20th-26th January 2013


Journal update: My week in music (20-26 Jan) which includes: MY BIRTHDAY! Performing at the private view for Anna Masters Metamorphosis exhibition, photographing & interviewing AJ Holmes & the Hackney Empire at their album launch party, a songwriting masterclass from Charlotte Hatherley, and meeting the Bonafide Studio team.

Charlotte Hatherley Masterclass (Monday 21st January)

I recently completed an interesting music business evening class at the Institute for Contemporary Music Performance. On Monday I returned to the Institute to attend a fascinating masterclass by guitarist/singer/songwriter Charlotte Hatherley (formally of Ash) on the subject of inspiration and creativity. Charlotte discussed some of the techniques and processes she utilises when songwriting. It was great to hear Charlotte perform some of her new material, and to listen to her personal experiences of creating music.


Bonafide Studios (Wednesday 23rd January

Bonafide Studios is a vibrant recording and rehearsal studio which was previously based in Brick Lane, but can now be found in the leafy suburbs of Muswell Hill. I visited Bonafide Studios on Wednesday, and studio manager Deanna and sound engineer Ben kindly took the time to discuss opportunities for developing music production skills and recording techniques with me. I am really excited about learning some new skills in the art of music production and I’m looking forward to working on some music projects with the studio in the near future.


Birthday Gig/Anna Masters Gallery Show (Thursday 24th January)

I celebrated my birthday by performing at the private view for Anna Masters Metamorphosis exhibition at the Craft Central Gallery, Clerkenwell. I had such a fantastic evening that I’ve decided that I want to play live on all my future birthdays!

I performed a 25 minute set and was joined on stage for my first song ‘Far Away’ by Ed Bradshaw on djembe drum and Enda Mac Con Iomaire on banjo. It was Enda’s debut performance but he played so well I doubt anyone could have known that. Ed stayed on stage and joined me for two additional tunes, and I also performed solo on a couple of songs. It was a privilege to play at Anna’s exhibition and it was wonderful to be surrounded by such beautiful paintings whist performing. At the end of the evening Anna kindly gave me a signed limited addition print of The Flower, which will always remind me of a really special evening. Thanks to everyone who came along and made it a brilliant birthday.



A J Holmes and the Hackney Empire – interview & photoshoot (Saturday 26th January)

AJ Holmes & the Hackney Empire launched their debut album Wedding on Saturday evening and I popped along with my camera. I have seen the band live a few times before and have always had a fab time. In fact I think it would be impossible to leave an AJ Holmes & the Hackney Empire gig without a bounce in your step and a smile on your face. The first time I saw them I ended up doing the conga train around their stage at Hyde Park, after that I was hooked! This concert was no exception. The venue was completely packed and filled with a proper party atmosphere.

I was there firstly as a music fan, but also as an interviewer/photographer as the band will be appearing in my ‘Beside the See Side’ photoblog. I turned up early and conducted an interview with lead singer AJ who was lively, articulate and really great company. Check out this link from Friday 1st February when you’ll be able to see the pics and read the interview: http://besidetheseeside.blogspot.co.uk/

In the meantime why not have a listen to their music. Check out their website and you can buy their Wedding album here:



ImageThank you for checking out my journal. Please pop back again next week. Ta!

Samantha x









Photo of Charlotte Hatherley from ICMP fb page

Photo of Bonafide Studio from Bonafide Studio twitter


13th-19th January 2013

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Journal update: My week in music (13-19 Jan) which includes: banjos, mandolins, djembe drums and an impromptu performance at Kiss the Sky.

Rehearsal Sessions (Sunday 13th Jan & Saturday 19th Jan)

With only a week to go until I perform at the private view for Anna Masters’ exhibition, the main priority has been rehearsing. I’ll be joined on stage for a few songs by Enda Mac Con Iomaire on banjo, and Ed Bradshaw (aka boyfriend) who will be playing guitar and djembe drum. Additionally, my mandolin will be making an appearance for the first time in a year and a half! Yay! I’ll be playing it on Place a Bet on Me.

I much prefer being in a band, and have really enjoyed the rehearsal sessions. Plus, I’m so excited at the prospect of playing live with Ed and Enda at Anna’s Metamorphosis show. I will also be performing some songs on my own at the gig, so I’ve been setting time aside to practice the solo material as well. Fingers crossed it will be alright on the night!


Kiss the Sky, Crouch End (Tuesday 15th Jan)

At the last minute I decided to do an impromptu few songs at Kiss the Sky’s open mic at Crouch End. I turned up quite late but luckily still got the chance to play. I’ve performed there a few times before, but I’m pleased to say that the vibe was totally different this week. Kiss the Sky’s open mic is held in the main bar area, so if you have a noisy crowd in who are not interested in listening to music, then you are left fighting against a barrage of background noise (which is not easy to do if you are finger-picking a gentle, soft song!) However, this was a completely different experience. The crowd were super attentive and interested to hear the performances. There was a lot of variety to be heard as well, including banjolele tunes and Peruvian songs.



Well, I can’t discuss this week in music without briefly commenting upon the news of HMV going into administration, which was not really a complete surprise. If you are upset about HMV but never shop there anymore because you download or spotify all your music, or order it from Amazon – what did you expect would happen?! It’s bad news (especially for their staff) but inevitable.

