Jul 1 2013

The Duckworth Lewis Method Are Go!

We’re almost ready for take off folks…

Sticky Wickets Cover

The brand new album from The Duckworth Lewis Method is out today!! If you can find a record shop still standing (!) go out right now and grab yourself a copy. The band has a sparkly new website which looks fantastic and they put out a video for the first single It’s Just Not Cricket. It looks a bit like this…

Neil and Thomas has been busy doing a whole bunch of radio interviews. The best way to keep up with all their adventures is via Twitter I find, it gets updated regularly. Although wait until we’re on tour folks…

So our fist show is on Monday at Lord’s, then we’re at the Nottingham Playhouse on Tuesday. We’ll be playing at Electric Picnic in August and then the big tour starts at the end of September. here’s some dates for you…

  • Friday 20th September @ St. George’s Church, Brighton
  • Saturday 21st @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire
  • Tuesday 24th Oran Mor, Glasgow
  • Wednesday 25th The Sage, Gateshead
  • Thursday 26th Academy 2, Manchester
  • Friday 27th Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
  • Saturday 28th St Georges Hall, Bristol
  • Sunday 29th Glee Club, Birmingham

So there you go folks. We’re coming to a town near you in the very near future. Time to book some tickets I’d say. It’s going to be rather special. I’ve even bought a new hat for the occasion. See you there…

Apr 14 2009

Back On The Road With Clare Teal!

