Posts Tagged ‘Vinnie Whitehead’

Time flies when you’re having fun, allegedly, so I have apparently had the funnest week ever, because I posted the non-post last week, blinked, and now here we are. Another Monday, albeit a sunnier Monday than the last one.

I could have spent the last week coming up with a really creative blog post idea. “12 Ways to Knit a Musical”, perhaps, or “How to Write a Chart Topping Hit Using Only A Watermelon and a Kazoo”, but alas, the best I have managed is “What I Have Been Up To.”

Sorry. At least it’s marginally more interesting than “What I Did On My Holiday”. Did anyone else have to write that awful assignment on returning to school every September or was it just me?

Anyway. Things what I have been up to:


I’ve managed to blag a seven week temp assignment as a database administrator at the university. The advantages to this are mostly the money, as in, I get some. Also, conveniently, it’s in a nice location for meeting People That I Like for lunch. So this is good. The disadvantages are the lack of time to do anything musical. Those creatives among you with full time jobs will understand the challenge of trying to find even one iota of creative energy after a day spent wrangling code, databases or word processing. I’ve so far been coping by having a strict time management plan in place. One week in and I’ve managed to do some mixing and some writing. It helps that I had today off (my line manager didn’t want me in if she wasn’t in, and I wasn’t going to argue) so I have had a musically productive day, but I’m finding that early mornings and a brief period in the first hour I’m home seem to be good times to rattle through some mixing or add a random bassline to something. And it’s only for another six weeks, so my master plan is to make myself indispensable so they offer me a 3-4 day a week contract. That would be pretty much perfect. I actually secretly like having a more steady job. At least right now. It gets me out of the house and interacting with the world, and is handy for stopping me from only talking to the cats like a crazy cat person.


Despite the aforementioned work, I have managed some mixing of the EP. I’m pretty happy with how it’s shaping up, and rather happily, it looks like there will be a new song on it that as yet is unheard by anyone. A surprise song. Yes. Speaking of the EP, I also made the artwork for it. It looks like this:

New EP cover art

New EP cover art


Gigging (and preparing for gigs)

The last few weeks have been great for gigs, and I have more coming up. This coming Friday I’ve been persuaded that what I really want to do is take part in Ainsty’s Got Talent. So tonight, in preparation, I popped along to the open mic at the Rose and Crown and murdered an Adele song, sandwiched nicely between two competent originals. I do this with new songs, whether they be covers or originals. I generally panic playing a new song in front of an audience for the first time, so I like to abuse open mic audiences with my cockups in order to get them out of the way, so to speak. In theory, the seal is broken on the Adele song and thus the likelihood of a competent performance Friday is increased 🙂 It’s like logic, but with some subtle differences…

After Friday (and an accompanying weekend of blowing things up in Star Wars as part of the recovery process), the next gig is on Wednesday 28th May, playing at Vinnie Whitehead’s “Live in Session” at the Rook and Gaskill. This is usually a really chilled night, I have a half hour set and I’m very much looking forward to it. So yes, a lot of the last week has been spent rehearsing, and swearing at Adele sheet music.


I injured my tailbone about 7 weeks ago, rather ironically during a session designed to help me learn to breakfall safely. The last few weeks have involved a lot of tentative training sessions followed by days off clutching ice packs to the injured area. I like to think that this is all part of my deliberate and cunning plan to get any injuries out of the way nice and early in my black belt year, rather than just brainless incompetence. I like to think that. So yes, aikido continues apace. I have a reasonable knowledge of the goshin no kata, a passable-to-good ability to demonstrate the randori no kata, and a tendency to go “eh? What?” during the kaeshi waza. I have no idea if these are acceptable levels to be at seven months before the 1st dan grading, so I’m just plodding along, trying to improve my breakfalling in time for the massacre, er I mean, seminar, in December.

On top of those fun things, I’ve been teaching singing lessons, crewing, helping an A level biology student prep for her unit 1 and unit 2 exams, doing some more proof reading/copy editing, and miraculously managing to have a social life despite a period of practically zero money and limited time.

Life is crazy, but it’s good.


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Phew. What a year it’s been. This is my last post of 2013, it’s been a wild ride and I’ve loved having you all along. Join me next year for a continuation of our adventures! In the meantime, here is the year in review.


A quiet month. Back to Access to Music after the Christmas break to continue my second year of studies, January was also the month we started fundraising and training for Trailtrekker in earnest, and I started preparation for my grade 8 vocal exam. I had a couple of gigs, including the very enjoyable birthday gig for Vinnie Whitehead at the Rose and Crown. Mostly, it was a month of recovery, coursework, Trailtrekker, and there may have been some Taiko drumming in there too!


More gigs, more coursework, more training in the snow and ice, and February was also the month in which I wrote and recorded Voodoo Violet. It was a busy month, given that I didn’t really do February Album Writing Month this year, the coursework load was heavy enough! We also started househunting.

Songwriting survival kit...

Songwriting survival kit…


No gigs this month, just more coursework, more training (in slightly less snow and ice), and at the end of the month, we moved house, from the tiny terrace we’d been in before to somewhere more spacious with a dedicated studio space. I took a bit of a break from writing for a bit while we sorted out the new digs 🙂

Ready to move...

Ready to move…


April saw me return to gigging, continue the coursework slog (are you spotting a theme yet?), and continue training, this time with my first ever 10k run at Harewood House. I also spent a good chunk of the month finishing off the unpacking, and continue with Taiko.

