Diary from Northumberland Gazette – April 1 to April 28
Musicians Derek Allan and Shaggy aka Jason Vare, make up the north Northumberland duo We Steal Flyers, who are well-known mainstays of the area’s music scene. This year, the Gazette is featuring occasional extracts from Derek’s diary, which will feature the group heading out on three tours of Europe and playing at the famous SXSW festival in Texas.
It is April and I have toured some of Switzerland in the snow and cold then Texas in the sun and the heat, so hot I could not take a deep breath. When flying home seeing the Easter snow was not something I was expecting to see.
Now it is Easter weekend there is not a lot of point in calling venues and so on as people are busy right now.
Hopefully the venues are making up for a slow start to the year.
The sun is out but the warmth is not there. I am playing guitar more. Trying not to write and learn more chords, rythmes and so on.
It is not going to be so hard this year to work on guitar because I have put so much into booking so far ahead I can get extra hours learning.
I did not fall in love with the guitar like guitarists do. I simply had to have one so if I was ever left again I was not alone and would not have to cancel gigs or tours. I doubt very much Shaggy would ever leave me but I had not met him when I made this my mission. I have struggled to play but did not want to force it as I would not have enjoyed it. As someone who sings and lives from the heart I needed the guitar to try and catch up. I am getting there and do enough to get by but it is time to move it all up a level. My new guitar and the tour into America has pushed me like I knew it would.
Mel is researching the new mission. We have switched rolls this week . Mel gets to work the late hours every night and I get up with the kids for 7am kick off. I love to do this, it is, as parents know, very tiring but also an amazing time for making amazing memories. The things the kids say and do fill you with happiness.
Bed times are mine this week too. Reading to them and playing eye spy. Rebecca had someting beginning with B and it was Becca, Ellie had something beginning with C and D and it was Calm Down.
Not so easy playing with the kids if you want to win! It has been good being home.
A good morning of watching the cartoon series of The Smurfs and then a walk around Druridge Bay lake. It was as always a good walk but Ellie falling in the water off the stepping stones was not the best.
This was the place we used to walk round to sort all of our problems and make new plans.
It is where I go to try and stop thinking, this is difficult when you are your own boss and you know things could fall apart at any time.
Acoustic Magic is looking good. There are many promoters that do not promote, many, many players now and less and less venues. People seem to go out to less now too.
Our country is not doing too well right now and we are all aware of it. If music really can save the day then we will set up some good nights for a little escape.
The Cart Shed coffee shop gig is cool, We may not make a fortune setting up these nights but they make us feel good for all involved. We also need venues for players touring the UK and from Europe and America.
Being back in our open mic night was a mellow feeling and it was good to see and hear our friends again.
It was a day with Ellie and Rebecca. We played some time in the garden and watched a few films from early morning until Mel got back from work at 10pm.
I didn’t do much work today but I did have to go through our new LIKE page on facebook for Acoustic Magic as the mission goes on.
We are setting up as much as we can and there will be a few months of meetings and driving about looking up venues. Setting up song writer music nights is what we are mostly working on. Mel has written out and posted all of the next months posters for We Steal Flyers gigs too. We do not mind at all what we do but it never ends as you are always setting up six months to a year ahead. It is back to the UK gigs tomorrow.
It was good to play a full two hour gig. South Shields gig tonight. Mellow first set and sing along second
It is a canny drive there and back but nothing to set up as there is an in house sound system. We sold
a CD too, Yey!
I wish the new album was out on hard copy, we are getting hundreds of people wanting one. It is on-line but people like to have a hard copy.
A few hours in the garden. These are things you miss when touring, your own garden with your
kids so happy to be helping. I used to do other peoples gardens as a teenager with my
big brother. Our car and all of the tools were stolen so we had to stop but it was a good two years
as every day was different, it was a lot like booking gigs and putting the jobs in order.
Today I have written to music venues for the next level for We Steal Flyers, working on May. Shaggy is also sorting out some online promotion too.
That is mostly it for this Saturday for music. Strummed some chords.
March and April next year will be America again. A few weeks longer this time and a lot more gigs. We have many invites to ice hockey, baseball and shark fishing….
A good day at the Cart Shed in Acklington. We made some plans for Acoustic Magic as things are getting close for our first gig, there also a meeting next week as we go out looking for new venues.
We have known all of last year that we need someone new to come in and help us out.
Someone reliable who loves what Acoustic Magic is and does. Caroline Stott is our new worker. She will be making some extra calls and will be making my calls when I am out of the country. She will also be a driver for us and for We Steal Flyers as Mel needs a day off from time to time. She will be touring too and sharing some of the great things we do as Acoustic Magic and as We Steal Flyers.
Already she has added some new ideas. For me this means I can be more involved in something else, like playing and learning my lush guitar.
The cart shed seems to be the best meeting place. The walk there and just being there is so relaxing. Everything there feels calm.
I hope the new venue next week goes ahead.
We will be booking for more venues now too to help out some people in the music world.
Sadly the solo gig for Nigel of Dodgy in Yorkshire we booked over 6 months ago is no more, I emailed to see if all was ok and he said he was too busy with his band Dodgy. This isgood news for him, but bad news for Acoustic Magic and all the people involved and looking forward to him.
I asked Tom Hingley of The Inspiral Carpets to take his place so all is sorted. I like Tom too, we have played 6 times with him. He plays a great set and his song This Is How It Feels is a great song. His full time roadie was Noel Gallagher too. It is all in his biography, it is very interesting.
It was a good day for working and some good things coming. A little more time on the guitar and still trying not to write songs but spend time learning stuff.
The cricket season is close now and there is a lot to see. The Indian 20/20 league is awesome and good to see such great players together.
Mel drove us to BBC Newcastle radio today and it was a good visit. It is always nice to see Paddy Mc Dee, he such a great and friendly person and it seems like I know him real well as he is a voice from my childhood and once on he air wished my sister a happy birthday.
We talked a bit of our tours and what we have coming up. It reminds me of how well we are doing and how much harder I need to work to keep us here.
The buskers night went well. It is always nice to see the people that are now friends. I have met thousands of people because of music and it is always good that they can come back from so many places and meet up.
I have been working on sponsors for years and was so pleased to speak to some of them today. I like to help out people and I like to be helped back from time to time.
Acoustic Magic is now sponsored by Newcastle Eagles basketall team and also by Newcastle Greyhounds. This is awesome news and good for them, us and the people who will get to share them and us.
There will be more soon too. I like it when things come together, even if it takes years. Maybe because it all takes so much effort i appreciate it all more.
Another great day from early morning to night with the kids. I put in an hour on the guitar. Very much looking forward to the gig tomorrow. People are coming who have never seen me ever and some people that used to come along are coming too. I like playing gigs everywhere but it is nice when people are coming to have fun. This is why a coffee shop gig is nice as everyone is there for this reason.
Had a great night at The Cart Shed having an after hours curry. Best feast of the year.
The gig was a good one and there were some good people there once again.
The curry and rice was free, the music was too and our touring buddy Mike once more got up and played out the last few songs with us. It was good to have a few hours relaxing.
It was strange going on two big tours and then when I do a gig at home three men want a fight with whoever is in the car park!
Stupidly it was me and six girls, we left before bother started and packed cars to return home. It is a shame life has these people.
The kids go back to school in a few days so I am preparing everything for We Steal Flyers bookings and looking into more major venues and support slots.
Mel and Caroline will be getting ready the letters for the new Acoustic Magic venues and we might also be off to speak to a few new places but there is a lot to be doing and only one full day for it.
This was a day of strong winds and a meeting with Mike and his wife to check out a new venue.The venue was on the beach front.
It was a great idea but the wind was so strong we could not see to walk and our legs took some stinging from the sand.
It was not a scary time but something I have never had to live through before and I grew up in Amble and Warkworth. I have lived near enough to sands and it is always windy here.
The place we went was very nice and if the people want us to, we will be running an excellent Acoustic Magic night there. They also have a good-sized room for ringing someone more well known from UK or America to play. It was a good feel place and life is always made that little more magical when Mike is about. Happy as ever and kind as always, he bought Sunday foods for Mel and I. It was a good meeting.
Five days until the Yorkshire gig. We were supposed to be leaving Thursday and playing on Friday but Fridays gig has been cancelled. This is a real shame as there is not enough time to find a new one.
It was also a shame about Nigel of Dodgy having to cancel but luckily Tom Hingley of Inspiral Carpets accepted the offer.
I have been looking through some more names for Acoustic Magic. Front men of Starsailor, The Lightning Seeds, Feeder, Razorlight and some more are looking good. It is all about saving money up now so we do not lose too much should it all go wrong.
The first Acoustic Magic Cart Shed gig is on 5th of May, we start saving up and filling that pot for the new players. Also a return booking for The Wonderfuff singer-songwriter Miles Hunt is due.
Getting Chris Helme of The Seahorses in The Cart Shed, Acklington is amazing. Most people think this can never happen here in Northumberland but I am willing to give it another go. I love Northumberland and why should all these artists jump from Newcastle to Scotland leaving Northumberland
out. This was the plan first time round 5 years ago. More people understand what we are trying to do for local music lovers, bringing top players from around the world. People who had had number one hits and toured world wide.
We did so much work yesterday with the kids being back at school that today we could be calmer. We went for breakfast in Ashington and got new tyres on the car for the Yorkshire tour.
I like the We Steal Flyers Yorkshire tour as this is where we toured for the first time and spent time on and off the stage together.
The cricket IPL has been as amazing as ever. The cricket season has started in the UK. I will be hoping to see Durham a few times this year. All the games I was going to last year were rained off.
It was a good day of the usual calls and messages. The open mic night was a good one and friendly. People travel a long way to be at these nights. It shows that things are run the right way.
Mike had taken us for a meeting at a new venue and the man we needed to talk to came today.
Mike explained to him what Acoustic Magic is and what we do, he was happy to work with us and now we have a second Acoustc Magic venue. It is a really nice-looking place inside and out. The Maritime centre in Newbiggin. First date there is Sunday, July 28. It feels real good when you get something like this. Already so many people want to be involved and enjoy what these nights are all about.
With Mel at work and kids at school I got a lot of work done with three new gig bookings and another few hours on the guitar. I got a lot of cricket watched before sitting with my family and plans of what to do once I get back from the next tour. I love buying things with them so knowing what they would like makes it a little easier when I have to leave.
Only 9 nights this tour and 7 gigs.
It was an early start so I could say good bye to Mel before her work and the kids before school. The new swings arrived for the garden so the kids were pleased when Andrew and my sister went over to put them up. New swings in the garden will keep them happy for years.
The drive to Yorkshire was a good drive and plans were made for We Steal Flyers with Shaggy. He has sorted out the new posters and online pictures for all of our websites, youtubes, facebook and so on.
Also a new online gig where 30 people can be at a gig which is being filmed live, they pay to see. Only 27 tickets left and tickets were only available from midnight. I love gigs like this, it is all so amazing and new.
People around the world or people who no longer travel or go to gigs buy tickets. More online gigs are being booked now.
I have done a lot of messages for new gigs and more coffee shops. I am hoping to get a lot of work done on the tour to catch up and get well ahead for next year now.
I have also brought “78 Days Around The World” book to read and the first of Stephen Fry’s biographies, also Rudyard Kipling. I doubt I will read much but it will be good when I do. It is heading for 5am now so I will need to finish off works and get fully into the tour.
Rich is a great person. He puts us up for the tour and will do anything for anyone. It is always great to catch up with him.
I really love the Yorkshire tour and there are many people we know here now it is good hearing what they have been up to. I love to sit in a bar and listen to happy people being happy and sharing stories and laughing. It is magical and something i have always loved.
The first gig was in Birstal and a lass called Mel books us here, it was a real good crowd of people liking the night. It always means everything to me to do what I do, no matter how tough it is getting the gigs, getting to and from the nights, it is just a great time always.
I met a great couple and they used to sign up bands from around 25 years ago, one of the bands was from Alnwick (Hell Bastard) Interesting as the producer our We Steal Flyers album was in that band. They also signed a band called Paradise Lost. When I was in the band Clear Blue Skies our original name was True Belief after one of their songs Amazing to meet these people.
I also met a man who wrote a book about Jethro Tull. I do not know too much about this band but I know of them. I am sure I will find out more when my copy of the book arrives.
I am getting some great hours writing to people and preparing for gigs and tours. I have decided that the 30 gigs in 30 days is not going to happen. I am keeping the first 11 days of it, heading home and playing some local gigs instead. There are many people wanting to hear us locally now so we will concentrate on this for a while.
The gig today was a good gig and we played extra songs. The crowd was less than ten but it was still fun. Albums are selling real well on this tour already. The gig was a 6pm start so back at the tour flat for 10pm. I called home and made plans with Mel for works back home. I then went to speak with the locals. Like I say, I love hearing stories of peoples lives, this is what makes us, this makes everything.
I met two fellas and they had done a little 15 minute radio play, they played it for me it was great to hear. They were really proud which makes me feel good too.The play had been on Two Valleys Radio local radio station.
The cricket season Sunday league has started in the Yorkshire today, so it was nice for them to get some cricket in. Hopefully this year will be nothing like last year with the rain.
It was another great day for putting in the hours for gigs, tours, promotions, support slots and everything else I can do. We got a great review for our new album too. This is going to change everything once again once the hard copies go out. A few thousand will sell this year.
It is great in Yorkshire hearing them all talk and asking me to join them. Being a villager it is amazing being in all these places and always being accepted, it is the way it should be but not always the way it is. I like getting to all of these places and being asked questions about where I live.This means I have to explain and it is a nice feeling talking about your own place. Your own village, county and country depending on where I am on tour.
I love booking tours and so on. I would love a massive 30-day Yorkshire tour through the summer holidays but with the kids and Mel here too.
If i could take the family I would be happy to book a world tour, a gig every day.
Booking up gigs for next year, Europe and Texas mainly, need to speak to Shaggy and Mel to see how much they want to handle.
I spent a few hours talking to some of the locals and sat alone to eat pub curry again. I was soon surrounded by the Knitting Club. First rule about the Knitting Club is you don’t talk about the Knitting Club.
I was also joined by Rob and he works with Pylons and walks miles a day checking them out and so on. This is great but not as great as
this… he also does fireworks for big events and one of the big events he set up was the Olympic games. I could not believe it. How amazing. Some people get up and do some amazing things. He did not even realise how amazing it was although he did take at least one phone photo. He was so calm
A great fella. Another nice person I have met on my travels.
I was talking to my friend at home, Elaine and she is getting all set up for the local Puffin Festival in Amble which sounds great fun. I know how much it takes to set up something big and I hope that people get involved and share the day she sets up. I finished the first draft of the Christmas story I have written for Ellie and Rebecca.
I had another pub curry and it was again really nice. I like spending time thinking and writing on my own and I have been. I very much want to write a travel diary of my life from now on as the response is massive for this thread in the Gazette. People are buying the paper and having it sent to Switzerland, Texas and around the country.
I am seeing things many never see and hearing things many never hear and I understand it now. I love writing and I like reading. I find other people’s lives very interesting and this is partly why I have always made sure my own life is always exciting and entertaining, especially now that there is the internet and everyone knows a little bit about everyone.
I need to get on with getting a volume of poetry out now too. I do not know much about the peoms I wrote. I know I stopped writing at 4,000 so that means I was prolific in the seven years of writing but i may not have been any good.
I am also interested in the novels and kids books I wrote then. I may make a publisher very happy some day. I finally got to watch the film everyone has been telling me to watch for years. As i work all sides of music, on stage and behind the scenes to see Spinal Tap was very funny and made me think as well as laugh.
