Track review: Jump Stone – Won’t Last A Minute

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Won’t Last A Minute is the latest offering from Essex based indie-funk band Jump Stone. A song rumored to be about an ex girlfriend of one of the members running off with an older man, it is what I would dub a “funky diss-track.”

Despite the band only being a three piece, there are thick layers of vocal and instrumental harmony to fill out every space of the audio spectrum. This is a technique famously used by Jump Stone’s frontman, Harry Cash, who is also a producer in his own right.

As soon as I pressed play on “Won’t Last A Minute”, I was immediately pulled in with an ear worm of a guitar riff, closely followed by well thought out and (sometimes) funny lyrics. Harry’s smooth vocals sit comfortably on top of the strong rhythm provided by the  skill of Harrison Palmer (Bass) and Dan Rawley (Drums)

The track just builds at the right times and in all the right places, always leaving the listener wanting more before reaching a comfortable climax in the form of the chorus that is bound to give men, women, children and even animals satisfaction beyond belief!

For me, the mark of a great tune is when it sounds great on your car stereo and when its played live. I went along to Jump Stone’s launch event for this single at The Edge last weekend and can definitely say that this track ticks both of those boxes! The audience were up right at the front of the stage singing along to every word and THAT is when you know you’ve got a masterpiece on your hands.

Along with the single, the band threw in a music video which can be seen here:

Won’t Last A Minute is available on all platforms, I recommend that everyone goes out and grabs themselves a copy!

I for one am highly excited to see what Harry, Harrison and Dan have up their sleeves for future releases!

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How to enjoy music when you do it for a living

Like many young musicians and creatives, I always dreamed of being able to play my instrument for a living one day. Well two years ago, this dream came to fruition. I started playing keys for various different bands, writing scores for some indie films and also teaching keyboard to a few students.

This has now steadily progressed to turning into a semi full time job alongside my university studies. I have had great experiences and performed alongside some pretty prestigious artists and don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret a single second, however, there has also been times when I’ve wanted to flat out quit. This has been down to purely not enjoying Music, I’m sure some of you can relate to this, thankfully, I’ve found various ways of being able to do what I love for work and also get pleasure out of it. I am going to share these ways with you today:

1) Play music that you enjoy

We all know what its like having to play music that we hate in order to make ends meet. I’ve done it more times than I can count and its really not beneficial to you or the artist you’re working with/for. So if you can afford to, make sure to say yes to projects that excite you on a musical and personal level, that way your client will always get the best out of you and you will always enjoy going to work.

2) Try and play as many different genres of music as you can

As a session musician, I’m lucky to be able to be involved in several different musical genres. This includes: general covers, acoustic singer-songwriter, Folk rock and progressive rock. I have always felt that being in a singular band playing the same genre every weekend can get rather stale pretty quickly, thus causing you to fall out of love with it, something every musician wanting a long-lasting career should avoid.

3) Get along to some local jam nights!

This is one thing I never have done enough of and definitely something I’m glad to be doing more of! I’ve recently started attending a jam night at The Bull in Colchester every Tuesday night after uni and its definitely one of the best things I’ve done! I think that giving yourself the chance to play freely with other musicians without the constraint of charts or a click track in your ears is a brilliant way to not only meet and network with different instrumentalists but also a chance to play whatever you want for a change!

4) Go to some gigs!

Us musicians spend so much of our time on stage that we sometimes forget how much fun it is being a member of the audience! I’ve always done my best to go out on my nights off and support my friends in local bands, this is the only way to keep local music and local venues alive after all!

Follow these four pieces of advice and I can pretty much promise you that you will all enjoy your music a lot more!

The State of the British Music Education system – an open letter to the government

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Anyone that knows me will be aware of how much I value Music and how integral I feel it is that Music Education is part of the UK national curriculum.

It has been proven that Music and “The Arts” help children develop confidence, discipline, interpersonal skills, self-awareness and other key skills they need to progress in life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying for one second that the kids that are playing for football teams or part of the chess club don’t develop these skills or indeed that are lesser people than their musical peers, but what I am saying is that, i wouldn’t be the person I am without music/ Music Education.

