That’s Entertainment – 4 of the best

Many people will know me for my enthusiasm for Original music, but of course that’s not my only interest in music. The key to any great music and/or performance is whether it entertains and/or inspires. With that in mind here are a few artists that I have found to be excellent and memorable performers

Andy Eastwood

Let me start by saying that I never really warmed to the music of George Formby, BUT I had to review my thinking on this after seeing Andy live and sitting in on two of his workshops. I described him as “a great old fashioned entertainer” and he commented “How come there’s not a lot more of that these days?” Andy is a hardworking professional who seems to be endlessley touring and travelling. He is technically excellent on a number of instruments and has a great manner in interacting with an audience

Phil Doleman and Ian Emmerson

I have met Phil many times and always found him to be a superb teacher with a genuine love of music. I saw him and Ian Emmerson live last year on the GNUF main stage and really enjoyed their performance. It was a great set with lots of variation. This year I saw tham on the GNUF underground stage and they knocked it out of the part. The 20 minute set was a master class in entertainment, just brilliant. The interaction onstage was superb and as well as being technically very skilled they were terrific entertainment. I could have listened for hours. Ian is a supeb performer in his own right “a dark horse” and also a genuine entertainer

Biscuithead and Dean

My bandmate Jessica told me about Dean and Biscuithed and I have seen them a few times. Dean has supported The Small Change Diaries a couple of times, most recently being at The Grove in Leeds. This lastest slot was a brilliant example of entertaining an audience. The songs are smart, witty and melodic and in my view the world is better for such music

Percy Copley

I met Percy a year ago and saw him play the GNUF mainstage. I admit that in “uke world” there are a lots of ok artists, but not a great number that I find captivating in a live situation. Percy is without doubt a real exception and again a genuine entertainer. I was blown away by his set and later when he spent and evening at my house I was amazed at how technically skilled he is as well as how good he is at creating his own material. I suspect years of association with Disney has done him no harm and I highly recommend seeing him live. He also did a brilliant job adding music to “Barter Blues” and we’ll do some more work together.

These are four artists that spring to mind this wet Wednesday morning in Yorkshire. All are very different and have provided what I consider to be excellent entertainment. There are of course others, but these are the ones that came to mind for this blog. All of these folks are true professionals and great musicians with a helpful sense of humour. These are of course all guys, women to follow soon

Nick Cody Live in Japan July 22nd

Next month I am delighted to be playing in Japan. This is a country I truly love, with great people, great music and terrific instruments.

This will be ny 16th trip there and I never get tired of visiting. I’ll be with my good friend Brian Cullen playing 

Country Joe’s 2 Chome-8-9 Shinsakae, Naka-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi, Japan 460-0007 on July 22nd at 8pm.

This is a small club, so we advise getting there early. We promise a great provocative evening of great acoustic music and original songs. This will be the first OUS outing in Japan and my plan is to have many more in this wonderful country


There’s a FB event page here –

This will be an opportunity to play some classic Small Change Diaries tracks as well as some material off the 2018 solo release for the first time.

Brian is a terrific artist in his own right and plays a variety of instruments including mandolin, guitar and ukulele, He writes terrific songs that stick in your head. We have jammed together during my Japanese trips but this will be the first time we have played an actual gig.

I’ll be travelling light with a Rob Collings purple heart tenor and any other instruments I pick up on route! Its going to be a great night out and I welcome all Japanese friends and fellow musicians to come and join us!

Positive and negative use of social media for artists

In a positive sense, it can be great to generate conversion and maintain contact with like minds. Good photos, on topic posts and good information are all great ways of using social media in a positive sense. Building a community of like minded people with mutual enthusiasm works well, BUT inevitably such platforms always attract detractors as well and especially what are wonderfully called “keyboard warriors” who are mostly self employed and status seekers. A positive way to guard against this is to ensure that such characters respect the rules of the group or exhibit good manners if posting to your personal page. Remember if its your page or group, its good manners for others to adhere to good behaviour. With these considerations in mind social media can be a terrific tool for artists, expanding their reach to new audiences.

