace.com/bitterruin
Next Friday 4th June at That Devil Music - The State Bar, Glasgow.
Be good to see you at one of these gigs.
Have a good bank holiday - and a good week.
All the best, Jim
Looking forward to opening for Benny Gallagher in London on Friday 21st May
Here is the promotors blurb:
The Icarus Club - Friday 21 May at 8:00 PM
Benny Gallagher + Janette Geri, Jim Byrne, Richard Llewellyn-Davies
The second of the Icarus Club's Spring season of shows features Benny Gallagher. He's worked with some of the best-known names in the business and has written for the likes of Art Garfunkel, Bryan Ferry, Don Williams, Garth Brooks, Joe Brown, Mary Hopkin, Phil Everly, Rita Coolidge and Simon and Garfunkel to name but a few! After four decades he remains one of the UK's best-loved singer-songwriters.
Supporting Benny will be Janette Geri, Jim Byrne, Richard Llewellyn-Davies, all of whom have appeared at the Icarus Club's weekly events in the local area.
Blackheath Halls 23 Lee Road London SE3 9RQ
Buy Tickets Online
Ditch the PA system and play better
On Sunday night I played at the Wee Folk Club in Edinburgh - and it was one of my most enjoyable gigs. A significant reason for this was that I played without a PA system; it was a small and intimate venue and there was no need for any amplification.
I loved it; I heard my guitar and my voice exactly as I hear it when I play at home; I didn't have to adjust to hearing everything coming through a set of speakers; which always throws me when playing 'live'.
I think that playing through a PA system can have the effect of knocking the subtlety off my playing; nuances are lost in the overly sharp noise that PA systems tend to produce - I think I probably subconsciously adjust my playing to be slightly more bombastic and direct; that's what it feels like anyway. It also makes playing feel more like hard work; ironically being amplified makes me hit the strings harder as it seems more difficult to hear exactly what is coming out of my guitar.
Without the amplification system, communication with the audience was direct; there was no microphone stand or stage to separate the performer from the audience; I felt a lot more comfortable with this setup and consequently I was more relaxed in my playing and my chat.
Now of course playing without a PA system isn't a revolutionary new way of playing music; most folk sessions are played exactly like this as are most relaxed get-togethers. However playing like this at a 'gig' does feel like an improvement over the usual plugged in affair.
All the best,
A couple of music career low-lights
A couple of career low-lights that popped into my head yesterday:
- Playing with the Hemingways at the Glasgow Garden Festival: no audience apart from a small train that would pass by every 10 minutes
- Playing big gig in King Tuts Wah Wah Hut - probably in the mid 90s: drums pounding as part of our dramatic big intro; me bouncing around with coiled energy and intent, ready to launch into opening power chord; swing arm for dramatic start; nothing; guitar isn't plugged in.
All the best,
Trip to London town for gigs and a wee break
We've (i.e., me and Pat) just finished a wee mini-tour of London; playing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week in different venues. The highlight was the gig in
All that was needed was great live music, which on the night was supplied by The Sounthern Tenant Folk Union; an energetic bluegrass/country band. The place was packed with music lovers, all primed to enjoy good tunes. It was a great crowd to play to; I loved it. One of the very best gigs I've done in my short solo career; I had them singing along at the end. I must have done pretty well myself - as I got calls for an encore - which I duly played.
Great that our friends, Elaine McIntyre and John Ellis, who live in Leytonstone managed along. They are brilliant company and John (ex-Strangler) is a real muso so I enjoyed hearing his take on the night.
The Tuesday and Thursday gigs also had their own character - and I enjoyed both - not least because the other acts were all excellent and also friendly people. At the Icarus club we met with a singer songwriter 'Hortag' from Holland, a local blues player Mississipi Olly McDonald and a five piece band called 'All Things Considered' - playing folky tinged music with a bit of pop thrown in. We had a good chat with Mississipi Olly McDonald and his partner Stephanie, who very kindly gave us a lift home. Great players all.
Andy of The Icarus Club is another brilliant host and I'm was delighted to hear that I will be invited back to play at one of their shows they have three times a year in Blackheath Town Hall. Thanks for the gig Andy.
Thanks to Pat for getting such great gigs; musical adventures and memories to cherish. :-)
A big thanks to Pat's friends Alex and Mary who put us up (and put up with us) while we were in London. They have a beautiful flat in Blackheath - a small characterful part of London - worth the visit on its own. While in London we also did a lot of wandering around and lots of looking at buildings, shops, restaurants and tourist attractions. The trip along the Thames on the boat was particularly memorable.
Songwriting at Friars Carse
Prior to the London trip we had an great weekend at the songwriting workshop at the Friars Carse hotel in the Dumfries and Galloway countryside. The event was run by Martin Stephenson, Helen McCookerybook and Scott MacDonald. The weather was glorious the entire time - which is always a mixed blessing for me as I suffer from hay fever.
I felt humbled by the people there - writing songs directly from personal experiences; the song by Trystan Lewis about his third child was particularly beautiful and moving - a great song.
All the best,
Dispatched to Dorris Island, West End Festival and future fun
I had a great time last Sunday as a guest of Ciaran Dorris' radio show on Celtic Music Radio; I was dispatched to Dorris Island (a bit like desert island discs) and had to choose 4 songs, something to read, a person to have dinner with and a luxury item. I'll admit I caused Ciaran a bit of stress; I was held up by the chatty Alan Broom who was working in the office. Then I had to disappear as I'd forgotten to bring the CD with my chosen songs - it was still in the car - and when Ciaran wanted to play them, I couldn't tell him what order they were in, on the CD. In general, I inadvertently tripped Ciaran up at every turn. Good fun for the listeners - not sure Ciaran thought it was as funny though. Sorry Ciaran.
The songs I choose for the show were 'Mardi Gras In New Orleans' by New Orleans piano player Professor Longhair, Roly Poly by country music legend Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, 'It's Been a Long Time' by Steve Forbert and 'Days Aren't Long Enough' by Steve Earle. I also played a couple of of my own new songs on my acoustic guitar - which wasn't the best idea as I didn't know them as well as I thought I did. I couldn't have been that bad though, as I did get a comment on my Myspace the next day (from a listener) inviting me over to play some gigs in Nashville. :-) The invite didn't include fares to get there - so I think we'll have to put that on hold for now. It is an exciting prospect - you never know - could be something to work towards.
I choose Kieth Richards as my dinner guest; I think I would have a great time chatting to Kieth and loved the idea of getting the guitars out for a Jam after dinner. The book I choose to take with me was, 'the Book of Prologues' by Alastair Gray; mainly because it was a book I had started reading before we moved house a couple of years ago - and it disappeared during the flitting - never to be seen again. We did have a big clear-out of hundreds of books when we moved; perhaps it disappeared into the Caledonian bookshop with the rest.
If you are interested in reading authors introductions to their books (getting the excuses in first, attacking other authors, replying to critics and so on) - all the way from the 700s then this is the book for you. It's funny and heavy at the same time; the funny bits are in the comments on each entry by Alastair Gray or one of his literary friends.
Gigging in the West End
Last night I played a gig at the Aragon on Byres Road as part of, 'Folk blues and beyond' - which is part of the West End Festival. It was a great night of music - as also on the bill were friends, The Ballachulish Hellhounds and Crawford Smith. There were lots of friendly faces in the audience including Mathew, Mags, Steph, Issi and Davy, Ciaran and Outi Karhula.
I'd like to say a big hello to the friendly couple I met when I finished my set; sorry I didn't catch your names - but thanks for the nice words and encouragement. Hope to see you at future gigs.
I'll be playing another gig this Friday as part of the West End Festival in the Liquid Ship on Great Western Road. On the bill will be Patrick Monaghan, Ciaran Dorris and John Alexander. I'm looking forward to it - the Liquid ship is one of my favourite venues.