However, unfortunately, the current UK government fail to see the importance of the arts (namely Music). I, along with many of my fellow Musicians, find this disgusting. Across the country, Music departments at all levels (KS2 & KS3) are having their funding cut and therefore having to either cut costs, thus leaving them short staffed or (to my heartbreak) shut down altogether.

This now means that children at key stages of their development, at the ages in which they begin to discover who they are as individuals, are not being given the opportunities to either unlock or develop their talent.

Can you imagine being in school seeing all your friends being GOOD or even GREAT at something like poetry or football and having the ability to go to a club dedicated to those talents and then there’s you. You know you’re good at music but you also see that your school doesn’t have a music department or any clubs or 1-1 lessons. I for sure would’ve been lost without my school’s Music department, lord knows I’d be lost without Music full stop.

So, on that note – this was an open letter to the Uk government from a musician and aspiring Music Educator who lays here at 2:30 in the morning, not being able to sleep out of his disgust and heartache at the lack of respect and value that his profession is being shown by his countries leaders.

Theresa May, and colleagues… please STOP and see what you’re doing, you are suffocating something amazing and soon, there is going to be nothing left, please, I beg you, stop…

Signed

A distraught musician.

Live Review: Jump Stone at The Fiddler’s Elbow, Camden

Live Review: Jump Stone at The Fiddler’s Elbow, Camden

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It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go out and enjoy a solid night of live music, I took the opportunity to go and see an up and coming band named Jump Stone last weekend to rectify this.

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Harry Tuning up

Fronted on guitar and vocals by musician and producer Harry Cash, this trio of indie funk stars really had the Fiddler’s by the balls throughout their entire set, keeping everyone infatuated with catchy riffs, the tightest stops I’d ever seen and enthralling, energetic lyrics.

What’s more, despite Harry being on crutches due to a leg operation and having to sit down for the majority of his performance,  he still had the exact same stage presence he has whilst standing and throwing himself around the stage and he gave the best vocal performance I’ve seen from him. Bassist Harrison and drummer Dan were completely in sync from the get go, you can tell that those two were meant to perform together, they were practically reading each others minds, it was incredible to watch!

One thing I love about these guys is that despite being a trio, they still manage to fill every venue they play wall to wall with noise and musical genius, showing that its not about how big you are, but how you use the people you’ve got to make yourself sound big, and boy did they sound BIG! Especially on their final number “Won’t Last A Minute” which had everyone  dancing and singing the words back to them, you could see the delight on the boys’ faces as this happened, it certainly shows that they are going in the right direction!

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Harry, Harrison and Dan at Soundhub

A few weeks ago, Harry, Harrison and Dan spent a few days with the guys of Soundhub recording some more material for their fans, I have had a 30 second preview of some of the songs and it really blew me away, these guys have finally found their place on the musical spectrum and have a solid plan to take the industry by storm, keep an eye out for Jump Stone, with the things they are achieving at the moment and with a polished live show down to the last note and songs that stick in your brain like superglue , you won’t want to miss their rise to excellence!

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Floor wedges vs In Ear Monitors: The Pros and cons of both

One of the most important things for a musician when they are on stage is the need to be able to hear themselves clearly, if they can’t, they are going to produce a sub-standard performance.  There used to be only one way of doing this and that was through what is known as a floor wedge or floor monitor, this is simply a speaker that is placed in front of the musicians so that they can hear themselves. As you can imagine, these speakers would be quite bulky and take up a lot of space on stage, especially if there is a large amount of musicians on stage, all requiring monitors.

This issue has now been solved with the invention of in ear monitors or I.E.M’s. The clue is in the name as t how these work, just like a floor monitor but rather than having a massive speaker on stage, each performer has a set of in ear headphones in which they can hear themselves and whatever else they require, for example, a click track if the performer is a drummer.

The debate about which monitoring method is best has been going on for years and there are pros and cons to both forms of monitoring, let’s start with the pros and cons of floor monitors:

Pros

  • Less expensive – A fully functioning in ear system can cost hundreds of pounds)
  • No sound blocked ( having in ears can sometimes block out the noise of the crowd etc.
  • Freedom of movement – if a performer isn’t on wireless I.E.M’s, they are attached to a cable.
  • Shared mixes – If time is not on a bands side, the engineer can arrange to have various band members using one wedge, not ideal, but time efficient.

