Sunday, 15 January 2017

Jo Harman
People We Become

Release Date: Feb 3rd

Award-winning singer-songwriter Jo Harman announces a 3rd February 2017 worldwide release date for her much anticipated second studio album, 'People We Become', the follow up to her critically acclaimed and commercially successful 2013 debut 'Dirt On My Tongue'.  Recorded in Nashville, at Sound Emporium and other noted studios, with acclaimed producer Fred Mollin (Billy Joel, Jimmy Webb, Carly Simon, Joe Cocker, Johnny Mathis and many more) the album features Michael McDonald on the first single 'When We Were Young'.

Here is Jo talking about her new album

The album can be pre-ordered via Pledge HERE

You could describe the album as Blues,Soul and Gospel all mixed together with a pinch of Balladic seasoning.

Think Larkin Poe,Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, Joni Mitchell, Karen Carpenter, Eva Cassidy and Carole King and now think Jo Harman.

Jo Harman has a voice that simply gives you goosebumps. I love the way she so subtly emotes; sure, she can let rip, but it's the restraint and control she uses that fully conveys the emotional impact of her songs. And the songs? There are broad brushstrokes of gospel, soul along with rhythm and blues all over this album, but it's the superb quality of the songwriting that makes it such a wonderful album. Each subsequent play brings forth a different nuance in her voice and, indeed the songs. 

"I'm not trying to fit in anywhere," admits Harman, whose super-sized voice fills the record's 10 tracks. "I'm just trying to write classic songs, and present them with classic production. When you try to chase what's going on at the moment, then it's going to sound old very quickly."

Released worldwide on February 3, 2017, People We Become marks the biggest leap of Harman's career. To make it, she headed overseas to Nashville, Tennessee, where she found a trusted collaborator in producer Fred Mollin. While a winter storm raged outside, Harman and Mollin holed up inside the city's famed Sound Emporium Studio for three weeks, focusing on a warm sound — full of upright piano, Rhodes, unaffected bursts of electric guitar, and the soulful sweep of Harman's voice — that contrasted with the town's snowy weather. In March Jo will return to Nashville, a fitting start to her first American tour.

Poignant and personal, tracks like “Silhouettes of You”, “Changing of the Guard”, and “Person of Interest” find Harman moving through the stages of a breakup. Heartbroken one moment, forever reminded of a relationship that's fizzled out, and empowered the next, eager to explore what lies ahead with emboldened purpose. Other tracks cast a broader net, with the stomping, percussive Reformation taking influence from Harman's work with Amnesty International. Backing her up are some of Nashville's best musicians, whose contributions bounce between smoky, soulful ballads and brassy, Motown-tinged anthems.

People We Become features award-winning players Tom Bukovac, Greg Morrow, and Gordon Mote — as well as a guest appearance by Grammy winning Michael McDonald (Doobie Brothers). McDonald lends his harmony vocals to the Seventies-worthy soul of “When We Were Young”. The most striking instrument on the album is Harman's voice, sharpened by her years on the road, and sounding better than ever.

"I've learnt how to express myself a bit better, and to convincingly put across the stories that I'm telling," Harman says. "It's a natural progression. My voice has matured, in the same way that the songs have matured, and the production has matured. I've only ever tried to be me, and that's what People We Become is. It's me."


I also had the privilege of asking Jo some questions:

  Who are your musical influences?

My fathers record collection (eclectic mix of classic 60's/70's English bands and singer songwriters) plus the great black American female voices from Ella Fitzgerald through to Jill Scott and Lauren Hill via Aretha and Mavis etc. That plus more classical musical education all helps inform my own style I think. 

 How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

What mistakes? Seriously, one just carries on as if nothing has happened and if, for example, the music is wrong I just adjust what I sing, accordingly.  Albeit not so much with my own band who are very professional and hugely talented. As a professional singer for hire, long before I had my own originals career, though, I've pretty much seen it all and many a time I've had to sing the right words over the wrong chords, safe to say! You get to learn that if you style it out, 90% of the audience will never notice anyway. If not, a bit of humour can go a long way, as a back up!.  

   What can fans expect from your shows?

Hopefully, a musical and emotional journey. When it really works we can all get transported to a magical, mystical place  of human connection and shared emotional journey. 

   What are your future plans and goals?

To make my own music, tell my own story, on my own terms and earn enough money from it not to have to give up. Everything else, particularly other peoples (well meaning) ideas of 'success', is all bullshit, by and large. 
    If you could be a superhero for 1 day who would you be and why?

Batman, if only for the rubber.  

Friday, 13 January 2017



photograph courtesy of Simon Holding

So debut or sophomore EP ???

Andrew Valentine's debut EP, on Independent Ear Records from Rockford Illinois,is a 5 track masterpiece and was recorded at Acredale Studios, Eyemouth by John Peakman and Alan McQueen

This is his 2nd EP, following on from his unsigned debut EP 'Hand Over Fist' released last year.

His band consists of:

Drums - Martin walker 

Bass - Paul Sinclair 

Guitar - Jonny Wilson

Vocals and guitar - Andrew Valentine. 

