01 February 2010

Day six Leaving the big brother song-house

Before I came into this project I would never have believed that in five days, five singer-songwriters and two poets could write, arrange and then as a whole ensemble produce and perform a ninety minute live show on the sixth day. We did it!  The concert was such a climax to the hard work we’ve all put in, the reaction from the audience was amazing, people were in tears and for the right reasons too!
It was really sad at the end of the night to have to say goodbye to all these special people, the only consolation is that we get to do the show again at Brampton Festival in July. Still, I am going to miss them all but feel like I have made friends for life in that house and have been a part of something I will be eternally proud of.
Very special thanks too to Monkey Tree catering who lived in the house with us and fed us like kings and queens, without you it would have been a different and much less enjoyable project and I know I speak for all of us when I say you’re the top of the tree and we were so unbelievably lucky to have you.
Now I’ll be spending the next few days coming down from it all and processing the whole experience. It was a great journey indeed, all along the wall.

Thanks Ruth, Kate, Jez, Boo, Rory, and Elvis; we did it eh guys?

31 January 2010

Day five in the big brother song-house

The Team on the WallLast day in the house, we leave our little cocoon tomorrow and take the show out into the big world. (Well, to Maryport for now anyway!) There’s a strange feeling of almost sadness among us all tonight, it’s been such an intense process and so much has been created then moulded in such a very short time that it will be really difficult to come down from it all and leave the camaraderie we’ve all shared.
We ran the show from start to finish today, ironing out any creases as we went and I have to say, I’m so immensely proud to have been a part of this special project. I’d like to personally thank Ken and Sue Bradburn and Brampton Live for not only pulling this whole thing together but also for asking me to be involved, it’s been a privilege and an experience I’ll never forget.

So tomorrow will see the culmination of this whole thing not only performed in public but also recorded for a CD. No pressure there then! Will give you my final update on Monday after what will hopefully be a very long lie-in!

30 January 2010

Day four in the big brother song-house

Julie & RuthToday’s been all about pulling the show together, rehearsing all the songs and poetry as a complete band. The camaraderie has been fantastic, we’ve had so many laughs it’s unbelievable really, considering we’ve been locked up in this house together for four days with very little contact with the outside world. I suppose a situation like this could go either way; either you all end up sick of each other or you create a bond that totally supports each other, fortunately for us, the latter has happened. I love everybody in this house, they’re all so talented in their own rights but above all, they’re all genuinely lovely people.

29 January 2010

Day three in the big brother song-house

Just about to fall into my bed but thought I’d write a quick update. Fortunately the muse didn’t desert me in the night and I wrote my fourth and final song this morning! What a productive three days it’s been and great fun too. I’ve made some great new friends in here and loved spending time with my old friends too.
Julie & JezRuth wrote another great song today, Jez too, Rory has words coming out of his ears that are now taking in shape in both prose and song. Boo now has three under his belt with another he’s presently honing. Kate and Richard are writing the most beautiful poetry that has been sparked by songs and funny ones too, especially one that Richard (Elvis) read to us all tonight that reduced us to hysterical tears. I’m so excited about how the whole thing is taking shape, tomorrow we start arranging and rehearsing and turning it into the live show, it will be great to see it evolve.
Seriously, if you can get to the gig in Maryport on Sunday then do, I think it’s going to be very special.
Can’t keep my eyes open, more tomorrow.

28 January 2010

Day two in the big brother song-house

Boo, Ruth & JezI’m writing this at 2am after the most amazingly creative and fruitful day so it won’t be a long diary as I’m absolutely shattered and have another 9am start in the morning.
The morning was incredibly productive for me as I sat down to write the music with Ruth (who I must say is not only extremely talented but delightful too) and we had it done and dusted by lunchtime!

After lunch I tucked myself away to work on another idea I’d started yesterday and cracked that one off too! We all took ourselves off for visit to the Wall (which was pretty awe-inspiring) then drove a few miles down the road to Vindolanda, a Roman settlement and archaeological dig site. Unfortunately it was closed though I do have a contact there so might try and pull a few strings for a visit inside.
Back to work and chipping in with each other’s stuff before dinner. Did I mention we have resident caterers? Monkey Tree catering are feeding us like kings and queens, we may have to be craned out of here at the end of the week!I love this photo, jacket and the man in it - Rory McLeod

Tonight’s been brilliant; we all gathered in the big lounge and sang all our stuff to each other. It’s really daunting playing brand new songs to your peers, the only consolation is that they all feel exactly the same, we all have our insecurities and in this kind of project you feel so creatively exposed. It was really rewarding though, there’s some great songs being written and inspired poetry too, it feels like such an honour to be part of something that I know is going to be a very unique show. Well that’s me for the night, I’m going to fall into my bed now and hope the muse doesn’t skip off while I’m sleeping, lots more to do tomorrow.

27 January 2010

Day one in the big brother song-house......

In order to get a full day’s work in today, Jez, Rory, Ruth and me (Julie!) arrived last night to settle in and I guess, just be in each other’s company before we got down to the business of writing a 75 minute show in five days!  It paid dividends as this morning we were all raring to go and eager to delve into our collective trove of research on Hadrians Wall. The farmhouse where we’re all staying is lovely and a stone’s throw from the wall itself so no excuses for not being able to soak up the atmosphere.

Our other songwriter, Boo Hewerdine isn’t arriving until this evening along with one of the poets, Elvis McGonnagall, a bit of a shame really as it would have been good to all plough in together but hey ho, hope they won’t feel out of the loop when they descend on the already fruitful creativity that’s taking place.

Kate Fox, one of the poets arrived this morning and is lovely and has had tons of great input. Unfortunately our third poet, Matt Harvey has had to drop out of the project at the last minute due to personal reasons so our collective workload has just gone up a notch.

We’re still all feeling our way through the various partnerships that will no doubt develop over the coming days; I’ve presented a song I came in with and have written a lyric today for Ruth and myself to work with musically tomorrow. Jez and Rory are pursuing great ideas and Kate and Ruth are at present hammering out a storyline for a song of love, loss and tragedy – proper folk music!

Right, back to it, I’ll continue later!


Just about to turn in for the night, really productive evening session though; Ruth and Kate finished their song with some input from Rory, I’ve another one underway and Boo and Elvis arrived in time for dinner which was great, nothing like breaking bread to break the ice. Tomorrow we’re planning a trip to the wall together so the next diary will be full of photos as well as, hopefully, song progress!

Night all.