The Big One!

It’s Time To Be Heard

OK people, this is very exciting. I’ve been invited by Greenpeace to perform at this weekend’s ‘The Big One’ event in Parliament Square. This is being coordinated by Extinction Rebellion but – in case you associate that name with disruption and anarchy – will be an inclusive, peaceful weekend .

What to Expect

According to the event’s web site, more than 200 organisations are supporting – including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and PCS Union (me neither…) to name but a few. It promises to be:

  • Family friendly
  • Accessible and welcoming
  • Creative
  • Engaging

The streets will be transformed with People’s Pickets outside government departments and a diverse programme of speakers, performers and workshops, awash with colour and culture. There will be art and music, talks from experts, places to listen and engage, and activities for the kids. 

Come On Down (Or Up?)

If you’re a traditionalist, you’ll be going ‘up’ to the city. For the rest of us, we’ll be travelling down to London. Although I’m making this an official part of my ‘Bike to The Future’ tour, I won’t be able to get there by bike on this occasion, so will jump on a train instead. London is – of course – easily accessible by public transport and there are extra coaches being laid on from major towns and cities around the UK.

Say Hello

It would be great to see you there. Swing by the Greenpeace Activism Corner tent at 12:10 or 16:05 on Saturday to catch my performance. Then do come and say hello afterwards.

Choices… Choices

The nature of this event means I’ll just be doing 30-minute sets, so ‘ll need to choose my songs carefully (especially if they include the usual rambling intros!). I’m thinking ‘Barry Maunder Day’, ‘Gated Society’, ‘Change’, ‘It Can’t Go On’, ‘Calling From The Future’, ‘The Best That You Can Do’. If you are there on the day – and know my songs – come and shout out some requests (but keep it polite – this is a family event)!

Why Bother?

Our so-called leaders are not paying attention to the really pressing issues that face us all. Focusing on ‘growth’, ‘GDP’ and ‘the economy’ is clearly getting us nowhere. We need actual change and we need ongoing consultation with ‘ordinary’ people (of course, you’re all extraordinary really). That’s what this weekend is all about.

And if you can’t be there, that’s OK. But do keep up pressure on yourself and everyone you know to do the things we all know to be necessary. We have to stop using fossil fuels urgently. We can all make a massive impact by switching to a plant-based diet. And we really do need to keep pushing for systemic change on a national and international level in order to combat the climate emergency.

And it really is an emergency.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

2020 Vision - Brian Madigan. Making a Song & Dance, Burdell's Yard, Bath, May 31st.

A local reviewer – who shall remain nameless (I’ll call him ‘Steve’) – wrote of my Fringe show last year “Perhaps the high concept would go better with the more abstract instrumental pieces which are [Brian’s] bread & butter output as a working composer”… OK Steve – you asked for it!

2020 Vision

Remember 2020? I’m sure you do. Well, for me, it started with a request from artist Natasha Parker-Edwards to create a soundscape for her installation ‘Roar & Pelting’. This was to be presented that summer but, sadly, went the way of so many things during the pandemic. I’d already done much of the work before the show had to be axed, so decided to complete my composition regardless.

The soundscape was created using multiple voice recordings. Originally, Natasha and I were each going to interview people from our respective networks of friends, family and associates. From these, I would craft a sound collage that would provide the backdrop to her visual works. In the event, we had to send out the questions and ask our contacts to record themselves. Which, actually, provided a useful starting point.

No Filters

Participants were invited to record their responses on first reading our questions, with no preparation or planning and using whatever means they had available. This generated a variety of monologues, each with distinct acoustic characteristics and wildly varied interpretations of the subjects raised. But what instantly struck me was that it was often the little asides between coherent phrases that were most interesting.

So, I set about isolating the ‘good bits’, superimposing these upon one another. And what then fascinated me was how the brain immediately makes connections between these disparate voices. We innately want to make sense of things and create a narrative, even where one doesn’t exist.

I then made myself a set of rules for how these voice clips could be repeated, looped and grouped in order to build a complete work. In addition, piano, synthesizers and beats were used to enhance the colour, dynamics and rhythms of the voices. Originally, the whole piece lasted two hours, twenty minutes and was to be played as a continuous loop throughout the show. But then something happened…

Tipping Point

Curator Anna Novakov approached me in 2022, to ask whether I would like to contribute to an audio installation for Bath Fringe Arts. Titled ‘Tipping Point’, this was a meditation on our collectively precarious situation, post-Covid, in the face of multiple global threats. I explained about my lockdown-interview-generated piece and Anna agreed this would be a perfect fit.

