Category Archives: Folk

Heading to Northern Climes

There is a common misconception about people from the North of England, especially those from Yorkshire…

Glum, dour and particularly tight-fisted with a reluctance to part with their money. Granted, there is rarely a misplaced or dropped coin on a bar or the floor of a pub which doesn’t get lifted moments after it departs the owner’s pocket, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Yorkshire folk hate being ripped off and being conned. They especially don’t like the wool being pulled over their eyes. An Artisan filo pastry filled with cured Iberian chorizo and hand-grated Parmesan will set you back near a tenner in the Big Smoke, but a ham and cheese pasty would raise eyebrows if it was over the £3 mark outside the M25.

Notorious for being ludicrously expensive, Norway is one of my favourite places to perform and to visit without the instrument. There is little getting away from paying insane amounts of money in bars and for eating out. This country really tests these Yorkshire roots.

Trondheim

Trondheim city

I start this tour blog half way in Trondheim….

Having performed in Oslo, Klokkarstua, Elverum so far, we perform my favourite city in Norway. A real music city which is laced with moonshine, wide-eyed tourists on a budget and crazy alternative folk. The Svartlamon area is where we perform which is a squatted neighbourhood with an Anarchist bookshop, pub, a couple of shops and what was once Europe’s largest self-built wooden structure, now a living space. The city feels to me like a second home and its people are as welcoming as ever and the show in the bookshop was fun, intimate and rewarding. Later that evening we visit the UFFA, a squat venue which is a large building hosting a benefit show for the Karlsøyafestivalen, our final destination for this tour in Northern Norway. As ever, the UFFA is hosting a show with a number of noise/hardcore/metal bands which are punishingly loud in the small room. The noise was fantastic.

After a small break in Trondheim, we prize ourselves away on a late evening overnight train to Bodø, arriving in around the pleasant enough time of 9:15am. The journey was better than expected but still cramped and tedious but made slightly more comfortable with the offer of blanket, eye mask and self inflating pillow from NSB, the Norwegian rail company. This was only part of the journey to the next show on the remote Lofoten Islands, now within the Arctic Circle. Lofoten is a series of islands linked by roads which jut out into the North Sea 150 miles from the mainland. After a three hour boat journey we had to get two buses lasting around 4 hours in total from the Western part to the Central part of the islands. It took around 18 hours in total to get to this show.

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Lofoten Islands

The next day would beat that time-wise but it would be way more comfortable. After another couple of bus journeys we meet the Hurtigruten at Svolvær port. Hurtigruten is the boat that serves the jagged coast line of this country. I’m not a fan of long boat journeys, especially overnight ones but this has more of a pleasant and relaxed vibe than ferries with commercial purpose such as Hull-Zeebrugge which comprises of tired and pissed off lorry drivers and pissed up Brits on Lads weekends. This has the feel of a cruise boat for tourists wishing to see Norway with the safety of not getting too close to its changeable weather. As expected the scenery was phenomenal and the storm she navigated through made for good photos. This would be a 24 hour journey to Tromsø.

The festival itself has been promoted along the way with venues stocking posters and word of it has spread as we meet people along the way attending. Another boat awaits to the island which is hosting the festival. Since the late 60s the island has been a haven for a myriad of folk seeking an alternative life and the island seems to be pretty well-known across Norway. There is even a folk song about the island. After putting our tent up which seems to be missing pegs, we source some twigs to hold it down and hope for the best. An announcement was made by one of the people who have been involved with the island and the festival and now with the event in its 50th consecutive year, this is a tremendous achievement for any festival, let alone one so remote. We’re reminded this is an event that is anti-Capitalist, anti-corporate and continues to push for an alternative. One thing that shocked me with this politicised event is the amount of whale meat for sale. This is a culture clash for sure and I am reminding myself that this is a far cry away from Northern England. Also speaking to some of the locals there was more of an anti-EU sentiment than what would be from a young British left, which I gather is to do with fishing regulations and of course, whaling which is banned by the EU.