It’s also affected by the demise of major labels (such as EMI), caused in part because they were short sighted and invested way too much money into too many manufactured pop acts – forgetting that most money has always been gained long term, via album sales from bands/artists who develop naturally and have a loyal fan base. It is interesting to note the growth of independent music during this difficult time for record sales. I was at the independent record shop Rough Trade at Brick Lane last weekend and it was completely packed. I think people are looking for good alternatives to the mainstream rubbish. This is why fan-funded music sites such as Pledge Music and Kickstarter are growing whilst the major labels are in trouble. People will always want great music! So despite the disappointing news regarding HMV we can still observe some positives in this ever evolving situation.


Thank you for visiting my music journal. Please pop back next week – it’ll be a busy one! And all the details will be here.

Cheers, Samantha x




6th-12th January 2013

Journal update: My week in music (6-12 Jan) which included playing at the Silver Bullet and the Nags Head, and a musical reunion.

Nags Head, Angel – 6th January

Well I’ve had my fair share of Spinal Tap moments, but turning up to play and finding the pub closed (with painting & decorating stuff visible through the window and other confused musicians hanging around outside) is a new one! Haha! 🙂 The first rule of playing Open Mics is always check with the venue first! Especially if you’re inviting people along! Just quickly checking the pub’s website would have saved us all a journey to South London. Ooops!

I dashed back to North London with my guitar (…well I say dashed, more like strolled back after a couple of drinkies) and happily ended up at the Nags Head at Angel, where I played a short set. I got the opportunity to try out a few brand new songs as well performing a couple of my golden oldies. All’s well that ends well 🙂


Silver Bullet, Finsbury Park – 9th January

I had heard promising things about the Silver Bullet open mic and I wasn’t disappointed. The sound quality is really good, and as an added bonus there is nice big stage to perform on – which is not usually the case with open mics. I played Far Away, Halo and You’ve Lost Your Mind. I selected these tunes as I am considering performing them at the private view for Anna Master’s Metamorphosis exhibition and I wanted to bond with the songs before the big show. I was pleased to perform 3rd as it meant I was then able to sit back, relax, and enjoy some really impressive performances. Holy Trash has incredibly infectious tunes, and Alison Dear was totally outstanding – certainly ones to watch. It was a good night and I’ll definitely be back.


Helen Lloyd – Singer/Songwriter/Pianist/Music Producer

Back in 2011, I would sporadically jam with fellow singer-songwriters Helen Lloyd & Drew Lovell at the Islington Art Factory. We would rent out one of the brightly colourful rooms and run through our songs together. We all sang & Helen played piano, whilst Drew & I switched between guitar and bass. Inevitably one of us would nearly electrocute ourselves every single week and then we would all end up in the pub. Happy times! So it was really lovely to have a reunion with Helen Lloyd on Thursday. Helen has been putting her singing/performing activities to one side recently (which I think is a criminal shame!) Thankfully, however, Helen’s continued with her songwriting, and has been focusing mainly on music production. Amongst the shopping, the eating, & the drinking, we also put plans in place for an interesting new music venture. Helen will soon be producing a few tracks of mine, and I’m so excited about working together again and recording some new music. We may even collaborate on a brand new composition! Hopefully we can get Drew on board too! Watch this space

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David Bowie

Surely my weekly music journal would not be complete without a mention of David Bowie’s triumphant return.  It was so refreshing to see a recording artist of Bowie’s calibre gaining the nation’s imagination again, rather than the usual ubiquitous manufactured ‘music’ which seems to dominate the mainstream media. Where Are We Now is a beautifully haunting song. If you haven’t played it yet definitely do so, but be warned it is very addictive! Love the bizarre video by Tony Oursler too.








Everyone needs a New Year’s resolution, but it has to be something you might actually stick to for at least a few months. For me therefore, this completely rules out being punctual or organised! Instead I thought I’d try to keep a record of my ongoing music related activities, so that I could consider what progress (if any!) I’m making. And also so that I could reflect upon the fun, chaos, excitement and unavoidable setbacks that occur when you are trying to get your music out there and heard. I’m a songwriter first and foremost, and I also sing and play guitar and mandolin.

Originally I was just going to do the typical pen and paper type of journal, but I’ve decided to do it as an online blog so I can share my weekly adventures with friends, family, and anyone else who loves music and might be interested. The more the merrier! 🙂


I hope this blog will capture my rather fanatical love of music! Music has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up around music and have written songs since childhood. I’ve played in lots of bands (some good, some not so good). I’ve played loads of venues (some good, some not so good). Now I’m going completely solo, which is actually quite a daunting thing for me to do.  Although the main focus of this journal will be about my experiences as a singer-songwriter, I will also comment upon new recordings that I’m inspired by, gigs that I’ve enjoyed attending, and the bands/solo artists I admire.

There are countless people like me throughout the country. Practising every day, developing their song writing craft, playing any and every gig/open mic they can. I hope this blog will give an idea about what the real journey for most musicians is like. This world is a million miles away from TV talent shows and karaoke tunes – but it is the reality for the majority. It is not about being seen, it is about being heard. It is about persevering and earning your apprenticeship. It is about making music because you love it, regardless of any immediate rewards – other than the reward of making music. #Keepmusiclive


Thanks for checking out this first post & please pop back next week 🙂

Samantha x