Friday, 8 January 2016

Five and a half years ago I met a boy. - 'Are you a singer?' he asked me. He was with a friend. How did he know? That night, I sang with them on the University of Stirling bridge and they lead me on my way. - That was the beginning of my adventures with music. The beginning of the year tends to lead us to think upon the past twelve months and also inspire motivation and change for the coming year. As 2016 begins, I am thinking back on not just 2015 but these years since that night on the bridge. My life has been more interesting, creative and fulfilled since that day because music has been a continuing part of it. 

Here it begins:

 With the raucous seven piece bluegrass band; sweaty, packed out nights at the Settle Inn, (see pic below!) with dancing on tables, a few too many drinks for everyone and the chanting of 'one more song!' Those days were exciting. I will always remember listening back to a recording of a jam the first night some of us had met as a prospective band. How excited we were to have created something together. - A feeling I have felt over and over again since then and one I am always chasing. The Lincoln County Regulators was a raucous, short-lived endeavour but one heck of a way to kick things off. I didn’t want things to end. And they didn’t.

 Along came the swing trio, the most successful musical venture so far. - Although I personally put this down to the vast number of emails sent and not any indication of musical talent! At this point in my life I was approaching the end of my time at university and had a ferocious determination to get live opportunities and as many as possible. So I sent hundreds of emails to promotors and festivals across the country, (and beyond!) to which only a very small handful replied and an even teenier portion said yes to us. We were grateful for every one. - To Birmingham Jazz and Blues Festival and Bannockburn Live, thanks for having us. To STV Glasgow, thank you so much for having us play live on the Riverside Show, which was terrifying and thrilling in equal measure but so very unforgettable. (You can relive our performance of Not a Dollar here!) To everybody else, thanks for evoking the determination in me to try and try again. To any musician who is about to take on the summer festival email marathon, I commend you.

 I've some really great memories of the summer we went to Birmingham, and some fantastic photos. (The picture below is from our gig in the Birmingham Art Gallery & Museum and is one of my favourites from any gig we've played!) Birmingham is a wonderfully creative and multicultural city. We didn't stop the whole time, rushing from gig to gig. But we cherished the experience, and the taste of the jazz festival; a slice of life as working musicians. This was a magnificent experience, but also a wake up call that to be a full time musician would be a whole lot of fun but also a heck of a lot of hard work. – Taking the road less travelled is no easy feat but sure is a worthy one.

 Whilst we often gigged out of Stirling, our music and lives were deeply rooted in the town, and have been for the last 5 and a bit years for myself, and nearly 7 for Corry. We remain the only two playing together from those early, early days. And that's why this is so important (and strange) for me to write. Stirling has truly been home for this time. Completely. - From hosting fortnightly open mics at the Settle to busking outside the Thistles Centre, Callander Jazz and Blues Festival and The Piers. (The Piers is a lovely wee area by Corton Vale and we wrote a song inspired by our cycles over to the fishermen's hut.) Our experiences in Stirling shaped our songs, our stories and our lives. My decision to go to uni felt very much like a flippant, misguided one at the time but I’m continually grateful for taking that leap; the first of several I’d take over the next few years.

 But now, just as we've changed over these last 5 years, change is coming again, and it is time for a leap in a whole new direction. Over the last year, our music has taken a turn to the dark Americana road, and we’re really enjoying exploring this genre, whilst still dipping into the jazz and blues waters we so love along the way. Although, this recent change has been a geographical one for the band: Our adventures in Stirling have come to an end, which is truly bittersweet. We've so many wonderful memories of our time there; ones that we will cherish for a long time to come. I was fortunate enough to get a full time job shortly after graduating; a job which I am heavily invested in and enjoy immensely. But demanding full time work leaves little room for anything else, and we’ve realised over the last few years just how much of ourselves we want to give to the music; it’s something we want to chase; to keep writing stories and melodies and to keep sharing them. If you were wondering why the last year was a quiet one for us, we were consumed by our jobs - Happy but, ultimately, unfulfilled with less creativity in our lives. So, in moving to Edinburgh, we hope that music can become a bigger part of our lives. I’m opting to go part time for the next wee while as some form of creative break from the last two years of 9-5 life. The hope is that, one day, this is a real possibility, and that music can be our focus. The eternal fear is looking back with regret and, no doubt, putting yourself out there is an undeniably scary thing but we’re committed to owning this year. – This is the year for a new city, new music, new people, new recordings: A year we can say that we gave it our best shot, and one we can proud of. It is too easy to sit back and wait on possibilities; this year we’re going to try to create them. And moving to Edinburgh was that first little leap.

