Greetings from the other side of the beard! Firstly, the eagle eyed cherries amongst you may have noticed I changed the name of this page from 'blog' to 'news'... mainly because a 'blogger' is committed to keeping their readers updated on an ongoing basis with a commitment to some form of frequency and, often, a greater standard of writing than I had been managing! I'll now just post any major Sam Eason developments here if they really warrant a shout out! To contradict myself a little, some of the news bulletins may be slightly bloggish in their appearance in that they may ramble a bit (come on, it's me!) as I unpack my mind but please don't feel any obligation to read it all, I'll try and bold any important points on the agenda!
Aaaaanyway. Just wanted to fill in a bit of the story behind my forthcoming Undertow EP (Jan 28th) . Those of you who have been on the journey with me on a musical level for a while will know I've never been the most prolific writer (1-2 songs a year?) so the thought of announcing a launch gig in 3 months for a full EP of songs not yet written may have been a little silly. I do have past form with this sort of thing though - remember BathSongs? With BathSongs, I at least had around 400 years of history to fall back on; the material was there, I just had to convert some of it to songs (bypassing the pesky step of actually coming up with ideas!). The reason I wanted to set myself the challenge again (with the added pressure of it being a truly blank page and having to be about, y'know, feelings and stuff) was that it had pretty much got to a do-or-die for me musically and I'd pretty much much decided to pack it all in.
Context - I suffer with depression. I'm generally in a good place now after a job change and some time on anti-depressants but for years where I hadn't recognised or dealt with the illness, I was having long spells where I was barely functioning in my roles as a father, husband, friend or in work. Music through that time was my outlet and escape. There were many times when the old spinning plates were just about to fall off and I'd be able to claw back by playing a gig, writing a song or just picking up the guitar and plucking out some chords. Often when I was at my most engaging or functioning on stage would be the times that things were the darkest. I won't turn this into a big essay on depression but if you do one thing today whether you suffer from a mental illness yourself or just want to understand it more is to buy the incredible book 'Reasons To Stay Alive' by Matt Haig.
Through making a few big changes at home, a stint on medication and through the support of the most incredible family, I have learned to manage my depression and am now on a completely different plain to where I have been for the last 4-5 years. As a result, I haven't felt the need to pick up the guitar, play gigs or write songs. I haven't needed the outlet. I had almost got to the point of putting out there that I wasn't planning on gigging or writing anymore as I didn't want to think of anyone anticipating anything more from me. After playing a rare gig in October supporting the amazing Littlemen in Bath, I somehow felt that the embers had not quite gone out and thought that I might try giving the engine one last kick-start to see if there was anything left worth building back up. Hence the Undertow EP and the 3 month writing challenge!
So... Undertow and the theme of the EP. The thing about depression, as any sufferer will tell you is that it's a life-long illness. You can medicate and develop coping mechanisms to make the effects lesser or almost non-existent but it will always be there. Even now, I'll get a day or part-day where I'll feel the 'black dog' at my side; a wave of hopelessness or a sense of being pulled down, but I know I have come up before and with my family around me, I will carry on coming up again. Despite the Undertow, I'll always be fighting to get back to the shore.
Look after yourself, look out for each other xxxx
Well, well, well - I've been having so much fun I darn near forgot I ever had a blog to update! I don't know for whom an apology would be required - to tell the truth I doubt anyone ever reads these - but in case anyone stumbles across this bit either periodically, sporadically, or just to check if I'm alive (hello Mum!) I'm sorry it's been so long!
I don't know who it was that said "You can't have your cake and eat it" (*insert obligatory British Bake Off reference here*) but if I could elaborate/expand upon on the idea through my own experiences in the last year or so it would be to say that "It's probably not possible to have your whole cake and eat it, but you can have a bit of lots of cakes if you only eat smaller parts of the cakes, you'd also then still be able to have some of the bits of cake leftover..." (Sam Eason, 2015)
Hmm... maybe not as snappy or memorable but in a highly convoluted way, I'm trying to illustrate how, by not letting any of the areas of my life and music become too overwhelming, I've been able to be part of so many incredible things in both remits.
