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The Edge in Wordways Tour, November 2018 – DEBRIEF

Day 1 – Charlie Friday’s Coffee Shop, Lynton. 104 miles from Hotwells, 22 posters sold

It begins. I’m a motherf- autonaut. Made myself go for a run this morning in the severely and suddenly lowered temperature of my dear Bristol. I feel so good for it now. I started running again a month ago to improve my lung capacity for this tour. It’s helped! The journey was very wiggly but easy going until I came to something called Porlock Hill. I didn’t think the car was going to make it up because I was fully loaded with, on top of my performing gear, an HK Elements PA:

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hired for next-to-nothing from Pete at Skye PA and I’ve never, ever had to go up a hill in first gear in my sweet ride since owning it. Then, upon arrival into Lynton, I came to an even worse hill. My poor car. I wouldn’t be able to do any of what I do without it. I could only buy it because of the “incredible job” mentioned in Astronaut, so I am grateful to them for that, at least. My little, battered yellow Seat Ibiza

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with bird poo-savaged, peeling wax/paint (I don’t know which. I know little about cars) is a good metaphor for my career, actually. When it needs to be scrapped, I’ll probably quite literally have to take my foot off the pedal with touring. Also, I’m covered in bird poo. Nah, I’m not. I’m now typing this at Charlie Friday’s

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and feeling immensely good to have got here 5.5 hours before my set so I can sensibly work through tour and general life admin in these very sweet, cosy surroundings.

Anna, of Charlie Friday’s fame, has been an utterly exemplary promoter and I’m now sitting here feeling very special and welcome, surrounded (no exaggeration) by posters for my tour and, you’ll understand, planning how best to reward such a touching effort through my set. Just realised I’ve forgotten my laptop charger so I shall continue this later…

Now writing this in the car with eachone on the way to the second tour date. That gig (Charlie Friday’s), bar what I sensed was a lukewarm reception to my new stuff, could not have been more of a perfect way to start the tour. Sound was spot on (not to toot my own flute but that was because I got to do it all myself!), the room was full of welcoming, interested people, I sold some pretty posters, signed a guy called Darrel’s arm who later told me he was going to get the signature tattooed. Just so many good memories made. The icing on the cake was leaving at midnight, getting home at what I thought was 2:30am and only then realising that the clocks had gone back so it was actually 1:30am!

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Just had to slot this photo in on this entry for the mem’s

Day 2 – The Troubadour, London, 116 miles from Bristol, Sold 5 posters

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I swear when I take these photos they’re not this blurry

I’m in Freddie from eachone’s car on the M4 heading to London. Eachone are supporting me tonight , as is a “special guest” who the promoter can’t announce because it’s “kind of a secret gig for them”. This one, I have been feeling mixed emotions about. Until my friend Drew, who drums for eachone, asked about the tour when they came to the Grain Barge open mic a couple of weeks ago, I was severely dubious about anybody coming to the gig. At all. Then, on Drew’s request, I asked the promoter if eachone could support me at the gig and he agreed. This made things better. It then transpired that it would make sense for us all to travel in one car and Freddie very kindly offered his, which has made me so much less stressed about the gig. It’s now the following day and I have this to report – I am possibly more of a draw in an un-tapped city than I thought 🙂 Freddie drove heroically. We arrived with lots of time to set up and prepare and eat amazing food at 50% off in the Troubadour which seems to be quite a well-to-do establishment. Standing outside the load-in door, a man in a suit came past and started talking to me about the history of the venue; how it was one of the oldest places on the street, one of the first coffee-houses in South Kensington (need to fact-check that) and how many great memories he had of the place. The soundman, Kuque, was an absolute legend – smiley and friendly from the word go. By this point, I’d already had pretty much a perfect second day, despite having gone for a run before leaving and come back to suffer this familiar, bizarre nervous attack that makes my face leak profusely. I defied it at home, telling “it” that it “would not do this to me today”. But it did. It’s odd. There’s this hyper-sensitive nerve in my nose I think, that reacts severely to coming in from a run in the icy cold and I then spend the entire day sneezing and eye-leaking with one half of my face all hot and numb. I knew it wouldn’t affect the gig. Getting on stage evokes a form of witchcraft where I’m suddenly as well as I need to be. It’s great. So, my cousin Liam arrived, we hugged, we caught up, we ate. Then I went to see the promoter, Ian, who said that I’d sold 22 tickets in advance and all of my remaining fears about the night dissipated! Then, the fact that I’d been reminded previously by Liam that it was central London on a Friday night and I needn’t worry about numbers, sank in. The venue was lush

and the 30 people in the room made it pleasantly filled, if not full. Eachone were exciting and intense

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eachOne (Drew and Freddie) on stage at The Troubadour

-lots of choppy tempo changes and wailing vocals – and my set went very, very well. We even made some money on the door. Then Drew drove Freddie and I home and I got to sleep at 3:30 to get up at 9am for my violin lessons, actually feeling less tired than many of my Saturday mornings when I haven’t had a gig the previous night. This tour is going supremely well.

Day 3 – The Belvedere Inn, Weymouth – 73 miles from Hotwells, Sold 9 posters

This one was always set to be a right smasheroonie. I am sorely hungover now. A week ago, Vicki, from The Belvedere asked if I wanted a room for the night in the hostel above the bar and I enthusiastically said yes, knowing that I had nothing on the following day for once. So I knew I may partake of a few ales on this night. I did. We (Edd Bleach, Sarah and Sarah Limm) went to a bar on the seafront called The Nook after staying until closing time at the venue. I drank a lot. Have I mentioned that I got drunk? I don’t remember getting back to Edd’s place but I woke up topless on his sofa bed with my headphones in my ears, sleeping on my phone, and staring at a Boost bar and some empty wrappers of assorted snacks I’d wolfed down before passing out, thankfully. That’s actually not that different to most nights, except I’m not usually that drunk.
The gig – as I should mention, this being a gig diary – was lovely. The third of three amazing shows to start the tour. Can’t believe my luck. My good old mate, Edd Bleach

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You know you’ve made it when Edd Bleach is wearing your T shirt

was very supportive and helpful leading up to the night and the whole tour in general, as was Sarah Limm aka Sukulele of Air FM. The crowd tonight went crazy for “Isla View”. I’ve been finding that a lot. I’m really glad people appreciate the honesty and really hopeful that they don’t go away thinking I’m a sexual deviant. When you combine “Stuff”, “Idiot” and “Isla View”…I mean…one could see me as a bit of a slimeball. But you’re always just so bloody entertained! What am I supposed to do?!
I loved this gig. The landlord, Tom, was a star, as was Aaron who rescued the sound for us at the last minute. Somebody said to me I just need one break and I’ll be everywhere. Flattering as that is, I kind of already feel enough like I am! Now, to lesson plans for next week. Cardiff next – Thursday!

Day 4 – Gwdihw, Cardiff 41 miles from Hotwells, sold maybe 7 posters?

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One of two posters for the tour, lovingly designed by Michael Partridge, in its full glory at Gwdihw

Back on it today. Driving RasThulhu and RasEve

up to Cardiff at about 3 today. Currently sat in the grain barge getting lunch at midday. I need to run through my new songs that I haven’t yet played before I leave and was going to go for a run but my allergic attack the other day has put me off… I think I need to get back to it on off days. So really.. Should have done one yesterday. I want you who are reading this to know that my main reason for starting running a few times a week again was to improve my lung capacity to be able to perform better to you all! So it’s YOUR FAULT, ha ha! Today’s entry may be a long one. There is a small Sheffield problem: I knew that I was playing The Cremorne (tomorrow)

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on derby day. What I didn’t know until just now was that the venue is 2 minutes walk from the stadium. And I was told to get there for 7:30 which is kick off!! I’m hoping to get in touch with the promoter today and find out that if I get down much, much earlier, I’ll find it easier to park. Otherwise, it may prove to be the hardest one.
Now writing the rest of this entry in my mate Matt’s bedroom in Sheffield. I stayed with him and his mum, Val last night. But back to Cardiff. I was kind of gutted that this one came so early in the tour – would have loved it to be the final date. Note to self: if you ever organise a tour again, pay at least some attention to the tour route. See, I knew it would be a warm and emotional experience, as it always is playing in my hometown. After the above bit, I got home and had a perfect run through of the new set and practise. My set for the Cardiff date I’d planned would be ALL new. I’ve never played a set of nothing but new album songs, at least to my Cardiff fans, in my life. It was daunting but a really useful experiment. The set was:

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1) Edge in Wordways
2) Running out of Things to Say
3) Emergency Services (with Henry who joined me on stage)
4) Half A Turn
5) Bleach
6) Paint
7) Isla View
8) Nightmare part Deux (with Jay who joined me with Eve from Bristol)
9) Astronaut (with Pun Ra)
10) My Bjork – Hyperballad cover

We’ll get back to the set later. I packed up and picked up Jay and Eve from St Andrew’s and we drove to Gwdihw. Great having company for a change. We were in traffic most of the way (a recurrent theme for this tour it would appear) so arrived at about 6:20 with doors opening at 7:30 and Imprints, who were co-headlining courtesy of Fuelled by Cider Kev, also arriving late and yet to soundcheck! Not an ideal start. But they are all thoroughly decent chaps as was the soundman Sam Smith (not that one) and we all got checked and relatively happy to open. Beatbox Hann opened and he has seriously stepped up his game. Some amazing new noises. Then I was on at 9pm. The room was maybe only half full but those there made it a beautiful atmosphere for me. Playing such a new set was very nervewracking and insightful. I still can’t play Isla View in the way it deserves. Even 14bpm slower than the recorded version, I can’t seem to get the words out in the right manner or in their entirety! And I have practised it a great deal. But it would seem not enough. Two false starts euuugh, I’d forgotten about that. Had to restart Isla View and Bleach because the loops were either halfway through each other or just not quite spot-on enough to endure. But nobody minded. The collaborations with Henry, Jay and Pun were tremendous fun. Pun and I yelled the refrain from Astronaut at everyone and he wore the Astronaut helmet from the video (which could potentially be out in two days…Mike Loek is such a legend) Being with Jay and Eve all day made everything less stressful and more enjoyable and I’ve never enjoyed a drive home from a gig as much as the one Eve, Jay, Henry and I shared back to Bristol that night. Henners performed us a few of his stirring, soulful new tunes and then him and Jay did some wicked freestyles. I’m so blessed. Which leads me to the end of this enormous entry – sometimes, and it’s becoming usual with my Cardiff tour gigs, I have a night that the word “thank you” can never repay. This was such an overwhelming experience. Touring is so very polar for me. The stress of the driving and soundcheck, the expectations of the crowd, the need to sell merch, then all combined with the soaring highs of the gig and adoration of so many endlessly supportive people. In the city I grew up in aswell, it’s just too much. Too, too, too much. That’s all I kept saying to myself after the plummet in mood I suffered dropping Jay and Eve back at home and being alone in the car. Thank you so much to everybody for this night. I was so wired I couldn’t sleep until about 6am (I think) and then woke up before my alarm at 9:30am for…

Day 5 – The Cremorne, Sheffield, 182 miles from Hotwells, 5/6/7 posters sold (got a bit drunk…)

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The only picture I have of me at The Cremorne, courtesy of Mr Matt Hawksworth

The most taxing day so far and, without wanting to speak too soon, potentially the most taxing of the whole tour. So glad to have this mission over with!
I woke up still completely wired with this tightness in my chest. Had no time to process all the feelings from Thursday night in Cardiff. I want to be quite brief about this entry because I’m in Matt’s room and he’s politely waiting for me to finish this to show me some UFC. I got breakfast in the Galley Cafe in an attempt to show myself I can be kind to myself – felt awful, walked home – felt awful, had a shower – felt slightly less awful, got in the car. Google had changed the journey time from 3hr44m to 4hr18m – felt awful. This was the single most appalling drive I think I’ve ever put myself through. It felt like 6 hours solid in traffic jams on motorways I didn’t know only to arrive to the Sheffield derby traffic. Somehow only got beeped once on the entire journey. But not suffering a heart attack because of how I felt physically is the bigger surprise. Arrived, hugely relieved to park easily outside Matt’s Mum’s. Val gave me vegetable soup! The day was getting better. I got an Uber to The Cremorne. The driver, Mohammed, was lovely. I told him to watch Taxi Driver. That’ll beat it out of him haha. The manager at Cremorne, Rachel, was frazzled. I didn’t like to say there was no chance she could be as frazzled as I was. The layout of the place was quite odd. I didn’t take any photos but the little stage had a tiny dancefloor in front of it, about 8 feet deep. It seemed like an afterthought. Then all the seating was up above me on the right. Buuuuuuut all this said, the soundcheck happened – it concerned me – was beyond what I could really mentally handle at that point, but it got to an adequate level. Then I started at 9pm and the sound was perfect for Charge, which is very rare. So respect to Simon on sound for that! The first half of this set was genuinely, I think, one of the best I’ve ever done in my life. Then the football crowd arrived back in the pub, Simon turned the system up and the sound went to shit. But I’d won most of the I’d say 40 people who were there watching me over by this point with Charge, Men With Guns, I Want Everything and Neat Rice Soup. So the fact it fizzled out didn’t matter too much. No idea how many posters I sold. I REALLY HAVE NO IDEA HOW I GOT THROUGH THIS DAY. To be stood outside with Jim, Matt, Ruth and Adam with a nice pint after the set was beyond bliss. Another very polar experience. We stayed for a little while. I got more than a little tipsy and caught up with everyone.

Day 6 – The Old Courts, Bailiff Bar, Wigan, 173 miles from Hotwells, 4 posters sold

Finding it hard to vary my vocabulary talking about these experiences. “Thank you” and “amazing” pop up a lot. Currently sat in the bailiff bar, 25 mins til I’m on. It SHOULD be amazing tonight. Doing my own sound, staff are interested, room is busy, perfect space for me on stage. But I ate about 45 minutes ago and I am so devoid of energy now. I know the magic will take over as the focus sets in but right now, bleugh. Yesterday was such a mission.
This place is a little like No.1 Harbourside in Bristol, in terms of vibe and style.

