Blog posts 2014-2016
Reflections of a vaguely musical kind from Velvet & Stone violinist Kat; detailing in brief (or sometimes in a lot of detail, but not necessarily the detail you might think) our journey so far. The name speaks for itself but also, it’s the name of one of our songs. We hope you enjoy our musical musings…
Check out our new video – Raise Your Ghosts. Recorded live at Cube Recording in Cornwall 🙂
A Whole Lot of New
Following on from where we left off then… “when one door closes, a window opens”…
Well that window has opened wide and let a touch of magic sweep in. Moving from a female trio to ‘what next?’ is a tough transition, but we’re pleased to say that we’re making exciting progress! We’ve been working hard on new material and re-working some of our older tracks. I’ve been focusing on introducing keys to our sound, our lovely friend and bass-man Barry Muir has introduced double bass to the mix, and we’ve got Rich Crossley (previously of Americana band ‘The Danans’) helping us out adding some stunning electric soundscapes and mandolin!
We’ll be playing a few gigs towards the end of the year and can’t wait to introduce our new sounds! So, in summary:
- New musicians
- New songs
- New Set list
- New demos
- New video
That’s a whole lot of new coming your way in 2017.
Summer Days, Parting Ways
As yet another summer comes to a close and the nights begin to draw in that bit earlier each night, it’s time to put my reflective hat on again and share the highlights of this festival season. This feels particularly poignant right now as we’re not only reflecting on the successes but also reminiscing about the last series of festivals with our lovely Holly for a while at least. Yes, that’s right; Holly is off on her travels.
For those of you that didn’t already know Holly is the youngest member of our band (by almost a decade but we won’t dwell on that point) and as such, is ready to spread her wings and take flight to see what she’s missing out on (feel I should clarify that Holly wants to travel here, not to become the world’s first flying woman or morph into a bird like creature). Lara, being a fairly well seasoned traveller herself and I, more of a sprinkle here and there, know that this is something you just have to do; if you’ve got the travelling itch you have to scratch it!
Enough of the cheesy clichés though, we will miss Holly dearly but wish her all the best and leave the door open for her return (sorry couldn’t resist that one) whenever that may be.
So, time to reminisce and take stock of all the fabulous moments we’ve had this summer. Here’s the summer roundup, made extra special this year as we’re savoring our last moments (well for now at least) with beautiful Holly…
Somehow, we have managed to dodge the rain at every festival we’ve played and stayed at this year. We really have had the best of British summertime with the sun blazing and nights not being to chilly. Of course now I’ve said this, our entire festival season weather will be jinxed for next year! I’m willing to take that risk though because right now times are good and sometimes you have to just go with that and live in the moment.
WARNING: I realise the amount of common phrases/ popular sayings/ idioms/ whatever else you might call them in this post is now getting a tad ridiculous. In fact, I’m even seeing this as a challenge and wondering just how many more I can squeeze into the rest of the blog. You have been warned!
Right back to the round up… Here’s a sprinkling (I like this word today so may use it again) of the high points:
- Spending a beautiful weekend with the band and families at Dart Music Festival. A rare opportunity for us all to spend time together other than playing music! Thanks Lara’s mum for organising!
- Playing at the stunning Lusty Glaze beach restaurant, enjoying the food and company twice in as many months. (Please can we come back again soon Lusty Glaze folks?)
- Exploring our inner shamanic animal (yes really)/ singing/ laughing/ Ohmmmmming at Colorfest and generally aligning our chakras making sure all was right in the V & S world. Oh, and the gig went pretty well too, definitely picked up an entirely new fan base there!
- Supporting the Undercover Hippy on 2 occasions this year
- Holly’s amazing unflappableness: when her guitar and Kingskerswell’s PA system did not want to be friends, Billy Salisbury from Undercover Hippy said she could use his guitar! She did and she nailed it! Go Holly!
- Supporting Sound of the Sirens at the South Devon Arts Centre and meeting Ted Evans, a guy who is single handed-ly shaking the music scene up in South Devon… the fruits of his labour (yes! got another one in there) will be starting to show next year I’m sure
- Jamming in a greenhouse at a beautiful private party in North Looe courtesy of equally stunning Holly
- Creating the pizza song at Wonderfields Festival. This will no doubt feature at future festivals (not on stage though, you’ll have to join us in our post performance shenanigans to hear this gem!)
- Performing Gershwin’s Summertime in a lazy reggae fashion to keep in tune with the festivals reggae/ ska/ funk vibe
- Jumping on the proverbial bandwagon (there’s another one) that is the Cambridge and Sidmouth Folk Festivals
- Stepping completely outside our comfort zone and playing on Stage 2 at Cambridge in front of an audience of 1000+ people
- Collaborating with Sam Kelly, only the WINNER of Radio 2’s Folk Awards, ‘Horizon Award’ (I know, we were pinching ourselves too!)
