Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Crown

As I'm returning once more to The Crown at Codsall tonight to host a new open mic night there, I thought it might be nice to write a blog about my history with the place. If you are interested in my past gigs, you can check the list I made on my website here. It's not 100%, but it's a close as I could get it.

The Crown has always had the reputation as the 'young person's pub' in Codsall, with The Bull being reserved for the older folk and The Station more for the beer connoisseurs. Growing up I never remember it being open, as it also had a reputation for housing certain shady characters and not many landlords stayed there too long.

Not long after I first started hosting open mic nights it was re-opened after a number of years of closure and re-branded as 'Butler's Bar & Bistro'. I think it was around the summer of 2008. I played a few gigs in there both solo for restaurant visitors and open mic nights during the week, which went ok. Unfortunately the venture didn't last long, and possibly suffering from its previous reputation, it closed once more.

This seemed to revive interest in the pub though, and soon a new landlord was in place, a guy named Charles. I once again approached him regarding the idea of monthly open mic nights, and right from the first one it seemed like we were on to something.

Those nights at The Crown were some of the most popular I've ever hosted, and brought through acts that are both close friends and excellent musicians to this day. The most memorable night I had in there featured a touring act at the time, a guy named Kev Fox, who brought his band and a support act down from Manchester to play after contacting me on Myspace (I think that tells you how long ago it was!). There were over 100 people in the back room there that night to watch the performers! Kev now lives and gigs in Poland, and is doing quite well for himself I believe.

But he isn't the only one to have benefited from the exposure and practice that those nights gave people. Under a Banner, The Ratigans and even my current band The Replicas all cut there teeth there, as well as many, many solo artists who still gig today.

But all good things must come to an end, and after a fall out with the brewery over funding, Charles left. The pub once again closed for a while, re-opening briefly a few times, only to close up again soon after. It wasn't until Jim & Anne-Marie took over in 2012 that I finally got the opportunity to go back to a venue that I always felt I had a little bit of unfinished business with. The new open mic nights there started quite well, though a weekly slot there, while good for people's knowledge of the night, really stopped us from managing to put on anything like the shows of the scale of the previous regime. Then suddenly, just two months after starting, the landlords got promoted to a bigger pub in Wednesfield and took me and my nights with them. The Crown closed again, and I moved my weekly night to The Albion in Wednesfield, with little success.

However, Anne-Marie and Jim are now back at The Crown, and my journey starts again tonight at 8:30 in that very place. I'm excited about it, I must admit. It looks like they may want a monthly night again in the new year, which suits me down to the ground. I just hope that, with some hard work and a little bit of luck, I can get it back to where it was over five years ago.

Now that makes me feel old!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Blast Off!

My new website launches today! You can check it out at! Make sure you let me know what you think of it :)

I'll be using it as the centre of my musical universe online, so you will be able to hear all my music, watch my videos, buy merch, find out about gigs, read blogs etc etc etc. The list goes on!

Also, from midday today I'll be playing a live streamed gig on it's homepage to celebrate it's launch. all you have to do is visit the site at twelve and the little screen at the top will have me playing in it. I've never done one before, so hopefully it will all run smoothly.

Not long now, better go and write my set list!

Monday, 28 October 2013

New Website!

It's been nearly two months since I posted a blog, so I thought it was about time that I got back to it! The places and times I would normally be writing a blog just haven't materialised lately, not that that is a good excuse. But anyway, here I am and here it is :)

I've been planning a 'new' website for a while now. I say new, I don't currently have a website dedicated to my own music, and so calling it new doesn't really feel right as it has nothing to replace. But it has involved elements of 'new', like coming up with a new logo for my music and myself. I wanted something that represented my status as a 'DIY, independent musician' and after a couple of different ideas were tried out, I settled on a simple text logo of my name looking like it was printed by an old fashioned DYMO label printer. I've gone for a cardboard background for the website too, to try and make it look even more 'home-made'

You can check out the beginnings of the website at, though at the moment it's just a 'coming soon' page. I'll be launching the official website on Saturday the 30th of November, so make sure you check it out and let me know what you think :) I'll be doing loads of stuff in the build up to the day too hopefully, so keep your eyes peeled for that :)

In other news, I've had some good and not so good moments in music over the past two months. The 'Replicas September' was great fun and didn't feel like hard work at all, but then it never really does! I had a very poor turnout at The Robin 2 for The Sam Draisey Session this month (thanks to Matt Dooner for being the other person there!) and so will have to book acts again for next month's session if it's to carry on. I don't mind, it just leaves less space for people who just turn up on the night wanting to play (if you do want to play, best to get in touch with me and just let me know you are coming. Novembers's session is on the 26th). I also had another nightmare before last weeks open mic at Sunny Bank, and I can't apologise enough to anyone who made the journey out there to watch or play.