Working part time as a teacher in a Special School is my vocation; it's what I trained for and it's something I love. Being part time though allows me to spend quality time with my little boy on my days off - I have been able to watch him grow up during time I'd never have gotten back otherwise. On the day when he's at pre-school however, I am then able to work on songwriting and recording... bonus! Weekends are very much family and friends orientated (a massive focus) but we now get oppotunities to play at weddings on quite a few occasions through the year which is a whole other area of beautiful! I have met some truly wonderful people in the last couple of years through doing this, many who have become good friends. Playing at the weddings also mean I get to spend a couple of hours singing side-by-side with my incredibly talented and amazing wife - what could be better?!
I have also seemingly had a new lease of life with my original music of late (one review opening with "Everyone's favourite late bloomer, Sam Eason..."), releasing my first 'proper' EP through Circus City Records this year ('With Hope' - check iTunes). At the launch gig for the EP, I got to play the whole set with a full band for the first time too which was amazing. Through this time, I've had some incredible opportunities to play at local festivals and on local TV/Radio (thanks to Made In Bristol and the 'Introducing...' team at BBC Bristol) In between all this, I've also had the chance to have little musical adventures like 'BathSongs'. These last two paragraphs are by no means meant as a boast or self-promotion - merely a description of the amazing cakes I've been very fortunate to be nibbling at and a declaration of humble appreciation that I somehow have the opportunity to do so. Maybe it's also a slight justification for why it's taken me so long to update my blog, but I'll try not to leave it so long until the next time... definitely by C*****mas!
Before then, I will have found my way onto local BBC radio again (Sat 24th Oct, playing out our pre-recorded BBC Garden session); played at two more weddings and a birthday party; played two 3hr public gigs in Bristol (check 'live'); hopefully taught some incredible children a little bit about a lot of things; spent some quality time with my amazing family and friends and hopefully written and recorded another song or two for an exciting project in 2016!
I'm telling you, it's much more fun having lots of small plates spinning rather than trying to keep a couple of big wobbly platters in rotation!
Well, it's been a while since the last BathSongs update - quite a lot to mention!
Promotion - it's been amazing to have been able to spread the word through some great publications and outlets. So far BathSongs has had:
Musicians for BathSongs show - I'm over the moon that the incredible Michael Hennessy will be main support on the 6th June - one of the greatest performers to grace the streets of Bath will be playing a selection of his own material before the BathSongs section of the evening! I also will be welcoming a sublime ensemble to help me play the new songs; they will be;
Len Liechti - Mandolin, Double Bass, vocals
Hannah Johns - Violin/viola, vocals
Lee Cole - Drums, percussion, vocals
Beth Eason - vocals
We've been sharing ideas about how the songs will work and will hopefully be meeting up to run through them in the next week. There will definitely be an air of spontanaety and improvisation to the performance due to the nature of the project and the timescale (!) but with them all being such amazing musicians, I'm fully confident it's going to sound AMAZING!
Songs - As of last night, I'm now up to my minimum goal of 8 songs!! A maaassive sigh of relief. I still have a couple of ideas I'd like to pursue, but with some of the songs being a little longer (I had to fit the story in somehow!) and with the amount I have to talk about on the night, what I have already may actually be more than enough. I'll still try and see what becomes of the other ideas but I'll defintely be spending the majority of the next week learning to live with the ones I've already got!
So, that's where I am now! It's all becoming real, and I can see the finish line ahead. It's still a nerve-shattering thought putting together a show where the content is still fluid and without knowledge of who will turn up but with a body of songs/stories now fleshed out and ready to be shared, I'm a little less nervous than this time a month ago!!
