Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Charity Christmas Album 2014

So, the launch was a really fun night! Thank you to all those who came down and an equally as big thank you to all the great acts that played. You really put on a great show!

The Charity Christmas Album is now out and available from my online store. Get yours now for just £5. This year's chosen charity is the British Heart Foundation. I'm sure you will agree it's a hugely worthy cause.

There are 6 tracks on the album this year. Mine is a duet with my wife Kayla and I think it's the first time she has sung on a record (it won't be the last; trust me!). There are also great songs from Christmas Album new-boys Brains For Breakfast and Josh Briggs. Those of you who were at the Oxygen Thief gig earlier in the year will remember Josh I'm sure. He blew us all away that night and his Christmas song is a lovely little reminder of everything we love about Christmas. 'Brains' is a long-time friend of mine whom I have gigged with loads and I had great fun recording his track with him. It's also ace, by the way.

Alongside the new guys are Christmas Album stalwarts Natch and Dom Malin, but excelling once again within their own individual styles, showing that, as always, the Christmas Album is a hugely diverse release and always has something for everyone. I love this about the albums, that not only do they catalogue some of the artists I've worked with during the year, but also show how diverse they are and how Christmas can mean so many different things to so many different people.

We also have a re-released track on the album from Bryony Williams. After debuting on last years Christmas Album with her song 'Christmas Time' (now entitled 'Don't Feel Like You're On Your Own') she went away and re-recorded it, adding extra instruments and depth to the sound. Why don't you compare the two and let me (or her) know which one you like the best.

Anyways, my new show is at The Fox & Anchor on Sunday. If you don't want to buy one online, come and get a Christmas Album from me then. It starts at 7:30.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas Party!

You have have seen me banging on about this for a few weeks on social media, but I thought I would put an update on here as it's only a few days away! I'm really pleased with the line up for this year's Christmas party and hopeful that people will come out and enjoy it.

Just in case you missed it, here is the poster;

You might have seen these around the village.
I've got a lot of work left to get it finished, but I should be releasing this year's Charity Christmas Album on the night too. It's a little bit light this year, but it's still got some great tunes from some of my favourite local artists

See you on Saturday.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Exposure: another dirty word?

I've just seen this article from The Daily Mash pop up on Facebook and it got me thinking about playing for free.

It's very tongue-in-cheek, as everything for their website is, but it raises a valid point about playing, and asking others to play for this myth of 'exposure'.

'Exposure' is word that plagues hard working musicians everywhere. I see gig adverts all the time that all say the same thing; 'we can't pay you, but you will get exposure to a new audience'. That's all well and good if you know there are going to be a lot of people there who have never seen you before. I played at half time at a Wolves match last season for exposure to over 26,000 people (if you measure 'exposure' purely in terms of Facebook 'likes', I still only gained about 15 new 'likes' directly from that gig). I've also taken support gigs for more established artists who play similar styles to me because playing to an audience that enjoy similar music to mine is good 'exposure' for me and my music. These gigs were also great fun and in the case of the latter I've often sold more than my fair share of merchandise to cover the costs.

My main problem with this comes from the idea that all gigs are like this, that all gigs have masses of people attending who are all fans of the sort of thing you are doing and want to hear music that is new to them. We all know that this isn't the case and that actually most of the time you end up playing to an empty room and getting evil looks from the promoter for not bringing anyone with you. 'Why would I need to to re-expose myself to people who are already my fans?' I hear you ask. 'Surely if I was just going to play to my friends and fans, I would just put on my own show'. Well that's because in reality there is no 'exposure' on offer. It's just a buzzword used to mean 'the venue/promoter is doing this on the cheap and lazy and so can't/won't pay you'. I've ranted on this blog about promoters like this in the past so won't go into it again, but if you fancy a chat about it you can find the original post here.

I don't want to fall into the trap of this becoming another 'poor, down-trodden musicians' post where I sanctimoniously go on and on about how musicians don't get paid enough and it's all so terrible. I put on open mic nights myself where other musicians don't get paid to play. I get both professionals and people who just do it for the love of it play at them and they do it for a variety of reasons. I guess what I'm really getting at is that real, genuine exposure to an engaged audience of people who like the style of music you play, regardless of how big that audience is, is vital to musicians at almost all levels. My issue is that that, in the majority of cases, this is simply not what is on offer.