On a more positive note, I had another good outing at Molinuex Stadium busking for the Wolves fans and really good gigs at The Old Stag's Head in Penn and The Marches in Ludlow, as well as a good send off to this year's 'Festival of Local Music' at The Fox & Anchor in Coven. Here's to hoping I'm back booking there next year :)

Thanks for reading. I'll be posting more once the website is up and running, so make sure you check it out on the 30th of next month. Should be just in time for me to have a stupid moustache for Movember (donate to the great cause here)

Monday, 16 September 2013

Codfest 4

Codfest kind of deserves a blog post all to itself, so here goes...

For the uninitiated, Codfest is the yearly festival that I help to organise along with a small group of my family and friends. Naturally, the musical side of things falls to me, which includes booking the line up for two stages and running those stages both technically and organizationally as well as performing myself and doing other bits and bobs as and when I'm needed. I think its fair to say it's the longest working day of my year, but also one of the most enjoyable.

This year's Codfest was no exception. With over 600 people in attendance, the crowd was great the whole day, and the talent on show was superb. Its great to be able to showcase the talents of my friends (and also nice to sneak myself and my band onto a bill with such great musicians!) and just generally great to be involved in such a friendly and fun event. It really is life affirming!

I must say a HUGE thank you to my good friend Tim Douglas, who came down to run sound for us, and even bought a stupendously nice mixing desk for the main stage (I'll only drop the name of it if Behringer agree to give me a free one for the advertising, ha!). If you ever need a freelance sound engineer, I can't recommend him highly enough :)

The festival was superb, and it also kicked off a run of a Replicas gig every Saturday night throughout September, which I just know is going to be fun. I know I say it a lot, but I really do love my job!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


Since my last blog post I have played a number of decent gigs, with the most noticeable thing being that my CDs have continued to sell well. I played at The Old Stags Head in Penn a few weeks back to an audience of friends and family. It was really nice to see so many people I knew come out for one of my gigs. I know I play a lot so it's a big ask to get people to come out to multiple shows (this is one of the main reasons I don't play ticketed gigs at the moment), but it was really great to see everyone. From there I had a 'best of both worlds' gig the following day at a wedding in Ludlow, where I played solo during the wedding breakfast, then later on with The Replicas.

Last weekend I was back at Worcester Music Festival, once again playing for Lisa Nash of Sun & Stars Management at The Horn & Trumpet. The gig, and indeed the whole day/evening went really well. Considering there are 30 venues around the city all playing live music the venue was pretty full, and the crowd were really appreciative. I sold a good few CDs and make some more friends. I also met up with my good friend Andy 'Brains For Breakfast' Webster, and stayed for his set later that evening. Check him out, he is ace!

I had the quarterly magazine from the Musician's Union come through last week and the main article was on the pros on crowd-funding services like Pledge music and Kickstarter. After reading the article I posted on Facebook about it and got some interesting responses. It seems that the vast majority of success stories are artists who have been signed to a major label or subsidiary label in the past and either left or been dropped, and have subsequently started up profitable crowd-funding campaigns for new albums or tours. That's great for them, but it doesn't really help me and artists like me and doesn't really fit the bill that crowd-funding is being pushed as; funding for independent and start-up musicians. Because these guys have already had major label backing in the past, they have already had a large media machine tell everyone who they are and what they do and most importantly, they already have a relatively large and solid fanbase.

I'm not moaning, far from it. I'm glad that this idea can be used as a safety net to catch great acts who can't stay on a label contract for financial or creative reasons. But for an independent musician who has a modest fanbase, is it all just a little bit cheeky?

Another interesting point is that, with someone pledging a sizeable amount of money to your next album project, at what point are they not a creative investor? It could be argued that someone who invests their money in your recording process, rather than just buying your finished album because they like it deserves a say in how that album ends up looking and sounding. You could technically end up with thousands of producers, and you can't possibly please them all!
What do you think of crowd-funding? Drop me a comment or message on this post, or anywhere else you know how to get in touch, and let's have a chat about it.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Well travelled

I'm currently sitting behind the desk at The Robin 2 for the monthly session. The standard is very high tonight, which I am of course very pleased with.

I've covered some miles over the past couple of weeks, hence the title of this blog. It started off with a trip to Huttoft, near Skegness, for seaside fest. It was a good laugh, and nice to be able to walk on the beach an hour before my set!

Almost a week later (I know, a week off! Lazy, I hear you say) I travelled to Hull to play at a wedding. This was a bit of a landmark gig for me, as it's the first booking to come directly from my wedding musician website. It went really well too, though leaving the house at 9am and arriving back at 3am the next day is a long day by anyone's standards!

