November 17

Debut Album: Songs from a cold conservatory

I’m currently working on my debut album. I’m recording at Cobbler Cottage Studios in Crich, Derbyshire. The working title is “Songs from a Cold Conservatory” and is a nod to my old practice space – a UPVC lean-too conservatory which is freezing in Winter and boiling hot in Summer. For logistical reasons I recently moved out of the conservatory into my living room – so my joke is that the follow-up album should be called “Songs from a Cosy Living Room”. That might actually work, that’s an album title – as Lou Reed said. Anyway, many thanks to both David and Mel at Cobbler Cottage Studios.

The songs for the conservatory are in the style of the confessional, heartfelt singer/songwriter mode. I’d be doubtful about calling myself a “folk musician” – although I appreciate the sentiment behind Louis Armstrong’s now legendary quote.  There are 9 tracks on the album which are all me and just a guitar. The rhythm, bass and cellist join me for the last track. The last song is optimistic from a “you can get through this” perspective – and might mark my next direction both musically and lyrically – towards a more collaborative approach with fellow musicians – and songs that give people encouragement to keep on, keeping on [dig the Curtis Mayfield reference there I hope!]

We have one last song to record in January 2023. The remaining tracks are as I type being mixed and mastered – so with luck, the album should be out in the first quarter of 2023. It will ship as CD (how quaint) and as a digital download on Bandcamp. It won’t be on Amazon Music, Apple Music or Spotify – or any of those sites that rip off musicians away that would make an A&R person blush at an established recording company. There will be a limited on-demand vinyl recording for those people who prefer that medium. By on-demand that means that they are pressed and produced as single entities – I think I will offer these with the option of them being signed, perhaps with some kind of bonus element – purchasing the vinyl will come with a download code for digital copy included in the price.

These are very expensive and I won’t make a single cent on the vinyl copies – but quite like the idea of having a vinyl copy.

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April 15

March Acoustic Session Set Recording

This month’s set list is taken from a single singer-songwriter partnership comprised of Pete Atkin and Clive James. Yes, THE Clive James (Writer, Broadcaster, Poet) is also a lyricist. Clive and Peter began working together decades ago, and have an extensive recording career together. I first discovered them on BBC Radio4 about them. It’s a radio programme so even if you’re not in the UK you can still listen. For some reason the BBC doesn’t protect radio shows as much as television. Perhaps because so much BBC Radio content get syndicated to noncommercial radio elsewhere.

So after a listening I identified three songs that I felt were outstanding. They are all from album called “Beware of the beautiful stranger”. The title track concerns a man’s trip to a fairground to have his fortune told – I guess its akin to when a woman is warned of a “dark handsome stranger”. Anyway, I bought the album off iTunes. Oddly enough despite the duo’s cult following this influential album is out of print – so the 2nd copies of the vinyl and CD are massively expensive on Amazon. But you can pick up the album from iTunes for less than a ten quid. The cover is wonderfully retro. That corduroy suit and cravat is sooo retro!

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Anyway, my version of my favourite tracks is up on Soundcloud for your delectation. The only song I think I’m really doing different is the one called “Laughing Boy” which sounds a bit Elvis Costello like. Anecdotally, I heard a story that Pete and Clive did discussing writing for Elvis Costello. I think the generally view was Elvis didn’t need any help in the writing department!

So there’s three tracks in this single recording… and I’ve provided the links to the lyrics if your interest (and the music) Pete has the words and music up on his website.

  1. Beware of the Beautiful Stranger (
  2. Laughing Boy (
  3. Touch has a memory (

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February 24

February Acoustic Session Set Recording

As some as you might know I’m taking a grown-up gap year to pursue my own personal interests (travel, photography, music, and creative writing). In the last two months I’ve been ‘gigging’ around my local “acoustic session” scene in area. Just so you know there is a difference between an acoustic session and the popular term “open mic”. An acoustic session is totally unplugged – whereas an open-mic will have mic and perhaps even amplification. Right now I’m playing at least once a week, but I’m thinking of upping that to twice a week. The idea is to get over my ‘performance nerves’, as I often play a song in the kitchen quite well, but even with a small audience my nerves cause me to screw it up or not ‘commit’ to the song enough.

I have a ‘set’ of songs from January and February. Folks have been asking me if I was doing any recording, and I’ve been avoiding that for a while. But this afternoon I recorded Februrary’s set in the kitchen this afternoon. The reason I did that was because they are more familiar, and also they are all related to each other. Looking at my black folder of music in Jan, I realised I had few Elvis Costello songs. So I thought I would practise those and gig those around the circuit. I’ve written a couple of songs in the last couple of months, but I’m not sure if they are really ‘ready’ for a public outing than just the local pubs!

So in Soundcloud there is a recording of the set. They were recorded individually with GarageBand with a Snowball Mic, and then a little effect put on each one to make them stand out a bit.

1) New Lace Sleeves
First appeared on the album “Trust”

2) Our Little Angel 
First appeared on the country sounding “King Of America” album

3) Gods Comic
First appeared on the “Spike” album

4) I’ll wear it proudly
First appeared on the country sounding “King Of America” album

5) American without tears
First appeared on the country sounding “King Of America” album. It tells the story of the young women who fell in love with G.I’s “over-sexed and over here” in the UK during WWII, and then found themselves living in the US after the war was over.

6) Good year for the roses
First appeared on the “Almost Blue” album. It’s a ballad written by Jerry Chestnut and originally recorded by American country singer George Jones. It rose to #2 on the country singles chart in 1970, but I first heard it by Elvis Costello…

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November 25

Mike’s Music – 2014 Round-Up

It’s been absolute age since I wrote a blogpost about my 1st love – music. I’ve been busy with work (but heck, I always am) and in my mind I was waiting for something “big” to jump out at me and reflecting pure musical brilliance on Jools Holland’s Later. But then it occurred me I’ve been picking up gems of musical brilliance all year – but not written them about them. As the year draws to a close I’m looking back over the year and what I’ve been listening to. And I thought I would rave about them here, in the hope that others might be similarly inspired.


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October 13

Mike’s Music: Natalie Duncan performs “The Devil In Me”

MY favourite music show is back on air, and so its time to re-introduce the “Mike’s Music” slot. 9 times 10 the subject of the Mike’s Music slot is something from Jools Holland’s Later Show. It’s really musicians musican show – because there are no frills just music. If your not from the UK then you might not appreciate how influential the show is – so for example both KT Tunsel, Adele, and Paloma Faith have made their TV debuts on the show.

This performance is particular significant because Natalie Duncan is young lady from the city near where I live – Nottingham. Enjoy.


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