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I’m now sat in Firebird Studios the day after this gig. Last night was about a 6/10, I’d say. Very grateful to the 8-10 people who watched and listened to my set pretty intently. The meal in question earlier was from a vegan restaurant attached to the Old Courts called The Coven and was another “I can’t believe this is all vegan” experience. The PA for this gig was a Mackie Reach – single powered speaker with very wide dispersion and a monitor built into the side of the unit pointing at the stage! On the one hand, it was a brilliant solution to the newly-refurbished space with a stage that was perfect for my size of act. On the other hand, for a busy, loud Saturday night, it was not at all adequate due to some built-in (or, more probably, locked-out-by-tech-manager) limiting so, while it was a joy to do my own sound and have ample time to prepare, as soon as I started rapping in “Charge”, the loops disappeared beneath my voice and the limitations of the setup began to sink in. I tried as hard as I could to ease off the mic and adjust the levels to get a happy medium but could only really make it work with the impact I need when either I was playing an instrumental or just reciting I Want Everything. The PA didn’t project beyond about, I think, ten feet? So I had a very loyal segment of the room who had come to watch me – Dom, Lauren, Chris, Jo, Mandy, Andrew, Martin and a couple of other people – but, behind them, an either oblivious or uninterested ¾ of the room. They’re useful, experiences like this. I tried to play into the intimacy despite how lacking in energy I was – the magic of being on stage always takes over and makes me forget how bad I feel (!) but for a large portion of the second set, I found myself looking at a lady sat probably just out of pleasant reach of the PA with her husband who kept shooting me disdainful looks and smiling to myself. It took away from the set a little. But again, if any of you are reading this, thank you to the people above who came and listened and enjoyed. There was a moment when I started my second set when I opened with my Organ Donor cover when the entire room was listening and the response was fantastic. But then the murmur of chatter started up again and I think the PA’s limitations came into effect again. I enjoyed this gig though. The drive home at midnight was much less stressful than the drive up to Sheffield, but, physically, it was very taxing. My back and eyes were killing me by the time I finally lay down in bed at 3am. Again, you really need to love performing to do this job. Ooh, before I forget, I actually arrived before the sun went down.

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Bristol next, after a couple of days off. So proud of myself for getting through the last two days. Halfway through now!

Day 7 – The Gallimaufry, Bristol, 3 miles from Hotwells. Very unsure about how many posters were sold. I feel like it was about 10-15 but I can’t make the maths work. My head hurts.

Oh my. The Bristol date. And I’m only halfway through!

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The bench in the centre here is where I wrote a great deal of the Junction 19 and Junction 29 EP lyrics. Ain’t it purdy?

I’ve decided to give myself a headstart with the diary for the next few days by writing this entry pre-gig. It’s 3:56pm and Jeevan from RSVP Music is on his way to pick me up to go and practise My Bench with Rob from Junior Bill at Rob’s place, prior to us getting to the Galli. I kind of know the kind of things I would be putting in this diary were I to make time to do it after tonight’s gig so this won’t be that unconvincingly fabricated. I know, for example, that whatever time I arrive at the Galli, time is going to run away from me and I’ll be on stage before I know it. I also know that I’m going to feel incredibly touched by the attendance. I THINK it’s going to be the busiest of the tour judging by the event’s numbers.

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That can be misleading though. I have to admit that I have, on a couple of occasions, seen a friend’s gig is close to selling out and flaked, knowing they’ll have a full room. If everybody did that, we’d all be like this guy…

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Plus that’s a big reason for why terrible political vote results happen e.g. leaving the EU.
I am really looking forward to tonight. I’m also quite nervous. I genuinely just spent 45 minutes chewing my pen deciding on a setlist. I actually drew two graphs of how I want the set to flow and ebb. I think I’ve got it down now. There are a few wicked collaborations. I’m starting and ending on appropriate bangers. Slotting the best of the new stuff in there. Setlist is very important. My goal is to have people leaving laughing and feeling warm inside (and like they’ve just seen the best gig of their lives, obviously). I’m curious abouut David Leach who is the opening support. He’s said he doesn’t need mic’ing up, which if I’m honest makes me a tiny bit worried he might upstage me! Millie who has been shadowing me on sound at the Galli open mic is helping out on sound for my set and one of my best friends, Heybus is the main support. Before I close this entry – I’m defiant that I won’t add to it later to give myself a chance to take everything in (and be a bit pissed) – I must say that it feels a tiny bit unsettling cancelling the Grain Barge open mic for this gig AND not doing the tour gig at the Barge. I just thought I’d give me, them and my lovely followers a break from the same venue! Wish me luck. Manchester tomorrow, then Brighton. Mike Loek, famous producer, editor and director of the very-soon-to-be-released “Astronaut” video is joining me for the rest of the dates. After Brighton, the hardest of the driving is way behind me. Tonight is going to be emotional…

Day 8 – Strange Brew bar – Manchester 161 Miles from Hotwells Road. 7 posters sold

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Honestly, the best of a terrible trio of photos I took in Manchester. Gives you some idea of the space at least. Mike is being all shifty.

Last night was incredible, as I knew it would be. Mike Loek is typing this for me now and I wish I always had a transcriber! The room was so full last night. The opening support David Leach was an unusual experience. He had asked to not be amplified. I gave him mics anyway and he used them only to tell the crowd off…?! Jeevan, Rob and I practised my bench at Rob’s house courtesy of a much appreciated lift from Jeevan. When I mean much appreciated I mean it really strongly because driving is really stressful especially in Bristol City Centre. The practise was much needed and made me very excited about the gig! Then ANOTHER lift from Jeevan to the Gallimaufry had me arrive at a venue less frazzled than any of the tour venues so far. There is, again, too much to say about this night and I will try to come back to it at the end of the diary.
Mike & Mike are now en route to Manchester to day 8. Mike D is writing now..
I must confess: this one was a huge anticlimax after yesterday. As if it wasn’t going to be! I’m truly grateful to Rich and the rest of the wicked boys of Granfalloon for putting it on. Always enjoy catching up and playing with them. Their music is incredible too – Granfalloon music. But yeah. Playing to ten people with a combined seven hours of driving is… Well, it’s tour life. At my level. I tried very hard to get people to all of these dates and, 8 days in, I’m exhausted and a bit unwell (I put all of that down to the driving) and am proud of myself but I realise, stoically, that there’s nothing more I can really do now – least not without a sizable advertising budget. If people are gonna come, they’re gonna come. If not, it’s practise.
To sum up, we arrived well in time, ate great Lebanese food down the road, sound was great, gig went adequately and I sold albums to 70% of the crowd. Job done?

Day 9 – The Brunswick, Hove. 167 miles from Hotwell Road. 4 posters sold.

Mike came with me again today. It was set up to be an absolutely brilliant gig. Got there in beyond ample time, fairly straightforward 3 hour drive, time to relax at the shore…

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Beautiful venue, long soundcheck and resulting perfect sound. Caught up with MC Cashback, Captain Mike,

Spliff Richard and another ageing rapper friend (!) And then half of the people who said they were coming didn’t turn up or dropped out at the last minute. It was another very emotional day. I was very disappointed but had to stave it off. I decided to play my songs that would hopefully make the people assembled in the room laugh and drop in a few new ones and stuff to hopefully coax in people from the main bar. Very pleased with my set and how I handled it. But the full experience left a little bit of a sour taste. Today’s entry feels a little more a personal therapy session and like it’s more for me than one I’ll be glad for you guys to read. You’ll all already know my grievances. Maybe touring like this just isn’t the right path for me? Been a bit concerned that some of the bridges I’ve built on the tour have already been burnt eg by me effectively dobbing in the sound man in Sheffield for being new to it and thus not quite getting what to do. He was a nice guy and might (still) be instrumental in me being asked up there again. I’m probably worrying too much. I have found though that on a number of these dates, I get to the venue and am treated a bit like an afterthought. It smacks of somebody in the management hierarchy looking at who is playing that night, seeing it’s a soloist with no profile and being dismissive about what and who I’ll need for the event, tragically after other people involved in the organisation have been either helpful or enthusiastic or both. Just feeling a little negative about it all today. Ho hum.

Allow me to end this entry on a more positive note by saying: Luke Bennett was tremendous as always…

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Day 10 – West Malvern Social Club, Malvern. 66 miles from Hotwells. 4 posters sold.

Today was much better than the previous day. I swapped a Mike for a Jay.

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They both smell. It was a like-for-like. Currently writing this in a new eatery in Plymouth called “Hangry” that is about three doors down from the venue. More about that tomorrow.
I was really feeling the strain of everything this morning. Brighton left a bit of a shadow on my resolve. Guess that’s to be expected with it being the midpoint of the longest run. This is really a very small tour but when you’re carrying out absolutely everything on your own, it is a great deal of effort. Jay arriving cheered me up and it was somewhat soothing to have company on the – thankfully – meagre drive to what I expected would be a packed room in a beautiful town.

Unfortunately we missed daylight, arriving at 4:30pm but we looked at a hill. It was a nice hill. Rich met us and we had a coffee in his kitchen and chewed some fat. He is a very close #2 to Anna’s #1 promoter on the tour. Alas, the perfectly-formed venue was, by any assessment, dead. But I played what I think was a blinding and amusing set to I think about ten people who I could tell really enjoyed it and it left me optimistic that, were I to play there again, those ten would likely bring another ten. But, really, who knows? Yesterday didn’t leave me with a great sense of hope. Fourth Engine,

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a synth pop duo from Bristol, were supporting and Rich treated us all to an Indian meal before we all went to soundcheck. Tyler was the soundman. He did a fantastic job. Jay was very funny company all day. We do have a laff, him and I. The end is within my grasp now. I’m kind of amazed that 100 posters looks like it’s going to be the exact right amount for the tour. Though, having just arrived in Plymouth, I’ve been told there’s been a lot of interest in the gig and I think I only have about 15 with me. A huge hearty thanks must be extended to Rich and the staff of the West Malvern Social Club for tonight. I thoroughly enjoyed talking shit to you!

Anyway, to today…

Day 11 – The Bread & Roses, Plymouth. 119 miles from Hotwells. 6 posters sold

Tonight has potential to not actually happen.

It happened.

Lest, I forget, I want to strongly note something that I said on stage at Malvern last night: touring as a soloist gives me a really deep appreciation of other people’s talents, skills and compassion. I was so very grateful to be entertained by Fourth Engine at the venue last night. It was blissful. A real treat. I feel like I need to expand upon this. This entry is taking a few days to write and I was busy yesterday on my “day off” so only had time to note that above. It’s now two days after the Plymouth gig. So, to expand upon that: I am just another white bedroom MC who was fascinated by the larger-than-life stories of gangsta rap and set loose by Eminem, without a crowd to watch me. The words “thank you” are never going to fulfill the emotion I feel when I say it to the people who form that crowd. And the people who’ve accompanied me on the last five dates ie Mike Loek and Jay. Even though for those people in the crowd, a lot of the time it’s a tiny amount of effort that was required to just nip to their local because “violinist, rapper, menace” piqued their interest, the sum of their efforts is far greater than their parts, for me. It all makes me want to give a lot back, in terms of promoting the few artists who’ve supported and featured with me, going to their gigs and somehow expressing my gratitude to the crowds. Let’s move on…
Plymouth was OK. I’d give it a 7/10. The organisation leading up to the date was appalling from their side. They were by far the worst and I’m that confident that they won’t ever read this that I am calling them out. And i don’t feel like I’m biting the hand that feeds me because it was a really unfair way to be treated after all the effort I put in to get the word out. It was always a different person replying (very late) to my emails who wasn’t answering my questions and instead putting some other obstacle in the path of it being a successful gig. The worst example of this was them confirming I could use their powered speakers, saving the total ballache and expense (that they would not cover) of me hiring a PA, months ago and then at the beginning of the week, emailing me to say “can you bring your PA? We will give you an extra £50” and then not replying to my pleading replies. I hired a nice mixing desk from Oasis again – because I knew that the mixer they referred to in an email would be a DJ mixer and totally not fit for purpose – and drove down after my violin lessons not knowing if the gig would go ahead but past caring at that point. Mike L came with me again and we had a laugh on both journeys and shared tips and philosophies about the arts and promotion etc. He’s a great ally. We arrived, grabbed dinner in a new place two doors from the venue, went back to discover the speakers were there for me to use so I knew the gig was going ahead. I set it all up myself. The manager arrived and put an ace poster they’d made on the door and was charging £2 entry. People were streaming in and I got excited. It soon became apparent when I started playing that this was largely down to it being Saturday night as opposed to my draw. So about a quarter of the people in the room enjoyed my epic 1.5 hour set and I had some lovely comments and recommendations afterwards, sold a few posters and put it down as a “good” gig. Must highlight Owen’s comments: he spoke at length about how refreshing it was to see somebody clearly passionate yet humble and in touch with the frustrations of what it means to be human and to live this life. He noted my performance of Bleach and how I’d admitted I’ve lost friends over that track and how refreshingly real that seemed to him for me to be open about that. His comments touched me. He also mentioned that he went to a, if I remember rightly, Benedictine (?) school where it was compulsory to learn violin between years 7 and 10. I must look that up. I didn’t feel I rose to this occasion because, knowing I was doing a longer set, I paced myself and it surprised me to finish the gig not dripping with sweat. I suspect my body was fairly low on adrenaline reserves aswell by this point in the week. This wasn’t my best showing or performance at the Bread and Roses and it could be my last, though I’ve already been booked for March of next year. I’m not sure the nightmare of miscommunication is worth it.

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The stage at Bread & Roses, Plymouth

Off day (fifth of five in a row), Thursday 22nd Nov

Must say big heartfelt thanks to:

FREYJA ELSY
BRIAN REID
THE WILDCARD, MANCHESTER
LLOYD GRIFFITHS
DAN REILLY
ANNA WELLINGS
MICHAL LOEK
CLAYTON B
HEYBUS MCGILLAN
JAMES KOCH
JUSTIN EVANS
THE EVANS FAMILY & FIREBIRD STUDIOS
AARON DOUGLAS
JALON RASTHULHU FEARON
VICKI LINDLEY
EDD BLEACH
SARAH LIMM
THE SHONK
MICHAEL PARTRIDGE
EVE SCRAGG
SALLY AND HARRY HARRISON
JIM COOPER
MATT HAWKSWORTH (AND MOTHER)
SIMON MARK
ROB AND EVERYONE AT OLD COURTS WIGAN
GAVIN FACEY
RICH LOMAX
ANDY HILLION
ANGUS GREENHALGH
MIKE FILLERY
RIK SYKES
LUKE BENNETT
RICHARD BENNETT
TYLER
FOURTH ENGINE
LOUISE AT THE BREAD AND ROSES
PETER AND WENDY HAYWARD

I have been unable to help but to dwell on how many of my friends pulled out of coming to my gig in Brighton. It really got to me. But what got to me equally was the efforts of the people above to make it to my gigs, some travelling a considerable distance in questionable weather.

Day 12 – Cwmcarn Hotel, Caerphilly, 40 miles from Hotwells, 8 posters sold

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56% gangster, 44% awkward

Well, I’m pleased to say that the tale has a happy ending. Clayton Blizzard, my friend and utterly engaging spoken word performer came with me to play support, as did his brother, Heybus (see Bristol) and Monsieur Loek.

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Probably my second favourite ever car journey there preceded a gig that was as warm, well-played and well-received as any I could expect. Love what Vinny and Anya did on the sandwich board outside

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and it was a pleasure to play under the historic bison again. It’s a great venue.