If you want to see me 'exposing myself' (in a musical way...) I'm hosting open mic at The Rainbow in Coven tomorrow night (Wednesday 29th October) from 8:30. See you there :)

Thursday, 16 October 2014


Ok, so we've established I'm rubbish at updating my blog...

I'm currently sat at a gig in Wednesbury (I'm posting in between acts, I'm not a prick!) and I thought I would write a quick update about what I've been up to recently.

I've decided I'm not playing live enough. At least not as much as I used to. So for the second Thursday in a row I'm at SOMEONE ELSE'S open mic! This time it's The Roost in Wednesbury hosted by David Young (check him and his band, The Midnight Chorus out). Needless to say I'm really enjoying playing to new people and seeing new and old friends play.

Any open mic nights going on near you? Let me know and I'll come down one of the nights :)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Live streamed gig!

Tonight I''m playing a live streamed gig at The Songwriter's Cafe, The Tree House in Kings Norton. You can listen to the whole show online here from 8:30pm. Let me know if you get chance to listen in and how you think it went!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Codfest 2014

Well the biggest day of the year has been and gone.

For all the headaches I had regarding, well, almost every aspect of the planning of the festival, from bands dropping out, splitting up or turning down slots to licence issues and field disputes, Codfest 5 still delivered an even bigger and better day than any of the 4 previous years. Every year I get to this point and think 'how can we possibly improve on that' and every year we somehow manage it.

The line up was absolutely superb. All the acts performed superbly and I'm especially pleased that the guys who play at a lot of festivals (Gaz Brookfield, Neil Morris, Under a Banner et al) all stated how much they had enjoyed it. I'm also pleased that the line up went down so well with the punters because; A- The audience probably isn't your normal 'festival' crowd and B- I worked really hard on the line up for a long time. I had a lot of acts apply to play and when I was struggling for acts I could have put someone in there who I wasn't really sure of just to fill up the numbers, but I stuck to my guns and made sure I was happy with every one of the acts, and so it's great that every one of them delivered to such a high standard and got such a good reaction.

From a personal point of view I was really happy with my own performance too, both solo and with The Replicas. I can't believe so many people filled the tent for my set! I mean, I know I have a lot of friends there, but it was still really nice to see so many people listening and singing along. I even sold a couple of T-shirts!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

T-shirts are here!

 Buy online!
I'm delighted to announce the launch of my official T-shirt range. Each one is hand printed by me, so get your order in today and send me a message with what colour you would like. Exciting times!

In other news, I'm right in the middle of festival season, the best time of the year. Last weekend I had a great time at the world famous Llangollen Faery Festival, and now I'm gearing up to this weekend at Bakewell Music Festival! See you there!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Another DIY adventure

A week or so ago I had a bash at screen printing on fabric for the first time and it went really well! So well in fact that I'm going to be releasing some T-shirts in my online store really soon!

I always think that white band shirts are pretty boring. I know they are cheaper when you are buying a large amount of them, so I can totally understand why people go for them. I just don't really like them. The good news is that, as I'm printing mine myself, I can go for whatever colour shirts I can get hold of! But what colour would you guys like? You can answer that question by contacting me on Facebook (or by email if Facebook isn't your thing). I'd really like some help on this one, so your input would be greatly appreciated.

Let me know what you think :)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

New Video and a debut!

A new video has landed and I'm excited about it! Not only is it a cover of a great song from a great film, but also it's the first appearance on YouTube of my wife, Kayla.

The song is called 'Falling Slowly' by The Swell Season and is from the film 'Once'. It's great film that I urge you to check out if you haven't seen it already. It was on BBC a few weeks ago late at night and I couldn't help but watch it all, and that's when I got the idea for us to cover this song for the latest round of the BH covers challenge.

As always, let me know what you think of it :)

Monday, 2 June 2014


Today I uploaded a new page to my website, my 'Biography'. As it says on the page, I wanted it to be more than just a 300 character assessment of my sound and influences, but rather a story of how I got to where I am today. I'll be revisiting it over time to keep it sort of up to date and maybe add more detail, though I want it to be a bio, not an autobiography!

And just as it was uploaded and I finished testing it, I got a message from The Shrewsbury Arms offering me a gig. For those who don't know, this is the pub I used to practice in with my first even remotely serious band 'Too Shrewd', so to go back will be a great experience for me. I'm sure it's changed a lot since then, but it will still be nice. There is a bit more about Too Shrewd in the aforementioned 'Bio' page of my website.