- Playing a beautiful last set with Holly in front of a lovely crowd at the Tapeley Sessions in North Devon
- Phrase of the summer: Lara and Holly: “Kat, have you got the CD’s”, me: “Oh s***”!!
- Finally, and by no means least, I feel we ought to mention Holly and Harvey’s home comforts. Whenever we’re festivaling, they’ll bring a taste of home along too and this year, the selection of gin in particular has been amazing… It has led to some fruitful evenings for sure! And that’s quite enough about that!
It never ceases to amaze me how much we cram into the festival season and that’s just a sprinkling (see told you I’d use that word again) of what we’ve been up to. I’m sure next year will be no different. Well actually I tell a lie, it will be because Holly won’t be there, but Velvet & Stone still goes on and there are exciting times ahead. On that note, some massive news coming in the next couple of weeks…
Let’s just say when one door closes, a window opens… Watch this space!
Time to get our FOLK on!
We’ve been promising you a big announcement for a while now and it’s finally time to unleash the beast! So without further ado, here it is folks…
…We’re only playing blooming CAMBRIDGE this year! (Cue excited yelps of glee, fist pumps, joyful jigs or whatever else you like to do to celebrate). It’s particularly exciting news as we were scouted to play on The Den stage and by that I mean I didn’t send out millions of naggy annoying emails pestering people to let us play, they contacted us! Fancy that! So the finer details are: we’ll be playing The Den stage at Cambridge Folk Festival on Saturday 30th July (time TBC but looks like we’ll be on just before Wildwood Kin). Being the hot hub of all things folk, tickets for the whole weekend and just Saturday have already sold out,so if you were lucky enough to get some, come on down to the Den and say hi! We’re hoping this means we’ll have a full house (or rather tent!)
So, that’s one piece of BIG news shared, fancy another? (Wow I’m really spoiling you today!) To doubly excite you all, not only are we playing Cambridge on the 30th July but we’re shooting back down to our neck of the woods to play the other biggest UK folk festival the following week… and no, sorry to disappoint, but I don’t mean Silverton Street Market (although that is of course epic in its own right)
…We’re talking SIDMOUTH! (cue massive round of applause, celebratory drinks and a happy little sing song etc etc) Yes we’ll be on The Anchor Garden stage on Wednesday 3rd August from 7pm so you can come and dance your socks off (hopefully flip flops off if the weather holds out!)
There you have it 2 pieces of news, 1 blog post, job done. Now all you have to do is be there! (or be folked off that you’re missing out on such a great time, sorry couldn’t resist one more folky pun!)
Mariners in the Making
What a great weekend! Dart Music Festival is growing into one of summer’s biggest festivals in the South West and we were honoured to be a part of it. This was one of those rare occasions where all the band got to spend the whole weekend together as our lovely manager Sally had arranged a stay at a beautiful holiday cottage right in the heart of Dartmouth.
We started off the weekend in style celebrating Lara’s birthday with a night on the town. Prosecco was drunk, windows were climbed out of, mightily expensive rounds were bought and fishing clubs were visited. A special shout out to Nic The Fish who had some serious stamina playing what seemed like a never-ending set in the Bayards Cove Inn.
With a whole host of stunning scenery on our doorstep, Saturday was mostly spent exploring the area as well as taking in lots of the music throughout the day. We were blessed with the weather and couldn’t have asked for it to be any better, happy days! The performance that stood out for the day came from Cellophony, a group of 8 cellos! The concert was packed out and the ensemble astounded everyone with their wall of sound.Seth’s ‘wall of sound’ was also quite prominent! The collective had impressive biographies and it got us thinking whether we could write parody ones in a similar style. Maybe something like…
…Holly began studying guitar at an early age at Exeter School of Rock, she took it upon herself to invent a new exam syllabus for the acoustic guitar gaining her the well-earned reputation for truly being ‘too cool for school’ She took her playing to new heights when combining climbing (see what I did there?) with music; embarking upon the first ever south-west ‘Rock n Climb’ encompassing playing whilst traversing cliffs along the Jurassic coast…
…Lara’s vocal talent was established at Tiverton Tunes vocal classes when she was aged just 5. Her early song-writing had the common theme of advocacy for women and it was her song composed for the County equality competition that won a scholarship to the Exe Valley School of Song. This gave Lara the opportunity to introduce the medium of song-writing into campaigns for equal pay for women and men.She also is an award-winning musical dog trainer who owns the only golden labrador in the south-west who can sing harmonies to Bruce Springsteen’s I’m on Fire…
You get the picture!… I would do my own but ironically, this feels a bit arrogant! I’m sure one of the others will fill you in though.
