I enjoy reminiscing and taking a look back and the year that has just passed. 2017 for me was another year of milestones achieved and I continue to live the dream of playing music for a living.
Quite literally on New Years Day of 2017 I got an email from Lurssen mastering to inform me that my new album “Under My Skin” had been mastered, with a link to listen to the actual album, as it would be. This is always an apprehensive moment and I’d got so used to listening to the demos - I’d got the “Demo-itus” bug of getting so used to the rough mixes that the new mixes kinda sounded . . . . Well just not right!
I’ve since learned that the trick is to not analyze them too much and live with it!
Taking care of the business side of things for me was Golly Gallagher at GF Promotions. When he first heard the tracks he called me to say he was blown away and the relief for me was immense. Here I am with a new manager hoping to get my solo career on the move, and not knowing how that would go.
Golly got to work on promoting the album and he delivered his promise to get radio airplay and the some of the best magazine interviews.
Isn’t it ironic that I play in such a successful band yet it was my solo work that gave me the credibility to get in the music magazines that I have always wanted to be featured in? Blues in Britain magazine gave me the coveted center pages . . . how cool.
The Blues/Rock chart is a European chart and is delivered by pulling together airplay and downloads etc. “Under My Skin” achieved a high of number 13 which I have to admit I was delighted with. Two tracks also featured in last weeks Rock-Radio “best newcomers and tracks of the year awards”
Shame that once again I couldn’t do a few gigs to capitalize on the good work that Golly had delivered.
Under My Skin was released on the 20thMarch. It was another achievement in my musical career and another milestone reached.
I’d worked with a Grammy winning producer in Blue Miller, that for me was a great decision and I take those leaning curves away with me in the hope that it will benefit another project in the future! . . . . . . . “Work with the best you can” . . . . . Push yourself to be better” . . . . These are the things that should come naturally, but it’s easy to take the Easy Road, for most part I refuse to do that!
The Smokie charity dinner (February 2017) for the Annette Fox Leukemia Trust was another time that I could stand proud. Dr. Parapia acknowledged the efforts of the band and we were presented with a tankard for 25 years of efforts, it was quite emotional to be honest and it gave me that lump in my throat as I held back a tear.
I have always enjoyed touring the UK and the last one was no different. To tour the UK in the first quarter of the year seems to have been etched in everyone’s diary it would seem.
The Inverness gig was brilliant, a stand up show that was rammed to the rafters, I was pleased for Martin too. His hometown supported him well.
Just in front of me a fight broke out, and I’m always left wondering what’s wrong with these women?
By mid April I’d had enough of the winter weather, so I got my flights booked to what has really become my main home now and ventured to sunny Spain.
I dragged along my eldest daughter Kyrie too, it was really nice to have some quality time together, especially the fact that University takes up most of her time these days. We flew on Monarch Airlines, England’s longest running airline. Sadly it would go into liquidation a few months later and is no more!
Since moving to Spain I’ve really got into riding my mountain bike, almost everyday, but a new friendship with a neighbor and now a close friend the two of us are pretty much addicted to road cycling.
My morning routine has changed by starting with a 50-60 Kilometers bike ride, before anyone else has even surfaced out of bed. What a great way to start my day! I walk a lot more and go to the gym a little less, it seems to work better for me, although the weight is always a struggle, despite the exercise.
I’ve discovered a couple of new places in Spain, one being Cabo De Palos near La Manga, great scuba diving so I think this year I shall get my Jacques Cousteau head on and get back into another sport that I enjoy, but have such little time to participate.
In July my youngest daughter Nikita left school (How time flies) She’s a good bit more academic than her dad, and she now attends A-Level college in her quest to start the building blocks for her grown up life. (makes me realize I'm getting older too)
The Brexit referendum was a surprise to say the least, but I will always question! . . . . “Why couldn’t the EU find a way to promise reform before the vote? And perhaps the UK might just have stayed put”???
Terrorism again reared its head in Europe and I will always wonder why us human beings can’t just get on? The bomb at the Manchester concert full of kids was truly sickening. I’ve started to say, “Stay safe” when leaving friends, why should I have to do that?
I found the summer travel pretty laborious this year, it’s a long way from southern Spain to the north of Norway let me tell you, and there were times when I was just fed up and it felt like groundhog day, but I do count my blessings always reminded by Annmarie, and I know that I’m lucky and should remember that I do actually enjoy my job.
Smokie played a festival with Tom Jones in Ireland in August and although the rain almost threatened the day, we had a great reaction. I stayed and watched Tom Jones, he is truly brilliant - what a voice! . . . . And a great band too!
After locking up the villa in October, I knew the autumn and winter touring schedule would soon become full throttle. Touring Israel was I have to say, the highlight of the year for me. Great gigs and the weather wasn’t bad ether.
Gigs in Ireland continue to sell out too. The Irish have really supported Smokie, year after year, they are amazing!
A couple of weeks ago when I arrived back in he UK, I had a football week, watching Huddersfield, Chelsea, my beloved Leeds united. I even went to Old Trafford the home of Manchester United, to the annoyance of one or two Leeds United friends. My starvation of football forced me into needing a “Footie Fix” . . . Enjoyable yes, but I think those cold terraces may well have been the thing that my Flu-bug needed to start its intrusion of my body and scuppuring my enjoyment this Christmas!
I’ve had a great Christmas in Ireland, (Yes I got socks) I’m back home now in the UK to get ready for my trip to the Czech Republic tomorrow and I also plan to set up my studio once again in the New Year and hopefully get some inspiration to write some new songs and maybe do a few YouTube videos? . . . . It seems these days every guitar player is performing from home and sharing sounds and guitar riffs . . . . So why not?
Happy New Year friends!