Album Review by Sleeping Bag Studios

July 19, 2013

We Steal Flyers – Sidecars & Sideshows Album Review

WeStealFlyers

 

I have to admit once I had read the name of this band I had a completely different impression of the sound of We Steal Flyers and their music already buzzing inside my head.  I envisioned young punks taking posted information off of telephone poles back to where they make their music and re-posting it in their jam space – which in my mind now looked like scrapbook on the walls in the picture in my mind.  I’m not too often wrong in a quick “name assessment” of a band regarding which style of music they play – but in this case I certainly was.  We Steal Flyers, I can declare, are officially NOT a punk band – hell – not even “hard rock!”  What a pleasant surprise…..

Upon pushing play I could tell I was in for something a lot different than I find being sent to us on a regular basis from our hard rock town in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  The city itself might not like to be referred to as a hard rock city – but facts are facts – this is what we are and this is the music that holds this city together.  So closing my eyes and just listening to the music, my mind drifts to a dreamlike place full of simpler times and unique surroundings the likes of which I’ve yet to see.

Always looking for a personal relevance in any music I might listen to – this singer/songwriter duo from Northumberland in the UK has me really appreciating how simple it can all really be – that true songwriting stems from the heart and nothing more, with our brains and vocal chords being our first instruments.  I begin to forget my first-world problems that continually plague my beautiful home in sleepingbagstudios and slip into a place where there are no cables or wires, no computers and no hum from the amplifiers.  “No alarms and no surprises,” as the great Thom Yorke of Radiohead once stated…  I’ve been debating leaving North America completely behind in this past month of reviewing and listening to this album and this music and the feeling I get from it are telling me in a very strong voice that a change in this direction might be what I really need.

Welcome to Sidecars & Sideshows – the new album from We Steal Flyers.  I mentioned it has quite the atmosphere right?

It truly does.  It’s a strange but welcoming atmosphere in the sense that it feels so isolated, yet so inviting – so very wanting to be heard and enjoyed by others; a style of music that wants the people involved and a crowd to gather and sing along.  From the moment of the album’s introduction on the short opening track of “Sidecar” you can already get that feeling – it’s instant.  As a first track – this is nothing short of a genius way to start the album – a quick decider that really gives an accurate glimpse into what these two are capable of.

Lyrically these two from We Steal Flyers have continually impressed me more and more as the album goes on.  This songwriting duo of Derek Allan and Jason (Shaggy) Vare completely belong in the company of some of the truly great folk artists of our time – Iron and Wine, David Gray and Calexico all come to mind.  If you’re not convinced somehow in those first four tracks (Impossible) then hold on until track #5 – a song called “For You” and realize the potential and expansive style they can reach from what might be considered a fairly simplistic approach to songwriting.  Let it never be said in my presence that an acoustic duo can’t reach that intensity.  Seriously – listen to this track – “For You” finds a completely unique gear on the album so far and really shows you a slow burning intensity yet to be displayed on the first four.  It pulses along with a slow fire just like “Drive” by R.E.M. did so many years ago now.  And moving right into “Another Song” from there – it’s almost completely apparent that R.E.M. had drawn a lot of influence from sounds just like these in We Steal Flyers, kidnapping them and making them “new” for our North American audience.  In turn, on tracks like “Another Song” you can almost hear that influence being returned to the UK – now complete with that special pop twist Michael Stipe had crafted so well.

I should probably mention – I know there’s more than a few of you out there reading this that I haven’t met personally out there right now – so let me just say up front – R.E.M. was, is, and most likely will remain my favorite band of all time.  Any comparison to that band is hallowed ground to me, not something I’d throw around lightly.  So to Derek and to Shaggy of We Steal Flyers, I tip my hat to you gentlemen – this is music I can appreciate in many many ways.

If I had any criticism of this album – it would simply be that to me it really comes alive from “For You” and forward.  And to criticize that when the main problem in North America is largely the polar opposite with four great songs front loaded and crapola filling the rest – well, that almost seems irresponsible to me.

While I can certainly appreciate songs like “Down We Go” or “Wake Up” – two of the earlier songs on the album – I can also recognize and acknowledge the stretch they make in songwriting over the course of the album as a whole.  I personally think this album improves track upon track from the get go – another reason the song “Sidecar” itself is such a small but brilliant opening.  It’s the tiny musical seed of an album about to bloom right in your eardrums.

