Category Archives: Songwriting

What’s On Brighton January 2016

Happy New Year and welcome to my What’s On Brighton January 2016. As usual I will be highlighting my top picks of the best musical talent on display in Brighton & Hove this month. As I’m already a few days late after the Christmas break, let us get right to it!

dua-lipa-3-whats-on-brighton-january-17th-2016 Dua Lipa

One Inch Badge – Sun 17th January – 8:00pm
Hope & Ruin – Tickets £6 –  BUY TICKETS

In between the constant gushing about Jack Garratt on Radio 1, you may have heard the occasional mention of BBC Sound of 2016 Longlist artist Dua Lipa. For those unfamiliar with it, the BBC Sound of…. is their top picks of upcoming talent that they think will really take off in the next year, and they aren’t often wrong. Previous winners include Adele, Ellie Goulding, Jessie J and the James-Bond-theme-murderer (but otherwise good singer) Sam Smith.

Having only just discovered Dua when looking through the listings this month and I was instantly drawn in by the confident performance of this 19-year old and her band, with her assured songwriting showing that she had quickly mastered the basics for writing catchy upbeat pop tunes. She will be one to watch over the next 12 months and definitely one to see with this cheap price tag and in a nice intimate venue on her first UK Tour.

barnett-brothers-whats-on-Brighton-21st-January-2016Barnett Brothers

One Inch Badge – Thur 21st January – 7:30pm
Green Door Store – Tickets £9.20 – BUY TICKETS

Take two brothers from punk rock bands, remove the rest of the line up and replace their electric guitars with acoustic ones and you’ve pretty much got what’s going on here! Greg and Bobby Barnett will no doubt be playing stripped down and mixed up versions of some of The Menzingers and Captain We’re Sinking‘s finest tracks, as well as some previously unreleased songs aired for the first time in the unique acoustic tour. You can be sure that there will be a lot of energy on stage and a great vibe throughout Green Door Store so don’t miss out!

Check out this full acoustic set from Menzingers below for a taste of what is to come on the night. I’m sure that the atmosphere will be just as good as in the video!

maisie-peters-whats-on-Brighton-January-26th-2016 Maisie Peters

Stiff Promotions – Tue 26th January – 7:30pm
Latest Music Bar – Tickets £4/ £5 otd – BUY TICKETS

15-year old Maisie Peters is already a seasoned performer on the local circuit within West Sussex, and with a promising 2016 ahead, including a video shoot at Duran Duran’s former studio in Battersea Park Studios, as well as an interview with Sky TV for a programme that will air in the Spring. Her young and cutesy style reminds me of Zooey Deschanel’s She & Himalthough the songs sound a lot more innocent and less twee than their sickly-sweet ones.

The night will be completed with supports from Charlie Moss and Morgan M James. Get there early to get a seat as this tiny venue fills up fast!

wainwright-sisters-whats-on-Brighton-January-27th-2016Wainwright Sisters

MELTING VINYL – Wed 27th January –  7:30pm
Komedia – Tickets £16 + bf/ £18 otd – BUY TICKETS

Known by many as the sister of gay icon Rufus Wainwright, but also by probably just as many as an artist in her own right, Martha Wainwright will be performing alongside her sister Lucy, showcasing tracks from their recent album ‘Songs In The Dark’, a gently haunting, mesmerizing and sleepy release – I think that is a fair comment as 5 of the 15 tracks contain “lullaby” in the titles!

With gentle finger-picking and acoustic strums blended with soft vocal harmonies, it’s probably a good place to bring any restless babies who find it difficult to get off to sleep. Let’s hope that Komedia set out some seats otherwise you may be watching the audience sleeping on their feet.

Having received 4-star reviews from The Independent and The Guardian,  these tried and tested acousticians will deliver a sultry performance for certain that will leave you with a warmth in your heart. Support comes from local artist Laish, the songwriting project of Daniel Green.

air-waves-whats-on-Brighton-January-31st-2016 Air Waves

MELTING VINYL – Sun 31st January – 7:30pm
Prince Albert – £8 adv/ £8 otd – BUY TICKETS

Last by by no means least this month is Air Waves, performing at The Prince Albert in Brighton as part of her extensive European tour this January/February.

Revered by indie critics The Quietus and Pitchfork, New Yorker Nicole Schneit (AIR WAVES) and her band will be performing tracks from their fall 2015 release ‘Parting Glances‘. The album looks at the effect that these final stares between perfect strangers can have and imagines how they can lead to fictional and real situations, depending on how you play them out. Have a listen to ‘Thunder’ featuring Jana Hunter below to see what you think!

Support comes from Brighton-based acts Penelope Isles and Will René.
Facebook Event

If you have any gig suggestions, CD review requests or live review requests, please drop me a line on

What’s On Brighton November 2015

Hello one and all and welcome to by What’s On Brighton November 2015 Guide. This November in Brighton is a great month for live music, covering a wide span of genres at venues across the city.

You can see below a playlist I’ve curated of many of the acts and supports that are playing at the gigs included in my What’s On Guide (and a few extra for good measure) so why not give it a listen and see if anything piques your interest for this month. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that you find the time to see some live music this month, wherever and whatever it may be!

