Wednesday, 6 January 2016


I know, I know!

Okay, diary entries shouldn't really be 5 months apart, but unfortunately that's how long it took from me deciding to record a new E.P. to actually getting the thing recorded. I will freely admit to having shocking planning skills.

In all honesty, it has been a learning experience. When I recorded 'Slow Burner', the songs were all a couple of years old and I knew them inside-out, but this time around I actually had to write new songs after making the decision to record, as well as finishing off half-written material for the E.P.

But we're nearing the finish line!

The office. I have the best job ever!

Over the last two days I recorded six songs at The Depot Studios in Edinburgh, under the watchful eye and guiding hand of my good friend Craig Ross. We went back to basics, with guitar, vocals, and a sprinkling of harmonica and the odd backing vocal for good measure. It's how I prefer to do things, and will be something slightly different and stripped back from my last recorded offering.

Craig Ross doing the slidey-fader, pushy-button stuff. 

Mastering, artwork, final tracklist, and many other bits and bobs that go along with releasing new music are all yet to be dealt with, and I'll aim to keep everyone updated, but this is the final stretch. I'm looking forward to sharing some music!

Much love,


Thursday, 20 August 2015


Yesterday I wrote two songs. Well, technically I wrote one song, and finished another that I started about a year ago.

On Thursday morning I decided to play around on the cheap Fender acoustic I bought for busking last summer, and as I was noodling around, songs came out!

There are a couple of reasons this is important. 

1. I haven't had the music 'bug' for around 2 years. Prolonged writer's block and lack of motivation or inspiration resulted in me more or less putting music on the back burner for a long time. Two new songs isn't exactly opening the floodgates, but today I made plans to write, and writing happened. That's a major step forward from where I've been at musically the last couple years.

2. Most importantly, these two songs, along with a couple more that I haven't yet recorded (and one more I plan to get finished very soon) , mean I'm looking at recording again, so the decision has been made today that  a new E.P. is officially on the way in the coming months. To keep things ticking over quick, I'm planning to keep these recordings stripped back with minimal instrumentation (we'll see how that works out!).

As things progress, I'll do my best to document as much as I can via my facebook and twitter pages, but I'll be keeping a diary right here on my much neglected blog. Keep an eye out :)


Wednesday, 7 May 2014


Myself and Matt had a great time on Friday supporting Krista Detor at the Torphichen Inn. We managed to get a hold of some video from the night, courtesy of promoter Bill Lothian. Here's 'If Love is a Fight' from the gig.

Thursday, 24 April 2014


I had to laugh today. I went in to a local music shop this afternoon, which, for the purpose of this story, we will call Farce-City Music. I'm looking to learn some mandolin, and they appear to sell them dirt cheap, so I went in and asked about one in their window display. Admittedly, I had misread the price tag, which I read as '£99.00'. Turned out it said '499.00', but when the grumpy old man assisting me asked "Have you even got that kind of money?", I laughed it off.

He then says: "No point in getting something out the window if yer not gonna buy it." and hands me a £75 'bestseller' which he promptly takes back off me, without me even strumming a chord. Then tells me how they used to be made in Korea, but are now made in China. He tells me he knows a lot about wood as they specialise in pianos, and that they also supply the shop up the road with their banjos, and how if I ever want to be an instrument dealer, I need to know a lot about wood. Then he says, "this needs tuned", tunes up the mandolin, and hangs it back up again (behind the counter where I can't get to it). Then he walks away from me. All of this happened without me saying anything. Hilariously terrible!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


I figured I'd write a blog about the gear I use, as it is something I have been asked about a few times by other musicians, and the occasional sound engineer. My stage setup is very simple, as I only use an acoustic guitar, but getting my acoustic sound to a point where I am finally comfortable has taken me a while. I also like to tell the stories behind my instruments, even if nobody listens!

My main guitar is a Taylor Big Baby, which I found in my local Cash Converters a few years ago for a measly £75. They retail at around £400, so I assume they didn't know what they had. It was well played, and practically beat to shit when I bought it, but I love this guitar. It's from 2005, and has a dark stained top, which I haven't really seen on any other Big Babies. I doubt that it's rare, but I like knowing it's that little bit different. I installed an L.R. Baggs M1A soundhole pickup in this guitar, and after doing so, I don't think I will ever look past L.R. Baggs when choosing an acoustic pickup. Plugged in, this is one of the best sounding guitars I have ever owned. It's a little mid-rangey, but that actually suits my playing quite well.

My second guitar is a Farida M-26 parlor. I was looking for one of these for a little while, but the only shop locally that had one in stock didn't have it set up right, so all of the strings buzzed badly past the 4th fret, and the shop weren't in a hurry to fix it. I generally won't buy a guitar online without playing it, so I figured it would be a long while before I got hands-on with one of these Faridas, but I chanced upon one used, but in perfect condition (minus the hardcase), in a local Cash Generator for £270. Yes, I'm lucky with pawn shops. I originally put a Fishman Rare Earth humbucker soundhole pickup in the guitar, but I really didn't like the sound I was getting. If the soundhole had been big enough, I would have put an M1A in this guitar too, but instead, I recently swapped over to an L.R. Baggs Lyric system.  The Lyric is actually an internal microphone, and I have yet to put it through its paces live to see how it sounds and handles feedback etc., but I have a lot of faith, and if it holds up then the Farida may become my main guitar.