Now that I think about it, my first experience of guerrilla recording was Too Shrewd's demo made in the back room at that pub! I've still got the CD knocking around somewhere. Legend has it that a copy of that recording was submitted into a jukebox in a random pub/bar in Hamburg after the rhythm guitarist left the band to go and work over there. So if you ever hear a version of 'A Little Respect', 'Wishing Well' or 'She Sells Sanctuary' that's not (quite) like the original while on your holidays in Germany, listen out for the bass part and then let me know!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Facebook vs. Twitter

It seems this Vs. thing could become a theme for my blogs. Recently I've been looking at overwhelmingly one sided arguments on the subject of 'what's better for musicians: Twitter or Facebook?'

I say one sided because they all draw the same conclusion; Twitter is better. It all really boils down to this hugely unpopular facebook reach algorithm thing, where you only actually see around 5% of the posts from a facebook page unless they pay to have that percentage raised. The comment section arguments always seem to split into tribal factions around this point, with some people complaining that 'musicians always want something for nothing' and the other side arguing that Facebook moved it's 'free and always will be' goalposts in order to make money with no warning or time given to adapt. I would argue that everyone really wants something for nothing (isn't that what destroyed/continues to destroy the music industries established model?) But also rich people will often (notice I said often and not always) be greedy and when they see an opportunity to make vast amounts of money they will take it. I'll openly admit to thinking the Facebook pages thing would be great forever and so neglected to build my mailing list (as every good little musician should), so have been stung by this. Am I upset about it? Not really. 'The rich will get richer'. Now the young have to get wiser.

Get wiser and start using Twitter more, it seems.

Oh, and it's @samdraisey, if you're interested :)

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Promoters Vs. Musicians

I don't rant on this blog very often, but I just witnessed something that made me feel the need to. This blog is intended not only to document what I'm doing with my music but also to give my views on different parts of the industry, good and bad, which will in turn hopefully advise others and create debates to which we can all contribute and from which we can all learn.

I just left a Facebook group for UK wide promoters as an argument broke out about paying acts. Old chestnuts such as 'getting paid for your hobby' and 'I don't mind paying if people come' were banded around.

I get that some people do this as a hobby. I play in a function band that works essentially on that premise (though The Replicas are something of a hybrid between a hobby and a professional outfit due to the differing influences within the band). I also have no problem with that whatsoever. In many professions professionals can get twitchy about people offering services that they would charge for for free, or at least for a vastly reduced rate (photographers, for example) but my view is that, with music being as subjective as it is, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter to me that a million people are playing guitar and singing for free because they don't play what I play, how I play it. If my music is good enough that my fans will feel it worth paying to watch, hear or own, then I'm not effected by people doing it for the love of it. In fact I salute them. It's great to find something that you really love doing.

The 'I don't mind paying you if X amount of people come' line infuriates me both as a musician and as a promoter. Not only is it deliberately vague, so even if 1000 people came they could still argue that they never promised you anything, but also it's just plain lazy on a promoter's part. In my experience there are two types of well attended gigs. Firstly, there are the gigs where the band or bands on the bill have a known following in that area and are the main attraction to draw people in. In this case the bands should be letting their own fans know about the show and the promoter should be advertising in the local area to pick up the people who didn't get that message. If both do their job it should work. Secondly, there are the venues and promoters that are known for certain types of gigs and their quality and so have an attraction almost regardless of who is playing. Here bands will still be contacting their own fans and promoters will be be promoting in the local area to bring in people who might like the type of show being put on. If both of these happen it should work.

My point with all of that is that if a promoter backs themselves to put on a night that they think is going to work, they shouldn't be relying on a door split to 'maybe' pay the band. If they have booked the right line up to attract the clientèle they are looking for and promoted the event well enough, they should be confident enough to pay a band a discussed amount that they are worth. If the promoter has done the majority of the promotion work, they should be the ones rewarded if 1000 people do turn up. If it's just the band, their friends and family, then frankly I don't think a promoter should get paid at all.

