Live to be a Lighthouse!

A few days back, I woke up, jumped out of bed, pulled back the curtains aaaand… the sun was actually shining like it did that one-time last year,  So… I decided to spin around, stick on my clothes and pop in my headphones with my ‘walk like a badazz’ Spotify playlist jumping down my ears and …. get on the bus (like a badazz) to Newcastle city centre for an unplanned adventure and wander about.

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Newcastle Monument in the town centre

I had a great day wandering around in the sun with my music without anything planned when all of a sudden, I came across a camera which I had been keeping an eye on for some time in a second-hand store. After lots of haggling and speaking to managers, I came back with the camera and a few other lovely little items for a lovely little deal and we were all friends!

I’ve been using a little Sony mirrorless for a while now and loved it so much I wanted his little bit bigger brother. Anyhow, the day after, after a lovely slap-up meal at Wetherspoons in Bedlington with Curly and Mam & Dad. I decided I wanted to nip over to St.Marys Lighthouse in Whitley Bay and try and catch a bit of the light with the new camera. Momma Shaggy kindly agreed to accompany me. She is always up for an unplanned adventure too.

Anyhow it all worked out grand, I loved the camera, loved the wander in the crazy northeast weather and of course, the time spent with Mumbassa ..HaHa.  Heres a little series of the photos I managed to snap and Il leave ya with this lovely little quote to send you on your way!

“Live to be a lighthouse for others; become the ray of hope in everybody’s life. Use your life to touch someone else’s in such a way that it would never have been achieved otherwise.”  ― Latika Teotia

Jason – Amazing Adventures Always

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St Marys Edited 1

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You can see them Full Quality if you head over to here!

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Happy to Feed a Smile!

I thought I would drop in and tell you a little about one of last weekends shows. January is always a bit strange with gigs and venues for working musicians. So many venues end up cancelling music or even closing all together which has a massive effect on my life as a full-time musician and of course on the venue owners too! I ended up having a few more dates available than usual this January and I was asked to perform an online gig within the virtual world of Secondlife. This time it was a little different though, as it was a Benefit or Charity Gig for Feed A Smile and Live & Learn in Kenya. I hadn’t played any Charity shows in Secondlife so thought I would check out the charity and what they provided and I decided to go for it.

 

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check out these smiles 🙂

 

Here is how the gig works, people donate in a currency in which every 100 lindens (Secondlife Currency) exchanges to purchasing 1 hot meal. It is a really great way to view the show, rather than seeing the money exchanged and thinking about totals raised and it makes it so much more fun and engaging. During the live show, there is a board behind you which tells everyone how many meals you have managed to raise throughout the 1-hour show within the virtual world.

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DennyMac on stage!

The full fundraising mission for Feed A Smile was 2 hours long for Sundays edition and there was a great musician performing in the hour before my own show called DennyMac who was a fantastic guitar player and played some great songs including some lovely instrumental original music he had written. After both our shows were finished and the donations were counted up we managed to raise an amazing 110 hot meals. How unbelievably amazing is it that with just 1 hour of my time performing a live gig, from the comfort of my own home, this can make such a huge difference and impact these lovely little kids, who are in need in such a huge way.

So yeah! I’m looking forward to working with them again in the future and helping out in any way I can and I’d just like to say a massive thanks to everyone who helped put this all together especially Brique, Lo , Sparkie, Lo Bloch Management, DennyMac and of course the lovely listeners who turned out for the show!

Go out there and be awesome my friends and do something great today along your way!

Amazing Adventures Always – Jason

 

 

 

Gone too far…..

This week I ended up playing around with a song which has floated around my life for quite a long time. I first heard it when a great guitar player and friend of mine Brian Home who played it live in the Fox Cover Bar in the local town of Ashington. Brian always put on a great gig and at the time seemed a very different acoustic gig to what was being played in local bars with songs from Tommy Emmanuel instrumentals, songs about Dead Skunks to this wonderful Norah Jones song ‘Humble me’

I’ve always played around with it a little and tried to work it out when I have been noodling away and working on songs but it just never came together. Earlier this week I had the guitar out late at night and I had been learning a song in an open tuning when I stumbled into parts of the ‘Norah Jones’ song. Then suddenly it struck me that I had been trying to play it in standard guitar tuning when it was probably in something else. Sure enough, I watched a couple of live videos of the song and it was in an open tuning and off I went learning it and it all came together. It sure is a wonderful song to play even without the vocals and before I knew it the camera was out and here it is! I hope you enjoy my little live take of it and hopefully, it connects with someone out there, the way it did with me all those years ago.