Listening to a track like “Butterflies” should give you goosebumps.  This kind of chord progression, this kind of natural songwriting….there’s nearly nothing else I can say other than “good job” as I sit here listening, somewhere between sadness and appreciating the beauty of it all – words suck in situations like these when the music says it far better than I ever could.  Do yourself a favor and pick this album up.  And before you get on your soapbox to rant against me “liking everything” all over again – realize again I’ve already drawn comparisons to my favorite band and here’s another one for ya to cement just how much I love this sound:  The vocals remind me a lot of Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms – one of the sweetest and most emotional set of male vocals to appear on record in the last two decades.  While a track like “Something Missing” might actually feel like that to me as a tune I didn’t feel as strongly about – I still completely loved the vocal element of that track and the comparisons it has led me towards.

The ending of this album coming closer with “Can I Be Your Rain” – second to last track, really starts to bring home the entire essence and concepts of the album.  Complete with actual rain sounds falling in the background – you can really sense again that atmosphere that simply MUST be present in the room whenever these two songwriters pick up a guitar.  Heartfelt and real – this track, along with the final track of the album, “My Show” – really display just how beautiful the songwriting can get and end the album with an instant feeling of coming back to it for a second listen right away.

People often dismiss the folk genre – that’s just a fact – one I know firsthand as years ago when I was just a young lad (ok – a LOT of years ago) I had a tendency to do the same.  My years of late and my time at sleepingbagstudios has truly developed a strong bond with this type of music – one that lies in waiting for albums like these among an endless sea of hard-rocking Vancouver tunes.

Ending on the line “You’re all part of my show” was a terrific choice.  After listening to the album (now several times) I truly felt like it.  Like I said, eyes closed – I wouldn’t have even known that I was on my own continent and wouldn’t have wanted to.  This is music that made me stop everything and listen.  The careful craft in the writing, the brilliance in the vocals and melody, the beautiful guitar work in the music – these are the things necessary to truly declare yourself in that class of amazing singer/songwriters.

We Steal Flyers have a check mark in every one of those categories as far as I’m concerned.  This new album of “Sidecars & Sideshows” is completely worth your time and I’d feel confident recommending this acoustic collective genius to anyone with a set of ears.  For fans of the folk genre and lovers of true songwriters –  this new album is simply a must have and this mighty band of two amazing voices through Derek and Shaggy will be something to watch out for in their bright future still ahead of them.

  • Jer @ SBS

Check out more from We Steal Flyers – support, subscribe and like them at their:
Homepage:  http://www.westealflyers.co.uk/
Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/westealflyers
YouTube Channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/westealflyers
Deezer Page:  http://www.deezer.com/en/artist/804472

You can also find them connected to our facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Sleepingbagstudios

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Dereks Diary of touring with WSF – 1st Jan to Feb 3rd

July 19, 2013

Diary: January 1 to February 3

Published in Northumberland Gazette Newspaper

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.

January 1

Waking up away from home after another busy year in music and people is a nice way to start the year. It makes it all feel like a new start and an end to another great year and the end to Christmas. Christmas is an amazing three months for me. Movies come out in October, decorations in November and the tree in December. Starting the year with Melanie and Shaggy is also a good feeling as these are big people in my past, present and future and we are an amazing team, booking, promoting, travelling together. The gig today at The Crown was amazing with 15 album sales and a crowd of people that loved our songs and the covers we played. Then the drive home to start a whole new year. I have a week off from gigs now. Last year was about playing more than 200 gigs, I have to make sure we have another 200 gigs for this year, all kinds of gigs – bar gigs, music venues, support slots with more well-known bands that we love from the past. It would have been our fourth gig with Roy Wood of The Move, ELO and Wizzard this year but he was not too well and had to take time out. He is amazing live, a great inspiration and, best of all, he is a friendly nice fella.

January 2

40 emails went out today for gigs. I will get maybe one reply from every 100 sent. But I have to keep searching and following up so from 1,000 emails, five new gigs is great to me. I appreciate anything and when playing a gig I run through in my mind the time and effort for this one gig and love it even more.

January 4

A ticket gig has been confirmed at Rothbury, this is good news. This is the night Rod Clements of Lindisfarne started off some years ago and it is still going strong. Each night sells out and people from all over the world come and play. This is where We Steal Flyers played our first gig together.Not so much good news for the Acoustic Magic bar gigs. I have talked to over 100 venues last year to make a start.