Going back to the original argument, the worst part of it was that there were musicians sticking up for the promoter's stance that that mythical beast 'exposure' was more important than getting paid. I agree that in some instances exposure has been enough to make me take a gig. These have been when I have been offered the chance to support a well known or established act that I have felt would put me in front of a new audience of people who may enjoy my music. In these few cases I have been vindicated in my decision, as they have often led to a bumper night of CD sales and further bookings as support for acts or in new venues which can pay. However, that was a situation where I took a calculated risk financially that ended up paying off. It's not worth doing if you just being promised that the other acts are bringing people who won't have seen you before and the manager of the club might come and watch you for 30 seconds in between bar shifts.

The Facebook group argument then had an incredible claim made on it that the reason for there 'being so many shit bands out there' was down to people putting on free gigs and bands being given publicity that they didn't deserve. I hardly feel that this warrants any response, but I will just say that, as I stated above, music is entirely subjective and what one person likes another may hate. If anything this claim should be directed at lazy promoters who will book anyone just to fill a space on a line up and don't try and marry the acts on a line up to create an enticing event. The idea that the gigging circuit should be more selective in order to weed out less audibly acceptable bands is incredibly dangerous to any local music scene. There is an obvious catch 22 staring me in the face from that remark that I fear must have been lost on the original poster.

To conclude (and before I turn into a grumpy old man!) I'd like to state that I don't think that all promoters are lazy. Some work especially hard and they are the ones that get the reward for it. These are the promoters that people want to come and play for, the ones that create a reputation for themselves of supplying quality music, usually of a specific style, and can often generate their own following. I saw a post on Twitter the other day that said 'Think you don't have a favourite record label? Check out your CD collection and you might be surprised'. This is the sort of thing that happens with good promoters too. The kind of promoters I enjoy working with. The kind of promoter I strive to be.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

BH Covers Challenge 8 - Pop Punk

This video had been really good for me in two different ways. Firstly, it was a chance to finally use the time lapse app on my phone for a YouTube video, something I have been threatening for ages (you haven't seen the last of it!) but most importantly, after a couple of runner up attempts in the BH Covers Challenge it finally won one for me! I'm delighted :)

The competition will probably be changing somewhat for the next, possibly final two rounds. I've enjoyed it immensely, and will need to come up with something similar to challenge myself with if it does end. I'm thinking I might take suggestions on Facebook as to what to cover and have polls, but that could be a little risky!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


Quite often when I have finished a set at a gig I will get people come up to me and say they enjoyed it and that they like my music. This is great for me, I love performing live and it makes up the majority of my work as a musician, so I'm always glad that people take the time to tell me that they enjoyed it. We have a conversation for a few minutes about the music, the songs I played, my own influences and perhaps their own music playing and tastes, and then quite often the conversation will end with them saying 'I really hope you make it'.

This doesn't annoy me like it would annoy some musicians. I don't go off on a tirade about how success does not need to be defined by how famous you are, or that you don't need to be a millionaire to be a successful, working and solvent musician. I know that it's just people really wishing me good luck and saying that they would like for me to achieve the success that they believe I am capable of.

One such conversation, with a fellow musician at a gig on Good Friday, did not end in quite the same way however. She approached me after my set to say how much she had enjoyed it and after a brief conversation she left by saying, 'I really hope you make a living doing this'.

It's only a subtle difference to the norm, but the effect it had on me was tremendous. I've always maintained fame and fortune do not interest me, but to make a suitable living as a working musician is my aim. To have someone wish that for me face-to-face was a really nice experience, and one I wanted to share with you.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Oxygen Thief.

For any who weren't aware, I made quite a big step this Tuesday by booking and supporting Oxygen Thief at The Grain Store in Wolverhampton. I've been putting on gigs for quite a long time, but this was the first time I had booked a touring act signed to a moderately large label and gone through the process of finding a suitable venue, line up and doing the physical and online promotion for such a gig.

I should at this point add that Andy Turner, who runs the Grain Store Live Sessions and is an all round nice guy and good friend helped me out a lot with the venue, the promotion and the general running of the night. I couldn't have done it without him, and won't hesitate to work with him again in the future.

The line up was ace, and if I take nothing else from this gig, just being on the same bill as the guys involved is a real privilege. Opener Josh Briggs was Andy's choice, and was a great one! His CDs were free and were probably all claimed (there could have been fights!). One thing I will say is that calling a CD with 7 tracks on it an EP is unfair to it. I've seen albums shorter than that!

