How to Get a Gig on the Road.

Hey gang, I’m writing this article because recently I’ve been getting a lot of people asking me if I can book them some shows. Unfortunately I’m busy running my own career and booking tours for others is something I’ve not got the time for nor interest in right now. That’s not to say I don’t want to help. After all that’s what this is all about. Feel free to write to me if you have questions or need some advice but when it come’s to the nitty gritty you’re going to have to get your own hands dirty.

The point of this article is to accompany my Gig Profiles. There are many types of gigs out there and all require slightly different approaches. I’ll do my best to cover as many bases as possible but this is not the be all and end all for booking shows. For example; I wont be touching on festival applications, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Banyan 17

It’s best to kick off this process approximately 3 months in advance.

Finding Venues

There are a few different techniques I use to find potential venues in a new city. Firstly, the most obvious Google. Just a simple search, for example when looking for shows in Manchester google “Live music venue Manchester”. Straight away you’ll have a list to start with as well as a map with all of their locations. Go through the list and do a bit of research. Check out their website, their Facebook pages, their trip adviser reviews and whatever else you can find. Single out the venues that are going to suit your sound. There is no harm in sending off an email to all of them but you are going to want to concentrate your efforts on those that seem compatible. No point in trying to get a gig in a hip hop club if what you do is acoustic folk music, and visa versa. This will narrow your list down and by now you’ll probably have one or two favorites. The venues that really stick out.

spiritualOnce you’ve found one or two compatible venues, check out their upcoming shows/events. Usually they will have a different theme for each night. For example Monday night might be acoustic Singer Songwriter night, Tuesday Open Mic, Wednesday Jazz, Thursday rock…..etc. Knowing which night you are applying for is going to help. Also in their upcoming events they will be advertising the upcoming acts. Research the local talent. Find a band or artist that is similar to you and your sound. Get in contact with them, let them know you are coming and that you’re looking for shows. Often local acts are turning down gigs because they are already booked or they are looking for support acts. They may be able to palm you off a gig before you’ve even spoken to a venue. Next check out their upcoming shows. This will give you a list of venues that you already know are compatible. You can do this with more than one band. Before long you’ll start to get a feel for the scene you’d like to be a part of, in a brand new city, that you haven’t even visited yet.

Making Contact with the Venue

So you’ve found your scene and you have a list of potential venues that will suit your sound. Next you need to know how they book their acts. First place to start is the contact page on their website. Most venues will have an email address there for the booker. If they don’t have a website, check their facebook page. If you can’t find a specific music booker email then you’ll need to contact the venue directly. You can either give them a phone call or shoot them an email. Remember you are not trying to sell yourself just yet and more than likely the person that will be receiving you phone call/email will be busy so keep it short, polite and to the point.

e.g. “Hi, my name is Simon Wright. I’m a travelling musician and I’ll be visiting Manchester soon. I was hoping to get a contact for whoever is in charge of booking your live music. Thank you for your time.”

Usually they will give you an email address but sometimes a phone number. I always prefer to communicate via email. Too many times in this industry have people broken promises. If it’s in black and white it’s much more likely they will keep their word. So if they do give you a phone number, make the call, introduce yourself, then ask if you can continue the conversation via email.

Securing a Date

Now is when you want to sell yourself. This email is the most important part of the entire process. Where you will secure your show or forever be looked over by the venue booker. You can make a template for this email which you constantly update and improve, like a resume. Do not however, send the template without personalising it for the venue you are contacting. Here is a short check list for this email.

