Growing up in a musical family, the bug hit me early and I began playing the guitar at the age of ten. By my early teens I had developed a taste for 50’s rock’n’roll – Chuck Berry in particular – and a passion for The Beatles. As my guitar playing developed I discovered Knopfler, Clapton and Robert Cray, as well as classic Bluesmen such as John lee Hooker, BB King and a host of others, who all remain firm favourites and strong influences, along with songwriters such as Paul Simon, James Taylor and Tom Waits. Early gigs in the pubs of SW London lead me to form my own band and my debut album Radio City Blues was released in 1995 earning me two Blueprint Award nominations (the forerunner of the British Blues Awards) for best guitarist and best album.
Several other albums followed, including a record deal in Germany and subsequent tours, and I was asked to join Long John Baldry’s trio for two tours resulting in the live album Evening Conversation. I have worked as a session musician for several mainstream artists which has take me all over Europe, the USA, the Middle East and even darkest Siberia, plus numerous TV appearances including Top of the Pops, MTV etc. While working in the house band for a London clubland residency I met former cricketer and singer/songwriter/guitarist Mark Butcher and produced his debut solo album which was released in 2010. I have toured extensively in Europe with former Pink Floyd/Thin Lizzy/Roger Waters guitarist Snowy White, making two albums with his band The Snowy White Blues Project.
In 2011 I formed The Motives, releasing one critically acclaimed album to date (another on the way) and in 2013 I instigated the formation of The Boom Band – a collective of musicians hailing from the British blues scene, coming together to collaborate on each other’s material and releasing one very well received album, as well as appearing at several European festivals and being asked by Paul Jones (The Blues Band/Manfred Mann/Radio 2 etc) to be the house band at his annual charity concerts in Surrey, December 2014, backing Van Morrison and Robin Trower among others. The Motives and The Boom Band are ongoing projects.
Having been involved in the release of many albums myself I have had call to employ independent promotion. Often I have had good experiences of this, particularly in Europe where companies don’t seem to charge so much and do seem to have a stronger work ethic! Sadly I don’t have such happy tales to tell from my experiences in the UK. I have spent time talking to colleagues on the music scene and there seems to be something of a consensus that many UK companies are too expensive and don’t provide particularly good value for money. There have been horror stories about companies asking for several hundred promo CDs, only for the artist to find them advertised on eBay! Some charge high fees to begin with – just to pitch your CD around – and then an extra fee if they do get a positive result. And then there’s the one about the promo company that’s happy to take your money but then ‘forgets’ to send out your CDs! Sadly all of the above are true stories.
It is fair to say that an expensive, established PR company could be an enormously valuable asset, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to do anything more for you than anybody else will, particularly if you feel you have a strong album, an interesting story to tell and a bunch of gigs in the diary. It could be that they have other acts as a priority and are just squeezing you into their schedule but not giving you much attention. This is quite common and can particularly be the case if their main bread & butter clients are established record labels or artists that they manage themselves. It could potentially cost you several thousand pounds to discover this for yourself, money which any musicians can ill-afford to squander.
After reaching these conclusions the hard way, for my last few album projects I decided to take on UK promotional duties myself. The projects were the Snowy White Blues Project album In Our Time… Live, The Motives eponymous debut album and most recently The Boom Band album which is a campaign still in progress. Some of the fruits of my labours can be seen on the Previous Campaigns page on this website. There are several more reviews of The Boom Band album still to come in, and a double page interview feature in the next issue of R2 Magazine which is out mid-July. With each of these campaigns my contact list has grown and I now feel that I am in a position to offer an efficient and cost-effective service.
Contemporary blues and roots music comes in all shades and shapes – I am interested in all of them and have experience with most of them – from delicate, finger-picked country blues and Americana, to balls-out-in-yer-face-blues-rock! I believe that one of the challenges in contemporary blues and roots music is the seemingly impossible task of making it sound new and old at the same time! That is, making the music sound modern and relevant without changing what’s at it’s core. That said, there is always room for well-executed, traditional blues of perhaps the Chicago or Texas schools, or classic, timeless country melodies and harmonies. All these things have a place in the lexicon of contemporary blues & roots, and all will benefit from efficient promotion to relevant press and radio.
You may think to yourself “well, if you can do it yourself, why can’t I?” And the fact is, you could, if you had the time and inclination. But to start a promo campaign from scratch is labour intensive work and a distraction from the business at hand of making music. I am in a position to take the strain and provide a valuable solution.
Feel free to call me for a chat on +44 (0)7916 125163 or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.