Even though people may imagine that everyone has endless time to post online, of course working professionals mostly only have limited time for social media unless they have somebody doing this on their behalf. Social media used positively is terrific as a medium to connect to a global community. The key is IMO to offer good quality material, thought provoking posts and unique information. Its also important not to flood social media with poor video and photos as that usually dilutes audience attention. 

The OUS platform is a great example of positive social media in action. The public FB platform has 2700 plus members and the main webpage has 60+ artists with their own pages and of course many more have applied to be on the site. Its a free resource for original artists and in 2018 this project will be greatly expanded. With my own band The Small Change Diaries, we have received some great opportunities though having a good social media and online presence including being invited to a major international Guitar festival overseas.

The Negatives

Just as a village can have a positive communal spirit, there can also be disruptive characters also known as trolls. Such individuals are always status seekers wanting to be the center of attention and they usually hunt in packs of two or more. Anyone who starts to achieve any form of increased profile in the public domain inevitably attracts such characters. On a basic “Punch and Judy” level the behaviour is usually endless negative attention seeking negative posts. At the other extreme, this can mean actual attempts to hack your website and/or clone your account. I have experience of both of these and have a restraining order in place against one character!

Usually ignoring and/or blocking such characters is the best strategy. Mostly there will be a small group that will back each other up and egg each other on. ALWAYS screen grab any particualarly libellous comments and store up information. If you go a legal route this will require detailing a full paper trail and that can take time. Fortunately the law has changed in recent years so this is a lot easier these days. Its useful to remember that social media can massively distort communications and of course over hyped claims usually backfire and genuine artists also look to “play the long game” and build up a body of work that stands the test of time.


Social media is one of many ways to connect to a wider public. Aside from my musical projects I have FB platforms that connect with substantial numbers of people. I teach communication skills in 13 overseas countries and many countries have their own social media platforms to ask and answer questions about courses. I also run many blogs which are mostly specific information about subjects. I have a policy of growing interest organically platforms like OUS have in a short time brought together many terrific artists who may have not otherwise got to meet each other.

I recently met Gregor Nowak in Austria who I met on FB and Alan and Terri Thornton stayed for a week at my house after having only known them on FB. I also had a great meeting with Bernd Holzhausen in Vienna, who I had previously only known online. These are great examples of turning virtual friends into real life friends.  

STOP PRESS – Seems from pm’s these observations are not uncommon in this cyber age!


Nick Cody meets ukulele luthier Gregor Nowak

I just returned from Vienna after interviewing Gregor Nowak about his work

We talked extensively about what makes for a great instrument and of course Gregor builds a range of instruments, not just ukuleles. I’m a massive fan of ukuleles, but in my view the ukulele is not some kind of mystical instrument, its simply a great tool which if used well can create wonderful music. During out morning conversation I tried out a ukulele tenor, a guitaralele and a mandola. I am pleased to report that all of these were exceptional.

Folks who know me, appreciate that I have a great love of well made instruments. To date I have interviewed many great builders from all over the world including Takahiro Shimo, Bill Collins, Pete Howlett, Zachary Taylor, Rob Collings to name a few. All these individuals have a definite point of view and an absolute focus on creating the best possible playing instrument. The approaches may vary from one builder to another, but there also some noticable similarities.

One of these similarities is the reassuring mahogany neck which in my hans always feels and sounds great, regardless of whether this is a ukulele, guitar or mandolin. Gregor is clearly a designer and builder with excellent attention to detail and like all great builders one with terrific curiosity about what is possible beyond the stereotypical build. 

I always know when I have found a really excellent instrument, when I pick it up and after thirty minutes I’m still playing it. This was the case in Japan when I came across Shimo’s work and has been the same for the other builders I mentioned. On this visit I was really taken by Gregor’s guitaralele which is different to anything else I either own or have played. Every instrument sparks a particular kind of music and melodic inspiration and this is no exception. For some reason this instrument inspires a Mali style blues. Its got a really wide neck with two wound and four unwound strings. This one was a prototype and I am pleased to say has now joined the ever growing “Cody family” I’ll certainly be recording with it.

