The Stranger Tunes album is out now!
A 78 minute CD with 65 strangers collaborating on 18 tunes, all from the comfort of their own homes.
Participants include everyone from kids and bedroom guitar slingers, to members of bands such as Levellers, Pearl Jam, The Wonderstuff, The Alarm, Boomtown Rats, Carter USM, The Neville Staple Band and many more.
Back in the spring of 2020, singer songwriter Nick Parker, like millions of other musicians around the world, was faced with an uncertain future. Knowing many others would be in the same position (and already being slightly frustrated by the audio and video quality of live-streams) he thought it would be fun put out some remote collaborations as a video series. Having only ever recorded voice memos on his phone before, Nick bought himself a home studio and learnt how to record properly. He then sent a rough guide of each song to various musicians he’d had the pleasure of working with over the years. These musicians then filmed and recorded their parts before sending them back. For most of the songs, Nick enlisted the help of Dave Draper to mix the audio, while he set to work editing the videos. Each episode was released in support of a charity and thousands of pounds were raised over the course of the year. None of the artists knew who else was on their episode until it was released, and for the most part, for each episode, Nick made sure to choose musicians who didn’t know each other, hence the name Stranger Tunes. Many thanks to all of you who shared the videos and supported the charities over the year. You can find all the episodes on the ‘Stranger Tunes’ tab above.
Recorded back in the now-seemingly-quite-pleasant January at The Marr’s Bar in Worcester, Make Siddowda is our first live offering and we are very pleased with it. My band mates were all amazing as always and Dave Draper did an impeccable job of capturing and then mixing/mastering the gig. Les Carter’s Abdoujaparov supported more than ably and my daughter Flo joined us for a song, which is always a real joy.
A couple of years ago, when I first had the opportunity to support Levellers on their ‘One Way of Life’ tour a friend Claire Cressey made some wooden peg figures of the band and sent them to me with a view to making them into a video. She managed to capture their likenesses incredibly well and even made a Boakesy to join in the fun.
For various reasons the idea for the video was shelved, followed swiftly by the little wooden Levellers who spent the next year or so squatting in my cupboard.
Then, back in January this year, an email came from Jeremy Leveller asking if I’d be up for making a few introductions to go with the songs for the DVD version of the album Peace.
It sounded like a lot of fun so I started sleeping on what to do. I had the honour of supporting them again for two nights in Bury St. Edmunds in February so during the daytime on the second date I interviewed the guys and got their thoughts on the new album. It was a bit noisy but I got what I needed and took it home. Next I wanted to make some ‘Levelly’ settings so I took a trip down to their studio, Metway, in Brighton where their lovely manager Steve showed me around so I could get a few photos. He also nursed me as I had managed to cut my head on the way through the TINY door. Good first impressions and all that.
I came away with these photos of the various rooms and got to work creating the scene.
Getting through rather a lot of balsa wood, glue, Stanley knife blades and other materials…
I made little replicas of the rooms…
However… I didn’t really bother to measure everything properly and when I finally evicted the Peg-Levs from the darkness of the cupboard, I realised they didn’t quite look right.
I couldn’t seriously expect them to give their interviews from a Persian version of quicksand. There was only one thing for it. I had to give them legs. So a few days – and charity shops – later the whole crew (including the interviewer) were fully legged.
The fading on the jeans is talcum powder by the way, so they smell delightful. Finding a small enough plaid for Boakesy’s troosers was a bit of a mare so I ended up just drawing black lines on a scrap of red material, but don’t tell anyone. I made a didge too so that Boakesy would feel more at home. There was an incident involving him dropping it but you’ll find out more about that when the DVD comes out. (trivia fans, the only reason I gave Charlie a pair of sticks is because otherwise his hand would have been holding his bits – see first photo)
So, the stage was set – literally – for the interviews to commence, and the guys made themselves at home in their new surroundings.
Loads of audio was edited, hundreds of photos were taken, thousands of tiny mouths and eyes were manipulated, and great song by great song, we made our way through the album. There are some gloriously amusing moments to look out for – mainly down to the banter between the band members.
When I had finally finished everything I had word from Camp Leveller that they needed one more *actual* music video for one of the songs to complete the DVD.
Did I fancy it? Heck yeah!
However, lockdown was heavily upon us so I was restricted to using things I already had in the house.
I won’t go into too much detail about the video because it’s not out yet, but it involved another few thousand photos and very bad arm ache.
It was a massive pleasure to have something to immerse myself in for this rather strange period, and of course a huge honour to do it for a band I’ve been a fan of since my teens.
Levellers will be releasing the videos one by one in the run-up to the album launch in summer.
Massive thanks to Claire Cressey for capturing the guys’ likenesses so well, to Steve for mending my head and letting me snoop around the studio, to Jez for giving me artistic freedom to basically mess around, and to the rest of the band for not minding my terrible interview techniques, or the strangeness I put them through in the last chorus of the *actual* video.
