Winter Gigs for 2015

They say that Winter is the most depressing time of the year, so I said to myself “why not add to the misery and do some shows around the place?”. I’ve got a bunch of new songs to play, some old ones that have been moved to piano, and an itching to get up on stage for a proper concert again.

Winter Gigs 2015

I’ll be playing a Warm-up show in York at the Black Swan with Bettie Akkemaai on Monday 23rd of November, before the two of us head up the A1 to Glasgow to join the wonderful Jud Harron for a show at The Hug and Pint in Glasgow. To finish off the week, Bettie and I will head up to Dundee for Book Yer Ane fest, both appearing on Sunday 29th.

Bettie Akkemaai is over in the UK for the anarcho-folk festival in London (21st of November), and also to record her debut EP for Different Circle Records. I’m in the producer chair for that, which is really interesting.

Finally, if you want to hear a track that didn’t make it on to “Rise, Again”, then I’m giving the chance to download.

Germany and Netherlands next week!

Dave Hughes with Bettie Akkemaai Last month was filled with a lovely small Scottish tour with the wonderful Bettie Akkemaai. We had ace shows in Dundee and Glasgow, an intimate show in Inverness and paralytic in Elgin.

I’ve uploaded the video of my full set from Glasgow. There’s new songs, old, rarely played songs, and some covers too. I’ve had a burst of creativity recently, with around 10 new songs demo’d awaiting the next step, I’m playing some of these songs live at the moment to try to break their back.

After a month of not playing, I’m getting on a plane next week to fly to Germany for a bunch of shows there and in the Netherlands. The dates and venues are listed below, and once again, I’ll be teaming up with Bettie Akkemaai to recapture some of last month’s magic.

  • Thursday 3rd September – Fischladen, Berlin (DE)
  • Saturday 5th September – 3rd Eifler Folk Punk Festival, Ripsdorf (DE)
  • Sunday 6th September – House Party, Den Bosch (NL)
  • Monday 7th September – Joe’s Garage, Amsterdam (NL)

In my next update, I’ll tell you all about this adventure and then a bit about my big Glasgow show happening on the 24th of November at The Hug and Pint.

 

The Long Journey North

I’m currently sitting in a cafe in the Headingley area of Leeds after a fun show with Bettie Akkemaai, Troy Faid and Rob Galloway. It was a house show in a magnificent old Victorian House that had been turned in to a collective for the protection of the building. I’m somewhat fragile this morning due to the late night party – hence the need for some strong coffee and quiet time.

knoflook4From here, Bettie and I are travelling to Halifax to do a session on Pheonix FM’s Punk and Disorderly radio show. We’ve picked some songs and we’ll also be playing live acoustic songs. You can listen online from 8 till 10.

Afterwards, we begin the drive up north for shows in Dundee, Inverness, Elgin and Glasgow. All shows are a wee bit different, no gods no setlists, that kind of thing. If you can come along to any of them, it would be lovely to see you.

  • Thursday – Cerberus Bar, Dundee
  • Friday – The Eagle Bar, Inverness
  • Saturday – Elgin Anarcho Folk Gathering
  • Sunday – New Hellfire Club, Glasgow

Winding down.

Looking back, I should really have set an alarm to remind me to update this blog more regularly. The last post was at the start of the German tour back in April, and then… nothing. Well, the German tour went really well. I played a few of my favourite places and shows, met lots of great people, and had a whole tonne of fun. Belated, but in no way diminished, thanks to everyone who ran a show, came to a show, and of course to Gareth who helped with the driving, sound-engineering, and general morale-boosting.

In truth, there hasn’t really been much to report between the end of the German tour and now. Due to a few circumstances, I’ve been in a motivation-less pit when it comes to doing this ‘music’ thing. There’s really only so many times you can be knocked down before you start to question whether you want to get back up again.

So, I’ve taken a couple of months hibernation away from the last 9-years of continual gigging, show-booking, song-writing, recording, and generally being Dave Hughes the Musician. The next proper shows aren’t until the end of July, but aside from that (and a very short return to Germany in September), I’m not exactly sure what will happen after that. If the German dates go well, which I am in no doubt they will, then it’ll be nice to go out on a high.

Don’t get me wrong, I have endless gratitude for everyone who has supported this little project of mine, from buying albums, coming to shows, booking me for gigs, and general support when things haven’t gone that well. From concerts in New York City to the Barrowlands in Glasgow, I’ve achieved more with this project than I ever thought I’d be able to through music, yet still I have this feeling that it is reaching its natural conclusion or that I’ve outstayed my welcome in whatever scene that I’ve tried to inhabit.