  1. Let them know that you have researched the venue. It doesn’t have to be much. Something simple like “I’ve checked out the venue, I think my sound will really suit the place.” It shows you are serious and you’ve done your homework.
  2. Always ask for a specific date. For example if they do Funk on Saturdays and that’s your thing then write something like “I think Saturday’s Funk night will suit my show the best. The Saturday I’m hoping you have available is Nov 19th.” This is doing the bookers job for them. All they need to do is simply look in the dairy, if the date is free, slip you in, done. Rather than, deciding which day will suit, then finding the next available free date, making an offer which you reject as you won’t be in town till the following week…. blah, blah.
  3. Mention your engagement with your audiences. The bookers job is to find entertaining acts for their punters. They do not care how many years you studied the bass clarinet in university before moving on to guitar to be more accessible. They just want to know that you’ll entertain the crowd.
  4. Mention your latest and greatest achievements. You want to keep this email short and punchy. Do not rattle off everything you’ve ever done from winning a battle of the bands in high school to supporting Adel before she was famous. Just mention two things, your latest, and your greatest. Myself, I mention my #looptheworld tour on which I have performed over 270 shows in 15 countries (latest) and in 2013 I was nominated Australian Independent Music Awards “Live Artist of the Year” (Greatest)
  5. Include a video of you performing live. The sound and even the performance are not that critical here. What is important is the way the crowd are responding. So pick your video wisely. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s the best performance of your life if the video has one guy in the audience checking his phone. What you want is something that has a big audience that are all glued to the stage and having a good time.
  6. Links! Use them for everything! A link to your Bio, a link to your website, your facebook, instagram, soundcloud, youtube. It’s a way of putting a lot more information in your email with out cluttering it up. If the booker wants to research you more they have the option.
  7. A brief description of what you do. Remember try to keep it short and simple. e.g. “I’m a loop artist. I layer acoustic guitar, beatboxing, base lines and backing vocals to create a full band sound and call on the influences of blues, soul and hip hop.”
  8. Compare your sound to a well know act. This is the easiest way to give the booker an idea of what you do. I have difficulty like any of us when asked the question “So what kind of music do you play?” I could yabber on for hours the intricacies of my sound and performance. However I find it gets the point across a lot quicker if I say something like “My performance has been described as Dub Fx meets Ed Sheeren”.
  9. Let them know how long you are in town. You never know, if they like what you do they might offer a second show or even a residency.
  10. Be confident, professional and most importantly polite. Don’t be unsure of anything. If you are then they will be too. Professional just means good grammar, spelling and language. And polite, we all know what that means but remember to stay polite. Sometimes you will have a back and forth with the booker as they try to decide if they will have you. At times they can come across as rude, cold or unappreciative of your time and effort. They speak to cocky musicians every day. Being rude is a symptom of their job. Don’t take it personally.

 

I like to use this video however sometimes it’s not appropriate. I also play a lot of restaurants and cafes. This is not the vibe they are after. Know your venue.

Getting Paid

Don’t mention money in the first email unless they ask you to. It’s best to let the booker decide if they will have you first. That way you have more of a leg to stand on when it comes to negotiating. If you over quote in your first email, you’ll never hear from them again. If you over quote after they have offered a date, at least they will write back to let you know it was too much and you can go from there. When deciding how much to ask for it’s always a good idea to know what they pay other musicians. One of the bands that you found earlier should be able to help you out with this. Some people, like myself don’t like to give out the details of how much they get paid so put the question more like “How much should I ask for?” Rather than “How much do you get?” Then remember, there is always a little give so quote just a bit higher. Getting paid, particularly internationally can be tricky. Most venues won’t want to do international bank transfer. In the past I’ve had to ask a local friend to use their account. Make sure you sort this out before the show. You don’t want to be left high and dry once it’s all over.

After the Show

The best time to book another show, is straight after a show. Always invite the booker to your show. They do this for a living and don’t turn up to every show they book. But, if you get to play for them live they will feel a lot more connected to you.
Plant seeds, if you are leaving town, let them know when you’ll be back and that you’ll be in contact about another show when you are on your way. If you ended up getting the Tuesday night but you really wanted the Friday, let them know. “I had a great night, next time I’d love it if we could organise a Friday show.” And always write a thank you email. Let the booker know you enjoyed yourself, the staff treated you well, the food was delicious, whatever. Give them pride in their venue and harbor the friendship. These relationships will be your bread and butter.

Best of luck, get out there a get a show. Let me know how you go if if you have any hints and tips that we could add to this piece.

 

Advertisements

Gig Profile: Milk & Madu Canggu, Bali

This will be the ninth installment of the #looptheworld Gig Profiles. As I travel the world playing music for a living I will be writing up these Gig Profiles in an effort to help out those that dream of doing the same. I hope you find the information helpful. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to help out as much as I can.

Milk and Madu is a favourite amongst the locals in Canggu. Not necessarily as a music venue but more for their amazing breakfast menu and delicious pizzas. In fact, music is only a new thing for them, I believe I am their first live musician. Pablo, one of the owners, recently invested in a PA and tells me that he plans on making live music a regular thing.

milk-and-madu-3The setting is perfect for the Sunday afternoon show. A grassy yard with views of the sunset over the surrounding rice paddies. The weekend attracts families so there is always a group of kids playing on the lawn. Last week they even brought in a jumping castle. I love playing for the children. They are fascinated by the music and either jump around dancing with no inhibitions or stand motionless staring wide eyed as I loop up another track. At some point they will all have a go of my tambourine or shaker.