David Young was next and, as always, did a stellar job. I didn't buy his CD, but only because I have it already! I'm performing with him again on Friday for his all dayer at The Golden Lion in Bradley (one of three gigs that day!). His band are headlining, so go down and check it out if you are in the area.

Next was me :)
'My Name is Earl' style
closed eyes photo.
After that was a man I had heard a lot about but never seen in the flesh before, Neil Morris. Neil's reputation didn't let him down, he played a really entertaining set and his CD has been on in Kayla's car ever since! 'Blood Diamonds' was a personal highlight.

Then it was on to the man himself, Oxygen Thief. His set was really entertaining, and he came over as a really nice and funny guy. Working out that the lights changed every time he stamped his feet made for an even more spectacular performance, and his new EP is next in line for car rotation.

All in all, while a little quieter than I might have liked, the whole thing went really well. I got to meet and see (and play alongside) some great new acts, and I made my first tentative step into the big bad world of 'big boy promoting'. I ended up coming in just over my budget, but not by much at all, and with a bit more experience and a little more luck we would have been there, so I'm not worried. Sometimes a really good gig is reward enough.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Oxygen Thief Tickets!

They're here!

That's right, the tickets for the gig I'm putting on with the mighty Oxygen Thief have arrived! You can order yours here.

It's going to be a great night. The line up is really ace and it's a really nice venue. Make sure you get your tickets and get involved.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

DH Covers Challenge

I've entered into a covers competition.

Well, to be honest, it's more of a club than a competition. It's a group of local(ish) musicians on Facebook that each submit a randomly selected cover from a certain theme every few weeks. The theme is chosen by the previous competition's winner and then he/she will come up with as many songs in their chosen theme as is required for the amount of people entering. Each person is then allocated one at random and given two weeks to make a YouTube video of it. Finally we all submit them on the final day and everyone picks their top three and the person with the most votes wins. The prize? Yep, the chance to choose the next theme.

It's a bit of fun and to be honest it's really nice to be involved with a competition of sorts online that doesn't revolve around getting the most 'likes' or video views.

I know you guys can't vote, but I thought you might be interested anyway. It means there will be some new videos coming up on my YouTube page shortly and some of them could be pretty left field! I don't know what song I'll be given yet, but the first one I'm taking part in is James Bond theme tunes! I'm both excited and slightly nervous about what I might get!

Keep you posted

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Big Interview

Today was something of a first for me. I drove down to Rugeley earlier to visit a primary school where two classes of year four students (8 year olds) were waiting to interview me for a newspaper article they are writing.

I set up to play a song for them before the interview started, and this was where my first surprise happened. When I asked the teacher what she would like me to play, she put the question to the pupils. One lad then piped up and asked for 'The Small Hours'. Turns out they had been watching videos of me on YouTube! It's always nice to get a request for one of my own songs. It doesn't happen very often!

After that the questions started. The kids were really great actually, asking all sorts of things about me, my music, my inspirations, my career and my life outside of music. I played another song halfway through ('Where We Came From') and at this point another teacher was invited into the class who had seen me play at Village Coffee! I'll be back there again on Saturday from 2pm, if anyone fancies it :)

A few more questions later and I finished off with a cover of 'In My Life' by The Beatles. It was great fun and hopefully I'll be back there again in the not too distant future.

The pupils asked me loads of questions and I'm pretty sure I answered all of them. Some invoked quite deep answers, such as 'Do you think you would be able to play guitar better if you had two hands?' and 'What inspires you to write songs?'. I also had questions on what pets I have and what my favourite colour is! It was quite nice that no-one mentioned either the X Factor or One Direction until the very end of the interview too!

All in all I had a great time, and I look forward to hearing about how the newspaper articles come out :)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2013 in review

New year is a great time to look back over the last 12 months and reminisce about what was good, what was bad and what was possibly missed all together! I'll split it up by month both to make sure it stays on track and to make it a bit easier to read (and write!)

Posing with Phil Lynott!

Exactly one year ago today I was jetting out to Dublin for a Christmas present holiday with Kayla. It was amazing! they have a completely different attitude towards live music over there. In what could and should have been one of the quietest weeks of any year, there was live music on in every pub and bar every night, and sometimes all day too. I'll never forget walking through Temple Bar at 10pm on the Saturday night and seeing buskers lining the streets playing to audiences of up to 50 people. If I did that in Wolverhampton... Well, let's just say I wouldn't expect the same reception.