I'd love to see some friendly faces on the 6th and honestly believe there will be something of interest for everyone. Tickets available here if you'd like to come and hear what all the fuss has been about!
Hey again all! Just a quick update as I'm finally banishing SOME of the worried "what if I don't end up with anything?" thoughts - as of today I have finished FOUR songs! I haven't got them recorded yet but I'll give you a quick sneak peek into the stories behind them (in the order they were finished, with their preliminary titles):
1) The Good Natured Man - Young lady who has it all comes to Bath; has many suitors; falls for the wrong man; loses all her money; falls into the wrong crowd; doesn't end well!
2) A Welcoming End - A song talking about the juxtaposition of the grandeur of the city alongside the filth of the slums; a warning to all who enter...
3) The Bath Bugaloo - A stompy jazzy-folk number all about a curious man who dressed in head to toe in green (including hair!) It's got a great little singalong line haha!
4) Confessions Of A Sedan Chairman - Offering a bit of a glimpse into the life of a Sedan chair carrier what it might drive them to!
Very happy to have some songs in the bank now and I'm still brimming with musical ideas for all the others (I already know what they're going to be about and the research is done, just need to extract the lovely musical nectar from the text!)
One other lovely development is that I finally have my band of incredible musicians at the ready to help me bring them to life on the night. You'll be hopefully getting guitar, acoustic drum setup, violin, fiddle, double bass and mandolin in varying quantities and combinations!
Hopefully there'll be a few of you there to hear it all laid out, tickets are on sale now (link on the BathSongs page!)
Speak soon, and thanks so much for reading!!
Tues 7th April 9:02pm
The BathSongs writing has begun (albeit a week behind schedule!) Since I last wrote a blog, I have been cutting down all the research; the people; the stories from the big bundle I started with down to the ones I think have a good BathSong in them.
I spent a bit of time reading and re-reading the ones I was left with to try to find the best angles to write them from. I'm still looking for that angle for a few of them but have some good plans afoot for the rest! In terms of making sure I keep the writing fires burning, I'm planning on working on around 3 songs at once (like spinning plates!) and starting a new one when one of them sounds 'finished'. Tonight was the first night of sitting with notes and guitar in hand and seeing what melodies and forms the tales might want to take.
After a few hours, I have two and a half plates spinning!! The first is probably going to be called 'A Good Natured Man' and will be a ballad style song of love, loss and tragedy. Another is more of a portrait song -'Guinea Pig Jack' which I think will be a bit more of a cheeky upbeat shuffler! For these two I have a strong idea for the melody and lyrics for at least the first verse, as well as a 'route plan' for how I want it to map out. The 'half a plate' spinning will be 'A Welcoming End' for which I have an embryonic version of a melody and opening on the go. You can hear veeeery rough snippets of these early ideas on the BathSongs page in the Mixing Pot playlist, but please bear in mind they are just the starting points.
I'm feeling a bit happier having started the writing process but know it's still a long process... which I don't actually have a long time for!! I think I'm going to have to be a bit flexible on my scheduling (see previous blog entry) and sacrifice some of the recording time if needs be. Anyway, I have the house to myself this evening so I'm going to see if there aren't a few more revolutions I can spin these plates before sleep comes knocking!! Thanks so much for reading, feel free to post any comments, questions or ideas onto this blog, through my contact page or the BathSongs facebook page!
