Thursday, 11 October 2018

Solfamara!!! I’m in a band!

One of the concerns i had before leaving the UK was about music. I’d juat crowdfunded £6k to make an album and I ‘should’ have been all hands to the greasy pump to promote it and get everybody to listen to it. I never felt comfortable with all that jazz. But I was dead proud of what we’d made. The reality of the situation came slamming down at the album launch, which despite being magical and lovely and wonderful was a barely-break-even affair, and only really because  all the splendidly talented and very busy super-musicians who played on the album did the launch gratis. But to get that full band out on the road, I’d need to get gigs paying close to a grand. To get those sort of gigs you need to ‘be someone’ or have a decent following on things like social media. Have you ever run a social media marketing campaign. Urgh. So in the summer I did a few solo gigs like I always used to do. Great fun, but not GREAT fun like standing on a stage with 7 or 8 instruments, minds and souls all playing together. I could have tried to get a band together in the UK. I didn’t. I moved to Kenya, wondering what musical adventures I’d stumble into.

Here we go... Solfamara. A band. We’ve played 3 gigs already, one in a cool as eggs nightclubat the witching hour, one warm up practice gig in a tent and then this Sunday just gone, a two set, twenty song gig. The video footage was a bit ropey, but this track came out alright. Feelin’ Good.


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

You're Never On Your Own

I found some time to scribble a song and then record it, rough around the edges, all good fun. A song for anybody wondering whether or not to jump in the river and go swimming to somewhere entirely different and new. It doesn't matter where you go - you're never on your own :-)

In the meantime, Solfamara, the band I've joined, went gigging this weekend and it was fab. Soooo much fun. Footage to come soon.

You're Never On Your Own

I've been walking in these feet so long I do not know where we belong
My love, just sing along: cos I do not know quite yet where we belong.

We can find most anything we need
In a landslide or another's eye
(oh the way she looks at me)

But hold on - don't wash yourself clean.
This river's running faster than you can feel
(if you let it in)

Heaven knows there's no place I'd rather go than right here in this moment.
Welcome home, wherever you may wander or where those feet do roam.

You're never lost in life.
You're never on your own.
Take care of what you find there.
You're never on your own.
Ease that weary mind.
You're never on your own.

You'll be alright.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Video evidence - yes I am really here....

Here you go folks, with some shameless plugging of the last track of the album. I wonder how many of you reached it :-)

The Bluest Skies
(written with just a stick and no guitar whilst walking across Spain !)

Swallows Dive in a heat haze shimmering Fish fly in the river there, glistening I'm gonna sit right here and take it all in You walk by like a ghost in a hurricane Blown by, you don't feel anything Sit right here and take it all in The rest of the world is a distant dreaming thing Far from the city on the mountain's skin Go you and I with brand new wings We changed our lives We don't ever have to go back and be it again Do you get the feeling it will be alright Do you get the feeling it will be just fine When I'm walking and you're walking by my side There's nothing but the bluest skies I don't have a destination I don't have cares to mention I don't have worrying on my mind Don't have no fear of failure Don't let that chain derail you Hold your head up high and walk on by

Buy it on itunes :-)

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Update... I'm here...

So what's been happening? I've been here over a month now, settled into a groove... it's time to send a mission report back to my loved ones and anybody else who may alight on this blog.

Greensteds School, Nakuru, Kenya, Earth Date 2018...

All is well. I am fine. I am happy.

My life is what I'd hoped for and more. It'll do :-) What did I want?

To be healthy. I am. I eat smoothies every morning with banana, avocado, dates, flax and chia seeds, magic powders, ginger, turmeric, yoghurt... there's a danger it's too healthy and my body won't cope. I swim some days, play football twice a week at least, and there's yoga on Mondays and pilates on Tuesdays. Most mornings I throw myself up on the wooden frame of my porch and do pull ups too. Why not?

To have more space and time. I do. My little home overlooks the rift valley. Storms swirl in the distance, birds flutter, mist crowds the trees in the mornings and no dawn is ever the same. I see it through my window at the foot of my bed – I've stopped shutting the curtains to let it in. My commute is, on a good day, about 45 seconds, but I still have almost complete privacy up in paradise villas, as my neighbors and I affectionately call our cul-de-sac. A small but massive benefit of this – I don't drive anymore except for the rare occasions I take charge of somebody else's car, which is exciting for the novelty. Well-being boost of not sitting in a car everyday doing the same journey... unquantifiable. I also employ a cleaner, which is expected - a way to filter some of the earnings into the local economy, and quite frankly, it's fabulous.