Hello folks,

Well it’s been a pretty busy period out there on the road with Clare Teal. We’ve done twelve shows over the last few weeks and we’ve all clocked up over two thousand miles as we travelled up and down the country. I was intending on posting a mid-tour blog to let you all know how it was going, but there proved to be insufficient time once I actually got home! It’s amazing how your one day off at home suddenly erodes away amongst a big pile of washing and unanswered emails when you’ve been out touring… I figured that my constant updates on Twitter would have to suffice for the time being. And once again, a little apology is probably in order for those of you who sent me @replies via Twitter whilst I was away; I still have yet to figure out a method of replying to your messages once I’m out on the road. I’m still waiting for Vodafone to sort me out with a new sparkly phone with which I can fully engage with the online world once I step out the front door!
The Teal Tour started out with four nights at Ronnie Scotts. This was a pretty tall order as we were trying out a brand new show at one of the country’s most prestigious jazz venues. Less than ideal (nobody wants to peak too early now, do they?!), but after a couple of days rehearsal we were pretty confident that the new show was going to be a hit. And it was.
We were out promoting our new album Clare Teal Live At Ebenezer Chapel. Unfortunately the album was so new that it wasn’t actually ready for the shows at Ronnies (artwork, artwork, artwork… the bane of all album production!). When we did finally get the CD’s for the Falmouth show, we were all over the moon with the results. The music sounds great and the artwork is beautiful. We recorded the album in front of a small audience in January. There’s a fantastic atmosphere to the live recording; you can really feel the energy in the room. The new album is now available on Clare’s website. During the tour they were only available at the live shows so needless to say, they were selling like the proverbial hotcakes. We’re all very proud.
The Ronnie’s shows were a big hit. We had a full house for three out of the four nights and the audience loved the new material. Our new MD Grant Windsor has produced some stunning new arrangements (he also did a lot of the arrangements for the live album), and the band is sounding better than ever. Colin and AD have become an integral part of the live sound with a far greater emphasis on close harmony backings and the addition of guitar, trumpet and percussion. We’ve even got Chris Dagley playing bongos for one number. O yes…. A personal favourite number in the new set. I shan’t give too much away, you’ll just have to come along and see the show for yourselves. Let’s just say that it has to be seen to be believed…
I even managed to survive what can only be described as an act of sabotage on our opening night at the hands of the bassist playing with the support band. After I rather stupidly agreed to lend him my bass for the first set, he took it upon himself to completely change the action on my bass; handing it back to me just before our first set, remarking nonchalantly “You might want to check the tuning..”. I was not impressed. Especially as I’d just had the bass professionally set up and it was sounding better than ever.
Anyway… I’m over it now.
Our first out of town gig was in Falmouth. Possibly the longest drive of them all at five hours (eerghh..), we played the Princess Pavilion. It’s a lovely little theatre down by the sea (Or is it a river? Not sure..). The audience were a little quiet, but the show was good. By this point we’d already started rearranging the set and adding in a couple of old favourites. You can’t have a Clare Teal show without Messin’ With Fire, after all!
The following day we moved on to one of Clare’s favourite venues, the Brewhouse Theatre in the ‘Big Apple’ (Taunton). This really is a lovely venue and a great little town. It’s always good to have a little time during the day to have a walk around when your on the road. Grant and I went out for some lunch and coffee before the show. We’ve played the Brewhouse a number of times in the past; we’re always met with a great reception and the staff really looked after us yet again. A really good day.
On the 24th, we moved on to play St. Georges in Bristol, another regular venue for Clare. I’ve played there at least three times before with Clare and once with Lea Delaria. It’s a wonderful space for performing and has a great atmosphere… as long as you can get the acoustic under control. It’s pretty cavernous and getting the balance right on stage can be a bit of a challenge.
We had the local BBC come down in the afternoon to interview Clare and film her, Grant and I performing our blisteringly fast version of Tea For Two (Which incidentally features on the live album.. come on now folks!). Great fun… Really hoping that one turns up on YouTube at some point. It’s funny how you never really get to see these things back…
I did another one of those classic moves whilst in Bristol. The old ‘forgetting to call your mates when playing in their town’ trick. It never fails to come back and bite you on the arse. I have one good friend in Bristol, a girl I went to college with and haven’t seen for a while. Although I had it in the back of my mind to call her the next time I was in town, I totally forgot. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but, rather typically, I ran into her in the street during the afternoon. This always happens! It happened the last time I was in Dublin recording with TDC with the one person I know there too. Mortifyingly embarrassing. Felt awful. But it was nice to see her, if incredibly briefly!
After Bristol we had a well-deserved day off at home. When I intended on writing this blog. Obviously I didn’t get around to it… sorry folks.
On the 26th we all schlepped up to South Shields. Yet another five hour slog in the car. We arrived in the freezing cold and wind at the venue which is situated right on the Tyne. I really thought the weather was starting to get warmer by now, rather wishfully discarding both hat and scarf by this stage; but this happy thought was soon put to bed as I attempted to move my gear into the venue and virtually took off like a windsurfer as soon as I put my bass on my back…
After a great show we excitedly set off for our hotel like a bunch of school kids off to Summer camp. We were staying in the gorgeous Lumley Castle Hotel about thirty miles down the road. If you’re ever up in that area I’d seriously recommend this place. Dating back to the 1300s, it is truly breath-taking. Very rarely do we get to stay in such luxury whilst on the road. Clare and Muddy did well to find this little gem! Here’s a little photo so you can get the general idea…
Mmm.. lovely stuff! The following morning we travelled 150 miles down the road to play the Albert Halls in Bolton. Due to the nature of the high stage we were unable to use their piano, so Grant was stuck playing a keyboard again. It’s amazing how this can affect the gig and the sound on stage. It really was a bit of a struggle to hear exactly what was going on and the overly long soundcheck meant that we also missed dinner; not a great start to the evening but the show itself went really well.
We moved on to Huddersfield on the Saturday to play the fabulous Lawrence Batley Theatre. Once again, Grant and I got there early to have a wander round the town and check out the venue. Grant was instantly taken with the piano (in fact at one stage I thought I might be lunching alone…) and the technical crew were really great. This was the closest we got to a hometown gig for Clare on this tour and the show was sold out with around 500 people coming. In many ways it was a shame that this show (and the previous two shows on the Northern run) featured just the trio, but it did allow us to vary the set across the tour a little more and try out some different material. In fact we are working on creating a completely different show for the trio in the near future for these occasions… watch this space.