Training walk

Training walk


During May, coursework came to a head, as did my self study programme for my grade 8 vocal exam. Our Trailtrekker team were going full throttle to fundraise, culminating in “Sole Music”, the fundraising gig at the Black Swan in the middle of the month. We also attempted the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge but were spectacularly rained off after Pen-y-Ghent. I had ALL the deadlines for college. I was also played on BBC Introducing for the first time (Around and Around). It was an incredibly busy month.

Pen-y-Ghent in the p**sing rain!

Pen-y-Ghent in the p**sing rain!


June opened with Trailtrekker. Our team, The Unbreakables, walked for a very long time around the Yorkshire Dales for Oxfam. My personal achievement was to walk 65km in 21 hours, garnering a silver medal. In the rest of the team, one person did the same as me, one walked a bit further, and one made it the entire 100km to take gold. It was an incredible experience, and we raised over £2000 for Oxfam. The rest of the month seems rather tame after that! Nevertheless, June was also the month in which I won the ATM North Songwriting Competition with Voodoo Violet, took my grade 8 vocal exam,  played at the new Apollo Festival in York and Voodoo Violet got airplay on BBC Introducing.

TrailTrekker medal

TrailTrekker medal


In July, I received an award at the British Music Student Awards at the O2 in Birmingham, and I finished at Access to Music with distinctions across the board. I also became an aunty to my beautiful baby nephew. Last but not least, July was the month I released my second album, Riptides, so there was a launch party and promotion and all of the admin associated with an album release to get done. Another busy month!

Receiving my music award from Edith Bowman

Receiving my music award from Edith Bowman


August was the month of results. It became official that I’d had distinctions for all my coursework, and also that I had achieved a distinction in my grade 8 vocal exam. I played gigs at the marvellous Ainsty Festival, and also at the Malt Cross in Nottingham at the fundraiser for Skybadger. Other than that, it was a month of jobhunting and having a breather!

Yup, I think I may have passed…

Yup, I think I may have passed…


More jobhunting this month, a few gigs, and back to songwriting after a bit of a hiatus. I found my current job, in the middle of the month, as crew/tech at a venue in York. I also went back to training at aikido after a 9 month break.


Crewing started in earnest, with my first gig being Ellie Goulding (nothing like starting small </sarcasm>) I started giving singing lessons, and got back into the routine with aikido training.


More crewing, writing and aikido. Started transcribing as well for extra cash. Played at the Basement, City Screen for the first time and met some crazy poets. Polished Jools Holland’s piano.


Achieved 1st kyu in Aikido.

It really has been a fabulous year. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and I’ll see you again in 2014!

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One of the things I love about living in York is its understated, yet wonderful, live music scene. It is truly a marvellous thing on an evening, to just say “ooh I fancy some live music”, and be able to wander into any one of York’s many fine establishments and enjoy some music. If there’s not a gig on (highly unusual) then there is always an open mic night going on somewhere, and often some treasures can be found at these events. This post is about some of these treasures – I’ve either shared the bill with them or discovered them at a gig/open mic and think that they are fabulous, and I hope you will too!


Rock, rock and more rock, Stonewater are described as sounding like “an Audioslave and Led Zeppelin car crash with Pearl Jam screaming for an ambulance.” and I can tell you this isn’t far off the mark. Combining punchy, tight drums with growly vocals, driven bass and dynamic guitar hooks, this band produce a cohesive and exhilarating sound. I saw them live at Gibsons recently and was impressed with the variety and power of their set, and I highly recommend them to anyone who loves rock. I hear a rumour that they are currently writing more material, which pleases me greatly 🙂

Follow what they are up to here.

Isi Dee

I first saw this lass at the Black Swan, holding a room full of listeners captive upstairs on an acoustic night. Her voice is splendid, there’s no other word for it, and she manages to be smooth and husky, self-deprecating and yet in control of the performance, all at the same time. If her voice were a drink, it would be a fine whiskey. Her songwriting too, has claws. Reeling from heartbreaking songs about losing friends to the more lighthearted, she takes the listener on a real journey through her world.

Find out more about her here.

Vinnie Whitehead 

Vinnie is the frontman for Vinnie and the Stars, but can just as often be found playing solo at venues around York. He has a great sense of humour and a flare for storytelling that shines through in his original songs, from the working class grind depicted in “Paid Slave Blues” to the gentle dig at the reviewer who thought he was American (“I’m Not From America, I’m from Hull”). Playing a mixture of funk, blues, hip-hop and country, Vinnie would put 120% of himself into every performance, if that percentage actually existed (as it is he has to make do with 100% like the rest of us!) and he engages with his material and with the audience in a way that makes him compelling to watch. One of my favourite artists to watch and play alongside, for sure, and he’s a really nice guy too!

More info about Vinnie and his band can be found at his website.

Andy Doonan

The stars are shining brightly for Andy – he’s recently had the song “Here You Are” played on Hollyoaks, and he’s about to release his new EP, Sky on Fire. Powerful vocals and anthemic hooks typify Andy’s music, it seems far bigger than he is somehow, and whenever I see him live I’m reminded of how strong he is as both a songwriter and performer. Strong hooks, lyrics with bite, gorgeous vocals and a charismatic stage presence sum up this artist.

Find out more about him here

I’m supporting Andy Doonan at his EP launch on the 28th December at the Basement Bar, City Screen, York. Tickets are £5 and can obtained from City Screen

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