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Leaving Karlsøyafestivalen at the ferry port

The festival seemed to run smoothly and as far as I could see, a real DIY ethic was present and everybody seemed to muck out one way or another (weather permitting) and the music was eclectic, exciting and unique. From Sámi pop music to noise bands. Sámi are the last indigenous’ peoples of Europe who span Northern Sweden, Norway and Finland who still have their own cultures and traditions, though now they live in houses and have ‘real’ jobs…definitely not a roaming tribe image that is portrayed by the tourist board. Even road signs in certain areas are in Sámi. Myself and Jørgen, my tour buddy, stood out as the solo performers and I was one of the few who sang in English…I think there was more Sámi than English sung there.

From 7am beach raves and catching the midnight sun on the island’s highest point, Karlsøyafestivalen is a unique festival. The location is enough of a draw regardless of its vibe and musical offerings. If you’re up for a festival that has a DIY ethic and you want something very unique, it’s pretty hard to beat. ’til next time, Norway.

Johnny x

My tour buddy Jørgen Dretvik is well worth checking out. Here are his links:

Music page: www.facebook.com/jorgendretvikmusikk/

Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ypywt7liJI&t=9s

If you wish to support me, as an independent musician I don’t have financial backing from labels or otherwise, I survive through merch sales and performing. You an be involved by ordering merch or albums here: http://www.johnnycampbell.bandcamp.com

And you can also keep up to date with my tours and more here: http://www.facebook.com/johnnycampbellmusic

The Year’s Round-up: 93 Shows / 30,000 Miles / 1 Blog

Perhaps of my reserved English-ness, my artistic self-confidence or otherwise, I’ve found the process of blogging sometimes quite self-congratulatory, tedious and a bit pretentious…

I do my best not to talk about myself but instead about experiences, the culture of places, amusing accounts and so forth. Here is a round-up for 2016; UK, Ireland, United States, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Germany and Iceland condensed into this blog. Stories, the people encountered, tour buddies and more…

UK, Ireland Tour / Tim Holehouse:

I started off the year with a few UK shows before the tour with Tim, supporting performers like David Rovics, Attila the Stockbroker with a few sporadic local shows. Tim is one of the hardest working people I know on the scene knocking out near enough 300 shows a year across the world. We decided to hit a few UK shows in England and Northern Ireland plus three Irish shows. Landing in Dublin’s fair city and doing an impromptu show in a popular Dublin bar was great craic. What was prevalent was the fact it was 100 years to the month of Irish independence of 1916. I’ve always admired the Irish spirit, generosity and welcoming attitude these folks have and it was no different in Northern Ireland.

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Northern Irish sunset

There was a fair bit of ‘action’ going on in Belfast due to this anniversary and being driven round the Shankill estate and Falls Road was really some place. Murals adorn the sides of properties showing the tensions but also the creativity these people can express in hard times. I heartily recommend visiting Belfast and Northern Ireland for hospitality…and good banter.

Now entering the Republic passing through Derry, Donegal and through to Sligo on the west coast treated us to a picturesque bus ride with wild mountains, green fields and the ever dwindling reception on our mobiles. Ireland is still a wild place and to tour a place with so much of a musical history is a privelge. The UK / Ireland tour was only a week and a half but a great little experience to tour N.I. and the Republic.

 

United States Tour / James Bar Bowen:

A short gap of a week before hitting the United States. ‘Bar’ had already toured the country a couple of years previous, this would be my first time touring it with a guitar performing in NYC, Pittsburgh, Newark, Wilmington, New Brunswick with brief stopovers in Boston and Philadelphia. Kicking off in NYC we met a number of people who we would come across again on the tour, this was the perfect start to the tour, a Saturday Matinee show in downtown Brooklyn. For those who haven’t been to New York, not to play it down, it’s like a bigger London in my eyes…and the scale is immense. Every street is either a film set, a historical account of a music scene with so many familiar places you have seen on the telly box. The fast paced life of Manhattan was a bit much for me.