While the number of solo shows and recorded output will drastically decrease in the months to come, I’ll be increasing the amount of time I’m spending on the Different Circle record label. We’ve signed a few great acts for records to be released in the coming months, and I get to play a few songs here and there at the regular monthly acoustic night (even if I don’t class that as a ‘Dave Hughes’ gig). I’ve also got my place in Rob Duncan and The Side Effects as second-guitarist to satiate my need to play electric guitar.

In short, it’s not the end but you’ll be hearing less from me after September 2015, and throughout 2016, but please keep your eyes on Different Circle (website, facebook, twitter) for all the interesting stuff we’ve got coming there.

For the moment, the last shows of 2015 are listed on the Gigs page, with some more German dates, and possibly a Different Circle Christmas Show to be announced.

Thank you,
Dave

knoflook

Onwards through Germany!

stageI’m currently sitting in a cafe in Dusseldorf getting ready for the week of German shows which starts tomorrow in Essen at Anyway. I had a lovely show on Friday at Knoflook in Den Bosch, I was joined by Bettie Akemaii who is a great Dutch folk singer. Then, I had a few days off (due to bad booking on my part), which I spent in the lovely city of Cologne. Last night, I visited the Kulture Kafe Lichtung, and saw an act called Freed Worms who was very good.

I feel suitably ready for the onslaught of German shows now, which, in order are:

  • Tuesday – Anyway, Essen
  • Wednesday – Salon Fink, Dortmund
  • Thursday – Palme, Winnenden
  • Friday – Stoned, Liepzig
  • Saturday – Roach House, Kaiserslautern
  • Sunday – Ferry back home

When I get back, I have a few days off, then on Friday 8th of May, I’m playing the next Different Circle Monthly night at The Blue Chair, where the record label is launching the debut EP by Ben Farrell. That’ll be a good night, and if you come along, you can hear all my anecdotes about flouting German etiquette norms.

Reflections: Political gigs, record store gigs, and bar band gigs.

On Sunday morning, exhausted, I slept through a massive hangover until my faithful pooch, Oscar woke me up with the news that it was, in fact, time to go to the beach for a walk. There’s something about sitting on the banks of the Clyde with a cool breeze, looking over Dumbarton Rock and onwards towards Ben Lomond that can really relax me and allow me to contemplate what I’m doing with music, and also to reflect on one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time.

On Thursday, Gareth and I went to the Royston area of North East Glasgow to set up for the SNP show on Friday. We were providing the PA for the proceedings, and so had to rig the room and do sound checks for the other acts. This also meant we were running the sound desk for the whole event, including mixing the First Minister’s microphone so that the party faithful could hear every word loud and clear. Quite an honour, and a challenge considering that we were used to mixing loud, shouty, punk bands!

sturgeonI returned to the venue at 3pm on Thursday to check everything was still working for the show starting at 7pm, including a few extra soundchecks for last-minute acts. It was going to be a long, long day. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, arrived around 7.30, and by 8.15 she was finally at her seat in front of the stage (she honoured everyone’s request for a photo as she made her way through the hall).

She gave an inspiration speech around 8.30, which was followed by chinese food for the buffet dinner. I finally took the stage around 10pm (does this mean Nicola was my support act?), playing a short set of my more Scottish Political songs (Sinner and the saint, On Our Own, United colours of Cumnock (Jim Monaghan), Rise Again, ending with The Wellyboot Song with a new verse I wrote for the occasion). I think it went well, it was quite hard to judge. I finally got home around 2am and crept in to bed to get a few hours sleep before having to wake up, get back to the venue to collect the PA, and then back home, then out to Glasgow for Saturday’s shows.

me_snp sturgeon_2 sturgeon_dave_gareth

New Hellfire Club is a record store in the West End of Glasgow, in the Hidden Lanes off of Argylle St (in Finniestone). It exists as a second hand record store, but the reality is that it is a hub of musical activity with a manifesto that seeks to put profit back in to the hands of the musicians and not the corporations. Through this, it sells CDs and DVDs by local acts, puts on acoustic sessions, and also runs bigger gigs around the city. Musically, I come from a background of DIY punk rock and therefore a lot of what NHC is doing is second nature to myself and my peers, but I think its fantastic that they are bringing this way of life towards the indie and rock bands of the city.