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It was busy, Clayton aced his set, I was doing sound again (which took me a little while to set up but we managed), Mike L was filming and Heybus was providing general moral support, camaraderie and hilarity, as per. Brilliant crew. I’ve sold 89 of the 100 posters I had made for this album which I think is really good going and surprisingly well prepared for me. Total fluke in other words. Also signed all of the ones I sold tonight which is rare. The response was pretty rapturous really. Having had five blissful days off, this one kind of felt like a one-off gig but it was just the kicker I needed to end the tour. I’m now writing this on my phone at Firebird Studios where I teach violin Saturday mornings having slept for probably about three hours because, again, I was so bristling with adrenaline when I got home. But that’s fine. Just made the Astronaut video live and it’s going down a storm. I’m so very proud of myself.

In conclusion…

You know what? I wanted to write a circumspect, coherent conclusion to all of this but I like that you’ve had the balls-out, seat-of-your-pants experience already if you’ve read the whole way through so let’s keep this bit succinct – support live music. It’s leaving us. Don’t contribute to that. Be a hero.

An after movie of the tour will be with you soon, courtesy of filmmaker, Michal Loek.

Some stats:

89 x copies of Edge in Wordways posters sold
89 x UNUSED A3 certificate envelopes bundled FREE with those posters. You lucky people.
~2,600 miles travelled.
1 x first-time ever set of entirely new tracks played to my friends in Cardiff
countless friends made
65 x right hands shaken
2 x left hands shaken
1 x European Union missed, pre-emptively.

Junction 29 Nov 2017 Tour

The Junction 29 EP Tour – DEBRIEF

 

Day 1: Fibbers, York, 9th November, supporting DJ Format & Abdominal 

 

I don’t think I’ve ever pushed as hard as I have for this tour. Day in day out for about three months, I’ve followed a plan and every momentary shrewd thought that branches out of the plan when the caffeine has hit my nervous system in the admin hours. I’ve also had to compose, write, record, mix, master, practise and organise duplication of the EP that the tour is promoting. You have to really love this craft to pursue it.

 

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Gnipper sitting on stage with Vox Cornelius

 

I’ve never played in York before. I haven’t played anywhere north of Aberystwyth for ten years. Tim, the promoter at Fibbers was brave and generous to give me a shot. Nobody knows who I am up here. Almost nobody. More on that in a few dates time. In the morning, Vox Cornelius (Johno), also supporting on the night, called to tell me he’d happily put me up for the night which meant I wouldn’t have to drive home at midnight! It’s an eight hour round trip. Legend.

I arrived near the venue to have Johno again help me with where to park. He couldn’t have helped me more really. Again, already feeling touched by people’s support in my endeavours. Arrived to the venue to find that Fibbers is bigger than I expected. I had been bristling with excitement all the previous night and the morning to think how cool it is to be able to get a slot in a city I’ve never been to, supporting a British hip hop legend. Now I’d got a big venue to play to aswell! Headliners were late to soundcheck which is pretty much the standard for any hip hop act ever anywhere (not me though…) but soundguy Joel managed to fit in enough of a soundcheck for me and Johno before they arrived for me to feel ready and set.
It came to my start time of 7:30. There was nobody in the venue but the staff – not to say I wasn’t expecting this. But I politely informed Joel that my set was only twenty five minutes and could we start five minutes later. He agreed unquestioningly. The stage manager did not. So I played Charge to the barstaff and moved swiftly on. By the end of the set, the feedback from the monitors was beginning to irritate and interfere with the loops but, proudly, I didn’t let this show. DJ Format applauded me from the wings. He was really impressed by what I do. This, and johno’s assistance and the sale of a few cds to people clearly interested in what I do, made the trip worthwhile. I decided to drive home anyway, having schmoozed and enjoyed Format’s set, as it was only half ten. Regretting that a bit now. Got home at 3am. Shattered. I’m back in York in two Thursdays time and I have a feeling that one is going to be waaaay busier. We’re off…

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One of my trademark shit photos…of DJ Format & me

 

Day 2:  Winchester Gate, Salisbury, 10th November –


This is a welcome remedy to the anticlimax that was yesterday. Don’t get me wrong. It was exciting and some great things came out of it. But I’ve no doubts about attendance or interest at this one.

Traffic was total from Bristol to the venue but somehow still arrived in two hours as Google had suggested. Perhaps there is some kind of quantum time field one passes through between the counties in the south west. Today was so much less stressful than yesterday. My host, Robb Blake was another utter gent. He also did attentive, patient and friendly sound for me. The new tunes from Junction 29 went down exceptionally well. Neat Rice Soup works brilliantly for crowd participation. I’ve been wanting something which works like that for ages – nothing that makes a crowd feel awkward or squirmy but just enough involvement to feel they’re an important part of the song. Can’t wait til those reading this get to take part in it as well! This is going to be a short entry because I’ve just got home, it’s 2am and I’m up at 8am to teach violin for 5 hours before heading off to Weymouth! In short – Jasper deserves a huge round of virtual applause and a hug for putting me in touch with Robb. Also, it turns out that the journey time (without traffic) from Salisbury to Bristol is exactly long enough to listen to the whole of Supa Dupa Fly by Missy Elliott. POST-TOUR ADDITION: I made a note before going to sleep on the day of writing this entry to discuss Jasper describing me as the “most self-effacing person” he knows. I very much take that as a compliment because, in so much as I can have control over my performing persona (it takes its own initiative at times), I refuse to play the games. By this, I mean: I’ll never feel right flicking a switch and turning into my own marketing executive on or off-stage, harassing people with a pitch to buy my product. I feel lucky to be able to do what I do and make a little bit of money from it but it’s always going to be the soft sell coming directly from me. So if I come across as self-effacing, it’s a part of me taking the piss out of the part of me that’s saying “come on, Mike Dennis, give us your product!” Make sense?

Cheers to Jasper for these shots…

 

Day 3: Belvedere Inn, Weymouth, 11th November –

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Pre-drive this morning…

 

It’s just hit me that it’s Remembrance Day. There’s something probably not worth mentioning on stage, unless you’re particularly informed about it. I’m simultaneously shattered and in the familiar tour mode where I manage to stay operational despite said tiredness. Will has come with me today which I’m very grateful for. He slept almost all of the way down however. Bad Will. The Belvedere was brilliant fun last time – see my May entry. This time round seems so far a more low key affair but the fb event has had a lot of attention. I’m in high hopes. Currently pre-soundcheck, a bit shell-shocked by the enormity of today’s efforts. But I squeezed in half an hour to make a healthy stir fry to take with me in a er… Thermos flask. It worked, yes. It was a fantastic crowd again. Appreciative, warm, attentive, eccentric, drunk… Everything I’ve come to expect from the Belvedere. It’s already a contender for best venue of the tour again and I’m only a quarter of the way through. Vicki, like Robb yesterday, is an exemplary promoter of new music. I owe them both a lot. The drive home was very, very hairy. So misty I ran two give way junctions without realising they were there. Sketchy. Shattered. Rock on.

 

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The irrepressible Edd Bleach on support
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You can spot my trusty steed a mile off.

 

Day 4: Fiddler’s Elbow, Camden, 12th November –

N.B. this entry was written using a speech-to-text program while I was driving home and I intended to translate it to make full sense whilst editing this journal but I think it’s more of a fun read without doing so. However, I should point out that I met “Leon” from Too Many T’s, not Yvette Lyons.

“The last gig I played in London was not a very good night today was very different just like last time my cousin Chris came a person in the world I hope he reads this the Fiddler’s Elbow is a fantastic venue it is vibrant the layout is fantastic thaifriendly the soundman is skilled pie is great the atmosphere is lovely it wasn’t a very lucrative gig for me today but it was an enormous amount of fun. I had a really good feeling about today partially because of the relief that it was the last of the four in a row that I knew would prove strenuous so I started the journey with a spring in my step and thanks to a lovely cup of tea on the route in much the same mood checking the punctuation in it when I I think today is the highlight so far and it couldn’t have come on a better day because I now have a day off to check through how things are going to say thank you clean my car. I didn’t manage to bring many people to the venue but it was there was a healthy amount of people there and they were all blown away see picture this big this was written by the manager of the pub brackets proud close brackets I played really well yvette Lyons from too many T’s we had dinner in a Somalian restaurant across the road after my gig and it was the best meal I’ve had for ages and say enough good about this gig venue was from tastic I can’t wait to go back get home” – well done, digital age.

 

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This was what the manager of The Fiddler’s Elbow wrote about me on his book at the door.

 

Off-day 3 of 3, Bristol, 15th November – Rosie works out my daily schedule and it’s fairly accurately as follows: wee, gallon of tea, a moan, think about doing something else, have a fag, breakfast at lunch time, spend four hours on social media then complain I’ve got no time to do anything else.

 

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Mmm. Girlfriend treat in park with new coat in morning. Time off nice.

 

We also work out my autobiography title: MIKE DENNIS – SHOULD’VE ASKED FOR MORE

 

Day 5: Old Abbey Inn, Manchester, 16th November –


The build up to this one started fantastically, went shit and may just level out in the next few hours. I shall update. It came to be via somebody who saw me at a festival in August, recommended a pub landlady friend, all was great for the booking (but no guaranteed fee), then the organiser seemed to go strangely cold on me. I really don’t know why but it had something to do with her being unable to find a support so, I think, she perhaps assumed that there’d be absolutely no crowd. A support was booked in the end. She wasn’t that keen on being there, I overheard her mention when she arrived, unfortunately. My cousin Jo managed to get about twelve of her friends to come which is such an incredible effort and I’m so grateful. There were about twenty there in a tiny pub so it looked full from where I was. But this was not a brilliant gig for me. The organisation was quite slack and I felt a bit like I was a nuisance to be setting up to give a good show after I’d driven for four hours to get there. Despite the fact that it’s a totally new city for me to play in, I believe I am past playing shows this small. And I hate that sounding like I’m not grateful to the organisers and the people who made the journey there. But I had to do my own sound, the equipment that was there was in disrepair and delivered to me very curtly. There was also a band rehearsing above the stage in the pub that were almost as loud as me. If I’d had that slot in a pub in Bristol, I’m fairly sure I would’ve walked out. What is important is that the crowd liked it. My new tunes went down well. As I said at the top of this diary: you have to really love this craft to pursue it, particularly given gigs like this one.

 

Day 6: The Llanerch Inn, Llandrindod Wells, 18th November –

Honestly, just look at this poster and tell me your heart doesn’t melt.

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COMIC SANS 4 LYF

 

Favourite one so far. God, I love being able to claim I’m mostly Welsh. It’s a land full of friendly, genuine people. This one came about through Jasmine who I think stumbled upon my Ted talk. She worked at the pub at the time and emailed to book me. This was actually the first gig to be booked for the tour. She then left the pub and thus became the middle-woman in the organisation of the gig. This made me slightly wary on the day but she was very communicative about it. It was by sheer luck thanks to Rich who organises Radnor Fringe Festival that I found out the pub didn’t actually have a PA! He was an absolute gem thus providing his PA for me completely free. Total legend. For this one, I had Double KD supporting me. Lovely people with a great stage chemistry from the school of buying instrumentals to work your magic over. I’m glad that kind of trade exists within music when I see people doing it effectively. The crowd were tight with applause for the support set so I had to play up to that at the beginning of mine. They soon warmed. It was a brilliant gig. Had the suggestion, on somebody latching on to my words “I want to be a musician, a gamer and still have a sweet girl”, to sign up to Twitch TV and use gaming to promote my music. But whichever way I look at it, that’s still time off practising or working on music. I stayed free of charge in a room above the pub afterwards so got pretty blind drunk with Jasmine, Stu and Callum. Then drove the two hours home on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon through the idyllic mid Wales countryside. It doesn’t really get much better than a gig like that.

 

I also stopped for a little walk at “Water-break-its-neck” before leaving the motherland…

 

 

Day 7: Gwdihw, Cardiff, 22nd November –

 

Where do I start with this gig? It really does get too much sometimes. When you’ve poured your heart, soul and time into making something like this tour happen, for people to respond by doing the simple yet sometimes very taxing thing of leaving their house to walk through horrible weather to come and see you play feels truly special. I’m humbled by the support from so many people tonight. It sold incredibly well for a midweek gig, I’m told. I’m indebted to Kiarash, Lloyd, Captain Mike, Harish, Jenny, Anne and Paul, Sally, Francesca, Rod and everybody else in the crowd tonight. It was such a great gig. And the one in the city for which the EP was written.
I struggled in the between time after soundcheck and before gig time, to summon the enthusiasm needed for what was such an exciting amount of online interest. But I was quietly confident knowing I’d planned some treats and planned the setlist meticulously. The soundman was actually held up for soundcheck but I really didn’t mind about setting up myself once I was told where everything was. Genuinely wish I could do that at all my gigs. So the sound was great…! The room was very hot and steamy. My violin struggles in this atmosphere but I think I managed to play pretty well. Started with the whole of the ep minus Bluff. Again, Neat Rice Soup went down brilliantly, as did I Want Everything. Then a pisstake, gabba update of Men with Guns gave everyone a laugh. Then the real version with the South Park intro and a spruced up loop to drum over. Past that point, Nightmare and Stuff are always bangers. I was sweating buckets. The crowd were great, responsive and attentive. Again, you really can’t ask for much more from a gig. Except – this one was extra special because it was at HOME.

 

 

Day 8 – The Crescent Community Venue, York, 24th November –

 

This is going to be a mammoth task of a 24 hours. But I’ve got a great feeling about the gig. I have to drive back straight after the gig to teach violin tomorrow morning which is not going to be a great deal of fun. But the roads will at least be clear. And I’ve got tomorrow night off. I can do it. Writing this after getting gratis bangers and mash (the night is called Mashed – Thematic!) which was the perfect amount for me to not be stuffed whilst playing. Mr Cat (website maker and YouTube revamper) is en route and we’re gonna meet for the first time.

Mr Cat, Genius John and I..

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Mr. Cat                                                  Genius John                                             Mike Dennis

The venue is buzzing and warm and there’s an 18 piece hip hop band (Abstract Orchestra) playing in the other room before I start. I’m now writing on the other side of having played this gig and my God am I exhausted. I made it on time for my lessons but only managed maybe three hours sleep so I’m hanging.
Lots of thoughts and feelings about this gig. The venue was so much more warm and welcoming than Fibbers. My hosts commented on how that’s a common opinion. They were both really lovely, Jess and Tom, and I was easily as humbled as they claimed they were honoured to have me up there. No quibbles with an agreed fee, totally welcoming and accommodating. Great bunch of good-spirited friends. I thoroughly enjoyed the support acts, Bingers, Genius John and Vox Cornelius, and my face was aching from smiling before I went on stage. Way before..
Which kind of links to the slightly less than ideal aspect of this gig. I was so relaxed when I went on stage and it was so cosy and informal that I don’t think I quite rose to the occasion enough. I played adequately and the crowd enjoyed it but I was a little distracted by not being able to play loud enough for my liking – I played in the bar and there was a gig going on in the other room that took presidence – and was just so chilled from having met so many warm, amiable people that it felt like a rehearsal to the rest of my company of travellers while we sat around a roaring fire and got royally pissed (there was no roaring fire).
The folk at The Crescent were all attentive, friendly, accommodating and lovely. Meeting Mr Cat was an interesting experience. It’s nice to understand where he’s coming from now and to put a voice and some nuances to a name! Performed my dedication to him which felt good. He’s given me so much of his time and skills for free. He is a blessing.
If I were to rate this gig on a purely atmosphere and experience basis, it would get 11/10. When I factor in my performance and my anxiety due to the phenomenal task ahead of me, it would probably get a 7/10. Onwards and upwards.

