Thursday, 10 May 2012

Apostrophe Agency News - Varsity Lincoln

Apostrophe Music Agency News
Apostrophe is heading a little up North with a new contract with Barracuda Bars Chain. Starting at the Varsity Lincoln we will be supplying fortnightly cover solo ./ duo / bands with the odd tribute thrown in too. Any cover bands or acts who pick up this blog and are in the Midlands or the North of England get in touch asap if you are looking for well paid pub gigs. I will post dates and acts very soon. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

How to Choose the right band for your Wedding

OK, so the date is set, the planning has started, your perfect day is in your sights. With the hundred and one things that you have to organise to make your wedding day perfect, there is little doubt hiring the right band or entertainment may be one of the most important decisions you can make.
 Setting the right atmosphere for your reception by choosing a professional experienced Wedding band or act may be the the differnce to really make your celebration one to remember

What kind of entertainment do you want ? 
There are many types of wedding / function bands. The most popular are
  • rock /. indie / pop
  • Soul / disco 
  • Jazz / background
  • Tribute ( dedciated to one act in particular - for example ' an ABBA tribute ' or a genre tribute, for example Motown) 
  • Orchestral ( string quarlets etc ) 
  • Rat pack / Big band / Crooners 

Timing and Tactics - get exactly what you want !
For many people a to book a band just for the reception is enough. But, there are no rules to how you want your wedding to pan out  with regards to entertainment.. For example, you may want a string quartet to play during the Wedding meal. Or you may want to actually book an acoustic act during the ceremony.- my own was booked to play a deaf wedding ( the bride and groom were hard of hearing / deaf  )  with a sign language interpreter during the ceremony for only 3 songs -  ( this was a specific request by the bride and groom for what they wanted from us on their special day)
 So booking entertainment may be a lot more creative than maybe just a live band at the reception. It's totally up to you and by dealing with an agency you can cover all the ins and outs of how your ideas and creative plans for your entertainment may become a reality

Why use an agency?
Many of the bands on agencies are experienced in playing Weddings and larger functions. Dealing with a good agency direct is helpful as they will recommend the best musical acts taliored for your exact needs, and know how to overcome any problems or worries you may have about technicalities. Therefore Problems you may or may not have seen are something that an agency will be aware of due to experience, and more often that not the agency will be able to answer most, if not all of your questions if you are unsure how certain things may work. 

An agent will also write up a contract for you and the act. So everyone knows where they stand in the event of natural diaster or smaller problems or details. It is true that for many Weddings, booking a band that you know, or are recomended is normally a good option and sometimes the best. However by using an agent you have an intermediate who works in the best interest of the bands / acts and the client to make sure no stone is unturned in terms of what if situations and that you get exactly what you ask for. After all it does the agency no good at all to have booked you an unreliable or 2nd rate act. 

Reputation is Key
Most agencies are very strict with Bands / acts that have any bad feedback at all from the client that has Justification. They normally would drop the band from their roster if they were un-punctual or un proffessional. The reputation of the agency and acts they represent is key to the agency succsess. So by using an agency you are normally dealing with someone who understands all the ins and outs of supplying an act or band for your wedding and it is in their best interests to find you the best act available for your budget requirements. Agencies do not mess around with bad or unreliable acts. They are looking for the best acts they can possibly get !

Pricing and availability
How long is a peice of string? Pricing can vary for many reasons. An experienced popular and established wedding band no doubt charge higher as their diaries are alot busier an are in demand, and so will normally have a set rate they will rarely will not play less for. However, off peak nights, say midweek or even fridays and sundays could bring the price down. Some bands and agencies wont budge on price but some will depending on the day of the week and time of year.  The summer is going to be hard to get discounted acts due to it being a busy period, but in January for example bands and acts may play for less.

Other pricing considerations
  • How many people in the band? - Also consider how many people there are in the band you book. If you want a solo acoustic act, this will come at much cheaper price then lets say an 8 piece soul band with brass section.
  • Uniqueness - If the act you require is rare or even unique then expect that this will refelct in price
  • Location - Most acts have an add on charge for distance.  A Band booked to play in their home townnwill obviosuly charge a less than if they have to travel 200 miles for the event
  • Set length - how long do you want the band to play ? Most agencies will specify how long the act would normally play for, for their set price. Additional time could cost additional money

All things considered a band just starting out will normally come at cheaper price than a very busy experienced wedding band. Bands who are looking for work and want to build reputation will want to be paid well, but will be alot more flexable with pricing. The agent normally will give you options to bands on their books that are good but new,  and may come at price that fits your budget. Or even direct you to an excellent duo or solo act who may be amazing but are of course cheaper because their are less members in the band.

How much would you expect to pay? 
Most Agencies work on the basis that the act have a recomended price they work for and then an agent fee of 15 to 20 percent is put on top. So one band may cost £400 and another £1000. That is for the act to specify to the agent and the agency works off the indvidual bands / acts pricing structure.
For experienced bands who make a living from Weddings and Functions you would normally be looking at paying £700 plus to book them. ( it can be a lot more depending )  This may include the agents fee or the agents fee may be on top. Some bands will play for a lot less but you would be hard pushed to find an agency full band for less than £350. If you do pick up a band from an agency at very cheap price question why ? and make sure you check the band out as much as possible to guard against the fact they might not be that good as you think, or maybe they are just cheap and that's that

Its worth noting that tribute bands are normally expensive because they are specific in what they do.

