Gig report and the end of ‘phase 1’ – The Underworld Rally 2017

I didn’t know what to expect from a biker rally. My entire knowledge of biker culture comes from the TV show Sons of Anarchy, so I assumed there was a real danger of being killed by people with unconvincing Irish accents.

More to the point, are silly songs about aliens and tentacles and steampunk shenanigans really the sort of thing to play at a biker rally, even if it is the chill-out Sunday afternoon acoustic session? Might we get booed off, or worse?

It was with a slight sense of trepidation that Gareth and I headed into Sunday’s gig at the Underworld Rally 2017.

I headed up to Nottingham, where Gareth lives with his better half and my dog Charlie on the Saturday evening and we headed off for a very pleasant drive up to the rally which was taking place in Preston, finally turning in to the entrance to the venue, a farm somewhere quite a way from civilisation (being a lousy Southerner, I of course regard the interior of the M25 as civilisation and everything outside it as a bleak, desolate wasteland).

A lovely chap greeted us and gave us wrist bands. There was a woman with a baby at the welcome table with him. We drove in, still nervous, only to find a nice little group of people listening to the opening acoustic act, who was performing under a tree.

It turns out bikers like their rock music and a great many of them were wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts. I was obviously going to like them, wasn’t I? The event even had its own beer, a pleasant, rather wheaty affair. Apart from the bikes, which I have no interest in, this was the perfect event for me.

Gareth caught me off guard, hence the smile. I apologise and will make sure I stick on brand in all photos from now on.

We were performing outside in the shade of a tree and an old carved statue of what I think was supposed to be a native american. It was the afternoon of the third day of the rally and the acoustic acts were the chill-out section before the final evening.

We were last on and played a pleasant little set to about 40 or 50 people. It Is interesting, the different audiences you play to. This gig was definitely a mixture of some people paying attention and some hanging out in the sun with the music as background. Which is fine, and presents a nice challenge for us as performers. Can you find the peolle who want to listen and engage with them, can you win some more round? We had some nice little chats with people afterwards, so I think it’s fair to say we did okay.

So it was a pleasant gig, the fourth as a duo and the end of what I’ve bern thinking of as ‘phase 1’ of gigging.

What’s phase 1? It’s the proof of concept phase where we answered the questions does this duo thing work? And can Gareth and I work together? The answers appear to be ‘yes,’ and ‘yes.’

What’s phase 2? Phase two is where we book gigs strategically and really put some effort into building the audience.  This may involve a banner of some kind.

 

Gig report: Surrey Steampunk Convivial

On Saturday 5th August Gareth and I played at the Surrey Steampunk Convivial.

This is always a great gig. I’ve played at something like eight or nine of them over the years and it’s always fun. Sometimes I’ve played to a nice full room, sometimes to a small but lovely audience. This gig was more the latter, but the audience certainly built up over the set.

Before our set there was the small matter of the tea duelling competition. The aim of the game is a simple one: hold your tea-dunked biscuit aloft the longest without dropping it, and get it into your mouth to win! It is a series sport, arranged in tournament style and held at steampunk events the world over.

Tea Duelling at the Surrey Steampunk Convivial

And then, late because we were on Surrey time, not clock time, we had a bash through some songs.

As a solo performer I’m quite used to juggling the setlist, deciding on different songs to play depending on the mood and energy in the room. So it seemed natural to do that on this gig too, which is arguably not fair on Gareth. But I did it anyway, and he managed to keep up despite me not explaining myself and just introducing songs out of order.

Halfway through a song that Gareth probably wasn’t expecting!

In particular, with the smaller audience some of whom were really paying attention and listening to every note, it seemed necessary to have Self Made Man earlier in the set rather than Flow my Tears. Self Made Man is a little bit more immediate, and has a funny intro whereas Flow my Tears is a bit more serious and it seemed appropriate to put it in and save Flow my Tears for later. I reckon this was the right call.

Anyway, a fun gig and a good way to round off the initial trio of gigs with Gareth. Things are sounding pretty good.

Here’s some video:

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Gig report: The Horns Watford supporting The Far Meadow

Tuesday 1st August Gareth and I played our second gig as the Tom Slatter Duo (no, that really isn’t what we’re called). We were at The Horns in Watford, supporting The Far Meadow, a proper prog band with keyboards and everything.

This was the last week at work for me before a well deserved two weeks off. Working in an education related charity as I do, the period after school exams is incredibly busy and I was at the end of a month of total madness. Before the gig I was therefore mildly dreading it. I assumed I wouldn’t have the energy to perform even slightly well.

Thankfully that’s not what happened. By the time we were on stage adrenaline had kicked in and I had all the energy I needed.