Nizlopi and Moulettes - Whats on Brighton November 2015 Nizlopi and Moulettes (DOUBLE HEADLINE TOUR)

Weds 4th November – 7:00pm Doors
Brighton Komedia – Tickets £16 –  BUY TICKETS

Having seen Luke Concannon (Nizlopi singer) performing a some of his solo works with a new band at The Brunswick a couple of months ago, my appreciation for his songwriting talents and on-stage showmanship and performance have only grown. I was lucky enough to have had a chat with him before the show (see my interview with Luke here) and he was a top bloke who absolutely goes for it when he’s on stage. For those who’ve not been following Nizlopi since their JCB song fame, this is the last tour that Nizlopi will be playing on for at least 2 years, so catch them now or you might not get another chance.

Joining Nizlopi for this double headline tour are a folk band called Moulettes, whom I saw for the first time performing at The Latest Music Bar in May as part of the Alternative Great Escape. With an unconventional line-up, there’s a lot about Moulettes that stands out, but mostly their music speaks for itself and is quite a spectacle that needs to be seen live to really appreciate it. This is my first gig of November and I can’t wait for it! Tickets still available online.

Normanton Street - Whats On Brighton November 2015Normaton Street + Guests

Fri 6th November – 7:00pm
Brighton Dome Studio Theatre – Tickets £8 – BUY TICKETS

Aside from international performances, touring, music festivals, residencies, running their own label and working alongside other local artists, Normanton Street have been pretty quiet over the last year.

The band have come on leaps and bounds since I went on tour with them back in April 2014 (Read my tour diary published on BN1 Magazine Online) and are always pushing themselves to be better and do new things.This show is no exception, as one of their biggest adopted hometown shows to date at the Brighton Dome Studio Theatre, with a line up of great local talent in tow for the show including uprising star Tommy Sissons, a spoken word artist who is pushing the boundaries of contemporary poetry through collaborations with local producer St. Longplayer, BBC Radio1Xtra and Channel 4.

Their shows are energetic and full of good vibes and I have no reason to suspect that this one will be any different. Normanton Street are going places so why not let them take you with them? Here’s an old video from Normanton Street, featuring Frankie Stew who will also be performing at the show!

What's On Brighton October 2015 - Brighton Philharmonic OrchestraBrighton Philharmonic Orchestra

Sun 8th November, 2:45pm
Brighton Dome – Tickets from £11.50 – BUY TICKETS

Continuing their 91st concert season, The Brighton Philharmonic will be performing Elgar’s Sanguine Fan, Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and Schubert’s Symphony No.9 (The Great).

Last month’s opening concert was a packed one, with a great atmosphere as ever in the Brighton Dome, a venue perfectly designed for performers and audience with its great acoustics and clever design that makes every seat a great seat. The orchestra is once again being conducted by the charismatic Barry Wordworth, whose years at the helm of the Brighton Philharmonic make him a familiar and comforting face to see on the stage. The concert also  features solo award-winning cellist Gemma Rosefield so will be an extra special performance. Don’t miss out. It’s a lovely and relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Alela and Ryan - Whats On Brighton November 2015Alela Diane & Ryan Francesconi

Tues 10th November, 7:30pm
Komedia – Tickets £12 + bf/ £14 otd – BUY TICKETS

When singer Alela and guitarist Ryan started talking at a friend’s gig last year, they realised that they were both exactly what the other one needed to get themselves out of a creative standstill. The result is the collaboration which led to the production of an album, Cold Moon, adding Alela’s vocals and melodies to Ryan’s intricate compositions made up of beautiful guitar lines.

Both established as soloists in their own fields before working together, each has a rich catalogue of solo material as well as their collaborations, so the show could be a real mix of old and new material from these vastly different artists who found each other. Support comes from Vikesh Kapoor + Ellie Ford

Mountain Goats - Whats On Brighton November 2015The Mountain Goats

Weds 18th November, 7:30pm
Komedia – £20 adv/ £22 otd – BUY TICKETS

Sure-footed and impervious to all weathers…I think I may have the wrong mountain goats there! The Mountain Goats are an indie-folk band from North Carolina who have crossed the pond to tour their latest record Beat The Champ.

The album is a concept album, based around the stories of many people working in the professional wrestling industry – certainly a bit more exciting that you’re run of the mill boy-meets-girl narrative, which still proliferates popular culture today after decades of fine songwriting from across the world. With jazz-infused harmonies and a smorgasbord of musical influences on show within their songs, this will be a night to remember. Support comes from The Weather Station + The Hornblower Brothers.

Kate Daisy Grant and Nick Pynn - Whats On Brighton November 2015Kate Daisy Grant and Nick Pynn

Sun 22nd November, 7:15pm doors, 8pm start
The Old Market – £12 adv – BUY TICKETS

It was September last year when I first saw and heard Kate and Nick performing at The Old Market at the Album Launch of Kate Daisy Grant’s Portrait. (Read my full review of Kate’s album Portrait). 14 months later, it is Nick’s turn to have his album launch at the same venue, with his highly anticipated Waterproof is finally out on the shelves (and in the digital stores that we are all used to now).

Nick’s instrumental soundscapes and Kate’s delicate vocals will fuse into a unique blend of experi-pop songs and melodic avant-folk, for what Kate describes as “our last gig for the forseeable future”. With more instruments than a small orchestra on stage, Kate and Nick’s performances are far from boring. Recently announced as a special guest for the show is Beverley Martyn, the former wife of folk sensation John Martyn, and an established musician in her own right with 50 years of professional experience including collaborations with Simon and Garfunkel, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant plus many more. The show is sure to be spellbinding and I can’t wait for the weekend to roll around. Check out the live video of Kate and Nick below, shot in September 2015 for a taster of what’s to come on Sunday.