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Madison Square Garden

All along this tour we came across great American hospitality in places like Boston with Jason Bennett and Wilmington DE. Jeremy and Gayle in Wilmington from Gable Music Ventures sorted us out a couple of shows, a committed music-loving group of people committing to putting on many events in Wilmington and beyond…this is what American hospitality was about, taking chances and putting your heart and soul into them which they did!

In Pittsburgh the hospitality was equally welcoming meeting up with Bryan McQuaid, country-punk musician and all-round dude showed us round the best eateries and dive-bars.

Overall, performing the USA is quite an experience and although only travelling along the East Coast, the scale of the whole country is equally as generous as the hospitality and dare I say it, the portions in some bars!

Finland, Sweden, Norway Tour / Efa Supertramp:

I left Manchester Airport to Helsinki 7 degrees Celsius arriving into Helsinki around 35 degrees. This continued heat wave for about a week or two was breaking Finnish records. On this tour I was touring with  Efa Supertramp and a number of others along the Finnish dates like Slack Bird, Lifelong Hangover and Ozzmond. Efa arrived a few days later than planned because of a throat infection but me and Ozzmond met her at the second Helsinki show. Finland is vast swathes of trees and water and in certain places the midges were as bad (if not worse) than the Scottish ones.

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Efa in Sweden

A loooong 12 hour boat trip from Turku to Stockholm for the next leg of the tour to do five Swedish shows was great to see across the farms, lakes and forests of this country. Sweden felt very futuristic with barely anybody using cash, only Swish, a mobile banking service where you exchange currency. This became a small hindrance selling merch.

Leaving the EU to Norway we were treated to Norwegian squat life in Oslo, under eviction, these squats seemed barricaded, on guard, but defiant. After the show in the bar linked to many of these squats, we head on an 8 hour journey through the mountains to Trondheim. A beautiful city on the coast with mountains beyond. The quaint brightly coloured wooden houses form part of the backdrop of this city. Two excellent shows in Trondheim with the midnight sun disorienting our heavy drinking.

 

UK, Netherlands, Germany / Fabian Maddison

A couple of shows in Bristol and Lewes and we head into continental Europe on a 12 hour journey to Hengelo. Massive shout-out to Fabian who put in a slog on this driving for this particular journey! The Dutch shows were a mix of new ones and ones I’d performed before and meeting up with Jan, Eva from the band ‘Shoe Eating Rabbits’ was a great pleasure in Groningen, as was meeting Shireen in Amsterdam.

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Amsterdam at night

 

We had a collection of great shows in Germany and it was also my first time going to the eastern bit of the country like Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin. It did feel different but the hospitality was still of the high standard! Meeting up with an old friend Robin from UK (claiming asylum from Brexit Britain) it was great to see multicultural Berlin and what an inspiring city it is. Uboquitous art, music, activist projects spread across the city. It would be very hard to miss something creative in many streets.

The final show in Hamburg and Vita who plays Accordion joined us in Dresden for the remaining shows in Berlin and Hamburg. This was the end of a 7 week tour of UK, Netherlands and Germany for myself and I am now very much looking forward to bed. Not before our host Snel created his home-made Sauren (a strong but sweet alcoholic blue beverage) and sent me off into the morning light to catch a flight home.

FULL ICELANDIC TOUR BLOG: https://johnnycampbellmusic.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/icelandic-tour-why-iceland-is-much-more-than-volcanoes-and-bjork/

MASSIVE thank you to all the tour buddies, those who put us up, put up with us, fed, watered and even carried us to our shows. You know who you are.

Johnny x

 

Icelandic Tour: Why Iceland is much more than volcanoes and Björk…

A lot has been written about Iceland in recent years; the economic crash of 2008, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano disrupting flights across Northern Europe and of course, possibly Iceland’s most well-known export, Björk.

