Bang The Drum

Dominic Bailey-Clay is an in-demand producer, multi-instrumentalist, new(ish) Dad and all-round good egg (see pic). And, furthermore, he’ll be hitting things for Bike to The Future.

Solid State

Dom is one of those musician on whom many rely but of whom few are aware. He is responsible for producing some of the truly great acts to emerge from our environs and beyond. At the mixing desk, he’s an absolute legend but is also not afraid to get his hands dirty and muck-in on a multitude of instruments.

I first met Dom when he was working with local heroes Port Erin, with whose bass player I was performing in Rivers of England. We spent many a happy hour together at Glastonbury festival. Which became increasingly happy, the more I accepted the offers of shared herbal cigarettes…

Mixing it Up

Having become aware of Dom’s wizardry in the studio, I approached him to mix some tracks for my recent solo album ‘Never There at All’*. Not only did he do a blinding job, making sense of my sometimes over-complicated arrangements, he also augmented these with great session playing of his own. Replacing sampled electric guitars with real ones, layering acoustic drums on top of pre-recorded loops and dirtying-up Hammond and strings samples, Dom transformed my efforts into something way better than I could have achieved alone.

Spreading The Love

So, it was a natural step to introduce Dom to Rivers of England (with whom I play drums). He duly produced our recent EP ‘A Quarter to Eight in Spring’, with stunning results. Stand-out tracks are ‘Time Rolls On’ and Dom’s re-mix of our take on ‘Always on My Mind’. The latter has been enjoying radio play as far afield as Germany and Macedonia (no – me neither), so we’re poised for that long-awaited breakthrough!

Stage Presence

With all that behind us, it’s a joy to have Dom make a guest appearance in Bike to The Future. Dom joined me – briefly – onstage for my last Fringe show ‘Think of a Conclusion’, so he knows the ropes. He’ll be the one at the back, keeping us all on pointe and driving home the groove.

Did I Mention My Album?!

As mentioned, Dom produced my solo album ‘Never There at All’ from his wonderful studio, Nine Volt Leap, in Melksham. I can thoroughly recommend both to any musicians out there looking for a convivial recording space and a proactive producer. Dom has a terrific range of drums, synths, guitars and other instruments on-hand to enhance your performance. His studio also boasts an impressive array of vintage outboard effects, to get that unique sound you’ve been searching for.

Several songs from ‘Never There at All’ feature in ‘Bike to The Future’, so what better way to prepare yourself for the show than to grab yourself a copy? ‘And how would I do that?’ I hear you say. Well, it’s funny you should ask…

Free Download

* Just forward me your booking confirmation (to brian@madmusik.co.uk) and I’ll send you a link for the album download.

And to get your booking confirmation, you’ll need to book. Which you can do here:

Mr Bassman

Introducing Jason Albarin, who will be making a guest appearance on the bass for ‘Bike to The Future’. It’s fair to say that if you’re where Jason is, you’re generally where the party’s at.

Plucky Fellows

Jason and I first met as fellow rhythm-makers for blues-funksters Plucky Purcell. In that line-up, I was on drums, whilst Jason played percussion. At the same time, we performed in opposite configuration (Jason on drums and me on percussion) with retro-alt-popsters Thompson’s Lovechild.

Jason is largely responsible for my song ‘Avin it Large’, which featured in the ‘Think of A…’ fringe-theatre trilogy. He was part of a posse of Bath party-heads, who would show up at gigs and festivals with alarming regularity. They would dress to the nines and generate good vibes through their exuberance and general merriment.

For One Night Only

Plucky Purcell were playing at Sunrise festival one year. It was a great vibe and we had the whole place dancing to our funky grooves. Afterwards, I was taken under the wing of said crew and given a make-over. So, with glittery face-paint, fluffy jacket and curly wig to disguise my normally staid appearance, I became – for one night only – one of them. And ‘ad it large!

Want to Know More?

If you really want to know more, you’d better listen to the song. And if you want to listen to the song, the best way to do so would be to claim your free download of my album ‘Never There at All’. And to claim your free download, just forward your booking confirmation for ‘Bike to The Future’ to me at brian@madmusik.co.uk .

