What a bizarre one it is, too. There are many positive things that can and will come out of this and it is essential to focus on that. I have found myself doing all sorts of things that are out of my comfort zone, like distanced front-garden jamming with my neighbours, presenting a Balkan Beat Box album to a virtual record appreciation society, or giving concerts online.
One of these online concerts was the Mainly Two album launch we did over at Living Room Live on April 10th to celebrate the release of our latest album ‘Squirrels in Matchboxes’. It was released digitally on Turquoise Coconut and is available on all major platforms.
The record features two improvisations as well as new works that were written for us by Kate Williams, John Garner and James Brady. All three composers come from a jazz background which gives this third album a little jazzy twist. The album was recorded by John Martindale at Blank Studios in Newcastle, and James helped us produce this record with his incredible patience and expertise. Josh Green did his usual mixing and mastering wizardry, and Michael Goodson provided us once again with his artwork genius.
These last few weeks have taught me a lot, but now more than ever, I realise just how much music-making is my life. I am lucky enough to live with my duo partner, but I miss making music with all the other wonderful musicians with whom I usually work. On some days I miss it an unbearable amount, and even though technology enables us to make 'split-screen chamber music', it is just not the same as being in the same room. This doesn’t only go for music, but for human interaction in general. I need people around me, and it makes such a difference to be in the same physical space as each other. Maybe it’s the chemicals in the air or the tiny subtleties in gestures that just don’t translate to a computer screen. I’m a musician and as such I long for quality musical interaction as much as anything else. Sure, I can work from home. I can practice, I can record music for screen, I can answer flagged emails, write this blog post etc etc, but that gives me a fraction of the fulfilment and satisfaction I get from making music with my colleagues. I didn’t work this hard for 27 years to do admin, but to play music and share it with other musicians, and with an audience whose immediate response creates the atmosphere I so hugely love about performing.
There are many of my friends and colleagues across the globe that are in the same situation as me and I want to share these feelings as it’s sometimes reassuring to know that you’re not alone in your thoughts. From a purely selfish point of view, writing this is an immense help as it makes me structure my thoughts and forces me to articulate how I feel. I highly recommend you give it a go. It doesn’t have to be a public blog post - scribbling it on a piece of scrap paper might just do the job!
Love and laughter,