Just back from the last gig of the Skinny Lister tour and I miss them all so much. Not just the band members and crew, but all the lovely folk who turned up early to watch the support guy. Thanks so much if that was you. Everyone seemed to be really up for it and there was some very beautiful singing along in at least two different languages.
Thanks so much also of course to all of Skinny Lister, was such an honour to be asked to join the tour and an even bigger to be allowed on the stage to play and sing a couple of songs with them.
They’re taking a little well-deserved rest to update their families but will be back to their normal energetic selves come the end of 2020.
I get to enjoy a little rest now but will continue to try to come up with enough songs for a new record. May ACTUALLY even put it on vinyl this time. Have wonderful Christmasses and see you next year!
Hi, I’m going to stop apologising for being bad at updating this because it never changes.
Just come back from an awesome tour supporting Ginger Wildheart and the Sinners. The whole band and crew were such a joy to work with and I had the massive pleasure of being joined by Ginger and Neil Ivison (that makes them sound like a couple – they’re not) for my song Oceanographer. I already miss the guys and girls and I’m hoping we can do it all again some other day.
I don’t have too long to be pining however as I’m off again next Wednesday with sea-based folkiepunks Skinny Lister as tour support for their UK tour.
Things are already looking rather exciting for next year but I can’t go into too much detail just yet.
Thank you all for your continued support. Hopefully see you on the road soon.
Been trying to think about how to sum up Beautiful Days and I’m not quite sure where to start. I first went to the festival 2 years ago as part of Gaz Brookfield’s band and while I was there I played a few of my own songs outside Mark Goodman’s much-missed Magpie Music tent. The police came and stopped us but to be honest we were creating a bit of a squish in the thoroughfare so they were right to do so (and anyway, we’d run out of ‘hits’). Ben, Chris and I also got our names down for one of the open mic slots on John Bownas’ much-missed Bandstand.
The following year a friend of mine Dan Caruso had to cancel his Bandstand gig and he kindly put Ben and I forward to replace him. This time we had twenty minutes and during the gig we made a video for my song ‘Departures’. Magpie Music had to put up with us again on the Thursday night, this time unplugged obvs.
It was therefore, of course, a massive surprise to be asked to bring my band to the mainstage only six months later, but once I’d stopped panting heavily, and had checked over the email again and again, I happily agreed to it.
There are so many people to thank for helping us to get to that stage – literally – but it really is mainly down to all of you who have supported me over the last couple of years by coming to gigs and buying albums and clothing – looking out over the crowd on Sunday was like looking through my T-shirt designs folder on my PC. There was even a Why? shirt from 25 years ago!
Thanks to my band for being ace, Darren for all your work as LeonardTech and to Les Carter for the nostalgic fun.
Thanks to Gaz for letting half of us play with you and for suggesting folk come back the next day.
HUGE thanks to the kids that helped out in Es Tut Mir Leid. Your artwork and dancing was perfect, and your smiles and bubbliness were super contagious. Auctioneering skills were second to none too!
Thank you Graham Parker for taking it upon yourself to organise loads of German signs and for teaming up with Russ Torr and Rob Conch Plant for Double Denim Fun.
Thanks also to Richard Kingston for making the birds fly around the stage. Hopefully they weren’t too off-putting. On a related note, apologies to the lighting guy/photographers for giving you a massive white screen to deal with.
Thanks to everyone who helped by giving out stickers with a special mention to Kait who helped me on Saturday night when I realised I had a couple hundred left over!
Massive thanks to all the stage crew and to Stephanie, Amy and co for making us feel so welcome and relaxed backstage. It’s such an important job, but one that often goes uncredited.
Lastly thank you to all at DMF and camp Levellers for taking a punt on a relatively unknown band and letting us loose on the big one.
See you next year, possibly not as a performer, but certainly as an enjoyer.
Hi, sorry it’s been a while since I posted here. Since my last post I have had the massive honour of supporting Levellers again as a trio with Ben Wain and John Hare in Malvern, and as a full band in Northampton. So far, festival season has consisted of Ey Up Mi Duck, Something to Smile About, Glastonbury, Roystonbury, South Cider, 2000Trees, Castellans Folksommer, Langenberg KGB and Wickham. This week we head out again for Boomtown and then it’s Beautiful Days, Watchet, Whitwell, Rockstock and Barrel and Ragged Bear.
In the meantime I have been busy writing for another album and have made a new design for the T-shirts. This time it’s bees (modelled by my godson below) and I think this will be the last barcode-based design. You can find them up on the merch tab as usual.
See you soon hopefully! Thanks for your continued support.
So there’s a new T-shirt design and while it may look rather random, the koalas represent the False Alarms. Y’see there are usually just six of us, but every so often the delightful John Leonard comes to join in the fun. He has also been known to jump on my back from time to time so he is represented here by the baby koala. Shirts, hoodies, vests and flowies are available HERE should anyone feel led.