I am pleased I finally got the first draft of the Christmas story done too. It is an easy tour to work hard in and i love it for that.
It was a nice day and a good feeling knowing that we were going to be gigging. I had an hour listening to Inspiral Carpets and got ready for the gig with the singer!
We left at 6 to get set up for Tom Hingley at 7pm for sound check. He was already there when we arrived and full of stories. He is great fun. His new book about Inspiral Carpets is a great book.
The Crown was full enough to have a good feeling and the most packed the bar had been on a Thursday which is a good feeling right away.
We played our set and it was well liked, 12 more albums sold so they are moving still. The new album will shift real quick once it arrives.
Tom was great and the people loved it. I love that i can sort a night out for him, the bar and all of these people. Making things happen is a great thing to do.
Rich and Shelley bought me a vindaloo for my efforts. It was a nice night and I am looking forward to the next three nights.
Being in Yorkshire has been a great week. There are some real great people here. Going home and leaving people who are now friends is a strange feeling and it happens with every tour UK, Europe and now Texas.
There are so many people to meet and I like to meet many. I have no enemies, no fight with anyone, no competition. I am in being who I am and sharing who I am with people.
I can listen to people talking about their amazing lives forever. People inspire me. I like the effect I have on people, I know I bring out a bit of magic by asking about their life and they are happy to share. I am not just a story teller, I love stories too.
I wish there was a world filled with people who felt this same way.
I watched a story of Woody Guthrie on YouTube. It was awesome. The gig tonight was so much fun. I love singing and playing. Shaggy is a great person to play with and he is enjoying it all. I could not put in the hours I do for just anyone. I do it for everyone but Shaggy and Melanie make it happen.
I knew I would never fail because my aim is for never for myself but for everyone. I had to be lost to find myself. I had to help so many people to find my true self.
I have no idea why but I love people and playing music beats whistling.
I did not put too many hours into working today. I am mostly waiting for replies. I still get around one reply from every 100 email.
We drove to Batley and Shaggy had been and bought some new songs for the car Aerosmith was playing and we were looking forward to the gig.
Stopped off at a chip shop for the second time of the tour, real chips and not frozen things and only 80p a bag. The people inside wanted to know where we were from and what we did. Being kind we handed out albums and then the fish and chip shop owner came and took a cd and played it.
He has just bought a pub and wanted us to play. How cool is life sometimes?
At the gig there was left overs of a football match on the screen there and the local team had lost.
It was obviously my fault and when i was alone at the car they approached me and wanted to fight I suppose it was because I was not laughing when they called me names.
I know who I am so I have no worries about being bullied by anyone. I could fight back but I thought how unfair it was, either I am badly hurt or they are, this means either way i lose. I came out here to sing for people and make people feel good and happy, not to fight. One of them came up the steps and was going to have a go but he fell over and the group moved away. In the end the gig was great fun. The football lovers left and music lovers came in. Five albums sold at half-time and seven after the gig. We were offered £40 more to play for an extra 15 minutes. A nice drive back to where we are staying and the last night away from home. I am very much looking forward to being in my Northumberland.
It was a great last gig. We played well and the people liked us. Friends and fans filling rooms when on tour is making our life very easy.
It is hard to take our accents on tour but we are getting used to it. We need to speak slow and clear as best we can when on tour.
I shared some great times once again with so many people and for me it is a big deep breath and then back home. The gig was 4pm until 6.15pm then one last Yorkshire pudding and then 3 hours driving home. In the car is my main time off but I still can’t help doing a little work from my phone.
It was not just a look back on the Yorkshire tour but a look back on all three tours and a few dates around home. It has been a great year and the albums are going out even quicker than last year.
More and more people are joining us now. It is a good feeling and means I have to work a lot harder with Mel now and the three of us will take on more gigs.
We have an online gig soon and that will be good. We have not played one in a while. People from around the world buy tickets and can see us play. It is a whole new world every day.