Take a look at his site here 

Life The Basic Manual Video Platform

I  was approached a while back by the guys at “Life the basic manual” to shoot some video taking about the ukulele and ukulele related subjects. Of course there are wholly my opinions and observations and to paraphrase Groucho “These are my opinions, if you don’t like them, I have others” It was fun to bring out and talk about a number of different instruments from around the world as well as the growing OUS movement that is gathering pace.  This platform covers a massive range of topics and I think its great that the mighty uke is now included. Inevitably people will have all manner of opinions, but discussion and debate only enhance learning and in this era its wonderful to have such platforms that connect people all over the globe.


The dangers of overexposure for artists?

I was talking to a fellow musician recently about balancing “overexposure” and “underexposure” as a performing and/or recording artist. I think it’s a very interesting area of discussion and inevitably one that will provoke all manner of responses. She was commenting how in one area of music, in her opinion the exact same artists seemed to be headlining all the main festivals and other festive events. One the one hand you could reasonably say “Let market forces dictate who is most in demand”, but I think this does raise a genuine issue of overexposure which has its own consequences. 

Booking agents and festival promoters understandably want to hire artists that will put bums on seats, and they don’t call it “the music business” for not reason. This is a commercial reality and one of the side effects is that often most of what we see and hear is a repeat of what has already been seen and heard.  This commercial reality means that with a few exceptions promoters will take the safe route and book the same individuals. The performers often also take what IMO is the safe route and play familiar material. Again nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t really factor in a great number of opportunities for anything new or dynamically interesting. 

 In the UK, you can literally drive from one end of the island to the other in a number of hours. There is a definite limit to the number of festivals and locations you can play at in a fairly small geographical location. This would be quite different in the USA, which is of course a number of “united states” many of whom are very different.  If an artist is perceived to be playing almost everywhere, the demand for them is inevitably diminished through “overexposure” If they are almost never seen they run the danger of “underexposure” In the conversation my friend commented that she stopped attending festivals as she rarely saw or heard anything new, so in her opinion it was no longer good value for money. In these times pricing has become a big factor with the cost of travel and accommodation now being quite high in the UK.

Robert Cialdini – The Scarcity principal 

A really well respected authority on the subject of persuasion “Robert Cialdini” talks about “the scarcity principle” as one of the six key elements in human behavioral responses. 

Principle #6: Scarcity

In fundamental economic theory, scarcity relates to supply and demand. Basically, the less there
is of something, the more valuable it is. The more rare and uncommon a thing, the more people
want it. Familiar examples are frenzies over the latest holiday toy or urban campers waiting
overnight to pounce on the latest iPhone.
o Experiment conducted
In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company made their infamous switch from their traditional formula to
the sweeter formula “New Coke.” Their taste tests indicated that 55% preferred the new Coke
over the old. Most of those tests were blind, but some participants were told which formula was
new and which was the original. Under those conditions, the preference for new Coke increased
Despite the taste tests, the switch to new Coke triggered incredible backlash against it. Time
magazine later dubbed it “the marketing fiasco of the decade.”
“The company must have looked at the 6% difference between blind and non-blind preferences
and said to themselves ‘Oh, good, this means that when people know that they’re getting
something new, their desire for it will shoot up.’”
“In fact, what that 6% really meant was that when people know what it is they can’t have, their
desire for it will shoot up. Later, when the company replaced the traditional recipe with the new
one, it was the old Coke that people couldn’t have, and it became the favorite.”

Robert Cialdini

Another Farewell Tour?