Much love! Sam x
Tues 10th Mar
Just got back from the first morning of research at Central Library. Met up with Len and local historian Anne Buchanan who showed us around and explained clippings, archives etc. She also elaboarated a little on some of the ideas she had emailed me when I first told her about my plans! Had the first proper chat with Len about how I envisage the project progressing and what I'd like to try and achieve with it. Len is incredibly supportive and I think he gets what I'm talking about! Explained that I wanted to avoid the 'bigger' names from Bath's history, ie Beau Nash, Jane Austen etc. and wanted to find out about more obsure characters or even ordinary people who just had 'a tale to tell'. We spent an hour or so independently picking out books from shelf, thumbing through, jotting down names, events etc. Len set off to continue his own research at home; I spent another few hours reading and copying copious articles and pages onto my phone (oh, the wonders of modern techinology... plus very handy as I didn't have any change for the photocopier). Must admit, feeling VERY daunted by the task ahead - at the risk of stating the obvious, there's just SO MUCH HISTORY!! I guess it's better to have too much inspiration than too little though. I don't want this to be a measured chronological unpicking of people/events that mark specific milestones over the last few centuries, more like a lucky dip of intriguing tales from the past with no discerning theme; the thread to connect them will literally just be this beautiful city of Bath. They'll be my BathSongs for you.
By my calulations, I have just under 13 weeks before the show at the Old Theatre Royal, so I think it wise to draw up a general plan of action:
Weeks 1-2 - research; gather as many potential starting points as possible (2 weeks)
Week 3 - condense ideas to (maximum of) 15 that have strongest potential for songs and research further (1 week)
Weeks 4-8 - write songs (5 weeks)
Weeks 9-11 - record songs (3 weeks)
Weeks 12-13 - rehearse songs (2 weeks)
Sounds easy enough......... *gulp*
"Intriguing. Entertaining. Unique. An ambitious musical project searching under the skin of Bath’s history for the forgotten characters and their stories."
Hold that thought for one moment... Hello wonderful person! It's been a while (pretty much forgot I had a blog on my website, hope with the lack of updates no-one thought I'd gone missing...) Quite a lot to update you on but I'll tell you about the other exciting news in a different post. Just want to introduce you to my new project (that will no doubt cause my remaining hair to either fall out or turn grey in the next three months).
It's called 'BathSongs' and will be part of the Bath Fringe Festival 2015. After an incredible gig there last year for the 2014 Fringe, I'll be returning to The Old Theatre Royal (Orchard St Theatre) for a bit of a special show to finish the project!
Basically after being inspired by the storytelling of traditional folk songs; I wanted to see if I could unearth my own tales of the quirky eccentrics and overlooked happenings from the place that I call home - Bath. After some research into the last 500 years or so of Bath History (!), I aim to write and record around ten completely new modern folk songs about the lives and the stories I uncover (all in less than 3 months!!).
I've enlisted the assistance of musical compadre and veteran songsmith Len Liechti who will help shape and colour the songs with his own incredible musical craft. The songs willl be performed in full during a special one-off show at The Old Theatre Royal on Sat 6th June, with a bit of storytelling about the things we found out, as well as talking briefly about the "journey of discovery"! Len and I will be joined by a host of other musicians on the night, which will also feature a short set of my standard material and a few surprises. Hopefully it will be a pretty darn interesting night, starting from now with a blank page, who knows what we'll come up with?!!!
Ticket details to follow.
I'm hoping to keep the blog updated periodically and will try and keep a bit of a scrapbook and ongoing log of stuff on my dedicated BathSongs page here.
Speak soon, wish me luck!!!
Well I have to say, that was musically one of the funnest (definitely a word) Summers in a looong time. So many highlights to name, but the first three that come to mind were: Playing Bristol Harbour Festival for the first time (and getting to ramble away on BBC Radio!), playing a set for the lush campers at Nibley Festival and my first ever gig in Bath at the beautiful Old Theatre Royal (with me ol' mucker Joe Probert). On the flipside, I have also been lucky enough to be involved in the weddings of some truly wonderous people in some stunning locations - every one has been special for us (so thanks so much to the people who asked us to share in it all!)
Ooh, also had our photoshoot with the incredible Oxana Mazur! That was beyond awesome too. Oh, and recording with Sam Baly at Dacoda Studios! Aww man, I don't know how I'll top all that..... Oh wait, yes I do! Supporting the phenomenal Winter Mountain at the Birdcage, Bristol!! Utterly in love with the stuff these boys produce, will be an honour to warm the stage for them on Nov 6th. Please come down, if only to see them!
