I'm excited to be playing in the Fused Edinburgh Acoustic Festival this Friday. We rehearsed today. Final rehearsal is on Friday afternoon.
The Festival kicks off at 4 pm and there are 12 acts. Bar and hot food too! Our headliner is Ewan Mclennan - looking forward to seeing him. He is the 2011 winner of the BBC Horizon award. He is on around 10 pm.
We (Stevenson Folk Band) will be playing about six sets and we are on at around 11 pm. It's all in a good cause - profits are going to Macmillan Cancer Support. Go along if you can! All the details and how to buy tickets are at the Fused Edinburgh website.
Performances coming up so we began our performance block today. Our folk Band is playing on Friday 1 June. Started rehearsing today - good fun. Five sets at least. Looking forward to it.
We also started choir rehearsals for our performance at the Queen's Hall on 13th June. We are singing new pieces (to us). Schubert’s Tantum Ergo and an arrangement of the gospel classic Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
Strings Group tomorrow.
Border Gaitherin is coming up next weekend. I'm looking forward to it. I'll be playing fiddle, guitar and trying my hand at clarsach!
Hope the brilliant weather holds up for the camping. I LOVE camping.
I blogged about playing with Innes Watson, John Somerville and Scots Music group friends. Tonight we recorded a couple of tunes. We didn't have much time, and these were strictly one shot only. Great tunes. Innes and John are fantastic musicians.
Both Innes and John Somerville play in The Treacherous Orchestra amongst other things. Check them out - they're brilliant.Can't thank them enough - had a great time. In due course there should be some video of this too which I'll put up sometime.
Here's a sound file of our arrangement of No More Cages. Its a great tune.
No More Cages by Adam Sutherland
And here is a sound clip of a really beautiful tune composed by the wonderful accordianist, John Somerville and played with him and Innes Watson by myself and SMG friends.
Mckechnie's Farewell by John Somerville
Twa Fields O Dreams
You might already know, from my previous blogs, that I am involved with the Scots Music Group (as I non Executive Director). We have just released a SMG Cup Final song (although to be fair we didn;t know that's hw it would turn out!).
Twa Fields O Dreams was written by Bobby from the Bethany Men's Group during the SMG Inspire project with help from Scott Murray. SMG's Inspire Project offered opportunities for those affected by homelessness and mental health issues to get involved in Scots music and song and the Bethany Christian Trust runs a group for men who are socially isolated to explore.
The song is about both of Edinburgh's football teams, and it was composed after sectarian chanting Bobby heard at a Hearts/Hibs game.
You can find all the info at www.twafields.com .
I sat a music theory exam on Saturday. I think it went OK - but you can never quite tell. One down, two to go.
I gave a recital on Friday. I chose a mixed program of old and new tunes, with different time signatures, keys, rhythms or bowings and from different areas of the country. The programme was challenging for me and I did feel quite nervous. But it went well. Delighted with the feedback and I felt I learned a lot.
I also really enjoyed listening to the other wonderful musicians who played and sang last week. Well done guys!
What is the best way to get up the rankings for a musicians website?
There are lots of things to consider. First, an attractive website is essential. What image do you want to create and what money do you have to try to achieve that image? Getting reasonable photos is a priority. Of course they are expensive but you can do quite a lot yourself with editing software.
There are lots of great hosts and templates out there now so you can set a website up cheaply and easily. Weebly is great!
I have chosen the image at the top of site to reflect, my passion for the fiddle, trad music and performing. I have combined this with a personal image so people know who I am!
What pages should you have? That will depend on what you want to do. My pages are designed with performance in mind (e.g. the News Page which gives details of upcoming gigs etc). I also have a hardanger page and links to my external website. A music teacher would have different pages.
I have loaded some sound files to give a flavour of the type of music I have been playing. You could do the same , or link to My Space, SoundCloud or similar.
Once you have your website, there are all sort of things that can make you site go up or down the rankings. You need to identify key words, you should write each page in a way that has quite a few of these (but not too many) or the search engines don't like it. Images should have Alt tags, Blogging frequently can help as can some links (but not all). Inward links to your site is a good thing.
You can also use things like Google ads. These can work really well, but it depends how niche your site is. I run a google ad for hardangers.com. You can set your search conditions and because hardanger violins is a very specific search works really well.
I wouldn't recommend a google ad for a search like "classical musician" though. Its note specific enough. But its great when it works.
Once you have merchandise to sell directly, a shopping cart would be great. But you can still sell through your site, through affiliate type arrangements (eg have an account with CafePress). I've tried this for another site I've run - its slow but with work it can provide a small additional income - especially once you've built a fan base.
