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.