Tag Archives: alternative blues

Best Laid Part II

Brief update: there will be something of a flurry of Channel Nowhere activity over the next couple of weeks, so you can look forward (or not) to the release of the remastered Pennies On My Eyes on March 11th and a couple of gig announcements for both The Craig Hughes Two and Dog Moon Howl.  Promos will go out for Pennies just prior to the release date and a lyric video for new track No-One Cares If You Die will be up soon on YouTube.

Told you it was brief.

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Best laid.

So, 2016 currently looks like this:

My newish album Pennies On My Eyes is due to be released at the end of February.  A completely new “solo” album is planned for the end of year.  Other than that …

The Craig Hughes Two

We kicked off 2016 with a Glasgow gig at The Howlin’ Wolf earlier this month.  We’re looking at recording an EP for release later in the year and hopefully a lot more live work.

Dog Moon Howl

We’re fresh from our first rehearsal of the year which turned into more of a songwriting session.  The new stuff’s sounding promising, lots of AC/DC, Rush and Sabbath nods.  We’re working up some covers as well.  We’re planning on releasing two EPs in 2016, mid-year and end-of-year respectively.

The blogs

Tapes For My Walkman and Tapes For My VCR continue to keep it analogue with a piece on Lemmy, Motörhead and No Sleep ’til Hammersmith HERE and one on Bowie’s Love You Till Tuesday HERE (I hadn’t noticed until just now that both of these “tribute” choices feature the word “till”.  Or that Motörhead had misspelled it) and updates will be more frequent from February onwards.  This here Channel Nowhere blog will also be updated a lot more regularly, largely because of the amount of stuff going on with the label etc.

Other projects

I’ve got my work cut out with the completion of at least one large scale writing project and a documentary thingmy in the planning stages.  There could potentially be a couple of other releases on Channel Nowhere throughout the year.  Watch this space.


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.

 


Coming Soon: Pennies On My Eyes

As mentioned last post, much of my time of late has been taken up with the remixing and remastering of new/old album Pennies On My Eyes.  This was originally a mini-album from 5 years ago which was released then as part of the split CD Graveyard Full of Blues with Sleepy Eyes Nelson.

The logic behind the remastering is simply that I was never happy with the original release.  For various reasons, I left the mastering incomplete along with alternate takes and whole songs.  In the meantime, despite its limited release – the CD was sold at gigs and from Europa Music in Stirling; the download was only available via my Bandcamp page (with the two halves of the project split up online, so Sleepy’s excellent Build That Coffin of Mine was available separately via Cheap Wine Records’ Bandcamp) – the albumette picked up its own head of steam, garnering a few good write-ups and an award nomination.  My Side of the Veil became a live favourite while Oily Old Rag gained a new lease of life as the Dog Moon Howl song Tenement Porch Dog.

As with my first release, the demo EP Broke, Lonely and Guilty, Pennies… was recorded at my then home studio, the Channel Nowhere Secret Facility, basically a converted walk-in cupboard.  Everything else I’ve released, under my own name or with Dog Moon Howl has been studio recorded and although there is a pleasing rawness to the original version of Pennies…, it sounds just too rough to me.  I was obsessed with pushing the bass and curbing the top end at that time, and the end result is frankly dull.  So, I’ve gone back in, brightened the sounds up, rescued a few additional tracks and compiled them together as a new, album length piece.

Of course, the original tracks remain lo-fi but hopefully with a touch more in the way of clarity and dynamics.  I’ve added a couple of touches I wanted to try at the time but dropped due to looming deadlines.  The three new tracks are Richter Scale for Heartache, which had already been recorded at the time the split CD was suggested although the mix was never completed, Stone With My Name Carved on It, a single-take moody, distorted solo slide guitar instrumental that I don’t even remember recording and No-one Cares if You Die, a banjo tune that started life as something else entirely.  I matched the rediscovered banjo track with an old unused lyric and Bob was quite suddenly your uncle.

The audio masters for Pennies on My Eyes are being completed this week.  Then it’s the turn of the artwork.  As soon as possible thereafter there’ll be a physical release (CD and, it looks like, tape) with downloads available via Bandcamp and from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify et al via international digital distribution from CD Baby.

Watch this space!


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.


2015, oh, right …

So, the first couple of months of the year are out of the way and I still haven’t updated this blog. Deary me. Well, there’ll be ‘proper’ news coming soon but in the meantime …

RECORDING

I’m currently in the final stages of putting together a sorta-kinda re-release-type-thing for May, plus there’s the wrapping up of a few older projects to get out of the way (whether for release or not we’ll see). There’ll be a new album by the end of the year. Probably.

LIVE

I’ve started the year with a string of solo gigs at Glasgow’s The Howlin’ Wolf and I’m there again on the 16th of this month with Ally Tennick back on percussion. Thereafter we’re looking to fill the booking calendar, particularly for the two-man lineup, as well as getting out there with Dog Moon Howl. Watch this space.

OTHER STUFF

I’ve also been heavily involved of late with ZenTone Guitars, having a hand in guitar design and building etc. We’ve just finished the “proof-of-concept” prototypes for two electric solid bodies – check out the website for more details.

More updates soon.  Honest.