And to get that, click here:

A Whale of a Time

I can now reveal the second of my special guests for Bike to The Future, at the Rondo Theatre in Bath on 29th October. Rob Whale: a consummate musician and a keen cyclist too!

By Arrangement…

Rob is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, arranger, educator and performer. We first met as music students at Middlesex Polytechnic in the late 1980s. There, we performed together in numerous shows, bands and ensembles. Notable among these – if only for its glorious name – was Rob’s own band ‘Rob Whale and The Marleys’. This variously featured Jason Yard (Jazz Warriors) and Lisa Walsingham (Jools Holland) on sax, as well as Charlie Round-Turner (Midge Ure) on keys.

Rob created arrangements for my own degree final recital, which – in addition to Charlie and Lisa – also featured Dawne Adams (Pet Shop Boys, Lionel Ritchie, etc.) on percussion. Later, I recorded drums for Rob’s African-influenced project ‘Super Rhythm Express’. He then went on to become a regular member of the folk outfit Jake’s Rake, with whom he still performs.

Impressive Mileage

Perhaps more significantly, Rob is a mad keen cyclist. A member of Holmfirth Cycle Club, he clocks up impressive mileage on a near-daily basis and is Local Legend of Jackson’s Back Passage (anyone familiar with Strava might understand what that means)! Rob and his daughter Jasmin also accompanied me and my son Florian on fund-raising cycle rides to Paris and across Wales to their home in West Yorkshire.

Extra Flare

Rob’s energetic, folk-tinged fiddle playing, vocal harmonies and stage presence bring extra flare to any performance. So, I’m delighted that he’ll be travelling down to Bath to make a special guest appearance. We hope he’ll also be able to accompany me on sections of the planned cycle-based tour beginning next Spring.

Previously, Rob and I have appeared together at Bracknell and Glastonbury festivals, as well as numerous gigs and shows. It will be wonderful to rekindle this musical partnership for you at the Rondo. And, with Rob on board, we’re guaranteed a Whale of a time!

See you there.

Great Scott!

I’m thrilled to announce that renowned composer and performer Jools Scott will be joining me for a special guest appearance in ‘Bike to The Future’, at the Rondo Theatre, Bath on October 29th.

Composer, Pianist, Bon-Viveur…

Jools has a truly impressive track record, both as composer and performer. His Oratorio ‘The Cool Web’ was performed at St Pauls Cathedral in 2018. He has also composed scores for numerous films, games and audio books.

As a performer, Jools was onstage for the National Theatre/Bristol Old Vic production of Jane Eyre in 2015. He has played and recorded extensively with folk sensation Beth Porter, both as part of her ‘Availables’ and as a core member of ‘The Golden Eggs’. And he appears on keys with inimitable indie-folkabilly band ‘The Duckworths’.

Sobering Times

Jools and I have known one another for some time as part of the eclectic music scene in and around Bath. We established a rapport as fellow composers and discovered we had much to share in this capacity. However, meeting – as we generally did – at or after gigs and festivals, we realised we were rarely sober enough to have a sensible conversation. So, we got into the habit of meeting for breakfast (usually before Jools heads off to entertain tourists at The Pump Rooms in Bath).

Full English

Since you asked, we both favour a good Full English with a cappuccino. You didn’t? Well, you know now anyway. Over this hearty meal, it’s great to bounce around ideas and discuss plans. Actually, some of my Fringe shows have benefitted from these exchanges. And I hope that I’ve made some small contribution to Jools’ incredible work too.

Cast of Characters

Jools will be just one of a colourful cast of characters joining me on stage at the Rondo. I’ll share more about them as we approach the event. But, rest assured, this will be an evening to remember. Without giving too much away, this time you will get to hear the songs out loud. And you will be regaled with the stories that inform them. And (for the regulars) yes – there will be a choir!

See you there.

Don’t Tell Anyone…

Yesterday, posters for my up-coming show ‘Bike to The Future’ were delivered to the Rondo, where I will be performing on 29th October. (Please put that date in your diary and do book your tickets early*).

