Tuesday, May 03, 2016

From Occasional Reader



The last couple of days

Mrs O and I must be the epitome of aging groupies. We have taken an interest in the singing of Amy Goddard for some years. There is a family connection. But it means that over these last couple of days we have travelled around 400 miles to attend a concert launching her second album.

I don’t do “out and back” in a day now - and anyhow, the gig ended somewhat late. In fact, by the time we helped dismantle everything it was very late indeed. So we stayed with relatives.

Usually when I stay in other people’s homes there is something that goes awry. About the only thing that happened on this flying visit was the shower. No - I didn’t break it - but I clambered in without my spectacles and looking closely about found that all my soaps and stuff were somewhere else. So, assuming that the household would not mind me borrowing, I peered myopically at various tubes, and it appears I then elected to wash my hair with someone’s Super Exfoliating Facial Scrub...

Amy’s second album is nearly all self-penned, and for this show she had a guitarist I’ve known for years, a back-up singer and percussionist, a hammer dulcimer player (a bit like a piano with bits missing that goes out of tune at the slightest change in temperature), a flute/whistle player, plus her own collection of guitars, in various tunings. Apparently you soon run out of linking jokes if you try and tune between numbers (“it was in tune when I bought it”...“I always wondered what these twirly things were for...”) so each instrument had its own tuning, and Amy’s husband was back-stage tuning up and doing the roadie bit. The venue was full, and at least three radio D J’s from specialist programmes (one linked to Canada, America and Australia) were there, which bodes well for future plays.

Making real money from performing folk music can be problematic unless you are early Bob Dylan. (Joke: how do you become a folk singer with a small fortune? Answer: start off with a large fortune). In these days of streaming even megastars often sell few albums, so CD sales aren’t the way. You can wear yourself out traveling around the country doing gigs, which is not Amy’s choice of life style. Or you can get played on radio, and there are a surprisingly large number of stations in Britain alone, let alone world-wide that have a need for this kind of product. Codes built into the CDs send information on plays to a central source, and the artist and songwriter gets royalties. A number of plays plus at least four really good reviews on specialist sites so far bodes well for the new album which has only been out for less than a week officially. Of course, if a megastar hears Amy’s work and decides to record something she’s written, I suspect she is not going to complain. But writers rarely write for the money. There are far easier ways to earn it. They write because - well, it’s part of them. But if it sells, no-one in their right mind is going to be churlish and grumble.

And - in the, “it’s a small world sometimes”, category - long-suffering readers of my stuff may vaguely remember how I carry on about a late American singer-songwriter, John Stewart. At Amy’s show, in my own guest slot, I did one of his numbers. At the interval I was immediately waylaid by an old guy (which probably means ten years younger than me) who had met Stewart, knew his wife, had been interviewed on radio about the man, and - and - yes, had actually been to - Bolinas. Huh? That will mean absolutely nothing to readers here. Only because I am what we can in the UK “an anorak” could I trade reminiscences and hold up my end of the conversation. Amy too could wade into the debate of minutia because she had to contact the Stewart family for permission to do one of his numbers on her first album and arrange royalties.

So a good time was had by all. We paid for cover to look after my mother while we were away. She will be 97 in June. She’s now outlived her first husband, my father, who was a fitness freak. She’s managed that age after her parents were told she’d not survive beyond five, and has spent a life time of eating the wrong foods and talking about, but not actually, taking exercise. (Her idea of slimming was always eating large unhealthy meals followed by two token low-fat biscuits afterwards). Anyhow, the last time we went away my daughter visited to hold the fort with her husband, and then she was taken ill and they had to stay with her for three days - kindly not telling us until we got back from vacation. This time all that has happened is that the carers have broken one of the sides of her bed. She can’t fall out, although it doesn’t look too safe. So that is a job to get sorted on Monday when the place that supplied the bed re-opens. So now it’s a takeaway meal, glass or two of red, and crash out, while hoping to make a killing selling obscurities on eBay.

So that’s our last couple of days. How were yours?

1 comment:

  1. It is always a pleasure to read your stories Occ. Read.
    Light as a feather

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