The Huddersfield show was definitely a highlight for me. We had such a great time at the Lawrence Batley Theatre. The audience were brilliant and it really is a very special venue. I’m definitely looking forward to going back there to play again soon.
The tour finished with two additional one-off shows the following week. The first was up at the Pacific Road Arts Centre in Birkenhead (over seven hours there and back!). This is a really interesting venue which I’d played a couple of years ago with Lea Delaria’s Dirty Martinis. It’s situated in a converted railway depot and puts on a wide range of music from jazz to full-on rock gigs. Acoustically it’s a bit of a cavern, plus there’s no piano, but this is one of my favourite venues to play up North. It has such a great atmosphere and the staff are brilliant. Really worth checking out.
The last venue of the tour was The Stables in Wavendon (and thankfully, not too far from home this time!). We always have a fantastic time there. I’ve played there with Clare at least three times before and we have a fabulous time on every visit. Founded by John Dankworth and Cleo Lane, it really is one of the best jazz venues in the country and well worth a visit if you’re in the area. We were back with the full band this time and had a fantastic show to round off the tour.
But of course the fun doesn’t stop here folks! We’ve still got a load of forthcoming shows for you if you haven’t managed to catch us thus far. We’ll be at the Hull Truck Theatre on the 26th, Pizza Express Maidstone on the 2nd May and the Bath Pavilion on the 3rd. You can find all Clare’s dates (as well as all the other dates I’m playing with other artists) on my MySpace page, as well as on Clare’s official website. And don’t forget to order your copy of Clare Teal Live at Ebenezer Chapel from the Online Shop, where you can also get hold of our last album Get Happy. Enjoy!
ps. Those of you waiting with bated breath for news of my forthcoming solo album (or should that be ‘both of you’?!), fear not. Work is very much in progress, but that is another post entirely. This one is already far too long… until next time!