An Open Secret

But there’s something you ought to know. And this is an open secret within the theatrical community. If you are involved in that world, it may not come as a surprise but others might think it strange.

The truth is, when you put together a theatre show, things happen in a peculiar order. One of the first things you generally do is create promotional images. Then, you’ll write some ‘blurb’, describing your masterpiece to prospective venues. After that, you design posters and flyers to attract audiences. Then, you write a press release for the media…

Something Missing

So, what’s the big reveal? Well, something’s missing from that list… The show!

I’ve worked on many theatrical productions, as composer, musician, writer and performer. And, in most cases, the show itself hasn’t been created until all of the above has taken place. But don’t be alarmed.

In order to produce all that promotional material, you really have to know what the show is going to be about. You need to have a clear vision of the mood, style and flavour of the performance. And you must be sure you can deliver, when it comes to putting it all together.

New Adventure

This new adventure follows on from my trilogy of ‘Think of a…’ Fringe shows. The structure will be similar to those. The audience (you, I hope) will be taken on a journey by way of a sequence of songs and the stories behind them. Along the way, there will be the odd surprise (well, it won’t be a surprise anymore – duh!) and some special guests will be joining me.

So, all I need do now is write the thing! Well, the songs are written. The structure is in place. Special guests are booked. And everything else will follow. I can promise you will be royally entertained and look forward to having you along for the ride (pun intended) 😊.

Free Album Download

*Email me your purchase confirmation (brian@madmusik.co.uk) and I’ll send you a link to download my recent album ‘Never There at All’ for free.

Think of a Conclusion Video – Part 10

Sing as One

The audience is suddenly thrown into darkness as the song (‘The End’) is cut short. From among the throng, a group of singers has arranged itself in the centre of the space. Using their phone lights, they illuminate music sheets and begin to sing a slowly-evolving, ethereal chant.

Around them, dancers emerge from within the audience. They too light up the space, their torch beams following the movement. Singers and dancers are locked together in overlapping, repeating phrases. These slowly cycle, in and out of phase, until revealing themselves as being strands of one harmony. The text is ‘Come together, Sing as one’.

The underlying message of the show is to make the most of our interactions while we can. We regularly neglect those that mean most to us. And we often miss the opportunity to let those that have inspired or helped us know how we feel about them.

We each have our own independent trajectory. But these interweave with one another, combining in ways that may be abrasive or beautiful. It is up to us all to make the most of our interactions, whether planned or chanced upon. Together, we can make something quite magical.

 

Back to Start

Think of a Conclusion Video – Part 9

The End

When you take away the stage lights, PA, seating and physical distance from a performance, we are all just people in a room. What then matters is how we interact with one another. I now join the audience as we all sing and move around the space together.

Now all barriers between me and the audience have been removed. We are all, quite literally, now on the same level. It’s a little difficult to hear the song via the hand-held camera’s microphone, over the audience’s spontaneous clapping. But you can certainly make out the ‘whoo-hoo’s!

After a time, a conga breaks out, audience members clap, sing and generally enjoy the mayhem. Until, suddenly, it’s all over. Or is it?…

 

 

 

Think of a Conclusion Video – Part 8

Let The Healing Begin

Now, even the cameraman has to pack down his tripod, so we get a slightly disconcerting view of the rapidly deconstructing performance. The audio is also just from the hand-held camera, so we are very much ‘in the room’ with no enhancement…

As a student, I was introduced to theatre by the amazing director Andy Burden. We became close friends and when he moved back to his home city of Bath, I visited him regularly. As well as directing, Andy also wrote and performed songs. Together, we played many of Bath and Bristol’s most popular venues and I realised this was somewhere I would be happy to live.

A few years later, I moved to Bath – together with my wife – and quickly became established within the local creative scene. When we then started a family, some friendships became a little overlooked. As a parent, you inevitably have to re-prioritise and it can be difficult to find time and energy to socialise.