Solo artists would normally come at least £200 upwards. Their is vast array of solo artists who can come at variable prices. If you have a low budget with careful research or the help of a good agency you can could pick up a gem of an act that fits your budget. This also applies to duos , but expect them at no cheaper than £250 / £300

To confirm the booking as well as a signed contract the agency will normally ask for a deposit. This will protect you and the booked act against anything that goes horribly wrong. You can expect a full refund if their is major problem with the act - some agencies may hold back an admin fee, but a good agency will fully refund if the the problem has been with the act they supplied - it will all be specified in the contract of course so you know where you stand - worst scenario - the band didnt turn up! - very rare buthappens. Also if there is a viable exuse for a band not turning up - lets say a car accident or illness - the agent may be able to send down a replacement act at very short notice - and this may come at a disccount to over all price
Expect a deposit of 30 to 50 percent of overall price to confirm the booking. Once this has been paid and the contract signed then the act or band are committed to your Wedding. The remainder of the fee would normally be paid before the event. Each agency has its own policy within the contract, but expect to pay the rest a month or a week before the Wedding depending on the contract you have signed

What extra can the band provide ?
The band or act also may come with additional lighting and DJ options. This is worth asking the agency about when booking the act, if this is not specified in pre-contract discussions, ( it normally is specified ). Most serious weddings bands and acts ( but not all ) will set up their own lighting rig, ( and of course PA ), and some for an extra charge ( or free  ), will DJ the event to the end of the reception or when required. Price may fluctuate if you want the band to play longer than that they normally would. This would be negotiated before the contract is signed. Some bands however may play longer than asked on he night of the event for no extra charge. This is at their discretion if it is not in the contract.

Additional Details?
Ask the agency everything. Don't leave a stone unturned. Find out what songs the act or band normally play, and specify requests from the their repertoire or even ask for the band to learn certain songs you would like them to play. For most professional bands this is not a problem at all. Some discretion is maybe needed here. Although it is nice to have requests played or the band learn certain songs you wanted, it would be a  but much to ask the band to learn a whole new set? If this was the case maybe you have booked the wrong act and should look for one that plays the music you want. ( I once got asked to play a Wedding in my duo that we turned down because, although I was in an original act that mostly played original music - they wanted us to learn and play around 30 songs that we didn't know - due to time restraints and wondering why they wanted us we eventually turned down the show ) 
Make sure you are happy with your selection and everything is clear to all involved and that the agency and band /. act, know exactly what you want from them ( and that they are happy with this and can provide )  Read the contract and specify if you are not happy with anything - although most contracts look scary and cover quite a a lot- they are normally standard contracts that most agencies use with small changes depending on how that agency works. However, negotiate an amendment if needed.

To sum up

Obviously in the end - if you know a band personally or that come recommended then this may work for your Wedding.  As I mentioned earlier, this may be the best option for you. But agencies are their for a reason and specialise in sending quality acts that will deliver what you need with a written and signed contract.
On a day when you really want nothing to go wrong - and you want as little worry as possible it is worth remembered a good Live band agency wants to deliver a good service where everyone involved is satisfied and happy!!!

stuart mills ( music agent as apostrophe agency ) 

Friday, 16 March 2012

Giff Gaff down due to burst water pipe

My Phone network is down due a burst water pipe - LMAO - and theres me giving them plugs on my blog site - !!!!!!!!!!! lol read the article below ....

If it wasn't for the fact its my Mums birthday and I can't phone her I maybe wouldn't be so angry !!!!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Chainsaw artist and Sculptor Robot Cossey

Apostrophe would love to introduce you to the work of Sculptor Robot Cossey. Yes that's Robot not Robert!!!

Robot has been working on community / environmental / government and private commission's in the UK for over 13 years.. Armed with a Chainsaw Robots mostly works with various wood carvings but stone, marble and well any material is fair game for this experienced sculptor

We will be displaying techniques and chainsaw do's and don'ts over the next few months via this blog for but now I would like you to enter the world of Robot Cossey

Promo Video of Robot Cossey ( featuring music from Luke Brown )

Enjoy the following pics - if you would like more info on Robots work send us an email at 
more of Robots work can be viewed on 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

My Top 5 bands / acts that are not famous

This is a personal favourite list of acts I have had the pleasure of booking over the last ten years that I regard as talented by booking them kept me enjoying what I do,  and although haven't maybe gone on to bigger things, I waned to highlight my favorite acts I have come across that havent gone on to major deals. They are all worth a sneeky look !

Some of these acts are still very active and some are not so , or have split up. However their music lives on via social media so why not point them your way !

The list is just a personal thing - I think they all hot number one at one stage !! today it just panned out like this ! Also you can maybe see my Bias to solo songwriters here aposed to bands. I can't help that x

5 - Ben Drummond
Ben is heavy weight of the UK unsigned midlands music scene. Adaptable and talented as a singer / bass player / guitarist and probably other things too. He is well worth checking out. Ben used to be in popular midlands trio ' positive firefly ' who's other two members have both gone on to success at varying levels.( Scott Matthews went on to  sign for Island as a solo artist, and Matt Thomas is in the Joy Formidable  who recently  provided the main song in feature film ' Breaking Dawn ' of the  Twilight's saga. 
Ben keeps good company!!!!
Musicianship alone, Ben has a reputation for excelling and is very active on the scene. Take a look. When watching the Video below make sure you catch the guitaring skills at the end !!

4 - Nell Bryden ( New York )
Nell is probably the most successful act on this list. Mainly down to hard work and talent! Apparently I was the first ever UK promoter to book Nell in England ( she later told me ) ( so her first gig in the UK was in Wolverhampton - lucky her lol ). I think I booked Nell three times all  in all, when she was on her self organised, self promoted UK tours. It gives me some sense of reward that although Nell Isn't main stream yet  she seems to be going from strength to strength and has had some minor success in UK. I walked into the pub I first booked at last year ( I don't work their anymore ) and Nell was  playing on their sound system. I wouldn't think any of the staff in that Bar would know any different or that Nell had kicked off her music career in the UK in that very same pub. But hearing that her music is getting played in a commercial chain bar, is very satisfying indeed.
 Above any act I have ever met ,  Nell showed me what hard work and dedication to your art can do and maybe this is someone worth keeping your eye on as she is obviously isn't finished with the music industry yet!

