17th – 23rd February 2013

Journal update: My week in music (17-23 Feb) which included: A trip to Oxford, photographing folk band Wytham Wood, performing at the Old Bookbinders, and attending Diff’rent Folks/Hangover Club at Proud Camden


Photographing Wytham Wood, The Wheatsheaf, Oxford (Sunday 17th February)

As soon as I arrived back in Oxford I was confronted with a wave of memories which made me feel quite nostalgic. I completed my History of Art Masters Degree at Oxford Uni back in 2008 and it was great to back again. I was in town to visit my friend Anneli, and I was really looking forward to hearing and photographing her newest musical project.


Wytham Wood are a folk band comprised of Anneli Chambliss (Lead vocals, guitar) and Jules Dickinson (Lead guitar, vocals). It was really wonderful to meet Jules, not only is he an exceptional guitarist, he is also great company. I’m really pleased to have finally had the opportunity to hear the band live. They have beautiful songs and really emotive music, you should definitely check them out. An added plus to the day was having a jam session with Anneli and Jules later in the afternoon! Please check this link to see the photographs and interview: http://www.besidetheseeside.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/wytham-wood.html


Old Bookbinders, Oxford (Sunday 17th February)

The last time I performed at the Old Bookbinders open mic was during my student days 6 years ago! I loved playing there then, and I’m happy to say it’s still a great place to play. I performed four of my songs and the highlight for me was when Anneli joined me onstage to play the Watchmaker.


The quality of all the acts was really high! Ned the Kid Dylan is only 11 years old, but writes all his own material, sings and plays guitar and has a genuine rock n roll attitude! He will be famous, he is clearly destined to play stadiums! Wytham Wood were sensational again. And it was great to hear Phil Garvey (who runs the open mic) finish the evening with some songs of his own – despite having nearly lost his voice from a gig earlier in the day! What a pro – the show must go on!

If you live in Oxford and want to hear some great music, or if you fancy taking to the stage yourself, I’d definitely recommend you pop down to the Old Bookbinders in Jericho.

It was such a fun, musical trip to Oxford that I was sad to be leaving the following day. I’ll definitely be back very soon. Anneli and I already have plans for a songwriting collaboration!


Diff’rent Folks, the Hangover Club, Proud Camden (Saturday 23rd February)

Having heard that there’s free music and cheap beer at Proud Camden every Saturday, my housemate Jen and I popped along to listen to some tunes and to admire the photographs! The walls at Proud Camden are filled with black & white images of true rock n roll legends. Jen and I were joined later by music producer Helen Lloyd who has been busily working on my track Halo. Apparently the production is nearly complete, and will just require one last trip to the studio, for me to put down my final vocal and guitar parts. Fantastic news!

The Hangover Club runs from 12 till 7 and we arrived later on in the day, so we just saw the two final acts ‘Stag’ and ‘The Statue Thieves’. I don’t know if the music is quieter/more relaxed earlier in the day, but if you actually had an awful hangover and then listened to Stag’s electro-pop it may get worse!!! That is not to say they weren’t good (they were great!) but just that loud synth music and trumpets probably wouldn’t be the best cure for a killer hangover! Haha! Stag is an Italian band from Rome, with a love for disco classics, catchy tunes and shinny jackets! They were very entertaining and lively

ImageStatue Thieves finished off the event with a more mellow, warm sound. I will try to get to the Different Folks/Hangover Club earlier next time to see just how many different styles are featured through the afternoon.

Post Viral Fatigue… & the Brits

Well I had planned to return to the Silver Bullet open mic at Finsbury Park on Wednesday, but unfortunately a relapse of Post Viral Fatigue put an end to that. I have suffered from the condition since having shingles in 2011. Although I’ve thankfully been getting a lot better over the last year, I still get completely knocked off my feet with it occasionally. I think the busy trip to Oxford completely exhausted me, and I was sadly too unwell to play again on Wed. Instead I ended up curled up on the sofa watching the Brits!


My personal verdict on the Brits was this – Not enough bands; too many pop singers; and definitely not enough (eg NONE) rock n roll moments. There was none of those classic events like – Jarvis storming the stage; Chumbawamba throwing a bucket of water over John Prescott; Oasis starting fights with anyone/everyone – none of those moments at all!

Nevertheless Muse were fantastic, and it was brilliant to see Mumford & Sons getting a well deserved Brit. Plus, I’d never heard Ben Howard’s stuff before (I know, shameful) but  I enjoyed his completely stripped down performance, which was a welcomed contrast to the rest of the award show. Also, I am totally crazy about the Damien Hirst designed Brit Trophies!  I absolutely LOVE them!