Dec 5 2008

Tales From The Undertaker; On Tour With Duke Special, Part I

Hello folks,

Sorry it’s been such a long time since my last post. I’ve just spent the last fortnight touring Ireland with Duke Special and made the (potentially hazardous) last minute decision to go sans laptop. Hence my absence online over the last two weeks, I do hope you’ll excuse me.
But fear not dear readers, I have been diligently ‘blogging’ the old-fashioned way with pen and paper throughout the tour so that I can bombard you with a veritable deluge of posts on my return.
I wrote this post on the 24th November. Lets pretend for now it still is…
I feel a little explanation is in order regarding the title of this post. I am now officially known as The Undertaker in the Duke’s band. This is mainly due to the rather splendid tailcoat I picked up in Camden just before we set off. It was Peter’s idea. He asked me a while ago if I had any character ideas for the band (all the members of the band assume a Duke Special-esque identity when on tour) and the tailcoat prompted him to christen me The Undertaker. Nice.
And, so you know, here’s who else we had in the band on the tour:
Duke Special- Piano and vocals
Temperance Society Chip Bailey- Percussion and kitchen utensils
Matador Ben Castle- Saxes and Clarinet
Paul Pilot- Guitar
Detective Phil Wilkinson- Drums
The Invisible Birdman Mark Edwards- Keyboards
And myself on bass. It’s a really fantastic lineup and I think the largest band Peter has toured with thus far (excluding the orchestral shows, obviously)
Having spent a couple of days rehearsing the previous month to get our ears around the new material, this run officially started with three more days rehearsing in Putney. Now, I say three days rehearsing, but in reality the majority of the first day was spent unloading al the gear and setting it up for the first time, and virtually the entire last day was spent packing it down and trying to get it loaded for the tour. I have never come across another band with as much (mainly loose!) gear as the Duke’s. They make The Flaming Lips look positively minimalist with their vast plies of equipment and various stage paraphernalia. In fact we got a nasty surprise when we finally met up with the tourbus and trailer with our veritable mountain of gear, only to discover that we’d also be carrying about the same amount again in lighting equipment. And the trailer wasn’t very big. Oops…
O yeah, and we have no roadies. Should have mentioned that earlier really…
I am writing to you today from the dressing room of the An Grianan Theatre in Letterkenny. We have four shows under our belt so far, with nine more to go.
Our tour started  in Waterford with two nights at Electric Avenue. This is a great little venue right in the middle of the town. I think Peter’s played there a number of times before. I’m guessing it holds somewhere between 200-250 people. The stage certainly wasn’t intended for a band the size of ours. In fact Mark and I wound up on our own little podium off to one side. The was no cat-swinging action to be had I can tell you.
I have come to the conclusion that Waterford is essentially not very ergonomic for a rock and roll band. Electric Avenue is at the top of a long hill which neither the bus or trailer could negotiate. The bus ended up parked in the docks with no water or power ( a good ten minute walk down the hill), where we also had a day room at a local hotel. Let me tell you; woe betide anyone who leaves some essential item for the gig on the bus. I lost count of the number of times I had to schlep up and down that bloody hill. Our dressing room was also miles away from the stage on the other side of the venue. More on that later…
The first night was amazing and the crowd were fantastic. Especially considering the sheer volume of new material we had in the set. They really got into it. In fact it seemed that the majority of them were already familiar with a lot of the new songs already. I discovered that Sweet Sweet Kisses has been getting a lot of airplay over there, which is great news. 
The second night was an extra date added into the schedule after the first night sold out. The crowd were a little noisy but we still had a good show. We did get another nasty shock when we discovered that our dressing room would eventually (ie; by the time we came off stage) become the arse end of a hideous club night. I’ve never seen anything like it. As we sauntered back after the show we were greeted by a crowd of drunken men (there were about three girls in the whole place) gyrating and cavorting erratically to blaring house music. My own personal Hell. Why anybody would voluntarily go out dancing in such a place is entirely beyond me.
On the 22nd we went on to the Dinn Ri in Carlow. This is a fairly new venue, about twice the size of Electric Avenue. Carlow is an incredibly small town. In fact I can honestly say that I’d ‘done’ the Carlow town centre in about fifteen minutes. I’ve discovered that the Bagel Factory is a good default destination for coffee action whilst in Ireland. Luckily, there was one opposite the bus. Nice touch.

The show went really well. It was good to finally all the on the same stage. Although we did have to erect a little extension to the side for Chip and his enormous percussion rack.
Yesterday we were at the An Tain Theatre in Dundalk. The town looked really lovely but everything was shut as it was a Sunday. Bugger.
Pete’s wife arrived from Belfast with an assortment of costume goodies for us to wear on stage, including a great vintage top hat for me and a floor-length leather mac and trilby for Mark’s Invisible Man getup. By the time Mark was ready for the show we couldn’t even look in his general direction without cracking up. I think he won the award for best outfit…

The An Tain is a proper seated theatre venue with a massive stage. We finally got to use some of the lighting gear we’d been carting around and the show looked fantastic thanks to our LD Dom. It made such a difference to the show, with proper lighting. This was easily the best show thus far.
We’ve had some bloody awful loadouts so far on the tour. Mainly because we end up trying to do it right in the middle of chucking out time at all the local bars and clubs. I have found myself simultaneously assuming the roles of roadie, bouncer ad bodyguard after some of the shows. Although we didn’t have this problem last night, it wound up being the worst loadout to date due to the pouring rain and freezing cold. A cunning flight of slippery steps made matters a little more tricky. Nice.
I’m really looking forward to playing the Dublin Olympia tomorrow. It’s one of my favourite venues to play in Ireland. I’ve done it a few times with The Divine Comedy and once with A Girl Called Eddy when we supported The Beautiful South a few years ago. Neil’s coming to see the show too, so it’ll be great to catch up.
I’ll let you know how it all goes….
Duke Special’s fantastic new album I Never Thought This Day Would Come was released in Ireland last month. It’s available over here for download at the iTunes store, or you can buy the CD direct from the Duke Special Store.