Category Archives: playing live

Wheels in motion.

Big changes on the horizon, wheels in motion for new music, gigs and all that jazz (well, “all that alt.blues and roots”, if you prefer).  Starts on kind of a downer and builds from there, yeah?

Here’s the word from Dog Moon Howl …

… cheerio.

After five years of rehearsing, songwriting, recording and intermittent gigging, we feel it’s time for Dog Moon Howl to wind things down.  We’re opting for the popular showbiz euphemism “extended hiatus”.

Unfortunately, for unrelated reasons we’ve had to pull out of the October gig at Nice’N’Sleazy, so as it stands we’ll no longer be active after our upcoming support slot with Lionize at the ABC2 on August 1st. We may take the very occasional gig if we get the right offer but we won’t be chasing live work or working on new material for the foreseeable future.

There’s no bad blood involved, not even musical differences.  In fact we’ll be continuing to work together, though on a very different project.  More news on that soon.

Anybody who wants a last hurrah with the band can head over to dogmoonhowl.bandcamp.com for half price tickets to the ABC2 show.  In the meantime, thanks to those of you (family, friends, bands, bloggers and broadcasters) who’ve supported us over the years.

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HALF PRICE ticket offer for Dog Moon Howl/Lionize @ ABC2, Glasgow, Aug 1st

Ticket info as promised … now available from the Dog Moon Howl Bandcamp store:

HALF PRICE tickets to our ABC2, Glasgow show supporting Lionize with Mantis Taboggan + The Last Gasp on Aug 1st.  Tickets are half face value with no hidden bullshit.

Tickets will be left at the door for you (we’ll email the details) or we can post them if you prefer , UK only, for an extra quid (per order, however many tickets).

Direct link:  HALF PRICE TICKET OFFER


Pennies, Dog Moon Howl, Jim Dead and blogs and that.

So, Pennies On My Eyes will now be released at the end of February 2016.  The audio work’s all done but there was just no way to have the whole thing ready to go by the end of November – as originally planned – and there’s not much point in putting this kind of release out mid-December (or January for that matter).  So, February it is.  As ever, watch this space.

In what’s shaping up to be my last live outing of the year, I’m playing with Dog Moon Howl at The 13th Note, Glasgow, this Friday (4th) with Jim Dead & The Doubters in celebration of the release of their new album Pray For Rain.  I’ve heard it (I did the mastering, come to think of it) and do you know, it’s really rather good. Come along on the night and you’ll get a copy of the CD as part of your £5 entry fee.

Meanwhile, the writing practice continues. Tapes For My Walkman has recently been updated with a look at ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres (HERE) and Tapes For My VCR has just been updated with a review of ’90s bikers-and-explosions flick Stone Cold (HERE).  Please do feel free to give them a look.

 


Stuff that’s happening.

There’s been a fair amount of Channel Nowhere activity recently, what with a run of solo/duo Glasgow gigs at The Howlin’ Wolf and Dog Moon Howl gigs at The 13th Note and Ivory Black’s, while music and movie blogs Tapes For My Walkman and Tapes For My VCR have been increasingly finding their feet.   Here’s what’s coming up.

LIVE STUFF

There will be one more Dog Moon Howl appearance (with Jim Dead & The Doubters at their album launch at The 13th Note on December 4th) which unfortunately will be your last opportunity to see the band live this year.  Bassist Bryan Campbell is having a knee operation which will put him out of commission for a while.  I’m a bit fuzzy on the details but essentially I believe he’s having his existing, faulty, knees replaced with cloned gorilla elbows which will be fitted backwards so that he can walk like a mantis.  Exciting stuff, but he will need some recuperation time afterwards, during which he hopes to complete the scale model of Tokyo he is building in his garage for destruction at a later date with his mutant mantis powers.

In the meantime, DMH drummer Ally Tennick and myself will be kicking the arse out of the live thing in our alt.roots/blues identity The Craig Hughes Two, including a turn for our friends at The Vagabond Social Club on September 27th at Nice’N’Sleazies, Glasgow.  For other dates, watch this space, or head over to www.craighughes.net.