 We’re starting with playing as much as we can, in the hope that we can meet new musicians and eventually record some material that we can be damn proud of. And new songs, that’s a given. Thanks to Tim and Siannie in particular for welcoming us so warmly to our first experience of the Edinburgh music scene. We popped along to The Antiquary in Stockbridge for their regular folk jam and played alongside some amazingly talented people. - We do hope this is a sign of things to come!

 Finally… Thank you to everybody who has been a part of our musical journey in Stirling, whether you’ve played with us, seen us at the Settle Inn or caught us busking and chucked coins at us. – Each and every one of you have made a positive impact on our music and we’re all the better for it. We're so grateful to have met some truly lovely folks, in particular, our very good friend Jim. Also, a huge thank you to Ewen at Europa, Lesley at the Settle Inn and also John at Mediterranea for all the support over the last few years. And thank you to Mandy for having us as the first (and last!) band to play at the Curly Coo. The future is open and exciting, and hopefully as kind to us as the past. We do hope it’s kind to you too. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Not all too long ago, we met an interesting man called Stewart. He asked us if we had recordings. To which we replied, 'Not exactly.' All our recording projects thus far have been works in progress, and we've just had far too much fun writing and playing and gigging.

'Do you want recordings?' asked Stewart.

Just over a week later and we were in Stewart's house recording. Here's the result:

The Cold is a Comin' is one of our newest songs, and one we've really enjoyed playing live. We all sing the chorus which is a first. Although, hopefully, more voices join us one of these days. If we, at least, get your toes tapping, then we'll be happy. The accompanying photos are all from our ventures into abandoned local haunts.

We owe a great deal of thanks to Stewart for his kindness and also for making the day a such memorable experience. - Thank you!

We do hope that you enjoy listening them as much as we enjoyed writing them and playing them live.

With love,

The Precious Penny Pluckers.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

This is just a really quick post to say...

We recently discovered this beautiful photo taken by Alice Hadden at our Tollbooth gig last year.

We loved playing the Tollbooth and we love the photo. Thank you, Alice!

You can check out more of Alice's work here.

Sunday, 11 January 2015


I write this at the start of the new year; a time where we tend to look back and reflect on the last twelve months of our lives. What have you been up to? We wish you a happy and prosperous year ahead.

We thought we ought to dedicate a blog post to the last year since we're so incredibly proud of all that we achieved. And also to thank everybody who has been a part of it.

Here's what 2014 looked like for us:

In January, we played a New Year's Day gig at Nicky Tam's and were the inaugural music act at Stirling's only whisky bar The Curly Coo. We also played our first Glasgow gig at The Record Factory. Photo below! (Courtesy of Alasdair Watson photography)

In April,  we played Europa Music's annual Record Store Day celebration.

In May, we Jungle Boogie'd at Mediterranea with Victorian Trout Conspiracy and Mike Whellans, played in a forest for Wood for All's The Big Woodland Event. We also played Scribblers Picnic in aid of cancers charities and some tunes at Kilted Kangaroo's 7th birthday bash.

In June, we provided the music at Loving Food Truck's second pop up restaurant. Then, we played Bannockburn Live's Storyville stage, alongside the beautiful Karine Polwart and Rachel Sermanni.