To be able to teach. I can. Class sizes are between 10 and 18, which means I can form relationships quickly and target the learning to individual needs... you know... teach. Every circumstance has its challenges, and they exist here, but with the numbers trimmed to where they should be (perhaps a little beyond), everything unmanageable about comprehensive education becomes manageable. The argument in the UK used to be economic and is now structural too, but 30 kids in a classroom is just not conducive to any form of real education (leaving aside the absurd curriculum), never was, never will be. They can tinker with the system as much as they like but they'll make no progress until they find a way (or divert the money from the Capital) to make class sizes practical. Rant. Can't help it. I'm programmed to throw mud at psychopaths and millionaires. I am also teaching in a private school in Kenya... I know. It hasn't escaped my attention, but herein lies complexities to be tackled another time.

To run with the river of life. And experience new things. In abundance. In just over a month I've been... holy moly... I can barely begin to list it all. Climbing in Hell's Gate, swimming in geothermal spas, Lake Boringo (wow), Lake Elementita, Lake Naivasha, hippos, giraffes, wild boar, birds, birds, birds, and people! I'm lucky to be living next door to Meg and Rose who basically tell me what to do with my spare time, and for the moment, I'm happy with the arrangement. Every weekend has been fabulous and in a week we're all off to Mozambique to cuddle whale sharks.

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To rekindled my gratitude.  For the days. For every morning of wake up and smell the life pulsing through you. I felt it so strongly during and after Bhutan, but somewhere along the way, I got worn down by stuff – it's my fault perhaps. Commuting contributed, and parochialism, the sleazy politics of a gouty, decaying nation (I became Irish just before I left), the prevalent attitude of 'yes it's all screwed up, but we must look after ourselves before we do anything about it', and - grrrr - house prices (blurgh). And none of the above really... just having good stuff to do, a bit of space to be creative, lots of variety, good people around and no absurd levels of pressure in work is enough. And of course, the blissfulness of mornings on my porch. I had much of this on the farm in Brinsea, and I was grateful for it, but not the 30 minutes in the car I had to spend to see my city friends.

Anyway, this school has a good vein of humanity flowing through it, and a healthy respect for life, which is not synonymous with 'work'. I can do the work and live, without too much compromise. This is a good thing.

To decouple my concerns from money. In Bhutan I spent a year with no relationship whatsoever with my bank account. The money I earned was never enough to afford any kind of meaningful savings, but it was more than enough to live on, and there was nothing to buy in the shops. I checked my bank account once to see that – oh surprise – nothing had changed. Similar (ish) story so far: during the week, I spend nothing and never think about money. At the weekends, I spend without thinking. Net result – no thinking. I don't know if I'm rich or poor anymore J The company who hosts my website wants $400 dollars for the next 3 years. Ouch.

The big surprise...

1) The Band On Sunday I'm playing with Solfamara, the band I've joined. Piano, bass, lead guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, bongos/percussion, saxophone, singing shared by me, the drummer and the saxophonist. Practice room is 20 seconds walk from my house. And they're all amazing. Most of them are working here with the kids so are super talented and technical too... I'm having to life my game and learn. We had a trial gig last Sunday. Imagine how surreal it was... I'm walking out onto the stage, the only white guy in the room (festival-style tent), with four guys behind me and we launch into You Can Call Me Al and everybody gets up dancing. I play By The River next with the band, and everyone is still dancing and hollering out and having fun and it feels like... where the hell am I and how did this happen??? I can't wait for the gig this weekend.

The Big Irritation...

I'm up writing this at 5:45 am because I got fed up with the mozzies that have suddenly swarmed into existence after lulling me into a false sense of security, and the crappy net I brought won't stop falling into my face. The mozzies can bite through the gaps. I eventually got up and thwapped five, all bloated with my blood. Blurgh.

In Conclusion

That's a brief (ish) update of me. I'm well - all is good for now. I've written 4 songs in the past few weeks which is a good indicator of my sense of well-being, but I haven't made any progress at all with the novel, which is still tantalizingly close to the end. The plastics drive will continue and my new batch of crime fighting superheroes are limbering up. I'm coaching a football team, and a local team has asked me to play for them too. That's it. Newsround over.

There's always shadow sides and complexities to the way we live our lives; they have to be explored and interrogated because therein lies the edges of our self and the lines of our values, but for now...

Next stop Mozambique.

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