This Is The Kit - Whats On Brighton November 2015This Is The Kit

Tues 24th November, 7:30pm
The Haunt – £10 adv + bf – BUY TICKETS

This Is The Kit are a fantastic chilled out folk outfit that I have seen playing packed out shows at both Brighton’s Green Door Store and the Tipi Tent at End Of The Road Festival this year.

Endorsed by Guy Garvey from Elbow on his radio show, the bands’s third album ‘Bashed Out’ sounds anything but; it’s a well crafted record, and …”a triumph of what folk is meant to sound like”. Read my full review of Bashed Out. Wherever Kate Stables and her troupe go, the venue are filled to the rafters so don’t miss this chance to see This Is The Kit play an intimate show in your home town, and for just £10 too! You’d be a fool not to! Watch the video for Silver John and see if you’re not hypnotized as well!

Communion New Faces Tour - Whats On Brighton November 2015Communion New Faces Tour

Thurs 26th November – 7:00pm
Green Door Store –  £8 +bf – BUY TICKETS

Communion Music have always had their eye on the ball when it comes to spotting new music breaking through the ranks. Amongst their discoveries are Bear’s Den, Catfish and The Bottlemen and Twin Peaks (to name just three). With this tour, they are taking 4 artists across the country to give them a nice boost to their nationwide fan-bases and help them to realise their potential as professional artists and bands.

This tour features acoustic duo Seafret, alt 4-piece Flyte, Shrewsbury singer-songwriter Dan Owen (who just released his Bad For Me EP) and his previous touring buddy, Brighton lad Jack Watts. Previous artists on the New Faces tour have included Luke Sital-Singh, Annie Eve and Eliza and the Bear, so I have high hopes for some great things at this show. Check out the artists performing in the videos below.

Communion New Faces Tour Event Page

Stornoway - Whats On Brighton November 2015Stornoway Unplucked

Sat 28th November, 7:00pm
St Georges Church – £18 + bf/ £20 otd

Melting Vinyl presents Oxford folk indie-pop band Stornaway, fresh off the release of their third album, Bonxie, which has been described as “their most personal, engaging and best album to date”.

Performing in one of my favourite Brighton venue, St Georges Church in Kemp Town, Stornaway will be showcasing their songwriting craft through their songs about ornithology, literature and wildlife, amongst others, in what promises to be a night of great entertainment, culture and high class musicianship.

Support comes from Katherine Priddy, whose hypnotic tracks clearly demonstrate that she is a female who attended the school of Nick Drake and John Martyn. Don’t miss this chance to catch both of these fantastic acts in such a beautiful venue. Tickets are still available so book now to avoid disappointment!

If you have any gig suggestions, CD review requests or live review requests, please drop me a line on

What’s On Brighton October 2015

It’s been a busy September. My highlights from the hectic last month include:

  • End Of The Road Festival –  4 days of fantastic live music (and I even got to play a few songs on the piano stage)
  • Getting to interview Luke Concannon (Nizlopi) and see his and Jimmy Davis’s spectacular live show
  • Releasing another single online – The Architect/ Moving On
  • Having a much needed catchup with my guitarist Tom and recording this rough demo of a track called “Is This It?”
          Is This It (live demo) - Tom Sayer

Looking on, here are my picks of what I’m looking forward to this month in my guide to What’s On Brighton October 2015.

What's On Brighton October 2015 - Hippodrome BenefitThe Golden Years of Theatre: Our Brighton Hippodrome Benefit

Sun 4th October, 2:30pm doors, 3pm start
Brighton Komedia – BUY TICKETS

Find out about the history of theatre from actor Nigel Nevinson as he talks about his mother, Nancy Nevinson, and her long career as an actress, examining how theatre has changed from the 1930s to the present day.

This event is a benefit for the Our Hippodrome charity, which is currently raising funds and awareness for the Brighton Hippodrome, and trying to bring the venue to be restored to its former glory. Even if you can’t make the event, please have a look at their website, and if you can donate some time or money to help their noble cause.  Brighton needs venues like the Hippodrome to attract  musicians, theatre companies and a wealth of other performers to our south coast so help get the building back on its feet!

What's On Brighton October 2015 - Brighton Philharmonic OrchestraBrighton Philharmonic Orchestra

11th October, 2:45pm
Brighton Dome – Tickets from £11.50 – BUY TICKETS

Starting their 91st concert season, The Brighton Philharmonic will be opening the bill with Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.1 and closing the afternoon with Kallinikov’s Symphony No.1. It seems quite fitting that on this opening concert two of these piece were the composer’s first entries in the mediums of piano concerti and symphonies.

Brighton Dome is a fantastic venue for hearing classical music in, with its architecture giving every audience member a great sound as well as a wonderful view. My personal tip is to get seats in the circle if possible, as I find the sound carries better up and towards the back. So sit back, relax and enjoy a Sunday afternoon with the Brighton Philharmonic. And if you like it, why not think about getting a season ticket to make sure that you never miss a performance.