To get a REAL sense of what is going down in a country you must tour it. Getting to speak to people on the ground about what affects and inspires their day-to-day lives, is definitely one of the highlights of being a touring musician. I call this a tour, but it really is a tour-ette, only two dates. In normal circumstances I would not grant this little expedition as a ‘tour’ but as I am performing in the only two places of significant size, for this instance, it is a tour.

reykjavik-whale

One thing that strikes you first about the city of Reykjavík is how American it feels as you approach on the airport bus. The large vehicles, American fast food chains that you don’t get in the UK and the fire hydrants on the corners. In the city centre though, it is its own. There is no McD*nalds here and the chain last operated in 2009, though a number of Subways litter the city. Independent shops line the main streets but one thing that is surprising is the amount of record stores there are. Over ten I would say, all selling their own coffee and all claiming to be the best at it. There is even a vegan record store so you can chow down on a tofu meal whilst listening to your own hand-picked vinyl in comfort. My show is to be at a record store.

reykjavik-record-store

Things happen at a very slow pace here. I entered the venue the day before to confirm extra details for the show. Ingvar who was the owner of the store had booked the date in and tells me to get there the next day around 3pm. Record store shows are quite weird I find… usually performing to people browsing records and glancing up at you intermittently and politely applauding. To my surprise, a small handful of people were lounged on the sofa waiting for me to perform. An American girl, an Israeli guy, and a number of Icelanders. Due to the nature of the informality of the show I decided to sit down instead of standing and began to perform for the next hour. A pleasant reception ensued as I performed and I was very pleased with the show. My first show in Iceland was a hit!

My next show I felt was the biggie, Reykjavík was just a warm-up for Akureyri. Situated 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle, 236 miles from Reykjavík and with a population of 17,000, this felt pretty remote. The news of Leonard Cohen comes through and things feel pretty bleak. My hostel is playing Leonard’s songs for a number of hours as I have breakfast. My host Áki is using car pooling groups to get me over as the only other ways to get there is to fly or get a bus. He assures me I will get there and get back. I put my 100% trust in him as he knows how things work. Luckily his Auntie was driving to Akureyri on the day I need a lift. It takes just under five hours to get there and she was more than happy to share folk tales and stories of the country through the ride. We passed many ‘towns’ as she called them, went in a tunnel that went under a fjord for 6 minutes and passed some of the most astounding scenery I have ever seen. And countless Icelandic horses. She tells me the road was closed today due to high winds, at this moment I am worried I would get back the next day but assures me ‘something will happen’. Hmm…

akureyri-ridd

Passing through a certain ‘town’, she tells me a tale of a maniac child from the Icelandic Saga stories, who killed his babysitters. I asked if it was a true story. After I asked it, I knew it was the wrong thing to say. Icelanders are very proud of their tales and if they don’t believe them, they certainly don’t question them. She said she didn’t believe in Elves and would be one of the 48% of the country who don’t. Driving along a road close to Akureyri she informs me many people have seen ghostly figures on this dark and haunting pass. There have been many accidents as people have felt a presence in their car after driving down the road. Today thankfully, wasn’t one of those days.

Upon arrival I met with Áki and he offered me a beer and said we can go to his Grandma’s for tea. Treated to a feast of home-grown potatoes, spicy curry and lamb, it was most definitely the culinary highlight of the tour after eating bread, hummus, apples and yogurt for the previous days to keep costs down. Tight Northerner? You bet. The show was in an art studio with many rooms which was decorated with zines, radical books and peculiar art, this felt like the cultural left-wing hub of the town. A nice sized crowd appeared. Áki’s dad and his friend Andre perform as the impromptu support act performing a jazz-y array of drinking songs which felt rather fitting. I take my seat and perform to the full room who listened intently and laughed and engaged at the right moments. I kept the thought of Leonard’s music in my mind, and I would say, this was one of the top five shows of the year. After the show I chatted to people about Icelandic politics. Much has been written in Western media about the ‘revolution’ in Iceland. The jailed bankers and politicians have been let out, often seen on the street and the main culprit for the crash now owns the daily right-wing rag for Iceland. Sauntering off to bed at 2.30am, the ‘best DJ in the fjord’ is banging out tunes and I am ready for off. My work is done. I am waiting on a response for the morning for carpooling otherwise it is a bus. The only one for the day.