Both of my acoustics are strung with Elixir strings. Nanoweb Lights on the Taylor, and Polyweb Lights on the Farida for a slightly more 'worn-in' sound. Assuming I don't break any, Elixirs last me months, without needing cleaned. My hands sweat a lot when I play, so my string choice was originally out of necessity, but I loved the bright tone of the Nanowebs on my Taylor Big Baby, so it worked out really well. The amount of money I save by using coated strings is huge.

Cables? I'm usually not fussy, but I'm currently using Klotz, and one Elixir cable that has survived about 5 years of pretty constant use.

Finally, I run through a Boss TU-2 pedal tuner onstage. I bought it in 2005, and it's an absolute workhorse. It's been kicked, dropped, had drinks spilled on it, and still works as well as when I first bought it.

So there you go. It's probably not what you would come to the website looking for, but hopefully some of you may have taken an interest. This is stuff I sometimes obsess about, and I'm sure there are others out there that can say the same! 

Sunday, 9 June 2013


One day, about 2 years ago, I got a phone call, asking if I could play a last-minute gig that same evening at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow. Having never performed there as a solo artist I jumped at the chance.

The gig was supporting the legendary-by-all-accounts Peter Murphy, who was once the frontman of Bauhaus, a highly influential band in the early days of goth-rock. I honestly wasn't familiar with them at all at this point. Not my usual cup of tea, but hey, this was a foot in the door with King Tut's and DF Concerts, so I happily went along with my wee hat on and my acoustic guitar.

When I arrived at the venue, Peter's band were soundchecking, and there was Peter, looking all goth-rocky, singing away and playing his guitar, and actually looking a lot younger than I had expected. After they were done I went up to him, told him it was a pleasure to be playing with him, and generally fake-schmoozing because I felt I should. But he was looking at me like I was a total weirdo and not saying much at all. Then he went away to the green room.

Anyway, I minced my way through my little set of solo country songs, and got a surprisingly good response from the sold-out venue of hard rock fans. I went and had a drink, and then went to watch Peter's band play.

"But wait. Who's that skinny older guy singing and prancing around the stage?" I thought to myself. "Hmm, he must have one of his mates doing a wee guest spot".

Then I asked the girl who was repping the gig, and she says: "That's the guy. That's Peter Murphy"

OHHHH NOOOOO!!! It turns out that although I had done my pre-gig homework to find out who Peter Murphy was, I hadn't actually looked at a picture of him. No wonder the guy I was schmoozing with thought I was a weirdo! His name was MARK! Of course Peter Murphy doesn't soundcheck his own bloody microphone! He's too busy being a brooding bloody legend backstage!

The gig rep just laughed in my face.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Before I was a country singer, I played bass in a band called Ardentjohn. I still do actually, but we don't tend to play much these days.

Back in March 2006, we spent 4 weeks playing a residency in a nightclub in Breuill-Cervinia, an Italian ski resort right on the Swiss border. It was a tough slog. Good times, but 40 gigs in 30 days is a lot for anyone, so when the opportunity for time off came, we generally made the most of it.

Every Wednesday was a 'theme night' at the club, and on our second week there, they hosted a 'ladies night', complete with male strippers. This meant that no guys, including us, were allowed in before midnight, so we got the night off. Hurrah!

I can't remember what the rest of the band did that night, because my chosen course of action was to go to the bar in the hotel next door, get absolutely trashed on dubiously measured vodka red bulls, and try to drunkenly chat up the barmaid, who we will call Nikki. Because that might have been her name.

When Nikki finished her shift, we walked down the mountain into town. Well, she walked anyway. She told me the next day that I spent most of the journey falling over and sliding down the hill on my arse because I couldn't actually stand. We made it to the club, where I immediately abandoned her and attempted to walk back up the mountain to my apartment. It was roughly 1am, and I was completely alone and incapable in sub-zero temperatures and 6 feet of snow. At one point I fell over into the deeper stuff, and initially thought "Ahh, I will just sleep here and go back in the morning". Luckily I realised that I would DEFINITELY DIE if I did that, so I got up and headed home. It must have taken me ages.

When I got back to the apartment, the rest of the band were in bed, so I got into bed but it must have been broken or something because room started to spin. Just then my bandmate Mark got up to go to the toilet. As luck would have it, just as he closed the door I started to feel a wee bit sick...

Thankfully Mark had not locked the door. I barged in, and as I lunged towards the toilet pan, I tried to push Mark out of the way. I failed. I can still hear his words: "EEURGH! AL, YOU JUST GOT SICK ON MY C**K!!!"