Except it wasn’t. The pieces for inclusion within Tipping Point were limited to a maximum 50 minutes’ duration. So, I set about cutting down my epic soundscape to meet this stipulation. And something quite magical happened. Using the rules I’d set myself in the original creation of what had now become ‘2020 Vision’, I found that the 50-minute cut-off created an extraordinarily satisfying – and poignant – end to the piece.

Want to Know?

If you didn’t make it along to last year’s Tipping Point and want to know how it does end there’s some good news. 2020 Vision will form the first half of a double-header – titled ‘Making a Song & Dance’ – at this year’s Fringe. The soundscape will underscore a unique, immersive dance improvisation at Bath Fringe’s newest venue, Burdall’s Yard, on Wednesday 31st May.

To book your tickets, please use the link below. I’ll explain a little more about the dance itself in a future post. And reveal what the second half of this double-header will be. Or – of you can’t wait for those – click through to the booking page and find out!…

Book now

Making a Song & Dance (‘2020 Vision’ and ‘Bike to The Future’ double-header) at Burdall’s Yard, Bath event tickets from TicketSource

Bill The Bass

I’ve invited my brother-in-rhythm from alt-folk combo ‘Rivers of England’ to join us on double bass for Bike to The Future. Also a keen cyclist, Bill lives near some of the most horrendous hills in the country!

Melodic and Mercurial

If you’ve seen Rivers of England in action, you’ll know that Bill’s bass playing is both driving and melodic. He has the knack of providing distinctive patterns that help propel the songs forward. And, at the same time, Bill introduces elements of counter-melody that can only really be delivered by the double-bass.

Dom The Drum

But wait… there’s more! On drums, I’ve invited Dominic Bailey-Clay, who also has a Rivers connection. Dom produced our recent EP ‘Eight In The Evening in Spring’, as well as my own album ‘Never There at All’, the title track of which appears in this show…

Album Favourites

Phew… brought it back round! Yes, the show will feature that song, as well as other album favourites and a couple you won’t have heard before (even if you came to the first version of Bike to The Future). So grab yourself a ticket and get along to the Old Theatre Royal Bath tomorrow night at 8pm. Doors will be open from 7pm and there is a bar – so come early and grab yourself a drink and a seat at the front.

Mystery Guitarist

And – last but not least – we have a special guest appearance from a mystery guitarist. I can’t say too much but, rest assured, he’s a leading-light in his field of music…

Is That All?

Of course not! This is a Fringe show. There will be the usual surprises; breaking of barriers and opportunities to get involved. I’ll say no more, as I want you to enjoy everything as it unfolds. But, to do so, you really will need to be there…

A Hard Act to Follow

The Bike to The Future tour got underway at the weekend, with a trip down to perform at Shindig festival, where I met the inspirational ‘Spoke & Chain’.

On its new site – Dillington Park – the weekend was a joyous, colourful occasion that somehow managed to be both Drum & Bass-heavy and child-friendly!

Next stop: Bath Fringe (June 1st, Old Theatre Royal Bath, 8pm)…

Inspirational

On the way down to Shindig, I stopped for some much-needed refreshment at a tea-room in Somerton (former capital of ancient Wessex, apparently). Parked nearby, I noticed two heavily-laden bikes, with enormous frames and a mish-mash of intriguing luggage. As I later pitched my tent at the festival, these two vehicles wheeled into the space next door.

Naturally, I got talking to the occupants of said bicycles and they turned out to be quite inspirational. These two – we’ll call them ‘Kevin and Sylvia’ (since those are their names) – have been touring all over Europe for the past eight years. They carry their home and belongings, as well as props for their show, with them as they travel from town to town.

Vision & Bravery

The duo goes under the name ‘Spoke & Chain’. I didn’t actually get to see them perform their show but did get a glimpse of one of their giant puppets, as they did a quick ‘walk-about’ during the festival. And I also had the pleasure of spending time with the couple over the course of the weekend.

How wonderful it is to meet people with such vision and bravery. Kevin & Sylvia have let go of the certainties of a fixed home and income. But they gain in having the freedom to roam and the joy of performing to appreciative audiences. They have also experienced a huge amount of human kindness from strangers offering them food and lodgings in return for their entertainment and company.

Experience It For Yourself

If I can be even a fraction as inspiring as Spoke & Chain, I’ll have done my job. A lot of time and effort has gone into planning my latest Fringe offering ‘Bike to The Future’ and I’m hoping you can be there to experience it for yourself. Come along and see what you think. You’ll certainly be entertained and I know it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Do let me know (if you haven’t already) if you’re coming.