Waking up early to check the carpooling option wasn’t possible, the only bus out-of-town leaves at 4.20pm. It is 9245 ISK for the ride (about £80) and I set off back to Reykjavík on the 7 hour ride which revealed the spiky unforgiving terrain that Iceland is renound for. Through snowstorm, icing roads and high winds, this coach braved the elements and rode into Reykjavík with ease close to midnight. I used the WIFI to book shows for next year in the warm and lifeless bus station and took the 3am coach to the airport where I repeated the booking process over a costly Skyr apricot yogurt. I didn’t sleep for 26 hours until returning home. skyr

The solo tour was a success. This wasn’t a financial tour, but more of a tour of scoping out the land, having a small holiday and using the guitar and voice to communicate and reach out to new people. In the spirit of Leonard Cohen. Áki told me that this was the first time these people have seen anything like myself perform, political and humorous folk music. Perhaps it was true, I can imagine it due to the remoteness of the show or he was just contributing to the bit of humour Icelanders like to play on, that they’re quite cut off from the ‘rest of us’, still Viking savages, eating peculiar things and have never seen a Northern English Folk-Punk musician. I’m not here to tell you which is true, but I think it was the latter…

Johnny x

 

 

 

5 Questions in 5 Minutes: Alicia Edelweiss

Five Questions in 5 Minutes. I interview Alicia Edelweiss, Accordion songstress from Vienna on what influences her and reveals that toilet paper, not traditionally underwear, is thrown at a rock star such as herself…

Alice, Alice, who the f*ck is Alice?! Hi! I’m Alice. Some dudes call me Edelweiss, cause it was my birth name (but too embarrassing in Austria to stick with such a name!) I do all kinds of stuff, mostly music and most of the time singing to my accordion. When I’m in the mood for it I mix performative aspects into my shows. I’m also part of some circus projects in Vienna where I hula hoop and do clowning or sing “anti-operas”. I also love making silly videos and drawing illustrations. I used to play loads of street music, especially while travelling, but during the last year I got really tired of it and want to focus more on doing shows now. One day I told myself that I don’t wanna be broke all the time and that it’s not a bad thing to have money and spend it on cool stuff like white clown make-up or new instruments, so I decided to become more “professional” (I know it’s a horrible word). It’s getting better and better, still getting used to writing so many e-mails, and maybe I’ll have to get a laptop of my own at some point! I used to play with a band called Old Trees, we toured a lot, but now I play solo most of the time! But I’d like to play more with other people again, so this November before the UK tour I’m going on tour as the accordion player of my friend’s project “Voodoo Jürgens” which will be loads of fun!

 

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2. The first thing that struck me about you was your intricate theatrical videos. Do you have a background of performing arts and how do you transpose this to your live performance? Cool, I feel flattered that people might think I’ve got some kind of education in the performing arts! I wanted to get into drama school when I was eighteen, but none of the schools I applied for took me. That’s when I thought, “Fuck schools.” So I went travelling and became a hobo street musician playing guitar. At some point when I started writing songs, I began doing small concerts in Portugal. That was cool, but after some time I got really bored with myself and really couldn’t understand why people liked what I did – just playing songs. So I started dreaming of combining the music with theatrical elements. I started to experiment around when I returned to Vienna and did some quite intense and funny small concerts, where I staged giving birth or did shamanic exhortations – trying to do it in-between the songs and giving the whole thing a red line. Then the last year I would smash my head with a bag of coins while everyone would shout “Please Kill Me!” or I’d ask people from the audience to throw toilet paper at me at a special moment in the song. It’s fun, but also a bit tiring sometimes, carrying around props and always having to think of what needs to be done and what I forgot to prepare and so on. At the moment I really enjoy just playing song after song again hahaha. Oh – and costumes!! I like wearing glittery stuff and cloaks and hats with feathers and painting my face! I think just that does already a lot! And signs, just holding up signs with silly pictures and words on them while you sing, that’s fun too.