After the trip January was quiet, though I did play at Tattoo Freeze in Telford later in the month, which is always good fun. It's always a bit of a surreal experience trying to drown out the sound of roller derby with American Pie!


The Replicas live at The River Rooms
February saw my return to The Robin 2 and The Replicas return to The River Rooms. It's actually the last
time the band played a public gig outside of Codfest, which is something that I'm hoping to address this year (we have what might be classed as an AGM coming up next week!). I remember thinking that, having been so busy in 2012 (I posted something on Facebook about the amount of gigs I had played in the year and how I had only had around 2/3 weeks without a gig throughout the year) I seemed to be lagging a little at the beginning of the year. There were a number of contributing factors to this in my opinion, ranging from less gigs to play due to 'the economic climate', to the fact that I was working more during the day in schools and planning a wedding (February ushered in the 6 month countdown!)


Celebrating my birthday
March was equally quiet. I celebrated becoming technically closer to 30 than 20, but on the gigs front it seemed things were starting to dry up for me. I hadn't played any gigs for other promoters for a long time, and it seemed that all I had left were my own open mic nights and coffee shop visits and the odd private booking.

The Pied Piper

However, as spring came around the corner it seemed to pick up a bit. I had a new open mic in Cannock to
host, the first of which went pretty well, The Replicas were back out for a wedding gig and I travelled to Worcester to support my good friend Brains for Breakfast on his UK tour to promote his EP. It was one of those gigs where I sit down after it and realise that I need to go and play more, for new people, in new places, just because of how much enjoyment I get out of it.


The Black Friar
In May I did just that! I played my first ever wedding fayre, which was interesting, if not particularly fruitful. I also finally got to play at The Madhouse in Burton Upon Trent after a verbal agreement with a promoter the previous year (when I supported Amy Wadge and Pete Riley at The Robin 2) and it was one of the musical highlights of my year. The place is perfect for the folky sort of gig that it was, and the audience were really into what I was doing. I never been called for an encore as a support act before!

I also played my first gig in a new recurring venue, The Marches in Ludlow. Again, it's a really nice place and just suits the style of music that I play. I've gone on to play there a number of times and have dates booked in for 2014 already (you can find them on my website - If you aren't there already!). The Replicas were out for a party in Coventry (on possibly the smallest stage ever) and I also played at The Jazz and Blues festival at The Black Friar in Newcastle Under Lyme.

The Cavern - before the drinking

June was a little quieter, though I did manage a return to Compton in the park, which is always a good thing
to do as it's both a cool outdoor venue and for a great cause. I also had my stag weekend in Liverpool, which involved a great Friday which culminated in me getting far too drunk in The Cavern Club and missing the rest of the weekend! My best man called it a successful stag. I guess I'd have to agree. It did make me want to play at The Cavern though (potentially both solo and with The Replicas), so there is something to aim at.


Choosing just one photo
was hard!
Considering July was the month that Kayla and I got married and went on honeymoon, it was also pretty busy musically. The Replicas played a wedding a mere stones thrown from my old college in Digbeth and I played a couple of great outdoor gigs, including a sweltering Grassroots festival in Appleby Magna and Birchover Carnival, which was a brilliant little festival based on a campsite (though Kayla and I did wait for nearly an hour to get a pizza!)

I also played my first ever in store gig at Vinyl and Vintage in Wolverhampton. It's a great little place it you like vinyl (and vintage clothes I guess, though as it's not really my thing I couldn't comment on how 'good' it is for that).

Finally the day arrived, and what a day it was! Less than 24 hours earlier we had storms and thunder and lightning, but the day of our wedding was a scorcher! People actually went home in the evening to get changed into shorts and t-shirts! I couldn't possibly have imagined it going any better, not even in my wildest dreams. I know it's a cliche, but it was definitely the best day of my life.

From a musical point of view, there were some cool elements too! The Replicas (accompanied by Simon Hough depping on bass) surprised me with renditions of 'The Perfect Sacrifice' and 'Where We Came From', which was a nice touch by them. Then I got up and played 'Don't Forget' with the band as a surprise for Kayla, and frankly I enjoyed the full band version so much I might try and get a sneaky recording done of it if I can!