So, on to Sunday, aka gig day for us: First set at Bayards Cove Fort was everything we were hoping for and more. So many lovely comments from the audience and great hits on our website as a result. Again, we really lucked out with the weather which encouraged lots of people to come and watch us in the open air. A HUGE thank you to Barry and Marc who joined us for our set in the Guildhall later in the day which equally got a great reception, and had some dancers too. This set followed Billy Thompson Gypsy Style Band who I was pretty anxious about following… Billy is one HELL of a violinist and certainly a tough act to follow, worth checking out his sounds. We were lucky enough to get to see him later on and had a good ol’ boogy (I’m a mum I’m allowed to say boogy) to the music. Fun times had by all. Please can we do it all again this weekend?
Fly on the Wall
My radio silence of late has been due to the disorganised chaos that is my life right now! Lara put it much more elegantly than that, she is most kind! 🙂 In truth I may now have the exciting status of ‘working mum’, but on most days it’s an achievement if I can mesh a bunch of words together to make a urmm, what’s it called… oh yeah a sentence! (point proven!) Anyway, whilst flying around in a blind panic with a constant feeling of having forgotten something really important (and hoping that that’s not my trousers) I rarely have time to myself now, let alone time to sit back and observe and when I say observing, I mean the type of observation that doesn’t involve a certain 1 year old’s development. The type of observing that doesn’t require active input from a responsible adult in the continuous pursuit to keep said little person away from peril. With the latter, all I can say is that it’s probably a good thing that there is another responsible adult in our family… unfortunately the ‘let them experiment and see what happens’ method doesn’t apply to everything as I naively once thought!
No, the observation I’m talking about here is just as this blog’s title suggests, that rare opportunity when you get to watch/ listen to something uninterrupted with absolutely no onus on you to give an opinion, critique or otherwise make better. One of those rare occasions presented itself at the weekend at our gig with The Undercover Hippy: As is always the case at these type of events, sound checking was taking a long time (but we had LOADS of tea and delicious cake and quite frankly, who cares about waiting when cakes on the menu… mmmmmm CAKE!)
Lara and Holly were using the time wisely to get ready and beautify themselves (not that they needed to of course). Meanwhile, I couldn’t help but be entranced by Billy Rowan’s quiet confidence in dealing with the situation. Clearly, he’s done this a LOT (and I mean, a lot) but the quick, calm efficiency with which he handled every audio issue thrown at the band, was really interesting to watch. And he didn’t stop there; when we were having issues with various DI’s, leads and pick ups he came to our rescue…
…Just a quick note here, reading this back it sounds like I have a megga crush on Billy… so, in the words of one of his own songs I want to put the record straight: ‘I’m married’ (Don’t have 6 kids though!) 😉 This is purely a professional admiration thing… Right, well now we’ve dealt with the elephant in the room let’s get back to it.
So, he came to our rescue and the boy did good, he even let Holly use his Taylor guitar! What a beautiful instrument it was, both to the eye and ear. Before it got to that point though, we watched Billy at work; less than 5 minutes later he had eliminated all possibilities that various pieces of equipment were ‘duff’ and isolated the pick up on one of our guitars as the issue. Now, we’re still pretty new to the technical side of things, but think it’s safe to say we all learnt some skills which we’ll be able to pull out the bag if needed at another gig (hopefully they won’t be though).
Other fly on the wall observational moments on Saturday included but were not limited to:
- Undercover Hippy’s fans span several generations, there’s not many places you’ll find 14 and 80 year olds dancing side by side.
- Apparently we’re quite good at selling other bands merchandise! 😉
- Mum Dancing is alive and well
- And finally… there are no words for this one…
And here it is, our new video 😀 Say hi and enjoy! xx
Lara Here …
Hi Everyone, Lara here. Kat is very busy being new-mum-back-at-work, in addition to doing an amazing job managing the band’s affairs, and playing her brand-spanking new keyboard (which will be making its debut with the band this summer), so I thought I would step in to provide a few updates and some news …
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since we released our debut EP in December. We’ve been getting to grips with the ridiculous parts of the music industry (the bits that they don’t tell you about on the tin 😉 ) such as PRS and PPL, publishing and PR, bank accounts and partnerships, digital thingies, and lots of other things I clearly don’t understand!
We’ve taken a bit of a stock take and decided to get some support on the promotional side of the EP launch, and we’re now supported by PR magicians G Promo PR – who are doing a fantastic job of getting the EP out there! Thanks to their advice, we’re re-releasing the EP nationally and internationally on 15th April 2016. They sagely pointed out that we only really released locally in December (TWO articles in the Express and Echo no less 😉 !) This gives us the chance to concentrate on writing new music, booking gigs, recording videos :D, and having a bit more time in the rest of our busy lives!