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3. Who do you see as an inspiration as a songwriter and a performer and why? I think my first inspiration for songwriting was the anti-folk music from New York – The Moldy Peaches, Adam Green’s early stuff and Jeffrey Lewis were always my favourites. I finally had found this ironic imperfect folk that I’d been craving for. Also when I saw some videos of The Moldy Peaches performing in their bunny suits and cloaks and hats I really wanted to do the same! Then the second big wave of inspiration came when I discovered Freak Folk – like CocoRosie, Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart – they somehow made me realise that there are so many possibilities to use your voice and also how to “design” the music. There are no rules. That was incredibly liberating. Then there are people like Jeff Buckley, Daniel Johnston or Soap&Skin who I admire a lot for their songwriting, but especially for bringing so much depth and emotion into their music and performances.

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Copyright Florian Razocha

 

4. What do you love most about touring? I like getting really nice food! (doesn’t happen always of course, but when it does, it’s a great feeling!) And of course I love getting new fresh reactions from people who haven’t heard my songs yet, that’s why I go on tour! Sometimes it can feel like you are playing a real old song for the first time if it’s heard by fresh ears!

5. Finally, anything you would like to add about your UK tour? Well, I am just really really excited about it. My mum is from England and it feels a bit like finally presenting my work to my own folk (even if I never lived in UK) – people in Austria or Germany often don’t fully understand the lyrics and sometimes it’s a bit frustrating, because that’s why we write songs, right? To tell stories and be understood. Sure, the emotional part can touch without words, but the lyrics are a very essential part. So that’s why I am coming to UK. I am really curious about how my music will be received and how it will feel playing up there!

Alicia will be making her debut at the country’s longest running Socialist club, The Red and Green Club, Milnsbridge, Huddersfield including Gerrard Bell-Fife https://gerrardbell-fife.bandcamp.com/ and Me Rex https://merex.bandcamp.com/releases

 

Doors 7.30pm and donation entry. Wednesday 7th December.

Main Image Copyright Franzi Kreis.

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© Mariana Vasconcelos

 

Thoughts on the upcoming UK / Ireland tour…

Since the ‘official’ release of ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’ in late 2015, the release hasn’t had its tour of the UK yet… March will be its time…

I find releasing a record a lengthy and quite draining process. Preparation will have occurred at least a year in advance of release and once it has been released for public consumption, there is still a lot of promotion to be done for tours and reviews etc.

There is no doubt that the world of a musician is changing rapidly. Advancements in technology and how we reach a ‘fanbase’ are ever-changing and I have only just succumbed to using a touch screen phone. This technological Luddite has made peace with the fact that he will never be up to date with technology and staying ‘one step ahead of the game’. There are fantastic ways that the technology we have can link us all across the globe and help us reach and connect with new people (those who read my posts may recall my Latvian super-fan called Monika) and I believe that Facebook and even Twitter has had its time to some degree as a social media platform as they sensor posts and encourage you to pay a fee to reach more people. There is over-saturation and the social media bigwigs realise that.

Even doing a world tour for the Mainstream artists doesn’t have the same gravitas as it once did, streamed concerts and uploads onto Youtube kill any kind of anticipation and mystique of set list and arrangement.

But for the DIY artist, I believe a ‘back to basis’ route is possibly the simplest and most effective way of creating a buzz in your area for a tour. The March UK / Ireland tour will be in England / Northern Ireland / Ireland with a couple of gigs in Yorkshire and none in the south of England. (That’s in September). As musicians (and promoters) we don’t often get out as much as we’d like to shows but it is very important. Not only to support your scene, pick up new ideas, influences and of course, if you don’t attend your friends’ shows, how can you blame them for not attending yours? In a DIY scene there has to be give and take. It is that simple.

Me and Tim Holehouse will be starting the short 11 day run of shows in ‘home town’ Huddersfield. ‘Home town’ shows are something I have a love/hate relationship with because as a touring artist, I don’t believe that the place where I decide to pay rent is the place where I garner a baying audience who ”Just can’t get enough” to quote an 80’s Synth-Pop band. Also if the place you decide to call ‘home’ has little or no scene, performing a ‘home town’ show isn’t likely to be worthwhile. Musicians will often use their ‘home town’ to end or start a tour to create a buzz and can often guarantee a sizeable crowd. Luckily Huddersfield has a number of venues where original music can get well attended and there is a healthy alternative scene, but as will all scenes, it can be fragmented and the dots haven’t joined up yet so to speak. Nothing is guaranteed.