3 - Ian Darby
Ian is personal favourite. Great guitar player and pianist with a strong distinctive voice and great song writing skills. For the people that have met and seen Ian play there is little doubt his charm and talent will stick in their minds. In my opinion Ian is maybe unlucky not to have got further in the Industry as his talent is obvious. I think like allot of acts Ian is best when you catch him live. Some acts just have that X-Factor and send a shiver down your spine

2 - Louisa Hall
Personally Louisa is my favourite singer of all. She probably was the most hobbyist and humble attitude to her work ( songwriting ) of all the acts listed. No ego at all, this adds to her charm. Louisa songs were written on a personal level  and I had to encourage her on stage when i heard her sing. In fact I heard her sing and marched her on stage.......In fact looking back she very much took over my life for a while I was so mesmerised by her songs. Ever get the feeling you have found something golden? I don't think I have ever heard such a natural sweet vocal - added to her simplistic but effective song writing style I totally fell in love with her music.
 With Louisa I think life came first and her songwriting was a hobby that she took a lot of enjoyment out of. Her music was personal and this massively added to its effect. My bias would demand you take a look at her music. It really is a treat !!!!!

1 - The Dirty BackBeats
I maybe booked this act a few times for a year or so.They blew me away. I think they nearly got signed. then. when it didn't happen they split up.  'A bunch of drama students turned into a band ' was how they were described to me once. With a retro sound and look, they are probably my favourite band for live performance of all. To describe the lead singer. Let me think........he was like a manic Captain Beefheart on stilts. Some serious theatrics went into every show from the singer , and he had the ability to scare people with his facial expressions / intense stare and manic use of space. To listen to this band is one thing ( they are great , but the reason they are number one on my list is because Live they were just something else! Shame they are no more !!


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Hitler gets Double Crossed by Walt Disney ( parody )


 First of all I made this video for fun. After being a fan of all the Hitler parodies from the film ' Downfall ' especially. the bunker scene, I wanted to make my own version, A bit like my take on the ' Benton you tube spoofs ' I posted recently.

However I wasn't sure whether to Blog promote my latest Video  ' mess around '. Well I wasn't going to. However it seems my subtitles will not show on You Tube unless you click ( cc ) the subtitles option.  I was given an option of embedding ( so subtitles stick anyway ) if I posted the code to a site. So that's what I'm doing on here. Lets hope it works. As technology and I haven't see eye to eye in the last few days !!!

I quite liked the theme of Disney cheesing off Hitler and a lot of the dialogue I wrote is based around fact

  • Warner Bros's shorts looney tunes were more successful than Disney's shorts and Warners Characters were considered more rounded, Of course their was a massive 
  • rivalry between Diseny and Warner. 
  • Disney to this day has had a shadow cast over him ( true or not ) of rumours of racism ( 
  • within his work and on a personal level )  and possible actual ( rumoured ) links to the Nazi Party ( however, even if this is
  •  true I'm pretty sure Adolf didn't have much to do with Disney film making LOL ) I'm not 
  • leaving any links for the this debate - their are many sources online for and and against - google it and see 
  • the Nazi's used animation as a form for propaganda and so did studios such as Disney
So Obviously I had a bit of fun with scripting this spoof. I've watched a lot of the ' Downfall ' spoof / parodies, of the same bunker scene - and their are some great ones out there - some bad ones too - but some are quite clever

I hope anyone who watches my version will see the funny side in it and I am pretty sure any animation Geeks out there will enjoy some of the references I took from fact. Anyway it's just a bit of fun and I think I'm slowly getting addicted to ' messing around with videos ' and displaying them online. 

If anyone can suggest any links I should look at on You Tube of any hilarious Video spoof - leave a link on my blog - cheers

Monday, 5 March 2012

Benton Goes Swimming

As I get very bored late at night and can never sleep I thought I would make a Benton Movie just for fun - this ones for you Luke !!!!!!

enjoy !!!!!!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Live Music At Cheltenham Races - Apostrophe Music

Apostrophe Music News

If your going to Cheltenham Race Week March 13th to 16th of March then you may be interested to know that Apostrophe Music are providing Live Entertainment at the Spectre Pub for four days consecutively during Cheltenham race week.

So once you have finished your great day at the races and are looking for somewhere to spend some of you winnings we highly recommend you have a look at the Quality Cover Acts we are providing The Spectre Pub that week.

Wed 14th of March - start time 9 pm ( LADIES DAY at Cheltenham Races )

Most definitely an act for the ladies - young good looking with the voice of an angel - check out the very popular Luke Brown -

Thur 15th March - start time 7.30 pm ( St Patricks Thursday at Cheltenham Races )
 Without doubt the most popular Cover Band Apsostrophe have on their roster A Favourite at The Spectre the Copicats will not disappoint and if you want a good night out then go and party watching this great act!!!!!
Fri 16th March start time 7.30pm ( The Gold Cup at Cheltenham Races ) 
A fantastic Irish act to see out Cheltenham Races. We know Cheltenham will be cray after the Gold Cup so if you want to see out the race week and see in St Patricks day in style there is only one place to be. The Spectre pub !!!!
Sat 17th March - start time 9.15 pm ( St Patricks Days )
Another Crowd Favourite at the Spectre Pub. AKA return to play you some top quality cover songs spanning many decades and will give your St Patrick Day Celebrations a massive boost if you are partying in the Spectre Pub

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Dead Rock Stars Waking Me Up In the Morning

Ok, so this post is dedicated to my mother, who seemed to enjoy waking me in the morning telling me rock stars I am a fan of are dead !!!!! ......and her being so blasé about it !!!