What's On Brighton October 2015 - Rival ConsolesRival Consoles

Tuesday 13th October, 7:00pm
Green Door Store – £8 + bf/ £10 otd – BUY TICKETS

London-based producer Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles will eb showcasing his ambient atmospheric electronic in the confines of the dark and damp stables that is the Green Door Store.  Ryan is a kind of aural cosmonaut, exploring musical soundscapes and ideas of time and space in his music. Check out his track ‘Odyssey’ and see if you’re ready for the journey.

What's On Brighton October 2015 - Sahara

Sahara + The Habitats + Object Object + LoupZillas

Thursday 15th October, 7:30pm
The Hope & Ruin –  £5 adv/ £6 otd

Hear the latest upcoming indie grooves with this 4 band line-up including 3 local bands and out-of-towners The Habitats. With the upstairs of the Hope (&Ruin) now completely redone, there’s a lot more space to see the bands (plus the sound man there is a dude and always gets it spot on). Get down early to avoid being stuck at the back by the bar, unless you like being at the back by the bar, in which case arrive whenever.

Check out this live video (albeit it 2 years old) to get an idea about the night. Expect jangly guitars and upbeat tracks so bring your dancing shoes.

Oxjam BrightonOxjam Brighton Takeover

Saturday 17th October, ALL DAY

Love music? Like multi-venue inner-city festivals? Have a spare tenner? If the answer to these three questions is yes then Oxjam Takeover is definitely for you. It’s kind of like a scaled down version of The Great Escape taking place on just one day, but there is still a wealth of bands on display and with a pricetag that everybody can afford, it’s definitely worth a punt. Do so something great and help out Oxfam by enjoying a full day of live music all across Brighton. See an interview with the organisers of the festival below and see you there!

What's On Brighton October 2015 - Brighton FolkBrighton Folk

Sunday 18th October, 8:00pm
The Brunswick–  £FREE

A monthly folk/acoustic night hosted by singer-songwriter Amy Hill in the intimate setting of The Brunswick. Each month, different hand-picked artists perform to the eager audience. I can’t find the line up for this month’s edition yet, but I’m still up for checking it out, based on the callibre of acts that have previous played on the night. So if you’re at a loss for a Sunday evening, why not pop along and ease the harsh transition out of the weekend!

What's On Brighton October 2015 - Folklore SessionsFolklore Sessions 1st Birthday

Tuesday 20th October, 8:00pm
The White Rabbit –  £FREE

I can’t believe that it’s been a whole year since local singer-songwriter Jacko Hooper set up this monthly acoustic showcase at The White Rabbit. From sultry solo artists to stripped down bands, Folklore Sessions is everything that Live Lounge used to be (before Radio 1 went a little bit mad with it). The music is always top notch, the atmosphere is respectful for the performers and the general buzz around Folklore is always one that you leave on a high with. Having recently hosted a stage at Together The People Festival, Folklore Sessions is definitely going places, and I’m keen to see where the next turn in the road will take it.

This month’s anniversary line-up includes some of Jacko’s favourites from the last year: Bess Atwell, Oktoba and Aniseed Treats. See you there! Hopefully there will be baloons!

What's On Brighton October 2015 - BeardymanBeardyman: An Album Per Hour

Wednesday 21st & Thursday 24th October, 8:00pm
The Old Market, Hove – £18/16 conc – BUY TICKETS

Come and witness a truly unique event (twice if you really want) at The Old Market, Hove where Beardyman will be making a brand new album live on stage for your enjoyment. If you’ve not heard of Beardyman before, check out the video below which features this show live at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers. He’ll be doing it completely fresh on the nights. Check it out!

More to be added as the month goes on….. If you have any gig suggestions, CD review requests or live review requests, please drop me a line on

What’s On Brighton September 2015

After taking two months off to work on the music for a feature film (something that I have always wanted to do), I find that my musical vigour and passion has concentrated and I look forward to making a lot more music as well as writing about. In the meanwhile, since finishing my role working up north mid-August, I have been very busy readjusting back into normal life (if you can ever call it that). Some of my highlights from the last month are:

  • Me and Earl and The Dying Girl – A fantastic film that I was lucky enough to see a preview of through Show Film First. It’s a great place to get free preview tickets to shows at short notice. Sign up and keep an eye on their twitter.
  • Krater Comedy Club – I think sometimes Brightonians take for granted that we have this multiple award-winning night on our doorstep throughout the weekend, with up to 5 shows per weekend. I’ve never seen a bad act and I’ve been to a fair few. Definitely a good plan if you’re without a plan at the weekend! Sign up to their mailing list for great deals and keep an eye on the @KomediaBrighton for competitions too!
  • Life Story Prom : Royal Albert Hall – Not in Brighton but just a short train ride away, the proms are a must for me every year and this was one of my favourites. The music of Murray Gold performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and narrated by none other than Sir David Attenborough. With 1,350 tickets available on the day for gallery and arena areas, there’s a great chance of nabbing a £5 day ticket. The proms finish on 12th September so don’t miss out! More info on 

Without further ado here are my picks of the best of What’s On Brighton September 2015.

What's On Brighton September 2015 - EOTR

End Of The Road Festival

4-6th September
Llama Tree Gardens – SOLD OUT

It’s the tenth anniversary year of this festival and my first time coming but I can’t wait! My girlfriend has been for the last few years and has always enjoyed it, speaking highly of the music, the people attending and the general good vibes going around during the festival. The line-up has a few big names that I recognise, like Sufjan Stevens, War On Drugs, Laura Marling and Tame Impala, but mostly I am looking forward to discovering some new music whilst I am there.