I haven’t performed in Huddersfield for nearly a year as I knew that it would be my first show since the release (preparation a year in advance) and I’ve enlisted Kieran O’Malley and Karl Senior for duties on Cajon and Violin to create more of a ‘show’. Support will be Satteli, a Alpine melody duo from Holmfirth. As for the shows that are out of my physical reach, posters, flyers, social media and word of mouth have to be the way of spreading the word.

There is still a lot of preparation for this show (a video release and press coverage planned) and whilst that isn’t ‘back to basics’, making appearances at shows to spread the word, obligatory posters and flyers etc will play their part. I hope the preparation will pay off!

Johnny x

HUDDERSFIELD @ Small Seeds (formerly Bar 122) 8pm doors – £5/4 entry OTD

UK /EIRE TOUR INFO: https://www.facebook.com/events/481914091989124/

REVIEWS: http://brightyoungfolk.com/records/hook-line-and-sinker-johnny-campbell

https://londoncelticpunks.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/album-review-johnny-campbell-2015/

Tim Holehouse: http://www.timholehouse.com

 

The Dreaded ‘C’ Word…

Barely a few mundane weeks roll by before the next consumer opportunity rears its ugly head to sell us what we ‘want’, not what we ‘need’…including the dreaded ‘C’ word…

Possibly the only adults who look forward to the ‘C’ word are Noddy Holder, Cliff Richard and Shane MacGowan. As they do their shopping at this festive time whilst hearing their songs blared out through some crackly shopping centre P.A system, they must take great comfort knowing that the royalties in 6 months time will pay for those lavish holidays in The Bahamas. As a 28 year old I haven’t got excited about the ‘C’ word for a long time. I take great delight in stuffing my face with copious lashings of gravy and Yorkshire puddings in the meal rather than ripping open gifts. It’s a bit overrated as an adult with no children to buy for and besides, I get gifts for loved ones all year round so this particular day holds no significance. Don’t get me wrong, surprising your loved ones with kind words, Whiskey, chocolate, ironic jumpers and socks (on the same day of every year) isn’t anything many could necessarily disagree with. (unless it’s a blended malt) This show of appreciation for family and friends is something that should be explored all year round, and for most, I believe it is.

Now this annus mirabilis is reaching its conclusion, there are many things we have seen across Europe and the globe that have shaken the world to its core. The first things that spring to mind are the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris at the start of the year. The Tunisian beach attack and only this month (November 2015) a further attack in Paris upon bars, a football game and a concert. All conducted by ISIS we are told by the mainstream news. On a daily basis in the Middle East there are similar attacks and the ‘west’ doesn’t bat an eyelid. Or at least, the news networks don’t give the stories enough credence in the billing to make us feel some empathy. The ‘west’ only bats its eyelids when it affects the the ‘west’, like the ongoing refugee crisis. Only today I see on mainstream news that a Russian jet has been shot down by Turkish forces and I feel a new era will emerge of tumultuous chaos.

Imagine if the response to the November Paris attacks were not ”Who did this and how do we get them back? Who do we blow up?” Instead, a response from world leaders on ”How do we make our public spaces safer?” or ”Why do certain groups feel the need to attack us and our culture? Are we marginalising certain groups in society and is there something we can do to make ALL feel welcome and co-contributors?” The Middle East is a convoluted place where civil wars rage over centuries of battles and US, UK, USSR forces over the past 50 years have made the situation even more complicated. Carpet bombing huge swathes of land can’t be the answer.

If the ‘C’ word is about the time of giving, sharing and helping others in need, then this is the time. In every major city in the UK and many towns there are places where you can donate clothes, shelter, etc for refugees. There are many events that can be found through a social media link or looking though a search engine we can find where to donate. If our world leaders aren’t going to debate on how we can stop people in society feeling marginalised or how we can make our communities safer and inclusive, then it must start with us. This is not to say we shouldn’t be adding pressure on governments to provide aid and financial help. I’d rather taxes went to help those in need rather than the billions we’ve seen since 2008 propping up banks and the lifestyles of those who keep us in Austerity. If Europe is going to be even more multi-cultural we must build bridges with refugees and make them feel safe and included. You can feel very helpless watching or reading the stories and struggles of refugees coming to Europe but the things that can be done at this time of embracing people is to donate. Organise. Spread the message.