 

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She’ll never catch that Pikachu looking over there…

 

Day 9: The Islington, Pentonville Road, London, 26th November –

My only photo taken at The Islington, unfortunately…

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I’m really proud of myself for today. Woke up at 8am after my alarm had been going off for at least five minutes without me hearing it, wanting seriously to cry because I wanted to stay in bed so badly. I almost did. I’d had a good eight hours from midnight but there’s a real deficit there from Friday. But I got up. I threw myself in the car. I drove to my cousin Kieron and Chris’s by 2pm and sat down to eat a beautifully cooked chicken pie with them and my second cousins Great and Sicily. I listened to Greta play one of her grade 7 clarinet pieces. She’s fantastic. By this point I’d spent hours trying to get in touch with the venue to ask why I was asked to come to soundcheck at 3:30 when I was first on, at 6:15pm. I had no luck getting through by any method. It was clearly a general reply email that hadn’t been tailored to that event. I plumped for arriving at 5ish and would accept a line check. Kieron kindly drove us all there. I arrived, at first, at the WRONG The Islington which is, conveniently very, very near the correct venue. I ran to the correct venue. The soundman didn’t have me on his list. I went to the door. The guy there had “rapping violinist” written on his door sheet. I explained that that wasn’t my name. I went back to the soundman. He said I was on at 6:40. Wonderful communication from the venue! This aside, I grabbed a pint, did a quick line check, scribbled a set list and was on within minutes. The room was full, half friends, half strangers. Excellent gig. Changed the set list quite dramatically to suit the time and setting. It worked. Then Chris, Liam, gareth, John, Josh and Hannah and I went for a curry and sank a few beers. It was a lovely night.

 

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Long-suffering cousin Chrissy and I

 

Day 10: The Bread & Roses, Plymouth, 27th November –

 

Another gruelling effort, bisected by another tremendous gig. Drove back from London with housemate Will who was coincidentally in Walthamstow for the weekend (and can sleep anywhere through anything!) at 11am. Got back to Bristol at half 2 expecting to have half an hour to nap. Mike from Acoumetal was already at my house the second we pulled up! Him and Drew joined me back in the car at half 3 for the drive to Plymouth. Arrived just before 6pm. Set up. Unloaded mixing desk hired from the man, the legend, Pete from Oasis Sound & Lighting. Confirmed borrowing and moving the house speakers was indeed ok from Bread & Roses owner, Justin. Set up, checked, checked Acoumetal and… Ta daaaa! One whole hour to eat and chill! Surprise, surprise, it went in a flash. Ate some alarmingly sickening food at The Caffeine Club (second time now – there won’t be a third) and went back to watch Acoumetal play a seriously tight set. Those guys need bigger gigs. They are a joy to witness on stage. Then, feeling very fragile and sick from dinner, I started with I Want Everything to ease people in slowly to the rapping. This set went down probably best out of any of the gigs so far with two encores and a request for a third. Loved the performance. The day was a little overshadowed by my exhaustion but it goes down as a good gig, for sure. Two hours back to Bristol having a great laugh with Mike. Then a comical tragedy in the form of: I lay on my bed, blissed out, so relieved to have finished all the driving for the tour then had a message from Acoumetal Mike saying “Drew has literally dropped his van key down a drain. If we chuck you some money can you take us to Cardiff?” They’re supremely lovely guys and they both had to work at 6am. It was 1:30am and they’d just missed the last megabus. I had to take them. It was the last thing I wanted to do!!! So I arrived back in bed at 3:45am. What a bloody full-on day. I’ll be back at the Bread & Roses in February.

Had to leave Gnipper at home again to fit everyone in the car…

 

Day 11: Grain Barge, Bristol, 30th December –

This one feels very much like the last date on the tour with Brighton on Saturday being the first one I’m joining the Moulettes on. Shared priorities so it doesn’t feel wholly like a Mike Dennis gig (Malkovich, Malkovich..). Yes, I’m jumping straight on a tour as a tech after my tour finishes! There’s actually an overlap so the tour isn’t even finishing before I’m on theirs.
Roger (long term video collaborator) and I had planned to film an official live video to I Want Everything in the Grain Barg before the gig. He came down for midday. We set up and got a few great takes (on 5 different cameras) by about 4:30.

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Molly and Gnipper hanging out during I Want Everything filming at Grain Barge

 

Then it was a case of pack up, soundcheck for the gig and eat before doors at 8pm. That sounds simple enough but as usual when I do this gig, it was down to the wire and we opened ten minutes late. Two of my collaborators dropped out and one of them didn’t come along (Zadio) because I had to flake on our practise the night before to retain my sanity. Just Henry played an insanely entertaining set that had most of the more than decent crowd in hysterics. He started quite slow but by the end the whole room was feeling it. Then I went on and started with Junction 19 moving into junction 29 which is fiendishly difficult but, conveniently, a difficulty that I can convey to a crowd for entertainment. Rest of the new EP went down really well but My Digital Girlfriend feels like filler. It just isn’t interesting enough in its current live guise. Soom T came along. I’m touched by that. She’s so funny. Worked out that there must have been 50 through the door if the cash I came home with speaks the truth. People have tended to be generous when they’re buying cds though so it could have been less people. Felt full though and a very enthusiastic and attentive crowd again. Such an amazing response to Neat Rice Soup! They kept going saying “… Nice!” almost into the second verse – ha! Depressing Gown with Rob was brilliant. Best version for ages. Smiling thinking about it now . Met Sammie from Bristol 24/7 which was fortuitous because Jalon put us in touch a while ago and she hadn’t yet replied to my cold messaging but it turned out that she had been meaning to check me out for a while!
I’m notching this one up as a great success. All but the first date and potentially Manchester have been great successes and even those had their high points. To any of the Bristol crowd reading this, thank you very much for popping down and it pleases me to have been very much worth my £3 entry fee!

 

Day 12: One Church, Brighton, supporting Moulettes as part of a Sotones Artists Winter Festival, 2nd December –

This is pretty funny…

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Yeah…ashtray for the fag butts guys, not the bin…

Well, the last gig of my November 2017 Junction 29 tour – potentially the last time I write an album around a road theme – was a little bit of an anticlimax but still very enjoyable. I’d woken up at 5am, having slept for probably four hours at the most, to get a train back to Brighton at 5:49am. I’d come back from Newbury, where the Moulettes had their first date, to go and see Rosie in the Southville pantomime which was very entertaining. Did prove to be another epic twenty four hours of travelling though. I made it to Brighton at the expected time to join Moulettes and the tech team at One Church. It was a charming venue to finish the tour but really this felt like more the first date of their tour than the last of mine as I’m now joining them on the road to do their front-of-house sound for seven dates in a row! In truth, it was more the last date of my tour and the SECOND of theirs. My slot was 3:25pm as it was part of a day-long winter festival showcasing artists on and affiliated with their Sotones Records label. So it wasn’t busy. But it wasn’t dead. It wasn’t badly received. But it also wasn’t yet dark. I set my own sound and cockily informed Jim it probably wouldn’t need much playing around with. I started playing Charge…. It could’ve done with a bit of playing around with! Certainly no fault of Jim’s. But the sound was great by the end and it was with a tremendous sigh of relief that I finished my tour playing Get Off Your Phone and Drive and it turned out, in dribs and drabs throughout the rest of the day, that quite a few people were actually very impressed and enjoyed what I do. I think the crowd being mainly musicians meant that we’re all a bit too cool to compliment each other at the expected times! I then somehow stayed awake to mix the Moulettes for their set at 9:15 and got off sharpish afterwards thanks to former and original Moul, Ruth, to attempt a well-deserved eight hour rest but my bizarrely disjointed body clock decided to keep me awake for a good hour or two. I’m now writing this in the van on the way to the Moulettes third date with them in Liverpool. It’s nice to know I’m now only doing ONE tour role for a few days. Then some much-needed Christmas R and R.

I’d like to say an enormous thank you to all of the promoters who took a chance on me and to all of my friends who shared my videos and statuses and took time out to let people know about what I do. See you all very soon!

In conclusion…
81 x CD copies of Junction 29 EP sold
46 x CD copies of Junction 19 EP sold (well done to those who, clearly, could distinguish between the two covers despite being drunk!)
2,895 miles travelled.
4 x gigs successfully returned from before taking my trusty steed for a service
1 x small polythene bag with a business card and every single detail I could wish to know about somebody deposited on stage
4 x cans of responsibly-sourced Tuna Chunks eaten in approximately…
12 x tuna salad tortilla wraps consumed
countless friends made
9 counties visited
2 months rent paid

Now..

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and drive!

Mike Dennis

Junction 19 May 2017 Tour

The Junction 19 EP Tour – DEBRIEF

Day 1: Brighton – Komedia Studio Bar – Monday 1st May – Luke Bennett supporting

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I was scared about this one, not least because it was the first date. Komedia’s manager – my friend and old housemate – asked if I wanted to cancel a few days before due to ticket sales. There is a heck of a lot to take on for a private hire as a soloist. Won’t be doing it again in a hurry!

But 16 of my dear, dear friends from Brighton came down and there were a couple of new faces, including a friend I went to nursery school with who I’ve not seen since we were 9 years old! A truly momentous occasion. Ben came with his wife, Caitlin. Very touched. Overwhelming experience. I’d say day 1 was a success and, being the only one I felt wary of, it’s great that it was the first date. Managed to catch up with some wonderful people. The set was a little ropey but, aided by soundman Sam’s dynamic lighting, I think it was quite powerful in the end. Great to get this show on the road.

 

Day 2: Cardiff – Gwdihw – Friday 5th May – Hann & Berenice supporting

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I knew this one would be a barnstormer. It nearly sold out. So much support from so many lovely people. Perfect sound from a lady sound engineer, Elin, whose sex I was grateful to note upon arrival. Women have better hearing than men.

Late set tonight – 11pm in the end! Hann & Berenice killed the support slot. I’m beginning to think that, as much of this “living the dream” is travelling and haggling and endless socialising, it’s almost as if the purpose of it all is to enable one to pursue their chosen art in the off-time. But much more likely is that it all informs everything else in an organic compromise.

This gig was brilliant. Possible contender for the best of the tour, no doubt. “Things” (from the EP) is such a workout but, apparently, quite impressive. Check out the wavy bow motion on this panorama-snap from Amy D.

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Day 3: Weymouth – The Belvedere Inn – Saturday 6th May – Edd Bleach supporting

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Tired. Back feels ultra stiff. Taught my kids violin this morning, bless ’em. Lonely road this touring alone lark. I feel simultaneously very touched and a little guilty about all the people turning up last night whose attention for my set I could not match individually after the gig. Or before!

Venue looks great. Haven’t been in yet as taking a deserved chill break in a recommended Thai restaurant that I can neither afford nor feel comfortable in. I yearn for the day I can command fees to bring somebody else (a driver, ideally…) along with me on tour. I have a great feeling about tonight. Fuelled by Cider Kev has been very active with promotion and enormously encouraging with the whole process. Can Mike Dennis crack Weymouth? Only time will tell! About 632 miles travelled so far.

Turned out to be a phenomenal gig. Motormouth owner Tom, lovely crowd. Definitely going back. Edd Bleach was very heartwarming, both on and off-stage. Can’t believe I forgot to play Men With Guns!!

Day 4: Plymouth – The Bread & Roses – Monday 8th May – Acoumetal supporting

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Bar staff are often keen on seeing what I do. I like this. It makes me pine, in some small respect, for getting back into doing some barwork. Or, at least, shouting them out during my set. Of course, not all barstaff are into me. But this wasn’t the case in the Bread & Roses. Mad love to Rosie and Dave!

Had to leave my poor cajon at home to fit a PA and Acoumetal in my car on the way back…

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A fairly painless two-hour drive down, parked right outside the venue for free. What struck me about the pub at first was it was very green! I’d had it described to me by a group of friends who had seen me at Big Love 2016 as “the hipster bar” but that definition can be so broad now, I didn’t know what to expect. The gig was awesome. I played for 90 minutes which I think is the longest set I’ve ever done! Acoumetal opened for me and were as joyous, sardonic and charismatic as always. We travelled back together after they’d somehow successfully packed the PA and all of our gear into my little car. Tour life. I’m not even halfway through and it is kicking ass. I had an interruption from a drunk and enthused audience member on the subject of a title for one of my untitled tunes that I wish I’d responded to more wittily at the time but it only added to the strange beauty of a gig in a new city. Got to give a huge thank you to Sophie, Poppy and their friends for travelling down from North Devon to see me!

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Day 5: Bristol – Grain Barge – Thursday 11th May – Heybus and Just Henry supporting

Now this is the one that I think I’ve most looked forward to.

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In the morning, I tweeted as many people as I could find whose handles started with @Bris in a last-ditch attempt to bolster numbers. One of these was @Bristol247 who immediately got in touch about the possibility of having a chat today! I ended up meeting Anastasia for a brief interview and recording of “Junction 19”. That was done by 3pm. I then spent 5 solid hours setting up for doors at 8pm and made it, right down to the wire. A very mentally and physically intense day! Henry and Heybus’ sets were alternately warm, moving, hilarious and explosive. Mine went great, oddly ending with “Things”, having just asked people to buy the new EP (tough day…)

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And then, poetically, it ended up being Henry, Heybus and myself back at mine, a short walk from the Grain Barge for the first and – the way I feel right now, hopefully the ONLY – rock and roll night of the tour that gradually ended by about 8am…yeah, one of “those” nights.

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Day 6: Pontypool – The Dragonffli – Friday 12th May – Turna Phrase supporting

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I have a good feeling about today. Bizarre, seeing as even moving my limbs at the moment feels like unbearable torture. Exaggeration. But that was pretty much the case a few hours ago. I’ve just got to the venue.

It’s an ace venue, The Dragonffli. Bought by Nick solely as a music venue that’s only open on Fridays and Saturdays. Attendance was low but this could well have been the weather’s doing. Sold CDs to two thirds of the crowd so I must be doing something right! Was great to play with Turna Phrase again. My stepdad came and filmed our sets. I was actually really glad of a chilled one after the madness of Bristol. Check the video of us playing Turna’s tune, “Canvas”, below:

Mike Dennis & Turna Phrase – Canvas, Live at The Dragonffli, 12th May

Day 7: Dorset – Cursus Cider & Music Festival – Saturday 13th May

CAUTION: VIBES OVERLOAD…

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Immediately after teaching violin to my three regular groups, I shot out of the studio to pick up my wingman, Will, and we set off to Dorset. Really lovely day weather-wise. Got there in plenty of time. Very eager security guard searched the car. Said hello to Kev on the gate. Utter legend.

