Live Videos: 2007, 2011, 2013

The pictures below link to some of my live videos available for your viewing pleasure/curiosity on YouTube.

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It’s Time To Go: Video

This is 2:50 of silliness. I made a very short film in 2011 called A Ghastly Manifestation which was about 1:49 long so when I wrote It’s Time To Go last year with its ghost story theme I thought I would marry up the two things by adding an extra minute of footage to ‘… Manifestation’. It’s not Citizen Kane but it’s just a bit of fun to show one of my new songs.

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Recordings 2005-2011

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The above picture is a link to my music page on Bandcamp.com. There you can listen to my recorded songs from when I started in 2005 to when I discovered the ukulele and started writings songs about pirates in 2011. You can even buy the albums if you like.

The End of Being Afraid was recorded in April 2005 with John Ablitt at his home studio and features just me and my guitar. We recorded ten songs, one of which was supposed to be ‘Don’t Call It Love’ but I kept getting it wrong so we recorded ‘Further Away’ instead.

One Lonely Night was recorded in October 2005 at a live gig at The Swan In The Rushes, Loughborough. John and I had organised a charity gig and he recorded all the acts on the bill which also included Ben Robinson, Kevin Hewick and Eric The Turtle. I recorded ten songs and was happy with the result although I later edited some of my banter between the songs as it was, frankly, rubbish.

Dancing In The Stars was also recorded at The Swan In The Rushes at two of the charity gigs we did. The bulk of it was recorded on 27th October 2006 when I used the drum machine in my Zoom A2 FX box for some of the songs and the bill also featured R.A.F., Hannah Brackenbury and Jezz Hall. The final three songs were recorded on 16th June 2006 when the other artists on the bill were Mike Sales, Alice Rock and Daisy Borthwick. Both of my sets at these gigs featured Nigel Lawson on harmonica with whom I performed many subsequent gigs.

No Further To Fall was originally an e.p. I would give to people as a bit of promotion but I later expanded it into a full album. Most of these songs were also recorded at The Swan In The Rushes on 12th January 2007 and the bulk of the album features a set by myself, Nigel Lawson and Mark Haynes who played with us on percussion. Other acts on the bill that night were R.A.F., Reinventing The Wheel and Ali Wright. Prayers For The Moon was recorded by John at The Catholic Club, Loughborough on 16th February 2006 when I was on a bill with Mr Plow and Kevin Hewick. The final song Amber Night was recorded on 6th January 2006 at The Swan In The Rushes on a bill with ist, Mr Plow and Kevin Hewick when I had a terrible sore throat but this track turned out okay and I though it was a nice way to finish off the album.

Burnt Rose was recorded at Lakeside Studios in a couple of sessions in 2007 by Amos Parkinson who also plays drums on the album. I was trying to write some more poppy songs but there is still plenty of weird stuff on here. I think The Twilight and Mary Said are two of the best things I’ve recorded. Amos and I also played a couple of gigs together including a big charity event at the Coalville Labour Club and the Heather Music Festival.

Lost Songs Of The Sea was a home recorded effort which I finished in 2011. After Burnt Rose I realised that I couldn’t write singer-songwritery songs anymore and started writing songs about sea stories that interested me. I had also started playing ukulele around this time on which I wrote almost all of these songs. Although this album doesn’t have the pristine professional sound that John and Amos were able to achieve I think it has a lot of charm and it showed me that there is a lot of freedom to the kinds of songs I can write.

You are very welcome to have a listen to my recordings so far by clicking here and if you really like one you are very welcome to download an album for the price of £3.

All the best.

PC.

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Book Review: The House On The Hill by Judy Smith

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What first drew me to this novel was the great cover art and the categories of ghost story and mystery story. The story is told from the point of view of Jenna who is trying to hold together her family following the revelation of her husband’s affair. The family move away from the London to escape the bad memories and relocate to an old cottage. Jenna soon senses that all is not what it seems at the cottage and begins to dig deeper into the history of the place and uncovers more than she bargained for.

The story skips from the present to a year previously when the affair first came to light and there is a sense of tension in the relationship between Jenna and her husband with him trying to set things right and her wondering how she can ever trust him again, but the uncovered story from the cottage’s former inhabitants informs upon Jenna’s present circumstances in unexpected ways.

The story is very engaging and I had a few moments of genuine goosebumps when I came across some of its more ghostly elements. The ending however was a little inconclusive as I was left wondering whether Jenna had learned anything from what she had discovered as there was still so much tension and uncertainty left in her situation, but that certainly didn’t detract from how enjoyable the story was and I suppose it emphasises that rarely in life is there a doubt-free happy ever after.

