I have been on the go a lot recently and seem to have got used to using the dreaded Facebook for my activity updates. Apologies to anyone who has been kind enough to drop in here on my website for the delay in recent news.
My official ‘year of inactivity’ didn’t quite pan out as expected, though I did stick to my plan of not doing any touring, and stayed at home for several months, catching up on other aspects of life and generally taking stock of where the ‘business’ side of my job has gone and how I fit into the picture.
The internet has changed everything, and the gradual disappearance of music shops combined with digital downloading, has removed the traditional sources of income available to song writers. The only really effective way to stay in touch with or build your audience, is to play live.
For me this is a return to the early days, before I had signed record contracts and publishing deals, when I made my living almost entirely from touring, either solo or with my band.
Spotify and I-tunes serve a wonderful purpose in introducing people to new music, but, for the vast majority of artists and performers, the income they generate is not enough to sustain a career.
I’ve seen some wonderful shows recently with colleagues, some ten years older than me such as Andy Fairweather-Low and Albert Lee, and they are all looking for touring opportunities.
Anyone who has ever come to one of my shows knows how much I love my job. Performing has always been the centrepiece of the whole process for me. I love arriving in a new place, trying out some newly-written songs and revisiting the older ones, either solo or in the company of great musicians like Uli Kringler or Fontaine Burnett, and having fun improvising my way through ninety minutes in the company of one of the most loyal and supportive audiences any singer could ask for.
What I am not so fond of, is spending a huge part of my life in cars and airports, stuck in traffic jams or security lines, so as to get to the venues in the first place.
Parallel to the changes in technology is the arrival of an ever-growing army of new performers, all looking for attention and all writing and singing their own music. This is where Facebook comes in. With the traditional music business systems shrinking, (how many well-sorted CD shops are there in your area these days?), you tube and facebook and the other networks have become the only options available for many acts to be heard.
This makes me incredibly grateful to the audience who have supported my music (and indirectly my family) for 37 years now and to Blue Rose records and other small labels who still fly the flag, selling handmade music on CD and vinyl with a healthy mail-order stem and a lot of love and care.
One thing I promise is that I won’t be asking you to send me money to help finance my recording activities or keeping you up to date on the minute details of my everyday activities, such as shopping, watching TV or my latest doctor’s visit!
Some aspects of ‘social media’ are great, but there is a lot of activity on Facebook and elsewhere that I don’t want to embrace.
I just finished reading Neil Young’s new ‘autobiography’. I’m with him on the subject of preferring analogue to mp3 for listening to music and I agree that you’ll enjoy a concert more just being there in the moment, than preserving grainy images on your smartphone to post on YouTube.
So enough ranting…here is some news!
I just came back from a wonderful visit to Canada – the show in Calgary was one of my favourites of recent years: Despite being jet lagged and a bit battered, brilliant organisation and a lovely 400-strong receptive crowd made performing a total pleasure and made it easy to be at my best. Thanks to all of those concerned.
With my year’s break now firmly over, I am busy compiling tracks for a 3xCD compilation of favourite tracks from all my albums, with a few selected out-takes and rarities thrown in for good measure. It will be released on Blue Rose, hopefully in time for my return to touring early next year. I’ll be posting new dates here on my website and elsewhere shortlly.
I enjoyed the process of writing and researching the Nicky Hopkins book so much that there are two new book projects on the way. More on them later…
I’ve been asked to produce another music project this winter and am really looking forward to being back in a recording studio. Again I can’t tell you any more just yet.
I’ve been enjoying my new status as grandfather to Arthur Stanley Dawson and plan to be involved more than ever in my talented children’s musical activities. I’ve enjoyed singing live and recording with all three of them this last year.
I love performing way too much to consider stopping, so apologies for the confusion that surrounded my ‘temporary retirement’ announcement last year. I’ve written a bunch of new songs and look forward to getting them out there when I go back to work in January 2013.
Meanwhile I am always grateful to those who send messages to me on my guest book page and I try to respond in person as often as possible.
Thanks for stopping by,
Julian (4.30 in the morning at Heathrow Airport!)