Sooooo … The EP really has got out there! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Google Music, and Amazon Music (all thanks to Kat’s amazing new-found knowledge of digital thingies)! Annnnnd, we’ve had TONS of radio plays in the past few months which we’re so excited about!! We’ve been played as far afield as New Zealand, and nearer to home… Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Scotland. To date, tracks from the EP have been featured on the BBC Gaelic service, the infamous Mark Coles’ The Shed, Baylen Leonard’s The Front Porch on Amazing Radio, Leed’s Student Radio, Acoustic Routes, Pure Radio, United Sounds of Americana, Hermitage Folk, in addition to stations closer to home including BBC Radio Devon, Phonic FM, and Riviera FM.
We’ve also had a couple of really positive reviews, including FolkWords, PureMzine, and were featured in BedBoat Magazine (and there’s more on the way we’ve heard – so we’ll keep you posted). To top it off, we’ve had a few great gigs including a brilliant night supporting Sound of the Sirens at South Devon Art’s Centre, and a fantastic evening playing at Exeter’s beautiful Hope Hall (video footage on our YouTube channel here).
Phew, that makes me feel tired just thinking about it! … So we’re now ramping up for the summer, we’ve got lots of gigs booked (and a couple more special ones still to be announced!), and we’re busy writing new music and prepping some new set lists 😀 We’ve also just recorded some live videos with the wonderful Matt Calder from Balcony TV Exeter (thank you Matt!), so we’re looking forward to sharing these very shortly. Pic below, and recorded in the beautiful Greenslinch Barn thank you to Ben and Claire!
That’s it for now, our star blogger Kat will be back soon, I promise 😉 xx
What a Difference a Year Makes
This time last year, we had just finished recording our first lot of demos in the now infamous Greenslinch Barn with the fire roaring inside and birds twittering in the aviary outside. Little did we know that in less than a months time we would be featuring on the BBC Introducing in Devon’s ‘Round Table’. Fast forward 9 more months and the opportunities for sharing our music with the wide world are growing all the time: Air time on Amazing Radio, Live session on BBC Introducing, Somersault Festival to name but a few.
Now, a year later, we’re gearing up to play two sold out gigs at the end of this week and selling our début EP worldwide on iTunes. The first physical CDs will be arriving tomorrow and people in the UK can pre-order their copy through Pledge Music this week (until the 18th) to make sure it arrives in time for Christmas.
Yes, that’s right, I was giving the EP a little plug… Oh, what the hell, I’ll give it a massive plug (it’s almost Christmas after all!) Don’t miss out… ORDER YOUR COPY NOW
A lot’s been happening in our own lives this year too but I’ll save that for a special festive post… *ADVANCE CUTE OVERLOAD WARNING*… There will be pictures of brand new puppies. Watch this space! In the meantime… fancy buying our EP? Go on, you know you want to! 😉
The End of the Beginning
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”.
– Henry Ford
I’m not really one for inspirational quotes but I think after the year we’ve all had, this sums up what we’ve been through pretty succinctly. From the very beginnings; dipping our toes in the water at local folk clubs, to being highlighted as a contender for BBC Introducing in Devon record of the year, we have stuck together, determined and composed throughout. There have been ups and downs and our own personal battles to contend with but still we have remained strong and united steadily working together and achieving our own goals. That is why, after over a year in the making, it really is a pleasure to…
…Hang on I’ve just read that back and wanted to clear something up: It wasn’t my intention that this would turn into a motivation speech but what the heck, it’s motivating me to keep writing this so we’ll go with it…!
Right, as we were then: It really is a pleasure to finally share with you our debut EP, The Storm. You’ve all been asking for months when it will be here and we’ve been bursting to give you the answer you’ve been waiting for. Well today we can because today is RELEASE DAY and you can buy our EP on iTunes here: http://apple.co/21KlHUs
From the very start of this project there’s been lots of ebb and flow, not least because we had our busiest season of summer festivals this year yet. After lots of negotiation and stops and starts we made the decision to release this record independently from a record label and, although we’ve embarked upon what feels like the steepest learning curve of our lives(!)**, remaining true to who we are as a band and the music we want to make has got to remain the most important thing.
**We thought we weren’t really busy enough at the moment all with full time jobs, babies, puppies and an EP launch… Why not now release some independent music ….! (p.s. we really have learned A LOT so we will be blogging about this shortly)!
Moving forward, having CDs and merchandise that we own and can sell at upcoming gigs will be a great way of helping us keep in touch with everyone who listens to our music – who are at the very heart of this and the reason we do what we do…!
