Happy Easter. Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

Happy Easter. Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

Three gigs in one day. I love it.

Huge thanks to everyone who came to Monument for UNISON’s Anti-Racism rally, to Reflex Records for RSD14 and to Stockton Calling to see me and my band play the ARC.

Knackered now though!

A huge heartfelt thanks to the Journal Culture Magazine & the stunning Sage Gateshead for hosting me & my band last night.

To play Hall One was truly a dream come true, and to share a room with so much North East talent was hugely uplifting. Hopefully be back soon!

The view from sound-check at the Sage Gateshead. This is really happening.

The view from sound-check at the Sage Gateshead. This is really happening.

Tomorrow evening me and my band play the beautiful Hall One of The Sage Gateshead as part of the Journal Culture Awards. This is quite simply a dream come true. Doors open at 7.30pm, tickets are available here: http://bit.ly/QnDMr3. Photograph by Newcastle Portraits.

Tomorrow evening me and my band play the beautiful Hall One of The Sage Gateshead as part of the Journal Culture Awards. This is quite simply a dream come true. Doors open at 7.30pm, tickets are available here: http://bit.ly/QnDMr3. Photograph by Newcastle Portraits.

This record is coming along nicely…

This record is coming along nicely…

I’ve just noticed that my little face is on the cover of this month’s Culture Magazine. Many thanks to The Journal, and to Ian West | Photographer for the snap. Tickets for the Journal Culture Awards Show at Hall 1 of the Sage Gateshead 16th April are available here: http://bit.ly/1mEryFc

I’ve just noticed that my little face is on the cover of this month’s Culture Magazine. Many thanks to The Journal, and to Ian West | Photographer for the snap. Tickets for the Journal Culture Awards Show at Hall 1 of the Sage Gateshead 16th April are available here: http://bit.ly/1mEryFc

Top North East Songs

I was asked by The Journal Newspaper to come up with a list of my favourite songs written about my home region and/or songs that were written or performed by North East musicians.

A number of other local musicians were asked and perhaps unsurprisingly it seems most of them gave a load of Newcastle-centric song choices (‘Big River’ by Jimmy Nail was number 1). A good song no doubt, but I kind of predicted this would happen so I fancied giving the assignment a little more thought.

I focused on songs about Sunderland specifically, or songs that are directly meaningful to me (mainly because there are too many great songs to chose from purely featuring musicians from the North East).

Here’s my list of ‘Top North East Songs’:

Martin Stephenson & The Daintees - Left Us To Burn

Coal TrainCarry You On My Shoulders

Leatherface - Dead Industrial Atmosphere

Toy DollsPark Lane Punch Up

B>E>A>KStairway to Hendon

The Small Screen Light Show - Home Alone

This Ain’t Vegas - Short Term, Long Term

The Futureheads - Decent Days & Nights

That Was The Week That Was - Learn To Learn

A Love SupremeNaill Quinn’s Disco Pants

The Journal - “My iPod” Feature

I was asked by The Journal Culture Magazine to provide them with five songs I regularly listen to on my iPod. It was such a difficult thing do, but I finally decided on my five choices. Here they are in full:

Warren ZevonDesperados Under The Eaves

Warren Zevon is my favourite songwriter of all time, capable of writing painfully honest songs that are at once caustic and tender. This song from his eponymous 1976 album wryly describes a descent into alcoholism and despair whilst renting a hotel room in LA. The pathos is palpable; however, the song is lifted by the odd lyric lamenting that even in the event of a massive natural disaster Zevon knows he must still eventually pay his hotel bill. It is also the only song I know of that uses the hum of an air conditioner as a chorus.

FeistAnti-Pioneer

Leslie Feist is a Canadian songwriter most famous for having her songs appear on various TV adverts, but her catchy and often achingly beautiful music is so much more than window dressing. Her intelligent, delicate and haunting lyrics as well her inimitable vocal style are major inspirations of mine. Found on the 2011 album ‘Metals’, Anti-Pioneer details the seemingly fatalistic inevitability of relationships from the perspective of someone who has almost given up on love after writing too many songs about doomed affairs.