Soundcheck was pretty disastrous. Ended up having to route everything on the pedal to one output as the other wouldn’t stop buzzing. Fairly sure it wasn’t my equipment (just about to check it now actually) but I was never going to blame the sound guys for it, knowing exactly what their job is like. So, after this cafuffle, I only got to play 5 songs but they went down a treat. Got to shout out Will which was apparently very embarrassing for him! People were coming up to him all day saying “Hi Will” afterwards. Anyway, finally at a place I intended to stay in afterwards on the tour, Will and I got suitably smashed and had a great laugh and, now, writing this on Monday evening, I am really suffering for it. Only three more dates now, officially. Then the Tedx videos should be up and then an interview with Tom Robinson. Very busy. All the time. Cursus was a really lovely festival and Kev’s band, The Skimmity Hitchers were my highlight. Curse you, Jasper…

Day 8: Deptford, London – The Bird’s Nest – Thursday 18th May – support pulled out…

This was a tough gig. As I was mixing the amazing Moulettes the day before in Brighton, I drove down to London on the Thursday afternoon to arrive in Camberwell (I think?? where my cousins live) for 4ish. A much-needed short chill and catch-up with cousins Liam and Kieron before I set about the gig.

Now, I’ve played The Bird’s Nest before with Junior Bill a year or so ago. That gig was a joy, once the Mike-mobile made it after an ignition coil failure on the motorway.

THIS time round, I had a really tough crowd after an inexplicably drawn-out soundcheck. I do wonder how it can be so challenging to set up two input channels and to expect them to be identical. But I also sympathise enormously with in-house techs. I’m in both an enviable and un-enviable position with my skills. Anyway, a 1.5 hour soundcheck followed by a gig that I used a, perhaps, unsuited setlist I found from a previous set to a crowd that consisted largely of “lads”, one of whom wore a T-shirt that said “SEX” on it in HUGE letters. And, thankfully, some family and friends. It wasn’t my easiest show. I want to do Cafe Oto next time out!

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Day 9: Cardiff – The Moon – Saturday 20th May

My spiritual home. I’ve just been recording a podcast with Ed Townend (writing this on 22nd May) and it struck me that I never actually played a proper gig in my hometown until I was 30! And The Moon is indubitably my favourite place to do so. The crowd varies enormously in this place. There was a stag-do in when I arrived who I greatly wanted to avoid playing to after my experiences in London. I took them leaving at 9:45 as my cue to go on. Wise move.

It was one of the best gigs I’ve ever played, to a brilliant (small – maybe only 20 people – but brilliant) crowd with the perfect sound provided by Will, who’s done sound for me quite a few times before. Will also gave me a very important realisation about what I need sound-wise that I wasn’t aware of. I can’t say anything but positive things about this gig. Then I got out and found out Tom Robinson had played Stuff on 6Music in anticipation of my live interview next week! Dream.

Day 10: Cambridge – The Emperor – Sunday 21st May – The Whisky Six supporting

 

Another tough one. 7 hours travel in total. Friend Alex was promoting. It wasn’t very well-attended but it went down quite well with those who were there. When I say “quite” well, I mean it wasn’t received rapturously, which is what I’ve come to expect, but people obviously enjoyed themselves. I sold 8 CDs which is pretty good going. Fee negotiations post-gig when you’re exhausted from travelling, have pitched yourself fairly and openly agreed before the event are highly frustrating. I’m learning that it is definitely worthwhile to pitch realistically and consider gigs carefully before accepting them. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable gig and I’d play there again. Big shout to Daisy for her kind words. This would’ve been the last gig of the tour but that is now Friday in Bridport!

Day 11: Bridport – The Ropemakers –  Friday 26th May – Edd Bleach supporting

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B3126 crew. It’s been so nice having some days off driving. Took a wrong turn and went ten miles in the wrong direction on the way. Also very nearly ran out of petrol. I’ve just arrived and it’s ummm… A bit like a Harvester pub. I’ve been booked here as a function band effectively. I hope there are some people who enjoy some good, original music. There’s usually some. You never know what can come out of any gig. That’s something I knew before this tour. I still know it!

It was lovely to play both with Edd during his set and after him again but this gig was another toughie. Practically nobody paying any attention. But hey, it’s a gig! The people who did pay attention loved it.

I should probably have fibbed about this one and said it was a tumultuous climax to the tour – the head barman had to stand on the door to stop more people trying to come in because they were so over capacity, two people were rushed to hospital having passed out from sheer joy and Beyonce gave me a smacker on the lips after my opening number.

In conclusion…

1,545 Miles travelled.
91 EPs sold
countless friends made
6 counties visited
9 service station sandwiches eaten
7  Costa Express coffees drunk
302 Heartstrings plucked – the rest merely wiggled
990 miles breakdown cover foolishly skimped
73 Facebook likes earned (’cause that’s what it’s all about really)
2 months rent paid

That last point indicates my overall feeling about this tour. I’ve lived the dream I’ve had for many years: to make my living from recording and performing the music I make. I feel like my career choices have been justified. I feel endlessly grateful to my friends and fans who’ve spread the word about my gigs, bought my new EP and supported me in any other way. I’m also very grateful to the soundmen/women, promoters and venue staff who’ve facilitated my sets all around Wales and the South of England. This tour has reinvigorated my belief in my raison d’etre and I’ll be blazing into putting together the sequel EP just as soon as I’ve had a little much-needed break from social media.

Uncategorized

Edge in Wordways – Full Lyric Sheet

Astronaut (featuring Pun Ra of Applied Science)

written by Mike Dennis

CHORUS:
Mum always said
That you could be what you want
So here I am
Astronaut. An astronaut.

I used to work this incredible job.
I hated it. So I acted an incredible nob.
My workmates found it much more enjoyable.
I left it happier, a little less employable
I felt like a rodent in my day-to-day
At home, I lived like a king, games and takeaway
The heave in the morning to get out of bed
Was more than I could take, I thought “I’d rather be dead”
I had the idea that I was worth more
Than stocking other pockets that were rotten to the core
Look at me, I’m a prodigal son
They won’t have the best of me before I’ve barely begun
So here I am, a race against time to pay rent
Believing there’s no job too excellent
I had this vision of a time and place
I think they need somebody like me up in space because…

CHORUS

Now I’m up here and things are looking sweet
I’ve got this high tech stuff, a footbath for my feet
My paygrade’s hefty. They know I’m their man.
All I have to do is monitor their satellite plan
And who could do it but me? I’m lounging in space.
Floating in my directors chair, grin on my face
Then an encrypted message pops through the HFR:
“you’re not as important as you think you are”
What…? I spit my coffee out. Dash to the comms.
“Mike to base, didn’t you get the memo? You’re wrong.”
“I’m the don of this space shit. I’m indispensable.”
Static… A diastolic pinch in my ventricle
I gaze at the stars feeling betrayed
My place up with Mars, Venus, Uranus
Is ebbing away. I start to pack with an afterthought
“It’s a sad thing to be an ex-astronaut”

CHORUS

I’m at the airlock, with my suitcase
Farewell, the good life. This hurts like toothache
Before I board the shuttle, a call comes through
“This is Polaris House, listen, you’ve got us confused”
Huh? You told me I was just another number. I’m off, right?
Got my spacesuit on and my suitcase locked tight.
“Repeat last. Mike, you’ve made a mistake..
Listen now, all the glory’s still yours to take.
But look around. The ship is gigantic.
And the thought of being astronauts is pretty romantic.
So we’re sending everybody up. I’ll be there too.
What you’re missing is everyone’s as important as you.”
Then how do I stand out? “look to your skills..
You’re handy with a microphone but not so good with a drill”
I stand back, told. Nothing’s as great as space is.
Mum always said not to get lost in status.

CHORUS

Edge in Wordways

written by Mike Dennis

I wanna be the tip of the spear. There’s so many of us clamouring
for what the telly and the glamour bring.
The Richard, the Gere and the very often touring.
But listen up here, turn the telly off. It’s boring.

I’m 35. You wouldn’t know it ’til you heard me rhyme.
I’m not talking ’bout weed, bars and dissing women all the time.
It’s that slack, dastardly rap-tastrophe, vagabond
whose act actually smacks back to the rap classics we hang upon.
Backtrack with me to my upbringing.
I’d play violin like a rapper and rap like a violinist.
This kid is dope, bow strokes the Johann Strauss
and an exceptional performance with his “yo man” mouth.
I’m confused. So I’m a nerd and headcase.
In many situations, get no word in edgeways
so I said “hey, switch it up. Keep it subtle. Push on.”
The rhyming is the bed and the fiddle the duck-down cushion.
I’m about to show you what my flow do and I know you think:
“Why won’t he just get to the strings bit?”
Shush-ye, like you’re in Nobu. ‘Bout to bowl through like Lomu
’cause I must demonstrate my command of English:
Con Sordino – Italian. Wrong chord – key note is travelling.
Encore, primo is Fralian. Bonjour, Fredo, I’m dabbling.
Torpedo is carrying on, raw, free vocals slathering.
Condor – creed of the carrion. On tour, people it’s happening.
He knows I’m yammering – verb rage.
Disturbances recognised by my seventh birthday.
So while the planet’s being jeopardised by cretin’s birdbrains…
Excuse me while I edge in, wordways.

What I’ve got are my weapons of words, I’m verbose enough.
Silos stacked with a battery – fervent and ferocious ones.
So step back and consciously observe as I open up.
Woah! Cuh-rash! Spu-latter! Emergency! Wanna be a…

I wanna be a noir thriller. But I’m a 90s action comedy.
I know it. You know it. Mike D packs some jolity.
I’m Ironside’s understudy, a separate part.
Seth Macfarlane’s Ted and Mark Wahlberg’s third thunder buddy,
Edge at large, like U2’s guitarist gone rogue
with a cigar and a long coat in Cardiff with Bon Jov-
-I’m a single atom thread, magnified, molecular guillotine.
Slice apart words, inject a sentence with pethadine.
Technical rhyming is gruelling but it pays off –
Gaze fixed, they watch like Great British Bake Off
Cos-play imitates but I’m Snake, Liquid, game on
God-playing at 8, ‘fore I break hinges straight off.
Don’t wanna believe my own hype but dagnabbit, I’m brilliant.
To think I ever considered Mike a run-ragged civilian.
So while these other rappers are firmly wedged in third place…
Excuse me while I edge in, wordways.

But I’m happy being me. The rest is just a fantasy.
Got all I could need and it’s a pleasure speaking candidly.
At the edge of reason and the edge of what you planned to see.
You can find me filing edges, filling in a cavity.

(Now, hit me, DJ Alkemy)

Running out of Things to Say

written by Mike Dennis, produced by DJ Alkemy

I’m white as cotton, harvested by black slaves
and male as Bottom’s star who’s seen his last days.
Slim as any other man who doesn’t overeat,
intelligent enough to know that I’m not thick but no Mona Lisa’s coming out of me.
I’m physically able,
always have a few quid to put food on my table.
I even get to say I’m from the UK.
If the rest was the zoot suit, that’s the toupee.
You wouldn’t think it but I’m blinking ‘stead of talking
cause the only thing I thought is quite appropriate is weather.
Still, I’m slinging syllables upside your head as if it’s clever.
Truth is: I’m at the end of my tether.
Don’t want to bring you down but if you need current affairs,
go to Immortal Technique and he’ll nourish your cares
and me? I’ll read the paper, feel afraid, defeated,
take it, feed the paper straight into the CB waste and seize the day.
‘Cause I have never felt oppression, prejudice or bias
except for positive selection, leverage, empires,
as much joy and freedom as any man could need,
again – you never have to feel sorry for me.
And when you see me play, taking risks proudly,
please don’t say thank you. Please take the piss out of me.
Silence is golden. Hip, hip hooray.
I’ll tell you why I’m running out of things to say.

Easy there, snowflake, I would melt you but I’m too co-o-old.

Chorus x2:
Stop me, stop me.
I need to watch my head.
Stop me, stop me.
I need to watch my mouth.
Stop me, stop me.
I need to watch my hand.
Head, mouth, hand, what do I have left?

Uh-oh.

In school, we used to giggle at impairments.
You did it do. Don’t act like you didn’t did it with your parents.
Before the scolding. We’re all evolved apes
and sense of humour took us from the trees to the cityscapes.
We used to do silly voices and moan as
it dawned on us, told that we had to be grown-ups.
A joke is a joke but we grow provisos on our shoulders
as polls are denoting our quotas.
It’s what’s behind the laughs.
It’s my perogative to find a dark subject that doesn’t tear a life apart.
If I write a rhyme filled with this offensive shit –
When did we all become so fucking sensitive?
There in lies the rub, MD:
When did you lose your sensitivity?
Let’s be circumspect, no personal threats, overtly left.
Well, I can’t argue with all that man, I’m a nervous wreck.
I guess I’m hoping some young EDL member
will hear the first verse – Eureka! – media frenzer
as internationally, attitudes catch up to today
and I’ll be back to thinking I’ve got things to say.

Easy there, snowflake, I would melt you but I’m too co-o-old.

DJ Alkemy.

Chorus x 2

Not that…

Emergency Services (featuring Henry)

written by Mike Dennis and Henry Jackson

M: Don’t panic! I’ve got you, for my sins.
We need a license for emergency sirens.
‘Cause this is bipolar, I mean, this is untenable
and one of us is ending up a vegetable.
‘Cause that tree isn’t one you ever looked to be able to cling to
‘spite the carabenas and the harnesses I’d bring you.
Claws outstretched, still the bow won’t break
and when I handed you a ladder, must’ve thought it was a snake.

Chorus
We’re gonna need the emergency services.
Not for a cat stuck up a tree.
Truth be told: you look like you’re out of one
and now you’re stuck here with me.

We’re gonna need the emergency services.
Not for a cat stuck up a tree.
Truth be told: you look like you’re out of one
and now you’re fucking with me.

M: Somebody hit the firebell, might aswell, this is quite the dire spell.
We tried to gel – it worked well in the cyber realm.
Now we’re yelling “die in hell”, by the by, “I’m’a tellin’”
No you’re not, Ti – compelling Oberon? Tried and failed.
We’d like to show us off if we could only cope with lost
innocence, youth and the time that fell to throwing strops.
‘Cause those were not the kind of belle or fella that we rose to
cotch with or hop, skip and jump in a nicer dell.
You’re inside your shell, where I’m repellent.
I can smell an infraction. Nine, two more nines to telephone.
Poised at the receiver, been back and still can’t decide to bell
or if we’re driven to distraction.
‘Cause they’re always such nice people.
Likely that they’ll apportion blame, then I’m Mike D, the wife-beater.
Psyche! Jesus! That got a bit dark. It certainly surfaces.
We’re gonna need the emergency services.