This was also a better gig than the previous one in Darlington. We missed out So Far From The Shore, for time reasons (and cos it’s a bloody difficult song. Why on earth did I write it?) so the set included:

  • Happy People
  • Satellites
  • Some of the creatures…
  • Flow my tears…
  • Self Made Man
  • Black Water
  • Wizards of this Town
  • Set light to the Sky

It being a hot night, my guitar went slightly out of tune on Satellites which was annoying, and I think Gareth wasn’t 100% happy with the solo on Flow my Tears. Nevertheless the rest of the set went swimmingly.

It was a pub gig, with lots of the crowd (a very healthy 40-50 people, pretty good for a Tuesday in August) there for The Far Meadow. Therefore there was plenty of chat and we didn’t have the whole room paying attention for the whole set. I don’t mind this at all, that’s part of how pub gigs work. I regard it as a bit of a challenge to get them all.

On Self Made Man I think we did get them. That song is a bit different, and with the second guitar part it really works. I felt a definite change in the audience once we got there. The same was true of Black Water, particularly the end section which is a proper singalong bit (not that anyone sang along this time). I think we kept them to the end for the most part too.

What helped, and what really made this a great gig for me, was the presence of a few of the denizens of The Tom Slatter Immoral Support Group. Andy, Andy, Spike, Mark, and Matthew (Oh god, I bet I’ve missed someone off. It’s inevitable isn’t it that if I write a list of people I want to thank I’ll miss people out cos I’m forgetful and rubbish with names. I’ll just throw a few random made up names at the end of the list to cover myself), Charlie, Nancy, Imhotep and Phil all came down to see the show.

I am genuinely rather chuffed that people seem to be liking my stuff. I might have been recording for a while but putting effort into live shows is something I’m only just starting and having people come along who like the music is a really lovely thing. Makes it all worthwhile.

Although there could have been more heckling. Come on guys.

Anyway, we headed home happy, although how happy Gareth was sleeping on my ancient second-hand sofa, beset by my cats who were rather miffed at being kicked out of the front room I’m not sure. He’s says it was fine, but he might just be being polite.

Anyway, here’s some video, and yay for gigs:


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If you enjoyed this post, why not support an independent artist by grabbing some music here

You can download a free ep here.

You can also join the mailing list for instant access to a free song and a to get regular updates about releases and gigs. Click here for the mailing list!

The first gig of the Tom Slatter Duo (not that we’re calling it that)

Live in Darlington, Photo courtesy of David Stook

Blimey, I ain’t ‘alf tired.

What with a summer cold that has gone straight to my ears (I am currently deaf on one side), the day job being madly busy, one or two things going on in my personal life and rehearsing for gigs with another human being for the first time in years, I’ve not had much chance to stop and breath. Add to that the fact that I really don’t get on with the humid weather we’ve been having recently and I’m generally feeling a little tired.

So this blog post is a bit late.

But…

On 7th July I played a lovely little gig in Darlington. What’s more, it was the first gig of what will probably not come to be known as the Tom Slatter duo as Gareth Cole joined me on guitar.

I first worked with Gareth when we both played on a track called Wounds from Mike Kershaw’s last album. When I mentioned online that I was gearing up to get gigging again, Gareth offered his services, which I thought sounded grand. I have a lot of songs, particularly on Happy People, that just can’t work as a solo song. With an extra player we had the option of including all the melodic lead guitar stuff that I can’t play when it’s just me.

Gareth Cole, live in Darlington, photo Courtesy of David Stook.

We managed to find time for two rehearsals before the gig, a total of about 6 hours playing together which isn’t a huge amount considering the complexity of some of my songs. We even had a stab at So Far From The Shore, which was stupidly ambitious, though we kinda pulled it off.

I was originally booked to play at an event called Airship Northstar, a steampunk festival in Berwick Upon Tweed, on 8th July. It seemed sensible to book another gig up in that corner of the world, so I got in touch with Jack Arthurs who suggested have a word with Emma Roebuck of Progzilla fame. A few facebook messages between friends and a gig was organised. Isn’t the modern world great?

In the end, Airship Northstar was cancelled due to poor weather making the site unsafe – one of the hazards of outdoor events, and a real shame as Dan who was organising the event is genuinely one of the nicest blokes in the world.

So it was just the one gig, but a bloody good one as far as I’m concerned. Jack Arthurs was great, as I wrote on this blog already and so was Andy Tillison. Andy, of The Tangent fame, is a bit of a prog legend and was rightly the headliner, but as an injured hand meant he had to play a slightly truncated set Gareth and I ended up with the closing spot.

Andy is a great singer songwriter, and a great keyboard player too. To my ear his songs have hints of jazz and American songbook mixed in with the prog. He also writes about the real world, something I’ve never been able to do.

Of course the audience is the main thing at any gig, and this was a great one. Not full – about 30 odd people, which isn’t bad at all – but enthusiastic and very proggish. Prog audiences share characteristics with classical audiences in that they really listen and pay attention. This is good, though it does mean you have to get things sort of right. Which we kinda did.

