Wales

Even songwriters need a holiday from time to time, right? I had my first ever trip to Wales last week! It was just what I needed - wild beauty and solitude. I had the guitar with me but didn't even take it out of the case - I was so caught up in the surroundings and wanting to get out and explore. 

I can't explain how these scenes translate into songs when it's so long since I've really written something new (somehow being in the middle of recording last year's material seems to put a natural stop to writing anything new) but I know that the inspiration filters through somehow. I was just filling up my tank on all that nature. 

A few snapshots below to show you what I mean...

Solid Ground at the Bridge House, Made in Penge open mic

Had some great gigs recently and got some lovely things coming up - keep an eye on the shows page or Reverbnation and I'll try to get the Facebook listing up to date as things come through on there. We had a brilliant time with the Spinners Legends in Orpington on Friday, and a truly hilarious day at the Sunset Festival in Carshalton on Saturday - big shout out to Chloe Ray and all who organised for making that such a brilliant day for the Sepsis Trust. I also really enjoyed the afternoon at Cafe Dolce Vita in Petts Wood - despite losing my voice! - these relaxed coffee-shop-style afternoons are very much my thing and I'm on the lookout for more of those!

Sometimes at some gigs something special happens and the magic just descends and this happened last week at the open mic at the Bridge House in Penge, where Glenn Lawrence, as always his utterly supportive self wherever local musicians are concerned, caught this video of Solid Ground. This was at the end of a short set where I'd already sung Wish These Years Away and Renegades and there was a strong sense of connection in the room - it felt like a truly shared moment. 

If you're local enough to make it to one of these nights, they're the first Tuesday of the month and a real haven for local musicians, such a lovely crowd there and always a good mix of regulars and newcomers - but it's only once a month so got to make the most of it!

Enjoy, 

A xx

Doesn't Take Much

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The EP I've made with Stephen Nurse - Doesn't Take Much - is ready for release and will be available digitally on the 21st July (getting my hands on some CD copies TODAY!) 

There are 6 songs on the EP and they're live-in-the-studio tracks we recorded at The Fold Studios in Forest Hill, with Vicky Keohane playing Bodhran for us on some of the tracks. 

Here's the track list: 

1.  Doesn’t Take Much  (5:10) 
2. Wish You Were  (5:32)
3. Wish These Years Away  (5:47) 
4. Water is Wide  (5:16)
5. From You  (7:39) 
6. Solid Ground  (6:06)

Since we've dramatically failed to produce anything under 5 minutes we've also released a radio edit of the title track Doesn't Take Much which is on Soundcloud and also downloadable here

We already released Wish You Were as a taster on Soundcloud - this song and Solid Ground are re-makes from These Hours and the other three are new songs, plus a version of Water Is Wide which a lot of people will (hopefully!) recognise.

The title of the EP has a lot to do with how the process of making these songs went - it was very easy! When I first met Stephen just under a year ago (we still talk about that night a lot!) I was blown away by his versatility and his ability to jump in and improvise sympathetically on almost any style - and though his background is more jazz/funk/blues we just ended up naturally playing together and this is the result. We also hit it off in a major way, so these new songs (and the older ones I guess, as they take on new meaning) are mementoes of the journey we've made. I particularly remember Doesn't Take Much as a song starting out as a noodle in a hotel room on one of our first weekends away. All records tell a story but this one is, as far as I'm concerned, so clearly rooted in our first year of being together and how our lives have changed. 

Anyway I hope you all enjoy it, and I'll probably be back to say some more about the individual songs as we go on. 

One long string of mistakes 

I was out playing (with Stephen Nurse, again – you’d be forgiven to thinking this was my duo-of-the-year project. It’s all lots of fun for me, if no doubt little confusing for everyone else! Hopefully it lasts longer than a year.) on a Monday night in Hammersmith and I was reflecting shortly afterwards on how relaxed I’ve become about making mistakes when performing. Stephen and I do a version of Scarborough Fair that is always a complete stab in the dark – partly because we don’t do much in the way of rehearsal, and partly because we have different ideas about the rhythm and they just haven’t settled on this particular song yet. It’s a magical song and one that I would hate to overplay – in 6 months I think that’s the second time we’ve played it. 