I am bringing back the plan of putting on three different acts in one night. This means more entertainment for the audience, it is also nice to share a night with other musicians. It is always nice to share life.

January 5

The dates in America are coming in now. More venues, support slots, open mic nights and full two-hour shows. It is an amazing feeling knowing this is coming but a little scary too. Three tours this year in Switzerland again, they are great tours and everything works so well, Brit Beats promotions do everything for us.

We have friends and fans over there now, favourite places to be, to see and to eat.

I have been working on the 30 gigs in 30 days of June around the UK too and will be spending Monday sorting a route, the petrol and food cost and so on. We will also have a second album out by then and more t-shirts.

I will feel better when that is all sorted. I also hope a few venues will help me out sorting a 24-hour busking night. The 100 gigs in 100 days raised awareeness but it was too much for too little, it was too big for most people to join in.

One-off charity nights will work better. That way I can change the charities for the ones people feel are more needy. It is their time and money so why not?

I can handle 24 hours and I love that people share these hours and feel great around friends and make friends and money is raised.

I fancy raising money for diabetes for the first one. I do not enjoy it and it changes everything. It is not easy touring with diabetes so getting rid of it would be amazing.

January 7

Today is the day I work all day with Mel sorting out gigs, tours and making sure everything is running well for the year. We always have to keep around six months ahead. But the landline and internet did not work again. So very little was done.

But the great news is that Shaggy kicked right in and pretty much finished off the album with some real good stuff.

January 8

I am thinking of putting out a poetry book. I have a little over 4,000 written and not done much with them.

I was published in over a dozen magazines and won some small competitions so I am hoping a good few poems are good enough.

January 9

Nice start to the weekly open mic nights at The Trap at Broomhill. Year three now and it is still going really well. Nice to be able to help out so many musicians.

I got to play my new guitar too through the PA system.

January 10

Things need to get sorted now for the 30 gigs in 30 days in June. Route needs planning, then gigs, costs and then promote it all and get in as much new merch as we can.

It is exciting but it is the main pain in my head now. With so many tours coming, I am hoping the tour is easy to book up.

January 12

A great day all day. Nice and relaxing and a new gig in for Yarm, a Thursday night too.

The gig tonight was in Sunderland at TG Doyles and it was brilliant. It has always been a good place to play at Sunderland. Nine more albums sold and we are booked back for September. Busy times and writing a mini diary has added a little something.

January 13

Been to see Shaggy today and make some more plans with Mel for the year. Never have we lived a year with so much going on at once. Three tours in Europe and three weeks in America is very exciting but nerve-wracking.

It is going to take more than a deep breath to do this.

I would have given everything to be where I am right now and I did and I do and that why I love it all, appreciate it and work as hard as I can.

I love meeting people, hearing music, seeing places. It truly is all a kind of magic.

January 14

After eight hours of work today I have ten days of the 30 gigs in June booked and confirmed. They span from home in Northumberland to the very bottom of the country and back.

Sadly a local gig we already had booked cancelled today but it wasnt so bad as a friend and fellow musician Ian shared a venue with us.

January 16

The snow is here now. I like the look of snow on Christmas cards but I am not too keen on it being around. If it fell and stayed nice and then left in the night it would be awesome. But it causes many problems for many people. It cost We Steal Flyers more than £2,000 two years ago.

Our weekly night at The Trap was cancelled today. It is not the fault of anyone when nights are cancelled but it is not always easy as we lose a day’s pay and there is no time to replace the night. January is not a great time for travelling out and about but it is summertime when these nights are booked and it is hard to guess if snow will come or not. These days the floods are here too. We have to try not to rely on a night.

January 17

A few days of porridge and all will be fine. It is a little harder having diabeties eating every few hours when eating is the last thing you want to do.

But it is only a few days of not much money and then everything will be ok again. Saturday is the next gig, place called Hamsterley.

I talked to a great helpful person in Manchester today, so the Manchester date is sorted for the 30 gigs in 30 days. It is exciting booking up this tour. I am trying not to book up the next one for next year. I can book that tour as I am on the tour.

I am looking forward to the new album and the DVDs of us too. Shaggy is finishing off the final hours. The album is called Sidecars And Sideshows.

I am trying to put more hours into the guitar. It is hard when working so hard on keeping out there to sit and play guitar and enjoy it. I am not sure it should be forced.

January 19

The snow was bad and a lot of nights were cancelled locally. Mel is a brave driver and we do not like letting anyone down.

Today was a gig in Hamsterly, a few hours’ drive without snow and someone was waiting for us to play for a birthday party. It was a great venue and stage and the people were great. Seven albums sold at our half-time point and another fifteen sold at the end and two t-shirts.

We were also asked to add Sheffield to our tour and I will try and sort that from now on. New places are always exciting. I have played music at The Boardwalk in a different band.

We left for the gig at 5pm and were home for 3am. Nice mission and everyone was happy. Well done Mel and Shaggy for the driving hours.

January 20

Mostly playing board games with the kids today and making plans for tomorrow’s works. A few hours catching Bill in the pound shop challenge.

I hope tomorrow day three and five of the 30 gigs in 30 days is sorted.

I am waiting to see which venues would like me to do a charity gig for them. I have left a few Sundays free so I can set up 12 hours busking for charity. I play and any others players can take my place and give me a rest. One-off charity events work better.

I have not played darts for a few years and I miss it. I have been thinking about doing 24-hour darts nights again and keeping the night away from music all together.

But I did suffer with my arm and shoulder when I did the darts marathons and I was playing in three leagues a week then. I miss my darts nights and all the friends I made then.

January 21

As we do on most Mondays it was all about calling people and writing messages about gigs.

Mel is sorting out out taxes and flights. Another 14-hour shift for Mel. She does some amazing missions and keeps everything going.

I spent eight hours sorting gigs for the 30 gigs in 30 days tour of June and got one date sorted, it is a Tuesday again. Also called a few North East venues, a few call-backs but nothing much going today.

January 22

Tuesday is a repeat of Monday. Talking to a lot of people about the 24-hour busking mission but it seems more likely to be for 12 hours now. It is a shame. 24 hours seems best and more happens in 24 hours than in 12.

It is looking like a few players will be there tomorrow for the open-mic night in The Trap. Magic.

January 23

Spent most of the day trying to get another date sorted for the June tour. It will be fine once it is done but it is taking too long.

Venues are not sure if they will be around in June and most venues don’t book so far ahead any more.

The Trap was a good turnout and a good night. Another night shared with good people and some good songs.

January 24

Mel is at work and another kid is ill today so when little Rebecca was sleeping I got some good calls in. A real top venue sorted for June in Manchester. Somewhere to stay, stage and a real nice helpful fella.

I am looking forward to this tour but sorting it is a massive part of it and most enjoyable. Also looking good now for day three, which is a Monday in Cheltenham. A good day all day.

Plus a new bar for my Acoustic Magic gigs, they are putting on a monthly night with three musicians playing on the one night. I arrange the musicians for them. It works very well when it works and I am looking forward to it. It helps players be heard and gets people into venues. Nice all round.

I have spoken to Daniel today about producing T-shirts for tours. He is a possible sponsor for us…wait and see what happens.

January 25

The snow came down more than it has for some time and within an hour the roads were not too safe. It is always a worry for gigs being cancelled and with such short notice…I like porridge but not all the time.

Setting off at 6.20pm, we arrived in South Shields just after 8pm. Before we left Mel showed me how to watch cricket on my mobile phone. The world is amazing. I still hear that some people stay say they are bored. How?

The gig was the best one in the Life Of Riley yet and even a CD was sold. It all adds up. People joined in singing and dancing. Some venues take longer than others to crack but if it takes two minutes or three visits it is always a good feeling when it happens.

Then the three-and-a-half-hour drive home in the snow. A few little crashes but at 20 miles-an-hour it is not so bad. Mel did well once again.

We then watched a film and had our first curry of the year to unwind our heads at 4am.

January 26

There was supposed to be a gig today but it was cancelled just before Christmas. It was on near Yorkshire so maybe it was a good thing as we would have had to have braved it in the weather.

Did some more promotion for the year with UK, Europe and USA posters and flyers needing to go out. We do these things every day and luckily I can do so much from my phone It means I can do jobs as soon as they enter my head. I plan so much that I even freak myself out so to ignore what is coming I plan more stuff for later in the year. I am also going to see if Shaggy will prefer half-a-month off and then half-a-month touring next year.

I have been talking to a lot of people for a good tour for Manchester and Liverpool. I like going to all of these places.

January 27

I did not go to sleep and stayed up for the cricket. Last game against India. I rarely miss cricket and never have.

It was a good night. It amazes me that I can see a cricket match in another country.

How did us humans get this far? I am pleased we did and hope we can go on and on.

January 28

Mileage and fuel costs for the 30-day tour in June have been calculated today. It is a 900-mile round trip. The furthest point is in Bridport. We reach there on Day 4 and gradually work our way back up the rest of the country.

Today was also the usual calling for new gigs.

January 30

We did a photo-shoot tonight before the Trap Inn with Gary the photographer.

It was a great shoot and so funny.

It was taken in our friends Chris and Jo’s house…now their bathroom will be world-famous and shown on posters in venues from UK to Europe to America.

Extra photos will be on the inside cover of our new album Sidecars and Sideshows.

The Trap Buskers night was a success.

19 players turned up and everyone managed to play three songs each by midnight.

January 31

Flights have been booked for Switzerland today. We are leaving on February 8 for three weeks.

Gig dates have been confirmed in lots of places including Luzern, Grindelwald and Andermatt. We have been to these areas before and have friends and fans who will be coming to see us which is great.

The tour in February also involves going into the Alps to Zermatt for several of the gigs.

The date for the online release of our new album has been sorted today. It will be available worldwide on all good download sites (iTunes, CDbaby, Amazon MP3 and more) on 23.2.2013. Woohoo, cant wait.

February 1

I have one pub venue sorted for Acoustic Magic gigs.

I am very much looking forward to tomorrow night’s gig at The Red Lion at Alnmouth.

It is our last full gig in this country untill after we come back from America at the end of March. Hopefully it will be busy.

February 2

Another great gig at Alnmouth at the Red Lion.

It is one of the best gigs in the UK.

It is in an amazing location and in Northumberland…It feels like how pubs used to be.

Full to the brim and friendly, hopefully more pubs will be like this again.

A guy at the bar heard the story about us going to America –it turned out that he was from Texas. He bought his album with a $10 bill!

We sold so many albums tonight and badges too. It was great.

Such a good feeling to know that so many people like your music and will continue to listen to it.

Some people came to tonight’s gig as a result of reading my diary in the Gazette, this too is a great feeling.

February 3

I did some extra hours on the guitar today.

Shaggy finished all of the artwork for the album.

Mel has all of the posters ready to send to Texas…not long now…


Dereks Newspaper Touring diary – April 1 to April 28

July 19, 2013

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.

April 1

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.

April 2

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.

April 3

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.

April 4

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.

April 5

It was good to play a full two hour gig. South Shields gig tonight. Mellow first set and sing along second

set.

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.

April 6

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….

April 7

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.

April 8

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.

April 9

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.

April 10

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.

April 11

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.

April 12

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.

April 13

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.

April 14

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.

April 15

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.

April 16

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.

April 17

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.

April 18

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.

April 19

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.

April 20

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.

April 21

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.

April 22

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.

April 23

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

about it.

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.

April 24

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.

April 25

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.

April 26

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.

April 27

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.

April 28

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.


Sidecars & Sideshows

July 17, 2013

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Sidecars & Sideshows

The new album from We Steal Flyers

Yayyyy thats right .. its finally here! The brand new album has been freshly homegrown and we are now proud owners of the 1st 1000 hard copies. The album is available from our website to purchase for £6.00 with free delivery and £7.00 if you live outside the UK. We cant thank everyone enough for being patient while we put this together but its finally here with us and ready to be shipped to all you lovely peoples!

Exciting times for us as the album is already doing great through iTunes and online services and to finally have these in our hands ready to share is a great time for us.

If you would like it signed just drop a note in the box at the check out and we will be happy to oblige.

Happy everything from the smily happy northumbrian Duo.. and thanks for all your continued support that makes our life so special…  Shaggy and Derek

Here is the Music page where you can check out the new album!

“Sidecars & Sideshows” – New Album

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“Something Missing” New Single – released today

May 21, 2012

The brand new single from your own friendly little acoustic duo of songwriters is finaly here!

The single “Something Missing” has been getting some great attention and airplay on national and international Radio across the World and is now finally available to buy, worldwide from all good onine retailers.

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You can download it on iTunes at the price of 79p from the following link : SOMETHING MISSING – ITUNES

Thank you all for the amazing support the single has recieved before release..and we hope you continue to support this great life of musical adventures we have.

Derek & Shaggy – We Steal Flyers


Award Winning Act…. We’ll ‘av that!