First of all as a teenager ( 14 to 16 ) I was a massive Queen fan. Especially pre 1980 Queen. I  love the early stuff. and Freddy Mercury is definitely, still to this day, one of my favourite vocalist with his unique style. What a singer!!!!

I think I was probably the age of around 17 in 1991 and  I remember my Mum barging into my room and saying - ' come on get up, get out of bed ', and on her way out in passing, saying ' oh by the way Freddy Mercury is Dead '. Knowing I was a fan - she seemed a little blasé about it - but I thought - Ok, why should my mum care - its not like Michael Bolton has Died LOL ( this is the music she subjected me to in her car where Michael ruled the airwaves )

Lets fast forward to 1993 and by now I am a Frank Zappa freak. I have found my music after years of searching. I respected Freddy, but Frank and his music was, and still is one of my main obsessions,

Same mum in my room waking me up to tell me - ' You know that guy your into, Zappa or whoever, .......well he;s DEAD ! ' .....and then I'm sure she smiled and left the room.

GUTTED.....cheers mum !!!

I knew he had been ill but hadn't followed it to closely - so I was shocked at the news - and instantly gutted I would never get to see him play live.

This is my mum taking an interest in the music I like - by never talking to me about the people I listen to until they die. HA

If Michael Bolton ( no dis-respect Michael - I  hope you live forever- and your mullet too lol ) ever pops his clogs, I may have to get up early that day and pay my mother a visit.

Rest In Peace DAVY JONES from the Monkees

Just a quick Ode to Davy Jones from the Monkees - One of my fav moments from one of my Fav Music films ' Head ' - ' Daddy's Song ' ............enjoy

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

My top 10 best ( or worst ) excuses for bands cancelling a gig !!!

After years and years of promoting  unsigned bands in small live music venues I have probably heard every excuse or reason for a cancellation of a pre-booked show - sometimes with notice, but very often the week of the gig, or even worse the actually day!

After years of getting use to this occupational hazard it became clear that I can always look at the funny side of the whys / excuses /. reasons. Sometimes you sense it's genuine , sometimes you sense your being spun a yarn.. Either way I have listed my top ten favourite ( or worst depending on how you look at it ) excuses for a band or act cancelling a booking at one of my booked venue gigs........

I have excluded the many obvious and boring ones like -  ( we got our dates wrong - its snowing - we double booked - someones ill - the car broke down - the drummer broke his arm - the drums are broken ) ....the list goes on .......and have listed my TOP TEN quotes that stuck in mind. All genuinely said to me by text / phone or in person !

10 - ' we have decided we do not like small venues any more as we are ready for stadium rock '
( for a band without any kind of record deal and a following of maybe 30 people - a bold statement )

9 -  .' because of the economical climate and the recession we no longer want to waste our time in  band ' 
( might be the most sensible excuse iv'e heard ) 

8 - ' my son will not be playing the gig at your venue......because he is in prison ' 
( mummy sounded cheesed off - I believed her )

7-  ' the singer is a racist, and doesn't hide it on stage - so we threw him out the band ' 
( an excellent reason ! I was happy they cancelled !)

6 - ' we are not playing the gig, because after a detailed band meeting we decided we are crap '
( I love some self honesty  )

5 -' the last time we played at your venue my girlfriend got into a punch up afterwards and got a right beating ! '
( yes the club after the gigs can be a bit rough granted at this venue ! but still ouch all round ) 

4- ' we don't like the stairs in your venue - there is too many and we cant be arsed to carry our equipment up and down them ' 
( of please !!!! I really was shell shocked with this one. That's dedication to your art!! )

3- ' yeah sorry we had to cancel, our drummer ( who was a party person hasten to add ) got dumped by his girlfriend,   he's lost the plot a little, he has stopped speaking to us, drinking and going out , found God and stopped playing drums '
( I knew the drummer well - what can you say to that - from John Bonham to Cliff Richard in 2 months - WOW ) 

2- ' the bass player jumped off a building  yesterday and is intensive care ' 
( Speechless - turned out true story - he lived...but only just) 

1 - ' the band got signed for a major record deal and so are cancelling all gigs from now on as there is slight change of tactics ' - ( their agent at the time )
( utterly true and utterly demoralising as the band in Question were THE ARTIC MONKEYS and I booked them for £40 quid on hearing one song -  'I bet you look good on the dance floor' - OUCH OUCH OUCH !! )

Monday, 27 February 2012

I named my company after my Favourite Album

Just a small mention about why I called my company Apostrophe. ( apostrophe music agency )
Even though I have a vast musical taste I have had a love affair with the music of Frank Zappa from the age of 16.The first album I heard written by Zappa made a distinct impression.

I was baby sitting for my auntie and, knowing I was into my ( vinyl ) records she allowed me access to her record collection and record player for the evening to occupy me . This was just total bliss for a 16 year old on an educational music mission. As I remember I scouted the Pink Floyd and the Led Zep as I was aquainted with those acts already. Then I pulled out an Album that really stood out just by this guys face on the Album displayed below

I thought 'wow - what  a moustache and square-type beard add on ' - yes so I thought this guys looked pretty interesting - ill give this record a whirl. ...... 40 mins later or so - I was thinking ' what the hell just happened ? where did that come from ? I've never heard anything like it. ', I think I played the album three times simultainiously - the third time recording it on to cassette tape. I was obessessed......

I will save time by not reviewing every song and showing my utter Geekness for this total genius of an album - but I was looking for some music that  I would fall in love with and this album was, and still is that.
Never has an album touched me as this one did. Never have I had a Girl Friend who hasn;t been subjected to having to listen to this album either ( with extremely mixed reactions ). My current Girlfriend being my favourite reaction of just, ' turn it off '. Not everyones cup of tea obviously.