STUDIO STUFF

Mastering is the key word for this month.  Work is underway on the remastering of Pennies On My Eyes which was originally a mini-album I put out about five years ago as part of the split CD (with Sleepy Eyes Nelson) Graveyard Full of Blues.  I was never happy with the original master/mixes and, due to running-time constraints and release deadlines – not to mention my rank incompetence – there were a few tracks recorded at the time which were never completed and therefore left off of the finished product.  Well, limited availability or not, Pennies went on to gain a bit of a life of its own.  A ‘fan favourite’, it picked up good reviews, an award nomination, was a Bandcamp staff pick and so on.  As a result, I’ve gone back to the original recordings and completed work on the unfinished tracks while properly mastering the whole project, now full album length.  This will be released in October or November (the original having been unavailable for a while now).

Before that, though, I’ll be working on the mastering of that new album from Jim Dead & The Doubters which is due for a December release.  I’ve heard the mixes and it’s good stuff – grungey, country-tinged rock.

VIDEO STUFF

Last time I did one of these news updates, I mentioned regular YouTube updates which have yet to start appearing.  They will though.  Honest.  Also, towards the end of the year I’ll be laying the groundwork for a documentary project.  More of that closer to the time.


Two Drinks From the Bar.

I was recently invited to play a new festival, having registered my interest a few months ago. This 2000 capacity event has been partially crowd-funded via Indiegogo and is charging up to £85 for a three day ticket. Their offer to have me play a Saturday evening set? Weekend tickets for myself, a meal and two drinks.

As this is a festival in its first year and I’d like to think the organisers’ hearts are in the right place, I’ll put their side of the following exchange down to inexperience, thoughtlessness and naiveté. We’ll see, but in the meantime I’ll avoid “naming and shaming” here. I hope you might find this post of interest simply because This Goes On – and it really bloody shouldn’t.

From the original “offer” email:

We are completely non profit and volunteer run, aiming to create a great event for its own sake. In year 1 we are greatly reliant on the goodwill of talented artists who are willing to support the festival by appearing for a lower fee than they would usually expect. We have been impressed by the generosity demonstrated by artists so far and hope that you will be happy to support us on the same basis, helping us to get … off to a great start in 2015. A full agreement will follow, but in the meantime please could you confirm if you are happy to accept the following offer:

Performance on Saturday evening
Weekend camping tickets for yourself
1 meal and 2 drinks from the bar on the day of the performance

They go on to ask for standard digital promo materials before signing off. The person who sent the email bears the title “Legal & Commerical Services Director”, which seems awfully businesslike considering the above event description.

I was tempted to take the obvious route of breaking down the costs and time involved in a full time music career but couldn’t help think that the Legal & Commerical Services Director of a music festival must already know all that. In the end I replied thusly:

Thanks for your email.  While I was pleased to be invited to perform at ****, I am disappointed that, while you suggest that performers already on the bill are playing for a reduced fee – which I would certainly have considered – you then make an offer of tickets, a meal and two drinks in lieu of payment.  As someone who makes his living (such as it is) from music, I find that offer wholly and obviously unacceptable.

Access to the event is hardly an aspect of payment.  As you were asking me to play the Saturday evening, I would have expected – as a necessity – a couple of Saturday passes.  “A couple” , as I, like many solo acts, travel with someone else who is there not only to drive me to and from the gig but also to help with kit, merchandise and so on.  And, no, I don’t expect them to do this for free.  As to the offer of “1 meal and 2 drinks from the bar” – that’s the sort of fare many promoters or venues might lay on for acts in addition to their fee.  I don’t ask for it, it’s not always offered but it’s a welcome kindness when it happens.  Never in lieu of payment, though.

My fee for playing a solo set at a small festival would normally be £80, so I’m hardly asking the Earth to start with, and am usually prepared to offer some “wiggle room”.  For the right event, under the right circumstances, I have worked for a reduced fee, door-split, or simply expenses and even, yes, for free.  However, it’s not enough to be told that you’re running this festival on a “non profit” basis and “creating an event for its own sake”.  You are, after all, charging up to £85 for weekend tickets.  Surely payment of musicians is one of the fundamental projected expenses a music festival has to account for when setting the ticket prices in the first place?

