Travelling these last few days, I can’t stop my brain whirring – of music I am writing, this album I am making, the concert I am playing, and a whole life I am living. Forever restlessly double thinking the next step. Even the birds i can hear all around me, singing obliviously, only crowd out the noise for a second. And yet, despite myself, small moments of tranquility, and of stillness, like this one, give me pause to remember this poem by Leo Marks – The Life That I Have – and this piece of music – Time Remembered – by Bill Evans.
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours
Yesterday was such a beautiful day making a new video for ‘Masks’ with the supreme talents of the Phaedra ensemble for company. Sometimes things just feel right. Looking forward to sharing it an the rest of the album with you all soon. Huge love to Pedro Velasco, Max Jones, Alex Killpartrick,Phillip Granell, Fred Thomas, Richard Jones, Chihiro Ono, Sergio Serra you inspire me! xxx
Ever since i heard Fred improvising over these chords during the recording session in December, i’ve been midly obsessed with this piece – When I Am Laid in Earth (Dido’s Lament) from Dido & Aeneas by Henry Purcell. Its the oddest, most haunting, heartbreaking cycle of chords with a chromatic melody that keeps on surprising you. It’s powerfully beautiful. In listening to different versions i quite by accident came across this one by Jeff Buckley this afternoon and it stopped me in my tracks. Unreal. x
A year ago I came back to Australia for the first time in a long while. I was searching for something I couldn’t put my finger on and chasing other things my hands couldn’t grasp. I started writing the songs that I’m part way through recording now, and they and the memories of that trip shaped so much of how I approached 2016.
To be back in this sunburnt country, a year on with all that’s transpired, is thrilling and discombobulating in equal measure. What a colourful, heart-burstingly total difference a year makes. I’d love to tell you all the reasons I’m excited about what’s to come and my anxieties for the fragility of it all, but for now, as the sun rises again, let me say thank you, and I can’t wait to share this new music and this already hurtling year with you soon. Love, Jamie x
TOUR DIARY DAY 10 – LAST DAY!
After all the rushing around of the last few days it was good to wake in Deal in the knowledge that we only had to go up the road for the final gig in Margate.
We took our time, me listening to the cricket, Gus writing letters, while Phil made us some expertly boiled eggs. Gus took a trip to the Smugglers Record Shop while I did some work and made an album swap with ace songstress Poggy Hatton before we set off.
It was a cold and windy November night as we followed the Kent coast to Margate. Finding our venue – The Talking Drum – was made more exciting by the lack of an address owing to it currently operating in the twilight of legality, but find it we did.
Upon arrival, flashbacks to 90’s home makeover shows crashed in on me as doors were still being hastily attached, kegs were being rigged and a sound system was being unloaded, all while bill posters from a long forgotten circus covered the windows. In amongst it all was Will Greenham, one of key figures behind Smugglers Records and that rare thing – a man given to big ideas but possessed of the gumption to make them happen.
Rather than get in the way, we took a very windy stroll through an almost deserted Margate and for the second time in 3 days found ourselves in an American Diner. Gus was suffering in the extra bright neon lights, being the sort of fish who lives deeper down, but alone save the waitress and the cook, we stuck it out. They played Elvis on the jukebox and were bizarrely projecting Breakfast at Tiffany’s on the wall.
The food was as odd as the vibe so we made quick work of it and returned to the venue by which time all signs of the finishing touches we walked in on were long gone. Slowly groups of hip 30 something gunslingers rolled in, word of mouth spreading the news of a new scene and by the time Gus started a healthy crowd of curious locals were there to greet him.
Gus went acoustic again, forcing the audience to commit to listening. When he finished with What Do We Want – which had been my absolute favourite to hear each night – the room was as silent as a Hilary Clinton victory party and the crowd were transfixed, the silence before the applause a testament to their rapt attention.
Mollies Lips aka Billy and Phil from Cocos Lovers then played a delightful floor spot before I got up. The crowd both upstairs and downstairs had swelled to a pleasing throng of beards and big glasses and conscious that this was the last show, I took a little moment to focus before going on.
The set went beautifully. I felt relaxed and confident from having played every night and coupled with the warmth I feel from the Smugglers crew, it was a perfect way to finish – I even did a few encores.
By time Gus and I left to hit the road back to London, the place had thinned out but what remained was a strong sense that what Will is creating is a special thing. It was an honour to be there at the very beginning and I can’t wait to come back.
On the drive home Gus and I debriefed. We spoke about our highlights, about the amazing people we’d met, friends we’d stayed with and gigs we’d done. We also spoke about the future, about the respective albums we’re making and for the first time in a long time opened up to each other.
It’s funny, when you share a tour with someone you’d think you’d talk all the time, but the reality is, for each other’s sanity, it’s a lot about making and leaving space just to be. In many ways, Gus and I are as different as they come, but we both believe deeply in what we’re doing and I think recognise in each other another soul trying to be true. I hope we can strike out on the same road again soon.
If you want to catch Gus his next ‘Peach’ event is on 24 November at Total Refreshment Centre in London with Sink. It will be historic.
If you want to catch me, I’m playing a few shows before the album recording and would love to see you there:
17 Nov – Farmopolis, London
29 Nov – Jamboree, London FULL BAND!
2 Dec – Rich Mix, London w/ Vula Viel
Huge love to everyone who help organise the shows or put us up along the way, I can’t wait to repay the favour. Most of all though, thanks to everytone who came to see us along the way, you are why we do it and in Gus’s words – you’re doing very well.
Big love and stay strong,
TOUR DIARY DAY 9. The day started badly. After the high of the gig at the Prince Albert the night before, the edgy drive back and the uncertainty of the election, we woke to a high-pitched digital sound of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Confused but fascinated in the same unedifying way we’re drawn voyeuristically to gawp at the scene of an accident, we watched, listened, shared and reposted before sitting around Pete and Bea’s kitchen table trying and failing to make sense of it all.