Saving The Planet? Really??

‘Saving the planet’: rather a bold claim? Yes but a) I’ve got to say something to get you to my show and b) there is genuine intent within that. Let me explain…

Changing The Narrative

The other day, I attended a talk by George Monbiot, as part of the Bath Literature Festival. He is somebody who has dedicated himself to the understanding of complex ecological and socio-economic systems. And he has the ability to share this understanding in a way that is accessible to all.

Much of what George had to say was, not surprisingly, rather frightening. However, he remains positive that we, collectively, have the wherewithal and opportunity to make the changes needed in order to save ourselves from calamity. The technology and knowledge required are already there. However, what we really need to change – to facilitate the necessary revolution in both thought and practice – is the narrative.

Rethinking Stories

Which is where I come in. Well, not just me – obviously. All of us, really. We all need to rethink the stories we tell ourselves. Recent history has shown that our perceived certainties are shaky at best. So, we face the opportunity and obligation to challenge those – and quickly.

If it’s possible to address this situation with wit and humour – in a way that is provocative and entertaining – then that would seem to be a good step to take. And, with the limited means at my disposal, it feels like the best I have to offer. When I say ‘saving the planet’, that is meant collectively. Honestly, if I could do it for you, I would. But I’m afraid we’re all going to need to pull together on this one. 

Part of The Process

I’ve no idea whether me singing a few songs and telling some stories is going to provoke actual change in anyone. However, if the greatest mind of which I’m aware – when it comes to the climate emergency – is calling for a change of narrative, then I feel it’s my duty to at least attempt to be a part of that process.

What the hell am I on about? Come along to the Old Theatre Royal Bath, on June 1st at 8pm, to find out. At the very least, you can be assured an entertaining evening of songs, stories, surprises and some very special guests. You never know – it may just help provoke a revolution…

The Crown Jools

Once again, it’s my pleasure to announce that the wonderful Jools Scott will be making a guest appearance in Bike to The Future.

Man of Many Parts

Jools is a supremely talented composer, pianist and producer. His Oratorio ‘The Cool Web’ was commissioned for inclusion during the Armistice Centenary commemorations at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2018. Which had a certain symmetry to it, since Jools had been a choirboy there. He even sang the traditional solo for Once in Royal David’s City, from the Whispering Gallery, in 1992!

Full English

Jools and I first met whilst playing in bands appearing on the same line-up at various gigs and festivals. Once we discovered a shared interest in composition, we hit on the novel idea of meeting whilst sober! So, a semi-regular routine of breakfast meetings was established.

During these encounters, we’ve discussed all sorts of things – both music-related and unrelated. Among these were the initial ideas for my first Fringe outing ‘Think of a Song’. Jools has been a constant source of support and ideas. So, it’s especially pleasing to have him on board for this latest Fringe spectacular.

In a Field of His Own

As with Rob (Whale – violinist), Jools is due to accompany me at a lesser-known event in some fields near the village of Pilton, later in June. What Jools doesn’t yet know is that we’re scheduled to play at midday on Saturday. Which is not a bad time to play – since there is little competition from the main stages at that juncture. However, it may prove a little early for someone of Jools’ constitution.

So, if you are attending said event, do come along and find us. But don’t bank on Jools (or any other band members) being there. In fact, the one way in which you can ensure you’ll see the full line-up is to come to the show at the Old Theatre Royal on June 1st. Plus, there will be one or two other surprises in store. Trust me.

Be Prepared

Don’t delay. Book now to avoid disappointment and do get in touch to say you are coming. If you forward your confirmation to brian@madmusik.co.uk I’ll even send you a free album download. Then you can swat-up on the songs beforehand and be ready to sing along!

The Full Package

With just under three weeks until Bike to The Future, it’s time to introduce my special guests. And gently remind you to book your tickets…

The Full Package

First up: Rob Whale. Anyone who saw his appearance at The Rondo, last Autumn, will agree he really is the full package. Fiddle player, singer, songwriter, arranger and avid cyclist, Rob is someone with whom it’s always an honour to share the stage.

Mimes Past

We first met as music students in London, back in the late 1980s (I know – hard to believe ether of us is that old). In the orchestra there, Rob developed his talent for miming, on the back desk of the violins. Meanwhile, I was humiliating myself on percussion, coming in – fortissimo – on cymbals in all the wrong places.