Recording at home
I'm still learning how to record in my home studio. One thing I'm learning is that the entry level equipment I've got is a bit limiting, e.g. I can't record acoustic guitar and voice at the same time; as I've only got one microphone input. Well that's not strictly speaking true, I could record both if I set the microphone to pick up both my singing and guitar; but I've tried that and the quality was poor, so I gave up on that strategy. Not to worry - I've plenty of time to record that tricky second album.
We've (i.e., myself and Pat) got quite a few things to look forward to over the next few weeks, including attending a songwriting retreat led by Martin Stephenson, Scott MacDonald and Helen McCookerybook. This will be at Friars Carse Hotel in Dumfries.
I'm also going down to London with Pat to play some gigs; apparently the streets are paved with gold. Check my myspace for dates if you are in London and fancy coming to say hi. http://www.myspace.com/dexterslim
All the best,
Reflecting on Otis Gibbs, The Moonshiners and Hans Theessink
I've been filled up to the brim with music these last few days. On Monday I supported Otis Gibbs at the Twisted Wheel as part of the Americana Festival; on Tuesday recorded a song with Bluegrass band, The Moonshiners; and last night opened for blues legend Hans Theessink at the Edinburgh Folk club.
Now the great thing about getting 'out to play' is that you can see and learn from people who are masters of their craft. (The not so great thing is that you get completely knackered in the process.) Both Otis and Hans are individuals to be admired; traveling the world on the back of their own talents; grasping what it takes to put on a show and having the skills to do it; and inspiring others (like myself) with their love of music.
It was a privilege to play on the same stage as Otis Gibbs and Hans Theessink .
On Tuesday I recorded a song for my next CD with The Moonshiners. At the risk of sounding like I'm overcooking the flattery cake (whatever that is); I absolutely loved playing with The Moonshiners; great musicians, generous people (for accommodating my request to record) and again real music lovers. Thank you to The Moonshiners.
It wasn't the easiest of nights for the band as it was a case of learning the song and recording it in one 'live session'. No overdubs here; just press record, count in - and you are committing a real performance to tape. Recording can become an exercise in building a musical house (so to speak) one anxious brick (or 'take' if you like) at a time - hoping that the result doesn't reflect the stress of the process. To record while actually playing with the band - all in the same room - with no headphones and hearing every note live - was refreshing. The Moonshiners are the real deal when it comes to playing music - and real nice people.
All the best, Jim
On Celtic Music Radio live at Oran Mor
I had a busy but enjoyable weekend playing music; on Saturday I chatted and played on Alex Jenkins Celtic Music Radio show, which was part of an outside broadcast from the Whiskey Bar Oran Mor in Glasgow's West End. It was a really fun show. And because the Celtic Music Radio people were so friendly I felt very relaxed myself, which meant I did more chatting than singing. The show has been added to the 'Listen again' function of the Celtic Music Radio website; go have a listen it's quite entertaining:
You will have to excuse my croaking voice; we had been getting work done in the house and the dust had got to my delicate chest and lungs. The croak gave my voice a bit of character - though I found it very hard to sing; unfortunately I did sing a bit out of tune on The handles broken.
Pat and my mum came along to provide support - though it was difficult to hear much from within the pub itself - unless you had a radio. :-)
Playing at the Butterfly and Pig
On Sunday I played a set at the Butterfly and Pig; mostly new songs that I'm recording for my next album - it was good to give them a public airing. The pub was very noisy, but I felt the songs went down well and I enjoyed playing a fresh set. There were friendly faces in the audience including the crowd from Celtic Music Radio (Ciaran Doris, Stepanie Greer, Paul Baird and Mary Kathleen Burke). Mary and Paul got up and played some songs; great singing and playing as usual; what a fantastic voice that girl has! Also nice to see Paul's expert guitar plucking for the first time; I hadn't realised he was such an accomplished player.