Jason, Amazing Adventures Always

Have a cup of English Tea

On Sunday past, I jumped into the virtual world of SecondLife to perform a 1 hour live show at the brilliant Key West Resort music venue and for those of you who don’t know about SecondLife, its kind of hard to explain, but, Its an online avatar-based virtual world and In there people can buy and rent land and build music venues and have live musicians stream into the world at virtual gigs. There is a whole lot more to it than that but if you want to check it out and have yourself a virtual wander around then you can find all the info at secondlife.com

Here I am being a virtual shaggy, jamming out on a virtual Martin guitar in some wonderful virtual sunshine by the coast!

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Shagpile Spyker in the virtual world of Secondlife

With the help of the lovely Lo Bloch Management I get a few live shows in there and Sunday was one of those. There was a great bunch of people in-world to listen in from people I knew in the past within Secondlife, when I spent a lot more time in there performing live music, to great friends who live not so far away from me in the UK.

Ron Bizzle is one of the first kind of those people, and I met Ron many years ago in-world as he floated around a lot of live gigs in SecondLife, documenting live performers for his YouTube channel. Ron lives way over in St. Louis, Missouri, USA but I had the pleasure of him coming to a couple of my live gigs with Growing Robots & We Steal Flyers in the UK and meeting him in person.

At the show on Sunday, a local friend Alan Cook was also at the gig in-world and Alan comes out to lots of local, live, We Steal Flyers shows around the UK and he requested that I sang an original song I wrote for the latest album ‘English Tea’

The two moments combined and Ron decided to film the song for his channel and out came this little video of me singing the song live in Secondlife. Here is ‘English Tea’ from the We Steal Flyers album ‘Applecart’ . If you would like to hear the studio version head over to Spotify to listen to the album here. As always thanks for checking in if you’re reading this and if you check out Secondlife be sure to say hello in-world.

Have a great and adventurous day!

Amazing Adventures Always

Jason

 

Milestones and Memories

Way back in May 2007 I signed up for my first ever YouTube account. I must have just been a wee sprog with a baldy chin back then! haha.. It seems so long ago! I remember watching a guy called Ortopilot who was from England and seemed like just an ordinary guy throwing covers and originals up there for the world to find and he seemed to get a lot of feedback and along with it advise critique and criticism. Some not so good with online trolls but most of it seemed like a very nice community of music lovers who shared and cared enough to make it all work.

So.. I bought myself an old JVC camcorder and decided to stick songs I was writing, working on and covering up on YouTube. The video platform it is today was very different back then and had a thriving original music scene with a great community feel about it, but it changed a lot when they pushed the music category towards mainstream artists and got rid of the little folk! That said, I still love sharing videos on there to this day and it’s a great little platform for people to listen to music.  I think I will always be posting stuff on there until my hands or head falls off. As long as I can still play the guitar then I’m sure there will still be videos to be made.

Anyhoooo! Way back when I started out on YouTube I always remember setting milestones and targets to reach. 100 Subscribers, then 500 Subscribers, 1000 views on the newest upload and so on.  There was also daily targets and awards to hit like ‘#todays most viewed’ and ‘#this weeks most comments’ which made it really fun and gave you things to keep the interest alive and the community of people working together to help share and check out each other’s new content.

During this time one of my BIG targets for myself and my little home of music was to try and get one of my videos over 100,000 views. This may not sound like a lot but for my own little channel of music I either wrote or listened too and covered I knew it was going to be a huge challenge and as my life in music took different directions, my channel has never really had the attention from myself I intended to give it.