Funk Soul Brothers

But things improved from there. Rob formed his funk/soul outfit Rob Whale and The Marleys, for whom I played drums. We traipsed round the usual London haunts, including the legendary Half Moon in Putney and Moonlight Club. The band featured Charlie Round-Turner (now Midge Ure’s keyboard player) on keys and Lisa Walsingham (Jools Holland) and Jason Yarde (Jazz Warriors) on sax. (Bet they wish they’d been invited to play for Bike to The Future…)

Award Winner

Rob went on to teach music, winning the Classic FM/TES Teacher of The Year award in its inaugural year of 1999. He continued to write and arrange, forming the African-influenced outfit Super Rhythm Express, with whom I had the privilege of recording. Today, Rob is a regular member of folk outfit Jake’s Rake and sometime member of a Band named Brian.

Somewhere in a Field

Rob will be accompanying me at a lesser-known event in some fields near the village of Pilton, later in June. But before that you can see him in all his glory (and you’ll know what I mean when you do see him), at the Bath Fringe. This is a fabulous event and it’s always a pleasure to perform in the magnificent Old Theatre Royal. If you’ve not been before, it’s worth coming just to experience the venue.

The Only Choice

So, when I was looking for a well-equipped, fiddle-playing, backing-vocal-singing, cycling enthusiast for Bike to The Future, there really was only one choice! Come along on June 1st and see for yourself.

Bike to The Future 2!

Following the success of ‘Bike to The Future’ at the Rondo, Bath, last October, I’m delighted to announce its return – in updated form – for this year’s Fringe, at the Old Theatre Royal Bath, on June 1st.

Songs

In ‘Think of a Song’, you got to hear spoken intros but not the songs (yes, really – check the video). In ‘Think of a Sequel’, a band of musicians that had never met before interpreted my stories in on-the-spot improvisations (which you can listen to here). In ‘Think of a Conclusion’ the band packed down after the first number, then left the building (It all makes sense – take a look).

So what next? Well, this time you’ll get to hear the songs – and the stories behind them – in full. I know – crazy, right? And I’ll have some top musician making guest appearances to add that certain something. Of course, there may be the odd surprise along the way. But I can’t tell you what those might be, otherwise they won’t be surprises.

But Seriously

The show will deal with some serious themes and issues. However, as always, these will be handled with a light touch . The title, ‘Bike to The Future’, refers to my imminent cycle excursions, with guitar, to spread the word on two wheels.

We all know that change is needed but our efforts can sometimes feel futile. But don’t worry; the emphasis here is on positivity and collectivism. We can make a change. We will get through this. But we need to act individually, collectively and without waiting for our so-called ‘leaders’.

A Bunch of Songs Are Going to Help, Are They?

Well, they can’t do any harm. Maybe, in some small way, they’ll provoke a little activism in us all. And, even if not, I’ll guarantee you’ll have had a good night out. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the reactions to previous shows.

It’s hard blowing your own trumpet – especially when you’re a drummer – but I really will pull out all the stops to entertain you. In fact, there is an organ in the space, so I may literally do that.

The Hard Sell

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for. This is where I say: ‘get your tickets early to avoid disappointment’; ‘ book ahead and receive a free album download’; ‘click here for more info and to order now. So here goes:

Do get your tickets early to avoid disappointment (chiefly mine). Email your purchase confirmation to me at brian@madmusik.co.uk and I’ll send you a link to download the recent album ‘Never There at All’. For more info and to order now, click the button below:

Let me know when you’ve booked and I’ll see you at the show…

Keeping It Real

If you’ve booked your tickets for Bike to The Future, you may be wondering exactly what you’re going to get. And if you haven’t yet, you may be wondering what you’ll get when you do!

You Don’t Know?

It’s tempting to say ‘me too’! ‘What?’, I hear you ask ‘you mean you don’t know?’. Well, yes and no. You see, the way these shows work is that I know the songs I’m going to sing and I know what I want to say. I also know the journey on which I intend to take us all. But the specific details will only come on the night.

For me, integrity is the key to true connection and an authentic performance. So, the best method I have found is to be in the moment and say what comes, as it comes. If that chimes with you too, then we’re in for a great evening together.

Favourites – Old & New

The show features some old favourites, which will be familiar to ‘Think of a…’ stalwarts. Alongside these will be some newer and/or less familiar songs. And all will be presented in a new context, under the theme of personal and environmental salvation.

So, come along. Share the love; the lamentation and the laughter. Bring an open mind and an open heart. And bring your friends too (tickets are still available).

Book Ahead

Do book ahead if you’ve not already done so. The venue has a limited capacity and I’d hate for you to miss out. Once you’ve done so, let me know and I’ll reward you with a free album download.

Not long to go now… see you there!

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: