It always comes down to time….

Doesn’t seem to matter what you are trying to do, work, home, hobbies it really does all come down to a matter of what time you have available to you and how you manage to split it up. As I type this I’m actually on a Family holiday, and for some bizarre reason I woke up on the dot of 5:00am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I’m watching a glorious sunny morning develop, working on some Photos from the HRH Blues 4 Festival a couple of weeks back (almost there) and posting a quick update here. Going to head out to the back garden of our base here in Donegal shortly and see if there are any Birdies up and about, have seen some Robbin’s and Coal Tits already through the windows so hopefully there will be.

 

Writing hasn’t been working at all the last week or so, but I think the fog may be clearing from my mind now, with some luck when the little guy has gone to bed this evening I’ll be able to get stuck into finish off the reviews tonight, and get somewhat back on track. Not going to touch any of the photos I take this week until we get home at the weekend, so I guess I’m already borrowing time from next week, it’s what a lot of us end up doing these days to try and fit things in. Too hard to catch up with things though and eventually something gives and in reality that will pretty much always be your hobbies, it’s easy enough for me to take a camera out in the garden and try to catch the birds flying around or feeding, but it’s another 30 minutes or an hour our of a day, then editing the photos is another hour, I think I just need to start organising time better.

 

Today, it’s all about getting out and enjoying the break, off to Glenveagh National Park, in Donegal, a beautiful spot no matter what the weather, but if it holds up as it is now it should be a terrific trip, wish us well, the little guy wasn’t crazy about the beach yesterday, a little too brights with the strong sun, but he had fun travelling around as he always does, we paid a visit to the beautiful Fanad Lighthouse yesterday,  Would love to head back there sometime, it’s a lovely spot. Once again we are taking in a piece of the stunning Wild Atlantic Way, do visit if you ever get a chance and plan a trip following part of the Irish Coastline.

 

Right, out into the sun (although it’s cold right now I’m sure) and we shall see what we manage to see out there………..enjoy your day where you are ………

Another year on my way home with the Blues from missing the Blues ;-)

This weekend it was the turn of the Blues, with me shooting and working on some Reviews of HRH Blues 4 at the O2 Academy in Sheffield, as it has been the last couple of years. The lineup this year was once again a mix of really well known and loved Blues/Blues Rock legends alongside some of the cream of the UK’s up and coming Artists, and as always with Festivals it was some of these that will now live long in the memory.

 

Headlining each night this year we had the legendary Bernie Marsden and the blinding King King, both were fantastic and among the top sets of the weekend, but where do we start when assessing a weekend like this, wonderful music, great friends and like minded music fans, what more can you ask for…….well a new pair of feet would come in handy right now, it was a hard working weekend at the end of it I’d photographed all of the Sets on both stages and have reviews to get written too, could do with a couple of days off, but that’s not very likely is it 😉

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Matt Long – Catfish – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

 

Of the acts I was seeing for the first time there is something a bit magical about the delivery of frontman Matt Long, you can see he puts everything into his playing, there was more than a few that mentioned being close to tears during the haunting “Make It Rain”. To watch any artist dig so deep into themselves to deliver their music is truly a pleasure to be present to see.

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Pontun Snibb;s Wreck Of Blues – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

 

There was a wide range of artists and styles, be it Blues/Americana, Rock, straight out Blues and some bands that probably don’t fit into the genre too well. Was great to see Pontus Snibb (Bonafide) with his alter ego and the Wreck Of Blues and although didn’t get he chance to see their full set they sounded great. It was a shame that with only a few acts on each day that the sets on the 2nd stage overlapped their mainstage counterpart so closely, made it very difficult for people to see both.  But it’s always difficult to co-ordinate these things.

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Danny Giles Band – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

 

On both days there were some bands that really did blow me away, absolutely loved Danny Giles Band, superb guitar player, Rocking band with a great groove, damn I enjoyed these guys, and how I’ve missed out on them up to now is beyond me.

Closing out the evening after Bernie Marsdens set was the amazing Pat McManus Band, not only did they play a blinding set but they also managed to keep a large, and tired crowd up dancing and awake for that little bit longer, great set and as usual Pat was on fire.

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Pat McManus Band – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

Pontus wasn’t the only one stepping over from their more familiar roles with Rock bands, we also had FM’s Jim Kirkpatrick with his Blues band Heavy Weather.

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Jim Kirkpatrick Heavy Weather – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

And we also had my friend Peter Scallan (Moritz) playing his first gigs with Brian Rawson Band, and they sounded great in both their Acoustic and Full Electric sets.

 

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Brian Rawson Band – HRH Blues 4 – 2018

 

There are tonnes of other highlights, photos and ramblings to come from me on the whole weekend. Will leave this post with a quick shot of another massive highlight for me, the excellent Stevie Nimmo playing guitar again and sounding amazing on the big stage Sunday.

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Stevie Nimmo – HRH Blues 4 -2018

Wonderful rewarding weekend, but also very tiring, very little sleep (and not from partying may I add) will have to catch up on some sleep for sure, but was never going to happen tonight. Back to work in the morning, and a quiet night tomorrow is the plan………….

 

A little bit more productive….Review wise

Well there is no doubt that my productivity as a Music Reviewer hit a low point in the second half of 2017, but in reality it was unavoidable, much less free time to work on stuff and much more responsibility looking after a loved one, such are the ways of life, but still managed to get a couple of reviews a month done, which is probably the average for a lot of people.

So how has 2018 begun, well so far have 2 published reviews, and two being submitted this evening, and a bunch more on the go, so that’s all positive, if I can keep to 4 a month I’ll be more than happy as the year progresses.

First couple of published reviews (Blood Red Saints and Ailafar) are in the AOR/Hard Rock spectrum, but as always there will be lots of variety in genres, styles as I always cover across the musical ranges, it works with my own tastes that are very wide ranging, everything from AOR to Black Metal, Blues, Hardcore, Rock anything to be honest.

Links to any of my reviews for 2018 can be fond on the following page –

Reviews Albums/Gigs 2018

We can already see just how much content is coming in during January and it’s at times a little overwhelming, it’s getting more and more difficult for Media Outlets to cover even close to what’s now being released. Plenty of new names on the scene too which is healthy, but there’s always a worry that at some point we get over saturation and and lots of quality releases could get lost in the mix. Lets hope that doesn’t happen and we will work hard to try and get somewhat informed views of albums out there before they are released, at least that’s the plan 😉

How much have you planned for 2018 ? Are you mad ????? ;-)

Ok, back so quickly, yes but it suddenly hit me just how much I already have in my thoughts or actually organised for 2018. Current count is a total of 32 Gigs, of them 4 Festivals that I think are already organised, 6 Trips to the UK, and we haven’t even gotten things started yet. So the question comes flying at me again in big capitals –

ARE YOU MAD ????????

The answer is clearly yes, but hey, I’ve a lot to make up for, and I really want to get as much done this year as possible, as I think it may be the last year I can do much at all for a while. So lets throw caution to the wind and see how it goes. Really looking forward to it, lets keep the energy as high as possible and see where it takes us.

Today another one got added, the wonderful Pat McManus Band playing in Dublin in Feb. Hell Yeah !!!

The Pat McManus Band - DRC - 26-09-2014
Pat McManus – DRC – 26-09-2014

 

Marking achievements gets harder every year ?

Really it does, as we grow older and our circumstances change, along with the demands on our time from not only our work but also family or other external influences, it becomes harder to see what you have gotten done in a year.

Personally, well I would say on the Photography/Music front, less than I got done last year, but at the same time considering all that has changed in my life this year perhaps a lot more than I could have expected.

Attended at least 2 Gigs/Festivals a month (yes a significant drop on anything in the last 8 years – but still some awesome shows)

In reality I have only been able to shoot a few shows this year, and luckily also a number of Festivals, which helped a lot. But those I have done have been terrific to be at and even better to shoot, some of my favourite Artists, some from the Bucketlist that have been crossed off, and some for fun that really were that.

Reviews wise – well even with a few days to go I’m still trying to get over the 36 mark for albums, and perhaps only 10 Gigs/Festivals, again a noticeable drop on three or four years ago when I started Writing, but at the same time 3 per month isn’t all that shabby. It’s still an honour to cover Albums and Gigs for a number of Sites.

At the end of the day these are just figures and don’t mean a hell of a lot, but it’s always an easy way of seeing how busy you have been with other things. Perhaps not a fair comparison but in 2014 the figures were 69 Gigs/Festivals and 61 Reviews, and pretty much the same in 2015. perhaps they were the exceptions 😉

But there are many other things that have happened that can be marked as success stories, and even winning small battles should never be ignored.

Still 2017 has been a difficult one, and here’s to 2018 being a much better, happier and healthier year for us all.

 

So how has 2017 panned out – good, bad or indifferent ?

Well personally, it’s been a bit of a mess of a year, so much stuff going on and less and less time to do stuff I’d like to get done. The year has flown by, and although I’ve missed so many more gigs than I’d ever like to, through illness (of everyone) and other commitments taking precedence, additional responsibilities and just less time in general. But having said that I’ve still managed to attend, and shoot some amazing events with some Artists I’ve always dreamed of seeing. And although there’s not much left of the year, there’s still a couple of gigs left to get in.

Really would have loved to have gotten back over to Bloodstock again, but sometimes family stuff just has to take priority and that was certainly the case in 2017, but there will always be other gigs, and boy oh boy does next year look unbelievable – so many Festivals with stellar lineups, gigs and Tours getting announced every couple of days, it’s going to be a complete blockbuster.

Highlights of this year so far have got to have been –  Click on an image to go to the Gallery.

Jo Harman/Elles Bailey – Jo’s stunning show at the Jazz Cafe in Feb, now available on CD – do go and check it out.

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Jo Harman – Jazz Cafe London, Feb 2017

 

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Elles Bailey – Jazz Cafe London, Feb 2017

 

Shooting HRH AOR again, with some brilliant performances as always and getting to see bands I have not seen in almost 30 years, the likes of Lita Ford, Michael Monroe, Slaughter and Autograph, or some newer bands like The Radio Sun.

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The Radio Sun – HRH AOR V

Shooting HRH Blues in Sheffield, some terrific artists and performances and a number of whom I hadn’t managed to see before.

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Sean Webster Band – HRH Blues 2017

Rockingham 2017 – another absolutely kick ass weekend with great bands and people, this Festival has definitely become a highlight of the Calendar, roll on 2018.

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Vince Neil – Rockingham 2017

Here’s to more next year and a number of Bucketlist bands to cross off the list, already have some excellent shows lined up for the New Year – and looking forward to shooting a couple of shows early in Januray  \m/ \m/

Can you have the Blues missing the Blues ?

So back home a few days from another awesome weekend of wonderful music, this time around it was HRH Blues in Sheffield, and I’m already missing it, yes I have the Blues from the Blues 😉  Was lucky enough to be shooting and reviewing this one for Firebrand.

A two day Festival, with some really brilliant performances though it did all seem to fly by all too quickly. With Artists from the UK, Europe and the US there’s plenty of choice in styles and approach, but there can’t of been many that go for it as much or as well as the Billy Walton Band, such a fun set for a band absolutely loving what they do.

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Billy Walton of the excellent Billy Walton Band.

There were many highlights across the two days, of course it was such a shame that King King couldn’t play (sending best wishes and a speedy recovery to Alan Nimmo – maybe next year), but it was awesome to see Erja Lyytinen, Simon McBride, Ten Years After, Laurence Jones, Chantel McGregor, Sean Webster Band, Dan Patlansky and lets not forget Crow Black Chicken who got a lot of mentions in the last few days as one of the bands of the Festival.   Just wish I could have seen a lot of the artists on the 2nd stage as well, sadly time overlaps didn’t allow. The slightly more mature crowd there were seats in the venue, which worked to a certain extent, but there just wasn’t enough space between the rows and made it a bit awkward for people to get around, especially on the main floor, but that’s a minor thing at the end of the day.

Working on the Photos and Review this weekend and will hopefully have it all ready to go very soon. Roll on the next one 😉

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Sean Webster Band – terrific start to Day 2 on the Main Stage
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The wonderful Chantel McGregor
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My personal performance of the weekend Laurence Jones
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Very much still an underrated guitarist, Simon McBride, great banter with the crowd.
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Brilliant set from Dan Patlansky