I still love creating videos and posting them and finally after 10 years since I started my little channel, a video I posted in 2012 which was an acoustic cover of  ‘time after time’ by Cyndi Lauper has broken that milestone for me!

At this current point my channel has so far :

4,283 Subscribers – 877,891 views collectively with all my videos together and has 121 videos on there. So the next two milestones look pretty obvious to me! 1 million views across my whole channel and 5000 subscribers 🙂

If you would like to help me with this and you enjoy the music and videos, then please stop by and subscribe to my channel. It would be more than much appreciated and the next time you stop by a video of mine .. drop a comment on there! Say hi, tell me what you think, let me know you stopped in or request a song cover! Anything goes and the more interaction helps my channel out and also gives me the chance to chinwag with you and see who is watching!

Right, I best do a one as its heading into midnight and this screen is making my eyes go wonky but before I go I would just like to say a massive, huge, THANK YOU, if you have ever stopped by a video, bought an album, turned up to a gig, dropped into my Spotify or listened to anything in any way over the many years of my musical life.

Merry Christmas out there! Shaggy!

 

*bleep* you! I won’t do what you tell me!

In April this year, a post went up on Facebook by someone I didn’t know asking if any musicians would be able to record an acoustic cover of ‘Killing in the name of’ by Rage Against the Machine as a commission job for a couple who wished to have the song played during their wedding ceremony as they walk down the aisle.

 

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Rage Against The Machine

 

A lovely friend of mine and music lover Sian saw the post and dropped me into the conversation with a lovely recommendation. I got chatting with the person who was dealing with it all for the couple and sent her a few YouTube videos over to check out my channel and before I knew the plan had been set.

So, my challenge was to cover ‘Killing in the name of’ and do it acoustically and send them the finished song. This week I’ve been getting busy in the Shagnut Studio Shack with it and to be honest it has been not only challenging but great fun as well! I love working like this and especially on something I would probably have never even had thought of either.

We’ve been sending posts back and forward in a group chat and checking out the progress and at the minute it’s pretty much there now. I am gonna add a little more guitar and some harmony in there and I reckon it’s sorted. I posted a snippet in the group yesterday and they are sounding over the moon with it so far so.. good news for me!

The wedding is on the 29th July this year and I’ve also decided to release the cover as a single on the same day of the wedding as a little hi-ho to the lovely couple who got me to work on this project and it will be out on most major platforms online! There will be a little explicit language so, unfortunately, no kiddies can listen in hahah!

Hope you are all well out there and looking forward to hearing the finished song!

Jason – Shagpile Music

#amazingadventuresalways

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My new Covers Album is out now and available on Spotify

 

Song a day! – Handyman Blues ‘Under The Covers’

Since I was a little wee wippa’ snapper growing up in my hometown of Bedlington in Northumberland, Billy Bragg and his music has always been around the house. My big brother, Andy, always had his albums on in his bedroom and tracks like St.Swithins Day, The milkman of human kindness and of course New England was drummed into me without me even knowing it. I didn’t have a choice of being a fan, it was simply just implanted along my little life without me even knowing it.

At a really early age when I started to play around with the guitar one of the first music books I ever got was ‘Back to Basics with Billy Bragg’ from my good pal ‘Bambi’ who started teaching me guitar. ‘Bambi’ was a massive Billy Bragg fan and sang and played pretty much any of his tracks at the time. The book he gave me had little sketchy chord charts in to learn the songs and that’s pretty much what happened.Off I went!

After that and many years down the line I recently bought a vinyl copy of ‘Billys’ newest album at the time called ‘Tooth & Nail’ a couple of years back. I absolutely loved it and the track ‘Handyman Blues’ instantly struck a heavy note with me. It was the lyrics… they were all about songwriting, poetry and well kind of not being able to do much else really. It goes on about not fixing things in the house like curtain rails and such but heads into being able to write a song that will tell the world how much ‘I love you’ instead. Its a fantastic little song and I fell in love with it straight away because of the way my musical life and journey sometimes has all these very things. Have a listen and I hope you enjoy it too. This track was recorded with one mic live for a YouTube video which you can also watch if you go searching! Have a great Monday! Shaggy!

https://open.spotify.com/embed?uri=spotify:track:56Iae7xzBNmlA8CqTkyxI1

Song a day! Mad World – Under the Covers

Day 1 – Mad World ‘Under The Covers’ – Track 1
 
I said I would be writing a little insight and sharing a track from my new album ‘Under the Covers Vol.1’ and telling you a little more information about how the cover came about and where it came from. So here is the first one.
 
