OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Have you given up on them already? I made two resolutions and they are both still intact.
If you have been reading these chapters for a while you will know there are a couple of things that never change for me. Firstly, I never give up. Even when there’s absolutely no chance whatsoever of something happening, however hard I try and everyone else would have packed in long ago, I never listen; I keep plugging away. I keep searching for that loose brick that will allow me to break down that wall; it doesn’t matter how long it takes, I’ll find it one day!
The second thing isn’t something I’m particularly proud of, but at least I’m honest enough to admit I suffer from it. When someone annoys or upsets me I’m a little like my anti hero Colin Bailey (but fortunately for them not quite as extreme!); I don’t have a list of people to bump off as he does, but there are people for whom a little payback is due and if my 2014 resolution on that front brings the odd success then it will be most acceptable.
The middle of January means Mocks for the students at school, so I’m working for three weeks; this will be summer number thirteen for me watching over young people taking their GCSE’s and A Levels. Hundreds of faces pass you by and perhaps only dozens make a lasting impression. Some of those that I’ve met since 2002 are still friends today; others disappear from the town never to be seen again. Whichever category they fall into then Invigilating is still without doubt the most rewarding job I’ve ever done.
In the week or so after New Year, before the exams began, I cracked on with ‘Unfinished Business’ and I now have 65000 words written. I think that leaves ten to fifteen thousand to write, you can never be sure, but I should finish the book by the middle of February at the latest. Then it will be off to the States to chase up a book cover design and get the manuscript edited ready for publication; all from the comfort of my own home!
The next cloud on the horizon will be how to advertise the new book? My Goodreads adverts for ‘The Final Straw’ have reached over 300000 readers to date, with a reasonable number of sales for my modest financial outlay. I’ve just this week launched a campaign to publicize ‘A Sting In The Tale’ the collection of short stories that I published in early November. Another modest outlay has been required for that too!
Orangeberry (who organised my award winning book tour last summer) recommended I spend around three times what I’ve spent so far – but they say to spend it each month! I don’t have the funds to do that I’m afraid. If I had five grand lying around to risk losing then fine; but even if I covered all of the advertising options they suggested, there are still no cast iron guarantees that I’d sell two thousand books to get my stake back, let alone have a best seller on my hands that solved my marketing budget problems for some years to come!
My old mate Tom Sangster has been asking me to get involved with Party In The Park and the Music Festival for a couple of years now. He came up with a proposal for 2014 that would see me taking on a project for this July’s PITP; it’s still early days, but I have given him the outline for my four hours of live music in a venue away from the main stage. If the sponsorship comes through and we get the green light for my proposals then I’ll let you know the details. It will take the evening’s entertainment in an exciting new direction.
Tom doesn’t like to take risks, so a couple of covers bands and a headline tribute act will be the limit of the musical experience for those in the open air this year, as it has been since the first year. There will always be an audience for that I guess, but it doesn’t inspire me to pay money to go to watch it.
How on earth can it inspire the next generation to pick up a guitar or a pair of drumsticks? They’re the equivalent of the dance bands churning out tunes from yesteryear that we avoided like the plague when we were teenagers. Those of you who read my first book of memories will know that there were dozens of venues available for new music to flourish that sprung up during the Sixties; they were enlightened times. There are a lot fewer venues around today overall, and those that give new music free rein are few and far between I’m afraid.
We know only too well in our own small town that the two or three live music venues ‘play safe’ and book in the same bands time and time again. The bands become too familiar and some get lazy, trotting out pretty much the same set ad infinitum.
I’m not blowing our own trumpet here (I can hear a few voices going ‘here we go again!’) but when we first started we knew perhaps fifteen songs. It was enough to fill an hour as a support band. Every Tuesday night we’d have a practice. Our target was to learn three new songs each week. Initially that just pushed our playlist up to thirty songs, which meant we could do a gig in a pub or club all on our own! Move on six months and we had trimmed back our practices to every other week because we were gigging so much, but we now had perhaps eighty songs we could offer; we pruned that list back to about fifty and dropped three older tunes for every three ‘newbies’ added at our practices.
We switched from an R&B outfit to a soul band after two & a half years; that meant learning thirty brand new songs before we could get back on the road properly. We took a week off work and grafted. A few tracks from the old line up remained for a month perhaps, but we transformed our set completely in the time between repeat gigs for the covers bands we hear in the Nose.
Then we did the same exercise three years later when we switched from a seven piece soul band to a four piece hard rock outfit. This time a third of the new numbers were our own material; the process was the same; a week’s holiday, hard graft in the practice room and a few missed gigs while we got ready. It’s not rocket science! It’s called keeping things FRESH!
I would love to be able to have a venue where new music featured every weekend in town; during the week it would be hired out for practice sessions and workshops with local musicians (young and old) pitching in to advise and encourage. A pipe dream maybe; but something has to change.
Talking about change; some things don’t! They seem to keep popping up with annoying regularity. I’m talking about unwanted visitors to my website. I had this problem about eighteen months ago! We managed to stem the flow back then, but I keep a weather eye on the comments and who is taking a look at the blog posts. A large number come in via Facebook and are pretty much anonymous, but one in particular came via a website which left a big hint as to who they were. It provided a bit of light relief to the lousy weather we’ve had so far this year.
I’ll be back in a few weeks with updates on everything featured in this post. Hope you’ll be back too? I’m thinking of adding a new feature ‘A funny thing happened on the journey to and from school today’.
Take care and bye for now!