…Yes that’s right, you guessed it George Clooney, Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom… they are all very close to our hearts (and Seth Lakeman and Ben Howard of course (don’t forget the musical ones))! 😉 More blog posts about this at a later date. (No not the fine gentlemen, the EP project! Honestly! some people’s minds!)
Seriously though, if you hadn’t figured it out, we really meant YOU! So there you have it, no more new/ upcoming alt-folk trio introductions for us. The Storm is released and it is with a gratifying sigh of relief that we move onto the next chapter! Don’t worry, we’re not talking about breaking up, we’re talking about making the shift from newbies to ‘Established Artists’. Who knows maybe there’s an album on the horizon…
Wish us luck and why not buy an EP for good measure! 😉
P.s. We’ll be in touch shortly to let you know which other digital outlets you can listen to the EP on and how you can buy the CD. We’re still working on that one …!
It’s all about the 8th December!
The Storm EP will be released on iTunes on Tuesday 8th December. All this week (from 2nd December) we will be giving you a glimpse of the EP on Soundcloud by releasing one song per day for one day only!
For those of you listening to BBC Radio Devon this evening, you will have just heard our extremely exciting news about Velvet & Stone’s EP launch! To recap…
The EP will be released on the 8th December and will be called ‘The Storm‘. We’ll be holding a launch party at the X Centre in Exeter on Friday the 18th December and you can get your ticket HERE. We’d love to see you there and another reason to come (in case you need one to embrace the cold December air) is to see the fantastic Ruby Spencer who’ll be supporting us. It’s going to be a night to remember people so put the date in your diary now!
So there you have it! Shout it from the rooftops! Our launch date is finally almost here and we literally cannot wait to share the juicy produce of this epic project with you. And remember, keep checking the website and our social media channels for more infromation about how you can buy the CD. Perfect stocking filler or present for a loved one for Christmas. Not long now!
The day we’ve all been waiting for…
…Is almost here and no, I don’t mean Fireworks Night, your Great Gran’s Birthday or Christmas for that matter. I’m talking about… *drum roll please*… The long awaited Velvet & Stone EP launch date. Yes, you guessed right, it’s happening before Christmas, but that’s all you’re getting from me for now! I know, I’m such a tease but you’ll have to tune into BBC Radio Devon at 8pm this Saturday (Halloween for those of you who are burying their heads in the sand as this year is just going far to fast!) for the big unveiling. Make sure you keep checking our website for details of our launch event later in the year and crucially how you can go about getting your hands on some tickets for this, not forgetting the important inforation about how you can purchase our first ever CD. Yes that’s right we’re going to have a CD! eeeeeeek! We’re just a little bit excited about this, can you tell?
In other news you may have seen we’ve been working on getting some band photos together and enjpyed a rare afternoon on Dartmoor together getting some shots. I’d like to say we learnt a lot about photo shoots that day but, I don’t think the others will mind me saying, we haven’t quite got the sultry/ vacant/ gazing into the distance ‘look’ down yet…
…so urmmm yeah, we’ll continue working on that! Also the addition of lovely pooch Holly did make for some confusion. For example, “Holly, come here, get out of the way… SIT!” although very normal commands for a dog, became the source of much entertainment when applied to our lovely bandmate Holly! All that said, there were some lovely shots taken and we’d like to say a massive thank you to Miles and Christine for giving up an afternoon and photographing us. I don’t know about you but when I look at these photos, it reminds me how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country. Devon truly is wonderful, rich resource of nature and creative talent that I know we’re all proud and privileged to be a part of.
Somersault Festival Highlights (WARNING… Earth Mother style post!)
Festivals really are fantastic things. Like mini-breaks, they have the unique ability to revitalise, rejuvinate and energise you, all in the space of a couple of days. OK, I know you’re probably thinking, who unleashed the hippy?! But I really do think that being close to nature helps one reflect, realign priorities, consequentially contributing to wellbeing* (and no i don’t mean the hole in the floor/ compost toilet situ (see below). I’d happily forego that ‘closer to nature’ scenario! Does that make me a middle class hippy?… You can decide!).
*NOTE don’t worry i’m not going off on a tangent about mindfulness here but, now that the buzzword’s been mentioned, you might as well check it out! 🙂
Too much to mention in such a short space so here are the highlights…
☆ Playing at by far our biggest gig to date. A fantastic relaxed vibe with a big, appreciative audience in the Surfers Against Sewage tent. Yay!
☆ Bonus interview as part of BBC Introducing in Devon’s coverage of the festival featuring a yellow raincoat love-in with James
☆ Yellow Raincoat Appreciation Society (ask Lara!) 😉
☆ Not mentioning any names, but a certain band’s sound check taking waaaay longer than their actual set …
☆ Artist Camping (so much closer to the actual festival!)