In January 2013 I uploaded a cover of ‘Sounds of Silence’ to my YouTube channel. The band ‘Disturbed’ did an acoustic cover of the song not so long back and my own cover started getting lots of views and as of writing this its at 56,364 views! I was getting lots of comments and unknown traffic to the channel and I was over the moon!
 
I recieved a comment from a ‘MrBeck322’ saying ‘Love it!!!! Can I use your cover song in a video?’ and of course I replied with a yes but not knowing really what it was going to be used for.
 
The song and my arrangement was used in a Video Trailer for a Theatre Production in Germany called 3165 – Monolog eines Henkers which was all the last executioner of the Third Reich who was Johann Reichart. Here is the trailer!
 
 
I became friends with Peter (MrBeck322) and we talked about working together in the future.
 
Later in July 2016 Peter spoke to me regarding my cover of Mad World on YouTube and asked if I could re-record a version of this song for use in the live theatre production with a different feel. He described the scene to me and would like the song much slower and a darker feel to it.
 
A couple of days later and I had the track put together and off it went to Peter and the production company for the Production.
 
It now performs numerous times each year and this year I may be planning a trip to go and check out the production and meet Peter and his team for the first time and this is the first track on my ‘Under The Covers Vol.1’ Album which has just been released. I hope you like it and enjoyed hearing a little more insight into my musical little world today! Have a wonderful Thursday!

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/1LdHaUPlrrmeNI1FBt5ZOY

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Sfarzo Strings Endorsed Artist

Back in March I headed down to the North East Guitar Show in Houghton Le Spring with the little bro’ Stevie to dream and drool over all the guitar and techy stuff that was on offer. Its a canny little day of just checking out all the new equipment that is coming out and of course to see some great second hand, vintage guitars on offer and usually some great guitar players performing live too.

We zoomed down in the car in the sunshine and arrived late morning and had a wander around the show. I also had a few bits ‘n’ pieces for sale on the FretMarks music stall which I wanted to get rid of and kept tripping over around my music filled home which Mark kindly offered to try and sell for me.

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FretMarks Music from Bedlington and the new Tanglewood Models

We had a good look around and dropped in to Marks stall to see how the day was going. The next stall to Marks had a smily chap selling lots of strings and was the Sfarzo UK distributor and after a bit of time chatting with him about gigs, live music and the strings he was promoting and selling, then we got to discussing about artist endorsments. Lee was a jolly chap, full of smiles and was very enthusiastic about the Sfarzo & Nicola brand strings and offered me a couple of different packets to take away and try for free from the Sfarzo family brand!

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Lee from Cheshire Guitars the UK distributor for Sfarzo Strings

After watching a little of the live music and drinking polystyrene cupped coffee we headed back North. Lee had posted a photo of me with the strings over on the Sfarzo Twitter page and a couple of days later I tried out some of the strings on my Tanglewood TSM1 Master Design. The D’addario strings on there were ready for a change after 4 gigs and the new Sfarzo strings gave it a new lease of life ready for the gigs ahead and lots of testing, playing and having fun!

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After speaking back and forward with Lee he kindly agreed to add me as an Endorsed artist and was looking forward to hearing my thoughts on the strings. I got some photographs over to him with the TSM1 and they will be going live on the UK and US Sfarzo websites soon in the artist sections. I also have a nice delivery coming in from the US with lots of strings to keep me going through the many We Steal Flyers and Growing Robots gigs ahead. Playing around 200 live gigs per year means I go through quite an amount of strings as you can imagine.

So far the strings have been fantastic and they have been lasting and sounding a lot better for a lot longer than my D’addario strings I was using before. They have a nice warmth about them and still keep that brightness I need when playing for more gigs before having to change them! Which is a huge…hugeee…. bonus to me!