However if you are reading this and are intrigued - and want to hear something that is truely unique then give it a go --- apostrophe ----and let me know how you found it, and if you want a little extra info on the man that wrote it check out Frank Zappa -

Anyway - the imprint on my mind of this work made it very easy for me to finalise the name for my company Apostrophe Music. It's kind of my personal Ode to the man that made the music on this fine album.

rest in peace Frank

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Sign Language for Live Music and even more ramblings

It' may be a strange combination for some people to work out - but through circumstance every time I appear on stage in my duo Omoyele we are normally accompanied by a professional sign language interpreter to express and interpret our music for the partially hearing / deaf community. When I first picked up at a guitar at 15 years of age, and held ambitions of entertaining people in some way, to suggest that I would be involved in an act that caters for the deaf community is something, would of resulted in one of my very confused faces. I am sure of that

Ok, so lets fast forward to when I am 23, At this stage I had probably become a self taught competent guitarist - but what I would call a  ' bedroom guitarist ' - I had never played on a stage by this point or in an act, In fact my only attempt at a gig in public to date, was when I was on a ( I could do no wrong kind of date - trust me these have a rare occurrence  ) with a girl I worked with at the time, we found ourselves in an empty ' old mans ' pub with a couple of rather drunk older gentlemen. These guys were rather friendly and very jolly ( we did not know them by the way ) - and were armed with an untuned acoustic guitar, and they were not afraid to use it. They had their own mini karaoke / open mic show on the go for the few customers in that bar. Maybe that it is why their were not any customers?. Anyway, It was quite enjoyable as it did kind of give the night some character. Then it was suggested , as I remember by the date ( who remember I could do no wrong by ) to play myself - When the drunk guys got wind of this - the guitar was thrust upon me .................

............20 mins later of instrumental indulgence.......

..........I blew them away of course. They took it on the chin and my first gig was a roaring success. I had a groupee for sure and my ego was blazing. Maybe I am spinning the yarn a little - but  it was a taste of performing for me, for what I see now as for ......a very observant audience. I had a ball !!!! ...... showing off and all an audience of three

 Anyway I think I forwarding to 23 ( and then jumped back to 21 ). So lets get back on track. I'm 23 and now at Univeristy - guitaring is not on mind - an animation degree and meeting a girl is however. Here I will revert to bullet points so save you all another massive ramble ....

  • I meet a girl
  • she is nice
  • she sings in my ear 
  • oh my god she's good !
  • better than most
  • she becomes my gf
  • I play her lots of music I have written
  • We write songs
  • It kind of works
  • we start gigging
  • we cant get gigs at our own University student Union bar- because the entertainment policy is zero 
  • we run them ourselves ( so we can play to our friends ) 
  • we do a good job of that
  • we become live music promoters at our Uni

So yes , hope the bullet points were helpful - trust me we saved time x
So now we are ' In house' promoters at the Student Union bar. A nice big room with lots of students to entertain, We did a a great job of turning their Sat nights around. So we went from getting paid 20 quid in beer vouchers ( beer was £1 a pint and I drank most of the vouchers ) to £100 a night ( per week ) between us. This was a better deal for Omoyele of course. I wasn't allowed to drink her half of the winnings any more! Well anyway, we got  total freedom to book who we wanted and just got on with it, I certainly fell into  promoting quite quickly. Hence, I still have my hand in it now. We were full of bright little ideas and always looking to get interesting acts if we could, or do something different, Then Omoyele had an idea..........I will be honest.... I wasn't keen on .........and wasn't sure about at all. .....slightly out of my comfort I didn't quite understand the point for a start .........but I soon did as it took over my life for a while.......

As i said, I was studying animation - however Omoyele was studying BSL ( British sign language ) to become ( what she is now ) a sign language interpreter. At our Uni this was a popular course - maybe one of the best in the country for this type degree - ( is that rare for Wolverhampton Uni ) and as well as hosting lots of people studying BSL and Deaf Studies it is also a hub for the Deaf Community. With  a lot of partially hearing / Deaf people studying here. Omoyele wanted us to run a full acoustic gig ( lots of acts ) , where the whole night was signed by interpreters. Obviously this was a night that was designed to include this community in a music event that they too could enjoy. It took me a little while to see it clearly - but then I thought yes why not, It's different to the norm....its for a new audience....actually by now I am getting quite excited.......and my gf ( and co-promoter ) at the time was so passionate about it....hell yes .....why not.

So ......we did it .....

It was nightmare to organise.....we lost sleep.....people let us down.....I had no idea it would be such a mission to put on this show.......

First of all we had  to sort out a line up, Here, I instantly went to my Manchester and northern contacts who I guessed would be up for and get excited about doing something different. When we started booking for the University we booked people we knew - local acts we had met and befriended - but to keep things fresh I did alot of networking in the early days - to get acts from around the country. As we had a big audience at the Uni it was more about keeping the acts fresh than just booking local acts.  I had built up a good relationship with a northern songwriter / promoter Darren Poyzer who in turn  would come down to Wolverhampton with a mini army of singer song writers he knew from Manchester and Oldam etc . And to be fair, Great guys - all of  them, and good acts too.. So we offered it to them. They agreed and were excited.. The line up was our act Omoyele / Darren Poyzer and few acts from Manchester and another local act from Wolves..........Job done as far as I was concerned - make a few posters - spread the word ( didnt have face book back then ) ....yes job done ......................................not a chance

I would think there was a conversation that went a little like this 

First of all Omoyele tells me - ' Ok, we need all the lyrics for  every song  to be played on the night ' 

I'm probably saying back something like ' well you wrote most of them, that shouldn't be a problem should it ? ' 

' no off everybody , not just us , the interpreters need to practice the sets , and then maybe speak with the acts ' 

'  your joking ' 

'no ' 

' So the acts need to play sets with a prepared set list, no last minute changes ? ' 

' yup - they have to play exactly what they send us - as this is what the interpreters will learn ' 

' shit !' 