I first heard of Andrew Valentine through Hunter And The Bear as he has supported them a few times on tour. I for one always listen to the support acts when live and also try and investigate their stuff if I cannot see them live.
Andrew caught my attention immediately.

Andrew is an alternative country/folk singer songwriter 
from the small coastal town of Eyemouth in the Scottish borders.
Mixing styles from country, folk and rock influences 

Andrew over the last two years has also released two demos, “sirens song” 
and “cast the sails,” Both demo records saw success in his native country 
as well as reaching over to Canada and the U.S.A. 

His first official single 'Castles' was released in September last year to fantastic acclaim.

Now...onto his EP 'Somewhere On The Moon'..

It opens with a superb track called 'BELONG' which starts off with a strumming guitar and  builds up nicely to a 'rockier' anthemic outburst which I am sure will get the crowds at gigs singing along. Andrew tell us he does not know where he belongs...I do..on that stage belting this great track out. The songs ends with an instrumental ensemble and I could well imaging them all rocking out on stage....great stuff and a great opener that grasps you and pulls you into the EP 

The 2nd track is entitled 'BEST DECISIONS' and it is a much gentler track, more of an acoustic number which certainly highlights the 'gravel-like' tone of Andrew.
It was written as a tribute to his late father. 
I find it a beautiful tribute to his dad.

Track 3 'DEVIL INSIDE'  is the second song on this 5 track EP dedicated to his late father and it is a very haunting track, very much 'Springsteenesque' especially with the introduction of the faithful harmonica.

photo courtesy of Alan Turnbull

The tempo increases again on track 4 'ROSE' another possible love song?
Andrew states he is looking for the right words to say..well I firmly believe he has found them on this EP..I am loving it and this track is a delight and certainly NOT a 'rose' amongst thorns.

The final track on this superb EP is 'TENNESSE' an up tempo country/americana track, hence the title and if you did not know it you'd say this fella was from Nashville!!
A fitting end to the EP too. A great mix of songs which shows off Andrew's skills as a writer,a musician and,I have been informed,a fine performer.

You can pre-order his album via his pledge campaign with the link at the bottom of this blog.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Collin-Valentine

I had the privilege of asking Andrew a few questions

1/  What or who inspired you to become a musician

That's tough, the list is near endless. I've tried to consume as much music as possible from country, classical, punk and metal. 
My first musical memory was of R.E.M. Unplugged and me thinking that's what I want to do. 

2/  Who has influenced your music and its sound 

Everyone thing and everyone 
Ryan Adams has been a massive influence on how I approach writing. As for sound, I try to change the landscape with every record we record. 

The likes of authors Jack Kerouac and Albert Camus have been a big influence too. 

3/  What can people expect from your shows

A little laid back country and a little rocky and all out loud as hell 

4/ What are your future plans and goals

Currently aiming to move this to as high a level as I can at the moment. And the prospect of touring the USA and Canada this year. 

5/ If you could time travel to see any artist or band who would you choose

The Band ! With or without bob Dylan. Or maybe both 

6/ Any message for new listeners or fans?

Thank you all for your on going support and buying the records, coming to a show and STAY TUNED for what's gonna be a massive 2017

Tuesday, 20 December 2016



So, with Christmas almost upon us, what better way is there to celebrate the festivities than another excellent release from H&B. 

I suppose this is as close as we get to a Christmas song from the boys, but after a few listens, it does give a kind of Christmas message.
At 5 minutes and 20 seconds it is,so far, their longest track release.
 It is all about a long lost love and wishing she would come home and the reminiscing of lovely memories of a relationship gone by.
We get messages of letter writing,dreaming in the night,being kept waiting and even dancing to Springsteen..which I can certainly relate to.
It gives us the message of a smitten,heart-broken young man waiting for the love of his life to return to the loving warm embrace of his arms.
Here is a live version recorded in November

I do remember the boys saying that this was their first "love" song as such.It may have been their first written love song but surely their previous release 'I Am What I Am' is also a love song.

I think the next bit of information is a bit of an exclusive, the melody of this superb song was contrived in a shower by lead singer Will Irvine and he took that melody to the boys and the lyrics then duly arrived later, which kind of shows that great songs come out of all situations and scenarios.

This is my favourite track so far from the forthcoming album release (12th May, 2017) and what attracts me to the song is the falsetto range from Will, which shows us it is not just a gravel like voice that can protrude in the songs.