The famous “farewell tour announcements” work using Chialdini’s principle and are well known strategies to regenerate major audiences. This is a perfect example of the scarcity princile in action. Festivals and events that announce their final trow of the dice, inevitably  generate increaed attention from using this principle. Sometimes such acts and events truly have called in a day and sometimes it’s a marketing ploy of course. Numerous artists including The Eagles and Phil Collins and Cream have used this farewell tour tactic to boost ticket sales. However, Cream did wait a respectable 37 years before playing again. 

In marketing “difference dictates” For example, if the exact same artists appeared at the same event, then geography and price mostly become the main variable factors. Of course, the artists are only one part of the attraction for some events. Others can be meeting up socially and whether there’s a good supply of beer on tap! Often music festivals leverage the same artists to try to generate interest and sometimes events are cancelled due to lack of headliner availability.

When there’s a lack of scarcity, there’s ultimately increasingly less interest. Despite the sentiment in the song “I wish it could be Christmas every day” if that were true then it would no longer remain a unique once a year event. Every day would essentially be the same as every other day, so Christmas would no longer stand out as a special day for many. 

Playing only for exposure?

Another regular topic among artists is the question of playing only for exposure also known as playing for free. The term “for free” many means that there is no financial exchange, but there may be many other benefits that are as or more valuable. Such benefits include being able to network during the event, photographic opportunities and getting good live video. That said any artist wanting to earn a living from music needs to generate predictable income. The key word here is “predictable” A lack of predictability in income streams can create all manner of problems. Some artists and promoters are well intentioned but delusional when it comes to making basic business decisions and this can cause them major long-term problems. 

Getting useful exposure and “playing the long game”

With my own band “The Small Change Diaries” we received our first overseas festival invitation on the basis of reputation and online presence. We have since had other overseas enquiries and I have made sure we don’t appear as a what many may think of as typical ukulele band as that’s not really our target audience. We also play 100% original music which is not a safe bet in terms of audience reactions. Martin Simpson paid me the highest compliment by saying “You really don’t sound like anyone else” 

With the band, I make sure that everything we put out was of good quality and there were no shaky camera videos taken on IPhones! Personally, I would never want to reply only on music for an income and professional artists I know comment that this is not exactly an easy life. The balance again is maintaining some exposure in the public domain but not oversaturating the market so you appear everywhere and lose impact. Once again Robert Cialdini’s observations are worth bearing in mind. This is IMO all about “playing the long game” and that means careful investment of time and money. Inevitably there are major lessons along the way of course.

Online video

Another challenge is the increasing amount of material posted online on video platforms, especially YouTube. If you put everything online members of the public can think “I’ve seen that set” and not bother to see you play live. Kate Bush pleaded with her audience not to video her string of shows to maintain the scarcity element and of course one fan couldn’t resist. Artists who post everything online also can create problems for themselves in terms of overexposure.

Final thoughts and a counter example

Interestingly there is a counter example to all of this in that an increasing number of popular artists make EVERY SHOW available to their fans. You can literally buy every show of Springsteen’s “The River” on CD, high definition audio and mp3, literally hundreds of hours of listening. Artists like Nick Cave have technology that in some cases allows you to have a recording of the show directly after you have attended it. These are exceptions to “the scarcity principle” 

Of course, the other extreme is underexposure which is equally problematic, but that’s the subject for another blog

robert cialdini

Setting up for the main stage at The Lagoa Guitar Festival 2016

Finally this is not a new topic and despite some folks dismissing the whole subject out of hand, its been written about extensively from many angles and perspectives. Thanks for all the private messages about this and those who have contributed in a mature way to the discussion

Stand for something or stand for nothing?