The vibe they are after is obviously family friendly, so keep the big kid words out of it. Also it’s a Sunday session so avoid the pub rock stuff and stick to some feel good acoustic vibes. You are more than welcome to play original music and you’ll find both the punters and the staff are very supportive. It’s predominantly a restaurant so don’t expect a dance floor (from the adults anyways, the kids will be cutting up a rug for sure.) And be respectful with your volume, people are there to enjoy the music but also the company of their friends and family.

The PA is basic, 2 x 15″ Behringer powered speakers and a 12 channel mixing desk with built in effects, but that is all you need. The show is outside so you shouldn’t have any issues with feedback or strange room EQs. They also have 2 x wireless microphones and stands so all you need to bring is your instrument. The gig starts at 5pm and finishes around 8pm. At this stage they are only doing Sundays, but who knows, if it’s successful they may introduce new nights. It’s always worth asking.

As I mentioned in the last Gig Profile for Old Man’s you will need a work permit to gig here in Bali. Immigration take it very seriously and you don’t want to wind up being deported. The process is easy enough. Just contact www.baliexpatservices.com and they will walk you through it. You are going to need to stay in Bali at least a month to earn enough to cover costs but trust me, once you’re here, you are going to want to stay longer anyway. You can back up this gig with weekly shows down at the bigger venues like Old Man’s and Deus and there are a bunch of small live music venues in the area too.milk-and-madu-2

Location: Jl. Raya Pantai Berawa No.52, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361Gig contact: Pablo Fourcard via Milk and Madu website or Facebook Page
Pay: 1 to 1.5 million IDR
Gig season: All year round. High season is during the months of July and August, during Easter Holidays, and Christmas / New Year (December till 1st week of January). This is the time Bali is the busiest. However, for many reasons, best time to come to Bali is April, May, June and September, just before and just after high season.
Max Capacity: Approx 200
In-house PA, no soundman.
Milk and Madu links: Facebook, Instagram, Website

Australian Musicians: “Get a Real Job!”

Australia, you need to sort out your juvenile attitude towards the arts. Actually no, it’s not juvenile, children have an insightful view of art and expression. Australia, you need to stop with this “get a real job” rhetoric and start recognising the cultural and financial enrichment the arts bring to all of our lives.

Since first venturing across the seas I’ve noticed that my beloved home country is a long way behind when it comes to appreciating what the creatives give us. Just last week the Australian federal education minister, Simon Birmingham, dismissed an entire industry as a “lifestyle choice” after announcing almost 60 diplomas in the arts will no longer be eligible for student loans. Since the Abbott Government in 2014 we have already had $204.8 million dollars cut from the arts budget. Just today I read a deplorable article in the Advocate by Elanor Watt –  Is Exposure Payment Enough for Musicians in which she argues that if you are passionate enough you should take any opportunity offered to you “because we have all seen the movies, anything can happen.”… urgh. There is an attitude in Australia that working in the arts is a cop out. A job for pot smoking couch potatoes, or worse, not even a “real job” at all.

real-job

Unfortunately this comes as no surprise to me. I first met with this attitude in my youth. Fresh out of home and learning to earn a living for my self I met with hard times. Unemployment benefits were the closest thing I have ever received to assistance in developing my trade, and thank god they were there. Newstart gave me time to find my feet. Time and time again I was asked by Centerlink “what is your profession?” and time and time again I was told “that’s not a real job”. Simple recognition would have made the progression of my career a lot less stressful and possibly a lot quicker. Back then, though it was not enough, I was making more from playing music than anything else. Now, music is not only how I travel the world but it is also how I pay my taxes.

Thanks to national research at the University of Tasmania we now know that the live music sector contributed a whopping $15.7 billion dollars to the Australian economy in 2014 with $3 worth of benefit to the community for every $1 invested. Even more than the footy. These figures are no secret, yet still it doesn’t take much effort to find the typical attitude on public forums of “Why should my tax dollars pay for your hobby?” At face value it may seem like a legitimate question, however dig a little deeper and it’s easy to see that the arts are paying more than their fair share in tax revenue and economic stimulation. Unlike the fossil fuel industry, for example, this is achieved in most part with little or no government assistance.