OK,  so now we have to get all the words fully typed out ( to every song that will be performed  and sent to us ( by every act on the bill ) at least a month before the show so the interpreters can practice and make sure they have no problems with the words - and then they still might have to confer with the act to talk about details with the interpretation ' 


anyway lucky for us all the acts on the bill were helpful - although they too, like myself,  were suprised it had to be this calculated. The thought of sorting out a strict set list to be played on the night was mentioned as alot of these acts had an army of songs - and would normally play what feels right on the night rather than a strict set list - however as I spent a few days conferring with the acts and making a few calls - another problem surfaced in my mind - 

And that was about our own songwriting. Omoyele and myself are joint songwriters but some songs are very guitar lead - mainly the ones that I wrote - and although some of Omoyele's songs are very lyric based - my song writing style is more about creating emotions musically I suppose - words dont matter to be so much to me - timing ./ dynamics / chord sequence / melody does - so lets say a song written by me may have a 1 min intro before any words are sung - there is alot of soloy finger picking stuff in my writing without vocals - and some of the songs are very basic in terms of lyrical content ( when i write the words ) - for instance one song I wrote has one verse and one chorus and thats it - repeated twice - but it is a 5 min song with non nattarive vocals and solo guitar - HOW BORING THIS MUST BE for a partially hearing person having this signed to them - if they can not hear the dynamics of the muscial peice and the emotion then this must be very unentertaining for them. So by having our own music signed I suddenly became very concious about the lyrical content of some of songs. Added to this,the songwriters from Manchester for the most part were very Lyrical based - singing songs about about a wider subject matter than we do ( most our songs at this point were relationship based - love songs) and having alot more content  within the lyrics of their work.Maybe more storytelling style etc type songs. Obviously a lot engaging to be signed and interpreted.
 So to sum up hear - as we were quite fresh songwriters and our natural style was maybe not at lyrically important as some of the other acts on the show - I was very self concious that signed interpretations of our music may not be as great as it could be for this event. ( just note this is my mass paranoia at the time and I am sure Omoyele when reading this will protest as her lyrical input to our music and songs is maybe more in terms of content and variation of lyrics).  That being said - I was very self concious all of a sudden. about our music being interpreted ( when the music may not be the most important thing - the words though are ) 

Nearer to the event things were going wrong. Alot of the Interpreters were students and we had some of them drop out late on. This put pressure on the remaining intepreters to work on extra songs. As if they didn't have enough on their plate already. I did well not to get stressed about all this - however Omoyele was feeling it - as she had mostly organised the interpretters / was interpretting a whole set herself ( as well as playing a 30 min set in our act ) and was angry she had been let down so late. But the people still left in the project were working hard to cover for the drop outs.

Then another bombshell
The deaf community as far as I know have large basis in a few City's in the UK - one being Wolverhampton, another being London. And when there is a big event on with their networked community they all flock from over the country to attend.. And guess what, there was some kind of party in London and most the deaf community were going to that on the night of our event- meaning they were not coming to ours event--- oh dear- Isn't Sods Law a Sod

So the people we were aiming this gig at and promoting it for and to - were suddenly out of town. Me being me, I completely got the ' why do I bother syndrome ', and probably looked to blame other people for this mass mix up as an initial reaction, but as there were many people already committed to this event and had put the work in already - I certainly found the, ' show must go on syndrome ' fast. As you have to - and added to that - we had a good line up and the gigs we ran were well attended anyway - just that if no one who was partially hearing or deaf was to turn up - then this obviously would be  a bit hard to take considering.. Just another lesson learnt, take it on the chin- etc etc. 

The gig went well - it was full of interpreters at least ( onstage and audience ) , and our normal crowd - there were maybe 3 partially deaf people in the audience who fully appreciated what we did and enjoyed the show. ( not the numbers we were hoping for but it was better than none )  The acts all enjoyed the new experience - the Manchester guys very much so as I remember. In my ramblings so far I think I am finally coming to my main point - Going back to the fact I was self concious about our songs maybe not holding up so well live as more lyrical based styled songs because I claim our songs really sometimes based more around emotion and dynamics rather than lyrical content - I was massively miss-interpreting just what Interpreting was maybe all about. 

Emotion can be Interpreted too .......and can add theatre to your performance

The first thing I noticed about having an interpreter on stage with us is that our duo now becomes three. And this diverts attention away from me. Which I actually like - for all my inner ego - I am not a natural on stage - I love performing ./ I don't get nerves / I like people listening and making nice comments , I like applause , but I'd be a fibber if I told you I am in my comfort zone on a stage. To put it simply - when I am on stage I am hoping everyone is listening but looking at the singer - If i think all eyes are on me I'd maybe run away ....... so the interpreter is very much part of the show - and I noticed with our performance  ( and the other acts )  a lot of hearing people were watching the interpretations as much as the acts if not more - my basic initial reaction with regards to our performance , was oh I like this, it is a diversion from attention to me -

What was interesting was some of the interpreters were a lot better than others. The ones that were good really put on a show - showed emotion within the interpretation and most definitely added to the theatre of the performance. The poorer attempts by a a few of the interpreters were for all to see. Now lets bare in mind the interpretations were done mostly by students learning their trade and maybe some lecturers too. So I can't be too harsh and critical at the different skill levels on show. But like anyone who gets on stage for what ever they do - the different skill levels were there to see and different interpretations had different reactions - and the people that had really put the work in ( or had more experience ) were really getting more attention by the audience. To be fair my eyes opened a little to the better interpreted performances - even though I do not fully understand sign language myself, the theatre that was added on stage to some of the performances and songs ( and ours ) was amazing. 