I had a long conversation recently with a very established artist where we talked about “artist positioning” and artist identity. He pointed out that those artists who have created a body of work that has stood the test of time, stuck to their guns in maintaining a very definite musical stance, while at the same time evolving their own material. There are many examples of such individuals, including David Bowie, Neil Young, Bob Dylan among many others. When Bowie released “Low” there was some surprise as to how an artist who created “Ziggy Stardust” could then release an album that was 50% instrumental! Of course Bowie was a brilliant composer as well as a performer and was often well ahead of the curve. Decades on its appreciated as a classic. Hendrix had the same experience with Electric Ladyland, another of my all time favorites. Of course when Jimi touted “Hey Joe” most record companies were not interested…

Similarly Neil Young drove his record company crazy with some of his releases causing Geffen Records to suggest his music was “noncommercial” Dylan has always massively inspired and frustrated me in his choice of releases. At his best, he released “Blood on the Tracks” “Oh Mercy” and “Time Out of Mind” but the last two had the magic Daniel Lanois ingredient that worked so brilliantly with Emmylou Harris’s Wrecking Ball, another superb album. Emmylou received a lot of grief from people who preferred “the traditional country sound” but I applaud that she stuck to her guns and didn’t simply pander to what people expected. The best artists in my view have the metal to challenge an audience and create something new. This is NOT the safe option and it’s far easier to just roll out a familiar tune that will instantly be recognizable to an audience. Yes, there’s absolutely a place for that, but please lets also have music that takes people to new places and is gimmick opefully free. Without new music we are left with an endless recycle of what has gone before. Without artists taking risks and sticking to their gugs many of the classic albums would never have been made.

I therefore continue to have a massive respect for artists that maintain a consistent position, even if I’m not a fan of their actual music. This is one of the reasons i prefer original material as by its nature such music always brings something brand new to the table. Its also clear to me that a lot of the best music requires cooperation with like minds. Even though Dylan and Young are known as solo artists, without “The Band” and “Crazy Horse” a lot of the best music would never have manifested.  

“With Crazy Horse, it’s all one big, growing, smoldering sound, and I’m part of it. It’s like gliding, or some sort of natural surfing”

Neil Young

There are many other examples of this including “The Talking Heads” and although “The Tom Tom Club” created many great tracks. the full Talking Heads ensemble were quite extraordinary. Long term collaborations are rare as its like a marriage, there needs to be some give and take. Years ago I was in a band called “The Guest List” and out of the four of us, one member always used to freely proclaim being a lazy person, which at least was an accurate description! Ultimately we parted ways as he was being carried by the rest of the band and it wasn’t even remotely an equal collaboration. These days I’m very careful to ensure that I work with people who have a shared creative vision and who are prepared to put in the actual work needed. 

I have come to respect folks “who stand for something” rather that those who don’t hold a particular view and try to be all things to all people! I’m not a fan of this as in trying to be “all things to everyone” IMO you end up being “no thing to anyone”. Far better in my biased opinion to maintain a stance that you remain true to. The artists I respect the most have always done this and in doing so they have received all manner of negative comments. This weeks is the 50th anniversary of Sergeant Pepper, a classic Beatles album which set the world alight all those decades ago.  Most of the greatest music is ahead of the curve when released and its only later that it gets fully recognised. Of course ultimately its a personal choice and I fully admit that my taste is not the same as the masses!

Ultimately the best art and music comes from cooperation and collaborations, with essential focus and stamina. I’m lucky to increasingly know a bunch of folks who have a great love of music, as well as terrific skills. 

Binge drinking & substance abuse for musicians

In my other life as “the other Nick” I work with individuals with behavioral issues as well as teaching groups about addictions and compulsions worldwide, especially in Japan. I have been involved in this work for almost two decades and seen literally thousands of clients in private practice. A significant number of these clinets are musicians who have binge drinking problems and substance abuse issues.

There are increasing examples of creative types experiencing excessive drinking or substance abuse. Of course this is not news, but I am noticing a definite upward trend. I don’t take a morally righteous view on what people choose to do personally and  suspect that much of the very best music was created while performers were “in altered states” My own preferred artists include Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Steve Earl and David Bowie, all of who were “chemically assisted” in their creative work. That said there can be all manner of repercussions from such behaviour and in extreme cases whole careers get damaged or even destroyed. Interestingly both Bowie and Waits packed in all alcohol and drugs with Tom abstaining for the last two decades. 