Here’s a thought.  Perhaps, if it’s okay for you not to pay performers, it should be okay for the audience not to pay for tickets?  In the spirit of your offer, they could hand in a donation of food-and-drink on arrival and then get on with enjoying all that free music.  You know, just for its own sake.

Seriously, I do wish you success with ****, and hope that you can build on that success by sharing it with all of the musicians who might perform there in the future.  They’ll have bills to pay too.

In fairness – and the main reason I decided not to name the festival here – their reply was prompt, apologising for any offence caused and stating: We’ll definitely take into account what you’re saying when planning next year’s event.

I really hope they do but as I mentioned earlier, the purpose of this blog is not to draw attention to this particular event but to this practice of entitled assumption when it comes to stiffing musicians on pay. I’ve encountered similar attitudes from small-event/pub promoters, where it’s offensive enough, but on this scale it’s downright galling. Of course we all know that even the mighty Glastonbury pulls this shit – mind, I’d tell them to fuck off too. And I’d name them in the inevitable blog post.


Dog Moon Howl: The Story So Far

I’ve been meaning to write a post on Dog Moon Howl for a long time now and although various snippets have made it into my WordPress ramblings I’ve never quite gotten round to it.  So, here’s a potted history of the band.

Dog Moon Howl was formed in late 2011.  I’d been trying to put together a heavy psych/stoner rock type band for a while when my old mucker Bryan, who’d been living in Ireland, moved back to sunny Scotland.  Bryan also wanted to put a band together, would I be up for it, aye.  We’d been kinda-sorta in three bands together in the 90s, most conspicuously a three piece called Smotherparty.  We advertised for a drummer with an ad quoting a comprehensive list of influences including – but not limited to – Black Sabbath, The Groundhogs, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Funkadelic, SAHB, Primus, Blue Cheer, Thin Lizzy, Soundgarden, Status Quo, Motorhead, RHCP, The Cult, Rush, Kyuss, AC/DC, King Crimson, Queen and Hawkwind.  Who should express an interest other than Smotherparty’s old drummist, Ally, who we hadn’t seen since that band split and who was now living in Edinburgh.

Sorted.  Ally on drums, Bryan on bass/co-lead vocal, me on guitar/co-lead vocal.

We rehearsed a fair old bit, played our first gig at the end of 2011 and a few more throughout 2012 and 2013.  Somewhere in there we released a demo EP called Strip-Lit Hell, produced by Tommy Duffin of Headless Kross at 16 Ohm in Glasgow.  Much to our surprise, the EP picked up great reviews online.

Some of you reading this will have arrived at the blog via my music which you’ll therefore know to be rootsy alt.blues.  Mostly acoustic slide guitar, the rockier moments gnarly and loose, soloing kept in check where it happens at all, mostly song-based stuff.  The occasional banjo.  Well, Dog Moon Howl is largely the opposite of all that.  As a band we all get different things out of it, of course, but for me it’s more-often-than-not an excuse to crank up the electric and have at it.  Very much a lead guitar-based, heavy rock approach with long songs allowing plenty of scope for extended soloing and the likes.  So, you know.  Be warned.

Early this year, we decamped to Alloa to record our first full-length with Alec Pollock of Chasar co-producing at his studio, The Boathouse.  Delays in post-production, combined with/partly due to my coming down with a debilitating eye-infection, left us largely out of action until the album’s launch at the end of June, since when we’ve been playing around and about to promote it.  Again, we’ve picked up some great reviews for the album.

So that’s you about up-to-date.  If you want more information on the band check out www.dogmoonhowl.com or better yet, buy the CD here.  There’ll be a blog about the band’s plans for 2015 coming soon – in the meantime here’s the first video from the album, Blues Like a Hammer.


Yeah I know, I know …

… I’ve been remiss regarding keeping this blog updated for a few months now.  Regular updates, largely concerned with my creative endevours, will resume later this week with the first of a couple of posts on Dog Moon Howl.

Currently, I’m finalising plans for more solo releases via Channel Nowhere, looking at a much, much busier live year in 2015 for both myself/The Craig Hughes Two and Dog Moon Howl and there’ll be guitar design shenanigans with Zentone Guitars. There’ll be some writing as well, and on that front I’ve recently started a music review blog called Tapes For My Walkman you might like to check out.

More soon.  Honest.