I sound myself rating the interpreters rather than songs. Which if I can big up Omoyele for a second - when I watched her perform her signing for one of the acts. She really stood out. And that's when I realised she was pretty dam good at what she was studying!!

I now really got it And the emotion that we personally put into our music can easily be represented through this language. Here it is worth mentioning that BSL around this time was officially recognised as an official language. So it has the same authentication as lets say English or French etc etc 

Since this event ( maybe in 2001 )  Omoyele and I have been actively gigging around. Although we went our separate ways in many ways - we still get together and gig. We actually have a small partially hearing fan base too and when we gig ( mostly in the Midlands or London ) we always have an interpreter by our side without fail. Its part of our show. 

For many years Fletch was our main interpreter, who is actually partially hearing herself - Fletch actually runs a small business called SIGNSONG  

Also we have been involved in playing a wedding where the bride and groom were both partially hearing - and been featured on BBC show see hear. Added to this we had a Video made for us by Fletch - the video was fully signed - thats not the video below by the way - that's us at Ronnie Scotts with FLETCH

To sum up - music is music - and it does sound like a massive irony that the music we write would have an interest for people that maybe can not hear it, as the whole point of music is for it to be heard. However words and the poetry of your song added to an emotional interpretation can add to what you have written - for a guitarist like myself the emotion I put into a segment of music maybe impossible to interpret unless it is done in a totally abstract way - but as a singer like Omoyele puts emotion into the way she sings a line from a song - so can a sign language interpreter.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Get a free giffgaff Sim

GIFF GAFF is the best non-contract sim on the market today for non - contract phones

I am no expert on mobile phones - but what I have learned is the company GIFF GAFF are pretty much offering the best deals you can currently find in the UK for non contract phone - and I bet you have never heard of them 

First of all - I heard about this company when my flat mate and her mate were discussing it. I was just listening and getting a little confused - key words in the conversation were ' best deal ' ' goody bags ' and ' giff gaff '. I Didn't really follow much of it. So I did what I normally do when faced with not quite understanding what was being said - I snook off and googled ' giff gaff review ' and found this review ( BELOW ) number one on the search menu - added to this the mobile comparison site I found rated giff gaff 4.5 out of 5 stars beating all other sims networks - joint 2nd were O2 / asda / 3 / and talk mobile witH 4 out of 5 stars -

 ' Giffgaff is probably the UK’s cheapest and best mobile network. It offers far better value than the main networks such as Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2 and 3 and is also cheaper than other virtual networks. In fact, Giffgaff’s prices show that it’s the cheapest mobile network in the UK. Part of this is due to it being partly member-run but this aspect also ensures that it has some of the best customer service in the industry due to its responsive customer forums and online help system. One of the most amazing thing about Giffgaff is the incredible value offered by its goodbag deals. These offer unlimited texts for only £5/month and unlimited data for just £10/month (you get free minutes and texts too). And don’t forget, what makes them even cheaper is the fact that all calls and texts to other Giffgaff numbers are completely free too. As Giffgaff runs on the O2 network it has a solid backbone for 2G and fast 3G communications and no sacrifices have been made for its low cost. However, perhaps the best thing about it is Giffgaff’s “payback”. Just by participating in the community forums by posting questions or answers, you can get rewarded in cash or phone credit. Many users earn as much as £20 every month from Giffgaff which can be much more than they spend on their phone especially as the prices are so cheap. Many many people now fancy Giffgaff as the standout mobile network in the UK. When you consider its broad coverage, unbeat ' 

 Ok so within a few days I had my giff gaff sim sent to me - as after reading this I applied straight away - I was paying £10 a month on 02 for 300 mins calls and texts - giff gaff was now giving me 250 mins free texts and free 3G internet for the same price. I kept the same number - the change over was smooth - and have no problems since. I didn't need to unblock my phone as I was already on 02 - and as far as I know O2 customers do not need to unblock. Although you may have to unblock if you were using pay as you go on other networks However , the real bonus of being on Giff Gaff I think is why I am posting this Blog with the above gigg gaff banner - Because the deal giff gaff give you for spreading the word ( as they urge the customers to do so as they do not advertise ) is really quite good. The basics of it is - as far as I know - I can order up to 30 sims a month ( more if you need to after speaking to Giff Gaff) - and give them to people who are interested in going on to giff gaff network - They also give you simple banner to put on your website and blogs if you want them too - any one who activates a giff gaff sim that has ordered via one of my banners or from one I have given out to them in person will get £5 off their first purchase - and i get 500 points - for me this is the equivilent of £5 credit or airtime that you can redeem twice a year in June or December.....

 ....... I suggest you go check out the reviews and if you like what you read as I did then pop back over and click my banner - get your new cheap sim card and start spreading the word as I am - and make a few bucks for doing what Giff Gaff want you to do and thats - tell people about the best sim network on the net - the reason its good for me and you is because they reward the customers for spreading the word instead of paying advertisers So if you are on a pay as you go deal - CHECK IT OUT now !!!! it's pretty cool will save you money and maybe make you money too !!!! Oh and if you want one- CLICK MY BANNER - and thank you

Get a free giffgaff Sim

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Original Songwrtiters v Cover / Tribute Acts and some ramblings

