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posted: march 27 by Rich Batsford
I knew I had quite a few ideas saved up for the future, but I didnt realise quite how many!
In addition to the two albums Ive released already, I have a further 32 finished pieces, 46 ideas which I plan to turn into pieces, 13 new songs (tho most of them still need lyrics writing) 48 shorter (or weaker) ideas which I plan to turn into pieces for licensing into movies, 7 ideas saved for a planned album of piano and cello, 3 short cues and ten others I couldnt decide about for now.
In total, that means 159 new little ones on the way! Im going to be a proud and busy parent for the next few years. Now if I can just figure out a way to earn some kind of income from it all …
Music, new music, Piano
posted: december 15 by Rich Batsford
I like to think Im a fairly realistic person and the trend of corporate tax avoidance has been much in the news recently, but I find myself shocked and deeply disappointed by the recent comments from Google boss Eric Schmidt who has baldly stated that he is proud of Google’s avoidance of a staggering £2.5 billion in tax.
Whilst Mr Schmidt’s honesty is at least admirable, reading this stung something in me – you may think me naivie, but as head of a hugely successful company operating in a progressive mileu, I believe he has rejected a chance, amidst the current atmosphere of tax avoidance revelations, to take an ethical stand, to admit the evident limitations of his policy and to put his error right. It was Google who made the famous commitment “Dont be evil” indicating that they were prepared to take a lead, but sadly, in this hugely important area, they have clearly failed to do so.
I believe we must reject the idea that just because something is legal, that makes it morally acceptable – it should no longer be the case that we allow the leaders of the business world to exist in some kind of ethical vacuum. We may expect no more of a naughty school child than to stick to the rules for fear of punishment, but in a grown adult, particularly someone in a highly esponsible position, we must press for and encourage a more morally mature and ambitious outlook if we are to progress socially at anything like the rate we’re capable of.
Significantly, the importance of acting ethically is not simply that is a nice, fully, preference, but that it to act otherwise is fly in the face of reality. Although we experience ourselves as individuals and groups, the truth is that are all mutually interdependent – we all rely on each other to survive, progress and flourish. If we let one person or group down, we let us all down. Ironically, the truth of this could hardly have been put better than by the Google founders themselves when they wrote “We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.”
Hopefully the considerable response of the public and media to Google’s actions and Mr Schmidt’s remarks will prove part of an ongoing movement provoking a sea-change in the way the developed world does business as we move globally to a more compasionate, aware and realistic future. Meanwhile, Im going to look at some practical steps to take in my ongoing response to this challenge which I will report back on in a future blog post.
ethics, google, morality, shame, tax
posted: june 28 by Rich Batsford
Well, the dust has about settled on my concert at mac back on June 11th (2011). Im glad to say it went really well.
To be honest, my main worry – stemming from many years experience of small time music and comedy promotion – was getting a big enough audience to make it worthwhile playing in such a big venue as the main theatre at mac, but happily, at 8.05pm on the big night, I could look nervously over a crowd of no less than 150 fans, friends and family and I’m very grateful to all that attended.
Although the nerves were building, I had the pleasure first of watching Jules Gray’s support set – he’s such an intense performer, in contrast to his casually charming between song chat with the audience. Have a look at this video of Jules’ rendition of the Neil Young classic “Southern Pacific”:
The track is also featured on his eponymous debut album alongside nine excellent original songs combining great melody and really insightful lyrics.
I started my set with a playback of my new track “On til Dawn” giving the audience a teasing sample of the lush backing vocals that charaterise the Mindfulmess album before taking the stage to start with a performance of one of my warmest and most uplifting piano pieces Gudonya:
(videos courtesy Marc Reck, to whom Gudonya is dedicated.)
I then launched straight into a sequence of songs from Mindfulmess and followed it with more select highlights from Valentine Court as well as a couple of pieces from what will be my third album when that comes out in 2012 and a nice rendition of Brian Wilson’s God Only Knows.
My friend and long time collaborator Leon Trimble (aka VJ Chromatouch) was, as always, doing some really fine work with the visuals, displayed to great effect on the big mac stage. Leon’s currently putting some finishing touches to a video to my new track On til Dawn, so watch this space.
I also took my life in my hands and, for the first ever time, performed an improvisation live on stage. Im not sure the result was one of my best or most adventurous efforts, but it went pretty well and, in what will hopefully prove to be a long term tradition, I recorded it directly into the memory of my digital piano and will soon be sharing it exclusively as a thank you to those who joined my email list at the event.
Being an independent musician is certainly hard work and is no kind of a route to financial gain, but when an event like this comes together, it really is a very satisfying experience and a good stimulus to keep on being creative and putting what I do out there.
The album wont be in all the usual online retailers until the Autumn (to give me time to try and get some reviews), but its available to listen to now (and purchase as CD or download) exclusively from this site, so do please visit www.richbatsford.com/music/mindfulmess and have a listen. Thanks.
Birmingham, jules gray, mac, mindfulmess, video
posted: march 14 by Rich
I’ve been hearing good things about these guys and looking forward to checking them out as part of the Honeycomb Club – a monthly event at, where else, the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath – home to so much of whats good in terms of the smaller end of the Birmingham live music scene.
The Honeycomb clubs offers a blend of guest bands, with resident VJs and DJs, each night being headlined by the Alternative Dubstep Orchestra and whilst the whole night was very well put together, its the ADO whom most of us have come to see.
First up were Velvet Texas Cannonball who got the crowd warmed up, toe tapping and even some serious rockin out (Im looking at you Bernard Davis!). Style-wise it was pretty much time warpsville – we’re talking 70′s blues rock, but if that doesnt bother you (and why should it) theres lots to enjoy in the form of classic rock lead vocals, psychedelic hammond, bluesy guitar and a great drummer.