Links to Twitter, Facebook are also useful and Weebly is about to introduce this into its new templates - great news! Can't wait.
Had an interesting session the other day on the Beatles. We watched video footage of the day and discussed the Beatles touring career. Their last performance was in 1966 - i.e. the end of their third USA tour.
Things had got out of hand - for a range of reasons - but exacerbated by John Lennon's infamous quote which led to death threats, tussles with the Klu Klux Clan and disillusionment among the Beatles
"Christianity will go" "It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first-rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."
The story was written by a Friend of the Beatles, Maureen Cleaves. Her interview in the video we watched suggested she had no idea what would happen. In the UK, it attracted little attention but when it was run in the USA on the cover of Datebook the story was seized upon. A hate campaign began in the States with worries that there might be assassination attempts on John Lennon.
I have spent years dealing with the media through my previous job. I know how difficult it is to draft press releases in a way that prevents people making mischief. Sometimes you need to draft in a way that gives wriggle room - sometimes you need to be completely accurate. There is a lot of thought that goes into presentational strategies nowadays, whether you are the Government, large companies, or bands. Media management is an essential skill.
I guess in those days though, they were at the cutting edge of music - with no instruction manila or previous experience to draw on - either within the band - or the management. No one had toured on that scale before, Venues grew exponentially, but security and sound technology weren't up to the task. Neither was the media management in my view.
The Beatles were young and inexperienced. John Lennon no doubt made the comment to a friend who was a journalist interviewing him about life as a Beatle. Did he have any idea what would happen? No I don't think so. That is evidenced by the stress he felt at the reaction (head in hands crying) and fast backtracking he attempted to do.
In an interview, he did to attempt to apologise he said:
"I suppose if I had said television was more popular than Jesus, I would have gotten away with it, but I just happened to be talking to a friend and I used the word 'Beatles' as a remote thing, not as what I think -- as Beatles, as those other Beatles like other people see us. I just said "they" are having more influence on kids and things than anything else, including Jesus. But I said it in that way which is the wrong way...
"Originally I pointed out that fact in reference to England, that we meant more to kids than Jesus did, or religion at that time. I wasn't knocking it or putting it down. I was just saying it as a fact and it's true more for England than here. I'm not saying that we're better or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing or whatever it is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it's all this...
"I wasn't saying whatever they're saying I was saying. I'm sorry I said it really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. I apologize if that will make you happy. I still don't know quite what I've done. I've tried to tell you what I did do but if you want me to apologize, if that will make you happy, then OK, I'm sorry."
Not very convincing really. I think he was simply operating within his understanding of his own culture and environment where his irony was understood. But if you are on the world stage (as politician, or band member) you can't afford to make unguarded statements and expect these to play in other countries as they do here.
I believe he was inexperienced and rather naive. Nothing wrong with that at his age at the time. And no doubt he was playing to the youth in this country. But as part of their strategy (or perhaps their only strategy) was world touring and particularly touring in the states) they should have been thinking about the cultures that exist there too. Boring? Maybe - but there are probably better ways of playing to youth culture and keeping up an irreverent image - if that is what they wanted to do - other than choosing a topic that would spli America and make them the target of the hate campaign that followed. Nevertheless they did spark a more outspoken style among the young, which continued and changed the face of youth culture. He, and others, provided the impetus for the young to speak out and ask questions.
As it was, their records were banned by loads of radio stations right across America and in many areas their records were burned in protest. The Vatican denounced them and not surprisingly there were then bans in lots of countries closely associated with the Vatican e.g. Italy, Mexico etc. The Ku Klux Klan campaigned against them in the south. It was pretty serious stuff.
The original comment was made much of, and no doubt ran and ran, well beyond what might have been a proportionate response. These things do.
The reaction seemed hysterical and very unattractive for a nation where free speech has always been a strongly held value.
Its interesting that on the same magazine cover, Paul McCartney also made a pretty controversial statement of the USA "It's a lousy country where anyone black is a dirty n*****!" Of course, it would be harder for Americans to openly criticise the Beatles for that comment because to do so would be openly racist. But perhaps that is part of the real reason why the Ku Klax Klan were involved in briefing against them.
With time, things usually work out for the best because you make them. As one path closes another one opens up. In 1978, John Lennon wrote "I always remember to thank Jesus for the end of my touring days; if I hadn't said that the Beatles were 'bigger than Jesus' and upset the very Christian Ku Klux Klan, well, Lord, I might still be up there with all the other performing fleas! God bless America. Thank you, Jesus."
Controversial or what? Was he still hurt by it all?
If you want to read more about this see About.com Oldies music which is fascinating on the subject and the source of these quotes and photos.
Do comment with your thoughts.