The third road trip was modest in comparison, as it was 'only' to Bakewell for one of my yearly highlights, Bakewell Music Festival. The gig was great, I had a really nice audience and sold a fair few CDs. Like I said in my last post, it's not about the money, but it is a decent barometer as to how much people enjoyed what I was doing.

My next gig is at The Old Stags Head in Penn. I was booked today via Twitter. I'm pretty sure it's the first gig I've ever booked with a tweet, and I've never been there before, so I've no idea what to expect. It's going to be an adventure though, so if you are around on Friday night, come down from 9 and check it out.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

To Darlaston we ride.

I'm just home from visiting a new open mic night and I've realised it's been ages since I wrote a blog, so lets put that right!
Tonight was really good fun. The open mic was run by a good friend of mine, David Young (, who is an awesome musician and songwriter in his own right, but it seems he can also put on a really good night to boot. The audience was friendly, the acts were good and I sold some cds! It's always a nice feeling when I go off to an open mic and come back with more money than I spent getting there!
It's not all about the money of course, and I think I made a few friends and fans tonight too. Its great to get the chance to go to someone else's open mic, meet new people and show my support for others who enjoy playing live as much as I do. The abundance of Frank Turner t-shirts present was a nice surprise too. Who says that kids today have no music taste!
That's it from me for now. If I write too much I'll have nothing left for my next post! I'm travelling to Lincolnshire on Friday for Seaside Fest, so hopefully I'll be able to post something about that :)
See you soon,

Friday, 21 June 2013

Mailing list and other updates

I'm having a go at posting from my phone. If this works and doesn't look terrible it could spell more posts for you in the future.


So I'm pushing my mailing list quite hard at the moment. Everything I have been taught and everything I have read about the music industry tells me this is what I should be doing, I just always thought previously that a facebook 'like' was just as good. But with facebook changing their policy so even if you like a page you don't get all of their updates (unless they pay for every post!) It's time I found something more reliable. I won't go into why I think this policy is harming small businesses. That's a rant for another time!

So anyway, I'm finally coming round to the idea that my mailing list is more important than I previously gave it credit for. Question is, why should you sign up?

Well, you know me (at least I think you do), and I don't expect something for nothing. So to make my mailing list more appealing, I'm going to give away as much free stuff as I can think of and create through it. That means free downloads, exclusive content, offers and competitions. Add that to the fact that its only a once a month thing (everyone hates spam, right?), it takes less that 60 seconds to sign up and the form looks cool, and I'm hoping you are convinced.

So, here is the link to get involved -

Make sure you get on it before the end of this month so you don't miss the first installment :)

In other news, I've confirmed some festivals over the past few weeks. I'll be heading back to the wonderful Bakewell festival for another year, and also have slots booked in Appleby, Birchover, Hottoft and Worcester through the summer. And then there is Codfest, of course :)

I've also got some cool solo gigs booked AND I might even be able to convince The Replicas to do a few more public viewings. I'll save all those announcements for the mailing list though.

Finally, I took my first deposit for a wedding package today. I'm really looking forward to it, playing at peoples weddings is really special. I might even do a cheeky video of the new song I'm playing for their first dance, but again, you'll have to sign up to the mailing list to find out more!

Until next time.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Digital Distribution

I've been thinking recently about what to do regarding my next album's release online.

In the past I've always stated that releasing my albums on iTunes and Spotify were primarily for marketing purposes. I don't expect to make much money from it, not even enough to keep it up online really (it costs around £30 a year, which is ok for the first year, but after an initial burst the sales tend to fall away), but I've always said that as two of the biggest music services in the world, it looks good to have them up on there. It's free advertising.

Isn't it?

I've been toying with a few ideas to change it around. Should I release my album via Bandcamp, a service I have heard nothing but good reports about, and one that doesn't charge a fee? Or maybe I should just have them online on somewhere like SoundCloud, giving the downloads away for free or in exchange for an email address. Or should I even go whole hog and release them as a torrent? It wouldn't be illegal, after all, and I wouldn't be the first to do it.

Maybe it's time for a fresh start with iTunes instead. 'The List' has been available online now for almost 3 years. Should I take down my old albums and start again with the new one? Just stockpiling them on iTunes is not only expensive (it's £30 per album per year), but it could also leave potential new listeners with a 'don't even know where to start' mentality. Maybe I could implement one of the other strategies above for the previous two albums and have my next album up on the major platforms.

As always, comments are more than welcomed on this :)

See you soon,


Monday, 15 April 2013


How many times can I start a blog with 'I'm sorry it's been so long' or something of that ilk?

But yeah, it's been a while and I'm sorry for that. I have been kind of busy with other projects, but it's still no excuse. The 'other projects' do however give me something to talk about in this blog post!

