Summer 2018 Festivals Remembered

In these grey, cold and damp early days of 2019 it’s nice to remember the warm sunny days of last summer – a summer which seemed to go on for ever, and one that had us all complaining about the heat.

And last summer I was fortunate enough to play at four excellent and varied festivals: There was ShyneFest in June, Woking’s Party in the Park in July, Weyfest in August and finally Woking Food Festival in September. All were great experiences, and all were very different.

So let me indulge myself with memories from all four.

ShyneFest 2018 – 29th/30th June 2018

Shynefest was organised by my friend Shyne Adcock as a celebration of her birthday.

I hadn’t been able to attend the first Shynefest a couple of years before, so this was my first experience – and it was great fun. And I was invited to do a set on the Acoustic Stage too.

Silent disco at Shynefest. People dancing in a field with bluetooth headphones on.
Silent disco at Shynefest.

The festival started on the Friday evening with a silent disco – an interesting experience. But all the live music happened on the Saturday – alternating between the main stage for the bands and the Acoustic Stage for solo and duo acts.

The weather was good all day and my set seemed to be during one of the hottest times of the afternoon. Fortunately there was a bit of shade under the cover of the stage.

My wife took this video of one of my songs – Since You’ve Been In My Life.

Woking Party in the Park – 7th July 2018

Busking at Woking's Party in the Park.
Busking at Woking’s Party in the Park

One week after Shynefest came Party in the Park. This is Woking’s annual celebration of music and dance, and it takes place in Woking Park.

This year, the weather was superb – another hot sunny afternoon – so the crowds were large.

I wasn’t playing on a stage as such, but I did two half hour busking slots at a couple of locations around the park. This year, as before, I stuck mainly to my own original songs – they seem to go down better than covers I’ve attempted in the past.

I guess my familiarity with my own songs helps me give a better performance. And thanks to all the generous people who tossed some coins into my guitar case.

 

Weyfest -18th August

By far the biggest festival I played in 2018 was Weyfest. I was asked to play on the Rustic Stage which was curated by my friend  Vic Cracknell, and I was given a half hour set on the Saturday afternoon.

Graham Armfield on stage on the Rustic Stage at Weyfest.
Onstage at Weyfest

The Rustic Stage is not open-air – it’s in an old hut, with a stage at one end. However it holds quite a few people as I was to find out.

Despite being on early I had a good turnout and the reception from the crowd (and their dogs) was very warm.

Nick Blogs videoed all the sets on the Rustic Stage and he’s been kind enough to upload the footage to YouTube for us all to see.

During my set I played the following songs – timings included. The links will take you to the start of the song in a new browser tab.

  1. Release – 1:35
  2. Got To Be This Way – 5:27
  3. Here By My Side – 8:22
  4. Commit Yourself – 11:59
  5. If This Is The Way – 16:10
  6. Take Your Chance – 19:16
  7. Heart Made of Stone – 22:10
  8. Since You’ve Been In My Life – 26:10

Overall, this gig was a great experience – one I hope to repeat at some stage.

Woking Food Festival – 1st/2nd September

Every year for one weekend, the centre of Woking is taken over by limitless food stalls and pop-up bars to celebrate Woking Food Fair.

With the emphasis on food, it may seem a strange festival to mention here, but the Phoenix Cultural Centre in Woking are invited to organise busking for the event. And I was lucky enough to get invited to play a couple of slots – one on each of the weekend days of the festival.

Graham Armfield playing guitar and singing on a stage at Woking Food Festival.
Onstage at Woking Food Festival

Much as with the busking at the Party in the Park (see above) I seem to do best when playing my own songs, so both of the sets consisted of all original songs.

The weather was gorgeous on both days and after playing, I was happy to try some of the food on offer.

2019?

I’ll be back performing again soon once I’ve finished recording the ‘Found My Way‘ album.

I hope to see you soon.

Recording Don’t Let Go

Don’t Let Go was written by myself and Francis Greene during the summer of 2018, and it’s the last song to be recorded for my upcoming ‘Found My Way‘ album.

A song is born

The initial idea for Don’t Let Go came from a rough keyboard demo that I recorded at home some years ago. It made me think of a retro 60s R&B track, but I struggled to think of a suitable melody to accompany it, and my keyboard skills weren’t up to recording it or playing it live.

So I asked my friend Francis Greene if he’d like to collaborate on the song. Francis (as some of you may know) is a well-known Surrey-based songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player. He agreed to have a look at it, so I passed him the demo and a few lyrics that I’d pulled together.

After a while he came back with a full-length demo. Francis had added a great catchy melody, a new verse section, and a great chorus. At last the song had come to life.

Francis Greens and Graham Armfield performing Don't Let Go at the Rowbarge, Guildford. . Photo by Claire Lonsdale.
Francis Greens and Graham Armfield performing Don’t Let Go at the Rowbarge, Guildford. Photo by Claire Lonsdale.

After I changed the key of the song to make it easier for me to sing, Francis and I performed the song for the first time at Vic’s Open Mic night at the Rowbarge, Guildford in September 2018.

It was at this stage that I decided to include it in the ‘Found My Way‘ album I’d been recording through 2018.

The recording

I didn’t get around to starting the studio recording of ‘Don’t Let Go’ until November. I’d created some rough guide tracks at home and took them in to begin working on the song.

I re-recorded the bass, and acoustic guitars, and set up a great drum track. I then recorded the lead vocals over the demo guitars and keyboards.

In December I invited Francis into Miacon Studio to do the definitive keyboard parts and to record some backing vocals in the choruses.

Neal from Miacon studio prepares to record Francis' keyboard parts for Don't Let Go.
Neal from Miacon Studio prepares to record Francis’ keyboard parts.

And then finally in January 2019 I recorded some new electric guitar parts.

Recording electric guitar parts for Don't Let Go.
Recording electric guitar parts.

The video

Whilst doing the recording with Francis I recorded some video clips on my phone. Neal also recorded some shots when I was re-recording the guitar.

So here’s a short video showing some of the process. Hope you like it.

The future

As I write this, Don’t Let Go is ready for its final mix – the first of the new album songs to get that far. So ironically, the song that was the last to be started will end up being the first one actually finished.

I’m hoping that the rest of the songs will be finished soon, and the ‘Found My Way‘ album will be released in the early Spring 2019.

I’ll be posting more details soon.

I’m Playing at Weyfest 2018

The lineup for this year’s Weyfest was recently announced, and I’m on the list! This will be my second festival appearance of 2018 (Shynefest being the first), and I’m really excited.

I’ll be playing on Vic Cracknell’s Rustic stage on Saturday 18th August at 12:30pm – starting proceedings for an eclectic bunch of musicians and acts across the weekend.

Read more I’m Playing at Weyfest 2018