Chorus

M: Relationships get deep, thank you oh so very wise man.
We know it’s been this way long before byzantine time.
Since time began, friction leads to fire
and we might need a fireman, siren, hydrant, get a guy on the wire.
Cool it, cat, mewing and mewling spurious sputum
leads to furious fuelling of afore-mentioned.
And that tree was a curious, cute an’ beautifully brutal abode,
ripe for the duelling if you sought vengeance.
So you’re better off out, but now you’re stuck with me.
If you were American, get a better man, buck fifty.
I like me but you seem to not.
That’s all! Seems your spoon’s not in the right stew pot.
Man, I’m a headfuck. Looks like I’ve met my match.
We’re two people in love. It gets rougher than death by gas.
So before we cause a scene and get the whole street out,
think I’ll load up some pretence and say: Yo, peace out.

Chorus

H: we’re gonna need the emergency services
after it emerges that my service was worth a tip
you heard it first within this verse
that if I didn’t step in then my ex would be leaving in a hearse
cos her ex sent death threats to both of us
putting strain on our relationship so close to burst
my nose was bust up hurt internally third degree burns
from cigarette ends pressed into my skin
mike I’m sorry I know you want to keep this light hearted
but you’ve given me the recipe to cook up this catharsis
she lived with me rent free my pockets left empty after it
and all I fucking learnt was how satisfying self harming is
remember when you called the police on me?
when I broke up with you after your cheating spree
told them that I was gonna kill myself bitch please
I’m more likely to perform a strip tease on a gypsy
but hold on remember that time when you nearly died?
and I dialled 999 like 99 times
but I couldn’t find where you were hiding until I cried down the line
‘you realise you’re gonna die? fucking why?’
you took a bunch of pills expecting me to fucking chill out
lucky that I loved way you more than I ever will now
one sleepless night at the BRI
think I’ll be sleeping alright tonight .

Half A Turn 2018

written by Mike Dennis

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep (Mewlana Rumi)

It is 4am. Lights are low.
Lewis Parker on the stereo and I’m alone.
Could be any given calendar date.
The hour ravenous scavengers set about gathering waste.
Pre-postman, post-club closing,
a poignant time when I’m past supposing.
The odd group of lads stumble past, the razz
on the back straight. I’m no insomniac like Maxi Jazz.
Pen between teeth, the last glow gone from the embers.
I’ve been nocturnal now for as long as I can remember.
And on a bender, shedding cares, I’m always aware
that when it comes to bedtime, I need an hour to spare
to bid farewell to the Moon and the stars
and the shelter they give from this luminous mask.
As day breaks, it fractures my world.
Always been a heavy sleeper, yeah, but that’s ’cause I’m curled up,
tangled from the second the alarm rings.
Ten times snooze, then a cup of tea is calming.
Somewhere back there, I fell out with day
over things that make the strongest man yell out and say…

Chorus:
In half a turn
In half a turn
In half a turn, the night will creep away.
I wish I could make friends with the day.

The day said “Why so sad? You used to love me!”
I replied: the evil supplied in your being is ugly.
“You think you’re above me? I’ve seen you lie, cheat and steal..
..as bad as anyone else. There’s no crime we conceal!”
That’s precisely the deal: I wake up to corruption
and nothing but human destruction and consumption.
Straining to keep believing everybody is inherently good.
“Know what you need?” I reckon, but what therapy would suffice?
“Some sunlight.” I don’t like what I become
under the overcast Sun, only feel right when dumb.
“You know, there’s people I see so weak that to eat is a blessing.”
In my dreams, they receive all they need to achieve, no distressing.
“What? You’re a saint now, Mike? I think not..
..Seen you in Bristol and Cardiff, trying to be the Partridge of hip hop!”
An awkward boy, like Ty, since the schoolyard.
I wanted to make up but you’re making it too hard.
Besides, half a turn of the globe and you’ll disappear.
“Woah. Speed me up, I’m just a strobe that flickers here.”
Slow down – we could go on like this forever.
“Better not. I’ve got to go but I’ll leave you with my nether” and then in…

Chorus x 2
“Before I go though, your attitude stinks..
..I leave you every half a spin with these azures, blues, pinks an…”
You can keep ’em. Give me tar – pitch and mint white.
“Bro, you personified me!” Take a hint, set and sink, night
has swaddled and coddled me through my darkest creations.
When I toddled, you took my Pop and you…
“Martydom’s great and all but I’m only trying to help. He was…”
Shut up! You’re leaving and take your orange and pollen, be gone and..
“Udders and feelings?” Huh?
“Vitamin D and the reason that you’re even here breathing?”
Well, sure take those, I…”…didn’t believe in your human needs?”
I see where you’re going but mine’s a pact with night.
“Sounds to me like a pretty heavy axe to grind..
..and I have to tell you…” What? “We’re the best of friends.” No..
“Yeah..so you might aswell blame us both for your pestilence.”
I need some evidence “well, look – here he comes now..”
“..Night, take a bow.”

Chorus x2

Bleach

written by Mike Dennis

I think of you, brooding.
You arrive, for you: booming. Soon to be blooming.
On stage, you’re soothing, moving,
tangled up, evidently.
You come off and your mood swings soon, it’s too soon. It’s looming.
Now you’re at doom and full gloom and leaving.
I think of you, nobody receiving.
Nobody waiting up with a spliff or a bevvy can
or a more savoury nightcap, hug or a friendly hand.
And you let it touch you. You let it in and it mangles your resolve, what little you had.
You let it suffocate you.
You own your depression and I’m a shit for calling you out, isn’t it bad?
I think of you, lost to your plight
and I feel for you, dropped into night.
You let the dark side win and you’re not looking back.
No artistic pursuits pick up the slack.
But is it your path? I think of you, fondly.
Do you ever think “the dark side’s conned me”?
Posts on the subject so prevalent.
I’m sick to death of them and try to be irreverent.
I don’t doubt you. Your pain is real. It’s valid.
It’s horrid. Think you can’t? No – you can manage.
Don’t panic. I think of you often.
But my thoughts aren’t what saves you when you’re fraught. That’s you.
You’re winning alone and half of the trouble
is finding your way through this rubble out of a bubble.
To you, I say: my sympathy is real
but I despise the way you make you feel. Sometimes.

We only have today. We only have now.
The dark side wins only when it knows how.
And it only knows how from clues
that you give it. So you choose: win or lose.

It’s not a disease, even if it’s a reprise
of a long-forgotten theme that’s brought you to your knees.
We all want peace. We all have a choice:
To carry on or to stop, noose up and hoist.
I think of your voice when it quivers with hurt
and I want you to know all the power is with you to work.
You’re in charge here. I’m so priveleged.
Don’t know where I got the gall to deliver this
But whatever you’ve had to go through, you’ve done it.
There’s no pressure to summon the courage.
Whatever you’ve had to go through, you’ve done it.
There’s no pressure to summon the courage.

You are a living, breathing human soul.
They can program it but they won’t manage control.
You’re dust, electrified. I think of you, crying
and I well up – you’re so strong, a biological giant.
You’re perfection. Natural selection to its paragon.
Fuck it. Be arrogant. Be extravagant.
The light is inside you, outside you. It’s everywhere.
The dark’s only marked when you’ve kept it there.
You’ve got this. Have some Hollywood.
Look around and be thankful for the common good.
You’re too beautiful for losing this fight.
What do you believe in? The dark, or the light?

We only have today. We only have now.
The dark side wins only when it knows how.
And it only knows how from clues
that you give it. So you choose: win or lose.

Paint

written by Mike Dennis

You’ve got your colour back.
I know you’re thinking I’m oblivious and I don’t care like I’m a lumberjack.
But the world looks rosy, puce and cornflour
and I’m a strong believer we weren’t cursed sweet or born sour.
If you’ve got a spare couple of quid, the full number of limbs, a tongue, gums and lips,
dip your brush.
And try a broad stroke, colourful swish, drum up a picture of courage and wit
you can pick to rush.
Consider this a pep talk from Bob Ross.
It’s up to you if it’s Hogwarts or hogwash.
Let you buy some time. It’s all to play for.
So do you rise and shine or fall and fade?
For so much we can’t choose, do yourself the favour
of taking today in your hands, be your destiny-shaper.
I don’t deal in absolutes – nobody said it was basic
but life can be great – it’s all in how you paint it.

The Pocket Tap

written by Mike Dennis

It’s when you realise you’ve forgotten what you came out for. So turn around.

It was a very cold morning in January
like how many old relatives can you bury?
The trees were bare and the pavements were iced.
Some of those same old dears, hobbling, afraid for their lives.
Now on this very cold morning in January,
had a show in the town known as Canterbury.
I was walking from my car to the venue,
thinking: hope they have a veggie option on the menu.
Up ahead of me, a dude was rushing.
Squeezing round people, going “oop”, not blushing.
The scene was familiar, kind of out-of-body.
So many “oop”s, I expected sha-waddy-waddy.
You take in a lot, streaming down the kerb;
a railway arch, a tailgating arse in a Merc.
Yes, you picked up: it was morning, I was already there.
Easy there, college boy, I like to be prepared!
So anyway, I was trailing this guy.
He had a place to be, clearly, wasn’t wasting his time.
Cargo shorts, stuffed pockets, tool belt, no hair.
Made a young couple “tut” as he cut them up, tearing
around a frozen puddle as he reached the corner.
Little did he know, he was seen by this performer.
He froze to the spot like he’d heard a sound;
did the pocket tap and he turned around…

So turn around, tap, tap, tap, tap x 4
I saw you doing it.
We all saw you doing it.

Now, on a chilled-out Summer evening
we were headed to the pub and it was heaving.
Found a table inside, sat down reluctantly,
Rob had the first round. We’d all bunts enough for three.
Now, on this same chilled-out Summer evening
it was so humid some were having trouble breathing.
Course, in that situation, your assumption is: “…fag?”
’cause we’re all dumb as fuck, no gumption, not to brag.
We were catching up, chewing the fat.
One and a half pints in, Stu whistled “lads!”
It looked like an old friend had a spare bit of space
on his bench for these hermits outside of this furnace,
a bird in the hand – we practically cheered –
shot up, knocked over a drink, rapidly jeers erupted.
I’ve never seen a boozer so busy
as we shuffled to the door to a souzaphone ditty.
It took a while to even get to the door.
Maybe a minute? I’m not sure. Probably more.
I led, the two Robs behind me;
so hot, was like a boilwash in our tidy whiteys.
Uh oh, though, where’s my beer?
It was…it was right here..
No, I left it on the table, nothing else but stop in tracks:
I turned to the side and did the pocket tap.

It’s when you realise you’ve forgotten what you came out for
and you don’t wanna look stupid.
As if the pocket is the portal to your memory.
Well, let me tell you I’m lucid and
I saw you doing it x 7
We all saw you doing it.

The pocket tap is a skilfull manoeuvre.
It’s not for a brand new being like Grand Puba.
They couldn’t handle the deftness of stroke
or how to make it look like you’re not the ineptest of blokes.
You’re thinking I’ve been inspired by Asda Price adverts like
after my appetite’s satisfied, slap my thighs?
But look closely – everyone’s doing it.
They don’t want to be lumped in with directionless lunatics.
So tap your pockets, slap ’em, whack ’em if you have to.
Roll your eyes to heaven really obviously, that too.
Mr. Forgetful, brain of a spieve.
That’s a combination of sponge and sieve and, thus, we live.
Be aware. Be unaware. Pick and choose.
I hope, at least, I’ve given you a different view.
So I’ll turn to the side now and I promise that
I’ll always find it funny seeing you do the pocket tap.

So turn around, tap, tap, tap, tap x 4
I saw you doing it.
We all saw you doing it.

Nightmare part Deux (featuring RasThulhu)

written by Mike Dennis and Jalon Fearon

Bridge: Relive all your nightmares as we speak.
Give you fresh nightmares every week.
Is this a nightmare on repeat?
Give you fresh nightmares every week.

M:You got an early start. Your boss is listening, all-ears.
The bakers had your sandwich ready when you walked here.
Your mate turned up at the park with some more beers.
You haven’t used your ventolin in over four years.
J: Nah mate, I just told you it’s been four months,
That’s what happens, no one listens, and you’re all cunts,
That’s why when I awake I dull the edge by smoking four blunts
Cos humans are a scourge, and I get the urge to fucking pull stunts
M:Sounds like you need a clout to even out your fury.
You know that anger blockheads like Ian Dury.
You’re cold and broken like a ski injury.
Because of all the lies, you’re seeing blurry.
J:Don’t try to organise my life, you couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery
and surely you can recognise hypocrisy and foolery?
I know you think you’re erudite, concise and kinda cute
But who’s this twat? I don’t get paid enough to kick you all the truth…

Chorus:

Tumbling, still in the midst of a nightmare,
Building a spliff for me – quite rare.
Killing the riff and the run of the mill of the lyricists, Bristol we’re
Trapped here. Spinning on coke and this crap beer.
Supposed to be writing, we’re sat here
Killing the riff and the run of the mill of the lyricists, Bristol we’re..
M: The weather’s just your vibe. The sun has got his hat tipped.
You had a natter and got shot a smile by Fat Flic.
Rhyme practise, hyped, recording adlibs.
It’s a day when you can lay back and wail “who the cap fits”.
J: My rap skits are disproportionate like bat lips and fat hips,
The twat sits upon his throne of judgement,
A grudge fixed firmly in his mind about the assholes who
won’t budge him,
I nudged in just before I fucked off for good,
I need a fucking holiday (yeah you probably should)
M: ok, I see this isn’t getting us to level-pegging.
You’re like a hen, nesting, angry with a devilled-egg in.
I’m like a Cheshire cat but one you want to euthanise.
J: So close your eyes and tumble down this rabbit hole of truthful lies.
Said my goodbyes, but popped my head back in for smugness,
a drugged mess,
confessions on my list like Amber Rudd’s desk.
M: but much less – seriously – take it down some pegs.
You’re on about an 8. We need a 3 or 2 or 1, yes?

Bridge

Chorus

J: My distress speaks volumes but nobody seems to hear it,
My response is rage but nobody seems to fear it.
I feel like I’m near it, yes Nirvana calls my name.
It’s all a game. But I’m not playing any more, so fuck the fame.
I want everything: Ventolin, Mirtazipine and Ephedrine.
My method in this rap game is effortless, I’m beckoning
The end times. These nightmares won’t defeat me, try it ten times.
I bend rhymes around the sickest beats, I think that you’ll find.
M: The nightmares will defeat if we don’t kill the beat
And trample over samples like a herd of wildebeest.
The rhyme mission the only thing that kept me grounded
Since the day a simple “A” was played, resounded.
If you bathe, Jay, I’ve got trademarked suds.
Hard like Dillinja but it’s the dill and ginseng bathscrub.
You heard me the first time? Well, it’s rare that you agree
But you and me’ll never turn this nightmare into a dream cause we’re..