Many thanks for visiting my music journal. Please pop by again on Monday 4th March for the next installment.


Samantha x





10th – 16th February 2013


Journal update: My week in music (10-16 Feb) which included: Playing the Kings Head Theatre Pub, shadowing the soundman at St James’, and recording demos of my tunes with producer Helen Lloyd at the Islington Art Factory

Shadowing the soundman at St James Church (Sunday 10th February)

I now have firsthand experience of being on ‘the other side’ of the mixing desk and I have to say it is even more bewildering than I had imagined! Thankfully I was shadowing the experienced and wonderfully calm Steve, who was incredibly helpful in passing on all his knowledge, but I will definitely want/need a few more shadowing sessions before actually manning the sound engineer duties myself.

It was really interesting to discover just how different the sound is at the soundcheck in comparison to when the band was actually playing live. This is partly due to the acoustics in the church changing as it filled up with people, and also due to the musicians (understandably) playing with more confidence and passion when performing live than they had been during the soundcheck. So there is a lot of readjusting to be done to the sound levels during the early stages of the performance. I really enjoyed being behind the desk though, and the surprise of walking out into a very snowy Muswell Hill made the evening even more special.


The view from behind the mixing desk during soundcheck

Kings Head Theatre Pub, Islington (Monday 11th February)

My friend Rachel and I popped down to a new open mic which is held in the Kings Head Theatre Pub (only in its second week). Rachel Elliot played a song that she had only just completed during the day! (which is incredibly brave). Rather appropriately the song was titled Do Not Fear and was absolutely beautiful. We all wanted to hear some more music from Rachel and I hope that we will get the chance to hear her play at some more open mics soon.


Rachel Elliot performing ‘Do Not Fear’

Rachel kindly loaned me her guitar so that I could play a couple of songs too. The Kings Head Theatre Pub is an enjoyable open mic to perform at. There is a fair amount of background noise to contend with, as there isn’t a separate room for the music and the pub is very busy. But the atmosphere is good and people do gather around the stage to listen to and appreciate the music. I was invited to return and play more songs next time, which I’m looking forward to. I’ll be performing again at the Kings Head Theatre Pub on Monday 24th February, the open mic is on every Monday with music from 9.30 till late.


Recording Demos with Helen Lloyd, Islington Art Factory (Wednesday 13th February)

It was a bit of a blast from the past for Helen and I, as we returned to the rehearsal studios that we used to practice in at the Islington Art Factory. However, this time we had not taken over the yellow room to rehearse, but instead to work on some demos for recording purposes. Helen Lloyd will be producing some of my songs and needed me to perform the guide guitar and vocals. She will then work her magic on them with some production ideas and we will reconvene and develop the recording ideas from there.

I gave Helen demos for four of my songs, three of which I’ve been performing live regularly (The Watchmaker, Explain, and Halo) and one which I am keen to test out at some open mics soon (Magazine). It was fantastic to work with Helen again, and I am really excited and intrigued to hear which of the songs she chooses to produce, and what direction she takes them to.


Thank you for taking the time to check out my music journal. Please visit next week for details of my musical trip to Oxford and more!


Samantha x









3rd – 9th February 2013

Journal update: My week in music (3-9 Feb) which includes: ukulele jam session, and mixing desk/P.A. Operator training


Ukuele Jam at the Albany (Wednesday 7th February)

I had a couple of brand new musical experiences this week – on Wednesday I attended my first Ukulele Jam! I dusted off my poor ukulele – which hadn’t been out of its case for over half a year – and headed off for a sing-along at the Albany at Great Portland Street. If you haven’t been to a ukulele jam before you should definitely give it a try. It’s so much fun! Personally, I loved the opportunity to sing my heart out without having to worry about going out of tune! Everyone sings and plays ukulele together so there’s no need to be self-conscious.

We ran through a range of well known songs (pop/rock/folk classics), which we picked from the song books. As I hadn’t played ukulele for ages I’d forgotten most of the chords, but it didn’t take too long to familiarise myself with them again. I think if you’d never played ukulele before you might struggle a bit, but you can always put your uke down for the more tricky tunes and just sing instead. It was a really enjoyable evening out. I’ll definitely be back again soon, much to my ukulele’s delight!


Mixing Desk Training, St James Church (Thursday 7th February)

On Thu I started to learn how to use this!!!