What's On Brighton September 2015

Together The People Festival

5-6th September
Preston Park – BUY TICKETS

If I hadn’t already booked up for EOTR, I’d definitely have been attending Together The People Festival (TTP) for its first year. The line-up looks fantastic, including Jose Gonzalez, Super Furry Animals, Ghost Poet, Luke Sital-Singh + more, featuring a whole stage filled by Folklore Sessions, the monthly showcase brainchild of local singer-songwriter Jacko Hooper. I am genuinely sad that I won’t get to check out the festival in its first year, but hopefully it will be back next year! Tickets are still available online at a real bargain price of just £75 for the weekend and £39.50 for one day, so if you’re looking for something to do for the weekend in Brighton, this is probably your best bet!


Whats On Brighton September 2015 - Luke Concannon and Jimmy Davis

Luke Concannon + Jimmy Davis

Friday 11th September – 8:00pm
The Brunswick – £7 adv/ £8 otd – BUY TICKETS

Before returning to Brighton with his full band (Nizlopi) in November, Luke Concannon is embarking on a solo tour with fellow troubadour and hip-hip songwriter Jimmy Davis for this joint headline tour across the UK. The pair have the Ed Sheeran seal of approval, with Luke being referred to by the ginger Prince of acoustic pop as his ‘role model’, they supported Ed on his London previous tour dates at Brixton Academy and Shepherds Bush Empire.

As a lovely added touch, before each show on the tour, Luke and Jimmy will be running a free 1 hour songwriting workshop at the venues, allowing their fans to talk about the techniques behind the songwriting and perhaps get a chance to play them one of their songs. Attendees of this exclusive session will also get 1/2 price entry to the evening shows. You can’t say fairer than that!

Willard Grant Conspiracy

Wildwood &Brighthelmstone Promotions Presents Willard Grant Conspiracy + Old Lost John

Thursday 17th September – 7:30pm
Prince Albert –  £12 adv – BUY TICKETS

Rounding off their UK tour with a performance at the prestigious Prince Albert in Brighton, Willard Grant Conspiracy will be raising the roof in a trio formation – with guitar, vocals, cello, viola and, of course, a musical saw! The band caught my attention from first listen, and they have been rightly compared to Warren Ellis and Nick Cave with their dark yet rich songwriting style – like an 85% cocoa Lindt chocolate bar.

Support comes from one-man band Old Lost John aka Swedish folk noir songwriter Tomas Thunberg.

What's On Brighton September 2015 - Addictive TV Orchestra of Samples

Addictive TV: Orchestra of Samples

Saturday 19th September – 7:30pm
The Old Market, Hove – £10 – BUY TICKETS

As a part of the Brighton Digital Festival, TOM and BDF Present a one-off special performance of their show “Orchestra of Samples”.  Created by filming over 200 musicians all across the globe, the live performance will bring them together for an audio-visual sensation, supported by the innovative street percussion masters from STOMP for a performance which will be like no other! With rave reviews from national and international presses and online media, I can’t wait to see what the guys will conjure up and will be attending with an open mind and open ears. Support comes from the wonderful singer-songwriter Cate Ferris and an exclusive new screening of some short films from  animation house DOG & RABBIT.

What's On Brighton September 2015 - A Night At The Hucklebuck

A Night At The Hucklebuck

Friday 25th September – 8:00pm
The Old Market, Hove – £15/10 concessions – BUY TICKETS

Forget X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, if you are looking for a local equivalent of The Royal Variety Performance, you need look no further than A Night At The Hucklebuck. Arranged by comedian and ventriloquist Steve Hewlett in memory of his close friend and colleague Nathan Zahorchak, who sadly passed away aged just 38, A Night At The Hucklebuck is a good old-fashioned variety show featuring magic, music, comedy, circus, film and much more. The audience are invited to attend in fancy dress and there will be a celebrity raffle and a special surprise guest joining the bill too. So come, bring your family and be truly entertained for one Friday evening!

More to be added as the month goes on….. If you have any gig suggestions, CD review requests or live review requests, please drop me a line on

Ruarri Joseph Interview – 25-11-14

Having just arrived after a long trip town from Dorchester, following his show at The Arts Centre, I had a chat with Ruarri Joseph before his show that night at Brighton Komedia‘s Studio Bar.

Hi Ruarri. On first seeing the music video for ‘Until The Luck Runs Dry‘ I was completely taken in by the video for the track. How did you and Tony Plant first meet and how did the collaboration come about?

Well we both live in Newquay, and knew each other’s work. Then in November 2012 I heard that he was doing a big beach drawing for charity and I came down with my family to check it out. We got chatting and I couldn’t believe that nobody had used his artwork in a music video before.  I think his work is a good marriage to the track, as it’s about giving it your all, even if you know that you won’t quite make it. It’s about taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture.

I guess on another level it works because even though he is creating this amazing artwork, he doesn’t get to see it until the end when it is half washed away. That kind of shows how we are sometimes, not realising how our actions are viewed by others and not seeing the full influence that we can have. That’s kind of a nice thought.

Exactly! That’s just what we were going for with the video. I’m glad that came across.

With your 2013 Live Album, was there more pressure of fun when you were recording it?