Chorus

Isla View

written by Mike Dennis

Bridge:
You know I love you, I just – hmm, hmm x4

Chorus:
I love you. So much. So much. So much.
But I wish I could have. Yes have.
I love you. So much. So much. Yeah, so much.
But I wish I could have. Yes, have sex with everyone.

Not just a taster? Little vacation? A way to break up the coffee and Netflix an’
Chill. Not a deal-breaker, a placation, a carrot where there is obviously sticks an’
Ills. Polyamoury is so new to me, feel like it’s a bit far from my comfort zone.
But I know that every time I see someone that I fancy, well, I want to bone.
And it’s not like you are so different. I’ve seen the way that you look at the Yodel guy.
With a glint, forbidden temptation. You thought that you were alone? Sorry, so am I.
It’s a big joke, shacking up safe in the hope that you can just keep it arousing an’
in a quid-pro fashion note down all that’s prohibited, libido leaping and bounding an’
yes, the trouble is I love you so much and you are the most sweet in my history.
Double bubble when we come to from the fug of intimate cuddles and kisses we
share. Where there’s love and commitment, there’s also dreaming and unspoken fantasies.
More or less, we feel and repress these. Otherwise, we would be straight-up abandonees.
Wicked joke. Thanks for the penis, God. I hope you get a great laugh at our shared expense.
On the eighth day, laying down comfy and giggling as your creations are scared and tense.
Feeling like sixteen and everyone around me saying that they’re getting old and grey.
Fuck it, I thought. Put it in a song and proudly say it for the folk who are scared to say..

Chorus

I don’t wanna be a swinger, good God no! I’ve only got guts when I’m on the mic.
But this lust is perennial as crop growth and when the cock crows, many of us bite
into hot toast, thinking: this must be, what, day two thousand and one of this long haul?
And the pilot’s fallen asleep at the stick while her passenger wants to be on-shore.
“What an arsehole! Who is this arrogant, jumped-up player? Who does he think he is?
Dragging us down, tarring us all with the cheat stick! Fuck him! No love. We are leaving!”
Sorry – one sec – think of that time you were stifled but you knew you needed company.
‘Cause I’m just sketching a broad feeling we all have, nothing more. Now, sitting comfortably?
Good. I need-ta-get-it-off-and-get-it-on-whenever-it’s-apparent-that-I’m-on-my-bike-back-pedalling.
Many-men-are-like-a-hero-when-they-catch-an-errant-tear-roll-off-a-sad-and-lonely-sidetracked-heroine.
Maybe-ladykiller-when-I’m-on-the-mic-but-when-I’m-off-it-I’m-a-little-lamb. Or a pussycat.
What-I’m-saying-is-I’m-really-glad-to-have-this-opportunity-to-vent-but-maybe-it’s-one-that-I-shouldn’t-have (?)
You’re buff. I love you and your love is superb.
We all want loyalty. Cheating is the ugliest word.
But this abundance of attraction needed somewhere to go.
Women, men, all sing along for seeds that won’t get sown!

Bridge

Sing along for everybody you won’t see naked. Sing along for that guy you sat next to on the bus-stop. For everyone who ever made you think “….fuck.” For the sheer unparalleled joy of monogamy. For the sanctity of marriage, sing along…

Chorus

The News

written by Mike Dennis, produced by F-Block

Chorus:
So watch the news. It’s so new.
The news’ll show you what you could go through.
The news is not true. It’s a show that proposes views.
An overhaul is so overdue.
Oh, news. I’m so over you.

Goddamnit, the news.
Allow me a minute to impart my views.
That bit is emotive. That story’s an advert.
That one’s a rag trying to say she’s a bad flirt.
That’s not even news. That’s character defamation.
Look over here. That’s the strategy of this whole station.
Trying to sift through this spin is a mission.
Like judging the intention of a given global coalition.
I have no need to see these people’s suffering;
Much less wait for this dramatisation as it’s buffering.
We can feel their pain from hearing the story.
These images only serve to broadcast evil glory
and infamy. They’ve just achieved it thanks to the front page.
We’re repelled by the news from a young age.
But if it was objective and as dry as a bone,
would we have fewer excuses? Could we try to atone?

I mean, I don’t know. (You’d hope so, wouldn’t you?)
But what I do know is I’m not sure about that and…
I don’t think you can be either.

Then there’s the free rotation of:
open quotations, “facts”, close quotations.
When is a fact not a fact?
When it’s passed through absolutely any interpretation by a hack
or a news corporation. You choose what to believe.
Sceptical about anything YouTube offers to me.
Plus the papers – each one does have its own agenda
and most stories, for their gory truth, I’d need to return to sender.
Now, I’m just as far away from a conspiracy theorist.
Stranded in the middle with so little being clear.
It’s a narrow, winding path that, at most, I follow gingerly.
More often than not, I’m stationary like an injured flea.
Does it not seem likely that there’s some of column A, some of column B…
Do you follow me?
There’s a fair bit of wool-pulling, sure.
But occasionally you fail to see: your hood’s pulling more.
There’s no sense believing nothing’s reported as it’s meant to;
wind up thinking everyone in this world is against you
and then you might end up as a part of the news:
Another disillusioned youth with no heart in the future, yep.

Chorus

My Bench (featuring Rob Nichols)

written by Mike Dennis

It’s my bench, get away from it, it’s my bench, get away from it, it’s my bench x 4

If possession is two thirds of the law, then my bench is the turgidest flaw – see, they tickle me
Sat on it now – it’s a circus, you fraud! – it’s my bench and a burden of raw creativity
with your bags and the biggest of grins as if you have the shiver-me-timbers audacity
to deprive me my ticket to win. Starting to think it’s a deliberate thing, like you’re tracking me!
Watching, waiting for my head to pop up on the horizon then you rock up with your lap dog.
You timed it perfectly – never cock up. Just as I’m getting there, your mutt hops up and has a yap, God!
I suppose, yeah, you might wanna chat in this oasis from the noise, connurbations and the park’s dead
and in another mood, I might honour that. But you caught me wanting to work on a rap I’ve only half-read!
Writers will know: there’s a place you can go where if you sit, you get a taste of a flow, so elusive.
The perfect distance from the haste and the choads. You spectate and the pace isn’t slow, just conducive.
See, for me, it’s a park or a stream, rolling hills, sun starting to beam through dappled leaves
but a key part of the dream is my bench and it’s hard to redeem your apathy

MELT THEM. If you know another rapper that spits like a Dilophosaurus battled a squid, then he or she is…
WELCOME. Like a fryer battering fish. Or Kieron Dyer back on the pitch. They can keep my…
BENCH AN’ another one – crackling pig over an open fire scattered with twigs, you will see I’ve…
KNELT AN’ offered up the baddest of pits to wreak havoc on these harridens. It’s no mean beehive!
Promise me: if you ever sit where I write, you won’t look back and split hairs in spite – it’s number one, no?
I could handle that pitch, yeah I’m tight-lipped, glaring, eyes swing left and right but under thumb, though
I concede: if all property’s theft, then this here is Bob’s bereaved’s bench we can steal together.
Made up the name – could be Connor, Lee, Meg, whoever loved this park, lost their teeth, dead, they could feel forever
through these six planks. This came about one day, me thinking “It’s raining out. I’m off to you know where…
…to write this very song”. Too lazy, scout. There he is, plain as doubt. Wish I knew Judo, brer.
There’s no cover-up. He found it, same as me. It’s for the public. I can bear forgiveness.
Join me there, buttercup, at my bench. But I’m fucked if I’m telling you where it is!

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An introduction to my 15th home-recorded album, by Mike Dennis

Here I am again, then. A new album. Thirteen brand new tracks I’ve somehow found the time in my freelancing life to put on record and call finished. Burnt out from an amazing summer of festivals and trying to put a tour together. Fresh from another break up – more on that later but there will be nothing personal.
Today, I’ve called “Loose Ends Day” in my diary so it feels right to be blogging about the album the day before I make my priority to set about intensely practising and learning how to play the new tunes live.
If you read this blog as far back as 2016, you may remember that Smiles and Cries was my twelfth full album that I’d recorded to date. The first eight or so are a bit cringe but god was I passionate. And full of angst. Plus those almost always had upwards of 25 or so songs. Yes, yes, it’s quality not quantity. My trajectory with creativity has been a bit like the passage of, shall we say, an “alcohol connoisseur” from knocking back copious litres of beer on a night out to sipping fine wines with acquaintances. That’s a refined, complimentary way of looking at it anyway.
So “Edge in Wordways” is the fifteenth and, of course, I’m going to tell you it’s the best. It’s got some fun collaborations and some deep messages and some straight-up party sh*t. The title came about from me often finding it hard to get a word in edgeways with people close to me at times of duress and I’ve played with the expression to describe the idea of edging in, using words, to the consciousness of the populace. That’s the idea. I’ve followed the familiar theme of trying to expound upon this idea in the title track and put a collection of songs based on sporadic, inspired moments around it.

But the real thrust of what I’m trying to communicate with this album comes from the message in the single, “Astronaut“, a song that I am intensely proud of. As a soloist who often goes down very well at his gigs, I have a heightened awareness of my perceived status. It is a perception that both irks and delights me but, when coming to the time of promoting an album and tour (promoting anything, really) it definitely leans more on the irksome side. I know that I am no more important than the person reading this. I know that I am no more useful to the plight of the human race than anybody else. I know that I am less useful to society than a doctor, for example. Entertainers aren’t going to be at the top of the passenger roster on the ark, in my opinion. Yet we are often held up as idols, superstars or role models and have to live up to that when we perform or we lose the crowd. I struggle with this. I like to be larger than life on stage and I think I do it well but I wilt at the idea of anybody idolising me or describing me as a musical genius. What I’ve tried to put across in Astronaut is the ridiculousness of a delusion of grandeur and entitlement. It’s a song that pretty much completely sums up my view on the beautiful fantasy that is being a popular musician. And it gave me a reason to use lots of the Nasa sound archive for a beat. Win.

That brings me to the doubts I’ve had about the future in the writing of this album. I won’t make this blog a lament, I promise. Let me be clear: there are tens of things that I still love about the writing, recording and playing of original music; sitting in a park in the autumn sunshine and conjuring new bits of wordplay or playing a bright, joyous A Major arpeggio to begin my set in a new city, for example. But the business mind (or wealth) required for a consistent upward climb of exposure for a musician…is not mine. I just can’t embrace the marketing and image-crafting without partially detesting myself. And, though a lot of people might see that as me just not wanting it enough, my overriding feeling is that I abhor the culture and trends that dictate that this is how you get on – – – you know what, I went for a run after finishing this blog and came back needing to tack a bit on to this segment: What I can’t make peace with is the idea that everything we do now needs to be proved to have been done. I have no interest in how attractive your meal looks. If you told me about it, I’d be pleased for you and ask you if I could join you for one some time. To reference myself from “The News” on the new album – self-referencing itself being another painful cause and effect of this current of self-indulgence I’m aching to get away from: “I have no need to see these people’s suffering / much less wait for this dramatisation as it’s buffering” We are utterly obsessed with ourselves. A world of voyeurs. Something I love, such as making and playing music, should be an escape from that crazed obsession. And fuck me, I am dog-tired of it having to be yet another and, actually, even more intense strand of it – – – I want help with the promotion. I ask for help. I’m boundlessly grateful to my friends and fans who genuinely like and share my work. But I have been struggling with severe doubts about continuing to push myself to play bigger stages to bigger crowds this time out and without help from an agent or manager, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep going with a smile on my face. My first plan after this tour is to get in a studio with Clayton Blizzard and Jay from First Degree Burns and refamiliarise myself with the notion of making music purely for the love of it. I’m a very lucky person. I have skills around music and sound that can enable me to earn a living without being on stage and, much as the idea of putting aside the sacred dream of earning a living from songwriting is really quite gut wrenching, that may indeed be where I’m going in 2019. So enjoy this album and tour!!

Let’s get back to the good shit. I wrote the bulk of the words for this album here completely on my own in a field for two nights. I can’t tell you how life changing it is to go phone and Internet free for 48 hours. I was completely off grid and it felt like my soul was able to come out to play, free from the perpetual distractions of social media. Do it as soon as you possibly can. I will be posting the lyrics to all of the songs from the album some time in the next couple of weeks. I hope you read them.

I’ve run out of time on my loose ends day to add anything more to this and, let’s be honest, it’s been a tough read already.

Until you see me on tour, I’m going to be doing very little but working, rigorously practising my fingering (teehee) and creating arrangements of my new tunes that are as engaging and exciting as possible. I already can’t wait for tomorrow.

If you’d like to listen to what’s already available from the album, head to my soundcloud.

Thanks for reading. See you on tour x

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The lyrics to the Junction 29 EP

Better late than never, right?

Here are the complete lyrics to the Junction 29 EP (out November 2017 and available at http://mikedennis.bandcamp.com)

Junction 29

I like the Hayes in summer. I love Womanby Street.

So many weekend nights: Moon, Clwb and repeat.

I like Parc Cefn Onn, all the trees and shrubs.

Used to write at the pond about my teenage loves.

I loved the valleylines trains, sat bristling and eager.

Loved the picturesque sights from my seat, now it’s Arriva.

I love that I am never more than thirty moments drive

from the wild countryside, past the dirty, smoky sky.

I like the weather – no, really – I like the weather

and I can always count on Wales’ raindrops to pepper

my plain jotters heavily, paint spots on melodies

open chain-lockers of lain-frosty memories.

I like Queen Street for old time’s sake.

Cheap dinners, chill up in Pillars with their bow-tied waitors

and as for Spillers: how could you not love this shop?

The old soul of a music scene that’s bubbling hot.

I love the pubs when the rugby’s on.

A vibe, live with pride without the ugly songs.

I still need the Sat Nav to be hitting my target.

Junction 29, I’m exiting to Cardiff.

Capital of the paradise of the poets.

I like the pedaloes, terrapins, reddened rope,

pyramid playground and all the ducks we fed at Roath Park Lake.

Love the smile thinking of those heartaches

that I suffered at the hands of friends I now can’t wait to see.

I love the stadium, St. David’s Hall.

My first job where I spent days enthralled

for £12.80 a shift. It all went on CDs.

Well, maybe some spliff for the music to deep-breathe.

I like the drive, late afternoon to The Moon.

Text Will “I’ll be there soon.” Hope we’ve not won the wooden spoon.

I love Howardian, Studio 22.

An outlet for kids that rap who, you know, plenty do.

I’m overcome and can’t put it all into words.

My hometown, the highs, the lows, the absurd.

Cathays High raised me, scarred me and it hit hard.