“Our research shows that for every dollar spent on live music, three dollars of benefit is returned to the wider community. This is a significant, and unrecognised, contribution that includes the dollars that flow to the national economy as well as the ways experiencing live music enriches people’s lives.” – Dr. Dave Carter, Lecturer in Music Technology at University of Tasmania.

One of the first things you notice when travelling through Europe is their pride of culture. I’m not talking about nationalism or patriotism, though they do come into it. I’m talking about their love of food, music, language and heritage. It’s a beautiful thing. Dedicating ones life to the arts is a virtue celebrated by all. I see the same across Asia. I’m yet to visit the Americas or Africa but from my research into future destinations, I keep seeing the same thing. The arts define heritage and heritage defines us.

Maybe it is Australia’s distance from the rest of humanity. We sit alone at the bottom of the world. A nation barely 200 years old, with a tendency to ignore the rich depth of art history laid out by our indigenous peoples. Possibly for the fear of admitting the cultural genocide committed by our forefathers, or maybe because white Australia doesn’t feel as if this is their heritage to be proud of. Maybe it’s a symptom of Australia’s tall poppy syndrome, where we hack at the things we admire most. Maybe we just haven’t properly discussed the situation yet.

In any case, music is my love, music is my life and music is my profession!

*UPDATE
It’s recently come to my attention that Elanor Watt, the author of the article “Is Exposure Payment Enough for Musicians” mentioned in the above blog post works for Fairfax media group. The same group that asked Sydney based reggae band black bird hum to play for free at Fairfax Media owned Noodle Market. Strong arm corporate bullying! Shame on you Elanor. I wonder if this young journalist is aware that she is a pawn of this evil media manipulation. I also wonder if she avoided mentioning Black Bird Hum by name in her article as that would be free promotion, in which case she is promoting herself off the back of the musicians she criticized for not taking an “exposure” gig.

“She’s always ahead of me, I’m not too far behind. We’re like peas in a pod, we’re two of a kind. Music this lucid partner of mine.”

P.S to all you creatives out there, click here to check out some inspirational words on the topic from my man Tony “Jack The Bear” Mantz.

Gig Profile: Serenity Bar Koh Tao, Thailand

This will be the fourth installment of the #looptheworld Gig Profiles. As I travel the world playing music for a living I will be writing up these Gig Profiles in an effort to help out those that dream of doing the same. I hope you find the information helpful. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to help out as much as I can.

Serenity5For those of you that are keeping up with the story, you’ll know that I’m in Thailand at the moment. Tonight, and every Tuesday through February I am playing at a beautiful little sunset bar looking over the west coast of the island Koh Tao called Serenity. Of all the shows I play here this is by far the most chilled. The show starts at 6 pm just before sunset and finishes around 8.30pm. The clientele are there to take in the view as the sun sets over the Thai gulf, drink a few Mojitos and listen to some music. It doesn’t take much for the bar to fill up. About 30 people draped out across hammocks and beanbags and there is not much space left. Serenity is located at the top of a steep hill in between the tourist center Sairee Beach and the main port of Mae Haad. Even on a scooter it can be quite difficult making the climb. On foot you’ll definitely get the heart rate up and a sweat on. You really enjoy that first Mojito and the view when you do make it up. The remote location does have it’s advantages. Joints are often passed around the patrons and the noise of the main road is replaced with frogs and geckos singing the sun down.Serenity13

The pay is not as good as the other shows I do on the island. I use the show as a contrast to my gigs at Fishbowl and Choppers. Somewhere I can relax, not have to worry about entertaining the drunken masses and just play some music. It’s a great place to showcase your music, the way you’d like to play it. Original material is not only accepted but encouraged and Bruno the owner reminds me every time to “Please, play from the heart and play what you want.” The PA there is small but nice. With a little effort you can get it sounding great. It’s easy enough to get a gig at Serenity. You wont need to impress Bruno too much with websites and demo videos. Just drop him a line via the Serenity facebook page and I’m sure he’ll give you a go. If it works out well, he’ll give you a bunch more spots.