I was playing in the shop as part of their “Not-Record Store Day” acoustic line-up. I played for around 45 minutes to a small crowd, happily made up of some familiar faces. Looking back, I perhaps rambled on a bit too much instead of playing songs, but I think everyone had a good time. Afterwards, I headed along to Lebowskis (a bar I had heard of, but never set foot in) to try their Highly Recommended selection of White Russians. Not too many though, since I had to get in to the city centre to play a show at The Vale with the ‘new band’.

I have played at The Vale many times over the last 15 years. It’s a typical Glasgow train station boozer, with a venue upstairs. In recent years, the venue has been refurbished so that the stage is in a better place and not its original site at the back of the room, upstairs, and behind a wall. Seriously.

The band I was playing with is called “Rob Duncan & the Side-Effects”, where I play a simple role in the rhythm section as second guitarist. In all the years that I have played music, this was the first time I had been on stage without the front-man role. And, you know what? I really liked it.

robduncanI’m getting on a boat on Thursday night to kick off the run of mainland European shows. Full details are here.

Busy Week Ahead!

I’ve got quite an exciting and busy week ahead this week. On Friday, I’ve been invited to appear at SNP Westminster Candidate Anne McLaughlin’s adoption night, which also includes speeches by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and actor Tam Dean Burn (star of Taggart and compere of that time I played the Barrowlands). 11133652_820814927966202_4236063567508416765_nFull details are on the poster, although I hear that it is almost sold out already.

Saturday is then busy with two shows to be played. First up is an appearance at New Hellfire Club’s Anti-Record Store Day event alongside a whole bunch of amazing acts. I’ll be on at 4pm, and will have CDs with me should you want to pick up a copy of Rise, Again.

After finishing at the New Hellfire Club, I’ll be rushing in to the city centre to get to soundcheck for a show at The Vale (Queen St) with a band I’ve been playing second guitar for. The band is called “Rob Duncan and the Side Effects”, it’s a rough and ready country rock band. It has been pretty good fun to just have to stand at the back and play simple rock and roll chords under the noise, I’m looking forward to this show. Kicks off at 7pm and is £5 on the door.

Then next week, things really kick off with a Ferry ride to the Netherlands to kick off a run of European shows.

Rise, Again! Out Today!

Frontcover-1-rise-again

After a long wait, my new album “Rise, Again!” is out today via bandcamp and Different Circle Records. Ten tracks of personal-political folk music is the best way to describe it. It is streaming in full on the bandcamp page.

I’m really proud of the whole record, these are some of my strongest songs and I have to extend so much more gratitude to Gareth for making them sound as amazing as they do. I’d also like to thank Lisa-Marie Ferla who gives a fantastic duet on the track Bleecker St (she takes the lead verse after the guitar solo, check it out!), and the multitude of folk who came along to add their backing vocals to the title track.

It’s definitely a solo record, but happily, at some points, it didn’t feel like it.

Rise, Again: Track by Track

The album is currently being pressed for your delight and satisfaction. I would like to extend my endless gratitude to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy already, especially those who have continued to do so through out this long ‘Dave Hughes Music’ journey. That means a hell of a lot to me.

You can now listen to the track ‘Bleecker St’ on the bandcamp page, and also download it when you pre-order as an added bonus alongside “Freedom of Something”. Bleecker St is the ‘pop’ hit of the album (perhaps alongside Secret Agent) and features the wonderfully supportive Lisa-Marie Ferla on backing vocals (keep listening to the end for her solo verse, it’s magnificent).

Here’s a track by track description of the album, to give you an idea of what to expect when it is released on the 30th of March.

Joe Strummer’s Black Cars
This is a song that I used to play with my Greenock punk rock band “DNR”, written one night back in 2003 after watching The Clash’s docu-film “Rude Boy”. You can listen to this track on Youtube.

Uncool Mental Health
I told myself that I wasn’t going to write about mental health problems on this record, but this song’s treatment of depression and alcoholism was too interesting to put to sleep. This is the first song that I’ve ever written that explicitly uses an old fashion drum machine instead of a live drummer.

Bleecker St
I’ve been lucky enough to return to New York in the past year. While I only spent three days in the city, I was able to retrace the steps I took when I lived there and found everything that I needed and loved. I was going for a sound similar to The Wallflowers (Bob Dylan’s son’s band) with this one. I bought an 8-track for demo’ing songs at the end of last year and this was the second song I put together with it. The other, called Sleepwalker, wasn’t finished in time for the album but is definitely something I’ll return to in the future.