As the wedding season winds down a little, there may be a few more gigs being added so please please check back at the live page and come say hey at some point! There will be a beardy hug with your name on it! (Or not, if you're not a hugger... that's also cool). Who knows, there could even be the odd new Sam Eason tune to keep you warm on the long cold evenings to come!
Anyway, as always, just wanted to let whoever wanders over these pages that I'm still here and still doing what I do! Thanks for reading you wonderous being you!
Just for fun... Currently listening to:
Ryan Adams - 'Ryan Adams'
Bastard Mountain - 'Farewell Bastard Mountain'
Volcano Choir - 'Repave'
(*Spent half an hour writing a blog post similar to the one above which miraculously vanished into the ether. I didn't write my name on the label so if you find it, please put it in the lost property box for someone else to find...)
Beardy salutations to all! Update from the whiskers of Eason... Had a few hours recording last week in an amaazing place in Bristol called Dacoda Studio. The "track" I "laid down" (as you might say if you were far cooler than me) was 'Leave The Dark Low' - the lead song from me recent EP of the same name; this time with the intention of building a little more flesh around the bones of the song to see how it lives in a 'bigger' form. The main man, Sam Baly was an immensely excellent gent who was everything you'd want a producer/engineer/mix wizard to be. We clicked easily and chatted like old friends for ages before committing anything to (digital) tape, discussing my hopes and fears for how the song could be made or broken. He totally understood what I wanted from the song and after a pain-free (read: incredibly enjoyable) experience working with the song for a couple hours, recording just a few takes of each part, he managed to dress the song perfectly in all the right places. One of the most rewarding aspects to the afternoon was having a bit of input to my songwriting which did more for me than almost anyone ever has done in that regard. Four days after our recording session I was sent over one version which I've uploaded to my soundcloud here. Hopefully you'll like it as much as I do! We even worked together on a new song I'd written, which led to an impromptu demo being recorded - the results of which I'll hopefully be able to share with you soon! If you are in any need of any recording and would like it done respectfully, professionally and by a very lovely and talented young squire, get in touch with Sam Baly at Dacoda - www.dacodastudio.co.uk
Hey ho all! Just thought I'd better do a quick update in case anyone was worried I'd fallen down the back of the sofa...
I recorded a new EP! It's called 'Leave The Dark Low EP' and it was recorded in St Thomas A Becket church in Pucklechurch, Bristol... in less than an hour! It's one vocal, one guitar, pretty much one take all the way through. Very much done 'on the fly' with a bit of hasty live mixing by the wonderful Jake Lloyd Johnson, we got it done as quickly as we could while the awesome little church keeper lady pottered around polishing the pews (literally! I think you can actually hear her cough a few times and rustling a carrier bag at some point). It's not the cleanest recording I've ever done, but it's the one I'm most proud of as I feel it actually "captured" the songs how I wanted and is how they sit in their purest forms. I've put a couple of clips on my soundcloud but I'll link to it properly once it's been "launched" at my gig with Scott Matthews at the Colston Hall (Lantern) on 22nd April. Hope to see some of you there! (On that note, a quick recap of upcoming public gigs below) After the 22nd, I'll try and make sure I always take a few copies to gigs (available for any donation, as ever!) and in the future, I'll get it up on my Bandcamp page.
Tues 22nd April - Sam Eason supporting Scott Matthews @ The Lantern, Bristol
Sun 4th May - Sam Eason @ Nunney Acoustic Cafe, Nunney (Frome)
Fri 20th June - Sam Eason @ The Fleece, Bristol
Fri 4th July - Sam Eason @ Nibley Festival
Possibly another one to confirm in Swindon in June that is still TBC and I'm sure a few other things may crop up! As usual, my Facebook page is probably the best bet for keeping up to date :)
Hope you are well and beardy and joyous and things - massive hugs,
L A T E S T N E W S