So to the Alternative Dubstep Orchestra (ADO). These guys floated my boat in a number of good ways – first up its a lovely to see such a diverse bunch of musicians on a stage together in a loose and yet clearly pretty tight collective (this makes me proud of being a Brummie and reminds me of my excitement at early encounters with the Destroyers). Second I like to see that combo of traditional and modern – a three piece brass section alongside big electronic basslines and the bass player switching from stand up to electric.
The music I thought for the most part very good indeed. Theres a few places some editing could help, but these are early days for the group so thats entirely forgiveable. As someone who personally isnt a major reggae or dub fan, I found it a little disconcerting at first when a big build upwould lead to the slow, deep dubstep beat rather than something quicker, but after a little while, I let my knees bend a little more and sank comfortably down into the groove.
Visually the guys look great, the guitarist in particular is a bit of a livewire. The live percussion really added something and the laidback vocal lines over the top of it all work well.
All in all, an exciting new addition to the thriving independent Birmingham music scene so do check them out at their residency at the Honeycomb, on youtube or before long at good venues and festivals everywhere.
posted: march 4 by Rich
Many musicians are pretty wary about puting their music in a pigeon hole and yet choosing a suitable label for your music is pretty much indispensible in terms of getting your music out there and helping it reach the ears of suitable listeners.
Personally Im something of a reluctant marketer – I certainly dont want to push my music down the throats of random people, but I do relish a chance to share my music with someone who I have a reason to believe might enjoy it.
And so Ive been on a continuing quest to pick a suitable genre. Many websites Ive uploaded music to only allow you to pick from a short list, but if you want an idea of the full gamut of options available, look no further than the perenially excellent resource that is wikipedia and their list of no less than 1650 different musical styles!
Interestingly, Wikipedia offers a short series of genres and movements – Art music (Classical music (European) · religious) · Traditional music · Electronic · Popular music (Blues · Country · Hip hop · Jazz · Reggae · Rock (Heavy metal, Punk rock)) · Folk. Within that list I think for my music I would plump for Art Music for my solo piano music – given my classical influences and spiritual leanings and also that I cant see it fitting under any of the other headings.
Now to go through the 1650 listed styles and see if I can find the perfect fit.
genre, label, Music, Piano, style
posted: january 20 by Rich
Of course that doesnt necessarily mean that Im doing more work than any other time, but it feels like heavy going. In fact, you could argue that Im hardly working at all – Im well ahead with my main work at the moment (as a booking agent in stand up comedy) and have relatively little to do on that score just now.
Consequently, Im seizing the opportunity to spend some quality time progressing my music career which, altho it doesnt currently make me any money and so usually takes a back seat compared to paid work, is something I am very passionate about. The strength of my motivation to succeed in music is a good thing I think – without it I’d have very little chance of making any headway amongst the (literally) millions of other musicians in the world today.
Im finding myself pretty stressed tho, so alongside my musical and promotional efforts I’m doing some spiritual work – that is, trying to maintain perspective, bring to my efforts a lightness of touch, trust in the process and hang loose to the outcome and recognise that doing whats important to me matters more than whatever the results of those efforts might be.
Examining my motivations also helps – when Im acting out of a pure desire to create, develop and share I feel positive and enjoy myself whereas when Im feeling stressed and worried, looking “underneath the bonnet” often reveals egoistic efforts to create financial security or gain reputation and success for my own benefit.
As with all things, its not easy finding the right balance and its all too easy to be self critical – setting arbitrary standards for myself and then feeling bad for not meeting them seems to be a favourite of mine.
Maybe this is a stage Im going through where my musical career feels like its scrabbling for a foothold in my life and once its more properly established as an equal partner alongside my comedy work, perhaps I can relax a bit more.
Or have I just set myself another arbitrary standard again..?
Anyway, thats all for now, I better get back to work
Music, spirituality, work
posted: january 18 by Rich
Jo Hamilton is a fine and subtle songs with a very individual feel – often inspired by her unusual upbringing in the wilds of Scotland as well as periods in Turkey, UAE, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.
Now based in Birmingham’s Bohemian capital – Moseley – Jo has teamed up with superb producer Jon Cotton to create a debut album which marries up Jo’s delightful vocals with a rich array of talented instrumentalists. Not surprisingly, the album has received absolutely glowing reviews from the likes of the Guardian, Independent and Mojo.
Now Jo and her team have released a new special edition of the album, so if you dont already have it – nows a good time to buy it. Meanwhile you can listen to some of the tracks right here:
Birmingham, gown, jo hamilton, moseley, Music
posted: november 2 by Rich
As I passed a couple of school boys in the street this morning, they noticed they had just missed a bus and one of them let out a swear word (a fairly mild one) to express his mild frustration and displeasure.
It quite surpised me, which is something on reflection I put down to the fact that these days, I rarely spend much time in the company of kids when there isnt an adult present (aside from me – its still a bit hard to believe that I qualify).
Of course I hear adults swearing pretty often – particularly as someone involved in the world of stand up comedy – and thats not unusual, according to the interesting wikipedia article on the subject, one study showed that swear words make up roughly 0.5% to 0.7% of all words spoken.
Of course when kids are around, most adults dont let themselves swear in front of them and it suddenly struck me as immensely strange that, because of the power attached to these few words, we have two separate groups of people – children and adults – each going around swearing freely amongst themselves, whilst trying not to swear in front of members of the other group for fear of offending them.
Its a bit ****ing weird if you ask me
profanity, swear words, swearing