Depending on the weather today we may end up filming a clip. Honestly the view is superb and playing while the sun sets makes for some beautiful light. The perfect location for a live film clip. If I don’t do it tonight, I’ll do it next week. And when I do, I’ll post it here. In the mean time here are some gorgeous photos of a show I did there back in February last year by the beautiful Alena Chulkova.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Gig Location: 3/8 Moo 2 Ban Ko Tao, Chumphon, Thailand
Venue Contact: Brunno Tavarez via the Serenity Facebook page
Pay: 1000 to 1500 Baht
Capacity: Approx 50

Amwell Garden Jam – Videos

Of all of the countries we have visited so far England was by far the most difficult. Arriving in London was a bit of a shock to the bank account and the gigs were less frequent and often for less money. This didn’t stop us from having a great time.

On our first night in London we visited the Spiritual Caipirinha Bar in Camden after it had been recommended by two of my musician friends, Grim Fawlkner and Tara Minton. It was an open mic night so I jumped up and played a few tracks. Straight after me there was a young guy named Daniel Greenwood that got up and sang a few beautiful pop folk songs. Afterwards we got chatting and he invited me down to play a showcase for a local musician collective called Amwell. I was flattered and graciously accepted.

I didn’t really know what to expect. Daniel gave me an address and told me to rock up mid afternoon.  When we got there we were greeted by the owner of the house and the co-founder of Amwell, Roy. He took us through the little London terrace and out into his cosy inner city backyard where Daniel was setting up a small stage beneath the kitchen window. We then spent the afternoon listening to a bunch of amazing local acts, drinking cider and eating Roy’s famous home made pizza. As the sun began setting Daniel invited me up to perform for everyone. It was a beautiful afternoon and a true pleasure to play for such an appreciative group. Paolo the  videographer was there to catch all the action.

A few weeks later Roy sent me a copy of what they filmed. I think it came up really well. Thanks Daniel, Roy, Paolo and all the gang at Amwell Collective. I look forward to doing it all again when I get back in March.

Simon Wright’s Loop Remix of the Game of Thrones Theme

Recorded live at Harmony, Mexican Restaurant on Ios, Greek Islands August 2015 on a ZOOM Q3HD during the first leg of the #looptheworld tour.

I first came up with this in July 2015 after watching the final episode of GoT  while on the island of Koh Tao, Thailand (thanks to Kylie for the inspiration). Since then it has been a favorite amongst my audiences. Easily the most requested song I’ve ever written. I’ve promised a few crew, in particular the boys from Norway, that I’d put it up on my soundcloud so here it is.

The track is available for free download. Please take the time to comment, share and follow while you are there. Enjoy.

And while we’re here. Here is a little video of me performing the track at Choppers on Koh Tao, Thailand.

Guest Blogger: Searching for John Stamos in Ios – Chris Penner

image00
Mike and Chris looking for John Stamos in Athens.

Each month we have a guest blogger write an article for the #looptheworld Letterbox. This month we have the wonderful words of Chris Penner. We first met Chris at one of my shows at Harmony on the island of Ios, Greece. We instantly got along really well, as I often do with Canadians. After we’d hung out a few times, Hannah and I agreed he would be the perfect candidate for our guest blogger this month. He confirmed that with his enthusiastic response when we asked if he’d be interested. Thank you so much for your words Chris. I hope you all enjoy this colourful perspective of the beautiful island of Ios.

image02For those highly unfortunate souls who are unfamiliar with John Stamos, he is an actor who portrayed Uncle Jesse in the 90’s blockbuster television show Full House, alongside the Olsen Twins and Bob Saget; however, more importantly John Stamos is the most handsome Greek man of all time.  Even before I wrote this I did a quick google search on the Greek god and one of the first articles was “John Stamos still has amazing hair and side burns”! Have Mercy!!

On June 8th this year my close friend Michael Budd and I decided we would venture to Greece in the hopes of finding this “ómorfo ándra” (beautiful man). It was less of a hunt considering we had jobs lined up on the island of Ios to teach watersports for Mylopotas Watersports on Mylopotas beach, so much repetition in that sentence, my English teacher would be so proud.  So! We spent two nights searching the bars in Athens, knowing full well he lives in the U.S.A., we hopped on the ferry to Ios, with an Irish guy named George who we’d convinced to join us, and started our summer in Ios.

