Last Friday my friend Joe McCorriston had his album launch gig in Lancaster and he asked me to go up and support him, which I was thrilled to do. I set off early and was enjoying my drive listening to some new music that I'd been meaning to listen to but hadn't yet got around to (Dodie and Jack Rosies new EPs were both highlights). I got to Lancaster, explored the town (it's been a few years since I've been there, a few of my favourite bars from back in the day had closed), had my soundcheck, met up with some friends and watched the opening acts. The day was going well. My set was also so much fun; everyone seemed to be enjoying it, and I think I chose a really strong set list. I finished the set like I have many before, walking out into the middle of the room and singing Bangarang. As I was doing this, I noticed that my guitar was going horrifically out of tune which was a little bit odd, but it happens sometimes. Normally to counter this, I hit the strings a little harder to make the guitar sound more percussive and it seemed to be working. I hit the strings for the last chord, and the front of the guitar burst off.
The guitar was 10 years old. It was my first decent acoustic guitar that I brought with my own money, so it had some sentimental value. It has performed well over 1000 gigs and has certainly seen some things! It's had two new sets of frets and has had to be re-varnished and glued back together a couple of times before, the last time this happened I was told that I'd probably need to stop gigging with it in a couple of years and just retire it to the studio. I'm pretty sure that the luthier didn't expect it to reach it's retirement in such dramatic fashion.
I've been quite philosophical about this. It died in the way that it lived and it definitely doesn't owe me anything! I'm going to turn the front of it into some kind of art piece (probably a clock stuck at quarter to three - like the one I've had in my flat for years), and then rebuild a new guitar out of the rest of it that will become a writing guitar, it might be rubbish, but it will mean I don't have to just bin it. Also, getting a new guitar, although unexpected expense, is always fun and I've not done it for years!
On Monday, I took my van in for it's annual service. I had saved about £500 for any repair work that might be required, as previously that's been the highest I've ever had to pay for car repairs. The van is just over three years old and has done 52000 miles, so I thought any problems wouldn't be too serious. It turned out, I was wrong! There's a pretty major problem within the engine and another one not so major in the gearbox. The first estimate was that this would cost me £2500. On top of the fact I need a new guitar, this took my breathe away. I put a few statuses up explaining this and asked people to stream some of my songs just to help soften the blow. The response was absolutely overwhelming.
From Monday through to Thursday, my stream count was up by 800% from what it normally is and it wasn't just a one day spike either, people have been carrying on listening which is mind-blowing, which will earn me close to £200! I think that streaming has a bad reputation for not paying very much, but personally, I see it as money for nothing, and the £20-40 a month I get normally from steaming sites is a lovely little bonus, but it's clear to see how easily it can be turned into a good fundraising effort without asking anyone to spend any more money than they normally do. Spotify has a free tier after all, and for those who have the premium services, I only asked that people add me to their playlists and press play every now and then, it really adds up!
Not to mention, that other people saw my post and went and brought some merchandise from my shop, and a few others went onto my bandcamp page and purchased some of music and paid an extremely high price for it (Bandcamp lets you choose what price you want to pay for things). I don't really know how to put into words what this means. I wasn't expecting this kind of response. It's so humbling and inspiring. It's made me more determined as I push forward to my big plans which will be revealed in April.
An update on the van. Vauxhall have now agreed to pay 70% of the engine repairs because although the van is out of warranty, it is still very new and shouldn't have this kind of problem. I'm still fighting with them to pay even more of it!
I've also had a rotten cold this week, but I'll be honest, due to how everyone has been this week, I've not felt sorry for myself once.
Other things that are going on: I cowrote a song this week which will hopefully make it's way onto Danny Gruff's debut album; I almost finished another song for my own EP which I hope to have out very soon; I've been working on Lizzie Jane's EP (one year late, but it's so good!); my house show tour in February is nearly finalised; a small pay what you want tour is nearly finalised for the beginning of March and my tour around Europe in April with Danny Gruff is beginning to take shape a little bit more. So, very productive.
Sometimes, things happen that we don't plan for. They often very irritating and cause us some headaches. It normally involves money! I'm in a really lucky position that I do a job that people like to support, I wish there was a way I could repay you all. I guess I just have to keep working hard and showing that I'm worth your money and effort!
Much love! xx