Original Songwriters v Cover / Tribute Acts and some ramblings

I have been writing and performing original Music for for 14 years. As well as promoting small venues and trying to help expose original acts. In the early days I had a touch of bitterness towards towards cover acts. I certainly did not book many and concentrated on booking original acts trying to help them get exposed on a larger scale ( the ones I beleived in ). After seven years of promoting I finally saw a local talent get signed to a major label - Scott Matthews to Island Records. His original release on the small label ' san remo ' I got a credit for helping with exposure as I was the only person shouting from the rooftops about Scott ( as well as his small label and management team) . My part in it was small - I just thought this guy was hell of a talent. As far as I know the original sales were not massive of his début album but he did win the Novella Award for the song ' elusive ' - which is the industry saying song of year!!! so well done him.
 Personally it was satisfying to see someone I knew and had been involved with for many years go on and have some success and to play a very small part in this certainly made me proud as low level local live band promoter. At that point I had booked maybe over 1000 bands and acts or so from the Midlands area all with hopes and dreams. And it had been disappointing not to see anyone go on to a larger scale.
 Around that time also, other acts I had booked frequently Like NIZLOPI ( number one with the JCB song ) and the Twang also had major mainstream sucsess.
 All of these three acts are of course original Acts and write original music. As do I. with my beloved friend and singer Omoyele. In those days I was totally in the low end music biz touting about originality and that was reflected in how I ran events and what kind of acts I was interested in booking. This attitude was of course partly fuelled by being in an original act myself and knowing how hard it is out there to get your music noticed and heard - and to be fair to get people interested in going to your gigs. Of course as soon as an act you have been touting ( and people don't listen ) gets any kind media attention or success then the people that were not listening before suddenly are. I haven't really got a problem with that - that is just surely human nature and the reaction to the media saying buy it / see it / like it / love it. Add credibility of T V advert for instance against a small time promoter saying you gotta check this act out and it is very understandable why interest is then ten fold with the credibility of high profile marketing and adds.
 For the hardcore original artists out there reading this post - at this point I could quite easily get into thee X-Factor debate and how crappy the high end Music Industry is and how it works. However , as I come to my point of original acts v cover acts I think I should just say I'm not going there with this Blog just yet. As I'd be going very slightly off my point. Although, I understand I could quite easily get into all that ....not just yet.
So ok Omoyele, the act I play guitar in. One thing I noticed, and use, and still do during our performances, is to drop certain covers in our set to grab attention. We are an original act and play the odd cover for fun. However, we soon noticed that dropping in the right cover at the right time could change an audience reaction to you instantly. For example , a lot of our early gigs were at busy bars maybe open mics etc - and maybe we wouldn't be playing to ' our ' crowd - so naturally people will talk and attention to what we doing on stage may not have been great - and it is then the case of grabbing their attention - we have a lot of quiet songs I suppose - finger picked on guitar - and its a hard job to get people to listen sometimes. Drop in the right cover and hey presto people start taking notice - and then are more inclined to give you a proper listen. We found our cover of Led Zeps ' bring it on home ' ( "Bring It On Home" (Sonny Boy Williamson II song), a blues song, later reworked by Led Zeppelin ) worked for us - in fact it could silence a busy bar - and get them all looking our way and interested.. So now its gets in our set, 2nd song in normally, if we playing pub gigs with our original music etc.  Case in point - By using someone else's song to grab attention - there is more interest on us for the remainder of our show. ( it might tail off - but still - heads were turned )

 And my point is it is about what do people want to listen to? .To me it maybe this simple. I love the music I have written - and have a high regard for it ( just like most original acts do ) - but do random people want to listen to it ? some people do - but most people would rather not have to listen too hard. They would prefer to listen to lots of famous songs they already know. I used to hate the idea of this. But then I realised, no, if someone's out having a good time - and they walk in a pub and there is a random covers act ( who really are doing a great a job ) of playing lots of hits from 5 decades adding to the atmosphere of a lively night out, with people singing along and dancing and having a good time, what's wrong with that? ) If they walk in the same pub and there is an original act playing ( maybe the next Oasis or Radiohead ) they just are not going to get the same reaction - a quality original act will always go down better than a bad one - but still people unfamiliar with the original music will find it hard to give it the attention it needs. Massively so if the point of them being in the bar in the first place is to get drunk and chat etc
 That's not to say that original music shouldn't be given a chance and there are thousands of venues and promoters catering for this - good established small venues and promoters will do a great job of exposing the cream of the crop new talent  they find. It is a hard job and takes dedication from all involved - Oh and  passion - sometimes your lucky - if someone comes along that has so much original talent no one can ignore them. And on the same hand much talent slips through the net - too much !!! but the world we live in is the general public don't try out new acts - friends and family mostly support new talent ( in venues - not fans - although fans can be built up locally - not until the original act has major media help will others soon follow - word of mouth is golden but sometimes is not enough to help out new talent - before Scott Matthews signed to Island he rarely pulled more than 20 in my venue - now he sells 600 plus I would guess in the same city.
 In general People prefer what they already know - Cover band and tributes - I book solo acts that play covers in bars they will get Oasis requests all night long  etc etc - Very occasionally someone will walk over and ask - do you write your own music ? Oh that makes me smile but also the so does  the rest of the pub who are enjoying, not really caring if they do or they don't write their own music- they are just enjoying the show !
 One of my acts I represent is currently turning heads as a cover act - his solo shows really show him off as a young talented singer - he makes great money doing this and people ask me ' why isn't he famous yet , he should be etc '  - his passion is his original song writing- and like most musicians that turn to cover or tribute work , whilst he waits for his big moment he is happy making some extra cash entertaining people with covers....and the people he plays for love it - His name is LUKE BROWN and I will surely keep you posted  in his development - Is he a cover act ? an original act ? or just a young talent that I'd rather not see slip through the net - check him out and spread the word on 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

new to blogging

Ok so this my first ever Blog - and I'm excited to joining the blogging world and comunity- it has been on my mind for years and ive finally made the plunge - I have alot to talk about as I am music fanatic and enjoy the history of music just as much as listening to it - i like to know what makes song writers tick and about underground music scenes and how why they happened - i play in an act myself - a duo - and work as a music agent for my own company - anyway - not sure how my blog works - and who will read this - who will reply - but like minded people - if you are out there - hello !!!!!
 Ok so I dont know if should be plugging what I'm involved with  but if anyone has an interest then someof my music I write is on
and my agency website is www,

over and out