Digital thinking issues and mental health issues

The difficulty with excessive drinking and substance abuse is that the world becomes very black and white or as we say in the business “digital” I know of some artists who after a gig immediately drink to excess like there’s no tomorrow, barely able to even stand up. Again each person can choose what they want, but such repeated behaviours usually have all manner of problematic consequences. Usually concentration is affected, which leads to poor decision making and time management. Typically in this black and white existence individuals become depressed for long periods of time, and do more of the behaviour to try and escape this issue. Many touring artists have tough schedules and turn to “additional help” to cope. When this reaches a certain level, problems often ensue and poor mental health is top of the list. My own theory is that conditions like Altzeimers are hugely influenced by longterm over stimulation of the nervous system through alcohol and substance abuse. Now people are generally living longer, this is becomeing more evident.

Bruce Springsteen in his audio book “Born to Run” talks about staying clear of such activities, but still struggled with depression. The nature of being immersed in creative work often means that artists can stream ideas and creativity in an unfiltered manner. To do this well, it requires a lack of definition which in this context works well. However in other areas of life this lack of definition can create all manner of problems and result in literally car crash behaviour.  People with these habits tend to find it difficult to get motivated, have poor time keeping and struggle to maintain relationships. They will often do the minimum workk needed in a situation and don’t have the stamina and focus for success in long term creative projects.

If I’m starting to sound like a killjoy, lets remind ourselves that I’m not talking about bringing back Prohibition, but rather extremes of behavior which affect the creativity and ability of an artist. Long term abuse leads to all sorts of mental health issues which is no surprise with the nervous system being massively overstimulated far too often. I talked to one world class musician who commented on the challenges of working with an original band member who developed a cocaine habit which almost split the band. Often what starts off as “casual interest” becomes a regular habit and the person doesn’t realise how much effect this is having. David Crosby wrote about this in his excellent autobiography, but managed to survive and continue to make great music.

Traditional approaches for help

There are many “traditional” approaches for help with these issues, but in my experience they focus on the wrong aspects of the behavior. Simply talking about the problem often is ineffective or worse still reminds the person of how much the problem impacts their life through “recollections” of experience, rather than empowering them to think, feel and experience something different. General hypnotherapy also is IMO pretty ineffective unless you can really connect with the person in a meaningful way where they can discover how better to run their own brain. I respect approaches like the 12 step process, but I do have issues with some of the thinking that makes the sense of identity linked to the behavior. I have seen clients who have had scores of therapuetic sessions “talking about the issue” but with no remote sign of effective change. 

Long term effects

Most people I have had as clients or have observed experience similar long term effects. Often the problem behaviour is reinforced by social groups. Group X may all meet for an activity and then head off to the pub. Nothing wrong with this at all of course, until this starts to become increasingly excessive. The group behaviour leads to increasingly greater excessive drinking and this becomes a daily occurance with a real acceleration at weekends, which usually stretch from two to three days!

For musicians this often means problems to musical commitments as folks literally have to factor in “recovery time” and inevitably become far less productive. Precision in playing instruents starts to suffer and the creative output usually slows down. Of course such folks will usually deny this is happening and in a band context it can lead to all manner of fractures. Alcohol also aids depression and results in quite severe mood swings which are not great for better decision making crucial if you want to achieve any kind of creative success.

Final Thoughts for now

As I said at the start of this blog, its all about the degree of the behaviour and the context. I suspect much of the music I love would not have been created without “assistance” That said the world has lost many brilliant musicians through excessive alcohol and/or substance abuse. Many artsists go though a phase of this behaviour and then realise that if they want to create a lasting body of work they need to review such excesses. In these tougher economic times even the most creative artists need to have real focus and stamina as well as talent. This mostly means having the clearest head for decision making and the well being that will allow them to create the best possible work. 




