With the new album all recorded I’m pleased to say a few gigs are starting to come in. Hopefully in most instances I shall be accompanied by a selection of musicians who perform on the new album. First up is a show at the Isle of Arts Festival on the 19th April at the Boathouse in Ventnor. Tickets can be obtained here.
Then on the 18th May I’ll be performing in Stuttgart on this show which involves a solo performance, interview and then a performance accompanied by the amazing house band. This will be filmed and broadcast online.
June is the Isle of Wight Festival (venue tba) September Bestival at the Bandstand and possibly a couple of other festivals tbc.
Finally, for the moment, a tour of Germany, Austria and Switzerland for October /November has almost been finalised.
I can’t wait to be performing the new material with the new line-up, and (if I lose enough weight) a new wardrobe (hehehe).
Very pleased to say that after a magical week in Studio Humbug (an old water tower on Queen Victoria’s Osborne estate), the new album is pretty much all recorded. We made good time and recorded much more than an album’s worth of material completely from scratch, and we all had much more fun than men our age should be having. The whole thing was a breeze, largely down to the talents of Rob and Jim Holmes who did an amazing job of making sure that everything was recorded with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of quality. The band featured a whole host of Island talent, Paul Butler from the Bees came and played (among other things) kora, piano, trumpet and sitar, JC Grimshaw was his usual brilliant self on mandolins and guitars, whilst the magical Jake Rodrigues also made it down for a few days to add some accordian, banjo, ukelele and guitar. Drums and other percussion was provided by the legendary Rupert Brown, I handed all the bass playing duties over to Rafe Spencer who did a much better job than I could ever do and Dave Godby shone on a vast array of instruments such as pedal steel, lap steel, oud, and hammer dulcimer. As if that wasn’t enough I even got the great Brian Sharpe to put down some guitar and vocals, Donal O’Riain did some fiddling, and Barklay McKay and Mari Person will also be making their contributions remotely via the wonders of technology.
Provisionally entitled ‘Up Here’ the album is due for release in October. I can’t let you hear any of the recordings until then but here is a demo I did at home of one of the songs that will undoubtedly make it on to the finished version.
A happy new year to one and all. It’s been a long time since my last post here so thought it about time that I update on everything that’s been going on with Paul Armfield musically and, more importantly, my plans for the coming year.
Although 2012 saw very little activity in my own right, I spent some of that time helping out both JC Grimshaw and Angelina Grimshaw on each of their records. As brother and sister their work has always been joined at the hip, so to work with each of them in isolation has been a fascinating and enjoyable experience. JC’s took him two painstaking years of self production, whereas Angelina’s took just a couple of weeks produced and engineered by Rupert Brown (who produced my own Blood, Fish and Bone), two very different ways of working and two very different, but very great records.
Here’s a track from Angelina
And one from JC
2012 also saw me putting on my own gigs under the banner SHHH. The idea was to create a quiet environment to put on acts that I felt merited a more reverent and attentive audience. And it worked. Three gigs and a host of amazing talent including Max and Laura Braun, Blackhouse Crow, Jan Kubon, Kim Janssen, Mary Hampton and Puzzle Muteson. More to follow in 2013.
2013 marks the tenth anniversary of my first album Songs Without Words, and to celebrate this my label Artful Sounds have decided to release the album on vinyl for the first time. It will be released in the spring to coincide with Record Store Day. Although growing up with Vinyl, it is only recently that I have begun once more to enthuse about its merits, the main one being that it encourages me to take time to listen rather than to just have music on in the background. So I shall be very pleased to add this to my collection. There’s even talk of a limited edition coloured vinyl.
And finally, in February I go into the studio to record what I hope will become my 5th album. Armed with a year’s worth of new songs and a very special line-up of musicians (including as many of the Four Good Reasons as I can muster), I am more than a little excited by this. The scheduled release date is October/November and two weeks worth of European dates are being penciled in. Who knows, we might even get some interest in the UK this time round. Fingers crossed!