We’d recorded a live album before back in 2008-9. We overstacked the setlist and it was a lot busier that we had anticipated so in the end we just forgot about the recording and played the gig.  With this album, I used the same band as I’m playing with tonight and I think it went really well. It had a cool vibe and was great fun to perform. It’s important to capture what an artist is really like, mistakes and all, so that it feels more human.

Ruarri Joesph Live Album - Autumn 2013

What was the idea behind the poem in the album insert of the Live Album?

Sometimes I feel that I’m not very articulate in conversation. With the poem I wanted to give a slice of what it’s like as the performer, coming onto the stage, something that the audience probably don’t often don’t take into account. What did I actually write? (He reads the poem from the album insert aloud) I kinda like that. One of the great things about stream of consciousness writing is that you often don’t really remember what you write, so its nice to rediscover it. Thanks for that!

The Cold Ontario EP has a real mix of tracks on it, from the vocal harmonies and folk sounds of the title track to the contrasting piano ballad ‘Undoubtedly‘ as the very next track. How did you choose the tracklisting for it?

With the EP I wanted to use a variety of tracks, some of which were possibly discordant in styles but the songs still fitted together. I realised that I write in a lot of different ways so it was good to express all those different facets in the EP, including the live tracks, which I think is an important thing.

Do you feel that you have more freedom with an EP than an album, where people kind of expect the songs to be a bit more unified?

Yeah totally. With the EP it’s like a sampler of all that you can do, whereas an album takes some of those things and develops them more. Ruarri Joseph Cold Ontario EP

How has the November tour been so far?

It’s all gone really well so far. No real hiccups at all! It’s great to tour with friends. It makes all the difference because you all have peaks and dips, but you’re in it together. The tour has had the most dates of any UK tour we’ve done and the most sell outs so that’s great!


Do you find it difficult managing your own social media, particularly when on tour?

I’m terrible with social media! I like it but it’s just about being organised and on top of it. I find it much easier when I’m on tour actually, because when you’re on the road, you’ve got long periods of travelling with not much to do so it’s a good time to do it. When I’m at home I always find other things to do. It’s really nice to receive feedback though, like for example when we did an Irish tour I had some people saying that it looked like a great trip and that was nice. I guess it is all quite linear when you think about it.

I studied music at University in Bangor, North Wales and I saw that you played at Blue Sky Cafe earlier this month. How was the gig and how did you find Bangor?

Blue Sky is a lovely cafe. We didn’t really get to see much of Bangor though. That’s one of the things that is a shame about a busy tour is that you don’t have much time to see the sights where you go. We found a nice beach which was perfect for skimming stones so we stayed there for about an hour which was really nice. We’ve played in Bangor twice and both times have been sell out shows which is amazing considering we don’t know anybody there. Bangor seems to have a certain clientele for the gigs at Blue Sky and we really enjoyed playing there.

Ruarri Joseph Trio at Bangor. Image take from Lily & Meg's blog -
Ruarri Joseph Trio at Bangor. Image take from Lily & Meg’s blog –

Where did you first meet Lily & Meg and what is it like touring with them?

I first met them a while back. I’d released my Brother album but had a lot of new material that I wanted to play, so I performed a bunch of secret shows under the name William The Conquerer and they were the support for one of the shows. I just fell in love with their sound and their music and with them as people. They play in my band on tour so it works out really well. It’s like we’re in this musical community of people. Sometime people step in for gigs so it’s nice to have that network there.

Ruarri with Lily & Meg on tour. Image from
Ruarri with Lily & Meg on tour. Image from


I saw that you have a liking for Wes Anderson films. Which one were you watching the other day when on break from your tour? My last interview with Alfie Boe, he expressed a particular liking for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

We were watching Life Aquatic the other day. My favourite is probably the Royal Tenenbaums. I love Wes Anderson’s OCD approach to film-making. I saw Alfie Boe in London when he was in Les Mis. I was working on a strange job with the son of the creator of the show and I was just floating around with nothing to do one afternoon and he sorted me out with two tickets. They were probably the best seats in the house, right in the centre. But I didn’t have anybody for my +1 so I just put my coat on the seat next to me and enjoyed the show.

If you had the opportunity, would you like to score a film and if so what kind of film would suit your music?

Yeah of course. It would probably be a low budget indie type film, with some kind of social realism to it. A bit quirky too. (Like Submarine?) Yeah, something like that!

Ruarri Joseph Trio Live November Tour 2014
Ruarri Joseph Trio Live November Tour 2014 – Image from

Do you have notepads to carry around with you when you get ideas for songs?

I didn’t used to, but I’m getting more organised now. I’ve realised that when I’m more organised, I am more productive! I used to just write notes on anything, napkins, post-it notes and scraps of paper, keeping them all in a wooden box. I used to write in my shed too, like on the walls inside. It looks like some kind of graffiti is going on in there. Once I started, I figured I might use it for an album cover in the future.

Finally, if you could play a gig anywhere to any three people in the world who would you choose to be your audience?

I would probably play in my house. And if I could play to anybody it would be Tom Waits….plus his wife… (So Tom Waits with a +1?) Yeah, and I’d leave the other seat empty, to remind me that I can’t have everything. I’d say Dylan, but I think he is too cantankerous for that kind of thing.

Ruarri Joseph 2014 November UK Tour Poster with Lily & Meg
Ruarri Joseph 2014 November UK Tour Poster with Lily & Meg


Cold Ontario EP  and Live 2013 Album are out now and available to buy from his official website here. The new album, currently in the pipeline, working on some of the songs that Ruarri toured under the name of William The Conquerer, and will be out in 2015.