November 5, 2011

So………. back in July 2010 whilst sitting in a hotel room in Thurstonland,Yorkshire in the Rose & Crown whilst on a 12 gig tour down there, waiting to goto the next gig we entered a few competitions online and one of them was the EMA Exposure Music Awards.

We entered this as it wasnt a fan based competition or a push to get email addresses like so many of the music competitions these days. There was some great judges involved and they worked on what your online profile was like and your gigs and how much of an online presence you had and actually spent time listening to your music and checking everything themsleves. We sent them the video “No Secret” too from our youtube page and links to most of our pages, then left it to be never thought of again …. until…. we recieved an email back in March advising us we were in the top 5 “folk Acts” in the UK. WOOOOOWZAAA!!!

The next part of the story was we were asked to turn up at the Award Ceremony in London and was given the dates but unfortunately this landed on the Swiss leg of our tour! Unfortunately there was no way we could make it to london and we had to let them know.

Sitting on a balcony in Luzern,Switzerland and decided to check my emails at around 10am and there it was…  an email from EMA Awards..

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!  We won the catergory and are to collect our lovely award for “Best Folk Act 2011” and we also got some good news about us having the chance to play Cheltnham Folk Festival and we would be presented with our award there.

What an amazing memory to be sitting in Luzern, Switzerland whilst on tour and recieving this amazing award and being able to share this with all our fans and friends in Switzerland whilst on tour. As you can imagine we were absolutely buzzing and now .. we are an “Award winning” Act from Northumberland. Get in!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

You can find out more from thier website below if your interested! More great news to share with you all and thanks to everyone as always for your continued support with our musical lives…

Shaggy & Derek – wE sTeaL aWarDs

EXPOSURE MUSIC AWARDS HOMEPAGE


October 2011 “Switzerland Tour” – Part Deux

October 27, 2011

“Student Grant” here again to continue the adventure!, I’m a little behind so let’s begin!

Day 4 – The Hills are alive with the Sound of Music

after waking up at the  “Scweifhsjdjcnoffen” the  guys met up with me in the lobby, to sort out our bags and get ready for the next stage of our adventure, heading into the mountians to play at the Espresso Bar While we waited for Mark and Patrick to pick us up and take us to the gig we helped ourself to a few free apples from the hotel lobby, at least…I hope they were free. Within a few moments Mark had arrived, ready to take us to Grindlewald. while on our way there was some amazing scenery mountians as far as the eye could see…well as far as me and Derek could see, after a few miles on the road, Shaggy was fast asleep, I’m one to talk though, I too was fast asleep after half of the trip. By the time we where at Grindlewald we where starving and sleepy,so after lugging our bags to our room’s there could not have been a better time for coffee. After finishing a very nice cup of coffee with Mark and Patrick outdoors in the beautiful sun shine whilst staring up at these snow covered mountains all around us, we went back to our rooms for a quick rest before the sound check.

Within no time it was time to set the gear up, when we arrived at the bar we met Jens Bremm and he was a great guy and a real character! not long after the sound check we where taken for our musicians meal and of course shaggy had his beer in hand,, a big ol’ bowl of chicken noodle soup, a big piece of pork and a godly desert to finish off with! about an hour passed and it was time for the gig, damn, that place was crowded! The place was alive and the boys did so well they were asked to play another short after there 3 x 40mins at Spinners. The Swiss lads really turned the night into something amazing.. banging the chairs and drumming on anything they could find ..including there mates heads?? whilst Patrick the Rockstar and Mark played it cool at the back of the room whilst plying themselves with way too much alcohol.This was a definate one for the guys to remember and we even met the Swiss Jack Black on the way out who we later found out had cooked our meal in the hotel earlier.

Day 5 – Legends Have it!!!

UP AND AT EM!! Well another fine day in Switzerland and we would have loved a lie in but the guys were coming to grab us ready for a drive down the mountains back to Luzern ready for our gig in the fantastic Legends Bar. So we grabbed our bits n pieces and wandered down to the pick up point where mark and patrick met us and started to head back.

We decided to make a pitstop at a garage on the way down to get some fuel and maybe some coffee to shake off shaggys beer head! So.. we grabbed a few things made our coffee from the machine at which point shaggy decided to walk across to the counter to pay by holding the coffee by the lid….. oops!!  The coffee dropped and exploded all over some poor gals legs and the floor. Shaggy looked a little glazed and he said he didnt know how to say sorry and carried on making another one..   but when he got to the counter he didnt look too happy about having to pay for 2 coffees and a bagel while we creased about the floor laughing at him.

