Share my festive well wishing

26th December, 2014

    Normally i write this blog down before christmas so that i can share my festive well wishing with all the readers. This year (like most years to be honest) I suffered from cyber slacking. I am from the generation that still views the computer in the room with vague suspicion.  Anyway, It is still christmas time (and i hope that everyone had a lovely few days) I’m typing it now and briefly i will sum up my year for anyone interested…..

    I started 2014 by ‘releasing’ a live album ‘live in the inner hebrides’ - I got 1000 copies printed up and sold them all online in a week or so. I posted them at the local post office and that was my album release for the year. Thank you of course to all the folk (from all over the world) who bought a copy. It was a good collection I thought, and showed the solo band off well. What a terrific collections of musicians (myself excluded!). For those interested - there was another solo band live release - ‘live from kings place’ - this was recorded in May in London and is available through the ‘society of sound’ series by Bowers and Wilkins, the stereo makers -  www.bowers-wilkins.co.uk   - it is particularly well recorded and mixed, and the whole 19 song set is there to enjoy. 

    as winter ended and spring began we went on tour around Britain in a hire car - folk clubs, village halls and small theatres. The kind of places, and the sort of touring I’ve been doing for the last four years with the solo band since Idlewild took our break. I have had such a good time playing these gigs, hanging out with Sorren etc and discovering England’s tapestry of hidden gastro pubs. At the end of this tour though, I think everyone was getting the sense (as you do) that it was time to move on for a while. 

    I did move quite literally - I moved house, something that always takes much longer than you anticipate, and uses much more mental and physical strength than you imagine. How did we get this much stuff? Anyway, as much as i loved living where i did  (a fisherman's cottage built in 1870, meters from the Atlantic) other than the fire, it had no heating. It was also isolated and damp. Winters were getting harder and harder. A great five years were spent there though, but it was time to move. Our new place, although not far away from the old one is warm and there are some other people close by. It is great being warm. Sometimes i just sit by the rayburn in the kitchen and enjoy being warm. 

    the rest of the year, well it was spent finishing the writing and recording of the new Idlewild album ‘Everything ever written’.This  album has been a labour of love for us all to make - we have been able to work on it in bits and pieces over 2 years or so and that really helped the songs grow and take shape in their own way. Having Lucci and Andrew contribute has also taken the songs down a new & fantastic route full of possibilities . Hannah too has played a big part int he new sound and outlook. It is the classic case of being reenergised after a break, like when you come home after a meaningful holiday and everything around you - familiar things, look and feel different from before. Cynics may scoff at this, but that has what has happened to our band. The acoustic highlands and islands tour in October cemented these feelings and over 13 concerts we got to explore our old songs and new ones- all while travelling around my favourite part of planet earth - I wrote a tour diary for the whole thing which is over at www.idlewild.co.uk . Along with the facebook page this website is the place to go to for up to date band news. Idlewild also has a twitter and instagram which all of us contribute to. It is hard to know where the band might fit in now of course, but it has always been hard to know where Idlewild fit in. We do our own thing I suppose, and have never been particularly fashionable. We inhabit our own little place. I read something the other day - ‘why listen to critics who have not themselves written great masterpieces’ - I will remember that come `February and review time - depending on the reviews! BBC6 music has certainly got behind the first ‘single’ Collect yourself. The next  single is a song called ‘Come on Ghost’ and will start getting plays (we hope) early in the new year. Our Uk tour is almost all sold out now (still tickets for Manchester and Birmingham and a handful for London) - this was great news for us. The  German gigs (and one in Amsterdam) - we have no idea what to expect since we have not played in either country since 2007 and the last two albums didn’t even come out. I’m optimistic that we will get an audience though and that we will start building on that. Regardless, we will have a good time in these historic and vibrant cities I’m sure. Idlewild have been a band for a long time, and there is a feeling amongst us that there is a lot still we can do, songs to write, concerts to play, new places to visit. We are not out of the story. In fact we are beginning work on some new songs in a few weeks up this way. 

    my album of the year was ‘Sukierae’ by Tweedy. Seeing him/them at the London Palladium in November was also my concert of the year. I have been a fan of Jeff Tweedy/Wilco/Uncle Tupelo since i bought the UT album ‘Anodyne’ in 1993. Over the years his music since has evolved in such a natural and interesting way. What a man. I also greatly enjoyed J Mascis ‘Tied to a star’ and Steve Malkmus ‘Wig out at the jagbags’ - it was a good year for my American indie rock heroes. The Dylan Basement Tapes re-issue was another highlight, and probably the most listened to thing in the house/car/headphones. It is a well of inspiration and enjoyment.

    and that brings me back to now, in this chair - finishing typing this blog. `The wind is picking up outside. I read this yesterday, by Laurence Ferlinghetti - 

     

    descend to the street of the world once more

    and open your minds & eyes

    with the old visual delight,

    clear your throat and speak up,

    Poetry is dead, long live poetry!

     

    I hope everyone reading this has a very happy, healthy and productive 2015 and a great party on Hogmanay!