So.. yeah! Im a happy chappy! I am now officially an Endorsed Artist with Sfarzo Strings and of course Tanglewood Guitar Company and so far it seems like a great family of people across the globe to be in contact with and make plans with. If your a musician and would like to give them a try yourself why not pop into my local music store FretMarks Music in Bedlington who will be stocking them from this week also. You can usually find me in there tinkering around on guitars in the corner a few times a week too so say hello if ya see me.

Enjoy your week and be great!

Jason – Amazing Adventures Always

What will you leave behind?

Hey up!! I’ve got a little story for ya! It was around 3 or 4 months ago, when my little half-pint daughters Olivia & Macey we’re hanging out with Daddy indoors on a not so nice day in Northumberland. After a few hours of finding things to do and getting up to mischief around the house it was time for them to head back to Mam’s and she was knocking at the front door before we knew it.

Olivia was feeling a little tired and ready for home but Macey decided she wasn’t going and decided to hide somewhere in the kitchen. After a little game of hide-and-seek Macey decided to stay over with Dad and Maria.

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My two amazing daughters (left) Macey & (right) Olivia

We woke up the next morning and Maria headed downstairs early as always, so Macey decided to climb into Daddy’s bed for a bit banter and giggles. We ended up with both of us at the bedroom window watching all the birds in the trees in the garden. She loves watching them all flying in and out and learning about what they’re called and naming them all. She likes the ‘Chaffies’ and has a besty called ‘Crush the Thrush’ hahahha

A few days later I was sitting playing the guitar with Macey and having a little sing song and I was asking her about writing a song and what she would like to write about. She instantly started singing about our morning watching the birds together. ‘In the morning when we wake up and watch the birdssssss….’ was her little line to start with and we started singing different stuff together while I secretly took mental notes of all her little lyrics. It was such a lovely little moment to share with her and the time flew by and before I knew it a lovely little song was pretty much altogether and she was singing away while I played the music. She wanted to get it all finished so she could show Maria when she came in from work and she did. I even set the microphone up for her and she sang her little heart out. Since that moment she just sings it anywhere when I ask her or if I start singing it. She loves giving a little performance! (wonder where she gets that from haha)

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Headed to Greggs for some pre-studio nomnom!

So… now we’re a few months down the line and I managed to get the guitars and my vocals recorded in the Shagnut Studio. I picked the little ones up from school yesterday and we walked around in the fresh October winds, up towards home. We stopped off for a little bit food and chinwag in Greggs Bakery on Bedlington Front Street. Macey wanted a cheese pastie and Olly had a sausage roll and we sat and talked about all sorts. I told Macey I had been recording the song and it was ready for her to sing her parts on now and we could do it when we got home if she wanted to. She was really excited about getting to record her song and she said “I’m excited to do it… but I’m also a bit scared”

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When I asked her why she was scared she said because she didn’t know if she could do it or sing it right. Macey is only 5 years old by the way!! I assured her she was going to be amazing and that it didn’t matter what happened in there, then we got inside, stuck her headphones on and she had two little practices singing along with it. I hit the record button and tracked two takes of the full song with her singing her little heart out. She was absolutely amazing and she has such a beautiful little voice with a lot of control for such a young girl. She was standing there in her little school outfit while she twiddled with the headphone cable and I didn’t have to tell her a thing. She just sang through it without any problems and then sat on my knee asking about the mixing and what was happening on the screen. A very proud daddy moment and such an amazing part of my week, month, year watching her sing and express her cute little self and loving it!

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The song is called ‘Maceys Morning’ and has turned into an amazing little moment captured between me and my youngest daughter and will also be on my new solo album. While all this was happening there was so much going through my head about what we can leave behind for others and memories that will still be around once we’ve left this little life behind. So… maybe have a think about what you would like to leave? or… what would be your favourite little moments in life if you could stick them in a box and pass them onto someone before you head off to the land of nevernever! Have a great week.. and be awesome!! Thank you for reading as always!

Jason #AmazingAdventuresAlways

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