First off, I've taken up Instagram. You can see all the photos I've shared here -

I've also started a new website purely for wedding bookings. I went the whole 'professional' route for this (sort of!). I've had a photo-shoot done, the results of which are on the site, but I'll share one of the photos with you here so you get an idea :)

I've done some new recordings for it too! A CD of 11 of my most popular covers. I call it 'Musician For Hire', not really an album title, as it's not an 'official' release, but at least it has a name! I've included the Soundcloud  playlist for it below. Feel free to check out the recordings and let me know what you think.

I've also recently done some new videos for it, adding a couple of songs that didn't quite make it onto the CD. Filming this was great fun, as I had to erect a backdrop and add lighting and sound and all sorts! Good job I have random old staging and spotlights lying around! The videos are also on the website on the 'Listen & Watch' page. Let me know what you think.

Oh, and that all important web address is I know, check me out with my search engine optimisation!

New website aside, I've also been planning and searching for new music nights to run. After I lost both The Albion and The Hartley Arms at the end of last year, it was a necessary process. A few months on, and I've started a new monthly open mic at The Pied Piper in Cannock, re-signed up to host The Fox & Anchor gigs this summer that I ran all through last summer, and started negotiations with a few other places to put music nights and open mic nights on there.

On top of that, I played in Worcester on Friday at a gig that also featured my good friend Brains For Breakfast on his first UK tour. It sounds like he is have a great time, and has inspired me to attempt something similar at some point. Keep your eyes peeled for that, and any suggestions on where to play would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, until next time (and hopefully I won't leave it so long!) have a look at the site and it's new content and tell me what you think, and keep enjoying the music

Speak soon,


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Hard Work.

Those of you who are on Facebook may have seen some of the uproar surrounding the PRS's decision to name the boy band JLS as the 'UK's hardest working band of 2012', even though they only played 34 gigs. If not, you can find out about it here -

You may also have seen, should you follow my own posts, that that got me to thinking about how many gigs I had played last year. So I got up my calendar and I started counting...

Including gigs with my function band 'The Replicas' ( the total came to 141. That works out on average at one gig every 2 and half days (approximately). I was quite surprised at this, seeing as although I've been called hard working by other people, I didn't feel like last year was a particularly busy year for me. Also, I only had one week in the whole year where I didn't play a gig.

I guess that just goes to show how much I love what I do. That I didn't think a year where I played 141 gigs (booking other acts for and promoting most of them), recorded and released an album, planned and executed my first tour and put on a festival was busy! It's also shown by how much I'm missing it this month, having had a couple of my regular nights postponed through January, including the first Sam Draisey sessions of the year tonight, which has fallen foul of the weather.

I just wanted to share that with you. Not because I'm being smug or implying that JLS don't work hard, but more because, frankly, I'm pretty proud of it.

In other news, I've been recording guitar tracks for some new recordings of cover songs I'm working on today. I'll wait a while before I record the vocals, only because I'm getting over a cold, but I hope to have them down soon. I'll be putting them up online to hear and download and I'll be using them to try and get myself some more gigs and private bookings in the future. Fingers crossed!

See you on the road. I wonder how many times that will be in 2013...


Monday, 7 January 2013

Update for the festive period

Hi guys,

First of all, I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year. For my own part, my very generous parents bought me a bouzouki, so you can expect to hear that on some upcoming recordings and maybe event some live performances! Also, my wonderful fiancĂ©e paid for us to go to Dublin for 3 nights, which was fantastic. We saw some great live music and had a fantastic time. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes Irish and Folk music. You won't be disappointed.

However, it seems upon my return that the January pinch has hit home. This has culminated in one of my open mic nights, the weekly gig at The Albion in Wednesfield, cancelling the remaining dates in January. With The Hartley Arms already out until at least February as well, that cuts down on my gigging time significantly this month. I do however have a nice gig at Tattoo Freeze this Sunday to shout about!

Tattoo Freeze 2012

I'm looking forward to that one! I'm also on the hunt for some more gigs, with the idea being that I look to travel further afield than my last tour. I'll still play on my doorstep though, if requested :)

As a new years resolution (one of many!) I've promised myself I'll find a new venue in a different city AT LEAST once a month. I don;t think that this is a big commitment really, but if anyone has any suggestions or requests then please don't hesitate to get in touch. I'm already booked to play in Worcester in April, and promised Jamie Perry I'd play in Leicester, so I'll look for a venue there too :)

Finally, you will be glad to hear that I start back at The Robin 2 with 'The Sam Draisey Sessions' this month. The session gigs are some of my favourite nights, and I'm really looking forward to getting back involved in running, booking and playing them.

That's about it for now. Please do keep in touch, I love to hear from you :)