I’ve never been a great fan of the Olympics but this year I’ve found myself already caught up in it’s wake. So despite my disapproval of Union Carbide’s sponsorship (the people behind the Bhopal disasters for which I shaved my head) I already have tickets for several paralympic swimming events to cheer on my superhuman cousin Ellie Simmonds. Furthermore I was recently asked by my old friend and house-mate Louise Giblin to compose a short piece of music to accompany her exhibition of body cast sculptures of Olympians. Louise has made body casts of various olympic athletes including Kriss Akabusi, Beth Tweddle, Dame Kelly Homes and Sally Gunnell onto which she adds motifs and designs reflecting the model’s career/life/achievements, they are then cast in bronze, brass or aluminium. I spent a day with her and blind paralympic swimmer Darren Leach as we watched him train and then go through the process of being cast as you can see here. By chance and synchronicity the 2012 Olympic slogan is a quote from Tennyson’s Ulysses :“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”, so I was able to tie this into my last album ‘Tennyson’. I produced a short film to explain the process, and here is the final piece: To strive
Tags:Bespoke songs·Louise Giblin·Tennyson
Using up all the very last scraps of my annual leave, I’ll be once again zig-zagging around Germany and Austria on the wonderful Deutsche Bahn to play my songs to those who’ll listen. The first seven dates will be solo and then in Stuttgart I’ll be joined by my old friend JC Grimshaw and label boss/van driver/keyboard maestro Daniel Zein. I look forward to getting some new material on the road and hopefully using the time to write something new too.
On my return I’ll also be performing at the Southsea poetry club Tongue and Groove.
And then it’s festival season!
Click on the picture for dates
February 23rd, 2012 · Music
After a couple of years sat on my hard-drive, I’ve finally gotten around to getting this track to an almost finished state. Starting life as a quick sketchy recording built around a ticking clock, I emailed an MP3 out to various friends asking for contributions if they felt so inclined. And everyone did. First back was Barkley McKay’s piano, then Trevor Smith’s toy drum and keyboards, followed by Adam Kirk’s electric guitar. Then for a few more surprises- a full string arrangement from Mari Person, some backing vocals from Tim Charlton, and to top it off some Addleresque harmonica from Jake Rodrigues. At the time my poor old Mac couldn’t play all the files at once, only with the purchase of a slightly more able machine this year was I able to put it all together and re record my double bass, guitar, vocals and some minimal percussion.
The song recalls a night spent sweaty and sleepless recalling all my wrong-doings. A chance to apologise to all those girls I mistreated in my youth. I’m not one for regrets or looking back, but we all have nights like that. Don’t we?
So, now the inertia that followed Tennyson has been broken and the urge to create is back. I have some new songs that are, oddly all fairly retrospective, nostalgic even, which has surprised me given that I tend to be forward looking. Despite how it may sound I’m not having a midlife crisis, I’m quite at ease with the ageing process, but obviously on some subconscious level I must be aware of my high vantage point, at the top of the hill looking down on youth on one side and old age on the other.
So hopefully I’ll continue to record at home, and hopefully my good and talented friends will still be willing to contribute by proxy.
In the short term I’ll be working on a new piece to accompany a short film following extremely talented sculptor Louise Giblin as she takes casts of olympic athletes and turns them into her incredible personalised bronzes.
Until them, have a listen.
The ever industrious Dr Brian Hinton MBE (to give him his full and well deserved title) has taken it upon himself to write a fairly thorough account of what I’ve been up to over the past 44 years and post it up in the superb ‘Stick It In Your Ear’ magazine. If you click on the logo to the left it will hopefully take you directly to the piece. Thanks Brian!
It’s with great sadness that I have to announce that the forthcoming German dates that I was scheduled to perform with he great Jackie Leven have had to be cancelled. The legendary Scot has been admitted to hospital, more than this I do not know. I send him all my best wishes and hope he makes a quick recovery. So I’m very sad not to be making my debut in Ansbach, Munster and Essen, let’s hope the tour gets rescheduled before too long.
As you will no doubt have heard, after a brief respite, Jackie Leven has sadly died. RIP
Despite being in a severe state of renovation, the current owners of Farringford, Tennyson’s former Island residence, have agreed to allow us to launch the album there on Sunday 18th September. Tickets will be £8.00 and will soon be on sale from Waterstones in Newport and from reception at Farringford 01983 752500.
Two days later on Tuesday 20th September I shall be returning to the Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell to repeat the performance for a London audience. Doors are at 7.30 and support will come from JC Grimshaw (with myself on bass) and the Binary Band, I shall be on at 9.30. Tickets for that are £9.50 in advance, £12.00 on the door.
And the following day I shall be off to Germany again for 3 dates with the mighty Jackie Leven.
Very, very chuffed to have a track from the new Tennyson album included on the covermount CD of the September edition of The Word magazine. They have chosen Little Birdie which I’m not sure is the best choice as it doesn’t exactly scream Tennyson, indeed I put it as the first track on the CD to wrong-foot any expectations of wordiness, it being a trite little nursery-rhyme pulled out of context from the great poem ‘The Princess’. However, I concede that it’s probably the most immediate track on the album, so let’s hope it does the job and gets people interested in the album.