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...)
...And that equals awesome. Well hello again you anonymous and quite possibly non-existent person!
Just a very quick update to let you know about goings on in the furry world of Sam in the coming times. I'm sticking to my vow to play gigs by quality rather than quantity this year; a few appearances to detail for your reference...
Fri 28th Feb - Supporting Gaz Brookfield at The Exchange in Bristol - £7 cheaplist details here
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
There are a couple of possibilities that may crop up in between so I'll add them here if they do!
In terms of new Sam Eason material brewing, I have a song that is sort-of-finished but I'm not too happy with yet ['This Time'] that may or may not see the light of day (I need someone who has a bit more songwriting 'skillz' than me to take a look and perform some reconstructive surgery I think) but I do have one that I think I am happy with that I'm really hoping to debut at the Gaz Brookfield gig. It's tentatively called 'Storm (Teacup)' and will feature a dual Sam/Beth vocal. Sounding quite good at the moment, may post a demo up soon.
In the meantime, I'm doing quite a few bits and bobs for some very lovely people for birthdays, weddings and anniversaries in the next few months which is filling my heart with a warm fuzzy feeling and a hope that I can actually add something nice to the occasions!
Speak soon, keep it stubbly xxx
*I say 'all', I really have no idea if anyone reads these, so if you are... thank you! To be honest, I'll keep writing them even if not, as doing a blog makes me feel 'hip'. It also reminds me what I've just done and what I'm doing next!
Just a quick peep out of my winter hibernation hole to say hey and I hope you haven't forgotten about me. The musical gears are starting to crank and my spidey sense is tingling that it may be a bit of a busy year ahead...
I'm playing my first gig of the year at The Crown & Horseshoe open mic this Friday (3rd Jan - BS30 8TU) doing a set of my own songs (including a couple of new tunes - more on that later) and a set of covers that will be decided by the assembled throng. Full details here if you'd like to pop down!
On the horizon I also have a hefty support slot at The Exchange in Bristol with south west king bard of the punk-folkers Gaz Brookfield! Again, details here - let me know if you'd like to sneak in on my cheaplist!
Anyway, last word on those new songs for Friday; One of them ['Peasant Poet'] was written with the band in mind ('Descendants Of Gentlemen' - see previous blog post) but, as our individual schedules are preventing imminent get-togethers, I'm going to give it a debut in solo form. Also, another brand new Sam Eason tune 'Open Book' will get it's first ever airing - its basically a calling card for me and my music, letting people know what I'm about!
Anyway, more news as we get it and hope 2014 sees you happy, healthy and prosperous!
Stay beardy xx
To complete the picture on recent Sam Eason beardy action, a few notes on Sunday's Louisiana gig as well as some exciting news (that I pretty much can't say much about at the moment!).
I've been lucky enough to almost call The Lousiana my second home at times this year, playing there in 4 of the last 6 months. It still never loses it's magic - I just love the intimacy of the place; the fact that often the first few rows of people are sat on the floor which accentuates the feeling of playing in someone's living room. The audience is always so respectful and receptive too, and I don't think a bad job has ever been done by the great sound guys. Both The Fleece and The Louisiana (who are programmed by the Fleece guys) do a great job of providing opportunities for local acts and helping them to get a foot up onto the gigging ladder which I for one, very much appreciate.
Sunday's gig was another great coming-together of a variety of acts which despite offering very different musical textures, still somehow still felt cohesive as a lineup. Eddy Hill kicked the night off with a great attitude-led singer-songwriter set reminiscent of Jamie T's more acoustic based material. This was followed by Hayley Chillcott who had people enraptured and transfixed by her beautifully fragile, yet dreamily ethereal voice over some finely crafted, softer acoustic songs.
I then played a set that, while not among my absolute best, was still memorable for a few reasons. Firstly, I decided to put 'Cliches' mid-way through the set for a change, in order to finish on 'Across The Sky' which I thought might be a nice one to leave people with. Secondly, I played a new song which despite being unconvinced by a few days before, with a few added harmonies from Beth, I finally 'got' the song and feel that it offers something to the canon that I haven't really had before. It's tentatively called 'Ever Decreasing Circles', and it's about the slightly downbeat idea that once we all get to a certain age/point in our lives, the knocks we take start to have a longer lasting effect and we're never quite able to get back to our levels of 'wellness' - the song is about getting to the point of no return really, where it may be better to let go than to hold on. As I said, a bit of a different angle to the usual Sam Eason love and happiness malarkey!!
I'm never a really good judge of how the gig comes across but, lots of people took CDs and said some nice things, so even if they were all doing it out of pity or duty, I felt like I did a good job! It was nice to catch some of headliners 'Scott James & The Revolution' - acoustic soul/folk with an urban tinge. Very different but it worked and there was some real talent up on that stage!
Finally, I'll leave you with the news that I'm working on doing the 'band thing' with some incredibly talented people that may or may not yield something special - the initial ideas and discussions have been awesome, but we have yet to meet in a room and get our instuments out.... ahem. That comes next week.
Watch this space, if it goes well, I'll tell you more (if it doesn't, I won't.)
Beard love xx
Photo credit: Mike Harley, http://bristolbands-mikeharley.blogspot.co.uk/
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