Live in Darlington. Photo courtesy of David Stook.

Our set went well, considering the limited rehearsal time, and Gareth played a blinder. Emma had contrived an encore for the two previous acts, so we lied to the audience and claimed ‘Wizards of this Town’ was the last song we had ‘Set Light To The Sky’ was left for the final song. It was very gratifying to get that song to stage for the first time.

And then it was back to the hotel for the heady rock n roll antics of having a quiet couple of beers and a chat before bed.

Lots of fun and we’re doing it all again in Watford on August 1st and New Malden August 4th. Come and heckle!

PS. There’s a nice write-up of the gig over on The Progressive Aspect.

“Tom is a bit of character, and his warm smile and quirky delivery certainly resonated with me and the gathered masses. Catchy songs, with enough charm and whimsy to have you singing along – despite the underlying darker nature of much of his material.”

That’s pretty nice, eh?

Summer Acoustic Gigs

So I’ll be playing a few gigs over the summer. These will be as an acoustic ish duo with the assistance of the lovely Gareth Cole on guitar and backing vocals.

I last worked with Gareth on this song from the last Mike Kershaw album.

Here be the gigs:

July 7th – Acoustic Delight Ish

Andy Tilison, Tom Slatter and Jack Arthurs at the Voodoo Cafe Darlington, UK

I’ll be the middle act from a bill that looks to be proggy, singer-songwritery and really rather fab. Here’s all the info.

July 8th – Airship Northstar 2 – Berwick-Upon-Tweed

I’m the opening act on the Saturday of this weekend festival. It promises to be all sorts of steampunky fun. Details can be found here.

August 1 – The Far Meadow and Tom Slatter in Watford

I’ll be supporting the progtastic Far Meadow at The Horns in Watford. Here’s a facebook event. 

August 4 – The Surrey Steampunk Convivial – New Malden

Once again I shall be playing at the Surrey Steampunk convivial at the Royal Oak New Malden. This is a steampunk event, and to my mind one of the best. Here’s a facebook event thingie.

Please do come along!

 

Gig announcement! 7th July in Darlington

I am well chuffed to be able to announce this gig:

7th July at the Voodoo Cafe in Darlington!

Tickets are here.

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“Three acts and three very different styles of music to suit all tastes in the great line up.

Jack Arthurs returns to Darlington with his brand of singer song writing. His last album Treasure House was well received across the media. His music reflects his experiences of the north east and it’s amazing countryside. He follows in the fine tradition of folk rock and has been compared with Alan Hull of Lindisfarne ‘s solo material.
Tom Slatter Steampunk Troubadour on has just released his fifth album “Happy People” to great acclaim like Jack he is on Bad Elephant Music . He is a regular on the Steampunk scene and has to be seen to be believed.
‘Tom Slatter is a quintessentially British eccentric with a quirky imagination who has produced some of the most innovative progressive music in recent years.’ – Prog Magazine’
Andy Tillison the keyboard player and main man with The Tangent as well as projects like Po90 and Diskdrive have placed him as a stalwart of the centre modern progressive rock music. Never one to be pigeonholed his projects contain Jazz, Classical, Electronica and funk to name a few.
This is a rare opportunity to see him perform a solo set in as acoustic a way as any keyboard player can be said to be acoustic. He is about to embark on a European tour with The Tangent and Karmakanic in August to promote “The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery” which is released in July 2017.
This evening is a going to be entertaining and interesting to say the least.”

Tickets!

Summer Gigs are now over!

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Finally a quiet weekend after my busiest spring/summer of gigs. I’ve played to some lovely audiences all around the country and thoroughly enjoyed myself doing so.

Reviews of these gigs have described me as: ‘dark’, ‘sardonic’ and ‘overly whimsical’.

Being a little one-man-band indie musician with a day job, I don’t have the time to go looking for gigs. In fact all but one of this year’s gigs came about because someone asked me to come and play rather than me asking them.

This is still the best way to see me play a gig – just ask! All we need is a room and some people (depending on the amount of people we might need some other equipment as well. And I need to not lose money, which I haven’t done this year. Which is good).

I’ve played lovely gigs in Weymouth, Berwick, Llanfyllin, Stroud, Brighton and several in that London that they have.

Many thanks to the wonderful people who put me on and to the various people I played to who didn’t throw things at me.

There will be a little bandcamp release with some live recordings as a pay what you want thing. I’ll probably have that ready and up in a month or so.

Here’s hoping next year is even busier.

Live gigs!

Hello You!

Last Saturday I played at the BEM showcase. It was a lovely gig ful of lovely people. no-one threw anything at me, and I think I got away with having a rather cold-damaged voice. Here’s a video:

Also, I’m playing some more concerts over the next few months. Here’s a thing:

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There are links over the on the right hand side this site’s homepage with more details.