Junction 29, I’m exiting to Cardiff.

Neat Rice Soup

Everywhere I go, I see people being

My neighbours and my family, the friends I’m seeing

In the parks, on the net, in the streets they’re being

In the shops, when I’m working, people keep on being

It’s one of the worst words – first thought?

How are those folk that you work for?

Youth out to vote ’cause they lurve Corbs

Mmm, barbeque, pulled burnt pork

When I’m on the mic, I drop a verse more

Yeah, have that buddy, you deserve more

Bowling rhymes straight, fast or a curveball

Riding wave files like a party on surfboards

See, I wonder where they’re mean when I see a glot of

In a bubble with a meme that is being not too

And I’m lucky to create my own reality that’s nice.

Common decency applies, think I need some free advice.

…and if you don’t know about nice, then you won’t know about “oop”…

Everywhere I go, I pass people going

National informal code, we all know it’s

When you squeeze around a dawdle or a corner road

and you covet the mobility of horny toads

‘Scuse me, pardon me, I didn’t mean to, oh, you

And there he goes, he’s off again, Oh Mike, that’s so you

I’m on a mission – get out my – no, if I could mosey

This couple walking up ahead look mighty cosy

Pavement politics, they’re such an issue

Hayfever season and I am grappling with a tissue

Used to be doubly as awkward as a stoner

Like passing families when walking with a boner.

Let’s keep it PG ’cause we’re all good friends here, my good

Why do you do that? Got a hand to lend if I could

Just say it like it is: you’re too busy to hang about

So on a mission, don’t care who can see you pranging out

…and if you don’t know about “oop”, then you won’t know about “reet”…

Everywhere I go, I get a mate go

At the Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose

Whether dressed in khakis, tuxedos or dayglo

and they say it with no uncertain insane tone

I’ve stumbled on a parody of The Archers

9 out of 10 times, they’re drinking Thatchers

Bowling out the pub front door, plastered

“I ain’t afraid of you bastards!”

It’s a localised infection of a dialect

I’m quarantined with Andy Parsons and his hired help

999, haven’t you dialled yet?

Somebody send a chopper or a private jet

It’s not a rite, a rate or a rote, it’s

Any night of note, you can notice

The Westcountry equivalent of Namaste

and I’ve heard they also say it up in Tyne and Wear

G.O.Y.P.A.D.

Like you didn’t spend the last hour glued to it!

Like without it, all this traffic, couldn’t move through it!

Like you care about that baby in a pushchair!

Like you’re talking to a mate, he’s scoring Kush, yeah!

Like that message couldn’t wait another three nights!

Like your car is gonna drive itself through these lights!

Like your Facebook event is such a massive function!

Like that like is worth death and mass destruction!

HOOK:

Get off your Phone and Drive!

I’ve had a long day and I’d like to stay alive, I mean

Who knows why?! I don’t think I’d choose

to live a life stuck following a prick like you!

Get off your Phone and Drive!

I’ve had a long day and I’d like to stay alive.

You should’ve hitch-hiked, dude,

look at us sit tight, fuming

over you stopping traffic in your pin-striped suit.

Like that video of D***** L***** is worth showing!

Like you need to check on speeches with John Bercow in!

Like your Mum’s on the line with some big news!

Like she’d love it if you picked it up and hit cruise!

Like Next Hype didn’t inspire this!

Like you didn’t need this fire in your wireless!

Like you don’t see me in your mirror mouthing

words so fast that you think I’m near a thousand!

Like your pin-striped suit wasn’t your choice!

Like you’re not running OS Tortoise!

Like it’s possible to drive without your eyes

and your BMW’s Kit, while you’re Michael Knight!

Like you spare a tiny thought for your fellow man!

Like this whole queue wanted to hear Yellowman!

We’re all sitting here, polarised.

Look mate…Get Off Your Phone and Drive!

HOOK

We’re all tapped in – let’s be frank.

I’d feel the same about a Datsun or ex-Army tank.

I’ve got a place to go and a life to lead

and I could check your notifications at twice your speed.

But I wouldn’t do it there – no.

Go, go, go, gogogoGO!

Aww nice one, mate. Drive away. I’m irate

but had the time to write “nob” on your license plate!

HOOK

Bluff

Sometimes I think this is all just a bluff.

A strong hand but not quite enough.

A grand gesture. Not “Mike gives up”.

‘Cause I was the wrong man with the wrong type of love.

Now I play at festivals all the time near where your parents live.

Bump into your best friend and there’s her kid.

He’s gorgeous. I think, in some parallel universe, there they sit.

And he’s not as sweet as mine and yours is.

All the sweat dripped, a storm in a teacup.

The miles travelled? A hiding to nothing.

You could say the same of all that we each do.

But sometimes I think I’ve been hiding and bluffing.

Watching the bees. So industrious.

I’ll do whatever I can not to think.

My social skills were the rustiest.

Now I do whatever I can not to think.

A rolling stone. Thanks to you, I know what that is now.

No chance to fester. I’m rounded.

But you still pop up in my dreams with your deadly smile.

And I wake, shudder, cowed and dumbfounded.

‘Cause I was so brave back then. I went through the mill, over it, round it and down it twice,

Thrice, ground to the dust of all I could ever be

and clawed myself back to a sound-alike.

And your best friend’s baby? We never had one.

I’m pro-choice but it tears me up.

The sweat dripped lies on stage deck, stagnant.

Where a lone voice prepared to bluff.

I don’t know what’s happened to me since. I’ve changed.

There’s things we all want to be better at.

But I catch a glimpse of my crazed dance and wince.

I know I had real hope ahead of that.

Before her. Like I was immortal, invincible, solid.

Now I’ve pieced together a life in defiance.

And when she was bad, she was oh so horrid

so I’ve got coping strategies nailed down to a science.

And sometimes, I think even this is a bluff.

My artform. Nothing but fluff.

However tumultuous, it could be a buffer for love.

I’ll do whatever I can not to think.

We only slept together, you know, is this just a bluff?

This is my strong suit. You’re all seeing it.

I’m cashing out and I’m headed for the door.

But one of my cards is upturned

and one of you notices it’s not the same colour as before.

It doesn’t matter, does it? We all had fun, right?

We’ve never seen a musician so engaging.

And besides, he’s ours for this one night.

Who cares if, beneath, his resolve is fading?

Doesn’t it all come from cavernous grief?

The rise of a purpose, a drive and a new vigour.

The one that got away is your muse, your happiness thief

And that’s not going anywhere just ‘cause you hid her.

You’re not built to cope with anything less than you deserve

Whether that’s hereditary or nurture.

And your fire on the mic, fire on the stage, it’s a gift and a blessing

Be it true, mock or interpreted.

So write, perform, strive, grovel, simper, play,

Bite your nails, smoke your cigarettes, drink the pain away,

Get high, practise, go out, collaborate, socialise,

Entertain everyone, wear yourself out, energise.

Make her see you, not just her friend and the baby you never had.

Put yourself in her dreams. This is not a bluff. It’s a better hand.

We only slept together, you know. Is this just a bluff?

My Digital Girlfriend

We’ve got all the basic parameters.

If, Then, Start, Stop, Wait. Limit characters.

Synchronisation of free dates in our calendars.

We discuss nostalgia for Asics and Slazengers.

I met her on Tinder and the same things embarrass us.

Three mutual friends, she has great pins and ankle-s.

Brown hair, waist slim, straight fringe, man magnet.

Execute swipe right. Dating began at once.

Ha-ha-ha-ha. Donald Trump. Lunatic.

Shall we order food? Not bothersome, you can pick.

Please, after you – no? Alright then, Bhuna, Fish.

Oh, you have some yoghurt under lip, I can remove a bit.

Twenty two fifteen, we ordered up an Uber quick.

Your flat is lovely. You’re more than buff, yes, super fit.

Kiss me now then it all becomes rude and it’s

Command prompt, chorus up, a flawless fuck, an amorous pup, my…

Digital Girlfriend.

We’re not robots.

Digital Girlfriend.

She makes the show stop.

Digital Girlfriend.

We’re not robots.

Digital Girlfriend.

She’s so hot.

I think we might be a ninety nine percent match dot com,

mod cons, I decide to get hatched – hitched,

ERROR. Untidy sign of said glitch.

One percent fragmented, might be time to check disk.

Weird science, by design we Netflix an’ chill.

She’s a nurse when Mikey Dennis is ill.

We alert hivey mind, the wedding, it will

be a modest ceremony-ony-oh-oh-oh-ony.

My apple apologies. One does begin to wonder

whether a cold series of ones and ohs can underpin a

loving relationship, interaction composed of none but

text, emoticons and cybersex with photos of us, younger?

Irrelevant. Her profile pleases.

Free of bad habits and gross diseases.

She is mad, but within scope, my needs is:

short one sandwich but she totes five cheeses.

Chinese manufacturing her motherboard.

Souped-up rig, form factors I’m a sucker for.

Processor upgrade, CPU class that only some afford.

How did I wind up being her Hagrid and her Dumbledore?

Maybe it’s because of the because of the glitches?

Her exes maybe couldn’t find the switches.

Not the ones that you’d tweak to adapt, miss.

I mean the switches Richard Prior had to beat his own ass with!

I Want Everything

I want balance.

I want: I’m ok, you’re ok.

I want my freedom

And I want the prospect of reconciliation.

I want everything.

You say I want that.

I want it all.

I want peace in the middle east and I want cheap petrol.

I want plastic gadgets and I want a clear, blue sea.

I want everything.

I want what I can’t have.

I want what you can’t give

And I want it so much, I want it now.

I want everything.

I want the biggest stage and the largest crowd.

I want everybody to hear and love every word.

I want the voice you want to listen to, the body you want to look at

And I want the time to rest and want more.

I want everything.

I want to be revered, want to be respected, want to be cherished, want to be loved.

I want everything.

I want to be looked up to.

I want children.

I want to wait.

I want my time and your time and I want them whenever I want.

‘cause I want everything.

I want to believe (honesty)

I want to strive and i want to achieve (honesty)

I want the truth, please (honesty)

And I want the truth dressed up when it suits me (honesty).

I want a benevolent leader.

I want a leader who’s pleased to be eager.

And I want a job with a boss who respects what I can do

And I know that you want that too.

I want to help people whenever I can.

I want to know that I’m needed and a relevant man

And I want to be a musician, a gamer and still have a sweet girl…

Yeah, I want everything in my fantasy world.

I want knowledge and I want some hope.

I want my health and I still want to smoke.

I want rain when it’s sunny, I want a fire when it’s cold.

I want equilibrium and I want to die when I’m old.

I want money and I want you to have it too.

I wanna get loaded and be free to do what I wanna do.

I want to turn back time and move it forward

And I want to see that this pen can do more than the sword could.

I want a blank page and I want it filled.

I want a furious ride and I want to chill.

I want total transparency and I want to dream.

I want ignorance, I want bliss and I want to scream.

I want to be an animal and I want to be civilised.

I want order but without being militarised.

I want to live.

I want to make my struggles count.

I want to write a whole song without a fucking doubt.

I want Akala to read my list.

I want Eminem to stop shouting so I can still focus on his gift.

I want everything.

I want gender equality.

I want to look at you and not see a body first but your quality.

I want to be healed. I want to be saved.

I want to kneel and have a neat grave.

I want sanctuary. I want redemption. I don’t want religion.

Least not these ‘isms restricting our vision.

I want unity but without exclusivity.

I want an unbiased method of delivery.

I want desires. I want to excel and I want to bow.

I want to understand.

And I want to end this now.

Uncategorized

A rhymer who happens to play violin pretty well

Greetings Violinica fans,

In the unlikely event that it has escaped your attention…I’M ON TOUR FROM 9TH NOV!

I’d really appreciate you helping me get the word out however you can, particularly in London and for the Northern dates as I don’t know very many people in any of those places. 

The FB events to share are below. 

This is the poster, lovingly created by my fair hand:

9th Nov – Fibbers, York, supporting my mates, DJ Format & MC Abdominalhttps://www.facebook.com/events/158521321369052/?ti=as

There is an exclusive discount ticket link for this one that only I – and now you – have the link to! Any purchases through this link will pay my petrol to get to the venue and back:

https://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/York/Fibbers/DJ-Format–Abdominal-/13027792/


10th Nov – Winchester Gate, Salisbury https://www.facebook.com/events/112020372818576/?ti=as


11th Nov – The Belvedere Inn, Weymouth https://www.facebook.com/events/119518855370809/?ti=as

12th Nov – Fiddler’s Elbow, Camden, Ldn https://www.facebook.com/events/1025275757574924/?ti=as


16th Nov – The Old Abbey Taphouse, Mcr https://www.facebook.com/events/135383763742978/?ti=as

18th Nov – Llanerch Arms, Llan’dod Wells https://www.facebook.com/events/474606492907304/?ti=as

22nd Nov – Gwdihw, Cardiff https://www.facebook.com/events/1186877274778657/?ti=as

24th Nov – The Crescent, York https://www.facebook.com/events/280227392384270/?ti=as

26th Nov – The Islington, Pentonville, Ldn https://www.facebook.com/events/675333829323309/?ti=as

27th Nov – Bread & Roses, Plymouth. https://www.facebook.com/events/124870201486411/?ti=as

30th Nov – Grain Barge, Bristol https://www.facebook.com/events/115579959071800/?ti=as

2nd Dec – One Church, Brighton, supporting my mates, Mouletteshttps://www.facebook.com/events/179484285927785/?ti=as

The Junction 29 EP, for which the tour is to promote, is available to pre-order here:

http://mikedennis.bandcamp.com

and I’ll have CD copies with more amazing artwork by Braga last 1 with me at each of the gigs, for £5. 

Now, to practise!

Thank you for your support, as always,

Mike Dennis

 

Uncategorized

Junction Twenty Nine

5056163003353.jpg

I really can’t wait to share this new EP with you all. Seriously. I am poised every day to share a new tune. Ngh! Sheer luck and persistence has helped me hit upon some fresh, funky, phat production that I’ve felt has often eluded me since I’ve been doing EVERYTHING.

You can pre-order the EP here now:

Pre-order Mike Dennis – Junction 29 EP

..and here are the confirmed tour dates:

9th NovFibbers, York, supporting DJ FORMAT
this is a special exclusive discount ticket link for the York gig

10th NovWinchester Gate, Salisbury
11th NovThe Belvedere Inn, Weymouth
12th NovFiddler’s Elbow, Camden, Ldn
16th NovThe Old Abbey Taphouse, Mcr
18th NovLlanerch Arms, Llan’dod Wells
22nd NovGwdihw, Cardiff
24th NovThe Crescent, York
26th NovThe Islington, Pentonville, Ldn
27th NovBread & Roses, Plymouth
30th NovGrain Barge, Bristol
2nd DecOne Church, Brighton, supporting MOULETTES

Really hope to see some of you in the crowd and catch up before and afterwards!