We hit the road once again and finally reached Luzern where we got dumped with out cases outside legends bar and met back up with  Billster the Tank Man for a coffee outside. After coffee’s were done and a bit postcard hunting we headed up to the appartment to get rid of our bags and get cleaned up for tonights Unplugged gig.

We landed at the bar around 7.30pm to a warm welcome as always in Legends. A bit chat and a few more coffees and beers and the lads were off on the start of their set which turned into a jam session..  we had ahmed on the cahjon join them first who was a brilliant drummer and give the songs that special extra something then we had Gemma who decided to play us a few songs with shaggy joining in on the noodly bits! Then gemma decided to take to the box and join the lads with her drumming… first time on it too and she sounded great! Rockstar Patrick tipped up with his guitar and played some great songs and then the lads finished off with some sing alongs and had the whole bar singing along with them…  They have a natural talent in getting people to join in and be part of the show which is amazing to watch from the other side of the fence. At the end of the night of the girls who had been at the bar listening to the mucic showed shaggy and derek some drawings she had been doing whilst they were playing in the bar.Amber was a fantastic artist and after a little chat with the guys it looks like she will be doing the artwork for the album too.All in all another amazing night in our home from home..  Legends. We headed up home with kebabs in hand and another day was done!

A Welcome Break – 4 Days off

Well it was time for their well deserved break of the tour. We Steal Flyers had rocked every bar and they deserved some time to relax. We lounged around the appartment a lot of the time and played songs on the balcony in the sun. Bill took us out on a trip up in the mountains in the car which was a wicked drive but I think health and safety hadnt been up on this route at all. After parking up the car and paying for a ticket we then found out that the bar was closed at the top so down we go again!

Another day off and we were invited to Margo’s Rockstar Mansion for a look around. She was a friend of Bills and said we could go for a look around as she was house sitting and this place had to be seen to be believed. The house was amazing and it was amazing to see how other people lived. After she made us some spicy cheese and fed and watered us she took us down to the lower level. An indoor Swimming pool that would put ashington baths to shame, a huge gym, a spaceship for a hot tub and turkish bath all looking out onto the mountains that surrounded luzern. What a place this was and I think a game of Hide and Seek would take a while in there for sure. We also met the lovely Shaula who was Margo’s dog and she was a great little gal who I managed to become great friends with. God’s Tears hahahaha. Its great meeting all these people and making friends along the way and has made this trip extra special for all of us. Speaking of freinds.. in enters John Castle again as part of the We Steal Flyers Legacy.

Horses for courses , Nickers for Snickers

As you can imagine we spent a lot of time in Legends on our days off and the lads still did a lot of playing on the night time..  one day was particularly special though… THE THONG DAY!!

John Castle is a great freind of the lads. He’s a hometown Dallas lad who lives in Switzerland now and is always hanging around at Legends and tipped up to a lot of the gigs for the boys..  but one memory which im sure has been burned into the brains of all that witnessed it was shaggy and John’s Thong moment. We were hanging with John at Legends one afternoon and Me and derek were heading for the Co-op to grab some food while a very protective shaggy waited at the bar incase someone stole his pint. John was going to the co-op with me n Derek and asked shaggy if he wanted anything. Shaggy requested a “sNickers” the nutty chocolate bar of champions..hahaha

We headed to the store and grabbed some things at which point John castle had an idea and grabbed something a little special while we were there for shaggy..  We headed back to the bar where shaggy was waiting for his chocolate and John pulled out his present for shaggy. A black pair of sexy knickers at which point shaggy said.. “I said Snickers ….. not nickers??”

Now at this point we are all creased up with laughing but shaggy had a plan… dropped his trousers and flung off his undercrackers..  and slipped on his new Nickers! Oh my god you should have seen the look on the Castle’s and Bill’s face, priceless. We were laughing so hard while shaggy pranced around in a lovely black thong and obviously the phone cameras came out and off the photos went to Facebook. The thong is now legendary and is hanging up on the wall in Legends bar so if you ever make it to Luzern and would like to check out the local history, head to Legends and look up to the right of the big screen..  Shaggys little piece of decoration finishes off Legends just right I think.

PART 3 will be coming soon and enjoy the reading!   Student Grant A Bead.. if you have any memories of the guys or anything to add please leave a comment below to let us know your reading this stuff!! Thong thong thong thonnnnnnng thonggggggggggggggggggg!!