The Simon Densley Blog

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Getting An Image

(Posted: 10 March 2018 11:01)

One of the pieces of the puzzle that Sean (our manager) has been keen to get in place is to have some really good photos of me and the band. Last Tuesday evening I spent a few hours being photographed by Christina Jansen, one of Sean's contacts.

Christina is a great photographer and has shot numerous people including names like Robert Plant and Muhammad Ali. She lives (and has a studio) in Primrose Hill which gave us a good backdrop for some outdoor shots (it was while there was some snow on the ground) and makes it a good base to go and get some more shots around Camden and similar areas with the rest of the band over the next few weeks.

We had a quick look through many of the shots afterwards and there were certainly some very good ones there. She has sent me through the first dozen shots which she has done some post production work on. Here are four of them which I think are good but I believe there are some much better ones still to come.

The Deep End Of The Thames

(Posted: 08 February 2018 12:32)

After a good rehearsal on Monday the four of us (unfortunately our new keyboard player, Joe couldn't join us due to an emergency) feel that we are just about ready for some serious gigs. Ideally we'd do a few more warm up gigs first and have started putting feelers out to see what's available. Even more ideally we'd have a rehearsal which includes Joe before playing in front of a proper live audience.

All that trepidation got pushed out the window yesterday when a message from Mike revealed he had got us a gig in London for this coming Sunday. It's on The Tattershall Castle, a boat moored on the Thames just near Embankment tube. I was really up for it and so was everyone else. The only problem was that Paige is scheduled to be in Hastings doing a BBC introducing gig until 7:30pm and Mark, the promoter had put us down to start at 7:30.

I contacted Mark directly and explained the situation. He had seen the live videos and was really keen to have us play and agreed to move us to the headline spot at 10pm. Just enough time to get Paige up to London in time for the gig - and without a sound check.

The other slight issue is that our new keyboard player has never played with the other four of us as a group before and had only rehearsed with Paige and me once before, prior to major changes to the line-up and some of the songs. He is however pretty confident he can do it, and actually I am too - given that at the first rehearsal he came to he had learnt all the material and played it pretty much perfectly right the way through. I sent him details of changes that have been made and links to us playing the songs live on video.

So first proper gig: rushing to get there on time, unrehearsed with one member and no sound check. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. We're jumping straight in the deep end. But I know these guys can pull it off and make it work well. That's why I like working with good musicians.

Key Change

(Posted: 30 January 2018 07:15)

Having taken two steps forward recently, the inevitable step back came at the weekend in the form of an email from Mark saying he need to bow out of the project. As he put it:
"I can't fit everything in and do it all justice. If it were all about being in a band that was going places I'd junk one of the other bands, but I've realised I'd miss my friends (some roots in these bands go back a long way)."
Mark, or Wilko as he prefers to be known, was the only other person who was there from the beginning, or at least the beginning of this particular musical project. He was very good at playing just was was needed, never trying to draw particular attention to his part but filling the gaps as required. I only realised how much work he was actually doing when I was going through the raw footage of the videos we made a few months back. It was an eye opening experience to see how much he was doing, making continuous small adjustments to his sound at the same time as played the parts. Usually I miss all that as I'm too busy playing my own parts. He was also a natural at finding and singing harmonies and made an invaluable contribution to our overall sound there too. We will miss all that, plus his pleasant and friendly nature. At least we got to play one 'sort of' gig with him before he left.

You can go and see Mark perform with Asylum Affair (Classic Rock Covers Band). I would recommend you do, having done so myself, and also with the Pink Floyd tribute band I, Floyd, which is one of the reasons I thought Mark would be the right keyboard player for me. I plan to go see them too when they up and gigging again, which I am reliably informed will be in the not too distant future.

Luckily one of the first things Wilko told me when he joined was that he already had commitments with other bands and we might need to get in a dep player from time to time. With that in mind I contacted Joe Wright and got him along to a rehearsal a few months ago when Wilko couldn't make it.

Joe was an excellent keys player, had learnt all the material I had sent him and got along with everyone too. So when I got the news above I contacted Joe to see if he was still available. He will be rehearsing with us next week...

Warming Up

(Posted: 27 January 2018 10:53)

For a while I've been going along and playing acoustically at 'open mic' nights at various local pubs. Performing is the best way to hone a performance and it has also been a great way to meet other musicians and like minded people.

Maria Ahern runs a number of these nights and she offered the band a half hour 'featured artist' spot at The Oak in Kingston on Thursday.

Other than Mike and I getting up and playing together at a previous open mic gig (and Mike's local pub if you count that), this is the first time any of us have performed together in public so it was really just a 'warm up' gig. Added to this, Marcel couldn't make it so I had to fill in on bass guitar while Mike had to then cover all guitar duties - which made it the first time we had ever played together with this line up and instrumentation. However I knew the guys were good enough to handle it - and they did it just fine! Added to that I threw in one more challenge and decided we'd perform the cover 'Hey Joe' which we'd never played together and which Paige had never played at all. Again I knew the guys were good enough to handle it and yes they did.