Expanding sonic horizons – Nick Cody

As well as finalizing The Small Change Diaries second album “Lullabies for Cynics” due for release November 3rd, as Nick Cody, I’m starting to put in place a number of side projects. These will unfold in 2018 and 2019 with a focus on expanding sonic horizons. Some of these will be with “SCD fractions” and I’m keen to use “the King Crimson model” where alongside the full band there are smaller band units that work up material. The reason for this is to maintain creative momentum and also to explore other musical dimensions.

My plan is to release a series of EPs that showcase different musical explorations and these will be quite diverse and probably a bit of a surprise to some people.

The Small Change Diaries is a long term project and “The Small Change Diaries universe” is not just about the music, it incorporates other mediums like movie shorts. In 2017 ts obvious to me that there is a danger of artists becoming pigeonholed into very niche mediums and of course in the ukulele world this is not uncommon. SCD is not in my view a stereotypical ukulele band a point noted by both Phil Doleman and Ben Rouse in reviewing the “Adam Blames Eve” album. Martin Simpson also commented “You don’t sound like anyone else” which I take as the highest comment. SCD is not “The Nick Cody band” but rather four distinct musicians that create the whole. 

The move to greater sonic exploration also includes incorporating new instruments and artists. This adds a very different sonic dimension to the mix, both literally and metaphorically. One of these instruments is a Gibson A50 wide body mandolin from 1937 which I recently acquired. This was previously owned by Martin Carthy and is very different to anything else I have played to date. My good friend Doug O’Brien commented “But you don’t like mandolins!” This is not strictly true, a more accurate version is that to date I have never warmed to them despite many attempts. The Gibson changed this view and I already have the basis for a track around this wonderful instrument.

I have never considered myself to be “a ukulele player” rather someone who plays (and loves) the ukulele, alongside many other instruments including mandola, walking bass dulcimer, electric and acoustic guitar, national reso uke and dobro. I don’t claim to be a virtuoso on any of these, they simply support my musical intentions as a songwriter. The OUS project will continue, but I’m going to change aspects of that in 2017/2018 so it remains creatively interesting and more diverse. In recent times I have become more aware of ensuring the best use of time and energy and this has given me great pause for considering which projects and who I want to be most associated with in the musical realm. I think such reviews are healthy and I’m excited about the new changes ahead.

Expanding sonic horizons makes playing and recording far more interesting to me personally. The exploration is for the love of music and inevitably some will like what results and some definitely won’t. All such sonic explorations will involved creating more original music and certainly a lot (but not all) of it will be lyric based. I plan to start recording over the next few months, but the EPs won’t appear until 2018. I’ll  be trialing some of the new solo material in Japan this July to gauge audience response. 

Different acoustic spaces for live ukulele playing

David Byrne in his excellent “How Music Works” talks about different acoustic spaces and how they change the experience for both artist and audience. My own personal experience is that this can be a fascinating process and its amazing how quickly the brain adjusts to playing in different situations.

The first time The Small Change Diaries played The Grove in Leeds I thought “Where are we all gonna fit?” Now we have played a few times, its obvious how we organise “Grove Formation” Of course platforms like “The Tiny Desk Concert” show that even in the smallest of spaces its possible to deliver a great performance. When my band first played GNUF last year, we played the underground stage which was more like a club to great effect. I looked at the main stage and thought “Wow that’s big!” After playing The Lagoa Guitar Festival where the stage was literally three times bigger, this time when playing GNUF main stage I thought “Wow it’s shrunk!”

The physical is neither “good” or “bad” just different of course, but dies result in some very different experiences. Its not just the space that determines the overall experience of course. The acoustics of a venue make a big difference as well as “the sound guy” In Lagoa we had brilliant acoustics as the venue was built with acoustic playing in mind. Also we had a brilliant sound guy and we had lots of time to sound check, something which is all too often very rare.

The strangest gig to date was a duo set in Leeds market. Yes, there was a PA, but the acoustics were terrible and during the set I kept hearing the memorable chant “Get your fresh fish, best price today!” All these experiences are invaluable in building stage awareness and this is why such performances make live playing such a fascinating experience

live ukulele

live ukulele