Paul Thomas Saunders – Beautiful Desolation Review

Ahead of his gig at Brighton’s Green Door Store on Wednesday 19th November 2014, I take a look at Paul Thomas Saunders’ debut album from earlier this year, called ‘Beautiful Desolation‘. With an abstract landscape for the artwork (designed by American artist Neil Krug, who has designed a number of great artworks for artists including Lana Del Ray, Bat For Lashes, Foals and First Aid Kit) and descriptive song titles like “Starless State of the Moonless Barrow“, the sleeve of the CD is giving very little away about its content, other than that its creator must have had a very clear idea in his head about what he wanted from the record aesthetically, and one would assume musically!

Combining an electronic soundscape and clear and confident vocal melodies with punchy lyrics attached,the album really shines and sparkles, like a glimmer in the eye of somebody who is in love.

Here is my track by track rundown of ‘Beautiful Desolation’:

1. Kawai Celeste

For those of you who aren’t necessarily in the know, I will quickly note that Kawai is a manufacturer of pianos and keyboards and a celeste is a frozen pizza manufacturer, amongst other things. Now that is out of the way, the song starts with a pulsing synth which sounds like it could equally belong in a Vangelis film score and a Snow Patrol pop song. The vocals have a floating quality often associated with Sigur Rós, although this time sung in English. The track is warming, reverby, relaxing and pretty out of this world. I have a feeling it’s going to be quite a journey listening to this album!

2. Good Women

A poignant song looking at “good women” and the terrible men that they sometime end up choosing. It is a song about injustice, frustration and the way the world works. The melody, in both the vocals and the synth, is quite beautiful, and the lyrics are just great too, reminding me a little of Death Cab For Cutie’s precise descriptions in their songs:

Good women bed the charmless everyday
They lead the lowest to their rooms, with their eyes flawless and disarming
And he’ll swear he’ll be your doll this time
But those dreams you had, they’ll suffer, they’ll die

3. Appointment In Samarra

The track is about a woman heading off to Samarra, a city is Iraq, leaving behind her life after her husband was assumingly killed in the war. The track is based on an old fable about not being able to escape your own destiny. The melody is anthemic and  moving, reminding me of Starsailor’s ‘Alcoholic’. My favourite line is “breadwinners won’t be baking any more“. Another really strong track keeping the momentum of the openers continuing on.

4. Waking & Evening Prayers For Rosemary-Mai

This track is about a man who is praying that his love returns home to him, rather than being taken to her father, who has passed away. The song is full of yearning, desire and old-fashioned romance and is quite moving. Melodically it sounds rather Fleet Fox-y, which is by no means a bad thing.

5. In High Heels Burn It Down

In High Heels Burn It Down is about the power that a woman can have over you. The video is very stylish and the song is pretty catchy, and as Paul describes it “the most immediate track on the album.” Check out the video below and see if you agree.

6. Wreckheads & The Female Form

This is more than just a song. It is more than a world. It is pretty much an entire universe in just over five and a half minutes. The sounds created are dense and comprehensive, from rich synthesisers to magical chimes. I think the Paul definitely could have a career in film scoring for sci-fi films, probably something that he would really enjoy from his fondness of space exploration and of making music!

7. A Lunar Veteran’s Guide To Re-Entry

“I can never remember the words to this song when we play it live. I have no idea why. This song is all about trying to capture the rushing feeling of a car speeding through a tunnel, I wanted you to hear the trails of artificial light over your head. That image for me was the inspiration behind the production. I think it sounds like a wall of fluid colourful noise.”  (From an interview with Paul by Thelineofbestfit)

8. Starless State Of The Moonless Barrow

Another track with a clear space theme in the title and throughout the lyrics, as the whirling soundscape draws the listener in, like a black hole. Combining romantic imagery and the universe seems to be something that comes easily to Paul Thomas Saunders. “You’re the relentless star that keeps me holding on to yesterdays sunrise“. The interesting structures of his songs keep things fresh and unpredictable.

9. Santa Muerte’s Lightning & Flare

Santa Muerte is a figure associated with death, literally translating to ‘Our Lady of the Holy death’, and is the guardian who watches over the departed. The track is just shy of eight minutes long and is a winding journey with plenty of sights along the way, including plenty of surprising dips as well as swells. Listening to this track is something akin to listening to a piece of orchestral music; rewarding but requiring the right mood and the attention it deserves to be appreciated.

10. On Into The Night

Closing the album, On Into The Night is a swirling finale showcasing several of the production techniques, textures and sounds of the album in a whistle-stop tour fashion, allowing the listener to see Paul’s universe fade away until it is picked up again another day.

Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were Review

Ben Howard has to be one of the greatest breakthrough artists of the century. The success of his debut album ‘Every Kingdom’ in 2011 earned him a Mercury Prize Nomination as well as two BRIT Awards in 2013 for Best Breakthrough Act and Best Solo Male Artist, besting Olly Murs, Plan B and Calvin Harris! Off the bat of his performance of ‘Only Love‘ at the BRITS, he went to the Top 10 in the singles chart (previously at 190!) and number 4 in the album charts (previously 46), proving that people had just to hear him perform live in order to be captivated by his music.  Continue reading Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were Review

Busy In Bodffordd and Bangor

Just a quick update as to my whereabouts this week. I have returned to my university city of Bangor for the week to do some recording with my good friend Will Roberts in Bodffordd, of some very old material: I mean songs from up to 8-9 years ago, re-recorded, arranged and mastered into a brand new album/EP.