So, even though we now lived within the same city, Andy and I saw less of one another and our gigging together was curtailed. Fast-forward a few years and now we are in the era of social media. One day, Andy posted that a lump had been found on his neck. It was thought to be a benign tumor but turned out to be cancer.

There followed a period of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Andy was hit hard by these but, when I visited him, he still managed to play host, rather than ‘the patient’. Eventually, he posted on social media that the treatment was over: “they’ve cut me, they’ve burned me’ they’ve poisoned me”, he wrote; “Now, let the healing being!”

It struck me that this sounded like one of Andy’s songs. Beneath his post, friends and family had written all sorts of beautiful and moving comments. So, I set about creating a song, in the style of Andy Burden, using both his words and those of his loved ones.

And here it is…

Part 9

 

 

Think of a Conclusion Video – Part 7

Life Begins

Time is pushing on and the sound man is keen to pack down the remaining microphone. The PA and stage  lighting has now gone. The audience is still standing, following ‘Life Begins’ and I continue my story without staging or amplification…

To celebrate my 40th birthday, I gathered friends together for a camping weekend near Bath. This prompted me to contact Fergus Read – who’s was the first friendship I struck up as a student in London. Fergus was an amazing musician and played just about every instrument you could think of.

Through Fergus, I got to collaborate with some of London’s finest jazz players. During our time as students, I was lucky enough to play gigs with the likes of Jean-Marie Fagan, Alan Barnes and Malcolm Earle-Smith.  And being accepted into such exulted company went a long way towards helping me overcome some deep-seated self doubt.

Fergus declined the invitation to my party. After I described the planned  children’s games, tai chi, yoga, barbecues and campfire sing-alongs, he declared that I was a f**king hippy and that he would not be attending. He said he would, though, come and visit (together with his wife, Ulfet) me and my family at our home in Bavaria.

And so they did. It transpired they had both become quite serious wine buffs since we last saw them. They arrived in a car laden with everything France had to offer, from fine wines and cheeses to – ahem – fois gras. Every night became a banquet and the proposed one-night stay extended to eight.

After this, our friendship was rekindled. So too our working relationship. Fergus helped provide the expertise for a ‘vintage-jazz’ track I composed for a short animation. On it, he played – with skill and expertise – guitar, piano, trumpet and clarinet. Fergus’s dear pal Malcolm played trombone; tuba was provided by our mutual friend Sarah Waterhouse… and I hit some things.

The following year, Fergus and Ulfet reprised their visit to Bavaria. During that stay, Fergus made me promise I would visit when over in England for an up-coming theatre production. This I did – but, when I got there,  it was clear something wasn’t right. Fergus’s speech was slurred and he revealed he had undergone a biopsy.

Shortly after, Fergus was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He declined quickly and by the time I was next in England was already in a hospice, barely able to communicate. The chemotherapy and radio therapy did give him a reprieve. However, on my next and final visit to see him, he was once again in decline and now in denial about his situation.

So, I never got to tell Fergus what he really meant to me. It is a source of lasting regret that I hadn’t forced myself to say how grateful I was to have known him, both as a friend and fellow musician.  So, of course, I wrote him a song. Actually, I wrote the bulk of it in the departures lounge of Saltzburg Airport, waiting for my flight over to see him. But, of course, he never got to hear it.

 Part 8

 

Think of a Conclusion Video – Part 6

Life Begins

As I neared the end of my 30s, the idea of turning 40 felt like a daunting prospect . However, once that milestone was passed, it seemed as though I had a new lease of life. Self-imposed boundaries began to ease and a renewed sense of possibility set in.

It’s now quite a while since the ‘show’ has finished. The venue staff is keen to get everything packed away. The audience is, therefore, asked to stack the chairs at the back of the auditorium. So, the literal deconstruction of the performance environment continues.

And with that comes the further removal of barriers between performer and audience. Now, people are free to move, mingle and dance. They get involved with the song and one group improvises a refrain, along with the guitar riff.

Freed from the constraints of sitting in rows, the public now enjoys a sense of release. But with that comes uncertainty. Now the rules of engagement have been broken: where will this show take them next?

Part 7