As a very sheltered Canadian from outside Toronto, whose travel experience includes all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica and Mexico with my family, the move was a bit of a culture shock.  Not in any dramatic fashion because Ios is still a tourist destination, it’s not like we were shitting in pots or practicing Ainu Bear Worship, it was the little things.  The pace was much slower than Toronto, which should go without saying, and in no offence to Greece, but we realized once we were on the island that we were on Greek time.  Meaning if we sat down for dinner expect to wait a bit longer, if you’re told something will arrive in 5 minutes, expect it to be a about 15. This concept wasn’t very difficult to grasp considering the beauty of this island, you can sit, relax, tan, soak in the majesty of what is Ios and colour me surprised, I learned to love it. Furthermore what really shocked me were the showers.  Never in my life did I think I would yearn for a showerhead. For those in Canada reading this you’re probably thinking “Cant wait for hockey season to start” but after that you’re thinking “what do you mean lusting for a shower head?”.  While I was using the washroom in the first place Mike and I stayed at, I asked where the showerhead was, not realizing it was stuck to a hose in front of me.  If you’re lucky the water is hot but you have to spray your body, soap up then hose it all down like you’re getting rid of all your change at a cheap car wash.  But that is the extent of my displeasure.

“I’m Living in Paradise” This is a sentence I repeat to myself everyday.  I say this to myself on the walk down to work from the village, when times get a bit frustrating at work and mostly when I see the sun set on this island and I truly believe that. I have never been to a better place in the world.  It’s sunny everyday, the temperature is perfect, there are never any clouds, and it’s acceptable to drink every night.  But beyond the weather and the acceptance of alcoholism are the people.  Before I left I had my very tight group of friends that I was content with, more than content to be honest, I never considered travelling and as much I love meeting new Canadians I was a bit apprehensive of experiencing new cultures and people.  Will it be difficult? What are they going to think of me? Will we get along? Will they be rude or closed minded? Which turned out to be the complete opposite and my absolute favorite part of travelling, besides the late night wakeboarding, sunset cruises, smashing drinks and skinny-dipping as the sunsets over the Mediterranean.  I had met so many wonderful people, friends I will have for life, which I believe is the greatest part of travelling. Opening up to stranger and discovering what it is they love, what are their struggles, their future plans and experiences is like food for the soul.  Finding common interest with a person born on opposite sides of the world is exhilarating and I’ve fallen completely in love with it. Which brings me to Simon Wright and Hannah Blake.

July 2008, Molson Amphitheater with Mark Hubner was the first time I saw Dave Matthews Band live. February 2010, Dan Hammonds basement with Sam Statham I watched Sidney Crosby score the golden goal for Canada to win the Olympic gold medal and June 2015 at Harmony restaurant with Mitch Bolton and Mike Budd, I saw Simon Wright play for the very first time. There are moments in your life that are burned into your memory with a cattle prong and watching Simon perform was certainly one of them.  I am a music lover and a live music fanatic and there aren’t many words in my limited vocabulary to describe how I felt that night: Shocked, awed, amazed, blown away and chills.  At one point during his performance he did a remix of the Game of Thrones theme song and being a GOT nerd I could barely contain the little girl scream I wanted to release. I kept it totally cool and just looked across the table at Mike showing him the hairs that were standing up on my arm and he returned the same gesture.  I had never experienced a looping machine before and to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention during the first song until I thought there were about 6 people on stage only to glance over and to my great surprise there was just one dude. It was incredible! After meeting Simon and Hannah and discovering that their spirits and personalities outshined his talent was mind blowing.  Here are two incredible people, talent and kindness taller than the CN Tower (had to get a Canada reference in here somewhere) and so down to earth. I feel extremely lucky to have seen Simon perform his music and extremely privileged to call them my friends!

At this point I’m sure you’re wondering “what happened to George who you convinced to come to Ios with you?” as you should be! Well, George got a 600Euro ticket and had to go home after 3 weeks, I miss him but Ios got the best of him as it does of many people.  I myself have felt at times that the island is beating me, which is nearly impossible cause I’m a 6’5 man stuck in a 5’8 frame.  Thankfully I’ve met the best people in the world to share my first summer abroad with and I enjoy everyday a little bit more than the previous, meaning to say everyday is the best day of my life on Ios!!
Thanks for reading,

Sincerely Chris Penner
image01

NEW VIDEO: Let’s Stay Together/You Don’t Know – Live Loop Mash Up

I love Koh Tao. I have since the first day I set foot on that rock in the middle of the Thai Gulf. There is magic there. Until you experience it you will never know it. I’ve traveled there many times now over the past 4 years. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to share with my close friends from back home. It was only February this year that I finally got to share it with Hannah, and like me, she fell in love with the place as soon as we landed at Mae Haad Pier. This June though, when Hannah and I were half way through our Koh Tao leg of #looptheworld we were visited by a bunch of our good friends from back home. Shout out’s to Jonno, Edan, Danielle, Mikey, Anton, Mick, Anthea, Dave, Casey and Hayley. So good to share Turtle Island with you all.

