I had every intention of writing a lengthy piece about the European tour but I still don’t have the energy so this will have to do. First talked about in 2019 the European tour supporting Levellers finally came about this month, three years later. I won’t bother touching on the Brexit side of things because I find it so incredibly depressing to even think about. What I will say however, is that once we were on the mainland everything was as beautiful as it was in the beforetimes.
I won’t list all the good bits about each venue and city as it would take way too long and be way too boring to read. However I am incredibly grateful to all the promoters and the staff at Paradiso, Vera, Effenaar, Gloria, De Roma, Depot, Casino, Fabrik, Lucerna Music Bar, Columbia Theatre and CC Zwanberg for being so friendly and welcoming and making the long tour so pleasant for us all.
I want to thank Levellers’ crew (present and absent), Mark, Matt, Jez, Dan, Jon, Charlie, Simon, Pabs, Helena, Rob, Rich, Alex, Gaz, Kaleb, Bri, Steve, Phil, Libby, Fi, Dave and Laura for again being so welcoming and not once making us feel like we shouldn’t be there.
Thank you also to Anita van Lieshout and Bernard van der Berg for putting us up, and feeding us, for the first half of the tour, saving us a fortune on hotels!
Massive thank to Darren, who started out as ‘drive’ but within a couple of hours became the perfect roadie, always ready with the open duds to receive our instruments after the show.
Thanks also to Jo who joined us for a few of the gigs in the middle, helping out on the merch stand and sucking wax out of everyone’s ears (honest).
Penultimate thanks goes to my band mates Brad, John, Tom, Ben and Shane. Consummate professionals from start to finish and a joy to be on the road with for two weeks.
Lastly, thank you so much to those who came to the gigs, bought merch and generally made this all worthwhile. It really means a lot that after a few difficult years, you are still all going out to support live music. Hopefully see you again soon!
This beauty was first talked about in 2019 and for one reason or another – which I won’t go in to – it ended up being in 2022. Can’t wait to get out to Europe again and hear all those beautiful languages, eat all that beautiful food and meet all those beautiful humans.
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.