I think back on when I started playing live – just over 3 years ago – and how I would rehearse each song excessively and had a very determined idea in my head of what “right” sounded liked when it came to performing all the songs. And something would ALWAYS go “wrong” (hint: something always does!) with a performance, a missed lyric, a dropped chord, an entire verse forgotten or even in the early days a complete lapse in memory. I could never imagine being one of those people who looked “perfect” on stage as if they never dropped a note, and were always professional and on top of things – effortless. And I come from a classical background, where the music is known in detail by so many, and someone seems to always be there to lay claim to every note you miss. 

Fast forward to now and I know that with some songs you do just reach a point, after a certain amount of play, where you can usually guarantee a fairly consistent rendering of a song time after time. Muscle memory and the physical confidence of coordinating yourself in the right way enough to relax and assume it will come – it usually does. But along the way I learned two things that fundamentally changed my view of music. 


The first thing was a rule I made for myself – that I only had to be 80% right.  When it comes to playing your own songs for an audience that’s probably never heard them before, you can pretty much guarantee that no-one’s going to notice the first 20% of what you might yourself class as “mistakes” – because no-one knows what’s supposed to come next. And even if you do mess up, hey! it’s live –  it’s highly unlikely anyone is going to hold it against you! People are much more likely to be aware of your so-called screw-ups if you act like you screwed up. 

The second thing I learned about was simply this: improvisation. Not having had any jazz or improvised/jamming background, it was a revelation to me that there was music that was not only not perfect, it wasn’t even planned. Or rehearsed. That perfect strangers could stand up together and make amazing music. That I could stand up and roll with the evolution of notes and phrases – I may well never be a pro at it like Stephen but I can at least figure out how to turn a near-miss into something that sounds tuneful. There’s that Miles Davis quote - “It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.” Which is maybe a lesson for life in general too – it’s not the mistake that matters, but how you deal with it. 

Anyway, here we are working it out as we go along, which seems to be a theme this year... 

Out Along The Bend reviews

We've had a great review in from David Kidman at FATEA of our SumnerAnderson duo album from last year, Out Along The Bend - read the full review here: http://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/reviews/SumnerAnderson/

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There's a second review in Folk London, by Nygel Packett from The Goose is Out. He says that Swim Any Sea "is the kind of song that just gets inside you and once it has it doesn't want to leave". Check out the current June-July issue for more (I was pleased to see there's also a great piece on the Orpington Folk and Blues club!)

Thank you to all those who have given their time to review what we've made, it's really appreciated and we love to hear your feedback!

There are a handful of CD copies of Out Along The Bend available in the Store if you'd like to get one of your own to keep!

Just A Story - live video

The lovely and ever-hard-working (seriously who in London is doing more for live music right now?) Romeo from UK Open Mic has started making each night's videos available online - that's a lot of footage of a lot of great musicians! We'll usually hit up one of these nights most weeks at least and with two to four songs a session (sometimes more!) there are quite a few songs floating about by now. I wanted to share this one of Just A Story as I don't play this one live that often (and almost never in a jam with a conga! - big thanks to Freddy Macha) although it's always been one of my favourites. I liked how this worked out. 

Check out the list of UK Open Mic regular venues here - they're great places to play and catch a great mix of live music around London. 

Wish You Were - video and Soundcloud update

Stephen Nurse and I recorded a new version of Wish You Were (originally on These Hours) and we've posted a video version from one of the gigs we played at Orpington Liberal Club to YouTube. We've also uploaded the EP version to Soundcloud ahead of the EP release at the end of this month. This is one of six tracks that make up the EP, there's another song from These Hours, one cover and three new songs. Wish You Were is the first song we picked when we started jamming together live. I love these expanded versions with Stephen's melodies and improvised lines. Watch and listen below - a big thank you goes to our friend Polly for capturing the video. 

Some more radio

Hi folks! Here's a collection of links to some programmes where my songs have been played lately - many thanks to all of these presenters and compilers and to everyone who is helping these songs pass from hand to hand and ear to ear. 

A final reminder that the session with Doug Welch at BBC Radio Kent is still on the iPlayer but it's the LAST DAY! So may disappear at some point tonight. This is the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04nb0q8

There are eleven hours of great, great music there to get stuck into!

If you're a hosting a show of your own and would like a download link or a physical CD sending you then it's a simple matter of filling out the form below: 

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BBC Radio Kent Folk Show Session - 15 January 2017

Anne Sumner BBC Radio Kent Folk 15 January 2017

Here is the link to Sunday's session with Doug Welch at the BBC Radio Kent Folk Show: 

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04nb0q8

It'll be there for 30 days (well 27 now!) so listen as many times as you like! Many thanks to Doug and Dave for being so welcoming - it was a really pleasant, relaxed evening. They even gave me copies of the recordings to keep! 