Not only did I get to share the magic of holidaying on Koh Tao with my friends but also a little of the creative side. Casey and I  did a couple of shows together. One at Banyan and one at Choppers. They  both went down in Koh Tao history. Mikey and I did a couple of shows together at Fishbowl. One was shut down early by the most epic of tropical storms which Edan Chapman Photgraphy was patient enough to get the million dollar shot of. But one of my favourite collaborations on the island is this one right here.

On the 11 June 2015, Jonno, Edan and Andy Stock (a guitarist friend that lives on Koh Tao) came together at Fishbowl Beach Bar with as many cameras as we could muster up including 5 x GoPro’s and 2 x Cannon DSLRs and shot this clip. Jonno later edited together the 40+ Gigabytes of footage for Straight Jacket Productions and now we have a Koh Tao memory that will last forever and that we can share with all of you.

The song is a mash up between Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together” and the hip hop verses from my own track “You Don’t Know” from my 2009 EP SW&theE. I love Al Green, I was lucky enough back in 2011 to see him live in Melbourne at the Palace Theater in St Kilda with my good mate and fellow loop warrior Andy V. The show was everything I expected and more from the living legend. Andy and I used to play this song years ago jamming in Melbourne town and last year we recorded a version on our EP Live on Koh Tao which you can download free here. That version happened to be recorded live at Fishbowl almost exactly one year before this one.

I hope you enjoy and please help me out by commenting, liking and sharing. The success of my #looptheworld adventure depends on the support of you guys. Thanks so much for watching.
Si x

What time is it?….. Who Cares. Koh Tao.

I should have written this weeks ago. It’s not that I’ve been avoiding it or even putting it off, actually I’ve been looking forward to it. There is an explanation to my laziness but only those that have spent a bit of time on a tropical island will truly understand. Hannah and I have come to refer to this phenomenon as Island time. Tomorrow doesn’t actually mean tomorrow on Koh Tao, it more accurately translates to eventually. The hands on a Koh Tao clock don’t point to specific hours of AM and PM but more a rough target at which we’ll aim. Those that refuse to give up their slave to the routine ways of the cities we live in find it extremely frustrating, but being frustrated will do nothing to change island time. It’s best to give in and let the island dictate your schedule. Today the island decided I’d write my blog post. So here it is.

My new Thailand band
My new Thailand band “Simon Wright and the Choppettes.”

We have been here on Koh Tao, a tiny little island in the middle of the Thai Gulf, for almost 6 weeks now and I have enjoyed every second of it, even the Thai belly, it’s like a constant reminder I’m on an adventure. It does make me worry occasionally when I’m on stage in the middle of a set and I get that turning feeling in my gut, but luckily, so far, I’ve not had to drop my guitar and make a b-line to the closest lavatory.

 This gig is mental. 3 nights a week I rock out to 300 sweaty, excited backpackers.
Choppers Aussie Bar and Grill. This gig is mental. 3 nights a week I rock out to 300 sweaty, excited backpackers.

My gigging schedule has been hectic. Easily the most busy I’ve ever been as a musician. I’m performing a three hour show every night except Fridays between two venues. 3 nights a week at Choppers Aussie Bar and Grill and 3 nights a week at Fishbow Beach Bar. I’ve also done the odd show at Banyan Bar and Maya Beach Club. It’s getting me fit. I’ve lost about 10kgs and I can now manage the hot, sweaty shows without the assistance of an M-150 or the need for a power nap post performance. Playing every night also does wonders for my progression as an artist and a looper. And though I am working hard, I love my job. It sends me to tropical islands and attracts me to beautiful people. It pays my way and supports my partner. It never boxes me in, rather it encourages me to push the boundaries. And it’s got to be one of the only occupations in the world that inspires the boss to buy you a shot when you’re doing a good job.

Tropical hang overs are like tropical storms, they come on hard and fast and no matter how many times you see one the intensity is always awe inspiring.
Tropical hang overs are like tropical storms, they come on hard and fast and no matter how many times you see one the intensity is always awe inspiring.

