To listen to Ragged Valentine follow the link, which takes you to my Band Camp page. If you like what you hear you can buy copies of the songs or the whole album... :o)
Ragged Valentine is my first acoustic album. My dream was to record a collection of my songs, as a bit of a landmark for my memories and a chance to capture where I have been musically. I also wanted to draw together some of the really great friends and musicians that I have gigged with over the past few years.
I pulled together ten songs about love: from the inevitable serenades to songs about friendship, a song about caring for the planet, and a couple of sad songs about those times where it felt like there was no love. I think I have ended up with quite a nice balance of moods and it is certainly a good selection from my scribblings on this subject.
When it comes to the love though, I have been truly blessed by the friends that willingly gave their time to play on the album. Their excellent musicianship has injected real magic into the songs. The variety in sound is fantastic. I asked different combinations of musicians to play on each song: from Janet's piano on Breathless, to Stu's lilting, melodic guitars on Jealousy and Colours; there are great rhythms with Rikk's percussion and Eric's bass, and more fine guitars from Carlos and saxaphone from Gavin. I am blown away by how good it has turned out and I am so grateful to everyone who played.
My album was recorded and engineered by Mac, at his studio in Didcot (see Mac's site on youtube). Working with Mac was excellent fun. He is a top guitarist himself and has a fine ear for sound engineering. Add in the top-quality bits of shiny kit, that he has to record and mix with, and you can hear how brilliant he has made us all sound on the CD! I am grateful as well for his patience...it took me a long time to piece this all together.
I have a lot of thanks as well to give to Lou. She came down to hear me record the final vocals, which was a real confidence boost - always helps when you are good friends with a choir master! :o) Lou also added some sparkle to a couple of songs with some lovely, harmony vocals.
For even more gushing prose, this link takes you to my commentry on the album launch gig. It was a lot of fun...
Ragged Valentine - pictures
Above are a random collection of photos from the recording of Ragged Valentine - hover your mouse over them for descriptions.
Alongside me (vocals and rhythm/arpeggio guitar) the album features: Carlos Chadderton (syncopated rhythm and lead guitars), Eric Butcher (bass guitar), Stuart Clark (classical-style guitars), Gavin Taylor (saxophone), Janet Barlow (piano and flute), Rikk Smith (percussion) and Louise Rapple (harmony vocals).
You can find out a lot more information about about Static Rain at staticrain.net. It's an old-school, guitar driven, passionate rock band. There's lots of nice gig photos and videos on the site.
Static Rain was formed in January 2001 - a fusion of two pairs of musicians: Carlos and myself, with Stu Clark and Mark Smith. Stu and Mark were playing together as an acoustic duet (both guitarists) but Stu fancied the challenge of taking up the drums. With Mark on bass guitar we got ourselves gig-ready very quickly.
The line up changed a couple of times, as Gareth joined us on drums and Eric on bass guitar. We played many gigs and got a good name for ourselves. We also recorded an EP "Moment of Clarity" and two albums: "Dewpoint" and "Brittle Sky". It was a fantastic band to play with but various pressures got to us and we had to give things a rest...I'm ever hopeful that we'll get things back together though, one of these days...
I picked up my Dad's guitar when I was about sixteen. I found the 'teach yourself guitar' book that he was learning from and got down to it. After a few months of struggling with chord shapes, I started to enjoy it...and I started to sing.
Attempts at song writing happened quite early on. Hopefully any traces of the first few songs have long since evaporated. I seem to remember the cringe worthy lyrics, where everything seemed to rhyme with "...alright"! With a bit more practice and pain I developed a stronger writing style.
My old school friend Carlos Chadderton and I decided to ease ourselves slowly into the rat race. For about nine months after university we worked (almost) part time, and spent a good deal of the rest of the time playing guitars together. This was an important period that taught us a lot about how to sing, write and play music. In the end we created an album, which was recorded using the most medieval technology; and we found ourselves ready to form our first band.
Ragwood was that band: a four piece blues-rock combo that played around Reading and Maidenhead for a couple of years. This was fantastic fun. We played a bunch of covers from the Rolling Stones, Who, Led Zepplin, U2 and Pink Floyd, as well as a good third of our own songs. Life was good; drummers came and went; we rocked.
The band lasted for a couple of years. In that time I started playing on the acoustic scene in Reading. Carlos and I became a well known duet in town but I also played alongside and lot of different musicians. There was an acoustic night (now called Bohemian Night), which became a second home to me. Here I met a lot of great new friends and very talented musicians.
This is a link to the Corn Stores gig pages, a monthly music night that I ran for about four years.