Below is an acoustic version of the song, it starts at approx 3:25

Monday, 19 December 2016




















Best venue 2016 : Acapela Studio
Biggest contribution to under the radar music : Lee Wood and Showcase Wales (GTFM Radio)
Best Blog Award : James Wilson with MyRandomJukeBox
Best Gig of 2016 : The Muni relaunch with Climbing Trees The People The Poet and Peasant's King
Best beard in music of 2016 : Tomos Lewis of Tendons
Best Independent record label : Staylittle Music
Best looking siblings of 2016 : Danny Tipping and Tristan Tipping of Clubhouse Records
Biggest 'organ' award : Andy Morgan of John Adams Music

Friday, 16 December 2016

HurleyFest Part 2


So, the on line auctions of merchandise was going well but ticket sales were not. However we were still months away yet so no panic..Tee shirts had been ordered and also mugs

Now the tees were selling very well, and only £10...I think the whole family bought one and a few friends..the mugs were the most popular though and only £5. I only ordered 10 and they all sold out within a week or more were ordered
Next up...a quiz night... I contacted a few pubs who accommodated live music and decided on The Radyr Court in Cardiff...they supplied a room and fed us too...the evening was a great success, although I had 3 or 4 teams drop out on the day and was starting to panic a little, anyway we had a turnout of around 20 people, which was enough for 5 teams. 
Leon and Tyla from The People The Poet did an hour of acoustic stuff from their own songs and some covers including 'The Macarena'

It was a great night with a lot of fun, especially from 'The Broadcasts' boys who came up with some classic answers.. such as Elvis Presley brother...Lesley...
Anyway, we raised circa £150 on the night..all to go into our final pot.

What happened next was totally out of the blue!!
Some random fella 'Rob Street' contacted me on FaceBook asking if I needed any help..'who the feck is this fella' I I dug around, asked a few you do..anyway it transpires he is a friend of the MNDA crew and helps out whenever he became friends..and I am so lad we did..the stuff he got was immense...cds,dvds,watches....shit loads really PLUS he offered me £250 for a pile of merch from Thunder..and offered to sell tickets and help out in any way,,what a great fella.
He also got me 2 rounds of golf for 4 at The Vale Spa for the raffle...
Also next year he has offered to get the tees done for free and will help out in any way he can.

So we were getting closer and the merchandise was flying in from all over the took me over 4 hours to label everything and list it all for the lucky dip.
I decided a lucky dip was the way to go.£5 a ticket or 5 tickets for £20...every ticket a prize, or if people wanted, they could make an offer. I also had my merch table stuff all sorted, my tees,mugs,wristbands,badges and sweets....yes sweets!!!!

Again , some random fella on FaceBook, contacted me to see if I wanted sweets...HurleyFest sweets

 He gave me 200 pots of HurleyFest sweets for free...he even had the date put on the lids!! So sweets collected and stored.
Now what raffle prizes?? Well, again through the power of FaceBook and my down right cheek, I contacted business's...
The first business to say yes was Lyrics Art, I contacted them to see if they would sponsor the event or donate a raffle prize. Jason , the owner said yes to a raffle prize, so I decided on a David Bowie art piece, and it was should check his business out.

   I was so impressed with his stuff, that I ordered 6 more items from him and he offered to do another raffle prize too..more of those orders in a bit.

Next idea that came my way was from a band in Brighton called The Rising, who I contacted to see if they'd donate some merch, but their response was even better than that! They offered to write a song, put it into Mp3 format and send the winner the lyrics!! Now on music fundraising sites bands charge hundreds for this, but these guys were offering it for free...I have to say, the generosity of the music industry amazed me beyond belief.


Next idea to come my why was to raise funds through on of my favourite bands 'Hunter & The Bear'

Now we did a few things to raise cash, firstly I contacted Lyric Arts and we got a 'Wounded' print produced and raffled it off plus the lads signed it....that raised over £200

The lads also offered to do a private video link for one of their song, acoustic style. This prize I raffled on the FanPage on FaceBook. Again this raised over £250.

Now the next thing I was offered was sensational ..a platinum display award for Jess Glynne...a one off..and this thing was freaking huge AND in London, but by the power of social media and goodwill it was in my hands within 10 days...FREE OF CHARGE

Unfortunately I have not sold this item and at present it is in storage until the right offer comes along

So ....onto the event itself, my arse was cracking walnuts, I couldn't do anymore.
I had nagged everyone to death, posted on social media left , right and centre.
Appeared on Made In Cardiff TV, Radio Cardiff and Showcase Wales radio...I had flogged the gig to death and more.
All I could do was to sit back and wait.

So..........the day arrived and 5pm I was at the venue ready to set up

Whitehall Parade were here too setting up their now cables,buttons etc.....

The lucky dip tables took some time..shit loads of merch across 6 or 7 tables

All volunteers in place...

Doors at 7PM ...Then I get a phone call from John Nicholas..he's travelling from Manchester and will not be here in time for his 8pm slot, so w had to shift the itinerary about and it all went smoothly

All the artists performed superbly and everyone commented on what a great night it was

I even got to the stage to sing a few lines and at the end ALL the artists were on stage singing along to 'Dancing In The Dark' and 'Hound Dog'

What a great night

Now I had a little surprise for all the artists...I got Lyric Arts to make some artwork for them all and I duly presented them with their bespoke artwork.

Tom Auton
This is a lyrc art piece of his favourite James Bay song

Little Folk
This is a lyric art piece of their song 'Music City'

John Nicholas
This is his beautiful baby and lyrics from Johns favourite song

Whitehall Parade
This art piece is the lyrics from their recent song 'Black Stone' and the street name of their name

They loved John wanted to go home but I could and would not let him go...I even told him to ring his wife..which he did and she told him he had to stay, as she was aware of the gift...

So that was it it

We raised £4209.29