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Book Review: How I Escaped My Certain Fate by Stewart Lee

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I am ashamed to say I didn’t really follow the wonderful work of the comedian Stewart Lee and Richard Herring back in the 90s. It was my fault entirely, I wasn’t paying attention. So when Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle appeared many years later I wondered how I had managed not to realise what a brilliant comedian he is. I had fallen out of love with stand-up for many years but over the past few years there have been some great comedians who have managed to get on TV for those of us who didn’t get to as many comedy gigs as we would have liked.

The comedian Stewart Lee’s book tells of him falling out of love with stand-up too, due to the apathy of audiences and the sheer expense of the Edinburgh Festival. Many creative people sometimes feel like they’re on a hiding to nothing and need to go away and take stock of the parts of what they’re doing that they like and what works best financially and figure out some kind of compromise or soul-search until a subtle shift in their approach through life experience gives them their answer. I hope that makes some kind of sense.

The book goes into what inspired the comedian Stewart Lee to start out in stand-up and then what made him give up. What follows are the years in-between involving Jerry Springer: The Opera and his realisation of the sheer creative potential of stand-up to be one person on a stage with complete freedom to do anything. The bulk of the book is taken up by transcripts of three of his shows from his comeback show ‘Stand-Up Comedian’ through the follow-up ’90s Comedian’ and ’41st Best Stand-up Ever’.

I think this book has caused me more laughing-out-loud on public transport moments than any other as not only are the transcripts hilarious but the footnotes and comments about other comedians are truly hysterical. There are some appendices featuring some articles the comedian Stewart Lee has written and an interview he did with Johnny Vegas.

The book puts across the comedian Stewart Lee’s passion for his art form and gives more wonderful insights into the world of stand-up comedy. I think I am so fascinated by comedy, not just because I am performing comedy songs, but also because there isn’t much reason to get excited about music these days. So with fantastic writers and performers like the comedian Stewart Lee, Josie Long and others who are doing fascinating and brilliant work it’s hard not to be excited by comedy these days.

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Book Review: Where Do Comedians Go When They Die by Milton Jones

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I find stand-up comedians fascinating. It amazes me how someone can stand in front of an audience for an hour-plus and entertain them just by saying words. It sometimes looks such an easy thing to do but I’m sure the many people who have tried and died have proved how false an assumption that is, like the Britain’s Got Talent contestant who expected to get a laugh by shouting “garlic bread” at a bewildered audience.

After enjoying a great gig by Gary Delaney at the Leicester Comedy Festival I decided to check out some comedy books and the one that really stood out was Milton Jones’ semi-autobiographical novel ‘Where Do Comedians Go When They Die? Journey of a Stand-Up’.

The story records the experiences of the fictional Jerome Stevens at various points of his stand-up career which includes (the preface reveals) events that have happened to the author himself, to other comics he knows, and also some happenings that are entirely fictional.

There are both funny and serious points throughout the book and what comes across is just what an unusual personality make-up you have to have to be a stand-up: a mixture of tenacity, vulnerability, bravery and, most importantly, the ability to look at everyday life from unusual angles.

Stand-up is not something I could do but to experience a world I am so interested in through Jerome Stevens’ eyes is a real delight. Just as Shane Spall’s ‘…Princess Matilda’ book enabled me to experience an epic sea voyage without getting wet, so Milton Jones’ novel provides some of the excitement and quirky characters of stand-up comedy without all the late nights and hecklers.

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Book Review: The Voyages of the Princess Matilda by Shane Spall

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I have enjoyed watching the adventures of Tim and Shane Spall on BBC4 as they circumnavigated the British Isles in their barge The Princess Matilda but this book is not the book of the TV series one might expect. Shane’s book covers the first part of their journey from London to Cardiff in amusing and exciting detail including encounters with new and old friends as well as eccentric characters and vivid descriptions of the places they visit. It is a wonderfully entertaining travelogue whether you are interested in boats or not.

But the counterpoint to the adventure around the coast are the parts which show the reason why the Spalls set out on this voyage in the first place. These sections written by Shane when Tim was ill with leukaemia are very moving as she goes through all the extreme emotions of someone in the situation of dealing with a serious illness in the family and describing Tim’s battle with the disease. This is what makes the book so powerful as it is clear why a couple who have come through such an awful experience would want to embark on such a fantastic adventure.

The other wonderful thing about the book is that it gives a far better insight into Tim and Shane’s personalities, particularly seeing Tim through Shane’s eyes. The other main character is of course The Princess Matilda herself who has a personality all of her own as she ploughs indefatigably through rough waves with skipper Tim at the helm.

A funny, moving and inspiring book.

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