Cons

  • More noise on stage – If you combine the front of house speakers, guitar amps and several monitors on stage, it sure is gonna get very loud, very quickly.
  • Less space on stage – Again, combining the amps, instruments and people with more bulky monitors doesn’t create the most comfortable stage plan.
  • more chance of feedback  – Because of the amount of things blasting out at you and the audience.
  • No chance of a custom mix – for some musicians, having a custom mix is essential, such as the drummer needing a click track at times, you can’t put a click through a floor monitor or the audience will hear it, not good.

As you can see, having a floor wedge has its advantages and disadvantages, now onto in ears. If you’re gigging week in week out like me, I would suggest investing in some in ear monitors, we’ll go through the pros and cons of these now:

Pros

  • Hearing protection – In ear monitors are designed to block out as much noise as possible to protect the hearing of the wearer, with in ears, the harsh frequencies like that produced from the crash of drum cymbals are either blocked out completely or blocked to a certain extent so you can still hear them but just not as loudly.
  • Custom mixes – With in ears, you can have a mix that is custom made for you, this take quite a lot of time during soundcheck but is well worth it. The quality of a mix can make or break a performance for a lot of musicians, if you can’t hear yourself or can hear too much of yourself, things could go horribly wrong. Thankfully with in ears, the sound levels can be adjusted without affecting anybody else in the band.
  • You can hear more clearly – Because your monitor is literally in your ear, you can hear everything more precisely and be really locked into the rest of your band members, this helps your performance a great deal.
  • They look cool  – I know, probably not the reason anybody chooses in ears, but I must say, I like the fact that I’m wearing what the pros wear, it makes me feel cool, okay? Try not to judge me!

Cons

  • Expensive – A good quality in ear system can burn a rather large hole in your wallet, we’re talking £500 + if you want the high end stuff. For your first set, I wouldn’t recommend going out and spending that much, get something quality but within your price range!
  • If they break, you’re done – This doesn’t happen too often if you look after them, but if they do break and you don’t have a spare set, then your kinda stuck, musically and financially. Especially if they break on stage and you don’t have a wedge running too, which is not likely.
  • Could cause hearing damage – If your sound guy isn’t responsible or experienced, they could send a massively hot feed to your ears, this could potentially damage your hearing if it keeps happening, before you switch to in ears, you have to be sure that the engineers your working with know how to handle their desks properly.
  • They can’t always be used – I’ve had experiences of going to a venue, telling the sound guy that I run in ears, and having them freak and not know what to do with these foreign objects.. dude… just run an XLR cable from your desk to mine.. oh well.

These are my personal pros and cons, added to the extensive argument as to which way works best. Personally, once I switched to in ears, using a wedge was never the same, I just couldn’t do it, and I’d imagine its the same for many people that have made the switch. A fellow session musician friend of mine described using in ears as “hearing in HD” and I have to say, his right.

SIDE NOTE: I wrote a little review of my Moxpad X6 in ears, take a read!: https://garycunninghammusic.wordpress.com/category/reviews/page/2/

 

 

 

 

5 Things I’ve learnt from my first three months of touring

You may have noticed that I haven’t updated this blog in a long time, as much as I apologise for this, I do have a very valid reason.

Since the beginning of March, I’ve been on a UK tour with a Northern Soul Band called “The Signatures.” It has been one of the best experiences of my career, but it has also had its challenges and various valuable lessons.

1) Don’t eat fast food (too much)

This tour is the first time I’ve been away from home properly without my parents around, so of course I took this as an opportunity to eat whatever I wanted. BAD IDEA, after the first two dates, I quickly learnt that getting by on the energy of McDonalds. is not going to see you through a show and it is not going to make your insides feel very good either. Obviously, everyone eats junk food on the road, but as long as you balance it out with the odd fruit pot and flavored water, you’ll be fine.

2) Sleep as much as possible on the bus/ at home

On this tour, we are only on the road during weekends  and during the week, we go back to our normal mundane lives, we also drive back home on the same night for some of the gigs. This involves various days of getting in at 5:30/6:00AM, this renders me and various other members of the band shattered the next day. This is why its important to get as much sleep as you possibly can when you’re on the way back from a show or the next day once you’re at home, if you don’t make time to sleep, you’ll end up becoming unwell pretty quickly.