After the music myself, Pat and Mary had a good chin-wag about the music scene in Glasgow - and about the issue of musicians not getting payed to play - which had been highlighted by Vivien Scotson and discussed on Mary's show earlier in the evening. The discussion went on so long that we were the last out of the pub (after 1pm I think); an unusually late night for us; so today I'm completley knackered. Good to clear out the cobwebs though.
All the best,
Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Open Stage - and Borders Bookshop
I'm happy to report I've been accepted to play the Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Open Stage, on Tuesday the 27th at 5pm. I'm looking forward to it as this is a gig I've been wanting to do.
Lots of interesting gigs and chances to play - coming up. Today I'm playing at Borders bookshop on Buchanan St in Glasgow. Should be fun - and will be able to put my CD on sale to passing trade. :-) Come along and say hello if you are in the city.
I'm very familiar with Borders bookshop; treating bookshops like they are libraries is a popular pastime of mine, i.e reading the book in the bookshop rather than buying it. I don't feel guilty about this - because 'over the piece' - so to speak - I do buy loads of books.
Apparently I'll be the last to play a gig in Borders, as they are stopping them.
Other gigs of interest coming up, include, playing a song at the Glasgow Festival of Songwriting in Dows (Dundas Street), being accepted to play at the Lomond Festival Open Stage, and at Leith Folk Club (date to be confirmed). Busy busy busy.
Luckily my left hand is getting a bit better - so I'm able to play my guitar again - which helps when it comes to playing gigs.
All the best,
Liquid Ship weirdness and CD designs
Been quite busy on the music front these last few weeks; on the 13th I played at the 'Quiet Riot at The Drawing Room' which was a good night (I particularly liked Adam Ross - and his music partner who's name escapes me - they had very good songs) - and then on the 17th I played a set at the Tchai Ovna tea room in the West End.
I had expected to have a support act at Tchai Ovna, which didn't materialize - so I had to do two sets. This wasn't that easy as I don't yet have a huge list of songs to play. I tried out a new song called, ' Ghosts of my past' which went down well (took a mental note to put it in the set) and also tried to remember some songs I hadn't played for months. I had a go at the song, 'These dark nights' which is on the CD but I wasn't sure it would work live (I was not entirely wrong). I liked the place as a music venue as it has a nice relaxed atmosphere; it was an enjoyable evening.
Unfortunately I had to miss my slot on Sunny Govan Radio last Tuesday because I was down in Newcastle, but was pleased that the band, The Acoustic Butterfly, could fill in. I will be on this Tuesday instead - so catch it if you can:
I Played at the Liquid Ship last Thursday with Kevin Young and Davie Boyle. It was a weird evening - very un-Liquid Ship like, as far as the atmosphere was concerned - it was quite noisy. Generally the Liquid Ship has an intimate feel with a crowd that is quiet and attentive to the performers. However, despite the noise, the crowd were in a good mood - singing along to my song, Daddy's car at one point. It helped that I had some support from friends who came along for the gig (hi Pat, Val, Frances, Mary).
The evening hadn't started well for Kevin Young as he had his guitar stolen on the way to the gig! He left it propped against a shop counter for a few seconds - because it would have been awkward to carry it down the narrow isles - and in those few seconds - it was gone. I felt sorry for Kevin - it must have been difficult to do a performance after that. I gave him a loan of my guitar - and - despite his loss - he played a great set. Kevin is a man of talent - no doubt.
I spent the weekend working on my CD design - incorporating artwork from Duncan Macdonald and one of my own photographs. This morning I sent it all away to the CD duplication people - so fingers crossed it all comes back looking good.
Got a few more gigs and events coming up soon:
- 26 November: Tchai Ovna Southside: House of Tea, 169 Deanston Drive, Glasgow
- 28th November: Partick Folk Club, St Peter's Church Hall, Chancellor Street, Partick, Glasgow
- 12th December: The Hidden Lane Cafe, 1103 Argyle Street, Glasgow - CD Launch with Acoustic Butterfly and Aidan MacEoin
I'm looking forward to the CD launch in particular. See you there.
All the best,