A Thousand Words
I originally set-out to release a re-recorded version of my 2008 record ‘Connections’. When we tracked ‘A thousand words’ we took a step back and realised that it might be the starting point for something new. This song is dedicated to my maternal grand-parents and takes a look at how much the world has changed since the summer of 2001.

Rise, Again
My pro-independence rallying cry. I’ve written a lot about it before, so I’ll only mention that you can listen to it on Youtube.

Secret Agent
An experiment to write a country rock song with nonsensical lyrics written after reading an article on how rappers formulate their lyrics. Ended up being a fun demo that we couldn’t really put aside. Has a great guitar sound in the solos.

In the Modern World
The other track left over from the ‘Connections’ settings, and also a B-side for the As You Are single back in 2011. This track has a slightly different sound to the rest of this record, purely because it started out as a demo to try out a folkier sound for the song (including an on-the-fly, first take harmonica solo) that ended up being something really special. Think Christy Moore singing Evan Greer or something.

Freedom of Something
“The freedom of speech is the freedom of though, the freedom of peace and the freedom of war, the freedom of religion and the freedom to believe in absolutely nothing at all”. Listen now on Youtube.

High Fidelity
Perhaps the only true love-song on the record. Written for my wife around about the time of our wedding. Originally released on the 7-songs demo tape, but then hidden away in a shoe box until the last day of the Rise, Again sessions.

Live off the Dead
This track originally appeared on Connections but in a much more acoustic nature. With this recording, Gareth convinced me on the merits of drum machines, delay filters and other electronica. It has ended up being a noisy electro-punk affair, and the best way to finish the album.

Rise, Again! – Background on writing, recording, filming

I released the video for Rise, Again! on Monday through YouTube and it looks like it has been pretty well received. Which is nice since I’m really proud of the track from its writing, to recording, and filming. The pre-order for the album is open now.

I started writing the basic lyrics to the song around the end of August 2014, with the Scottish Referendum looming in the near future. It started out as a reflection on the journey from a 20% chance of a Yes vote to 40% and beyond. The following week, a 51% poll was announced and I decided to shelf the song. Unfortunately, as we know, the 51% didn’t materialise, pipping out around 45%. I’d started recording the new record around January of this year, and while going through my folder of recorded demos, I came across a very rough sketch of the track.

It was a very slow, finger-picked, Dylan’esque folk song with a campfire feel. Just vocals and guitar, with a bit of harmonica. I had recently bought an 8-track for demo’ing new songs with a drum machine, and so I revisited the song and built it up to a demo of what you hear on the track now. Once I gave it to Gareth (who is producing and engineering the record), we played around with tempos, lots of guitars, and have maybe recorded it three times from scratch (hello, demos and outtakes compilation for 2016!).

Once we had a version that we were happy with, we decided to get a group of people together to add their backing vocals for the ending. Gareth, and his lovely wife Lynne, threw a house party at their place and we invited a bunch of close friends around. It was also here that we recorded Lisa-Marie Ferla’s duet for Bleecker St (which sounds amazing). A few bottles of wine, beer and whisky later, and we had the chanting recorded.

Amongst the voices you can hear on the track are best-selling author Jay Stringer, Armellodie Record’s Chris Devotion, RFPB bass player Dan Irving, everyone’s favourite blogger Lisa-Marie Ferla and many more.

After we had mixed the track, I booked The Blue Chair in Glasgow for the video shoot. It was to be a small acoustic gig, with a support act (the wonderful John Mackay), free booze and a party atmosphere. We fell short of managing to re-create the atmosphere of the recording party, but it ended up being an amazingly fun night. I mimed the track a few times alone while Gareth filmed, then gathered the attendees closely around to make it look like “the best gig ever(TM)”, and mimed it again. Finally, I played an hour set of old, new, borrowed and blue songs. Including the first ever “Dave Hughes” performance of Billy Connolly’s “if it wisnae for yer wellies” outside of a Primary School.

Naturally, it would have been nice to have a few extra bodies on the night, but I think we managed, with crafty editing skillz, to commit the atmosphere of a ‘good gig’ to film.

Hell, I’m even running a monthly night at The Blue Chair now. First is on the 10th of April. Before then though, I’m supporting Franz Nicolay at the 13th Note in Glasgow on the 15th of March.