3) Try your best to get to know the sound guy of every venue by name

This can be quite hard sometimes, but it is also quite important to make sure at least one of the band members knows the sound guys name, especially if you want your show to go well. For me, its integral to know the sound guy because he is the one in charge of my monitor mix and because I’m running in ear monitors for this tour, having a good or bad mix really does affect the way I perform and play on stage. If the sound team and I are on first name terms, I feel more comfortable asking for certain things, such as the adjustment of my monitor mix. Another thing I try my best to do, is to shake the hand(s) of the sound guy(s) and general venue team and say thank you, it may take that little bit of extra time, but it makes them feel appreciated and they won’t forget it very quickly.

Further to this point, you will get the odd sound guy that can be rude and sometimes let the power of being in control of your sound go to their head. If you meet a guy/girl like this just nod and smile, as tempting as it is to tell them wear to stick their advice/demands.

4. SPARES SPARES SPARES

This lesson was a very hard one for me to learn and it certainly isn’t one I will forget in a hurry, I really learnt it the worst way possible too. We were on our last show of the first month of the tour, and it was a hometown show for me, literally in Billericay, the town in which I live and grew up in. We get on stage and begin setting up, I plug everything in, go to switch on my keyboard… NOTHING, literally not lights, sound, nothing! To say I was bricking it was an understatement! I unplug my power supply and check it to be greeted with the heart breaking sight of bare wiring, which basically means the power supply isn’t going to work… I was stressing, the band were stressing and I wanted the ground to swallow me up.. thankfully, a fellow keyboard player lent me his keyboard and I had to learn how to use it on the fly. It’s safe to say that I will not be making that mistake EVER again!

5. Enjoy it!

I’ve been very fortunate to have my first touring experience at the age of 19. It has been stressful, crazy, sweaty, tiring, absolutely hilarious and genuinely the best experience of my career. The tour hasn’t ended yet either, which is good because I don’t want it to for a while! The musicians in The Signatures are outstanding and have a wealth of knowledge that I have learnt so much from dipping in to, asking questions and by simply watching how they do things in the studio and  on stage. There will be some videos of our shows and some behind the scenes stuff real soon!

Thanks for reading, I hope the advice has helped you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made!

The Unfinished Record

The Unfinished Record

The music industry and the sound of unsigned music seems to be going through another evolution as of late.

I’ve reviewed various bands for my unsigned music blog recently, and they all had one thing in common. Their finished releases didn’t sound.. finished. That’s a bad thing, right? WRONG. The evolution that the unsigned music world is going through right now, is that many unsigned bands (dependent on genre) are releasing records to the world without having them perfect.

For example, the vocals aren’t smothered in auto-tune (everyone knows how much I hate auto-tune, if you don’t, READ THIS) and sometimes they aren’t even at the front of the mix, they’re buried deep behind the lead guitarist. I’m not going to lie to you, this did get on my nerves at first because I was so used to hearing that perfected, fixed up, radio perfect release for so long. Becoming a regular music blogger opened up my eyes to the dark, under-belly of unsigned material. It took me a while to appreciate it, but now? I love it!

It works so well, you can really feel and appreciate the amount of effort and heart that has been put into these sorts of releases, the imperfect product has a certain charm to it that you’ll never hear when listening to mainstream radio. The amount of chaos that I’ve heard within these records is astonishing, it sounds as if these sorts of bands have just hired a studio, plugged in their instruments, hit record and just started playing random notes! I’ll tell you now, to the commercial labels, that is their idea of a recurring nightmare.

BUT it’s an ever-growing trend to push out, raw, un-edited music! It really works in my opinion, but you need to have a certain character about you to sit down and enjoy it.

Is the unfinished record going to be the new way of doing things in the future? who knows? What I will say is this: listening to music that is raw has helped me discover a new side to the industry I fell in love with at the age of 9 (yes, 9), it has shown me that you don’t have to rely on expensive equipment to produce something of high quality, and it’s shown me that no matter what, don’t give a damn what people think, release what makes you happy and proud to be an artist, and eventually, people (like me) will catch on and appreciate right along with you!