WMF @ The Horn & Trumpet
I had a gig the night of my return from honeymoon - no rest for the wicked! I also had what is possibly my longest drive for a gig to date, hitting the road for a nearly 8 hour round trip to Skegness! It was good fun (and good experience) for me to travel like that, and as I quite like driving and road trips, it was enjoyable. It was nice to walk out onto the beach an hour before going on stage too!

I did my first 'booked busk' outside Molineux stadium the day after too, which was really good fun. I had to shoot off straight after I had finished though, as it just so happened that it was the same day as the Codfest tickets went on sale. They sold out in a few hours, and thus commenced a few weeks of heartbreak, upset and arguments on Facebook. Though it all worked out in the end.

I then had the next contender for longest drive to a gig when I played all day at a wedding in Hull. I left the house at 9am and returned in The Small Hours (see what I did there!) of the next morning. It was great though, I was really looked after by the wedding party. I played before and after the ceremony, then put background music on while they ate, played again as the evening guests arrived, played the first dance (Ben Howard - Only Love) then DJ'd all night for the reception. It felt great to be working so much!

That weekend I returned once again to Bakewell Music Festival. I have to admit that I was a little worried about my act being stale there - I'd played each of the last four years and my set, at least the originals part of it, hadn't changed too much. These doubts were proven to be unfounded though, as I had a great reception once again and sold a load of CDs and merchandise!

Also in August, I had my first ever double up with The Replicas, playing myself during the day and then with the band in the evening at a wedding in Ludlow, which was great fun for me, and I also had my first gig at what has become another recurring venue for me, The Old Stag's Head in Penn. Finally, I returned to Worcester Music Festival to play once more at The Horn & Trumpet for Sun & Stars Management. It was another really great gig and fantastic reception. It still amazes me that WMF gets such a great response in every venue, considering that it spans the whole place!


The Replicas @ Codfest
September means only one thing for my musical year - Codfest! Every year after Codfest we sit back, relax and say 'how can it possibly get any better than this?' Then every year (so far) we have somehow managed it. This year's Codfest was, once again, amazing from start to finish. It also kicked off a run of 4 gigs in 4 weekends for The Replicas, which in itself was a great experience for me. You always worry about people in bands that spend too much time together and whether the fun will 'dry up', but it never seemed to happen over those 4 weeks. We just had great fun and put on some really good shows.

In other news, I started a new open mic night at Sunny Bank Caravan Park in Lapley.


Busking @ Molineux
October saw something of a wind down in terms of gigs. Due to an error on my part, the new open mic nights at Sunny Bank were cancelled and, other than trips to The Marches and Molineux for some busking, October was very quiet.


New website poster!
November was busier. The Replicas played two gigs in consecutive weekends and on the third weekend I travelled to Kenilworth for a private party, only to discover that my capo was missing from my guitar case (I won't go into details, but lest just say I won't be letting anyone pack away my guitar case for me after a gig again). After failed elastic band and pen botch jobs, I finally decided to just roll with it and see what I could do. I played all the capo-less songs I know, I played a few others a bit lower than they would normally have been played and I did a little bit of transposing on the fly! It worked out fine and the audience (luckily a particularly drunk audience) were more than happy.

I also launched my new website in November after a few months of planning, designing and editing. I'm pretty pleased with it.


My view of the stadium during the game. Look at all
those people!
The lead up to Christmas meant something of a busier schedule for me, with a last minute 'Winter
Wonderland' wedding my first stop in Stafford. It went really well, and with the venue making promises to recommend me in the future, I'm hopeful that more will come up there.

After a long absence, I returned to The Crown once again for open mic night. It's started really well, and has been booked to take place on the first Thursday of every month starting in February. I also made a return to the Birmingham music scene at TALK bar, where I once again met up with Brains For Breakfast and watched his set. We have to stop meeting like that!

One of my favourite gigs this month, and this year really, was my neighbour Ed's birthday party. I got to play a load of songs that I wouldn't be able to play anywhere else, some that I've not played for years and some that I've never played before! I also played on the pitch at halftime for a sell-out crowd at Molineux. According to official statistics, I played 'Where We Came From' to 28,598 people! Nothing like ending the year in style!

So that's it, my year in just over 2000 words. It's been that biggest and best year of my life to date, one where I've got married, seen and done new and exciting things, played at new places for new people. I've travelled further, played for longer and performed to more people than ever before.

2014, you've got a lot to live up to.