I for one will be donating clothes I don’t use and anything else I feel would be worthwhile. Have second thoughts on the ostentatious three bird meal for the festive dinner or at least…don’t waste it. If the socks that Nana got you aren’t to your taste you might as well donate them. I will eat up all the food I have on my place not to waste as I know others won’t have that choice. Rebuke the Black Friday craze where risible scenes of hypnotised shoppers are sent into gladiatorial bouts over microwaves and flat screen televisions. If this is the time of giving, then let’s give. We are co-creators in this world, so let’s create.

Johnny x

Hook, Line and Sinker release and the ‘Alternative’…

So, here’s another self-obsessed blog post by another DIY musician instafacetwittering for the approval of others while trying to promote their new release with no backing from agents, labels or Arts Council funds. Yes… and no…

Contrary to what is lamented and blown out of proportion in music (auto)biographies where a front-man/singer/songwriter in a band for years craves to release a solo record and finally relishes the opportunity because ”I can put down what I really feel now, man” or some other equally stomach-churning diatribe that serves to build up the ‘Myth of the Man’, it may come as some surprise that I wasn’t necessarily compelled with or struck with an immense creative urgency to release my début solo record.

Songs had been festering for a while I admit, but some riffs (Blue Mountains) lay dormant for years. In fact I must have written the Guitar riff well over seven years ago…but I digress. I started recording in October 2014 with a friend of mine at his home studio. A couple of days to lay down the Guitar and vocals for the songs and working on it from there. A few tweaks in the future with the vocals and doing re-takes…it’s a lengthy enough process.

What I was apprehensive about with releasing a record is simply the way we consume and interact with music these days. On average, people will listen to 15-30 seconds of a track and make a judgement before skipping tracks. Imagine if you did that with Pink Floyd or I Am The Resurrection by The Stone Roses. Yes, as a musician, you want to get your work out there, but with so many outlets to spread your product and the days of listening to a record all the way through (god forbid) are now confined to the dusty box filled with such gems as ”The days when you could leave your door open”. Is there really any point to release another musical interlude into the ether? After all, videos, music and more are being uploaded every second making it a commodity and while the World Wide Web is a true democracy, it is open to a lot of these problems. As everything is expected to be free, it diminishes the countless hours of work put into it, production costs and more…

Rant, rant, rant…come on, get to your point….

It may be tempting to wait in line for the next Bob Dylan release to keep your collection up to date regardless of the quality he puts out (£400 for a box set of every musical brain fart he’s had from 1965-’66 available now!) but if we can tear ourselves away from bolstering Dylan’s lifestyle, supporting localised events and projects, music, theatre etc, must be the way forward right?

edward tubbs

Research on spending by local authorities shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business 63p stayed in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business. When I put on my own shows, I try my utmost to support the right venue. Bar 122 in Huddersfield was started by ‘Stevo’ who built from the ground up, supports underground artists, national and touring artists and manages to keep his drink/food prices at a competitive and affordable level. This is not a corporate venue and has been a lifeblood of the town for a long time and continues to support the local economy this way. In this past year I put on a show at a corporate venue where drink prices were over £4.50 a pint and because the show didn’t manage to cover itself by ticket sales (booking the room fee, soundman, bartenders) and as soon as I stepped offstage I was handed a bill of £3.20 to the venue. It is little things like this that remind me that personality, familiarity and supporting the right people will hopefully pay off for all of us. Grow your own, support the scene and create communities!

Johnny x

Hook, Line and Sinker will be released Friday 9th October via http://www.johnnycampbell.bandcamp.com

http://www.facebook.com/johnnycampbellmusic / http://www.johnnycampbell.co.uk