Yes, my second new musical experience was using a 32 track mixing desk! In addition, there is also all the onstage monitoring, speaker system, and equipment set-up to master as well! There is definitely a HUGE learning curve ahead of me as I start to unravel the mysteries of mixing live music, but I find the prospect really exciting. There’s a long way to go, and so much more for me to learn, but I’m pleased to have taken the first step on the journey. Thanks to Chris Pearce for training me up in the art of sound engineering, and to St James Church for letting me loose with their mixing desk! 🙂 This weekend I will be shadowing the P.A. Operator so will get to see/hear it all in action.

The Courteeners, Anna (released 4th February)

It’s great to hear that the Courteeners are on course for their first UK number 1 with their new album Anna. If you like anthemic songs and strong hook lines then you’ll love this. Stand out songs for me included; Van Der Graaff with its souring melody & powerful chorus; the perfectly crafted When You Want Something You Can’t Have; and the more reflective Marquee. The Courteeners are a hard working band that have built up their following over the last 7 years through extensive touring – and you can really hear it. Liam Fray’s unashamedly catchy songs are perfect for the live experience. Can’t wait for their Brixton show next month. 🙂


No gig for me?!

You may have noticed that I decided to have my first ‘gig free week’ of the year. I suffer from a condition called Post Viral Fatigue, and although I am lucky to be able to manage my PVF most of the time – the previous few weeks of concerts, events and chronic insomnia had really taken their toll, and I felt I needed a mellow week to try to improve my health a bit. Playing live is a great buzz, but it is also a rather intense mix of nerves, adrenalin and excitement – which can be quite draining if you have an existing fatigue condition. Anyway, I plan to be back on stage this Monday for the Kings Head Theatre Open Mic in Islington. I hope to see you there. 🙂








27th January – 2nd February 2013

Journal update: My week in music (27 Jan – 2 Feb) which includes: Playing the Billabong Club, Rochester, Kent; Performing at St James Church Lunchtime Concert; and songwriting.



Billabong Club, Rochester (29th January)

I spent most of this week visiting family in Kent, and whilst back in my hometown of Medway I decided to pop along to the Billabong Club in Rochester to play some of my songs at their weekly jam/open mic night.

I absolutely loved playing the Billabong Club: Lots of great musicians & bands, an attentive audience and a fantastic soundman. An audio recording is made of the show, so you can listen back to your performance the following day, and the organisers also take photographs of all the musicians and members of the audience, and they produce a poster of the open mic which is a nice touch. It is an extremely well run open mic, and one that I would regularly perform at if I still lived in Medway.

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St James Church, Muswell Hill (2nd February)

It was an honour to perform at the monthly lunchtime concert at St James Church. I have attended before (as an audience member and as a photographer).  So I was well aware of the high level of musicianship, and consequently was feeling pretty nervous, but very excited, about the opportunity to play.

The original plan was to play Far Away with Ed Bradshaw on djembe drum, and Enda Mac Con Iomaire on banjo. But unfortunately poor Ed was too unwell to do the concert. However, the show must go on, and it did thanks to my friend Rachel Elliot. Rachel stepped in literally at the last moment, and provided backing vocals and percussion for the song. I am so grateful to her for helping out at such short notice. She got my phone call whilst she was at an aerobics class and legged it to the Church in order to be on time for our 11am soundcheck!


The concert started at 12 and we were the second act on stage. I have NEVER performed so early before! In fact, I don’t think I’ve even rehearsed at such an early time. My brain really doesn’t work well until after lunch! I even left for the soundcheck without my guitar?! Haha!! 🙂 Far Away went well, but I was pretty disappointed with my performance on Explain. I started off badly by singing the lyrics to the second verse rather than the first which threw me a bit, and I never really felt as if I did the song justice, which was a shame because I really wanted to give one of my best performances in such a beautiful setting, but maybe the beautiful setting overwhelmed me a bit instead.

The monthly lunchtimes concerts at St James Church are really wonderful. If you live near to Muswell Hill you should definitely check it out. Other performers included: Madeleine Bradbury Rance (Soprano), John Campbell (Trumpet), Amber Salladin (Piano) and Triology (Baroque Trio).

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I completed a new song this week Everything and Nothing. I had composed most of the music for the song a few weeks ago, but finally wrote the lyrics and arranged the middle section whilst back in Kent this week. It’s actually quite a tricky song to play – I like to make life difficult for myself! But I hope to start playing it live at some acoustic shows soon. I also came up with some other musical ideas that I plan to transform into songs over the next few weeks. As much as I enjoy the buzz and adrenalin of playing live, songwriting is (and has always been) my favourite aspect of music.

Many thanks for visiting my journal. Please pop by again next week for more musical updates

Samantha x