Staying above a venue in Gerardmer, France I decided to record this little vid.
I couldn’t sleep one night while touring the South Coast of England. so I switched on my Camera and played Piano for a couple of hours. This is a little snippet of a tune called The Watcher (that has not been released).
Over the last few years I have not only embraced playing piano but also busking out on the street. It has helped me through the tough times when CD/Vinyl sales dropped (with the rise of streaming) but also with the arrival of Covid and the cancellation of so many shows.
This short video is from when I was testing my busking rig out to be sure it worked and would set myself up in the forest and simply play for a few hours. I was practicing a song I’ve still not finished simply called ‘Process Song’.
Another bit of a new track from a rehearsal before the tour started.
Again very much a work in progress but an example of the piano integrating with the loops.
Last week I had the pleasure of being a part of the team who put together the show ‘Hyper’ as a part of the Impact Outreach Network.
As a part of this performance and to help with the many set and costume changes involved Sam Willioughby and myself were asked to contribute some performances.
This gave me a rare chance to try out a new tune I’ve written on Piano and to make things even better I have to fortune to be joined by multi instrumentalist Sam on Drums.
Here’s a vid from our rehearsals:
Also below is a tune written by Sam with me joining him on Keys from one of the performances:
It’s now one year since the day I decided to have a go at connecting with (for me) a totally new instrument.
Back in 2016 I made a very conscious decision to spend less time on the road. I had clocked up 2000 odd shows over the last decade and as happy that I was to have enjoyed that journey; I was reaching a strange place in the process.
Mainly I was starting to feel as though I was loosing sight of the Joy in creating music and as my attempts at new material became further intricate, I was unsure as to how much faith one should have in it.
In short – I needed to step back.
So shortly after settling into a life less transient I decided to invest in something new.
One of the wisest purchases I have ever made I immediately took to playing the keys in a way that reminded me of my 1st connection to the Guitar. I was terrible at playing it, but the process was of pure discovery. I would find myself sat for hours noodling over simple ideas and feeling like it was the freshest thing I had created in a while.
Suddenly the loops, layers, textures, effects and intricacies seemed irrelevant.
When I reflect upon it I wonder why it took me so long. I soppose being on the road so much had a lot to do with it. But for years now my greatest love for music of just one musician and his/her instrument has been that of piano players.
I would gush to people about my love for Thelonious Monk, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bill Evans to name a few. And the music of groups like Radiohead had moved forward leaps and bounds once they started to ditch the guitars and embrace the keys.
As much as I’ve probably laboured the point now it really was a wonderful awakening for me. But what I didn’t expect was that before the year was out, I would be performing this way.
I was offered a last min show in December 2016. It was to be only a short set. I took it knowing I had decided to commit myself into a piano set. And so that’s what I did.
I was lucky enough to be able to perform a private concert the day before my 1st public outing on at the Impact Theatre in West London. This went ok although I did tend to rush everything.
The next night saw me debut publicly not only new songs but the new instrument:
I had learnt from my experience the day before and kept everything slow and manageable.
Early into 2017 I also played one singular unannounced performance in Watford:
Again there was a steep learning curve to the occasion.
I shared the billing with a fully pro piano player and sheepishly did my best.
Either way although my playing is still as basic as can be.
It’s helped my writing and enthusiasm no end.
So for now the new material is often stemming from the Piano. How much of that remains a part of the live set up remains to be seen.