The Blue NileDowntown Lights

An ‘Alternative/Sophisti-Pop’ band from Glasgow, The Blue Nile are renowned for their perfectionist approach to the recording process, releasing just four albums since 1981, and for their ability to create warm, intense and emotive soundscapes with traditionally ‘cold’ electronic instruments. Paul Buchanan’s everyman vocals, exquisite phrasing and simplistic yet powerful lyrics are immaculately layered over the profoundly atmospheric and tense arrangement of this 6 and a half minute song. ‘Downtown Lights’ is a stunning song that perfectly paints a vivid account of the psychological turmoil and uncertainty associated with the highs and lows of modern love. I see this piece of music as an example of master-level song-writing; something to aspire to.

Jo StaffordShenandoah

Jo Stafford is probably the last person most people would suspect a man in his 20s listens to on his iPod, but I’m completely obsessed with her astonishingly pure voice and her artifice-free, subtle and beautiful songs. The first female to reach number 1 in the UK single charts, Stafford’s career spanned an impressive 50 years. Her 1950 album ‘American Folk Songs’ is one of my favourites, featuring a heart-breaking version of the traditional folk song ‘Oh Shenandoah’. I can’t do this piece of music justice in writing. Keep in mind her version was performed in one take, with a full orchestra. Simply phenomenal.

This Aint VegasPromotion

This Aint Vegas were a band from my village in Sunderland, I went to school with them and they were the first real local band I 100% connected with. They opened my eyes to the very real possibility of making music. Up until the age of 11 or so I’d only known the hegemony of the pop charts. I thought you had to be plucked from obscurity by some Svengali to even consider making a record but these lads from school did it all themselves, and they did it brilliantly. Promotion is a brief but perfect album opener that says to me that if you work hard enough and stay true to your ideals you can create something truly worthwhile.

I dare anyone out there to claim that they have a better handmade pedal than my guitarist Callum’s ‘Box Of Cox’.

I dare anyone out there to claim that they have a better handmade pedal than my guitarist Callum’s ‘Box Of Cox’.

I got a great letter from Grace House today. A very worthwhile charity me & my band fully support & fundraise for. 

Fantastic to hear that the building work on the children’s hospice is complete and the centre will be operational soon!

I’m sure they would still welcome any and all donations though, so if you’re feeling generous please check out www.gracehouse.co.uk

I got a great letter from Grace House today. A very worthwhile charity me & my band fully support & fundraise for.

Fantastic to hear that the building work on the children’s hospice is complete and the centre will be operational soon!

I’m sure they would still welcome any and all donations though, so if you’re feeling generous please check out www.gracehouse.co.uk

I’ve had a class weekend in Ireland writing songs in the company of some very talented & lovely musicians. Not least of all Tim Wheeler from Ash. One of my teenage idols & arguably the nicest bloke on the planet!

I’ve had a class weekend in Ireland writing songs in the company of some very talented & lovely musicians. Not least of all Tim Wheeler from Ash. One of my teenage idols & arguably the nicest bloke on the planet!

I’m spending the weekend in Ireland writing songs in a farmhouse overlooking Giant’s Causeway. Expect a lot of songs about black-haired, green-eyed girls and geometric rock formations coming soon.

I’m spending the weekend in Ireland writing songs in a farmhouse overlooking Giant’s Causeway. Expect a lot of songs about black-haired, green-eyed girls and geometric rock formations coming soon.

Me and my band are delighted to announce our 1st full-band headline show on Friday May 23rd at one of the finest venues in the UK, Fibbers York.

Tickets are on sale now: http://www.fibbers.co.uk/events/THE-LAKE-POETS-F/index.html

Me and my band are delighted to announce our 1st full-band headline show on Friday May 23rd at one of the finest venues in the UK, Fibbers York.

Tickets are on sale now: http://www.fibbers.co.uk/events/THE-LAKE-POETS-F/index.html

Me & my band are playing the main stage of this year’s Stockton Calling on Saturday April 19th. Tickets on sale now! http://eepurl.com/QJdSH

Me & my band are playing the main stage of this year’s on Saturday April 19th. Tickets on sale now!