Day One: Worked out the track list and laid down the vocals and guitar for some of the tracks. In the evening I hosted the Open Mic at The Belle Vue in Bangor, my regular haunt from my uni days. The place was packed from start to finish and I saw some great new acts perform as well as some familiar favourites, who had all developed a lot since I’d last seen them perform.

Day Two: Finished off the guitar, piano and vocal tracks for all of the songs. Started a rough drum track for the first song, the wind, and I’m excited for how it’s sounding! Here is me hard at work:

Tomorrow, we’ll be working on some of the arrangements after stopping by at Treffos School on Anglesey in the morning to give a talk on music journalism to the year 6 class.
More to follow tomorrow. 🙂

Interview with Jon Gomm

Check out my interview with guitar legend Jon Gomm before his gig at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar last night, where he talks about crowdsourcing, his banjo pegs, his jazz education and much more.

He was a very lovely chap, even with his poor habit of feeding chips to the seagull on the seafront. His gig in the evening was a brilliant showcase of his guitar and vocal abilities, including a lesson for how to play drums on guitar and an insight into his background, playing in the working men’s clubs of Blackpool  (“The city Brighton could have been” he quipped in response to a heckler) to particularly unreceptive audiences of “confused Glaswegian pensioners on holiday” prompting him to bring out one of his trademark showpieces, his instrumental arrangement of Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’
For the rest of his tour dates and more information go to or @jongomm

Tom Hickox Interview – 29th May 2014

After catching the end of a very soothing soundcheck at The Hope in Brighton, I met up with Tom Hickox in a pub around the corner to talk his music, merchandise and alternative career paths.
Did your parents’ background in classical music have any effect on your album? Are there any particular records that you remember being played as a child?
Not specifically, no. I think that when you grow up everything will have an influence on you, but any classical influences on my album were not consciously made. I was not looking to make anything classical, but with my background I guess you could say it’s an innate training, the music is in my blood. I’m really grateful to have had that kind of upbringing.
In terms of songwriting and orchestration, do you see these as separate things or do they happen simultaneously?
I definitely keep the songwriting separate. I like to focus on the key elements: the lyrics, melody and harmony first, to get the core of the song down. Then I’ll think about the right ensemble to play it. I do the majority of the orchestration and arranging myself but I think that it is important not to get ahead of yourself: if you don’t give the song strong foundations then it can never stand tall.
A lot of comparisons are made between your voice and that of Leonard Cohen. How do you feel about that? I personally think you more resemble Guy Garvey (Elbow) and Matt Berninger (The National). Are you a fan of either of those?
I’m a big fan of Leonard Cohen. He has definitely been an influence to me. You can tell within a millisecond if a song is his and that is such a great thing. I think for artists it is so hard to find your voice, both in the abstract and sonic senses but I am thrilled to be compared to such great company. I really like Elbow and The National. They write beautifully crafted music and have a lot to say. Recently one of my songs was played on Guy Garvey’s radio show and he was very complimentary about it. It is so humbling and surreal to have someone who you really admire become aware of your work and become an advocate for it.
In terms of the album artwork, it appears that you are having a conversation with yourself. Was that your intention?
The main thing that I wanted the cover to convey was that I was not just speaking from my point of view on the album; I was inhabiting other people’s voices and telling their stories.  I think that it is important to get the right look for a record, taking care and effort to package it in the best way possible. If the cover is symbiotic with the meaning of the record then it really speaks to the people and transmits well.
You have quite an interesting array of merchandise, including signed lyric handkerchiefs and pocket mirrors? Are you aiming yourself at the middle-class or is it more a style thing?
Not at all. I think I’m not the sort of musician whose supporters would want a t-shirt of. I just don’t think that it suits my style of music. The lyric handkerchief is something I really like because I think it hasn’t ever been done before. And the idea behind the pocket mirror is owner is looking back on themselves through it. Also, from a boring practical point of view, both are light items which are easy to travel around with when on tour. They seem to be selling really well though. We only have about 10 handkerchiefs left (prior to the gig).
How has the tour been going so far? Do you enjoy playing all across the country?
It’s been fantastic. I am always surprised by how different the crowds are in different cities. The venues vary each night too. Some of the shows were sell outs which is great. Others were pretty close to capacity and a couple were a little more chilled but we’ve had a great reception so far. We’re finishing the tour with a full band show in London in a few days. It’s always nice to end with a home show. I could walk home afterwards if I didn’t have my keyboard!
Besides music, do you have any other big interests/hobbies?
I’m interested in art and culture; films, books, pictures, anything that I can get ideas from for songs really. I also spend far too much time watching football on TV, but that’s not been much use for writing a song just yet!
And finally, if you couldn’t make music, what would your dream job be?
I’d be up front with Suarez, banging in the goals! That has always been a dream of mine since I was little, to be a striker for Liverpool. I enjoyed football from a young age but was never particularly sporty. But I am so happy to be able to do what I love by making music. If I can keep making more records with more amazing musicians, writing and recording music that I really believe in and playing it to crowds who really appreciate it, then I will be very happy indeed.
His stunning debut album War Peace and Diplomacy is out now.