☆ Festival baby antics
☆ Elderflower Gin (mmmmm)
☆ Rum and Ginger Beer (double mmmmm)
☆ Harvey’s moustache (thanks to Holly’s marvellous artistic skills) & Lara and Holly’s lovely facepainting (see photo below)
☆ Dancing to Bombay Bicycle Club’s (BBC) last gig ‘for a while’ (their own words)
☆ GLITTER BOMB (ask Holly)
☆ Nick having the glitter confiscated …!
☆ Awesome babysitting skills from the whole group (special thanks to Lara for carrying Seth in the sling for entire BBC set)
☆ Festival mums and a new found appreciation for them. It’s hard work keeping a little one happy, warm and dry when a month’s worth of rain falls in a day!)
☆ Relaxing Saturday afternoon drinking, singing and facepainting… #suchfun #hippy …
☆ Holly’s first heightened dance at a festival on the shoulders of Harvey
☆ Ben’s most excellent waterproof shoe invention (he rocked the morrisons carrier bag look)
☆ Ben, Ellen, Holly and Harvey ‘getting the bows out to get in the mixer’ (or whatever it was) to see Laura Marling
☆ Excellent Forest Party antics every night
☆ Getting to use the £2 hole in the floor/ compost toilets for free! Woohooo! (Btw they are actually worse than portaloos proving that you really ‘can’t polish a turd’!)
☆ Leaky tents (Nick and Neil will fill you in with the details…)
☆ Awesome cocktail invention involving coffee and vodka from Holly
☆ New found appreciation for extremely good food
☆ #suchfun !
…The list goes on. Think it’s safe to say it really was a truly awesome weekend. Final shoutout of thanks to Indie Kitchen for sorting out the gig for us. We had a blast and would love to do it all again next year!
Balloons, Bears, Ciders and Sunshine
What a lovely week it’s been. It’s not every week you get to be the support act for a bear… Paddington Bear in fact! (Most famous celebrity we’ve supported so far!) We had the pleasure of playing in the little village of Whimple to a local crowd at their cinema evening last Monday who were a very lovely and appreciative audience. Thanks again to all who came along (and sang along with us), and to the organisers Richard, Gail and Rob for putting on a fantastic evening.
On Saturday we had a great time soaking up the sunshine, listening to some great new (actually not so new but possibly new to you so we’ll go with that) music, and sampling some of the best cider the west country has to offer at Tiverton Balloon Festival. If you get a chance check out these two great bands: ‘Dumber than the Average Bear‘ and ‘Mad Dog Mcrea‘ (of course that’s only after you’ve liked, followed and bigged us up first like a true superfan would ;))
Highlights of the evening included, but were not limited, to:
- Holly thinking that Dumber than the Average Bear were actually called Dumber than the Average Band!
- Seth (aka band-baby) loving life and his new ear defenders so much so he even put up with mum and dad dancing, & rewarding us with squeals of delight.
- A member of the audience doing their yoga/ tai chai/ pelvic thrusting ritual to our set!
- The lovely gent who was dancing with Lara’s boyfriend Nick to Mad Dog Mcrea’s cover of The Bear Necessities. Great dancing skills Nick and co.!
- Balloon ‘burn up’ (no they didn’t set fire to all the hot air balloons and declare anarchy, i’m informed this is the terminology used when blowing hot air into balloons, a LOT) – or ‘Night Glow’ – backed by a popular classic music mash up and fireworks. #onlyindevon
- CIDERPIMMS (you need this in your life!) again #onlyindevon
- Lara and Kat boogying to William Tells Overture in a very middle-class/ middle-aged kind of fashion …
- Holly and Lara wooing the cocktail barmen with their singing as a pennance for not having ID (note for anyone underage – don’t try this at home – it’s not a strategy that’s reknowned for working …!)
- Kat embracing the ‘air swing’ in a fittingly juvenile way.
- Harvey taking a great photo of Seth chilling with the band (see below).
- Fantastic babysitting skills from Sally and Miles: they were given an awake and excitable baby and returned with a peacefully sleeping one (we won’t ask how they did it ;)).
- Best of all… spending quality downtime with all the band and their partners (something we don’t often get the chance to do).
Three Ladies and a Baby
Don’t worry folks, the radio silence has ended and our June downtime is over. Today we’ve all been back in The Convent Studio for last day of recording for our… drum roll please… much awaited for and infamous EP. We can’t quite believe recording is now complete for this project.