In July, we went to Birmingham Jazz and Blues Festival, where we played TEN sets over three days in some beautiful and unique venues including Birmingham New Street station and Birmingham Art Gallery and Musuem. We'll never forget pulling into the train station to play our first gig there just an hour later!

In August, we played The 13th Note's Americana festival and partied with Yelp Glasgow at Wild Cabaret to celebrate Yelp's 10th birthday.

In September, we played the Stirling Fringe.

In October, we played Callander's Jazz and Blue Fest. (Did you know Callander had a jazz and blues fest? We didn't!) And we played live on STV Glasgow's The Riverside Show. You can watch the clip here!

In November, we played the Tolbooth's Strange Behaviours festival. And we played tunes and sipped lattes at Scottish Coffee Festival at Drygate brewery in Glasgow.

Strange Behaviours Festival at the Tolbooth (photo courtesy of Stirling News)

Scottish Coffee Festival (photo courtesy of Ovenbird Coffee)

In December, we played our final gig of the year in Slouch, Glasgow. Here's a picture of us afterwards!

If you've been to a gig lately, you'll have noticed that things have changed a little. The trio now consists of Corry, Martin and I (Nikki!) and we've also made a bit of a progression with our sound. Above all, this change has inspired us to develop as a band and we're so excited by our current projects. We're happy with the direction we're headed and look forward to another year of music, wherever it happens to take us. In the meantime, you can listen to some rough practice sessions we've recorded here!

There are a number of people who have made an impact on us this year and to whom we owe a great deal of thanks:

Thank you to Briony at Yelp Glasgow 

Thank you to Alasdair Watson and his camera

Thank you to Amy at Unique Events

Thank you to Jim at Big Bear Music

Thank you to the production team at The Riverside Show

Thank you to the Settle Inn, Stirling

Thank you to Jim Taylor 

And, finally....Thank YOU for visiting the blog! 

We do hope 2015 brings lovely things your way.  And, as always, may precious pennies come to you in abundance! 

With excitement for the year ahead,

The Precious Penny Pluckers

PS. Have you made a start on your new year's resolutions? We're already making progress on our aim to see more live music and just booked three tickets to Red Rooster festival. We just can't wait to see C.W. Stoneking and Son of Dave!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

If you were recently at the Tolbooth's Strange Behaviours festival and you happened to catch some of our set, you would have noticed that, one; we have a new addition to the band in the form of Martin, and two; we have gone electric. (Although not completely!) Whilst the old Penny Plucker sound was a bouncy, swing affair, we're excited to be heading down this dark Americana road before us. After many a week locked away working on a new set list for the Tolbooth, on the 21st of November, we had the chance to share some new original work, and with it a different sound.

Of course, we haven't gotten rid of all of our old songs. In fact, this change has allowed us to reinvent some of our original material, whilst adding some songs that the new trio (Corry, Martin & Nikki) have created together. Debuting them at the Tolbooth which was an amazing experience. - Thank you to everyone who came along for the ride. It was certainly a nerve-wracking experience to play an almost entirely new set list in the main auditorium but we had a blast and thank the Tolbooth for the opportunity.

We recorded two of the new songs (The Poison & The Medicine and The Hangman's Priest) during a band practice. Whilst they were recorded on a phone, hopefully they can give you an idea of our new style. We hope you enjoy them. -You can listen to them here!

Most recently, we played Scottish Coffee Festival on the 29th November, where we very much enjoyed playing tunes and sipping lattes. Thank you Chris, the organiser, for having us on board. Next, we'll be at Slouch in Glasgow on Sunday the 7th of December, alongside some other local acts. Things kick off at 7pm. - Perhaps we'll see you there!

With excitement for the future,

The Precious Penny Pluckers.

