Apr 23 2012

Barnados Oldie Composers Sessions Photo/Videoblog

Hello folks,
This week I spent two days at BBC Maida Vale studios as part of the band for the Barnados Oldie Composers songwiting competition sessions. The last time I worked with Barnados we were recording the top four songs from their Young Composers competition (see the original blog post here) and the process was the same this time. Songwriters were asked to submit their material to the star-studded panel of judges who chose their top four songs to be recorded at Maida Vale by professional musicians. The competition was organized by the wonderful Hellen Bach and Norman Macintosh of Charity Goods, and the sessions were produced by my good friend AD Chivers.

We had a great lineup for the sessions, which were on Monday and the following Sunday. We had Nick Mason and Steve Rushton on drums, Grant Windsor on piano, Marcus Bonfanti on guitars, the string quartet Bond and VocalWorks. There was even a string section coming in on Monday night. A really big production all round. Lead vocals were provided by Anthony Head, FTW and our very own Clare Teal.

Once the tracks are mixed and mastered they will be available for download to raise money for Barnados. Which is where you come in…

I shall of course let you know when the tracks become available. The songs were written by Trevor Wiles & Paul Hadler, Marina Florance, John Mackfall and Maggie Duffy. The songwriter with the most downloads by the deadline will win the competition. More information on the contest and how you can help this great cause can be found at the Oldie Composers website.

Rather than harp on about the session I thought it would be far more interesting for me to post a little photoblog. So here’s a gallery of some of the pictures I took from the two days at Maida Vale. I hope you like them.

Here’s a little video I shot of Vocalworks recording their backing for Marina Florence’s Cry

And here’s a little video of FTW running through some of Loves Forever by Trevor Wiles & Paul Hadler with Grant…

Until next time. Which will be very soon indeed as my third solo album [un]plugged was mastered today with Steve Alexander and as I type the tracks are being uploaded to my Bandcamp page ready for release. Watch this space for the big announcement. Probably tomorrow in fact as I cannot bear to sit on it any longer and want to get it out there for you all to hear…

Nov 24 2010

The Young Songwriters Competition…

Hello folks,

Thought it was about time I drew your attention to this great competition, the final stages of which are imminent.

A little while ago I was approached by Hellen Bach (who works closely with the Children In Need team) and our good friend AD Chivers to be a judge in the Young Songwriters competition for Barnardos. AD had been responsible for whittling down the hundreds of entires and my job was to choose five finalists from the twenty shortlisted for the Scotland and East of England region.

I was astounded by the quality of some of the entries and it really brought home how important a competition like this really is in these times. Many of you will be aware of my Saturday night X Factor tirades on Twitter. The general public are regularly exposed to nothing more than a parade of sub-standard karaoke singers and fed the notion that this is the future of music in our country. Well let me tell you; we have a host of extraordinarily talented young musicians and songwriters right under our noses and the Barnardos Young Songwriters Competition is a great way to give these young people a voice.

It was a great honour to be involved in the judging and I was also able to contribute to the recording sessions for the final four songs at the wonderful British Grove Studios, under the direction of producer AD Chivers. I played on two tracks; Imogen Mechie’s Build My Wings and Bethan Funning’s Spaceships & Moonbeams with some great musicians including Grant Windsor, John Bleese and Ian Matthews from Kasabian.

But now it’s over to you folks…

The winner of the competition will be decided by whichever song of the final four gets the most downloads from the Young Songwriters website. 45p from each download goes directly to support Barnardos. I really do think that this is such a worthwhile cause, both as a charity and as a concept to support young musical talent. Now I don’t want to sway your votes too much, but my personal favourite is Build My Wings, and not just because I’m on it; it has hit written all over it.

You can check out the songs of all four finalists at the Young Songwriters website. Please do go have a listen and download your favourite tunes. The competition closes on 12th December and the winner with the most downloads will be announced on the 14th.

Enjoy! x