So to bring you up to date… we recently had air time on Balcony TV making editor’s pick worldwide on the 16th June which is pretty cool (or hip/ trendy if i have my parent head on!) Filming for this was great fun, if a little cold (we managed to dodge a massive rain storm by seconds). Huge thanks to Matt and Cate at Balcony TV Exeter for having us on their show. Lara’s mum and step-dad were on babysitting duty for Indie and Seth and both our band babies had a fab time (thanks again Sally and Miles). Link to the video is on website and social media if you want to take a peek! Watch out for Lara’s awesome interviewing skills… Personal favourite is “basically we met in a pub” (to be fair we did, she’s not wrong!)
In addition to this, Lara has been busy embarking upon a jam packed schedule of deadlines, puppy training, being super fit and even getting involved with charity fundraising. It really is pretty amazing that she finds time to play in a band as well as everything else she does! Meanwhile Holly has enjoyed a couple of weeks respite in France combining her love of rock climbing with a Bear Grills approach to living. Kat continues to do mummy things on a daily basis and eat a LOT of cake (mmmmmmm cake). She’s enjoyed spending time with her sister who’s also expecting later in the year (that’s expecting a baby btw, not a parcel from Yodel in case you were wondering!)
So here we are wrapping up our recording (astute readers of my blog will realise i’ve just used recording terminology!! Get me!) The beautiful venue here has become our home from home over the last few months with Jack and Matt introducing us to lots of wonderful musicians, not to mention the legendary lobster mac cheese and sweet potato fries! We’ve reached the end of our beginnings and who knows what lies ahead on the road in front of us… (no more cliches now just a photo or 2)
Studio Recording Glossary of Terms for classically trained musicians and non-musical types alike
When recording on Friday there were a few moments where the producer, studio engineer and me seemingly got our wires crossed. This was mainly down to my lack of knowledge about the terminology used when recording music for EP’s, singles and albums etc. Therefore thought this might come in useful for anyone who, like me, ever finds themselves on the microphone side of a recording studio…
Lay it Down – not the instrument or the baby/ dog/ cat/ anything else you may have in your hands at the time of recording. Nope this is the lingo used when about to record.
Track – Now this is confusing… This means 2 things (multitaskers, eat your heart out!) The piece that you’re recording but also… the thing on the computer that it’s recorded onto (now that’s technical speak right there!)
Layer – NOT a track, i.e. when recording 3 different parts/ harmonies they’re not 3 different tracks but you might need to record them on 3 different tracks to layer them up… Got it?
Let’s do a take – An attempt at recording the piece of music, not daylight robbery.
Groove – the feel of the music you’re recording, e.g. a reggae groove not an invitation to start dancing (sorry boogying… see previous blog post)
Think we’ve got it – The producer and sound engineer have everything they need for that particular song and not that they have your car key.
Let’s drop that in there – This means putting a bit of recorded music into a track that you’re recording and not a notification that someone is putting something away in a box.
That’s a wrap – This wasn’t used by any of the recording studio staff or our producer, I thought it meant the same as ‘think we’ve got it’ but when dropping this phrase into the conversation it was met with a tumbleweed like silence. (taxi for one moment!)
And there you have it, a foolproof guide should you ever need it!
South West Shenanigans – 25/5/15
Bank Holiday Weekends really are fabulous aren’t they? You have to love a bonus day off, especially if that means a bit of extra time with your loved ones and some nice weather. All three of us have managed to spend some quality time with the special people, pets, drinks and not forgetting food in our lives these last few days. Kat and husband Neil’s batteries are feeling almost fully charged after their little man did something that we must not speak about during the last couple of nights. (But we don’t want to jinx it as he’s got more injections next week so she’s enjoying it while it lasts!)
Gig wise, we played the BBC Introducing stage at the Devon County Show on Friday. For all those of you who aren’t from the west country the show is a celebration of all things animal, vegetable and mineral with a strong Devon theme. One of the great things about it is the diversity of activities that happen over the weekend. Where else can you watch a world record attempt to bake the largest scone, get stuck in to fine wine and cider tasting, eat a squash and bean flavoured pie, watch all manner of livestock and culinary judging, witness fast and furious sheep shearing and motocross stunts side by side, dance to The Wurzles and try your hand at Taiko drumming and don’t forget, sort out the solar energy supply for your house (See Nick at SunGift Energy for further details!) We had the bright and early morning slot so played a chilled set for our loyal groupies and early birds passing by to drink their coffee too. It was lovely to have Lara’s brother doing the sound for the set and it sounds like we may be playing a live session for BBC Radio Devon soon. Watch this space…
After watching sparks fly (and no that’s not a metaphor, you’ll be relieved to know we weren’t witnessing a domestic, although Devon and Cornwall police dogs were on hand if we had been! It was metalwork forge) and boogying (yes some of us are now parents and therefore it’s acceptable for us to boogy) with Titan the robot, Kat made her way back up to The Convent to get the first violin bits for our EP recorded. She had a lovely night with hubby and son in tow and enjoyed the beautiful Stroud countryside on Saturday before heading back through THE WORST traffic jam ever on the M5 (BH meets half term = 2hr journey taking 6hrs, yaaaaaaawn!) But enough of that, yet to hear about what Holly and Lara got up to for the rest of their weekends so there’ll no doubt be another blog post soon.