PS. Collectively one of our favourite bands, the Handsome Family play the Tolbooth next year, which we're very excited about! You can buy tickets here.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Wow, we are blown away. Thank you so, so much for all the support. We had a whole lot of fun playing live on STV Glasgow's The Riverside Show and are so grateful to have had the experience. If you haven't watched the show yet, you can watch our performance of Not a Dollar here. It was truly amazing to get to play three of our own songs on television and we thank absolutely everyone who took the time to tune in and come along for the ride. - We can't believe the positive response we've had so far. A huge thank you to STV Glasgow for having us on the show!

The day before, we played Callander Jazz and Blues Festival which made for a wonderful afternoon. We were a tad nervous of dipping our toes into a local ticketed event so soon after carrying on as a duo but, full of hope, we caught the bus to Callander equipped with a set list peppered with new songs. - No pressure! It was an intimate affair, with no amplification, in the beautiful mini theatre within St Kessogs church. We were nervous. The audience were close. There were several people. No sooner were there more people. And more! Until...we had a full house. We'd sold out the venue! Now, we did not expect that at all. So thank you so very much to everyone who joined us. We hope you enjoyed our songs, new and old. The new additions to our set list include a song about a mean old man called Henry. He's a rich, greedy character and you'll most probably meet him at a gig in the near future! There's also 'A Thousand Reasons', the second slower song we played on the Riverside Show. We had such a wonderful time at the festival and we owe Graham, the festival organiser, a thank you for allowing us to be a part of it. Here's a picture of Nikki outside the venue:

PS. If you're in Callander and your belly is rumbling, head to Deli Ecosse. We had the most delicious lunch there!

So, we've had quite the week so far. What have we got planned for the next while?

We'll be at the Settle Inn every second Monday, so that's the 13th and 27th October this month. It's an open mic so do come say hello and bring your instruments if you play. - We love it when you do!

On the 2nd November, we'll be playing The Hideaway Cafe in the beautiful Bridge of Allan for a Great British Bake-Off themed charity event in aid of Speur-Ghlan and to celebrate the cafe's first birthday.

On the 21st November, we play the main stage at the Tolbooth for the Strange Behaviours festival. Check out the line-up; you really are spoiled for choice. We're thrilled to be involved! Since the festival is called 'Strange Behaviours', we've decided to mix things up with something new, if a little strange. Ten gold coins and you are granted admission. It looks set to be a great night, and weekend, of music!

The 29th November brings the Scottish Coffee Festival. We can't wait to play some tunes for coffee-loving Scots! And perhaps sip some lattes ourselves. The perfect opportunity to learn a coffee-themed tune. - We're particularly enjoying Rob Heron and the Teapad Orchestra's 'Drinking Coffee Rag' at the moment!

Phew...November is a busy month. And we can't wait!

Love and appreciation, 

The Precious Penny Pluckers.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The times, they are a-changin'

The nature of music is that it evolves. And so, for us, things are changing. And as daunting as that can truly be, it's a genuinely exciting time for us and we can't wait to see what the future holds for us Penny Pluckers. You'll soon see what we mean, that's all we're going to say. We've had the most amazing year and we're going to keep doing what we do. Right now, we're working on some new material. Hopefully we can share it with you soon.

We're back at Stirling's Settle Inn every second Monday to run the open mic. (If you keep an eye on our Facebook page we regularly post the dates we'll be there.) We were there last night and had quite possibly the best night yet. With Spanish guitar and dancing! Every once in a while a night like that comes along and we count ourselves lucky to have been a part of it.

What do we have planned for the next wee while? On the 5th October, we'll be at Callander Jazz and Blues Fest. - Yes, Callander has a Jazz and Blues Festival! It sure would be lovely to see you there. You can find the programme here. What a line up! We can't wait to catch some performances ourselves and spend some time in the beautiful Callander.

The 6th October holds something really exciting for us which we'll share really very soon. We've been keeping quiet for quite some time now and it's killing us. All we'll say is that perhaps you would happen to see us if you were channel-hopping between the hours of 6.30 and 8.30pm that evening. And if you were to do so, perhaps your ears would hear something new. Oh, stop it...We've said too much!

With love and vigour,

The Precious Penny Pluckers