Which brings me too the drinking. Hang over management is a big part of Koh Tao life. If you are not careful you will end up with the worst hangover you’ve ever experienced. Tropical hang overs are like tropical storms, they come on hard and fast and no matter how many times you see one the intensity is always awe inspiring. The cheaply brewed Thai alcohol mixed with the humid, hot nights of sweating means hydration is a constant battle.

“One beer, one water”

These days I steer clear of the cheap Thai whiskeys and just stick to beer. “One beer, one water”. At first I get laughed at like I’m some kind of amateur but the tide turns when I bump into those that were laughing at the 7-11 at 3am and I’m still clear headed and walking straight while they are hunched over a bin throwing up the cheap buckets and late night street food. I can’t help myself but to remind them. “One beer, one water”.

Casey and Edan crash the stage at Banyans.
Casey and Edan crash the stage at Banyans.

One thing that has been so beautiful this month is the visits we have received from back home. A big shout out and thank you has to go to Danielle, Jonno, Mikey, Edan, Casey, Hayley, Dave, Mick and Anthea. It was so amazing sharing this little island with you all. I hope you fell in love with it as I have and it continues to be a destination for you all for many more years. Then from old friends to new friends.

Jonno, Danielle and Hannah.
Jonno, Danielle and Hannah.

I’ve met so many beautiful people on this island and formed some amazingly close bonds. I hope I can keep those relationships as close to my heart as they are now as we move on to the next leg of #looptheworld. Hannah and I will be back on the island in January we think. For those of you that will still be here I look forward to seeing you again. For those of you that will have left Tao, stay in touch. Maybe we’ll come visit you in your country.

We are three months in now and the idea of living life on the road still feels fresh and exciting. Sadly, on Thursday this week, I play my last show on Koh Tao. Friday we go to Bangkok, Saturday we Fly to Moscow, Sunday to Athens then a ferry out to the island of Ios where I start my Greek Island gigging schedule. 7 Nights a week this time, wow.

If you haven’t already please sign up to the #looptheworld Letterbox at http://www.thesimonwrightband.fanbridge.com and don’t forget to leave a comment or write us back.

Who's a good boy?
Who’s a good boy? Photos by Edan Chapman Photography.

New Video – Rockin’ Blues Live at the Beach Hotel, Byron Bay. #looptheworld 2015

I first wrote the lyrics to this track to a 1 4 5 swing rock and roll style track but then appropriated them to a Ray Charles inspired rock n roll groove whilst jamming with my good mate Andy V during a gig in Thailand. The jam ended up making it to the “Live on Koh Tao” EP as the only entirely original tune. It’s very traditional stylistically. A simple groove, one chord the whole way through the track but I dig it. I think it’s my favourite loop track of mine so far.

I filmed this version at a gig in Byron Bay near the beginning of our #looptheworld tour on the 16th April 2015. It was a strange gig. After the week I’d just had leading up to the show I was expecting an impressive turn out. I’d just played the Bluesfest after winning a place in the Bluesfest Busking Comp. I then played a gig at the Rails, my first ever 3 hour solo loop show in Byron, to a large enthusiastic audience.  Unfortunately however, this gig was empty. Not empty but in a venue that holds over two thousand, forty or so feels empty. I guess with all the excitement of the Bluesfest the week before, another night of music was not a priority. That didn’t stop me from getting the most out of it. The PA is lovely to play through and Glen “Goobs” Ward the sound man does a great job at making me sound the best that I can. It was quite the contrast from back in the days of the Eclective where we had 8 people on stage and 2000 in the crowd but enjoyable none the less.

Rockin’ Blues
An original loop track by Simon Wright.
Recorded live at the Beach Hotel on the 16th April 2015.

My Baby likes it old school
Cos these days it ain’t the same
She needs that old school soul
and some rock n roll
Just to make it on through the day

She says she wants them Blues
That get me on my feet.
Some rockin blues,
that get me on my feet.

I said my pockets are all empty,
and my lunch box is much the same,
but you can bet when I get
a little rock in my roll
I save it up for a rainy day

I said I want them blues,
that get me on my feet,
Some rockin Blues,
that get me on my feet

Said there’s holes in my pockets
and there’s hole in my shoes
I ain’t got nothing but
singin’ them blues