Work is tonic though and before long Pete had retreated to his loft where he assembles the ‘Submarine’ pick up he has designed (http://www.submarinepickup.com) It’s very much a cottage industry, his little space crammed with bits of electronics and tools for doing small jobs on smaller things. It felt safe and real up there, watching Pete solder circuit boards together and a long way from the news. In the warmth of the anglepoise I opened up to Pete about my worries about the impending recording and my own ability, like the total pro he his, gave me some sage advice. Feeling more courageous as a result, I did a little practice in the kitchen while Gus, having predicted the result the night before but maintaining his usual equanimity, carried on mixing his new album downstairs.
Before we left I got an incredible massage from Bea, who provides massages and therapies from their home and from a studio in town and specialises in treating musicians. It’s not something I do very often but feeling run down and physically at a low ebb, it came at an important time. While Bea was working her magic, I had a number of powerful visions that surprised and shook me quite deeply. I was quite emotional at the end and needed a little time on my own to work it out but I came out the other side feeling cleansed, reflective and physically restored. Should you be in the Stroud area I can’t recommend Bea highly enough. Find her website at:www.jacksontherapies.co.uk
After saying our goodbyes, and still wearing a beatific grin from the massage and the love that comes off Pete and Bea, we set off. The journey from Stroud to Deal, while not an epic, was still a good 4.5 hours and there was only so much of the radio we could listen to, so we left each other to our own thoughts for much of it and arrived at the Lighthouse at 7pm.
Deal is home to the Smugglers Records lot who released my last album and with whom I’ve toured and hung out a lot over the last few years. Since connecting with them I have had the good fortune to come down and play the Lighthouse a lot and its shares the family run atmosphere of the Albert. We soundchecked with David of Cocos Lovers fame on the desk and pumped for what would be our penultimate show, Gus kicked the night off.
With everything that had happened that day, the crowd were in a different mood to our previous shows. Gus was gentle, not overselling the words or pushing the theatricality too hard. Gradually though, the audience warmed up and I could see Gus start to go through the gears until by the final poem, comprised entirely out of advertising slogans, lift off had been achieved.
I feel very lucky to have some great fans in Deal and it was really great to be able to play the new songs to them. I felt as comfortable on stage as I had done all tour and I could feel the benefits of the practice, the pep talk and the massage in my fingers. After the show we hung about and chatted before retiring to Phil and Billy of Cocos Lovers house, there to eat toast and read one more time the stark proclamations of the end of the world, before drifting off into uneasy sleep.
Today is the last day of the tour – see Gus looking reflective here – and we play at the opening of the Talking Drum in Margate, a new venue being opened by Arthur Smuggler himself aka Will Greenham. It will be a great way to finish and sounds like it will be packed. Come if you can, we’d love to celebrate with you. J x
TOUR DIARY DAY 8. As names next to each other on the poster, Newcastle and Stroud made perfect sense. It wasn’t until I looked at the map the night before that I realised we were committed to traversing more than half the country.
But faint heart never won fair maid, so after helping Alex move some art materials, we left Newcastle before lunch time with a sat-nav optimistic four hour journey ahead of us.
Thinking we had all the time in the world we stopped at an American style dinner, authentic to a T save the thick Geordie accents. Refreshed, we clobbered the road, encountering rain enough to green the desert. But soon the light faded, five hours came and went and we were getting a little stir crazy.
The last hour we were a picture, both listening to demos of ourselves on our own headphones, two bubbles in a bubble. We only spoke to yell directions at each other in a reasonable impression of the grumpy old couple, may it be our fortune to one day become.
Tired and tetchy, we arrived at the Prince Albert in Stroud and immediately acquainted ourselves with the local ales and set about decompressing, taking at a normal volume and being civil to each other.
If you’ve never been to the Albert, it’s a special place. Animals, children, punters, musicians and once an albino hedgehog, run hither and yon, and every night the best live music from across the country graces it’s stage. It’s part famous music venue and part Gerald Durrell ‘My Family and Other Animals’ madhouse.
Overseeing this harmonious chaos is Lotte, publican and matriarch, who rules with the easy, open smile of one who knows she will be obeyed without having to break it. Lotte makes the Albert feel as much a home away from home as a stop on a tour and I’ve spent more nights than I can remember drinking out back or passed out upstairs after a show.
A slightly difficult soundcheck navigated, we ate with Lotte, some of the family, a few of the animals and Matt the sound guy, before doors opened. One of the best things about playing in Stroud is how many brilliant musicians live there that I’m delighted to call friends.
It was great to see Rob and Lachy from Low Chimes, my old Ballina Whalers mucker Sam Brookes, Pete ‘Submarine’ Roe, Bea and Emily together with a typically warm Albert crowd.
Gus played first and picked up where he left off in Newcastle, playing acoustically and standing between the audience and the bar in a mildly confrontational way which added to the energy he always creates. I played next and it was special to be able to play the new songs to old friends.
Before we left Sam and I sang a Ballina Whalers song for old times sake and we got excited about the prospect of playing together again next year.
Pete and Bea kindly offered to put us up for the night but the very short journey to their house was marred by me pranging the car off a pillar, reversing into a parked pick up truck and burning the clutch trying to reverse up one of Stroud’s very steep hills. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the election, but by the time we got in we were shagged from a long day.
We all woke early and despaired at the news but we’re on the road and the show must go on, so we’ve been thrashing cross country to play at the glorious Lighthouse in Deal tonight. We’re stronger together, don’t forget that, not on today of all days. Love Jamie x