Ramblings in hull

I came alone tonight. I’m in Hull, Service Station for an acoustic set promoting my album I self released at the end of 2018.  It’s weird being back on the road on my own. I guess this is how it all started frequenting open mics armed with my bust up temperamental acoustic. 

Open mics are weird evenings. Most are like fires to the surrounding musical moths that come out and show us what they have been working on. Songs and music mostly made in bedrooms, living rooms, and sometimes the great outdoors. Whilst there is a tendency to draw a sadder vibe there can often be the under appreciated gem. Open mics are great for trying out new material, building confidence and they can help connect artists together. Do they help progress an artists career? Maybe but probably not. You will get the odd pat on the back “nice set man” but you have a limited amount of time on stage and don’t have enough “spotlight” to really incite following and followers. I may be wrong and might be doing it wrong :p The discerning member of the audience will spot talent but for the average audience member it’s all part of the free event. It isn’t “valued” consciously and subconsciously. Compare that to seeing say an artist supporting your favourite band and expectations change. The context of the artist and the evening changes. You might follow.

In Manchester there are a few artists that I have encountered that I think have a real voice and deserve your ears. These include Jon Coley, James Carson, Fleet and there’s the technical guys who do raise eyebrows playing perfect covers of songs like Neon by John Mayer. Technical prowess......

I’m don’t consider myself a musician. I can play alright but I’m certainly no virtuoso. I would say musically I’m more of an artist who is learning to be musician. The song comes first for me and I try and do it as much justice as I can. I didn’t realise for a long time that a lot of musicians really find writing difficult and finding their own voice. Surely armed with the knowledge of how to play it would be easier right? Strangely not. You struggle to find your voice. Finding your own voice is what the journey is all about. I never practiced guitar til the last 6 months. Not properly. But I can write songs fast. I have about 2 albums of material in my head at most times.I’m always playing catch-up. Then I started practicing and suddenly I found it more difficult to write. It felt like i was thinking more. It was less raw. Whatever came out seemed a bit rubbish. Weird.

Most modern songs that people listen to are musically simple but strike a chord in people. You don’t need skills to write good songs but like tools in a toolbox good skills can open up doors. Keeping them separate is key. Practice sure but keep the writing raw. Stop thinking, feel something, get out of your head, write. 

Rambling over.....think I’m playing soon. 

Narratives

An elderly gentleman comes up to me and looks at me in the most puzzled of manners before asking me if I can call him a taxi to go home to his wife. He can't. He's been asking me the same question everyday for the last week and seems troubled. He occasionally gets aggressive. Nurses try and settle him and lead him back to his bed .The only thing that seems to calm him for any extended amount of time is listening to old songs and getting to decide what song plays next. His wife was no longer alive and people had stopped trying to tell him the truth of it all in an effort to be kind. He was confused, delirious and out of time. But a song grounded him perhaps not in the present time but in a previous one. 

Music is a powerful tool and a powerful reminder. When I look back I can track my whole life in terms of what music was out and what I was listening to. It helps put together a narrative. The same goes for making music and the process of writing, recording, mixing and performing. It becomes its own catalogue and my own autobiography not necessarily in terms of factual content but the kind of ideas, thoughts and feelings that were going through my mind at that junction. Songs become snapshots and photographs. Albums become journals. Sometimes you may look back afterwards and think "what was I thinking" and other times you may look back and pat yourself on the back. 

I don't know what I'll think in a few years time of the songs I'm releasing now. But I know, right now, they are the songs I want to share with the world. Perhaps one day in many years from now I will play one of these songs and feel I've become a time traveller. But that's then and this is now. 

 

Music and Medicine

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Medicine and music. They aren’t words and things that are often put in the same sentence. And yet that weird combination is my life. I’m a musician, a songwriter and a doctor. Dreams come up against reality and science melds with and against art. Songs emerge. Sometimes to escape, sometimes to come to terms, and sometimes to reflect. As much as i’m an artist, i’m equally a scientist and thats kind of odd. 

I work in the NHS and i’m sure you have heard about the trials and difficulties its facing. Lack of staff, lack of funds and all that but beneath that are still doctors and nurses (they don’t get enough credit) who are doing their best against a struggling system.  Its not glamorous, its not ideal but it helps keep me grounded and helps me maintain a degree of objectivity in my songwriting. As an artist it helps fuel the tank. I write a lot. 

 Does music affect my work as a doctor? It's not something I've previously consciously thought about but when I have thought about it the likely answer is yes. In a way music acts as my own medicine. It empowers, it helps me make sense of things and helps me express whatever it is that has emerged in my stream of thought. It helps me rejoice, be angry, let things go and welcome other things in. It is mine and that is liberating. 

I can't help but feel i'm going to be producing records for years to come :) 

Sukh