Kent I will be coming your way soon - I'm hoping to pop down to Ron Truman-Border's guest show at the Orpington Liberal Club on the 27th.

Swim Any Sea on the FATEA Showcase Session Download "Mirror"

Back in the Autumn last year I was offered the fantastic opportunity of a spot on the FATEA showcase sessions - a downloadable album of songs from a wide selection of current artists, which runs for three months (in this case to the 31 January, so get to the link and get your free copy before it runs out!) 

The current session is called Mirror and is available for download here: 
http://www.fatea-showcase-sessions.co.uk/

It's packed full of great tracks on here from a real range of styles - I find myself going back to this over and over as the variety is fascinating and the quality of the musicianship is great, it's been a real inspiration to me. Personal favourites were Ruth Theodore's Buffalo, Bel Blue's Wild Dog Rose and Fara's version of The Games People Play. Also in great company with Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater who have just won FATEA's award for Band/Duo of the year 2016, and Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage - I saw them supporting Sarah Jarosz at the Union Chapel late last year and my favourite song of the set, Lady Margaret, is on the Mirror Download. 

To mark the download I've made a lyric video for Tide Will Turn which is now up on YouTube:

2016 Releases

Here's a run down of releases this year that I've sung on: two singles of mine, the Sumner Anderson duo album we recorded in the spring, and some featured vocals for Devon Sol and the Calling For Serenity collective:  

RENEGADES - iTunes // Amazon Download

SOME KIND OF COMFORT - iTunes // Amazon download

SUMNER ANDERSON - Out Along The Bend (album) - iTunes // Amazon download

CALLING FOR SERENITY - ENDLESS NUMBERS EP - iTunes // Amazon download

DEVON SOL - YOUR LOVE MADE ME LIE - iTunes // Amazon download

I've contributed to a couple of other projects that are due for release early in 2017, along with hopefully a new album of my own in the works - better get to it! I've written 15 songs this year without about the same number underway. 

BBC Radio London Introducing interview

Here's the link to the Introducing Featured Artist interview I did at BBC Radio London - 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04jx4wl

The interview starts about 17 minutes in and covers some background into how I got into performing and my songwriting process and you can hear Renegades straight afterwards. 

Always lots of great new music packed into that hour every Saturday and I'm very grateful to Gary, Ollie and Jess for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. 

Featured Artist: BBC Radio London Introducing

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I'm going to be the Featured Artist on tonight's BBC Radio London Introducing show - it's broadcast from 8pm on 94.9fm if you're in London or any of the following if not: 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04jx4wl

Radio London on Virgin TV Channel 937

Radio London on Sky TV Channel 0152

Digital Radio on 94.9FM

Freeview channel 721

Please tune in if you can! 

Recording the interview meant a lunchtime trip to Broadcasting House, which was pretty exciting as it was the first time I'd been there! Here are a couple of photos from the day...

 

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In Session for Roots & Fusion

Earlier in the autumn I went up to Stockport to record a session for Rick Stuart's Roots and Fusion show. Rick and I had been in touch since he started playing some of the songs from These Hours back in the spring, and it was so great to finally get to meet him. It was a really lovely morning, my favourite session so far, and formed part of their special 400th broadcast. 

The session is available online at the link below - live acoustic versions of 5 songs including Renegades, and an interview at the end that I think gives away how much fun we had! 

http://podcast.pureradio.org.uk/index.php?id=2853

Roots & Fusion episodes

I've had songs played on the last couple of episodes of Roots & Fusion - you should be able to listen below or link through to their Mixcloud site. I found a great load of new music that I loved in these two shows and in between the two I'd been up to Stockport to record a session for them, which is going to be aired as part of the 400th show on 2nd November. It was one of the loveliest sessions I've ever done and it was great to meet Rick at last. Proof as ever that music brings you into contact with amazing people. 

FATEA Review

These Hours has just been reviewed for FATEA magazine and the magical link to the review is here: http://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/reviews/AnneSumner/ 

I'm really delighted by this as you might imagine! It was around this time two years ago that I was about to start recording These Hours and I still love how much those songs represent that time - even now, when I'm in the process of starting to record the next album. I wonder how much emotional distance I've really covered in the past two years? This year has been particularly turbulent and I feel like I might be craving the relative certainty of things I've felt before; I know I've grown but perhaps can't see it yet. I guess we'll see how the songs emerge. 

Thanks to all at FATEA for your support.