The Ragged Moon – 18/5/15
It was very fitting that our band should end up recording at a studio with this post’s name… For those of you who don’t know, our lovely Holly is a BIG fan of a beautiful moon (tbh who isn’t) and our messages to each other are quite often frequented with a nice arty photo of the latest full moon. Fate obviously had something to do with the fact that we ended up at said studios in Stroud. (Have a look for them on Facebook and Twitter to find out more)
The day was very exciting as recording in a studio was a new thing for us and, think it’s fair to say, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Lara and Holly did the band proud with their lush vocals and strumming and we were extremely lucky to have the wonderful Andy Tween banging and shaking things all day (he was the percussionist and not just someone with unresolved anger issues in case you were wondering!) The day’s session was dedicated to getting all the percussion bits ‘laid down’ (am told this is the correct lingo, so if it’s not, well tough.) Second newest band groupy, baby Seth, made it up for the occasion too. He had a particular fascination with the drums leaving his mum wondering how an earth she’ll fit a drum kit in the back of her, already full to the brim of baby stuff, car. That’s a dilemma for another day though (hopefully one quite a few years down the line!)
We have the very talented Ben Nicholls doing his thing on Double Bass and our very own Kat recording some of the violin twiddles later in the week and we’ll all be back up at The Convent over the summer to hone in on the vocals and guitars before adding the finishing touches.
Last week was also a busy week gigging for us: we had a brilliant time at the Dart Music Festival last Saturday playing to our largest audience so far and also had a late one at local village Bradninch acoustic folk club last Wednesday.
In unrelated band news, third newest band groupy, Lupa the ferret, was lost and found at the end of last week. It turns out tame ferrets only adventure as far as their owner’s bed. Finally, newest band groupy Indie the labrador puppy took her first walk in the big wide world last weekend. Just as her owner begins to navigate the world of the professional music business, she explores her new surroundings. If you ask nicely I’m sure Lara will show you the footage. Careful though, it comes with a mega cute warning.
March 2015 – We just had a brilliant day working on EP pre-production, with our producer Jack Henderson. Very exciting to see the songs forming for the recording!
Update – We had some really great feedback on the BBC Introducing Devon Round Table, and it was GREAT to hear one of our songs on the radio for the first time! The programme is still available online at the link – we’re about 55 minutes in.
January 2015 – Exciting news, we’re going to be on the radio for the first time!! BBC Radio Devon have selected one of our tracks to be discussed at their Round Table on new artists! Tune in on Saturday 17th January from 8 -10pm! We hope you can tune in and take a listen!
December 2014 – Merry Christmas Everyone, and Happy New Year! 2015 is set to be an exciting year!
September 2014 – We we’re invited back up to The Convent to perform a full set of our own original songs. What a great experience! The half-hour set is still available on Netgig at the following link.
July 2014 – Velvet & Stone have won the opportunity to record an EP!! Thanks to The Convent Venue and The Song 2014!! See our winning performance below: [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiHutsk_9yQ?rel=0&w=560&h=315]
July 2014 – Velvet & Stone won heat 7 in the Song Competition, and we’re through to the finals!!! Info on voting below:
“The grand final of The Song is on Monday night but they will be using our performance from last week along with the other 7 heat winners so not live as such. In order for us to win we’ll need to recieve the most votes again but this poses a moral dilemma for us: If you watched & voted last week you may already have empty pockets!! As such we really don’t expect anyone to vote again to see us win. If anything, the opportunity itself has been amazing and we already feel so lucky to have got this far.
That said, we all have a competitive streak and there’s a little bit of us that is thinking “we really could win it now!!” and that would be truly awsome!
So, one last little push…
Please vote for us here: https://theconvent.netgig.co.uk/event/vote-for-velvet-stone-final/
Voting open until Weds at 9am and final show on Monday eve. Knowing how life has a habit of getting in the way, if you’re going to vote, why not do it now. Once again a massive thanks to our amazing family, friends and followers for their incredible support. We have everything crossed and will keep you posted!”
July 2014 – Velvet & Stone appeared on BBC Spotlight following our performance at the Tiverton Balloon Festival 2014!
May 2014 – Velvet & Stone have just been short-listed for the The Convent’s Singer/ Songwriter Competition 2014!!! Eeeeeeeee!!!! For more details on the competition and the final short-list, follow the link!