There were some issues with sound on stage - it was difficult to hear the bass through the PA (I was missing a bass amp). Given the nature of the night, set up times are very short and there is no 'sound check' however this is part of the challenge of performing.

The highlight of the night was 'Never' which the audience loved. It was also a good opportunity to introduce the band to few other people I know who were there and meet a few new ones!

Being a musical collaborative sort of night (as these things are), Danno Sheehan was short a bass player and asked me to fill in during his set too which I was more than happy to do. It was bluesy based stuff including a Rolling Stones cover so nothing too difficult. We still couldn't quite get the bass sound sorted out on stage but the audience enjoy it and it was fun to do.

We'll be starting to look for more gigs now. When we've got all five of us there it will be sounding even better.

Finished Epic Mix

(Posted: 13 January 2018 21:17)

Epic Micky has been very busy. He's been churning out Trance and Electro House Dance floor hit material at full velocity recently. A couple of weeks ago he sent me a link to his remix of History which sounded great but he said he wanted to just clean it up a little more. Since then he sent out a bunch of other completed tracks and this evening he sent me his final mix of History and it's sounding great! Have a listen below...

Those who aware of my musical tastes would know that I'm not generally into electronic Dance music however I've found that for most musical styles there are are a few examples that I really like. Often these might be the ones that help that style 'break through' after which a lot of similar sounding stuff that isn't quite as good suddenly becomes more popular. There are a few tracks in Micky's catalogue which I really like and really deserve to be heard - one of the reasons I asked him to do a remix of History.

I have to say I didn't quite know what to expect. I sent him the multitrack files and thought I might get back a song that sounded like the original but more electronic and with a thumping dance beat. Instead Micky has come up with a whole new chord progression and song that just uses the vocals from one verse of the original. Great stuff!

Look out for it on a dance floor near you!

Epic History Dance Mix

(Posted: 24 December 2017 10:49)

One of the advantages of working with Sean is that he knows a multitude of other talented people and as he puts it, part of his job is to connect people up who could help each other out. One of the other artists he is currently promoting is a a DJ/Producer called Micky Hansford. He's just done a re-mix of Crystal Waters' Gypsy Woman which Sean has been telling people about. I really liked the original tune and having heard a couple of Micky's other remixes I thought I'd have had a listen - and really liked it.

I had been considering the idea of getting someone to do a dance re-mix of History and asked Sean if he thought Micky might be keen. Sean contacted him straight a way and I had an email back soon after from Micky saying he loved the track and would love to do a remix.

I sent him over multitrack files and await the result!

Live At Cordwallis

(Posted: 22 December 2017 09:10)

Yesterday I took the car down for a routine service at Cordwallis, Heathrow. It was a while you wait service so I took along my acoustic guitar to give me something to do while I waited. Having taken it outside to play through a few things (without annoying the staff) I wandered back in with it to see what progress was being made with the car. One of the girls on spotting the guitar asked with a smile if I was going to 'give them a song' - so I decided to give them one.

I felt a performance of 'Just Got My Life' would probably be right for the occasion and launched into it. The big open showroom made for a nice interesting acoustic environment and a couple of the guys started filming it! Later on one of the guys told me his first thought was 'here we go - another guy who can play a few chords and sing a bit', he wasn't expecting a professional sounding performance! He and everyone else were very complimentary and asked if I minded them putting the video up on their website/social media. Of course I didn't mind - it was a blast!

You can see it here on their Facebook page. Thanks everyone at Cordwallis for the chance to play and the great reception!


(Posted: 20 December 2017 20:34)

After our successful showcase 'gig' for Nick Tauber and Sean, it was time to meet up to map out the plan to take things forward. Sean has a few favourite pubs and cafes he likes to meet at which I'm rapidly starting to get to know.

The first meeting was a bit of an outline of what we need to do to reach the first goal; that goal being to get a good deal with a decent record label.

Having taken that away and digested it a bit I felt another meeting was necessary to go into a bit more detail about what would need to be done, when and what the results of each stage should be. I met up with him again on Sunday at the same cafe where we first met to go through the detail.

The basic outline is to bring certain people on board with expertise and contacts in various areas such as social media, video production, radio plugging, publicity etc. Each would come in at a particular point in the process and exercise their talents when necessary. Nick Tauber was already keen to work with us and the material in the studio and is lined up to start when he's finished his current projects.

Given that the existing recordings of History and other songs are actually quite good, it may be a mater of just adjusting a few tracks or even just remixing what is already there. I never really considered myself to be a great mixing engineer. I got lucky with my mixes of History and Slave To You and ended up producing recordings that I am still very happy with and have sounded just fine on radio when played next to other similar music. However having someone of Nick's calibre and track record remixing them is certainly going to be an exciting prospect and also an amazing learning experience!

Now satisfied with Sean's plan, I emailed him to ask him to set the wheels in motion...