Return to Performing

Since finishing the Life Line album in 2009, my musical journey took a back seat again for some time. I did write a couple of songs but didn’t pursue them at the time.

Vic's Buskers - Rowbarge, Guildford - March 2015
Vic’s Buskers – Rowbarge, Guildford – March 2015

But in 2013 I started performing very occasionally at Vic’s Buskers Open Mic night in Guildford. I would play some of the songs from the Life Line album.

It was through Vic Cracknell that I met up with the organisers of the Phoenix Cultural Centre in Woking in March 2015. The Phoenix Cultural Centre at the time occupied a shop in Woking and put on open mic nights every Monday evening.

The atmosphere at the Phoenix nights was very friendly and supportive, and before too long I was performing there on a regular basis – singing mainly my own songs but with the odd cover.

Woking Town Centre - Aug 2015
Woking Town Centre – Aug 2015

Spurred on by this, I started to bring more of my songs back from retirement – to have some variety when I played. I also started to perform more regularly at Vic’s Buskers in Guildford.

During the summer of 2015 I was able to go busking in Woking town centre a few times and at the Woking Party in The Park. This was a first for me as I’d never done busking before.

Spurred on by all this playing, I found my songwriting skills came back again, and I have been working on many new songs, including one that was written in the autumn – High Time.

 

An Unexpected Session at the Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield

Recently I was in Sheffield with work for a few days. And whilst I was there I made sure to visit the Kelham Island Tavern – a famous real ale pub just on the north side of the city centre.

Graham playing at the Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield
Graham playing at the Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield

The Kelham Island Tavern has won many prizes for its beer selection and has twice been the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) National Pub of the Year.

It turns out they have folk music in the back bar of the pub on Sunday nights. The regular guitarist (Ian McDonald I believe) was playing some songs and recounting stories to a small audience.

During a break in his performance I asked if I could play his guitar and sing a couple of songs. He agreed, and I actually did 4 songs altogether. I would never really describe my songs as folk, but they seemed to go down well.

There were many posters up around the pub advertising the upcoming Sheffield Folk Festival. Sadly this was after I was returning south, but maybe next year.

Vic’s Buskers Guildford – March 2016

Had another good night down at the Rowbarge, Guildford on 1st March.

Vic’s nights at the Rowbarge have become so popular now that there’s only enough time for two songs each.

So I did 2 and then I was joined on the stage by Tracy Ginn and we did 2 together.

Here are some pics of our performances.

Tracy and I Start Rehearsing Together

Tracy performing solo at The Phoenix, Woking in June 2015
Tracy performing solo at The Phoenix, Woking in June 2015

I first met Tracy Ginn at the Phoenix Cultural Centre earlier in the year. She’s a singer and was performing solo to backing tracks.

On one visit to the Phoenix, she asked me to accompany her on guitar, and gave me a few song sheets with chords on. I agreed and we performed ‘Smooth Operator’ ( the Sade song). She also gave me the chords for Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ – a song I’d obviously heard before but never attempted to play. We performed this together the next time I was at the Phoenix.

I think Tracy would agree that she was a little lacking in confidence when performing to start with, but I recognised that she had quite a good voice.

So after the summer we started practising together on an occasional basis – with the idea that I would back her at the Phoenix, and other open mic nights.

So far our bunch of songs is small:

  • Smooth Operator
  • Someone Like You
  • Valerie
  • Price Tag

We’ll hopefully be growing our set list over time.

Release at Vic’s Buskers Guildford – June 2015

On June 2nd 2015 I played some songs at Vic’s Buskers Open Mic night at the Rowbarge in Guildford.

These nights are organised by Vic Cracknell – a guitarist, pianist and songwriter from Surrey. He organises a number of open mic nights at pubs in the Surrey/Hampshire borders area. The Rowbarge in Guildford is a regular event of his and takes place on the first Tuesday of every month.

I videoed one of my songs – this one is Release.